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The Holocaust in Russia, Photographed

The Soviet Union obscured victims’ Jewishness

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One of the earliest photographs of the Holocaust in Russia.(Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine)

A forthcoming book details the official Soviet practice of explaining photographs of Jewish victims of the Nazis—among the first visual documents of the Holocaust—as evidence not of anti-Jewish violence but of broader malevolence toward “the Soviet people,” whose country the Germans invaded in 1941.

Even more poignantly: The photographs were almost always taken by Jews.

David Shneer, a professor at the University of Colorado, writes in Through Soviet Jewish Eyes that the Soviet government wanted citizens to view these products of its nearly all-Jewish corps of photojournalists and believe that the Nazis had not distinguished among their victims.

“During World War II,” an article about the book in Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine reports, “the Soviets saw an advantage in framing the Nazi assault as being against the entire nation, not just Jewish people. As Shneer observes, there was a rationale: ‘Do you think a bunch of Russian peasants wanted to go fight a war because of Jews?’”

Take the photograph above. It was originally captioned, “Kerch resident P.I. Ivanova found her husband, who was tortured by the fascist executioners.” There is no note of the fact that her husband was likely one of 7,500 Kerch Jews murdered, for being Jews, before the Red Army retook that southern city.

Another, similar photograph was captioned, “V.S. Tereshchenko digs under bodies for her husband. On the right: the body of 67-year-old I. Kh. Kogan.” The name Tereshchenko (a Ukrainian surname) is still alive; the Kogan is not.

The photographer’s name? Mark Redkin.

A few months ago, Tablet Magazine editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse looked at how Roman Vishniac’s famous photographs have also been put to use crafting an alternate narrative for the Jews of Europe.

Prof Uncovers Early Holocaust Photos [Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine]
Related: A Closer Reading of Roman Vishniac [NYT Magazine]

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I don’t get the connection between the use of Vishniac’s photography in popular mythology about Jewish life in Eastern Europe, and how the Soviet covered up the Holocaust in the USSR.

Yes, technically, both are examples of an incomplete truth being presented via photography, but the purposes, and results, are so wildly different that the comparison is more than a little far-fetched.

allenby says:

“…an article about the book in Colorado Arts & Sciences Magazine reports, “the Soviets saw an advantage in framing the Nazi assault as being against the entire nation, not just Jewish people. As Shneer observes, there was a rationale…”

WHAT??? it’s not clear to me what is the exact meaning here ???
of course the whole goal and clear objective of the germany in WWII was the destruction of the USSR. The “Jewish Solution” was number two in priority. Is Shneer saying here that the extermination of the Jews in Russia was the ultimate goal of the whole war for Hitler ? it sounds like…
btw, the biggest Jewish loss in WWII was in Lithuania where about 94% of all Jewish population has been exterminated. Poland was number two.

It is hard to look at a photograph like this. My family is from Poland so I hear stories about how bad it was but seeing a photograph makes those stories come to life.

Mindy, Photographs like these should be celebrated because they help us never forget the tragic events.

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I think other web-site proprietors should take this website as an model, very clean and excellent user genial style and design, let alone the content. You’re an expert in this topic!

Wagner says:

What is the holocaust ???

Amazing the jews were not jews and the nazis were not Christian. Blaming the nazis is absolving the real perps, for 1500 years the christian

2000

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The Holocaust in Russia, Photographed

The Soviet Union obscured victims’ Jewishness

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