June 29, 2022
With special permission from the Ukrainian State Archives, more than
10 million pages of records will be accessible online for the first time
WASHINGTON — For over 25 years, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has partnered with the Ukrainian State Archives to copy more than 10 million pages of its Holocaust-related records. Now, in a critical moment in Ukraine’s history amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion, digital copies are being posted online for the first time and made available to scholars, historians, family researchers and the public.
The first one million pages of records are now easily searchable at ushmm.org/ukrainearchive. The Museum plans to make additional records available every month until all of its Ukrainian archives are accessible.
“After four months of war in Ukraine and the potential of even more targeted destruction of Ukrainian cultural sites, including museums and archives, it is a historical imperative to make these materials digitally available,” says Rebecca Boehling, director of the Museum’s David M. Rubenstein National Institute for Holocaust Documentation. “We want to facilitate access and ensure these records remain available even if the originals are destroyed.”
These archives include historical materials from before, during and after the Holocaust. They include collections topics such as:
- the activities of Jewish political, cultural, educational and philanthropic organizations;
- information about individuals, census data, vital statistics, lists of names, personal files, etc.;
- pogroms during the Russian civil war, closure of synagogues and dissolution of Jewish communities by the Soviet authorities, demographic and statistical information and other documentation;
- the Nazi German administration in occupied Ukraine and Ukrainian auxiliary police;
- Jewish ghettos;
- postwar developments, such as Soviet investigations of war crimes committed by Germans and their allies on the occupied territories, return of evacuated populations, restitution of Jewish property and war crimes trials and Soviet antisemitism.
With one of Europe’s largest pre-war Jewish populations, Ukraine was the site of critical events in Holocaust history, including the beginning of Nazi Germany’s systematic mass killings of Jews after the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. At least 1.5 million Jews were killed within Ukraine’s current borders.
At Babyn Yar, a ravine on the outskirts of Kyiv, more than 33,000 Jews were shot and killed in just two days. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the Museum last September to commemorate the 80th anniversary of this tragic event.
The Museum began working in Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union. It was the first time the Museum could access the Ukrainian archives, and scholars could freely pursue research without the restrictions imposed by Soviet authorities or their propaganda that distorted public discourse about the Holocaust and the war. During the Soviet era, there was no acknowledgement that Jews were singular victims — all who were killed by the Germans and their collaborators were referred to as “victims of fascism” or “peaceful Soviet civilians.”
A nonpartisan, federal educational institution, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is America’s national memorial to the victims of the Holocaust dedicated to ensuring the permanence of Holocaust memory, understanding, and relevance. Through the power of Holocaust history, the Museum challenges leaders and individuals worldwide to think critically about their role in society and to confront antisemitism and other forms of hate, prevent genocide, and promote human dignity. For more information, visit ushmm.org.
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