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The Holocaust in the East

Local Perpetrators and Soviet Responses

Edited by Michael David-Fox, Peter Holquist, and Alexander M. Martin

Publication Year: 2014

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. This volume combines revised articles from the journal Kritika and previously unpublished pieces to highlight the complex interactions of prejudice, power, and publicity.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.

Published by: University of Pittsburgh Press

Series: Pitt Series in Russian and East European Studies, Kritika Historical Studies

Front Cover

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pp. C-C

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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Michael David-Fox

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pp. vii-xiv

The study of the Holocaust in the English language was for a number of its formative decades only slightly connected to the field of Russian and Soviet history. During the lifetime of the Soviet Union, Soviet sources on the genocide of the Jews on Soviet territory—the “Holocaust in the East”—were almost...

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1: Introduction: A Reconfigured Terrain

John-Paul Himka

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pp. 1-4

This book opens with an analysis by Marci Shore—nuanced, poking at every tender spot—of Jan Gross’s Neighbors and 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...

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2: Conversing with Ghosts: Jedwabne, Żydokomuna, and Totalitarianism

Marci Shore

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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...

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3: The Soviet Union, the Holocaust, and Auschwitz

Harvey Asher

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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...

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4: Patterns of Violence: The Local Population and the Mass Murder of Jews in Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, July–August 1941

Vladimir Solonari

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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—...

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5: "Total Annihilation of the Jewish Population" The Holocaust in the Soviet Media, 1941–45

Karel C. Berkhoff

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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...

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6: People and Procedures: Toward a History of the Investigation of Nazi Crimes in the USSR

Marina Sorokina, Translated by David Habecker

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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..

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7: An Analysis of Soviet Postwar Investigation and Trial Documents and Their Relevance for Holocaust Studies

Diana Dumitru

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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. The 27-year-old Moldovan quickly deserted the military and went into hiding, perhaps not interested in fighting for his newly acquired fatherland...

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8: A Disturbed Silence: Discourse on the Holocaust in the Soviet West as an Anti-Site of Memory

Tarik Cyril Amar

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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...

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9: The Holocaust in the East: Participation and Presentation

Zvi Gitelman

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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...


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pp. 193-262


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pp. 263-266

Back Cover

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pp. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780822979494
E-ISBN-10: 0822979497
Print-ISBN-13: 9780822962939
Print-ISBN-10: 0822962934

Page Count: 280
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Pitt Series in Russian and East European Studies, Kritika Historical Studies
Series Editor Byline: Jonathan Harris, Series Editor See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 875635723
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Holocaust in the East

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Subject Headings

  • Antisemitism -- Soviet Union.
  • Soviet Union -- History -- German occupation, 1941-1944.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Soviet Union -- Historiography.
  • Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945) -- Soviet Union.
  • Jews -- Persecutions -- Soviet Union -- History -- 20th century.
  • Soviet Union -- Ethnic relations.
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