Genocide is underway. If we don't see it, the failure is ours
Thank you for sharing your lectures. I’m a listener that listens more than once, takes notes, and shares your work widely. Your writing is necessary for all to digest. Thank you for your intelligent, clear as a bell writing, suffused with deep and profound empathy for the Ukrainian people.
Professor Snyder, you have given some truly memorable lectures, but this one appears to be the most important and the most timely. Clear and profoundly true. Beautifully choreographed as well. If I ever doubted that history can teach us and lead us to acting on that learning, I don't any more. Thank you.
I follow the news from Ukraine closely, daily. A difficulty I have with large mainstream outlets (e.g., NY Times, Wash Post, CNN, Politico, Bloomberg) is they seem unable to define the Ukraine war--to say what it is. It was a Russian "invasion" in February and March, but stopped being that a long time ago. It is not a "land grab," because Russia continues to perpetrate and escalate violence while steadily losing ground. Even attempts to say what the war is seem to have faded away from the mainstream information space. Journalists and their editors are probably afraid to use the g-word, genocide, because they may be uncertain they know what it means. The Ukraine war is a genocide, and I write that in comments threads every chance I get. Thank you, Prof. Snyder, for sharing your knowledge and eloquence so generously with the public.
Is it possible to read as well listen to your posts?
I just sent this to a young lady who teaches Ukrainian on YouTube and online to say a Ukrainian translation of this essay would be useful and powerful. I am currently taking her online course and she is from Kherson, so the fact she is spreading Ukrainian culture from a place that was important culturally in the past is very cool. Here is a link to her YouTube for anyone interested in supporting her or learning Ukrainian https://youtube.com/c/SpeakUkrainian
Thank you for this one. As a historian of antisemitism I am thrilled that this new program at BU exists.
I watched in horror as we failed to stop two genocides in the 1990s, but at least we called them genocides at the time. The horrifying campaign to obliterate Ukraine-ness is unfolding under our noses and the mass kidnappings and local liquidations don’t get above-the-fold treatment, if they’re mentioned at all.
My fear is people want to look away and not know I was able to listen to your thesis via zoom, vigorously taking notes and then shared some thoughts with a few friends which elicited 2 angry mojo’s. Today I shared this so far no response. I appreciate this thank you. You are an excellent guide
I have wondered a lot about why we (people, generally) turn away from seeing genocide. I have read a lot about genocide. The Serbian war against Bosnia and Hercegovina, in the 1990's captured my attention, because it only got an inch or two of space on page 52 (or thereabout) in the newspaper. I kept writing my legislators asking why nothing was being done to stop the genocide directed toward Bosnian Muslims, but never got any reply. That later prompted me to visit BiH twice, and to learn about genocide, war crimes, Eastern Europe and history in general.
I have wondered if people tend to turn away because they think that acknowledging the violence of genocide would require them to do something about it? Or, maybe because it is hard to imagine that the people and countries we do business with could be capable of genocide? Or maybe because we (thinking of the US) don't want to be forced to look at our own genocidal history? I think that perhaps people forget that acknowledging the genocide, then talking about it, sharing what is happening and calling for attention are all ways to do something about the situation. None of us can "fix" the situation as individuals.
Thank you so much, Dr. Snyder, for this presentation! What Russia is doing to Ukraine and Ukrainians is genocide. We can all share with everyone: Don't look away.
I would give anything to hear Noam Chomsky respond to this and explain how the continuation and escalation of this war is Biden’s fault. That’s what the man who taught me about propaganda and human rights, is saying, sadly.
We are the frogs in the pot of gradually-warming water: we keep getting used to the temperature rise until it's it's too late to escape. I believe we are in that situation with regard to Putin and his fellow dictators, because it's EASIER to sit by and feel comfy with the ways these crimes are developing: hey, my life is fine, I have plenty of money, screw these troubles!! Not my problem. This is why I volunteer a lot for Democrats and why my stomach is a wreck from the stress of watching all this unfold; in addition, I have taken a LOT of abuse from Republican voters I have texted: threats, obscene name-calling, sneers, telling me to kill myself, along with a litany of lies and garbage spouted directly from Qanon, Steve Bannon, and Russian internet bots.
I am not certain that you need to look at Nazi antisemitic propaganda as an earlier exemplar of Putin’s framing of Ukraine. You can look much closer to home, namely the USSR’s anti-Israel propaganda created to both reframe the Arab-Israeli conflict and appeal to the “anti-imperialist/anti-colonial left”.
Jews, like Ukrainians, have no actual connection to the land they claim us their historical homeland (regardless of the wealth of historical evidence). Jews, like Ukrainians, are not a real people nor really who they claim to be (Khazars not “real” Jews, anything but Ukrainians for Ukrainians). Jews, like Ukrainians, have no right to self-determination. Jews, like Ukrainians, are an ever present danger to their neighbors and, by extension, the world and peace.
The list goes on, but the point is that Russia did not need to emulate Nazi Germany to develop its bizarre narrative. They just edited their previous work product from the ‘50-‘60s on Israel. Old vodka in a new bottle.
"One way or another we're doing" - "it is absolutely clear and sufficient from the beginning"-- How in the world do we move our own government to actually say the word genocide aloud? As you talked about 'memory' laws I found myself thinking about all the agitation over books in school libraries, the teaching of US history in a fuller manner that includes not just white people and their take but the stories, experiences and memories of our greatly diverse community of the many. There is a great deal of the Fascist playbook being used right here in the US - all down the list of 9 items which contextualize the war Ukraine is fighting in defense of democracy, human rights, and freedom. Thank you for making this lecture available to this substack group.
Prof Snyder, The facts and the case for naming Putin's war on Ukraine genocide are very painful to hear recited and to digest but the case is irrefutable and undeniable especially when told in aggregate as opposed to hearing individual events and facts of crimes seeping in daily. The case needs to be made to the world, at the UN, anywhere and everywhere repeatedly. Somehow naming this genocide, I fear, also may allow some to turn away, as before in history. We don't want to know, to face this. We put a mental circle around it.. The individual points, the whole case, elaborated, the quotes, the numbers need repeating by others as well. Knowing is horrifying; we should not stop being horrified and spurred to action against this. This is on us as well.
Thsnk you for sharing this lecture. As someone who grew up in Austria close to Mauthausen, the parallels are terrifying. I especially appreciate your warning at the end that placing the Holocaust outside of history carries the risk of turning a blind eye to what is going on today. Genocide is real in Ukraine, in Tigray and in other places. I personally struggle with the blessing of getting so much information in real time while still feeling so helpless. We can try and help out Ukrainians who have fled to our country, we can write letters and collect blankets, it all feels so ridiculous against the backdrop of a genocidal war. And in reality, we cannot even convince our Querdenker neighbours that their world view is not clever and heroic.
Could you please let me know the citation from which you quote at the beginning and ending of your recent (and convicting) Boston lecture, The War in Ukraine and the Question of Genocide?
“We will kill one million.
We will kill five million.
We will obliterate them all.
We will drive the children to the raging river.
We will throw the children into burning wooden huts.
They should not exist at all.
We should execute them by firing squad. “
Thank you for all you are doing to disseminate truth based on knowledge. It is a relief.
Before even listening to this post, it is clear to me that a genocide of Ukrainians is under way. If that were not the case, Putin would not be targeting neighborhoods, infrastructure of cultural importance to obliterate Ukrainian history, the kidnapping of children to bring them up as Russian and have them "forget" they are Ukrainian, the death of elders who have "memory", targeting hospitals with pregnant women, and on it goes. I'm very interested to hear this audio and will listen now. Thanks are not enough for the invaluable work you do, Prof. Snyder, but I send a heartfelt thank you.