Book Review: Harvest of Despair: Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule


by Karel C. Berkhoff

Cambridge, Ma.: Belknap/Harvard University Press, 2004. Pp. xiii, 463. Illus., map, append., notes, biblio., index. $22.95 paper. ISBN:0674027183

This is a grim work, delving deeply into the horrors of the Nazi regime, as imposed on the "Reichskomissariot Ukraine" from 1941 through 1944. 

Prof. Berkhoff, of the Center for Holocaust and Genocidal Studies in the Netherlands , opens with a look at Ukraine under Soviet rule, in itself a grim subject.  He then outlines the events of the German invasion, in many quarters initially welcomed by the populace, and the creation of an occupation regime rooted in a complex blend of German nationalism, Nazi ideologies about race, culture, and class, and brutal economic exploitation.  The nine chapters that follow deal with the mass slaughter of Jews and Roma, often with the open cooperation of the local populace, the fate of prisoners of war, and life under the occupation.  The work is rich in detail on popular reactions to the harsh regime, ranging from collaboration to resistance, and a the surprising range of political, social, cultural, social, and religious developments. 

A good work for anyone interested in the war in the East, the Holocaust, or the nature of the Nazi regime.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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