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The Afterword of Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands makes staggeringly inaccurate statements. Portraying the Holocaust as just one element of a territorially determined phenomenon of mass killing in Eastern Europe, Snyder plays down the extent of Western and Central European victims.
He asserts: “German Jews were not very numerous, and most of them survived.” In fact, of Germany’s pre-Third Reich population of approximately 525,000 Jews, an estimated 160,000 were murdered. The survivors consisted almost entirely of Jews who had left Germany before 1939.
Snyder continues: “Ninety-seven percent of the Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust had nothing to do with German culture.” A peculiar choice of words. Does this exclude Dutch Jews, of whom approximately 120,000 (out of a pre-war population of 140,000) were murdered?
What about Austrian Jews, of whom approximately 65,000 out of 192,000 were killed? And in what category does Snyder place the Jews of France (90,000 killed), Belgium (30,000 killed), Hungary (over 500,000 killed) and Greece (67,000 killed)?
Snyder minimizes the all-European scale of the Holocaust by placing primary emphasis not on the national origins of the victims but on the location of the death camps to which they were deported.
“Those German Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust died beyond the borders of prewar Germany, in places such as Łódz, Minsk, or Riga.”
Thus, a German Jew transported to and gassed in an East European death camp becomes a victim of the Bloodlands, where the deaths were the outcome of the interaction of the German and Soviet regimes. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union are equated and made equally responsible.
This thesis has long been associated with pro-Nazi apologetics and anticommunism. Like all historical falsifications, Snyder’s are sustained by bizarre claims and outright lies.
Snyder writes: “Yet it was precisely in ‘the East,’ not in Germany, that Jews had lived in large numbers for hundreds of years.” In fact, Jewish presence in German lands can be traced back more than 1,000 years. Jews played a significant role in Charlemagne’s administration.
Snyder also claims: “Ironically[!], most of the Jews the Germans wished to send to Auschwitz actually survived.” He provides no evidence to support this extraordinary statement. Approximately 1.1 million people, mostly Jews, were gassed in Auschwitz.
Snyder writes: “The center of the Holocaust was east of Auschwitz, in the death facilities in occupied Poland and in the death pits of the occupied Soviet Union.” But who decided to build the death camps, transport the Jews and murder them?
Snyder does not mention that the Nazi decision to exterminate the Jews was taken at the Wannsee Conference in Berlin in 1942. He also ignores the well-established fact that the Holocaust was inextricably linked to Hitler’s “War of Extermination” against the USSR.
He ignores pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic Ukrainian nationalism, thus making it impossible to explain the effectiveness of the Third Reich’s genocidal campaign. There is not a single reference in the Afterword to Stepan Bandera and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
Snyder briefly notes the work of historian Saul Friedlander, but he ignores what Friedlander has written about Ukrainian-Nazi collaboration in the extermination of the Jews. Friedlander cites grisly evidence of OUN participation in mass murder.
The defining characteristics of Bandera’s OUN, wrote Friedlander, were a “mixture of Christian beliefs, fascist policies, and savage murderousness.” [The Years of Extermination: Nazi Germany and the Jews, 1939-1945]
Stepan Bandera is now glorified by the Ukrainian government as a national hero. Snyder once wrote at length about the crimes of the OUN. But that was before he abandoned the principles of genuine historical research and became a propagandist for US policy in Ukraine.
There are many specialists in the field of Holocaust studies who know that Snyder is covering up for the crimes of the Ukrainian nationalists. But they are intimidated by the anti-Russia campaign and dare not expose Snyder. Hopefully, some will soon decide to speak out.