World War II in Ukraine:

Jewish Holocaust in Ukraine

Andrew Gregorovich

Jewish Holocaust in Ukraine

"ANNOUNCEMENT ... Sentenced to Death:" Ten Ukrainian victims of the German occupation of which number 7, Stefan Zubovich, was executed "for helping Jews." Issued in Sambir, March 1, 1944 by the "SS and Head of Police for the District of Galicia."

In 1939 the Jewish population of Ukraine was 1.5 million (1,532,776) or 3% of the total population of Ukraine. When the War started on June 22, 1941 the Soviet Government first of all ordered the execution of all 19,000 Ukrainian political prisoners in western Ukraine (750,000 had already been killed or exiled to Siberia) and then the evacuation of 3.5 million key personnel to the east, to Russia. These evacuees included many Jews who were highly educated, and were scientists, skilled workers, Communist bureacrats, and NKVD secret police. The total evacuated was estimated to be about one-half to two-thirds of the total Jewish population of Ukraine (Reitlinger p. 251).

As the German Army swept east across Ukraine it included German Einsatzgruppen with 500 to 1,000 men which were special mobile killing squads ordered to carry out "The Final Solution" of killing all Jews. Ukraine had been the major part of the Jewish Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire and in the 19th century probably had the most Jews of any country in the world. Within a few days of capturing Ukrainian cities like Lutsk, Zhitomir and Berdichev in the Summer of 1941 thousands of Jews were killed. A total of 600,000 Ukrainian Jews perished. Most of these executions were carried out by the SS Standartfuehrer Paul Blobel who was the officer of the Sonderkommando 4A, Einsatzgruppe C. Only German personnel, no Ukrainians, were members of the Einsatzgruppe C and D which were assigned to Ukraine.

Blobel commanded the killing of the Ukrainian Jews of Kiev at Babyn Yar (Babi Yar) on September 29-30, 1941. Blobel's unit killed 33,771 Jews in less than two days which was not equaled in Auschwitz or any other death camp. Babyn Yar was commemorated on its 50th Anniversary in 1991 by the Government of Ukraine which has also built two monuments for the victims of Babyn Yar. Blobel was tried at Nuremberg and hanged on June 8, 1951 in Landsberg Prison in Bavaria, Germany.

In all the countries of Europe the Nazis found collaborators willing to help in their crimes and Ukraine was no exception. These collaborators were criminal elements who constituted only a tiny fraction of a few thousand in a total population of 40 million. Ukrainians had proportionately the smallest number of collaborators of all 14 East European countries and most of them were caught and executed at the end of the War. All WW II war criminals should be brought to justice.

Moscow saw an opportunity to sow discord in Ukraine and its propaganda accused the UPA, other Ukrainian nationalists and the "Ukrainian" Police of anti-Jewish crimes and other crimes. But the "Ukrainian" Police, (Ukrainische Hilfungspolizei/Ukrainian Auxiliary Police) were often not Ukrainians by origin at all, but represented many nationalities. For instance, Poles, Volksdeutsche (local Germans) and even Russians speaking the Russian language were often called "Ukrainian" Police.

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Copyright © 1995 Andrew Gregorovich

Reprinted from FORUM Ukrainian Review No. 92, Spring 1995

since March 1st 1997