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Showing posts from January, 2018

Anatomy of a Genocide

Unlike the Nazi genocide, much of the killing in Galicia in Eastern Europe took place between neighbour and neighbour: Jews, Poles and Ukrainians destroyed each other with increasing ferocity and brutality between 1914 and the 1940s. The beautiful city of Buczacz in Eastern Galicia, with its Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox and Jewish shrines, ended as a gigantic ruin. Omer Bartov, the distinguished military historian, came from a family that had lived in Buczacz but emigrated to Israel. He begins by explaining that the Jews did not live segregated from the Christian population; the entire notion of a shtetl existing in some sort of splendid (or sordid) isolation is merely a figment of Jewish literary and folkloristic imagination. Integration was what made the existence of such towns possible. It was also what made the genocide there, when it occurred, a communal event, both cruel and intimate, filled with gratuitous violence and betrayal as well as flashes of altruism and kindness. - h