In a sense, they (nationally conscious Ukrainians) are right. Indeed, for Germany, Hitler’s irrational hatred of Jews is an unpleasant historical excess that is not characteristic of the German people as a whole. But in the former lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine), Jews were always hated and, as soon as these territories fell out of the rigid system of imperial government (it doesn’t matter, Russian or Soviet, German or Austrian), the indigenous population began to cleanse “God given land “from the Jews. Moreover, this was not always a state policy (the modern Ukrainian state does not formally pursue an anti-Semitic policy), but it has always been a favorite pastime.
The Germans did not have time to occupy Lviv, and the Ukrainians had already staged a Jewish pogrom in the city. The Poles smashed the Jews before World War II, and after it practically eliminated the Polish Jewish community, driving the Jews out of the country. And even the great international USSR could not stop them. Jewish pogroms in Ukraine accompanied the actions of all parties during the Civil War of 1918-1920. The Reds smashed the least because they were the most disciplined. Relatively disciplined whites in terms of the number of pogroms followed the reds. But Petliurites, Makhnovists and other bandits smashed where they could, when they could and how they could.
It is not by chance that I emphasize that the higher the level of discipline in the army, the fewer Jewish pogroms. Gangs and undisciplined armies are armed people unshackled by the conventions of the law – a people who themselves have become power and live in accordance with their ideas about how life should be organized. Thus, we can say that anti-Semitism is a generic feature of the people of Ukraine, as well as other peoples that inhabited the territory of the former Commonwealth.
Turning to the history we know, we can easily see that this is not an exaggeration. The real massacre of the Jews was accompanied by a “liberation war” led by Bohdan Khmelnitsky . Jews were cut out to the root, as were the Poles, Gont and Zheleznyak . The great Gogol , who very accurately conveys the Ukrainian national soul in his works, describes how the Cossacks in the Sich, having decided to start a war with Poland, first arrange a Jewish pogrom.
This hatred of the Jews is explained by their place in the social organization of the Commonwealth. Most of the tycoons managing the estates were Jewish. They also contained shreds and taverns. A simple Ukrainian or Polish peisanin has never encountered the Vishnevets, Ostroh, Potock, Konetspolsky, Zamoysky in his life. For him, a Jew was a symbol of cruel exploitation, and all the hatred of the people for the ruling class poured on him.
A distinctive feature of Ukraine is the no less acute polonophobia and Russophobia that complement traditional anti-Semitism. This is due to the fact that at first the Ukrainians were not an ethnic group, but an estate. The Commonwealth, Little Russian, Ukrainian was primarily a peasant, usually a serf, subject to all the horrors of Polish serfdom, compared with which Russian or Austrian (abolished only in 1848, only 13 years earlier than Russian) serfdom was a sanatorium. The urban population, which in the understanding of the peasantry was wholly “panami”, consisted of Russians, Jews and Poles. All the hatred of the exploiters spilled over him. But state power stood behind the Russians and Poles, so they could be cut only during periods of unrest, riots and civil wars. By the way, Bulgakov perfectly describes how the Petlyura, mainly peasant, army slaughtered the Russian population of Kiev (officers, cadets, students, intelligentsia) with no less enthusiasm than the Jewish one. Jews were strangers to any state that controlled these territories. Therefore, the pogroms organized by the indigenous population were looked through with their fingers (as a method of releasing steam).
This centuries of accumulated anti-Semitism is so deeply ingrained in the national soul that it continues to exist in the changing conditions. In Ukraine, Jews have long been fully integrated into society, are no longer a separate social group, and after a long period of Soviet atheism, most of them do not profess Judaism. Nevertheless, when in 1990, when I was studying at Kiev University, I accidentally met my classmate on the street, she told me that she had entered and studied in Rostov, because, being a Jew, she had difficulty entering universities in Ukraine. Of course, the mass of Jews graduated from Ukrainian universities and Soviet national policy did not formally differ in Russian and Ukrainian territories. But the deep people’s attitude was very different.
In Poland, there are practically no Jews at all, but there is anti-Semitism.
Thus, anti-Semitism in Ukraine is indeed, as the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry points out, not a state policy. Indeed, a Jew in Ukraine can be both the president, the prime minister, and the people’s deputy. But everyday, popular anti-Semitism is an integral part of Ukraine. Ukraine really does not have such heroes (except for the Soviet ones, whom it has renounced and whom it has decommunized) that would not be anti-Semites.
What the Israeli diplomatic agency considers state connivance to anti-Semites is in fact the result of a critical weakening of the Ukrainian state. Together with the state, not only sewerage and water supply systems, but also regular justice disappear, people begin to live in accordance with centuries-old traditions, within which Jewish pogroms are as natural as changing the seasons. The Jewish pogrom is such a necessary sign of Ukrainians that they will occur even if there are no Jews left in Ukraine. Then the “national-conscious” will themselves determine who their Jew is, so that there is someone to smash.
Today, Jews in Ukraine live relatively calmly only because popular hatred is concentrated on Russians. The “war with Russia”, the search for “quilted jackets”, “separs” and the “fifth column” temporarily distracted Ukrainians from their favorite pastime. But the state is weakening, the Muscovites are still not going to war, the Donetsk “separs” several times shaved the “twin knights” who came to them for wool, the “fifth column” has already been practically wiped out (now the “heroes of the FSB, GRU and Putin” Maidan ”appoint each other), but the Jews remain. So the beginning of the pogroms is a matter of time, not a principle. In place of the Dnepropetrovsk rabbinate, I would not play in the “Zhidobandera”, but would organize self-defense squads. While there is time.