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Pogroms, mob violence and genocide in western Ukraine, summer 1941: varied histories, explanations and comparisons

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In this essay, the author presents new research, as well as surveys existing interpretations, of the history of pogroms in Ukraine during the Holocaust. Focusing on western Ukraine during summer 1941, the author determines that across the region Jews were the primary targets of attacks, but the politics and dynamic of the mob violence and among the occupation forces varied from place to place. Besides the powerful, antisemitic charge of Judeo-Bolshevism, the author explores other political, social, psychological and ideological causes of the violence. She stresses the cross section of society represented among the pogromists, and the role of nationalist insurgents and German occupation officials. The author traces the relationship between the German-led mass shootings and the pogroms, and argues that distinctions made between mob violence and genocide usually fail to account for the changing interaction of the two phenomena. The overlapping, escalating history of the two is especially evident in western Volhynia where, unlike in neighbouring Galicia, the number of Jews killed in mass shootings exceeded those killed in pogroms. Thus by the end of September 1941, in the eastern capital of Kiev, there was no large pogrom comparable to the ‘Petliura Days’, in L'viv, instead there was Babi Yar.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 September 2011

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