The Destruction of the Ukrainian Jewry During World War II

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This book concentrates on the Holocaust in Southern and Southeastern Ukraine, as carried out by Nazi Germany and Antonescu’s Romania with the help of the local Ukrainians and ethnic German colonists. Topics such as the Jewish participation in resistance and opposition, collaboration among local inhabitants, and the interrelations of Jewish and non-Jewish population during the Holocaust will be emphasized.

The topic of the Jewish partisan activities comes under careful scrutiny. The difference will be drawn between the actual and alleged Jewish participation in the Soviet partisan movement, since under the pretext of anti-partisan counterattack, Wehrmacht, SS units and Einsatzgruppen were deployed in Ukraine to perform killing sprees on the Jews. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were murdered in the Ukraine under the cover of anti-partisan activities.

Two topics of particular concentration are the Crimean and Transnistrian Holocaust, both of which are unresearched subjects. The situation there was different from the other cities and towns in the Ukraine and thus requires further investigation and research. In Crimea, the Tatar anti-Semitism as well as the existence of two or more different Jewish separate groups, Karaites, Krimchaks and Rabbinical Jews, created a unique environment, which is analyzed in detailed discussion.

The Holocaust in Odessa, on the other hand, was carried out by the Romanians and not by Germans. The Romanian example is the only example of its kind in World War II. Romania was the only independent country directly involved in genocidal killing operations. The examination of the issues surrounding the willingness of Romanians to initiate and execute the killings is included. While the policies of the Romanian state were inspired by the widespread anti-Semitism, the petty bureaucrats were guided by greed and opportunity. The result of the latter led to the sufferings of many, but also opened a door of salvation for many others.


“An enormous amount of work has been published in recent years illuminating how the Nazi regime came to adopt a policy of genocide towards the Jews of Europe, whose goal was to murder every Jewish man, woman and child within the Nazi sphere of influence ... The importance of this study is that it investigates an aspect of Nazi policy which has been relatively neglected, the first stage of the genocide, when the mass killings were committed by mobile killing squads and in which the Nazis encouraged a degree of local participation. It focuses on Ukraine where local participation was a particularly important phenomenon ... What is particularly valuable is its description of how the mass murder took place in individual cities and towns, giving a human face to the victims of Nazi inhumanity.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Antony Polonsky, Brandeis University

“This book is a detailed presentation of the slaughters of Jews in the Nazi-occupied regions of the Southern Ukraine during World War II. Dr. Gesin particularly concentrates on a number of areas of scholarship that have not been sufficiently well-researched ... He also finds evidence that the Wehrmacht, which has hitherto denied participation in the murders of Jews, acted in aid of the infamous Einsatzgruppen ... This work shall have a significant impact upon this particular phase of the Holocaust and should appeal to both amateur historians and more seasoned researchers.” – Professor Robert M. Spector, Worcester State College

“ ... This is a unique and useful book representing a thorough study documenting the genocide of the Ukrainian Jews in World War II. Many of its primary sources have been untouched by scholars, even by Russian and Ukrainian scholars. For this reason alone, it is a remarkable book. Despite the many books and articles published on the Holocaust, Dr. Gesin places emphasis on the fate of smaller communities in Ukraine and Transnistria, rather than the well-researched cities and larger towns. He puts names and faces on the people murdered to shed light on this important and previously unresearched subject ... This book will fill an important gap in Holocaust literature, a gap that needs to be brought to light ...” – Professor Peter C. Holloran, Worcester State College

Table of Contents

Foreword by Antony Polansky
Part I – The Beginning of the End
1. The Soviet Jewry on the eve of the Second World War
2. Invasion and Beginning of Genocide
3. Ukrainians and Jews: A Complex History of Hate and Tolerance
Part II – Case Studies
4. Case Study I: The Romanian Holocaust: The Genocide in Transnistria
5. Case Study II: Holocaust in Crimea
6. Case Study III: Central Ukraine
7. Case Study IV: Southeastern Ukraine
Selected Bibliography

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