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Research Articles on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union

Research on the Holocaust in the Soviet Union involves a broad spectrum of issues relating to the Nazi policy of the genocide against the Jews, as well as to the attitudes of the Soviet authorities and of the Soviet population regarding this policy. The chronological range of such research extends from the historical events themselves to contemporary forms of memory regarding the Holocaust and World War II.

This section includes academic articles as well as short historical essays on specific topics that have not yet received adequate scholarly attention. This material is intended both to enhance understanding of specific topics.

Murder site of Shaumyan Jews near Vorobyovka village

The Holocaust of the Krymchaks

Krymchaks were among the most ancient inhabitants of the Crimean PeninsulaOn the Krymchaks’ history, see Igor Achkinazi, Krymchaki, Istoriko-etnograficheskii ocherk (Simferopol, 2000) (Russian); Wolf Moskovicz and Boris Tukan, “Edat hakrymchakim: toldoteihem, tarbutam uleshonam,” Pe'amim, 14 (1982), pp. 5–31 (Hebrew); Michael Zand, “Krymchaks,” in Gershon David Hundert, editor-in-chief, The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, vol. 1 (New York: YIVO Institute for Jewish Research; Yale University Press, 2008), pp. 948-951. .  The first Jews probably...
Contemporary view of the murder site

The Holocaust of the Mountain Jews

The Mountain Jews lived in the Eastern and Southern Caucasus (mainly in Krasnaia Sloboda in Azerbaijan), as well as in various autonomous republics of the modern-day Russian Federation: Chechnya, Dagestan (the town of Derbent), Karachay-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria (the town of Nalchik), and North Ossetia (Mozdok). The Jewish communities in the Eastern Caucasus apparently emerged in the early medieval period, as a result of the settling of Persian Jews along trade routes. From the beginning of the 19th century, all the Mountain Jewish communities lay within the Russian Empire, and later in the...
Jews or Soviets? Identity Challenges Faced by Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army when they Encountered the Holocaust

Jews or Soviets? Identity Challenges Faced by Jewish Soldiers in the Red Army when they Encountered the Holocaust

“I had been at the front for quite some time and had seen all kinds of gruesome sights, but nothing can compare to what I see here. The dead bodies are piled up three meters high in deep ditches. Nobody knows the number of the dead – there must be as many as there were people in Liady. Here lie babies, children, and old people – all the Jews of Liady…” So wrote Vladimir Pomerantsev, an officer in the Red Army and a former correspondent of a Yiddish newspaper, to the editors of the Soviet Yiddish newspaper Eynikayt (Unity). On October 8, 1943, Pomerantsev was...
Abraham (Arkadi) Katzevman (Timor) on the right, in front of his tank

How Soviet Jewish Soldiers Met the Challenges of War

When Major Isaak Chizhik was asked if he was scared of the danger he was facing, he replied: "Believe me: I don't want to die. I have three sons. But I don't want people to say that Jews are cowards."
Babi Yar, Ukraine, October 1941, German Police Searching through the Clothing of Murdered Jews

The Subject of “Jews in Babi Yar” in the Soviet Union in the Years 1941–1945

Studies by Karel Berkhoff, Mordechai Altshuler, and Dov Ber Kerler1 have shown that the topic of the Holocaust was present in the Soviet media to a far greater extent than was previously assumed. In addition to information about Jewish deaths that was conveyed through newspapers and eyewitness accounts, the interpretation of data and the interpersonal exchange of knowledge and opinions played a particularly important role in understanding the Holocaust. In numerous instances Soviet Jews had no need of an explicit reference to the Jewishness of the victims, especially once the Nazis’ special...
Nowogródek – The Story of a Shtetl

Nowogródek – The Story of a Shtetl

Tracing the story of Jewish life and death in the small Jewish townships (shtetlach in Yiddish) in what is today’s western Belarus and western Ukraine just prior to and during World War II is both challenging and complicated. As I have noted elsewhere, only very few monographic studies exist on these shtetlach, other than those that I have published. The need for monographic studies on East European shtetlach, beyond the obvious historical, cultural, and social importance of these townships, lies in the fact that a high proportion of the Jewish population in pre-war Poland — possibly...
The Distress of Jews in the Soviet Union  in the Wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

The Distress of Jews in the Soviet Union in the Wake of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact

Many studies dealing with the Holocaust consider the question of why more Jews in the Soviet Union, within its borders up to 1939, did not escape after the 1941 German invasion. The present article addresses this question in terms of two primary issues: what the Jews in the Soviet Union knew during this period about the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews in Germany and the occupied areas, and how this information or lack thereof influenced the Jews in light of the non-aggression
pact that their country concluded with Nazi Germany.
Soviet Reactions to the Eichmann Trial:  A Preliminary Investigation 1960–1965

Soviet Reactions to the Eichmann Trial: A Preliminary Investigation 1960–1965

Since the Soviet Union maintained a consistent silence with regard to the various aspects of the Holocaust, an analysis of the Soviet reaction to the Eichmann trial is an important means to examine their attitude to the Holocaust in general. The trial, which drew international attention, received considerable press coverage, and the Soviet media was therefore unable to ignore it. As a result, researchers can draw on a lengthy series of newspaper reports, articles, and even books about the Eichmann trial that were published in the Soviet Union.