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The Holocaust and the Soviet Union

  • John Klier

Abstract

The USSR was second only to Poland as the country where the Holocaust found its greatest number of victims. This tally is still higher if the territories acquired by Soviet aggression before June 1941 — Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Moldova — are included. On the other hand, it was largely due to the exertions of the Soviet Red Army that significant numbers of European Jews were spared German mass murder. The Red Army also had the largest number of Jewish combatants in the Second World War and, consequently, the largest number of Jewish combat losses. During the war the Soviet government was the most active of all the Allied states in publicizing the Holocaust to the wider world. As a final irony, after the war internal politics led the Soviet leadership to erase the Holocaust from historical memory.

Keywords

Jewish Community Jewish Population Jewish Identity Mass Murder Black Book 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    These figures, and other demographic information, are drawn from M. Altshuler, Soviet Jewry on the Eve of the Holocaust: A Social and Demographic Profile (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 1998).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Z. Gitelman, Jewish Nationality and Soviet Politics: The Jewish Sections of the CPSU, 1917–1930 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See B.-C. Pinchuk, Shtetl Jews under Soviet Rule: Eastern Poland on the Eve of the Holocaust (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1990).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    See A. Ezergailis, The Holocaust in Latvia 1941–1944: The Missing Center (Riga: The Historical Institute of Latvia, 1996); and several chapters in Z. Gitelman, ed., Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997), especially M.I. Koval, ‘The Nazi Genocide of the Jews and the Ukrainian Population (1941–1944)’, pp. 51–60; H.-H. Wilhelm, “‘Inventing” the Holocaust for Latvia: New Research’, pp. 104–22; and S. Shner-Neshamit, ‘Jewish-Lithuanian Relations during World War II: History and Rhetoric’, pp. 167–84.Google Scholar
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    For the activities of the Einsatzgruppen, see R. Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, revised edition (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985), vol. I, pp. 273–390.Google Scholar
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    See M. Altshuler, ‘Escape and Evacuation of Soviet Jews at the Time of the Nazi Invasion’, in The Holocaust in the Soviet Union: Studies and Sources on the Destruction of the Jews in Nazi-Occupied Territories of the USSR, 1941–1945, ed. L. Dobroszycki and J. S. Gurock (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 1993), pp. 77–104.Google Scholar
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    See I. Trunk, Judenrat: The Jewish Councils in Eastern Europe under Nazi Occupation (New York: Macmillan, 1972).Google Scholar
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    For specific details of the Holocaust on Soviet soil, see any of the principal surveys: Hilberg, Destruction; L.S. Dawidowicz, The War against the Jews, 1933–1945 (New York: Bantam, 1986); M. Gilbert, The Holocaust: The Jewish Tragedy (London: Collins, 1986).Google Scholar
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    See, most recently, M. Dean, Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine, 1941–44 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000) and Dean’s paper in this volume.Google Scholar
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    For total Soviet population losses, see M. Ellman and S. Maksudov, ‘Soviet Deaths in the Great Patriotic War: A Note’, Europe-Asia Studies, 46 (1994), 671–80.Google Scholar
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    L. Krichevsky, ‘Dispelling Myths, Book Shows Jewish Role in Soviet War Effort’ (http://www.ncjs.org/AuxPages/121602JTA.shtml), 27 April 2003.
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    See D. Levin, Fighting Back: Lithuanian Jewrys Armed Resistance to the Nazis, 1941–1945 (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1985).Google Scholar
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    For the documents relating to these events, see S. Redlich, War, Holocaust and Stalinism: A Documented Study of Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee in the USSR (Luxembourg: Harwood Academic, 1995).Google Scholar
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    See J. Garrard, ‘The Nazi Holocaust in the Soviet Union: Interpreting Newly Opened Russian Archives’, East European Jewish Affairs, 25, 2(1995), 3–40.Google Scholar
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    As noted below, the book never appeared in the Soviet Union. The most complete version available in English is I. Ehrenburg and V. Grossman, The Complete Black Book of Russian Jewry (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2001).Google Scholar
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    B. Pinkus, The Soviet Government and the Jews: A Documented Study (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 167–8.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 170.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 495. This story earned Kipnis a reprimand for’bourgeois nationalism’; ibid., pp. 149–50.Google Scholar
  22. 24.
    I. Ehrenburg, The Storrn, trans. J. Fineberg (New York: Gaer Associates, 1949).Google Scholar
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    For a picture of this monument, see Z. Gitelman, A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union, 1881 to the Present, 2nd expanded edition (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001), p. 134.Google Scholar
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    For the classic study, see R. Conquest, Power and Policy in the USSR (New York: Macmillan, 1962). For more recent treatments see A. Weiner, Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001); and D. Brandenberger, National Bolshevism: Stalinist Mass Culture and the Formation of Modern Russian National Identity, 1931–1956 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002).Google Scholar
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    For an abridged English translation of the trial transcript, see J. Rubenstein and V.P. Naumov, eds., Stalins Secret Pogrom: the Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, trans. L.E. Wolfson (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2001).Google Scholar
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    See O.J. Pohl, Ethnic Cleansing in the USSR, 1937–1949 (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999).Google Scholar
  27. 38.
    For the English translation of the full novel, see A. Anatoli (Kuznetsov), Babi Yar (New York: Pocket Books, 1972).Google Scholar
  28. 39.
    A. Rybakov, Heavy Sand, trans. H. Shukman (London: Allen Lane, 1981).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Klier

There are no affiliations available

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