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Yad Vashem Studies, Vol. 47:2 (2019)

This issue’s five research articles address a variety of subjects. Two examine aspects of the Holocaust in Ukraine – Aleksandr Kruglov and Kiril Feferman on the murder of the Jews in the Odessa region in early 1942 and Yuri Radchenko on OUN-M and collaboration of Ukrainian militias in the Holocaust. Three articles examine issues relating to survivors and remembrance – Sharon Kangisser Cohen on Dr. Paul Friedman’s 1947 report on the psychological conditions of surviving Jewish children in Europe; Sharon Geva on female witnesses at the Eichmann trial; and Eleni Kostopoulou on the decades-long struggle over the Holocaust memorial in Thessaloniki. The issue also includes review articles by Gabriel Finder, Antony Polonsky, Beth Cohen, and Edward Westermann.

Abstract

In February 1940, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) split into two factions: the OUN-B led by Stepan Bandera; and the OUN-M led by Colonel Andrii Mel’nyk. Since the members of the OUN-B gained the upper hand in the radical national wing of the movement and often held leadership positions, scholarly research has tended to focus on the activities of the OUN-B, leaving the OUN-M relatively obscure. This article focuses on the OUN-M and its activities during the German occupation. From the summer of 1941 to the winter of 1941/1942, fifty-three members and sympathizers of the OUN-M composed declarations and drafted their biographies for the movement’s leadership. Who were the people who wrote these declarations and wished to collaborate with the Nazis at that time? How many of them were members of the OUN-M? What was their background? Another open question is the fate of these men during the German-Soviet invasions of Poland in September 1939, when OUN militants launched an uprising in Galicia and Volhynia. What motivated them to volunteer for service in the occupation apparatus? In which organs of that apparatus did the writers of the declarations go on to serve? Did they take part in anti-Jewish actions, either directly or indirectly? What was their postwar fate? This article attempts to answer these and other questions.

Abstract

After the Shoah, the adult world which for the most part had not managed to save the millions of Jewish children, were now put to the task of having to rehabilitate the remnant that had survived. Arguably one of the most significant aid organizations in the immediate post-war period was the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Whilst the need to give material assistance to the children was a given, members of the Health committee of the JDC raised the need to provide the young survivors with emotional and psychological support. As a result, the JDC appointed the psychiatrist Dr. Paul Friedman, to conduct a study on the state of child survivors of the Shoah currently living in institutions in Europe. From July 10-December 20, 1946, Friedman travelled to Europe in order to conduct his study. His report is entitled: “A Survey of the Mental Conditions of the Surviving Jewish People,” is a rich and telling document which is an invaluable resource for social historians of the immediate post-war period as well as for researchers of who examine the effects of trauma on young children.

Abstract

The article examines the Eichmann trial from a gender perspective by discussing selected testimonies of women at the trial, thus shedding light on this formative event in Israeli society and history. Central in the article are the testimonies of four women at the trial: Zivia Lubetkin, the ghetto fighter and one of the heroines of the Warsaw ghetto uprising; Rivka Yoselewska, a mother who climbed out of a death pit, leaving her murdered daughter behind; Rachel Auerbach, a member of the Oyneg Shabbes team and, in Israel, a pioneer at Yad Vashem; Vera Alexander, who had been a “kapo” at Auschwitz. Their testimonies are discussed in view of the goals of the trial as set forth by the Prime Minister at the time, David Ben-Gurion; in the general context of testimonies at the trial; and in the light of the traditional division of gender roles as reflected in the dynamics of the testimonies and the responses to them. The discussion illustrates the way women participated in shaping the Eichmann trial as a constitutive event in Israeli’s social history and demonstrates the main historical importance of the testimonies: not in presenting new information about the Holocaust but in reflecting trends of thought in the place and at the time of the trial and about its targets—Israeli society in the early 1960s. Thus they, like other artifacts, show that the Eichmann trial was a product of its time.

Abstract

This article presents and analyzes the Memorial dedicated to the genocide of the Jews of Thessaloniki in 1942-1943. Memorial and memory are two concepts inextricably linked together. Memorial serves memory faithfully however it does not simply reproduce the past but gives it a new meaning through a confrontation process of different discourses. Of course, in this way, the details of the historical event represented may be lost in oblivion, but the creation of collective representations is a more important historical process. Regarding the Holocaust Memorial in Salonika, after its inauguration, it became the field of difficult competition between the discourse of the Jewish Community of Thessaloniki, who wanted to present the Holocaust as an unprecedented crime against humanity, and the discourse of the local community (as expressed mainly by the Mayor and local trade unions), who found the opportunity to deny the importance of the Holocaust.

 

Reviews

Review on Ian Rich. Holocaust Perpetrators of the German Police Battalions: The Mass Murder of Jewish Civilians, 1940-1942. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. 241 pp.

Abstract

Ian Rich’s Holocaust Perpetrators of the German Police Battalions examines a generational cohort of junior police officers employing a demographic analysis of Police Battalions 304 and 314 in order to evaluate how the social backgrounds and pre-deployment training of these men shaped their beliefs and actions, and, more significantly, how this cohort led the men under their command to participate in acts of mass killing.  Rich identifies the lieutenants and captains as the vanguards of annihilation in the destruction of the European Jews due to their influence on the rank and file in prosecuting genocide in the East.

Review of Gabriel N. Finder and Alexander Prusin, Justice behind the Iron Curtain: Nazis on Trial in Communist Poland

Abstract

Justice behind the Iron Curtain: Nazis on Trial in Communist Poland by Gabriel Finder and Alexander Prusin is a well-researched but often disturbing book. The authors present two separate studies. The first is an account of the “war crimes trials” that took place in Poland between 1946 and 1959. The second is an extensive and valuable discussion of what we can learn from these trials about the perpetrators of the crimes, which adds significantly to what we know about their motives. The authors clearly demonstrate the Polish trials’ resemblance to Western proceedings, the general acceptance of legal standards, and the contrast with the trials in the GDR. Notwithstanding a few understatements, Justice behind the Iron Curtain is a welcome addition to the literature on the topic, especially in light of the sedulous efforts in recent years to develop jurisprudence for dealing with genocide, mass killing, and crimes against humanity.

Review on Mathew Turner, Historians at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial: Their Role as Expert Witnesses. London and New York: I.B. Taurus, 2018, 236 pp.

Abstract

In Historians at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial: Their Role as Expert Witnesses, Mathew Turner examines the role played by four prominent German historians at the 1963-1965 Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial and their subsequent influence on West Germany’s confrontation with its Nazi past. Turner argues that historians have underestimated the significance of the historians’ expert testimony and the relationship between law and history at the trial. Turner’s book deepens our understanding of the trial by highlighting the participation of historians. It missed an opportunity, however, for deeper analysis of their agency in shaping the narrative of this trial and subsequent German trials for Nazi-era crimes.

Review article on Francoise Ouzan, How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt their Lives: France, the United States, and Israel

Abstract

Françoise S. Ouzan, How Young Holocaust Survivors Rebuilt their Lives: France, the United States, and Israel analyzes the experience of young Holocaust survivors who settled in France, the United States, and Israel after the Holocaust. Using forty in-depth interviews and others from several testimony collections, Ouzan explores the national context in which young survivors rebuilt their postwar lives. She argues that, despite their traumatic beginnings, the young people showed exceptional resilience and achieved tremendous success, both professionally and personally. Her work shines a light on the experiences of a very select group, rather than those whose narratives were less triumphant.