Saturday, June 16, 2012

Willkommen in Nazi occupied Zhytomyr (Ukraine)

German soldier regulating the traffic in occupied Zhytomyr
German soldier regulating the traffic near a grocery store (гастроном) in occupied Zhytomyr 

Zhytomyr (Russian: Zhytomir, Dutch: Zjytomyr, German: Schytomyr) is a city in the Ukraine (I still like to use 'the' in front of 'Ukraine'). Population: 277,900 (in 2005). From 1991, the city has been part of the independent Ukraine. In the past it has been controlled by Russians, Mongols, Lithuanians, Poles and Germans.

From July 1941 until December 1943 Zhytomyr was occupied by Nazi Germany. Due to the fertile grounds and the local minority of about 10.000 Volhynian Germans the sparsely populated Zhytomyr district ('bezirk') was envisioned by Nazi leaders as a future Aryan stronghold consisting of German agricultural colonies, SS-estates, and defense fortifications. The region was the location of Heinrich Himmler's Ukrainian headquarters, and it became a laboratory for Himmler's resettlement activists (source: Wendy Lower).

In 1939 there were about 266,000 Jews residing in the region. There were many Jewish shtetl communities in the area, and the nearby town of Berdychiv, a center of Hasidism, was known as little Jerusalem. By 1997, about 5,500 Jews lived in Zhytomyr (source).

Many websites claim that this photo shows a scene in Kharkov. After a long search using google translator (which could use an update) I can now state that this photo has been taken at the corner of Berdichev Street and Michael Street in Zhytomyr. Here is a picture of the present situation:

Zhytomyr: the same corner, present situation (photo: Sergey Reent)

next episode: Waterloo Day


  1. Interesting to see the then and now shots of the same shot. Ukraine is a country I know very little about so I'm pleased to read about it - other than football.

  2. I agree, Rob, "The Ukraine" sounds much more natural to English speakers. I think the request of the Ukrainian government to have English speakers drop the definitive article stems from their misunderstanding of how it's perceived in English. As if we somehow thought of definitive articled countries as lesser. Some of the most powerful countries in the world retain a definitive article (e.g., The United States, The UK, The Netherlands, etc.). Oh, I almost forgot to mention, nice photo sleuthing on Zhytomyr as well!

  3. An awesome and greatest document more! Thank You for sharing with us these photos!

  4. In 1939, lived in Zhitomir 28 733 Jews (30.5% of the total population).


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