Discuss Yevgeny Yevtushenko's Babi Yar

By Jen Harris (United States)
and Moscow School #1129 (Russia)

This sample assignment appeared as its own topic in the iearn.hgp teleconference. The questions were formulated by students at two schools: Moscow School #1129 in Russia, and Cold Spring Harbor High School in New York, United States. Everyone was welcome to join in the lesson and contribute to the discussion (via computer telecommunications) of Yevgeny Yevtushenko's poem Babi Yar and the event that took place at Babi Yar (near Kiev).

Questions Posed by Russian Students:
  1. Did you learn something new about the Holocaust from the poem? What impression did the poem produce for you?

  2. Why there was no monument to the victims at Babi Yar? (See the first line of the poem.)

  3. Why was the poet persecuted for writing this poem?

  4. Is there a monument at Babi Yar now?

Questions Posed by U.S. Students:
  1. In what ways does the "I" (first person) narration contribute to the power of the poem?

  2. Why does Yevtushenko identify with Anne Frank; an old Jew in Egypt; Dreyfus; and, a young boy from Bialystok? Who are these people?

  3. What is the universal theme/meaning of this poem?

Send responses to Dr. Ilya Altman, Victor Menachin, and Honey Kern.

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