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Conference on Nazi Anti-Semitic Propaganda

Conference on Nazi Anti-Semitic Propaganda

On 21-22nd February 2006 in Kiev Ukrainian Centre for Holocaust Studies conducted an international academic-methodical conference "Jewish Question" and Anti-Semitic Propaganda in Mass Media of the Nazi-Occupied Ukrainian Territory, 1941-1944". The conference took place in the Institute for Political and Ethnic Studies of NAS of Ukraine. [Programme of the conference]
  The conference concerned the issues of newspapers being or not being a source of Holocaust events - the mass extermination of Jews during W.W.II. The extent to which the media represented the real processes: robbing of Jewish property, its economic exploitation, gathering of Jews and their extermination, search for the hiding Jews. The extent to which the media had to be an additional instrument of extermination policy. If this propaganda promoted hatred and unwillingness to help Jews - former neighbours. The ways of formation of the anti-Semitic doctrine to be implemented on pages of periodical issues. What was the role of the borrowings from the nazi propagandist institutions and the contribution of the local journalists working in the occupational media? What were the regional peculiarities of organisation and implementation of the propaganda activities? What was the reason for anti-Semitic propaganda - intensive and continuous - to go on during all the occupation period despite the fact that in many regions of Ukraine Jews were instantly exterminated? What was, finally, the effectiveness of propaganda and anti-Jewish information stream on the population?
The presentations by Prof. Boris Chernyakov (Kyiv), dr. Vladislav Hrynevich (Kyiv), Ph.D. Karel Berkhoff (Amsterdam), Ivan Dereiko (Kyiv), Prof. Stanislav Kulchitskiy (Kyiv) rose a brisk discussion within the session called "Ideological Basics of Occupational Terror Propaganda and its Connections to Inter-ethnic Relations and the "Jewish Question" in Ukraine". Prof. B.Chernyakov also spoke about many white spots of the research sphere. Especially problematic are still restricted SBU archives and the periodicals and documents trafficked from Ukraine. He also stressed, that one has to begin occupational press research since 1939, the date when the W.W.II actually started. Same aspect was broached by V.Hrynevich and O.Surovtsev (Chernivtsi), when they discussed the occupational character of the newspaper "Bukovina", issued in Romanian.
At the same time, V.Hrynevich attracted attention to such an important issue as the feelings of the ethnic Ukrainian population before the war and the influence of the events of 1939-1941 on moral-psychological conditions of West-Ukrainian dwellers. According to HKVD reports, peasants of Eastern Ukraine were quite anti-Semitic. We heard new information on the documents having an order to "cleanse the Academy of Sciences of UkrSSR from the unwanted ethnic elements." It was adopted by Soviet authorities in 1940-1941. Besides, the newspaper "Pravda" and other Soviet newspapers printed the editorials with speeches by Hitler and Hoebbels (during the alliance relations). In the researcher's point of view these factors brought about the theses of Jewish-Bolshevism in farther occupational propaganda. Opposing V.Hrynevich, S.Kulchitskiy stated that anti-Semitism in Western Ukraine was the one of other character than in the East and had not a political, but social-economic background.

K. Berkhoff pointed out many issues, but put a special emphasis on the effectiveness of the anti-Semitic propaganda. To what extent did the people need propaganda and how much had they already been infected by anti-Semitism? He proved that some researchers of German press (ex Geffry Herf) claim that owing to the press the Germans did realise what was happening to the German Jews. Therefore, if our researchers will prove the same concerning the Ukrainian press of the Holocaust period, we will have to face the hard truth suggesting that non-Jewish population of Ukraine fully realised that "the final solution of the Jewish question" meant total massacre of women, children and oldmen. Whatsoever, the researcher himself does not think that anti-Jewish propaganda was too successful and played the most important role in shifting the traditional anti-Semitism to the "lethal" one.

I.Dereiko told about propaganders and police trainings on the special Nazi seminars and their excursions to Berlin. He tried to point out that the anti-Semitic doctrine was at some stage the prime element of political-ideological indoctrination of Ukrainian support police. The presentation by A. Fredekind had references to the work by M.Carynyk "Silent is Zolochiv", which strikes by the frankness and where the author undertakes the mission to unveil the threatening silence over terrible pogroms, which were then made not by Germans.

Another vast layer of information was considered in the session dealing with regional topics by name "Jewish Question" in Reception of the Media of Ukrainian Regions: General and Special Features. Effectiveness of Anti-Jewish Propaganda".

Famous researcher dr. Faina Vinokurova (Vinnitsa) told that anti-Semitic articles of Vinnitsa would often appear just before and then after the mass executions of Jews. Moreover, fairly every issue of "Vinnitsa News" started from an anti-Semitic speech by the Vinnitsa archbishop. Another fact mentioned was the usage by the Nazis of the executions done in Vinnitsa by Soviet perpetrators. The researcher stated that among the killed in the Vinnitsa prison were almost 2500 Jews, accused by the Soviet authorities of "Trotskizm".

Dr. Maksim Gon (Rivne) emphasised depersonification of victims as the main approach to highlighting the "Jewish question" in occupational propaganda of the newspaper "Volyn" (a nice literature edition by the way). Here the methods of the author coincide with the conclusion of a famous British historian Ian Kershau, who also singled out "depersonification" as the main - and the most successful - way to fight German Jewry.

Some other interesting reports were presented by Dr. A. Podolsky “Reflection of the anti-Jewish Nazi Propaganda in Modern Ukrainian and Foreign Historiography”; V. Nachmanovich (executive secretary of the Babiy Yar Civil Committee) “Some Aspects of Occupation Media Research”; Dr. D.Titarenko (Donetsk) “Organisation of Occupational Press in the Military Administration Zone”; M. Tyagliy (Simpheropol-Kyiv) “Jewish Question” and its Role in Reception of the Crimean-Tatar Occupational Newspaper “Azat Kirim”; A.Gogun (Berlin) “The Issue of Effectiveness of anti-Soviet Propaganda and its anti-Semitic Component”. Though, it needs to mention that the last presentation aroused certain comments on authors’ methodology.

As the conference is a part of a project dealing with the Nazi occupation press research, an associate of the Centre, Y.Smelyanskaya, presented Centre’s project by name “Anti-Semitic Doctrines in Times of Ukrainian Wartime Propaganda: Zones of Military and Civil Administration, Transnistria”, where she pointed out the peculiarities of the regional occupational press. Discussion of her presentation grew into a “round table”, where head of the State Committee on Archives of Ukraine Ph.D. G. Boryak and associates of the Vernadsky national Library of Ukraine took part. The issues discussed covered the methods of fixation and analysis of the occupational periodicals and its data.

Second “round table” was dedicated to the academic-historical issues covered at the conference. What were the Jews in the powerful machine of the occupational propaganda – the aim, or the means? How can one measure the effectiveness of the propaganda in the “Final solution”? One of the monitors of the discussion K.Berkhoff raised and important issue: no matter how we define the centres of anti-Semitism in the past Berlin, we should not forget about local “achievements” of this propaganda.

[Programme of the conference]

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