Friday, February 15, 2008

How Many Ukrainian Jews Were Killed by the Nazis?


I was just catching up with a couple of back issues of TIME Magazine and came across THIS horrific piece about the massacre of Ukrainian Jews by the Nazis. It seems that the numbers have been dramatically underestimated. The article tells the story of a Catholic Priest, Patrick Desbois, who has made it is his life's work to identify the estimated 1800 or so mass graves located throughout various forests in the country. It had been thought that 400,000 ukrainian Jews were killed in concentration camps and 1.1 million shot at close range. The numbers could well be far higher.
It's a fascinating and deeply horrifying story. And it only happened fewer than seventy years ago.

13 comments:

a gracious friend said...

I contributed to a report a number of years ago about estimating the the number of people who had died in the Indonesian invasion of Timor. The actual statistical act of trying to come with an estimate moved me enormously. Suddendly these hundreds of thousands became actual people who had been killed. We eventually came up with a figure of 300,000. It might have even been 1,000,000. I still think it is my duty to think about the lives they might haved lived. As far as as the Nazi killing of Jewish Ukranians go. Am I the only person who visits Eastern Europe and who sees the deep cultural hole left by the lack of the jews?

Yak40 said...

Yes, Hitler was racist whereas Stalin was an Equal Opportunity Killer. The deliberately engineered famines in the Ukraine in the 1930s saw the deaths of millions (overseen by one Nikita Kruschev).

The crimes of the USSR still mostly get a pass from the intellectuals even tho' Lenin's then Stalin's actions made Hitler look like a raw beginner.

Recommended source: The Black Book of Communism pub. 1999

tory boys never grow up said...

Yet you make silly comments about "Kulturkampf" and "Stalinism" when commenting on the the government's culture strategy. Do you think Ukrainians who suffered so much under both Hitler and Stalin might not think that the comparision was a little ridiculous. This is what these terms really mean.

Didn't a government minister recently say that the teaching of the Holocaust was to be non negotiable. Absolutely right.

wallenstein said...

It's shocking to think that so many "ordinary" Ukrainians were prefectly willing to aid the Nazis in the work at the execution pits.

One likes to think that we in the UK would resist such horrors, but the experiences of the Milgram and Stamford Prison experiments would suggest that we're all capable of such barbarity - I find that profoundly unsettling, which is why such care has to be taken with the way we approach questions of identity, nationality and culture.

Ted said...

As yak40 notes the horror of the Ukrainian Jewish Holocaust was in context of Ukraine only another in the litany of horrors that country suffered from.

It doesn't excuse but the people of a nation who lost at least 3.5 million in the famines of the early 30's (with tales of children shot for a handful of grain and cannabalism), suffered again in the great Purge of 1937 and then was hit by war in 1940 had perhaps lost a deal of common humanity.

The 20th Century was a century of manifest brutality from the Armenian Genocide through the Holcaust, Cambodia, Yugoslavia to Rwanda - lets hope this century will be better, though with Darfur already in progress the signs are not good.

Anonymous said...

a friend of mine told me (who was there) how in the Japanese retreat from Manchuria they negogiated with the Chinese following them to let their very young children go who would be eaten by the starving Chinese trailing them.

Let the 20th century go down in infamy for its absolute hideousness. Sometimes I think we are barely aware of what we did. 200m+ killed for the sake of crap right vs left wing ideologies. Ideologies that people on this website happily argue about as though the worst thing that could happen was the denial of a tax break to a Russian oligarch. Shame on you all.

Anonymous said...

Er, give up. How many?

neil craig said...

One of the things about genocide is that the numbers of victims go up or down not according to truth but according to political climate.

Thus, as examples, the murder of 6 million Jews gets far more coverage by western media than that of 24 million Soviets (to be fair many of the Jews were Soviets & vice versa) while reporting of the 1.5 million Yugoslav victims of genocide have been turned, in a very Orwellian sense into "unpersons". Indeed we gave massive military support to the ex-Nazi Croatian President who was on record not only as saying that genocide is "commanded by the word of god" but as denying that the Jasenovic camp in Croatia was a concentration camp & saying that not only did the Jewish Holocaust never happen but that the Jews did it to themselves.

More recently we see the "Srebrenica massacre" being a primary part of western pro-Nazi propaganda by the twin expedients of censoring out the mass of evidence that it never happened & even worse censoring any mention of the primary undisputed genocide of 3,800 Serb civilian (mainly women & children) by the Bosnian Nazi "soldiers" in Srebrincia.

And then we get the British media's deliberate complicity in censoring any mention whatsoever of the British government authorised genocide of 210 unarmed civilians at Dragocdan, Kosovo - carried out by NATO "police" in the UK zone as soon as NATO took over.

Unfortunately, because the victims cannot tell the truth it is far to easy to pretend that genocide is only carried out by our enemies of the day.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the various comments made in this thread. It is difficult to comprehend the sheer inhumanity and brutalily of the atrocities. News reports of the murder of a single person engages our sympathy; we can think of the victim as a person. Once deaths are reported in their hundreds and thousands, they become numbers: there is the danger of not being able to comprehend the sheer scale of what has happened in terms of the individuals who make up those numbers. In many respects, it de-humanises our thinking.

And as ted reminds us, let us not forget that such atrocities are not only features of the 20th Century but of the 21st as well. We live comfortable lives (and we complain about relatively minor things); how much time do we think about those who live in constant fear of attack and starvation?

Chris Paul said...

You know of course that many many Ukrainians worked for the Nazis - including in uniform - because they hated the Russians, and possibly the Jews, more?

Little Black Sambo said...

Anon said: "Ideologies that people on this website happily argue about as though the worst thing that could happen was the denial of a tax break to a Russian oligarch. Shame on you all."
= "I'm above it all. I'm a Lib Dem."

Yak40 said...

Chris Paul

So what ?

In some countries the Nazis were regarded as liberators from the Soviets; Ukraine, Finland, as obvious examples.

In others the Nazis provided the opportunities to "legally" persecute Jews and ethnic minorites e.g. The Muslim "Handschar" SS units recruited in Bosnia.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Little Black Sambo - What a pathetic party political point to make on such a serious topic.