20 May 2011

Ukrainians, Jews and the Holocaust

The newly published issue of Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity (Vol. 39, No. 3, 2011) features a Special Section: Ukrainians, Jews and the Holocaust. Three brilliant articles by leading scholars in the field -

Marco Carynnyk, "Foes of our rebirth: Ukrainian nationalist discussions about Jews, 1929-1947"

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, or OUN, came into being in 1929 as an “integral nationalist” movement that set itself the goal of driving Polish landowners and officials out of eastern Galicia and Volhynia, joining hands with Ukrainians in other countries, and establishing an independent state. The OUN defined Jews, along with Russians and Poles, as aliens and enemies. There was no need, wrote an OUN ideologist in 1929, to list all the injuries that Jews caused Ukrainians. “In addition to a number of external enemies Ukraine also has an internal enemy … Jewry and its negative consequences for our liberation http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifcause can be liquidated only by an organized collective effort”. The article examines archival documents, publications by OUN members, and recent scholarly literature to trace the evolution of OUN thinking about Jews from 1929 through the war years, when the German occupation of Ukraine gave the OUN an opportunity to stage pogroms and persecute Jews, and the prime minister of the state that the OUN proclaimed wrote that he supported “the destruction of the Jews and the expedience of bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine”.

John-Paul Himka, "Debates in Ukraine over nationalist involvement in the Holocaust, 2004-2008"

The article concerns debate about the memory of the Holocaust in Ukraine. It covers the period 2004-2008.

Aleksandr Burakovskiy, "Holocaust remembrance in Ukraine: memorialization of the Jewish tragedy at Babi Yar"

At the core of the debate in Ukraine about Babi Yar lies the Holocaust. Between 1941 and 1943 1.5 million Jews perished in Ukraine, yet a full understanding of that tragedy has been suppressed consistently by ideologies and interpretations of history that minimize or ignore this tragedy. For Soviet ideologues, admitting to the existence of the Holocaust would have been against the tenet of a “Soviet people” and the aggressive strategy of eliminating national and religious identities. A similar logic of oneness is being applied now in the ideological formation of an independent Ukraine. However, rather than one Soviet people, now there is one Ukrainian people under which numerous historical tragedies are being subsumed, and the unique national tragedies of other peoples on the territory of Ukraine, such as the massive destruction of Jews, is again being suppressed. According to this political idea assiduously advocated most recently during the Yushchenko presidency, the twentieth century in Ukraine was a battle for liberation. Within this new, exclusive history, the Holocaust, again, has found no real place. The author reviews the complicated history regarding the memorialization of the Jewish tragedy in Babi Yar through three broad chronological periods: 1943-1960, 1961-1991, and 1992-2009.

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