This article examines the responsibility of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR), its leaders Symon Petliura and Volodymyr Vynnychenko, and the Ukrainian nationalist movement in general for pogroms during the civil war in Ukraine. It criticizes attempts to disavow UNR accountability by blaming the worst excesses on independent warlords only loosely affiliated to the UNR. The paper argues that the warlords drew on the same well of myths and stereotypes as the civilian and military arms of the Ukrainian state. The warlords, like many UNR officials, believed that Jews were a hostile force in cahoots with the Bolsheviks. The piece also looks at UNR attempts to avert or punish the violence, while also stressing the limits of these efforts. Although UNR leaders Petliura and Vynnychenko did not order the pogroms, their willingness to see the excesses as a product of the Jews’ lack of loyalty to the UNR hampered attempts to prevent or punish the violence. The article describes a complex system of relationships wherein different UNR representatives on the ground clashed, sometimes using force of arms, over the question of pogroms.

issue 15 / August 2019 by Christopher Gilley


A New History

issue 15 / August 2019 by Ira Robinson

This article focuses on the cases of extermination of entire Jewish communities during the civil war in Ukraine. The author concludes that while anti-Bolshevik armies carried out mass-scale massacres, the most radical pogroms were perpetrated by neighbors: local non-Jews against their Jewish neighbors, foreshadowing the pogroms of summer 1941. The article emphasizes two critical aspects of these exterminations: the way a small group of young radical anti-Bolshevik insurgents would mobilize the Christian population as a whole; and the recent experiences of revolution, civil war, and brutal Soviet occupation, which together comprised the local context leading to the exterminations. These extreme cases of anti-Jewish violence are put in the broader context of ethnic cleansings perpetrated in various ways by neighbors and anti-Bolshevik partisans during the civil war in Ukraine.

issue 15 / August 2019 by Thomas Chopard


The Academy and Justice for Palestine

issue 15 / August 2019 by Jacob Eriksson

When the Bolsheviks came to power in 1917, they announced the overthrow of a world scarred by exploitation and domination. In the very moment of revolution, these sentiments were put to the test as antisemitic pogroms swept across the former Pale of Jewish Settlement. The pogroms reached a devastating peak in the year 1919, marking the most violent chapter in pre-Holocaust modern Jewish history. A century of scholarship has conclusively shown that most of the atrocities were perpetrated by forces hostile to the Revolution. But antisemitism was not the preserve of the counterrevolution: it manifested across the political divide, finding traction among the revolutionary left, as well. This article examines the nature and extent of antisemitism in the Red Army and more generally the Bolshevik movement in Ukraine in the spring and summer of 1919. In bringing together internal Bolshevik security reports, memoirs, newspapers, and Party and governmental communications, the article shows that revolution and antisemitism could be overlapping as well as competing worldviews. It does so by offering an analytical framing of Red Army antisemitism: drawing on works in Critical Theory, it brings into view the importance of class relations, and uncovers the complex ways in which antisemitism could find expression in revolutionary politics.

issue 15 / August 2019 by Brendan McGeever