A Rare Holocaust Photograph and the Heroic Bystander Who Took It

In her book The Ravine, Wendy Lower tells the story of an extremely unusual, and especially horrifying, photograph of German troops and their Ukrainian helpers murdering a Jewish family on the edge of a pit outside the town of Miropol in October 1941. Over a million Jews were killed at similar pits and ditches, most of them before the gassing of Jews en masse began at Auschwitz and other camps. In her review, Amy Newman Smith recounts the surprising tale of the photographer:

Drafted into the Slovakian army, Lubomir Škrovina was sent with his unit to Ukraine in 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union. He served as a “guard and a company scribe” on the Germans’ eastern front. He was later denounced to the authorities of the Nazi-allied government for “making photos that were not permitted,” photos that “worked against the New Order in Europe.” . . .

While Škrovina had burned the photographs, . . . he had also retained the negatives so he could make new prints as proof of the horrors he had witnessed. In 1958, he was questioned again by the KGB and Czechoslovakia’s state security forces rooting out those who had collaborated with the Nazis.

The pictures shown in the book are only a few of those Škrovina took in his months on the eastern front. In packages to his Czech wife, Bohu, he sent film, along with instructions for getting it developed safely and distributed to those who might use the photos. “Think hard about what to release, then adopt the radical solution and stick to it,” he wrote. When he returned home on leave in December 1941, he was able to fake an illness that let him avoid being sent back to the front. He joined the Resistance, hiding Jews in his home and leading some of them to the partisans in the forest.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Holocaust, Righteous Among the Nations

 

The Significance of Mahmoud Abbas’s Holocaust Denial

Aug. 19 2022

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, during an official visit to Berlin, gave a joint press conference with the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, where he was asked by a journalist if he would apologize for the murder of Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Munich Olympics. (The relationship between the group that carried out the massacre and Abbas’s Fatah party remains murky.) Abbas instead responded by ranting about the “50 Holocausts” perpetrated by Israel against Palestinians. Stephen Pollard comments:

Scholz’s response to that? He shook Abbas’s hand and ended the press conference.

Reading yet another column pointing out that Scholz is a dunderhead isn’t, I grant you, the most useful of ways to spend an August afternoon, so let’s leave the German chancellor there, save to say that he eventually issued a statement hours later, after an eruption of fury from his fellow countrymen, saying that “I am disgusted by the outrageous remarks made by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For us Germans in particular, any trivialization of the singularity of the Holocaust is intolerable and unacceptable. I condemn any attempt to deny the crimes of the Holocaust.” Which only goes to show that late is actually no better than never.

The real issue, in Pollard’s view, is the West’s willful blindness about Abbas, who wrote a doctoral thesis at a Soviet university blaming “Zionists” for the Holocaust and claiming that a mere million Jews were killed by the Nazis—notions he has reiterated publicly as recently as 2013.

On Wednesday, [Abbas] “clarified” his remarks in Berlin, saying that “the Holocaust is the most heinous crime in modern human history.” Credulous fools have again ignored what Abbas actually means by that.

It’s time we stopped projecting what we want Abbas to be and focused on what he actually is, using his own words. In a speech in 2018 he informed us that Israel is a “colonialist project that had nothing to do with Judaism”—to such an extent that European Jews chose to stay in their homes and be murdered rather than live in Palestine. Do I have to point out the moral degeneracy of such a proposition? It would seem so, given the persistent refusal of so many to take Abbas for what he actually is.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Anti-Semitism, Germany, Holocaust denial, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority