No. 27 - 08/2019: Case Studies on Mass Atrocities and Survival in the Modern History of Ukraine

edited by Frank Grelka and Yuri Radchenko


Editorial by Frank Grelka and Yuri Radchenko 
A Chance for Survival: Trapped within the Confrontation between Unified State Political Department and Torgsin by Mykola Horokh

The articles uses previously unknown sources to analyze the issues of confrontation between the Special Office for Trade with Foreigners on the territory of the USSR (shortly – "Torgsin") and the Unified State Political Directorate (later – People's Commisariat for Internal Affairs). Torgsin is an understudied feature in the history of the Soviet Union of the first half of the 1930s. While closed distribution centers, cooperatives, commercial stores, the “black” market, and the card rationing system operated, the Torgsin network stores were by far the only examples of open state trade where every citizen could purchase the commodities s/he needed and the network itself was the most successful industrialization-oriented trade organization. The article defines the role of the USPD in the life of Torgsin; it pinpoints key controversies between the organizations that intensified confrontation between them; and compares their efficiency. The timeline of the research period between 1930 and 1936, from the moment of establishment of the Office and its liquidation.

Women's Body as Battlefield: Sexual Violence during Soviet Counterinsurgency in Western Ukraine in the 1944 – 1953 by Marta Havryshko

The article focuses on sexual/ized violence experienced by the female members of Ukrainian nationalist underground, its sympathizers, and civilians during Soviet counterinsurgency in Western Ukraine in the late Stalinist period. It reveals the reasons, forms, topography, functions and implications of sexual assaults on women suspected in collaboration with OUN and UPA during anti-partisan military and state security operations, interrogation process, recruitment to work for Soviet intelligence agencies, as well as in the prisons, and other places of detention. The article explores how the Soviet justice system tackled criminal investigations of sexual violence by members of the militia, NKVD-MVD-NKGB-MGB, Internal Troops, special military units (spetsgrupy), and other perpetrators. It examines whether the measures were taken by Soviet officials in order to prevent violence and to punish transgressors were sufficient. The papers argues that sexual crimes and brutalization of women’s bodies were an intrinsic part of the state violent practices against anti-Soviet armed resistance, and a by-product of the continuum of political violence in Western Ukraine in the decade after the Second World War.

No Novel for Ordinary Men? Representation of the Rank-and-File Perpetrators of the Holodomor in Ukrainian Novels by Daria Mattingly

The article focuses on the cultural representations of the rank-and-file perpetrators of the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine, known as the Holodomor. While it is generally accepted that most perpetrators of mass violence are ordinary people with rather banal motives, the rank-and-file perpetrators of tthe Holodomor remain on the margins of cultural memory in Ukraine. When they become the focus of artistic expression, perpetrators are often framed according to several distinct modalities based on the vesting of agency. In samvydav novels this agency dispersed: some perpetrators are indoctrinated, some settle scores, many simply follow orders, whereas authors in post-Soviet Ukraine and in the diaspora tend to displace agency by locating it with savage, ethnically different Others or locals influenced by the Other. In the Soviet novels, by contrast, the agency is embraced. The article traces and analyses these modalities following a sequential chronological trajectory.

The "Eastern Action" of the OUN(b) and the Anti-Jewish Violence in the Summer of 1941: The Cases of Smotrych and Kupyn by Andriy Usach 

The article analyses the role of the OUN(b) activists in the commission of the anti-Jewish violence during the first weeks of Nazi occupation of Ukraine. What was the OUN(b) attitude to the Jewish minority on the eve of the war between the Third Reich and the USSR? How was the commission of the anti-Jewish violence by Ukrainian nationalists interconnected with their plans to expand the activitiy in the regions where they had never taken any actions before the war? Who were the perpetrators of anti-Jewish violence? The author offers answers to these questions on the examples of the mass murders committed by the OUN(b) activists and local residents during July-August 1941 in the Podillian towns of Smotrych and Kupyn.

Narrating Trauma: Literary Strategies in Ukrainian Survivor Literature of the Second Half of the 20th Century by Natalia Dovhanych 

The paper provides an investigation of literary strategies to narrate eye-witness and survivor experiences regarding the Holodomor and Holocaust in the works of Ukrainian emigrant authors in the after-war period. The analysis focusses on novels by Oleksa Hay-Holowko, Olga Mak, Dokia Humenna, and Miron Dolot, authors rarely discussed in the context of the Ukrainian literature of the 20th century. The chosen texts elucidate distinctly different images of 'survivors' in literature, here classified respectively as 'survivor as hero', survivor as a moral pattern', 'survivor as a silend bystander', and 'survivor as human', which influence the image of victims in the texts and the overal recognition of the crimes they describe. The authors' search for appropriate narration reveals the inability to transmit the trauma though the genre of novel in which the image of the survivor is intensified by his personal qualities. The obstacle for this transmission emerges at the intersection of different levels: symbolical, metaphorical, historical, and realistic. The novel by Dokia Humenna contains attempts to create a pre-dialog between the Holodomor and Holocaust which was impossible on the public level at that time. It helped demolish the official commemorative strategy of 'forgetting to forget' and builds a multidirectional memory aimed at 'remembering to remember'. Therefore the Ukrainian survivor literature has its own specificity, which is defined mainly by the circumstance that every text was considered to be both proof of the crime and an embodiment of the author's traumatic experience.

Landscape, Culture, Identity. Repatriation of Crimean Tatars and the Processes of constructing the Placenion by Olena Sobolieva

The article analyzes the issue of constructing the place during the process of repatriation and adaptation of Crimean Tatars in their ethnic homeland. The actions of the Soviet totalitarian regime resulting in mass deportations of national groups and ethnic repressions caused latent ethno-social conflicts in the Crimean region. The consequences of the controversies can be seen in the present-day reality of political and cultural life of the peninsula. The study offers insights into how common memory about the life in the native land and the image of a native home impacted the repatriation process of Crimean Tatars in Crimea. The return of Crimean Tatars was accompanied by a symbolic reconstruction of the ethnic homeland lost in the years of exile, and also by the construction of an entirely new environment where repatriates have become visible social actors.

Full text of issue

Euxeinos 27

Case Studies on Mass Atrocities and Survival in the Modern History of Ukraine edited by Frank Grelka and Yuri Radchenko