This week I wanted to focused on something serious; the Holocaust. Many people assume and are taught in High School that the Germans were the only ones to participate in the mass killing of Jews and that simply is not true. The Soviet Union and France were two other nations that highly participated in killing not only Jews, but Poles, Slavs, Gypsies, Gays, Communist (in France not in the USSR) and anyone that opposed the government.

History: What I was taught in high school was Germany invaded Poland and the Nazi SS soldiers made work and death camps. Although that is true that is just the basics. What was the beginning of the Holocaust started as anti-Semitic propaganda. The propaganda made the Jews an enemy, it helped the country with nationalism because they had someone to blame for their problems. That lead to the Jews being placed in ghettos with limited to no rights. Many starved to death in the ghettos. After the Jews were placed in ghettos many camps were liquidated; the Jews were removed and transported to work or death camps or shot in the forest. From a political standpoint the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Germany and the USSR was a non-aggression pact which split Poland into thirds, a German Annexed Poland, a General Republic under German control and a Soviet Annexed Poland. When Germany invaded countries such as Poland, France the Nazi SS soldiers (which were a different faction of the army) would follow and shoot all Jews. When Germany invaded Poland to get to the Soviet Union the SS soldiers also followed to eliminate all the Jews. While the Nazi’s were killing Jews the Soviets also killed Jews. A big momentum in Soviet history was Babi Yar. Soviet soldiers marched Jews out of Kiev and shot them in the forest. Their bodies lay in a unmarked area.

Present: My trip to Yantarny is a full days trip. I traveled through three countries Belarus to Lithuanian to Poland. During World War II Yantarny was in Poland. There is a memorial on the beach (see picture above), a pyramid shaped stone that details the mass killing that took place in January of 1945. The memorial is fairly new. It was dedicated in 2000. Sadly, this memorial was first memorial and physical acknowledgment of the Holocaust in Russia. The story about this site is very similar to other Holocaust sites. The massacre that took place happened days after Auschwitz was liberated. Similar to other places, as Soviet soldiers approached Germans marched Jews and their other prisoners to other locations. Those that were weak, and women and children that stopped were shot on site. The Nazi’s marched 7,000 prisoners to this town and were killed.

In sum, I wrote about the Holocaust because it is an important subject that is not taught well enough in school. There is simply not enough time to discuss what happened. People are not taught the full truth from who participated in the killings of Jews: Poles, Germans, French, Slavs, and Latvians just for starters. There are towns in Poland that the Poles went out and killed their Jewish neighbors (See Jan Gross “Neighbors“). On the 20th Century Russia point of view, Soviets not only killed Jews in Kiev but they also went out and marched Jews out of major cities into forest and slaughtered them in the forest. The Holocaust was a period of mass death against Jews in particular because there was a thought processes that Jews were the cause of all problems and the solution was their elimination.


“Holocaust.” Seventeen Moments in Soviet History (blog), June 18, 2015.
“Russian Village Haunted By A Hidden Holocaust Past.” Accessed March 24, 2018.
“Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland.” Accessed March 24, 2018.