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Ukraine without Jews

Episode 3 of 3

Duration:
15 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 18 September 2011

Elliot Levey reads the final front line despatch from Vasily Grossman's wartime journalism. 3: Ukraine Without Jews. 'Stillness. Silence. A people has been murdered.'

The author of Life and Fate, which begins its dramatization on Radio 4 today, conveyed the 'ruthless truth of war' that revealed itself to the Soviet Union after Nazi invasion in June 1941. This devastating piece was one of the very first articles to describe the results of Nazi genocide as the war still raged.

Grossman's own mother would be one of the thousands murdered in his home town of Berdichev which lay in the path of the Nazi's lightning quick advance through the Ukraine. Some one and half million Jewish people lived in these newly conquered areas, nearly all would be shot in what has become known as 'shoa by bullet'

Grossman had volunteered for military service partly in reaction to his mother's fate. Instead he found himself assigned as frontline correspondent for the military newspaper Red Star. From the disastrous year of 1941 to final victory in ruined Berlin, Grossman gave the Soviet people a sense of their war.

But his attempts to detail the murder of the millions of Jews on Soviet soil would only be met by official silence. As the Red Army began reconquering the occupied lands Grossman travelled with them, recording the empty villages and towns, the mass graves and terrible silence. Ukraine Without Jews was rejected by the military censor & would only appear in the Yiddish newspaper Einkayt in November 1943. The full version, from which this is an extract, would only be rediscovered in the late 1990's and appeared in English earlier this year.

Reader Elliot Levey
Translators Jim Riordan & Polly Zavadivker

Producer Mark Burman.

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