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Fascism and Fanaticism

In response to:

How Guilty Were the Germans? from the May 31, 1984 issue

To the Editors:

Istvan Deak’s discussion of German guilt on the eve of and during the Second World War [NYR, May 31] contained a number of allusions to related problems in Eastern Europe. He mentioned the Ukrainians three times: twice as collaborators in the extermination of the Jews and once as a nation that the SS felt was in part suitable for Nazi racial goals. A reader unfamiliar with the facts could arrive at the false impression that the Ukrainians were, on the whole, pro-Nazi. This is far from the truth. According to authoritative Soviet publications, 2.5 million Ukrainians served in the Soviet Armed Forces during the Second World War and another 600,000 in antifascist partisan units. When Deak mentioned the 3.3 million Soviet POWs starved to death by the German occupation forces, he called them all “Russian,” although many Ukrainians perished in the POW camps as well. Why single out the Ukrainians by nationality when it comes to murdering the Jewish population and melt them down into Russians when they risked and gave their lives in the fight against fascism?

John-Paul Himka

Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies

University of Alberta

Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

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