Yelena Kimmelblat

Yelena Kimelblat





My name is Yelena. I was named after my grandfather Lenny who was fighting in the first line of fire defending Kiev, was wounded, captured by the Nazis, sent to a concentration camp, liberated by the American Army, captured by the KGB, sent to Stalin's camp in Siberia and never came back.

I was born over a decade after World War 2 had ended in a beautiful city of Kiev where the Babi Yar tragedy took place. All of my relatives who did not leave Kiev in time went to Babi Yar and never came back.

At the beginning of the War my mother was 8 years old. The commercial train, on which women with children were evacuated from Kiev was bombed. My mother (a little girl) was separated from her mother and sisters and got lost in the forest. She wondered in the forest for days eating wild berries and mushrooms, drinking water from the streams, and sleeping under the trees. Luckily a Ukrainian family found her and took her home risking their lives. She survived the war and was reunited with her mother. This is just one miracle story of survival.

All of us, post WW2 children from Europe, are the luckiest generation to be alive. We were born, because our parents survived the Holocaust. We inherited all of the horrific memories that had been our parents and grandparents every day lives. The Holocaust is deeply embedded into our memory cells. With all of our senses we remember and care. We feel the pain deep inside on a very emotional level. That is why Holocaust Art, which addresses itself directly to human emotions, is so important for my generation and for the future generations to come.

The Holocaust paintings created by a great Ukrainian-American artist, Mikhail Turovsky, are conveying the enormity of the Holocaust tragedy directly on an emotional level.

Mikhail Turovsky has said:
"Only art is able to inspire compassion for the victims of the Holocaust, to show that the Jewish tragedy is not simply Jewish, but a universal human affliction".

There are no words to describe how much all of us - the Holocaust survivors, their children and grand children, and everybody who is aware of any type of genocide - are thankful to Mikhail Turovsky for completing his duty as a Holocaust survivor, as an artist, and most importantly as a human being, to honor the lives that were lost and to serve in their memory.

For me, Mikhail Turovsky's Holocaust paintings are a visual representation of a memorial prayer - Kaddish - for all the Jewish innocent souls that have been lost - men, women, children and the unborn.

I am holding a bunch of flowers - sunflowers - my favorite flowers, the flowers of Hope. We have endless sunflower fields in the Ukraine. For me, sunflowers are the best representation of a country where I was born and raised - the Ukraine.
Vibrant, beautiful, strong, and always looking for the light. Even in total darkness they spot the first rays of the sun and turn their heads to it.
All 24 of Mikhail Turovsky's paintings on display here at the UN Headquarters are like sunflowers to me. In every single one the artist is extracting the light from the darkness and inspiring us to remember the tragedy and appreciate the beautiful gift of life.

One person can make a difference. The artist Mikhail Turovsky made a difference for all of humanity by working 10 years to create his Holocaust series which contains more than 80 paintings.

The support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian mission in the United Nations is greatly appreciated for making this unique exhibition possible.
It is all about Hope. Let's hope that one day the world will see Mikhail Turovsky's Holocaust series in its entirety.

Thank you very much.
Spasibo bolshoie.
Schiro Diakuiu.



Mikhail Turovsky's speech

Ambassador Sergeyev's speech

Photo Gallery


M.Turovsky: The Artist's Website