Putin’s claim to rid Ukraine of Nazis is particularly absurd given its history

Der russische Präsident Wladimir Putin hat behauptet, der Krieg gegen die Ukraine sei eine „Friedensmission“.  <a href="https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/RussiaAzerbaijan/c42d9aa4c244481189850e7e61f0dc7d/photo?Query=putin%20feb.%2022%202022&mediaType=photo&sortBy=&dateRange=Anytime&totalCount=151&currentItemNo=29" rel="nofollow noopener" Ziel="_leer" data-ylk="slk:Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP;elm:context_link;itc:0" Klasse="Verknüpfung ">Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP</a>” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SNlYCh8fvigBOu2wt0cQ.w–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/c78acf31fb161b9441f data-c73a6fccf7c73a6fccf7″ src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/SNlYCh8fvigBOu2wt0cQ.w–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ2OQ–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/c78acf31fb161b9441fc7/3a6fc7″cf7/3a6fc7</div></div></div></figure><p>Russian President Vladimir Putin justifies his war against Ukraine as a peacekeeping mission, as “<a href=denazification” of the country.

In his address to the Russian people on February 24, 2022 said Putin The purpose was to “protect people” who “have been subjected to bullying and genocide over the past eight years.” And for this we will strive for the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine.”

The victims of Putin’s alleged genocide are Russian speakers; the Nazis he was referring to are the elected representatives of the Ukrainian people. While Ukraine new language laws have upset some minorities, independent news media have uncovered no evidence of genocide against Russian speakers. Indeed as a historian Timothy Snyder has pointed outRussian speakers have more freedom in Ukraine than in Russia, where Putin’s authoritarian government routinely suppresses political dissent. And while far-right groups have grown in Ukraine, theirs Voting power is limited.

As the author of a recent book on Anti-Jewish Violence in Ukraine and Holocaust historian, I know why allegations of Nazism and genocide resonate in Ukraine. But I also understand that despite episodic violence, Ukrainian history offers a model for tolerance and democratic government.

The Jewish leadership of Ukraine

First of all, it should be noted that Ukraine today is a vibrant, pluralistic democracy. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy won a five-year term in the 2019 presidential election with a landslide majority that defeated 39 candidates. His Servant of the People party then won the parliamentary elections in July 2019. Win 254 seats in the 450-seat chamber, becoming the first majority government in the history of the modern Ukrainian state. Zelensky was best known as a comedian and the star of the popular sitcom “servant of the people‘, from which the name of his party was derived.

Der ukrainische Präsident Wolodymyr Selenskyj spricht auf einer Pressekonferenz.  <a href="https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/UkraineTensions/fa0392630c534b61b9e427f3cffa6fc4/photo?Query=volodymyr%20zelenskyy%202022&mediaType=photo&sortBy=&dateRange=Anytime&totalCount=348&currentItemNo=2" rel="nofollow noopener" Ziel="_leer" data-ylk="slk:AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky;elm:context_link;itc:0" Klasse="Verknüpfung ">AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky</a>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/pWxtlFxZdJiZ9BIGu0tZ_g–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ5Mw–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/4dafb14d527″540c>807408d052>807408d052>807408d052>807408d052<noscript><img alt=AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/pWxtlFxZdJiZ9BIGu0tZ_g–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ5Mw–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/4dafb14d56dc7d0528ca=”50c67608d0528ca=”class4c67608d0528″ -img”/>

The fact that Zelensky is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor and grew up, he told the Times of Israel: “an ordinary Soviet Jewish family‘ was hardly considered in the election. “Nobody cares. Nobody asks about it,” he noted in the same interview. Ukrainians also didn’t seem to mind that at the time of the election of Zelenskyy, Volodymyr Groysmanalso had a Jewish background.

For a short time, Ukraine was the only state outside of Israel to have both a Jewish head of state and a Jewish head of government. “How could I be a Nazi??” Zelenskyy asked in a public speech after the start of the Russian invasion. “Explain it to my grandfather.”

The pogroms against Jews

Sporadic episodes of violence against Jews, or pogroms, began long before the Holocaust. In 1881, for example, after the assassination of Tsar Alexander II, ordinary churchgoers, laborers, railroad workers, and soldiers attacked Jewish-owned shops, mills, and canteens, resulting in the deaths of dozens of Jews in what was then southern Russia, but is now Ukraine . while another wave of violence After the 1905 revolution, workers, peasants and soldiers, incited by right-wing Russian paramilitary groups, murdered 5,000 Jews in the region.

During the Unrest after the Bolshevik Revolution In 1917, about 100,000 Jews died as a result of attacks carried out against them by soldiers fighting for the restoration of a united Russia and by the armies of the newly formed Ukrainian and Polish states.

Finally, during World War II, German soldiers murdered 1.5 million Jews in the areas of modern-day Ukraine, often in cooperation with Ukrainian militias formed in the diaspora and with the help of local auxiliary police. The role of ethnic Ukrainians in the Holocaust remains today controversial in Ukrainewhere nationalist heroes who collaborated with the Nazis continue to be honored.

Kleine Steine ​​auf den Fotos von Opfern des Massakers von 1941, bei dem die Nazis während des Zweiten Weltkriegs in Kiew, Ukraine, Zehntausende Juden töteten.  <a href="https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/UkraineBabiYar/0aec67cc9c0643218df03fc6ad8cadd5/photo?Query=ukraine%20jews%20massacre&mediaType=photo&sortBy=&dateRange=Anytime&totalCount=95&currentItemNo=42" rel="nofollow noopener" Ziel="_leer" data-ylk="slk:AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky;elm:context_link;itc:0" Klasse="Verknüpfung ">AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky</a>” data-src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/kRLV.qmeYqI2.OZP.fl8og–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ1NA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/ the_conversation_us_articles_815/f235c4e5ef4b0b4882bb574c22469288″/><noscript><img alt=AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky” src=”https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/kRLV.qmeYqI2.OZP.fl8og–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ1NA–/https://media.zenfs.com/en/the_conversation_us_articles_815/ f235c4e5ef4b0b4882bb574c22469288″ class=”caas-img”/>
Small stones in photos of victims of the 1941 massacre in which the Nazis killed tens of thousands of Jews during World War II in Kiev, Ukraine. AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky

At the same time, millions of non-Jewish Ukrainians perished under the Nazis or were exploited as forced laborers. The occupiers treated Ukrainian land as little more than habitatHousing for ethnic Germans.

A pluralistic state

Forgotten in this story is the period between 1917 and 1919 when an independent Ukrainian state offered a different model of multiculturalism and pluralism. The Ukrainian state that declared its independence from Russia after the 1917 revolutions envisioned a Ukraine for all ethnic and religious groups living on its territory.

One of their first acts was the passage of the National Autonomy Law in January 1918, which allowed each of the large ethnic minorities – Russians, Jewsand Poland – broad autonomous rights, including the right to use their own language.

The cabinet included a secretariat for national affairs with vice-secretariats for Russians, Jews and Poles, and even briefly in 1919 a ministry for Jewish affairs. The legislature also included proportional representation from each of the national minorities. The state has issued statements and Currency printed in four languages: Ukrainian, Russian, Polish and Yiddish.

However, this state, hailed by Jews around the world as a model for the new nation states then emerging in Eastern and Central Europe, never managed to hold the capital for more than a few months at a time. In April 1919, the government was being run from a moving train and could claim little more land than the tracks below.

Since her inauguration in January 1918, Ukraine has been embroiled in one bloody war on several fronts. The Soviet Red Army attacked them from the east while Moscow tried to ignite Bolshevik revolutions across Ukraine. A Russian White Army, led by officers from the old tsarist army, attacked from the south in hopes of recreating a version of the Russian Empire. From the west, the army of the newly formed Polish Republic attacked to restore Poland’s historic borders.

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At the same time, a number of insurgent fighters and anarchists formed militias to seize land for themselves. Amidst this chaos, the dream of a pluralistic state evolved into interethnic violence.

The war ended in March 1921 Treaty of Rigaincorporating much of the territory claimed by the independent Ukrainian state into the Soviet Union.

Putin’s selective narrative of the past exaggerates the legacy of Nazism in Ukraine while ignoring the state’s historic struggle for pluralism and democracy. There is a good reason for this: he fears democracy more than Nazism.

This article is republished by The conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. The Conversation is trusted news from experts. Try our free newsletters.

It was written by: Jeffrey Veidlinger, University of Michigan.

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Jeffrey Veidlinger does not work for, advise, hold any interest in, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations other than her academic appointment.

Source : news.yahoo.com

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