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Fine study of the Nazis' genocide in Ukraine during WWII
This is a vivid account of the appalling Nazi occupation of Europe’s eastern lands. Lower focuses on the Zhytomyr region of Ukraine. She examines how “Nazi-style militarism, colonialism, and genocidal population policies came together in one particular place and how the indigenous population there coped and, in inconceivably large numbers, tragically died under German rule.” The Nazis killed 4.1 million Ukrainian civilians and destroyed more than 700 cities and 28,000 villages.
The Nazis used the worst colonial practices – forced population movements, slave labour, violence, racism, and mass murder – in Eastern Europe. As she remarks, “In carrying out their war of extermination in the East, Nazi leaders effectively marshalled a deep-seated German contempt for the ‘inferior’ peoples of the East.”
Lower points out that “During the Cold War, German scholars, politicians and Russian-German émigrés in America lobbied on behalf of the ethnic Germans who suffered under the Soviets, while they ignored the significant role the Volksdeutsche played as collaborators in the ‘Final Solution’ and other Nazi occupation policies in the East.” Lower details the Ukrainian nationalist organisation’s ‘collaboration with the Nazis and perpetration of atrocities against Poles and Jews’.
In his book on the Ukraine, Harvest of Sorrow, the Foreign Office propagandist (and Thatcher speech-writer) Robert Conquest had devoted just one sentence to this genocidal Nazi occupation, calling it ‘a period between two waves of Red Terror’.
By contrast, Lower concludes, “what the Nazis attempted to achieve in the region and how they implemented their imperialistic, criminal policies represented a dramatically different episode in Ukraine’s history, unlike the Stalinist campaigns of the 1930s and the subsequent, relatively relaxed Soviet policies of the postwar period. The Germans introduced familiar colonial forms of rule as well as initiating revolutionary racial programs that were genocidal. The first step, as the Nazis saw it, in fulfilling their utopian plans for the East was the destruction of the Jews.”
She sums up, “In Ukraine’s history of man-made disasters, mostly imposed from the outside, the Nazi occupation stands out as the worst episode.”
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Posted December 27, 2013
What would it mean to be human?
A case study of the Zhytomyr area in West Central Ukraine gives a horrifying picture of the Holocaust as it unfolded there in 1941-1944. Ukraine was to be a lovely garden for the German people, in Hitler's view, but first they'd have to kill the Bolsheviks and Jews, reshape the local ethnic Germans, and teach the Ukranians who was boss.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
The directors and perpetrators of the mass murder of Jews and others made gestures toward secrecy sufficient to suggest that they knew the monstrous crimes they were committing. Their crimes were nonetheless so public and their policy so explicit that there was no doubt and can be no doubt of what they did.
The version for NOOK had minor e-formatting problems. When the events described became too much to bear, I hid behind the opportunity to highlight run-on words: theirsecurity, ordeath, thewar, theireyes, laydead, thewaras....