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Ukraine without Jews - by Vasil Grossman

ritten soon after the oiet rmy liberated eastern ­kraine from €erman ou‚ation in midƒ1„…† the original manusri‚t of ‡asily €rossman’s essay ‘­kraine ithout Jews’ was thought to hae been lost after the eond orld ar Št irst a‚‚eared in 1„„‹ in the shortƒlied Œournal Vek and is translated here into English for the irst time ‘­kraine ithout Jews’ is a ‚owerful and historially signiiant essayŽ one of the earliest ‚ubli statements about the mass murder of Jews in 1„…1 and 1„…2 during the ‘a’i ou‚ation of oiet ­kraine it is also one of the irst attem‚ts in any language to systematially e“‚lain the ideologial and material moties behind the genoide that €rossman alls the ‘greatest rime eer ommitted in history’ ‘­kraine ithout Jews’ was initially reŒeted for ‚ubliation in 1„…† by the military news‚a‚er Red Star ”Krasnaia zvezda• where €rossman had earned a huge following from his re‚orts of the oiet rmy’s harrowing defense and stunning itory at talingrad The essay was then translated into –iddish and ‚ublished in the weekly ‚a‚er of the Jewish ntiƒ—asist Committee Unity ”Einikayt• Št was ‚ublished in two abridged setions and then disontinued The –iddish translation remained the only e“tant ersion of the essay after 1„…† and was bakƒtranslated into Russian in 1„˜™ Šn 1„„‹ the original Russian manusri‚t ”nearly three times the length of the bakƒtranslation• surfaed from €rossman’s estate and was ‚ublished in Vek The reoery of ‘­kraine ithout Jews’ in its original form allows us to trae the origins and deelo‚ment of €rossman’s historial ommemoratie and literary writing about the ‘atastro‚he’ ”as the hoah was known in Russian• €rossman e“‚anded u‚on and modiied many of the ideas in this essay in later writings inluding ‘The šell of Treblinka’ ”used as doumentary eidene of ‘a’i war rimes at the ‘uremburg Trials in 1„…™• as well as his editorial work on the monumental anthology The Black Book and his two greatest noels For a Just Cause and Life and Fate ‘­kraine ithout Jews’ also ‚roides uni›ue insight into €rossman’s initial reation to the genoide as a oiet Jewœ in it he e“‚resses both his ‚ride in soialist ‚rini‚les and oiet military ‚ower and his desire to ‚ubliise and e“‚lain the e“e‚tional nature of Jewish itimisation at the hands of the ‘a’is €rossman’s own mother had been among the itims murdered in 1„…1 in the western ­krainian ity of his birth Berdihe Ukraine Witho By Vasily Grossman Translated into English for the irst time by Polly Zavadivker The translator would like to thank Robert Chandler for sharing the original ersion of this essay and for his beneiial omments on an early draft of the translation When our forces enter the villages of Left-bank Ukraine Iasotin, Borispol, Baturin...I was in hundreds of villages, under a volley of fire and the din of hand grenades, domestic farms, settlements, and fishing outposts on the shores of the geese rise up into the air. Flapping their enormous white Desna and Dnieper, in steppe farms encircled by pastures, wings, they circle above peasant huts, above lakes covered in solitary little tar houses existing in a constant shadow of in water lilies, above fields and gardens. huge pine forests, and in beautiful hamlets whose thatched There is something worrisome and strange in the roofs are hidden beneath canopies of fruit trees. heavy, arduous flight, and the sharp, alarming and sorrowful If one was to gather into a single place all of the cries of these domestic birds. It is as if they are calling the stories and images that I witnessed during those days and soldiers of the Red Army to witness heartbreaking and months in Ukraine, it would amount to a horrifying book frightening images of life, as if they are rejoicing at the about colossal injustice: forced labour and secret beatings, arrival of our forces, simultaneously weeping with joy children deported to Germany, burnt houses and looted and lamenting, screaming of great losses, and of the tears warehouses, evictions onto squares and streets, pits where and blood that have aged and salted the soil of Ukraine. those suspected of having sympathy for or connections There is a long list of Ukrainian towns and villages with partisans were shot, humiliations and mockery, vulgar where I found myself while working as a special corre- cursing and bribes, drunken and erratic behaviour, and spondent for the paper Red Star. I was in Satrobel’sk, Svatov, the bestial depravity of reckless, criminal people in whose Muntsisk, Tsapuika, Voroshilovgrad, Krasnodon, Ostro, hands rested the fate, life, integrity and property of many Jewish Quarterly • 12

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