Internationalism, Patriotism and Disillusion

Soviet Jewish Veterans Remember World War II and the Holocaust
  • Zvi Gitelman


Soviet historiography ignored the Jewish role in World War II, for reasons shall explore. Yet the topic is very important to Soviet and post-Soviet Jews (as well as to others), in part precisely because it was ignored by the Soviets. This is manifested in the number of articles and books published on the subject in the former Soviet Union (FSU) and the Soviet Jewish diaspora, few of them by professional historians.1 One way of supplementing amateur historiography and filling in gaps in our knowledge is by taking oral testimonies from participants in the war. This has been done successfully by some popular historians in the United States.2 Oral history has serious limitations, of course. It should probably not be used to establish facts, especially at a distance of more than fifty years and in regard to events fraught with great meanings and emotions. Oral history allows for embellishment, cover-ups, falsifications and distortions. However, it can be most useful in establishing perceptions, that is, not so much what happened — though that should not be dismissed — but what people think happened, or think now happened then.3


Oral History Memory Internationalism Occupied Territory Soviet System Soviet Citizen 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zvi Gitelman

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