- The Holocaust in the Soviet Union: Studies and Sources on the Destruction of the Jews in the Nazi-Occupied Territories of the USSR, 1941-1945 (review)
- Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
- Purdue University Press
- Volume 13, Number 4, Summer 1995
- pp. 94-96
- View Citation
- Additional Information
94 SHOFAR Summer 1995 Vol. 13, No.4 and also with all their blemishes. I would say that this book could serve as a paradigm for future Holocaust studies, except that I know there are not enough scholars around with the qualifications to imitate what Professor Tec has done. David H. Hirsch Departments of English and Judaic Studies Brown University The Holocaust in the Soviet Union: Studies and Sources on the Destruction of the Jews in the Nazi-Occupied Territories of the USSR, 1941-1945, edited by Lucjan Dobroszycki and Jeffrey S. Gurock. Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe, Inc., 1993. 320 pp. $59.95 (c); $24.95 (P). During the summer of 1994, Dr. IIya Altman, Director of the Center for Holocaust Studies in Moscow, visited the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington. Like most visitors, he was impressed with most of the displays, except those relating to destruction of up to 1.5 million Jews on Soviet territories. His comment was that displays on that subject were disproportionately small. That type of omission was logical during the period when the Museum was being planned, as the Cold War was not yet over. However, since 1986, more and more documents have become available from the former Soviet archives and a new edition of Ehrenburg's Black Book on Soviet Jewry has been reprinted in Russian, edited by Altman. This volume is the result of the first major conference of the postSoviet era held at Yeshiva University in October 1991 on the Holocaust in Soviet lands. It is important because it represents the research that has been conducted recently utilizing some of the archives opened to Western scholars in the era of glasnost, as well as some of the first major reinterpretations of events from a part of the world that hitherto had denied the specificity of Jewish suffering. One section of the book deals with Soviet policies toward the Jews and how interpretation of the Holocaust was affected by official Soviet ideologies and international politics, particularly anti-Zionism. The second section contains articles dealing with the specificity ofJewish losses after September 1939, such as in Transnistria. The last section contains some valuable articles and materials regarding sources for the study of this subject in the post-Soviet era, which includes an exceptionally interesting demographic study by Sergei Maksudov which Book Reviews 95 concludes that Jewish losses from all causes in the pre-1939 Soviet borders were about one million lives. Zvi Gitelman's article on "Soviet Reactions to the Holocaust" surveys differing perceptions of the arrival of the Soviet army in Eastern Poland, the Baltic States, and Bessarabia after September 17, 1939. He correctly points out that while Jews generally welcomed the Soviet army, other peoples saw it as an invader. Mordechai Altshuler provides a well documented article on the escape and evacuation policies regarding both Polish and Soviet Jews in 1939 and 1941. Altshuler provides evidence to suggest that pre-1939 SovietJewish populations knew a lot about atrocities in Poland before the war in Russia began in June 1941, despite varying levels of Soviet censorship. Altshuler also denies there was a special policy to rescue Jews by the Soviet leadership, although a higher percentage of Jews did escape because of varying factors, including their urban focus, organized evacuations from cities, their mobility and willingness to relocate, and intelligence from both official and unofficial sources about genocidal policies that had occurred in Poland. An article by Lukasz Hirszkowicz provides an exceptionally interesting analysis of how Soviet historiography and the press were successful in distorting cases of Jewish destruction. For example, through the 1960s Soviet press coverage of the uprising in the Sobibor death camp, developed and undertaken by Soviet Jewish officers, ignored the strongJewish role. Jews were at all times placed in last place after other groups of victims. Soviet history books routinely ignored the existence of Jewish ghettos established by Nazi occupation forces. Hirzkowicz's research shows the complexity of war crimes trials in the USSR and the treatment of the Jewish extermination. In most trials, actions against Jews and the specificity of the Holocaust were ignored. The most famous event which perhaps best symbolized this question in Ukraine...