Gitelman, Zvi, ed. Bitter Legacy: Confronting the Holocaust in the USSR. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1997.

By: Melissa Kravitz

This volume of essays focuses on how the Holocaust was carried out in the USSR.  The scholarly publications and popular literature seek to show the consequences of the Holocaust and how it has been represented in the USSR.  Although the Holocaust has not been fully assessed in certain areas, these essays aim to confront certain unresolved issues. 

With regard to Nina Morecki’s story, several of the essays address the massacre and deportation of Jews in Lvov.  For example, Shimon Redlich in his essay, “Metropolitan Sheptyts’kyi and Ukrainian-Jewish Relations,” discusses the massacre of 4,000 Jews in L’viv between June 30, 1941 and July 7, 1941.  Not only were these Jews massacred by German units, but some “2,000 Jews were murdered in a pogrom-like fashion under the slogan of ‘Petliura days,’ signifying Ukrainian revenge for the assassination of…the head of the independent Ukrainian government after the 1917 revolution” adding to the 30,000 estimated Jews murdered in this fashion during the first weeks of Nazi occupation of eastern Poland (Redlich 68).

Yosef Litvak’s essay, “Jewish Refugees from Poland in the USSR, 1939-1946,” addresses the waves of immigration of Jewish refugees from Lvov and other Polish cities.  Once the Germans occupied the city of Lvov on June 30, 1941, the Soviets did not allow Jews to cross the pre-September 1939 border between Poland and the USSR and discouraged Jews from fleeing the country (Litvak, 132).  Although this essay and others describes the refugees from Lvov to the USSR during and after the war, it fails to mention the immigration of Jews into Western Europe and the United States, which is where Nina eventually immigrated.

A very impressive eyewitness account of the massacre of Jews in Lvov during the first days of Nazi occupation is found among other primary documents at the end of the book.  This account, found in David Kahane’s Lvov Ghetto Diary, gives a detailed description of the seizing of Jews in the streets or at their homes and of their forced labor in the three prisons.  Kahane also retells the story of the death of rabbi, Doctor Levin, who was among on of the 3,000 Jews killed in the Lvov prisons during the fist days of the occupation of Lvov (Kahane, 279).  The other eyewitness accounts describe other atrocities committed against Jews in Eastern Europe.

This book is not completely helpful in understanding Nina’s story because it includes primarily information about the USSR.  It does provide some informative material about the city of Lvov and the Lvov ghetto in a few essays.  The collection of essays, however, does elucidate some of the unresolved issues regarding the Holocaust in the USSR.