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Challenging Aspects of Holocaust Studies in Eastern Europe | Discussion

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Forum für historische Belarusforschung


Cultural studies History Other


Central and Eastern Europe Holocaust studies



The Holocaust is one of the well-researched topics in the history of National Socialism in Germany. However, the study of the Nazi policy of exterminating Jews in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union became fully possible only after its collapse.

The role of Holocaust research in the historiography of World War II and the interest in memorializing the Holocaust in the independent republics of Belarus and Ukraine have acquired different characteristics and have been accompanied by various public discussions. In Belarus, the prevailing Soviet tradition persists, where Jews are regarded as part of the broader group of Belarusian victims. Yet, following the mass protests in 2020 against manipulated elections and the subsequent repressions against civil society, a troubling trend has emerged: the politicization and propaganda surrounding the history of the Holocaust in support of repressive laws on the genocide of the Belarusian people. In Ukraine, which is in a situation of war and is defending itself from a Russian military attack and propagandistic portrayals of „Nazis in Kyiv,“ historical issues such as antisemitism in society, sexual violence against Jewish women, and the involvement of the local population in World War II crimes have faced strong criticism.

In our discussion, we will consider the challenges that Holocaust researchers face and the controversial topics that still exist. How do political developments and social challenges affect research on the Holocaust? And what new perspectives in Holocaust studies have emerged considering Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine?


Alesja Belanovich-Petz, Forum for Historical Belarus Research, Berlin


  • Marta Havryshko, Clark University, Worcester
  • Leonid Rein, The International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem, Jerusalem
  • Alexander Friedman, Heinrich-Heine-University, Düsseldorf


Adam Kerpel-Fronius, Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

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