In the Midst of Civized Europe

Sara Ben-Isaac's picture
March 29, 2022
Subject Fields: 
European History / Studies, Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, Jewish History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies

Between 1918 and 1921, over a hundred thousand Jews were murdered in Ukraine by peasants, townsmen, and soldiers who blamed the Jews for the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. In hundreds of separate incidents, ordinary people robbed their Jewish neighbors with impunity, burned down their houses, ripped apart their Torah scrolls, sexually assaulted them, and killed them. Largely forgotten today, these pogroms―ethnic riots―dominated headlines and international affairs in their time. Aid workers warned that six million Jews were in danger of complete extermination. Twenty years later, these dire predictions would come true.
Drawing upon long-neglected archival materials, including thousands of newly discovered witness testimonies, trial records, and official orders, acclaimed historian Jeffrey Veidlinger shows for the first time how this wave of genocidal violence created the conditions for the Holocaust. Through stories of survivors, perpetrators, aid workers, and governmental officials, he explains how so many different groups of people came to the same conclusion: that killing Jews was an acceptable response to their various problems. In riveting prose, In the Midst of Civilized Europe repositions the pogroms as a defining moment of the twentieth century.

Jeffrey Veidlinger is the Director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, where he also serves as the Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies. The author of three award-winning books – The Moscow State Yiddish Theater: Jewish Culture on the Soviet StageJewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire, and In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine – he is widely recognized as the leading scholar of the Holocaust and Jewish Studies. He is the Vice-President of the Association for Jewish Studies and the Associate Chair of the Academic Advisory Committee to the Center for Jewish History and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


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Sara Ben-Isaac

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