Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Life under Nazi occupation in the former capital of Ukraine

Constitution Square, Kharkov, 1942

Kharkov (Ukrainian: Kharkiv, Dutch: Charkov, German: Charkiw) is the second largest city of the Ukraine. It's located in the northeast and has approximately 1.5 million inhabitants. It was founded in the middle of 17th century by Cossacks and it was the capital of the Ukraine from 1919–1934. 

Portrait of Adolf Hitler in a shop window in occupied Kharkov (1942) 

In October 1941 the German troops captured the city for the first time. Kharkov was the most populous city in the Soviet Union captured by the Germans. In total four battles were fought in the region, from which the Third Battle of Kharkov is the best known.

  Hotel Krasnaya (Red Hotel), Kharkov, June-July 1942. It was one of the most beautiful buildings in the city. Very badly damaged during the occupation it could not be reconstructed after the war.

In February 1943, after the German defeat at Stalingrad, Soviet troops liberated the city. The Germans launched a massive counterattack, and with large casualties on both sides recaptured the city in March 1943. This was the last major strategic German victory in World War II. In August 1943, following the Battle of Kursk, the Germans had to finally give up the city.

The House Science and Technology (Kharkov, 1942)
Constitution Square near the beginning of the Sumska street.
The building in the front is the House Science and Technology (Kharkov, 1942)
source

This post has been made in the context of the European Championship Football in Poland and the Ukraine. Also, this week Sepia Saturday (one of my favorite sites) features Sophie Tucker; she was born in the Ukrainian city of Tulchyn in 1866.

next episode: The lost Kingdom of Galicia

24 comments:

  1. Wonderful photos, Rob. I wonder if they have been colourised, or were they originally in colour?

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    1. Several sources indicate they are original colour photographs, they haven't been colourised.

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  2. I was struck by the facrt that these interesting pictures were in colour too. It certainly brings the scenes to life. The woman in the third shot, with the bright yellow headscarf, really stands out; it’s as if she is making a statement of a kind.

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  3. I didn't know any of this. Thanks.

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  4. That poor hotel. It's criminal what they did to it. But it's nice that the city survives.
    Very interesting post.
    Nancy

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  5. "Charkow", according to German language. An interesting detail from the first photo: the road signs are written in German, while the shops' names remained in Cyrillic alphabet.
    Three years later, the opposite situation (road signs in Cyrillic) appeared in Eastern Germany, from the river Oder up to the river Spree...

    "Berlin", "Frankfurt", etc. in Russian alphabet at the following link
    http://www.thecopydude.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/pretty-bra.jpg

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  6. Wow, what an amazing post. Your photos are just so exceptional! What ever you did or who ever did this, such a treat for the viewer, it was like stepping into the photo!

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  7. I'm from Kharkov. This is great post. Very pleased to see photos of my hometown
    Thank you!

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    1. Thank you Maksym, it's a pleasure someone from Kharkov is reading this. I've learned a lot about this part of the World the last couple of weeks.

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  8. Look, please, for these photos of Kharkiv in World War 2:
    http://info.big.zp.ua/index.php/gallery?func=viewcategory&catid=37 .

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  9. I enjoyed looking at these photos. I've been indexing the 1940 Census with FamilySearch.org and most recently have done many in New York, which has so many immigrant neighborhoods. Lots of Russian families. I just indexed a family from the Ukraine, so seeing what they left behind has made me surprisingly emotional right now. Lovely post!

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  10. Not only did you give us some great photos but you scored a goal at the end with the link to Sophie.

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  11. Interesting history and photos. It is hard for people in the United States to imagine what the war was like in Europe unless they were there themselves.

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  12. This is another great photo from the link in one of the comments above:
    http://info.big.zp.ua/index.php/gallery?func=detail&catid=37&id=795

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    Replies
    1. Thank you. I'll post an interesting story about this particular photo next week or so.

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  13. Wow, these are fantastic, Rob! I love how you tied this all in to Sophie Tucker too. I am your newest follower, btw.

    Kathy M.

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  14. Marvelous, marvelous post. I am a big history buff. Just finished reading The Woman In Gold about the artist Klimt and just got the movie this week. I was struck about how dark and forlorn the sky is in the first photo. The wicked tendrils of Nazism still invade our lives today in some ways.
    QMM

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    1. Nazi invasion is something left to the books of history, forever. Next "invasion" - already started - of the world will arrive from China. Chinese are 1/5 of mankind, they understand us and we do not understand them and when they move abroad they are never "homelesses". On the day they will be deciding to become aggressive, there would be no safe place in the whole Earth.

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  15. Wonderful post! It's interesting how colored pictures bring the story to life. Very sad what the people had to endure. Living in America, I can't begin to imagine. Thanks for the history lesson.

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  16. Endlessly fascinating. My brother- in- law is from Kharkov (he came to US in 1970s), can't wait to share this link with him. Something about the color in the photos also brings it closer. I love black and white photos and sepia of course! but it does "antique" everything and make it remote.

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  17. What beautiful, thought-provoking photographs, The first one is so full of details I couldn't stop looking at it. It's hard to imagine that so much was destroyed in the war.

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  18. In 1941 my father was 5 years old living in Kharkov with his parents and 5 older sisters. Just before occupation they all escaped and eventually ended up in Georgia. I still have his birth certificate born in Kharkov in 1936.
    Many thanks for such wonderful photos.

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