The direct role of the Soviet Union in the Holocaust has barely begun to enter public consciousness. Antony Beevor’s The Second World War is another of a growing number of post Cold War histories of WWII that are now correcting that omission.
Antony Beevor reports:
The Nazis’ murderous intentions were unexpectedly helped by a curious by-product of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (the Nazi-Soviet military, political, and economic alliance from August 1939 until June, 1941). Stalinist censorship had stifled any of Hitler’s virulent anti-semitism. As a result, when the Jews in Kiev were ordered to report for ‘resettlement’ no fewer than 33,771 turned up as instructed. (pp. 215-216)
Soviet Holocaust complicity runs much deeper.
Soon after the Nazis came to power they reached an agreement with the Soviets to develop and test new military technology in the Soviet Union. This was part of the Nazi’s evasion of the prohibition on German rearmament,
The Soviets were the Nazis’ major supplier of manganese with which the Nazis made the steel for their transports, armored vehicles, and munitions. Those vehicles were fueled with Soviet oil. The Nazi troops and their transport horses were fed with Soviet grain.
With that direct Soviet support, the Nazis captured most of the European Jews that the Nazis exterminated. Among the first victims were Polish Jewish soldiers captured by the Nazis. Rather than treat them as POWs, the Nazis summarily executed them.
Among the later victims were German Jewish refugees hiding in other countries such as the Frank family. With direct Soviet support, the Nazis overran Holland which eventually resulted in the deaths of most of the Frank family and over 102,000 other Jews in Holland.
The overthrow of the Nazi government of Germany and Austria did not relieve the successor states of their responsibility for the Holocaust.
In the same way, the successor states or the Soviet Union, especially Russia and the Ukraine, h ave not been relieved of their responsibilities because of the fall of the Soviet Union.
At the very least the successor states owe the world an acknowledgment for their share of responsibility for the Holocaust.
For more information:
Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center
Virginia Holocaust Museum