Category Archives: WW II

The Nobel Prize in Literature


Svetlana Alexievich: ‘Reality has always attracted me like a magnet’

The Nobel Prize in Literature has been awarded to Svetlana Alexievich. The Belarusian writer and investigative journalist is lauded for her unique, and often harrowing, insights into life behind the Iron Curtain.

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Svetlana Alexievich wins Nobel Literature Prize

If there ever was a stark manifesto of intent, it came with Svetlana Alexievich’s debut novel “War’s Unwomanly Face.” Released in 1985 and set during World War II, the novel ties together a series of moving and often stark monologues on the brutality and hopelessness of war – all told by women and children. Alexievich made no illusions: she was going to toe no one else’s line.

For those new to Alexievich’s work, the Swedish Academy said Thursday after announcing that she’d been selected for this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, that “War’s Unwomanly Face” was the one to start with. The innovative writer has “mapped the soul” of the Soviet and post-Soviet people, said the Academy.

First-hand account of Soviet Union’s disintegration

It’s this audacious determination to tell such brutally real stories that had Alexievich on the run for a decade. She was born in 1948 in the Ukrainian town of Stanislav – now the city of Ivano-Frankivsk, in the country’s central-eastern Continue reading

Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII Part 3. Of German plans and German collaborators.


Article by: James Oliver

On May 22 Volodymyr Katriuk, a Ukrainian World War II veteran and a suspected participant in the massacre of the 186 inhabitants of the Belarusian village of Khatyn [1] passed away in Canada. For years his name had been at the center of a diplomatic row between Russia and Canada over Russian plans to extradite him to Moscow in order to stand trial for his role in the massacre. In 1999 a Canadian court had cleared Katriuk of war crimes, finding him guilty only of falsifying his name in 1951 to obtain Canadian citizenship. Later in 2008 NKVD documents surfaced further indicting Katriuk of having been complicit in the massacre. At the time of his death he remained no.2 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center‘s “List of Most Wanted Nazi War Criminals.”

It sometimes happens that Westerners know little about Ukrainians and Lithuanians except their reputation as anti-Semites and willing collaborators in the Holocaust Continue reading

Ukrainians in WWII. Part 2. Stories of Ukrainians in the Red Army


Article by: James Oliver
For Part 1, in which we uncovered the underreported role of Ukrainians living both in Ukraine and abroad in WWII, please see this article.

On 19 September 1939, advanced units of the Soviet 6th army reached the outskirts of the city of Lviv. What they found was a city that had already been subject to relentless bombardment from German artillery placed upon nearby hills as well as from the Luftwaffe. Officially, the Red Army and the Wehrmacht were supposed to keep a 25km distance from one another during their joint invasion of Poland [1]. But here (as elsewhere), it was not the case. Lviv was meant to be a city to be defended at all costs for the Polish in the name of Continue reading

Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII. Part 1


Article by: James Oliver
The Ukrainians carried at least 40% of losses of the USSR in WWII. The Soviet historiographical concept of the “Great Patriotic War,” however, employed major misperceptions of the Ukrainians’ role and is now being used as a propaganda instrument fueling the war in Donbas. In our series “Understanding the Ukrainians in WWII” we seek to uncover the underreported role of Ukrainians living both in Ukraine and abroad in the most deadly war of the 20th century. Continue reading

Soviet-Nazi Collaboration and World War II

Alexander J. Motyl

ALEXANDER J. MOTYL is professor of political science at Rutgers University-Newark, as well as a writer and painter. He served as associate director of the Harriman Institute at Columbia University from 1992 to 1998.
30 April 2015

As May 9th, Victory Day in many post-Soviet states, approaches, decency demands that we celebrate the defeat of Adolf Hitler’s Germany and honor the millions of soldiers and civilians who gave their lives to rid the world of the scourge of Nazism. Continue reading