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The Holocaust in the East

The Holocaust in the East: Local Perpetrators and Soviet Responses

Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 280
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    The Holocaust in the East
    Book Description:

    Silence has many causes: shame, embarrassment, ignorance, a desire to protect. The silence that has surrounded the atrocities committed against the Jewish population of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union during World War II is particularly remarkable given the scholarly and popular interest in the war. It, too, has many causes-of which antisemitism, the most striking, is only one. When, on July 10, 1941, in the wake of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, local residents enflamed by Nazi propaganda murdered the entire Jewish population of Jedwabne, Poland, the ferocity of the attack horrified their fellow Poles. The denial of Polish involvement in the massacre lasted for decades.Since its founding, the journalKritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian Historyhas led the way in exploring the East European and Soviet experience of the Holocaust. This volume combines revised articles from the journal and previously unpublished pieces to highlight the complex interactions of prejudice, power, and publicity. It offers a probing examination of the complicity of local populations in the mass murder of Jews perpetrated in areas such as Poland, Ukraine, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina and analyzes Soviet responses to the Holocaust.Based on Soviet commission reports, news media, and other archives, the contributors examine the factors that led certain local residents to participate in the extermination of their Jewish neighbors; the interaction of Nazi occupation regimes with various sectors of the local population; the ambiguities of Soviet press coverage, which at times reported and at times suppressed information about persecution specifically directed at the Jews; the extraordinary Soviet efforts to document and prosecute Nazi crimes and the way in which the Soviet state's agenda informed that effort; and the lingering effects of silence about the true impact of the Holocaust on public memory and state responses.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7949-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE The Holocaust as a Part of Soviet History
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. 1 Introduction: A Reconfigured Terrain
    (pp. 1-4)

    This book opens with an analysis by Marci Shore—nuanced, poking at every tender spot—of Jan Gross’sNeighborsand the debates it unleashed.¹ This is precisely where we need to begin, since it was this “one small book,” as Vladimir Solonari calls it later in the volume, that announced the arrival of a new historiographical moment, of which the essays collected here are among the outstanding representatives. Several things have been happening in the new historiography. One of the most striking is that Holocaust studies and East European studies have finally met intellectually. For too long, the annihilation of...

  5. 2 Conversing with Ghosts: Jedwabne, Żydokomuna, and Totalitarianism
    (pp. 5-28)

    On 10 july 1941, just after the withdrawal of the Red Army and the arrival of the Wehrmacht, the Polish townspeople of Jedwabne murdered their Jewish neighbors. From the sidelines those Germans who were present looked on and took photographs. The final massacre was preceded by days of stonings and lynchings of individual Jews. Earlier that day, several dozen of the strongest Jewish men were forced to dismantle the Lenin statue, carry it to the cemetery, and dig a grave for its burial. The bodies of the men were thrown into the same grave. Later that day, local Poles from...

  6. 3 The Soviet Union, the Holocaust, and Auschwitz
    (pp. 29-50)

    Between 700,000 and 3,000,000 Jews were killed in the Nazi-occupied territories of the Soviet Union.¹ Within the prewar Soviet borders, the Nazis saw a particular urgency in rapidly exterminating the Jews, whom they regarded as the mainstay of the Bolshevik regime. The Israeli scholar Mordecai Altshuler has studied 22 ghettos in 5 Soviet cities: in 5 of these ghettos, all the Jews were killed in an average of 23 days following the Nazi occupation; in 9 of the ghettos, within 99 days; and in 8 of them, an average of 295 days.² The primary executioners were the Einsatzgruppen, whom the...

  7. 4 Patterns of Violence: The Local Population and the Mass Murder of Jews in Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, July–August 1941
    (pp. 51-82)

    Among historians there has been growing interest in the question of popular participation in the Holocaust of European Jews, particularly in the territories to the east of the Soviet Union’s 1941 western border.¹ Many factors have contributed to this avalanche of high-quality scholarly texts—among them the opening of the archives after the fall of communism, the centrality of a particular ethnic group’s complicity in the mass murder of Jews to the perception and self-perception of the respective nations, and the incessant public demand for works that deal with these kinds of emotionally charged issues. Although scholars research events that...

  8. 5 “Total Annihilation of the Jewish Population”: The Holocaust in the Soviet Media, 1941–45
    (pp. 83-117)

    When nazi germany invaded the expanded Soviet Union in June 1941, how likely was it that the Soviet media would report in a substantial way the mass murder of the Jews of Europe, known today as the Holocaust or Shoah? There was a precedent in a Soviet public record about Nazi antisemitism. On 30 November 1936,Pravdareported Viacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov’s speech of five days earlier on the occasion of the new Soviet constitution. Condemning fascism for its hostility toward Jews, Molotov cited a previously unpublicized comment by Iosif Stalin that “antisemitism, like any form of racial chauvinism, is the...

  9. 6 People and Procedures: Toward a History of the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in the USSR
    (pp. 118-141)

    Once I received a request for information from a well-known British historian of medicine about something virtually unknown in Western historiography—the Soviet academic commission for the investigation of Nazi crimes.¹ This inquiry turned out to be the impetus for my investigation into the social history of scholarship during World War II. A preliminary search showed that my colleague was thinking of the Extraordinary State Commission for the Establishment and Investigation of the Crimes of the Fascist German Invaders and Their Accomplices, and of the Damage They Caused to Citizens, Collective Farms, Public Organizations, State Enterprises, and Institutions of the...

  10. 7 An Analysis of Soviet Postwar Investigation and Trial Documents and Their Relevance for Holocaust Studies
    (pp. 142-157)

    When soviet power returned to Bessarabia in the spring of 1944, Petru Lupan, like many other locals, was immediately drafted into the Soviet army.¹ The 27-year-old Moldovan quickly deserted the military and went into hiding, perhaps not interested in fighting for his newly acquired fatherland. Soviet authorities had zero tolerance for military deserters, especially when they hid in groups, and Lupan’s arrest was therefore predictable and, to a certain extent, unavoidable. The next thing we learn from the files kept by the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD) on Petru Lupan’s case is that, in addition to the charges of...

  11. 8 A Disturbed Silence: Discourse on the Holocaust in the Soviet West as an Anti-Site of Memory
    (pp. 158-184)

    Compared with the soviet period, public memory of the Holocaust has been growing in importance in Eastern Europe since 1991.¹ The implosion of Soviet hegemony has opened new spaces for research and debate.² At the same time, new pressures have emerged to subordinate the Holocaust to nationalist narratives in, for instance, Ukraine.³

    The post-Soviet present, however, cannot be understood without a fresh exploration of the Soviet legacy. The Soviet period did not simply impose a freeze, communicative silence, organized forgetfulness, or “mnemonical stasis.”⁴ Although terms like these describe one important aspect of what happened, they also obscure an equally important...

  12. 9 The Holocaust in the East: Participation and Presentation
    (pp. 185-192)

    This book deals with two important issues: microhistories of violence against Jews during World War II perpetrated not by the Germans but by their neighbors (Dumitru, Shore, Solonari), and attempts to describe and analyze the inconsistent treatment of the Holocaust in Soviet media and internal reports during the war (Amar, Asher, Berkhoff, Sorokina). Both subjects deal with perceptions and presentations of history, as well as their present-day consequences. The detailed studies in this book draw on previously unknown archival sources to illustrate how the general population perceived Jews and how authorities based their policies at least partly on their assessments...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 193-262)
    (pp. 263-266)