- Die Verfolgung und Ermordung der europäischen Juden durch das national-sozialistischen Deutschland, 1933–1945, vol. 7: Sowjetunion mit annektierten Gebieten I ed. by Bert Hoppe, Hildrun Glass, and: vol. 9: Polen: Generalgouvernement, August 1941–1945 ed. by Klaus-Peter Friedrich
If these two volumes are indicative of the depth and quality of this ambitious sixteen-volume set chronicling Nazi Germany’s effort to annihilate the European Jews between 1933 and 1945, then within the next decade specialists and lay readers will be able to construct an informed overview of the conception, planning, implementation, impact, and consequences of Nazi “Final Solution” policy at virtually all general locations in space and time. They contain an outstanding compilation of carefully selected documents, expertly introduced—with foreign texts translated into German—and superbly annotated and indexed. The collection is broad, spanning the actions and concerns of Germans and collaborators, the fate and response of Jewish victims, and the perspectives of eyewitnesses—hostile, sympathetic, and indifferent—who participated in, witnessed, or benefited from actions, and/or transmitted information. It is also deep, ranging from Hitler himself to the individual shooter; from well-known ghetto figures such as Chaim Kaplan to scarcely-known Jewish and non-Jewish diarists and observers.
Volume 7 is one of two volumes devoted to Axis-occupied Soviet territory. It covers the Reich Commissariat Ostland (103 documents); Romanian-occupied territory (49 documents); and regions under German military occupation, including the Western USSR (for brief periods) and territory never transferred to civilian authority (180 documents).1 Containing 296 documents, volume 9 covers the so-called Government [End Page 286] General (Generalgouvernement)2 during the period from August 1941 until February 1945.3 Each volume provides a well-crafted, concise historical overview. Volume 7 includes helpful summaries of the history of the Jews in the Russian Empire, in the USSR, and in the territories annexed by the Soviets in 1939–40, as well as discussions of German preparations and goals for the invasion, and of the fate of Jews who fled from the borderlands to the Soviet interior. Volume 9 outlines “the path to systematic mass murder” trod by German authorities in the Government General. These summaries cover the Holocaust in all its aspects: ghettoization, deportation, shooting operations, killing centers, forced labor, and theft and disposal of Jewish-owned property. They depict Jewish responses as well: Jewish councils and police forces, daily life in the ghetto, resistance; and the responses of indirect participants and non-participants. In lieu of a bibliography the summaries reference the most important secondary and postwar sources.4 Annotations for the documents contain archival citations, biographical data for persons mentioned in documents, definitions of terms, clarification of geographical locations, and reference to other relevant documents in the collection.
The editors wisely limited themselves to contemporaneous documents, eschewing photographs, postwar memoirs, and trial testimony, though such materials are frequently referenced in footnotes. Generally, complete texts appear, though some longer items are excerpted; for example, a May 8, 1942 entry from a handwritten account by Jewish historian Emanuel Ringelblum on events in and outside the Warsaw ghetto (Volume 9, no. 70), or Lublin SS and Police Leader Odilo Globocnik’s January 5, 1944 concluding report on “Operation Reinhard”—the murder and exploitation of Jewish lives and property in the Government General (Volume 9, no. 281). Detailed descriptions of documents and their locations should satisfy specialists who cannot get to the archives. The appendices include a glossary of unfamiliar terms and lesser-known organizations; a listing of abbreviations and of archives referenced as repositories; a systematic general subject index (e.g., Gewalt [violence] in Volume 9 or “indigenous auxiliary police” in Volume 7); and three superb indices, respectively for geographical location, names, and organizations. With such tools at hand, and with an English-language translation in preparation, college...