Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

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Rob - wssob2
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Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 28 Apr 2009 03:08

About a year or so ago we had a couple of debates on this forum about the 14th SS division, a W-SS unit made up of troops from the Ukrainian province of Galicia back when it was part of the Nazi "Generalgovernment" area.

There are roughlty about a half-dozen books about the division written in English; I'd already owned two of them - Michael Logusz's Galicia Division (Schiffer Military History, 2000) and Carlos Jurado's Breaking the Chains - but I'd heard of a third, one called Pure Soldiers or Sinister Legion: The Ukrainian 14th SS Division.

Virtually everything I'd heard about this book - on this forum and elsewhere - denounced this book as worthless trash. Here's are some examples of reviews from amazon.com:
“Several US, Canadian and UK Commissions have dismissed any involvement by this Waffen SS Division in any "crimes against" humanity. Even the OSI does not bother these people anymore.”
“"Sol Littman is former Canadian Director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, author of War Criminal on Trial, founding editor of The Canadian Jewish News, the First Director of B'nai Brith Canada's "League for Human Rights," and also served with the Anti-Defamation League in the United States."
Given the background of the editor one can hardly expect an objective account of the 14th division.”
“Mr. Sol Littman, engages in a rather crude attack against Ukrainians, by pretending to have written a "historical" account of the Ukrainian Division, which was organized by the Germans in WWII. The author is sympathetic to Soviet ideology, and feels that Ukrainian Division issue is an easy way to promote it. Ukrainians, as well as Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians and Croatians were automatically designated as anti-semitic, and anti-Soviet, and a tremendous effort was made to discredit and destroy those particular groups by the Soviet propaganda machine and its supporters, such as Mr. Littman.
It should be reminded, that the Ukrainian Division fought for Ukrainian independence, from the Soviet Union, and later on against Germany itself and Poland, as UPA partisans. Numerous Jews played a major role in the Red Army (created by Leon Trstsky himself), and particularly in the KGB shock trrops and its political and ideological enforcers.
The reprisals carried out by the Ukrainian Division and by the UPA did indeed take place, and were always in retaliation against collaborators, many of whom, were Jews. Mr. Littman, of course, never speaks about the collaboration issue, which is inconvenient to his purpose.”
“I received, unsolicited, a copy of this publication directly from the author Sol Littman.

Being an author of a book on the Galician Division myself and an authority on the subject I was naturally curious as to the content and immediately began to read it. Within the first couple of pages I had found a couple of small but irritating, easily verifiable factual errors which I noted. This pattern continued with ever increasing regularity so that by the end of the first chapter it was glaringly apparent that the author had left significant and occasionally unforgivable gaps in his research, thereby intentionally or otherwise perpetuating mistakes and a number of common misconceptions. This publication cannot therefore be considered to be a serious historical contribution. Instead it is little more than a reworked throwback to the products of former Soviet and to a lesser extent Polish propaganda specialists. In the main these are tendentious, careless in details and suffer from a lack of appreciation of the rules of evidence. Like its predecessors, the credibility of this publication is further undermined by frequent and often rabid accusations which do not bear up under close scrutiny. Anyone seriously wishing to acquaint themselves with the history of this unit would be well advised to look elsewhere.
Mr. Littman has made a career out of repeating tired Soviet-era lies. Yet again, he makes accusations without providing credible evidence.
This fellow has made a career out of circulating what Justice Jules Deschenes called "grossly exaggerated" accounts about alleged war criminals supposedly found in Canada and elsewhere. This paperback is more of the same stuff; it is the work not of a historian but of a lobbyist, and not a very convincing one at that. This "book" is aready adorning remainder bins, but it will be even better utilized for recycling....if you want to read about Ukraine in World War II there are many credible histories, including several about the Ukrainian Division, but this is not one of them...if Mr Littman had ANY evidence about the presence of a real war criminal in Canada why has he NEVER named a name, publicly, and then defended himself if his allegations proved specious (likely) and defamatory? Answer, because to be specific you have to have facts. This is not a "book" of facts, it is a screed. Not worth buying.
quite frankly, read this book and it is not worth the paper it is written on. Their are alot of historical inaccuracies, inuendos,racist and quite simply, pure fantasy. It would appear to this reader at least that this "literary effort" is purely an attempt to make money and should not be regarded as a scholarly endeavour.

All I can say is: OUCH! :P

Now I've read a lot of cr*ppy books on the III Reich; many of which I've bought and then later regretted. I thought about taking a pass on this book, but I was still intrigued - it is one of the three most readily available books (in the US) published on the division. I wasn't intrigued enought to buy it - but I found out I could get a copy through my interlibrary loan. So I ordered the book and read it.

I thought it was great.

Not five-star, absolute-must-have fantastic, perhaps. But was it well written? Yes. What is fact-based and documented? Yes. Did I learn things about the 14th SS "Galicia" division I didn't know about before? Yes.

Since then, I've often wondered why Littman's work got so universally panned, at least on the amazon.com reviews and occasionally on this forum. I compiled a set of notes from his book and started referencing his work to the other two divisional histories by Jurado and Logusz that I possess. I readily admit a gap in my research in the fact that I do not own AHF member' Mike Melnyk's To Battle divisional history, considered by many to be the "seminal" work on the division. To compensate, I made it a point to read several other books that cover events in WWII Ukraine, including:

Anna Reid's Borderland: A Journey throught the History of the Ukraine

John A. Armstrong's Ukrainian Nationalism

Andrew Wilson's The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation

John Paul Himka's True and False Lessions from the Nachtigall Episode (http://www.brama.com/news/press/2008/03 ... igall.html)

Omer Bartov's Erased: Vanshing Traces of Jewish Galicia in Present-Day Ukraine

and Michael Dean's Collaboration in the Holocaust: Crimes of the Local Police in Belorussia and Ukraine 1941-44

I wanted to share my analysis into Sol Littman's divisional history on the forum, and have a discussion regarding a) whether Littman has been unfairly slandered for his scholarly research into the 14th SS division and b) if so, why. I'll post my findings in additional posts on this thread. Stay tuned.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 28 Apr 2009 03:53

Probably the best place to start is to provide some biographical information on Sol Littman and some general observations on the general level of research in his book Pure Soldiers or Sinister Legion

Sol Littlman is currently a visiting scholar and coordinator for adult education studies at the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Arizona.

Previous highlight in his career include the following:
  • Canadian Director for the Simon Weisenthal Center
    Editor for the Canadian Jewish News
    Producer for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
    Editorial writer for the Toronto Star
    Activist in Canadian and US Jewish organizations
    Author of War Criminal on Trial: Rauca of Kaunas
Littman first became known (or perhaps infamous) in Canada during the mid 1980's for his agitation on behalf of the Simon Weisenthal Center for the government to open an investigation on Ukrainian-Canadian war criminals. Here's a brief synopsis of the issue:

In the 1950's, the possible immigration of former 14th SS divisional members was briefly a hot-topic issue for UK and Commonwealth countries. Long story short, in September 1950, the Canadian government permitted former 14th SS soldiers to immigrate to Canada. An estimated 1,200-2,000 14th SS veterans eventually settled in Canada between 1950 and 1955, despite the protests of the Canadian Jewish Congress.

In 1984, the Simon Weisenthal sent a letter to the Solicitor General of Canada, Robert Kaplan, asking him to investigate a list of 217 former 14th SS members and suspected war criminals, some of which may reside in Canada. Kaplan declined to pursue the matter. Organizations such as the Canadian Holocaust Remembrance Association and the Canadian Jewish Congress and even the Soviet Embassy keep up the pressure for the Canadian government to investigate, and the government eventually responded by creating a Canadian Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes in 1985.

The allegations of Ukrainian war crimes suspects in Canada caused a huge uproar between the country's Ukrainian and Jewish communities. Ukrainian-Canadians were angered that many of the allegations were unfounded or at least based on "evidence" collected by the USSR. Canadian Jews were upset by what they perceived as Holocaust denial and thinly veiled anti-Semitism.

In 1986, The Canadian Commission of Inquiry on War Crimes issued its report, written by Justice Jules Deschênes. The "Deschênes Commission" recommended that of the 774 suspects on the master list, 606 of the files be closed. It also recommended a set of revisions to Canadian citizenship and criminal laws. It also formally cleared the 14th SS division of accusations of committing war crimes, although I believe some individual Canadian-Ukrainians were eventually prosecuted for war crimes. Some Canadian-Ukrainians felt vindicated at the 14th SS being declared "clean", although the commission's report did not resolve all the mysteries and murkiness surrounding Nazi collaboration and Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust during WWII. Jewish-Canadians may have been disappointed, but the commission did address a clear loophole with regards to war crime suspects being able to immigrate into Canada. So, like so many other government commissions, it's legal findings probably didn't please anyone fully.

In the mid-to late 1990's's, Littman was involved in another dust-up, this one involving one of the first "free speeech" controversies of the Internet Age against a Canadian ISP called Fairview Technologies that happened to be hosting a neo-Nazi site. The call for censorship of the net by Jewish groups, of course, riled a lot of the "electronic frontier" pioneers - including Ken McVay, the founder of the nizkor.org website. There are several links on the nizkor site about it:

BC tel asked to cut off net Nazis' connection (copy of April 8, 1998 Vancouver Sun article)
http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/m/mcv ... 80408.html

Notorious Internet Service Closes B.C. to continue probe of Klatt (Globe and Mail article, April 28, 1998)
http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/orgs/canadia ... 80428.html

http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/orgs/canadia ... hnologies/

http://www.efc.ca/pages/pr/ostrich.html

Here's another site that document Littman's supposed nefarious deeds:
http://www.freedomsite.org/exposed/littman/

In 2003, Black Rose Books published Littman's work Pure Soldiers or Sinister Legion. It was, according to Littman, the product of 15 years of research, which included the following:
  • 180+ secondary sources
    Visits to the Ukrainian state archives at Kiev, Yad Vashem in Israel, the London Public Record Office, the Imperial War Museum, the Weiner Library, the Polish Library in London, the US National Archives in DC, archives of the Canadian-Jewish Congress & the National Archives of Canada.
    Interviews with for mer 14th SS veterans (for example, see Appendix C, interview with Stefan Dshugalo, p.214)
Each chapter is extensivel footnoted.

So what are some of the things that I found right - and wrong - with Littman's book?

Stay tuned.
Last edited by Rob - wssob2 on 28 Apr 2009 04:13, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 28 Apr 2009 04:08

Littman wrote in his book:
"...the author recognizes that much of what he has uncovered will be challenged, minimalised and trivialized by apologists for the Division. As a veteran reader of academic journals and reviews, he anticipates that somewhere in the body of the text, they are sure to find a source un-attributed, an article overlooked, an author slighted, or an archive unexplored. However, the author feels confident that he has examined the salient issues with sufficient care and gathered more than enough data to support his conclusions. The facts will speak for themselves."
So clearly he realized that with Pure Soldiers or... if he got his facts wrong, he was going to catch hell for it.

Here are some of the error's (or what I considered as errors) in Littman's book. I suspect there will be some members on the AHF who think that Littman got it ALL wrong, but here's some specific items that I found incorrect.

STUFF LITTMAN GETS WRONG

1. Editorial mistakes: There are some editorial mistakes in the book, but given the fact that place names can have German, Lithuanian, Yiddish, Polish, Russian or Ukrainian variants and that individual names can have Polish and/or Ukrainian spelling variants (not to mention nomes de guerre and aliases) its understandable and perhaps unavoidable. For example, OUN founder Konovalets' first name is "Evhen" on p.7; "Ieven" on p.13. It's not the kind of mistake that can scuttle the ship of Littman's research, but it's the kind of error that drives the less charitably inclined reader crazy.


2. Division formation: My notes indicate that Littman mentions that on March 24, 1943 Radio Weichsel-Donau announces the formation of the division. This is most likely incorrect, or at least imprecise. My understanding is that on that date SS-HA chief Gottlob Berger announced forming the 12,000 men-strong "Polizei-Schutzen Regiment 'Galizien'". Himmler didn't give Wachter the go-ahead to form the 14th SS Division until March 28th.


3. Assignment error: Error p.52 Technically von dem Bach wasn't an Einsatzgruppe commander but Chief of Anti-Partisan Warfare


4. Roland/Nachtigall integration: Littman claims p.71 that the Roland and Nachtigall units were integrated into the 14th SS May 1943 - not entirely true, or not true in the strictest sense of the term. Neither the Roland nor the Nachtigall battalions were directly incorporated into the 14th SS. Having said that, we can confirm that at least one Ukrainian officer who served in the Roland battalion also served in the 14th SS (specifically Evhen Pobihushehy-Ren) and it is commonly assumed that a few individual soldiers of the Roland and Nachtigall units most likely did end up in the 14th SS.


5. War crime at Kokhanivka On p. 74: Littman claims that KG Beyersdorff massacred circa 200 civilians in an antipartisan action at Kokhanivka on or around Nov 23, 1943 (Incorrect; it couldn't have been KG Beyersdorff since the KG wasn't formed until circa three months later and during the late fall of 1943 the bulk of the division was training at Neuhammer. Note that Kokhanivka is in the central part of Ukraine, almost 1/2way between Kharkov and L'viv. )


6. War Crime at Ozhidiv Littman claims that 14th SS troops executed 47 civilians at Ozhidiv (aka Ozhiduv,Ozhydiv,Ozhidiv) June 1943. Unlikely as the division was still in Neuhammer Germany until late June 1944.


7. LSSAH participation, Solvakian uprising P. 85 mentions that LSSAH was there during the Slovakian uprising Oct 1 1944. This is incorrect, LSSAH was reforming in Germany and didn't participate in suppressing the Slovakian uprising.


8. War crimes during Solvakian Uprising Littman's weakest argument p.87-89 about 14th SS participation in atrocities in suppressing the Slovakian uprising. He doesn't provide much detail nor specific examples. He advances a theory that the Dirlewanger brigade caught the heat for crimes against Slovakian civilians that 14th SS troops committed. It's an intriguing theory but it remains unproven.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 28 Apr 2009 04:45

So those are some of the facts Littman gets wrong. Here are some that he gets right:


WHAT LITTMAN GETS RIGHT

I. The Prominient Role of Fascism & Anti-Semitism in Ukrainian Nationalist Ideology
Littman does a good job of placing the OUN in the context of 1920-30's European political thought and successfully demonstrates it extreme nationalist, anti-democratic, anti-pluralistic, militaristic and anti-Semitic ideology, a belief system very much in tune with the times and sharing platforms similar to Italian fascism and German Nazism.

For example, on p. 17 Littman mentions how the OUN was strongly influenced by Ukrainian geopolitical thinker, antidemocratic & fascist supporter Dimitri Donstov and includes the Donstov quote:
"The masses...need to be enlightened by a small, sophisticated elite through a process of creative coercion."


Donstov shared Hitler's believe that the collapse of WWI Germany was the fault of the Jews. One gets the feeling that Donstov would have felt right at home in an SS ideological training session (perhaps more so by replacing the word "Aryan" with "Ukrainian.")

Ukrainian nationalists called their ideology "integral nationalism" but it seems to pass the "fascist duck test" (if it waddles like a fascist, quacks like a fascist, etc.)


Littman brings back anti-Semitism while other writers have banished it to the periphery in order to whitewash the less wholesome aspects of Ukrainian nationalism in general and the 14th division in particular. For example, Littman mentions that in May 1943, UCC Kubijovyc writes an editorial to the L'viv News (Lvivski Visti) newspaper which states in part "...now arrives the long-awaited moment for the Ukrainian people to once more seize the opportunity to join the struggle, with arms in hand, against its most dangerous enemy, Moscow-Jewish Bolshevism."


===
II Himmler's Speech To Division Mentioning Holocaust
On May 16 1944, RFSS Himmler visited the division & addressed the assembled 14th SS troops, saying "Your homeland has become so much more beautiful since you have lost - on our initiative, I must say - the residents who were so often a dirty blemish on Galicia's good name, namely the Jews," (See Littman, p. 78 footnote #38, text from Himmler's speech, see National Military Archives T-175-94)

Cross-referencing with Logusz, we find that footnote #34 p.463 of Galicia Division comments at length on this speech, taking umbrage at the fact that some historians have interpreted Himmler's words to imply that members of the 14th SS had themselves cleansed the "dirty blemish" of Galician Jews.

I was able to verify the existence of a sound recording of the speech and a transcript: See

http://www.archives.gov/research/captur ... tml#speech

with the citation:
21. Himmler, Heinrich. "Speech to the Commanders of the Galician SS Volunteer Infantry Division" ("Rede zu dem Fuhrerkorps der galizischen SS Freiwilligen Infanterie Division"). Neuhammer, May 16, 1944. Approx. 55 min. Item 242-206. Incomplete. In a sequence of 24, discs 21-23 are missing. Comparison with typed text in Reichsfuhrer SS. Personlicher Stab. Schriftgutverwaltung. Unnumbered folder. EAP 161-b-12/277. T175, roll 94, frames 2614657-675, indicated the recording is complete except for the last four paragraphs. The recording also includes a sentence-by-sentence translation into Ukrainian.
I do not interpret Littman's citing a sentence from the speech transcript on T-175-94 as Littman implying that 14th SS members participated in the massacre of Jews; I interpret Himmler's use of the word "our" to mean German/Nazi/SS initiative. Littman does assert, however, that 14th SS members must have been aware of the Holocaust/genocidal activities perpetuated against Ukrainian Jews (see P 44-45 of his book), and I think this sentence from the transcript illustrates his point.

Unfortunately, the actual transcript of the speech does not appear to be available online, so if anyone wants to verify the existence of such a sentence in Himmler's May 16, 1944 speech I suppose they will have to visit the archives in Washington, DC.


III. 14th SS Division Did Not Participate in Warsaw Ghetto Uprising
Littman agrees with divisional historians like Logusz that the 14th SS had nothing to do with the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.


IV. Biographical Information on Evhen (Yevhen) Pobihushehy-Ren
(aka Pobihuschy aka Pobihushchyj, Pobihurchehy aka Ren)
Littman mentions this Ukrainian nationalist military commander and includes biographical details such as the following:
  • - Ukrainian Army officer 1918-20
    - Polish Army till 1939 then
    - Offered his services to the Abwehr
    - CO Roland Battalion
    - CO Schuma Battalion 201
    - Staff officer(see 1, below) for 14th SS Fusilier Battalion circa June 1943- May 1944, then transferred to an infantry unit, possibly one of the division's WGRs (see 2, below)
    - Possibly served as DP camps in the US zone and in 1948-49 was recruited by US intelligence services
In my cross-referencing exercize, I found

1) Jurado incorrectly lists Pobihushehy as CO of the 14th SS fusilier unit (see Breaking the Chains, p.91) - the actual CO was Austrian SS-Ostubaf Karl Bristot.

2) Confirmed with Logusz p.120 & p. 450 plus footnote #37

Having compared Littman's work to two other 14th SS divisional histories (Jurado and Logusz, specifically), I found that all three accounts basically collaborate with each other.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 28 Apr 2009 04:57

STUFF LITTMAN GETS RIGHT, CON'T

V. Confirmation of the Existence of a 31st SD Punitive Detachment
One of Littman's more controversial allegations is that members of the 14th SS, while serving in other units prior to their posting to the Galicia division, committed war crimes. He sites as one example the existence of the "31st SD Punitive Detachment." Crossing referencing Littman's work with other published sources, this is what I found:

31st SD Punitive Detachment
aka 31. Schutzmannschafts-Bataillon der SD
aka UKRAINIAN SELF-DEFENSE(see note 10, below) LEGION
aka VOLYN BATTALION
Littman mentions the following about this unit
  • * Filled with OUM-M members (see 1, below)
    * First CO was Hauptsturmfuhrer Assmus, (see 2, below) KIA by Polish partisans between Volhynia & Krakhov
    * Second CO Major Ewald Biegelmeyer
    * Absorbed the Chelm Self Defense Unit and Police Battalion 207 (see 3, below)
    * Ukrainian Chief of Staff Col. Pyotr Dyachenko (see 4, below)
    * Dec 1943 Unit participated in massacre of Pidhaitsi & Lutsk ghetto (see 5, below)
    * March 1944: May have operated with 14th SS KG Beyersdorff (see 6, below)
    * May have participated in the suppression of the Warsaw Uprising (see 7, below)
    * Feb/March 1945 May have been incorporated into the 14th SS (see 8, below) where Dyachenko became a regimental officer (see 9, below)
    • Footnotes (this is my research):
      1. Confirmed (Logusz p. 324-25) Logusz describes the unit as an OUN-M partisan band formed in late 1941from "Ukrainian refugees" in the Kremianets region. Between early 1942 and June 1943 the unit fought Polish and Communist partisans and German security forces. In June 1943 the unit concluded a truce with the German security forces and agreed to collaborate with them. In Feb 1945 (based on Heike's book - FYI Heike was the former 14th SS chief of staff officer who wrote perhaps the first divisional history of the unit sometime in the 1950's-60's) the unit was transferred to the Maibor region and patrolled the villages of Spilfeld, Obershwartz and Untershwartz.

      Jurado on p. 160 refers to the unit as the "Ukrainian Self Defense Legion," and describes it as an OUN-M partisan band formed in the Volhynia region. In May 1944 the unit was incorporated into the Orpo. Diachenko was a well-known Melnyk supported and a signee of Melnyk's July 6 1941 letter offering collaborate with Nazi Germany. Diachenko supposedly took command of the unit circa June 1944. During the summer and fall the units retreated and gradually lost morale and was removed from the Orpo ORBAT list in October 1944.

      2. Confirmed. (Logusz p.509, footnote #27, citing Heike, English ed. P.104-05) SS-Sturmbannfuhrer Asmus was the SD commander for Lutsk. Logusz postulates that Asmus didn't directly command the battalion but either assumed nominal command or played an administrative role. Littman gets the rank and the spelling off, but this may be due to transcription errors. Logusz lists the Ukrainian commanders as Mykola Medvets'kyi (aka "Khrim") in 1943 and Evhen Kritka in early 1944, who was then succeeded by Diachenko.

      3. I couldn't find any information on a Chelm/Helm/Kholm/Kulm self-defense unit. Jurado documents that Schuma Batt. 207 was formed in May 1944 and disbanded by December 1944.

      5. Pidhaitsi (aka Podhajce) suffered expulsions of Jews on Sept 21 and Oct 30, 1942 and a mass killing on June 6, 1943. The Lutsk ghetto was formed Dec 1941 and it inhabitants murdered on Aug 19-23, and Dec 12, 1942. (see http://bjbark.com/lutsk,.htm)

      6.Logusz documents the formation and deployment of KG Beyersdorff

      8. Confirmed. Bothe Logusz and Jurado refer to the unit being incorporated into the division circa Feb-March 1945. Logusz specifically mentions that the unit included 5 German officers, 20 Ukrainian officers and 600 Ukrainian NCO's & men.

      9. Confirmed with Logusz, p.325. Logusz refers to the unit as the Vohlyn Battalion and mentions Dyachenko as a as a 14th battalion commander. Interestingly, Jurado mentions that Dyachenko (Diachenko) became the commanding officer of "Panzerjadg Brigade Freie Ukraine" aka the "2nd Ukrainian Division" (a poorly documented scratch unit of 2,000 men) in April 1945.

      Both Jurado and Logusz that elements of the Vohlyn Battalion briefly mutinied and attempted to desert to a nearby band of Chetniks in March 1945 but the mutiny was diffused and the battalion integrated back into the division.

      10. "Selbstschutz" in German. The term usually refers to paramilitary units of local volunteers set up by the SS in the early stages of the occupations of Poland and the USSR to assist with genocidal activities.

      Note Logusz on p.451 footnote #59 denies that the division ever had a 31st Puntative Detatchment as claimed by "Soviet propagandist V.Strykul" and "sensationalist Nazi hunter Sol Littman" in his article "These Aging Men Were Monsters Once" (Windsor Star, June 16, 1985)

      Note: Armstrong in his book Ukrainian Nationalism mentions the following: (these are my abridged notes)

      Fall 1942: Germans begin to clamp down in Volhynia. Ukrainian police, increasingly reluctant to force civilians into the ostarbeiter program, begin to collaborate and even desert to OUN-B insurgents.

      In Volhynia, the Kruk (OUN-B) a.k.a. "Ukrainian Popular Self-Defense Force") and Khrin (OUN-M) partisan bands are hiding near Kremenets.
      Given all these correspondences, I've concluded that the there is ample evidence to indicate that the 31st SD Punitive Detachment is an alternate name for the Volyn Battalion, that the battalion was integrated into the 14th SS, and that its activities during the 1942-44 period were much darker than other 14th SS historians are willing to admit.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 28 Apr 2009 05:45

So that's the stuff I was able to verify in Littman's book. But there are more items in his work that IMO need further research:


STUFF LITTMAN MENTIONS THAT NEEDS FURTHER RESEARCH

Here are a few other incidents Littman wrote about in Pure Soldiers...on which I'd like to see more research/discussion:

1. Littman claims on P 39 that Ukrainian Schuma Battalion 204 transferred in the 14th SS Jan 11, 1944
Could I confirm this with another source? A guarded Yes but it's not iron clad. In the book "Galicia Division" on. p170 Logusz mentions that the Schuma 204's troops were sent into Neuhammer's replacement training system. From there individual Ukrainians may have made it into the 14th AuE. However, Logusz also notesin footnote #51 (p.465) that V. Tatars'kyi's (author of book "Pid Chotyrma Parapramy" [Munich: Buchdruckerei u. Verlag, 1983]) mentions that Schuma 204 was integrated into the 14th SS in June 1944.

As one can see, the "forensic history" required to determine the history of the Ukrainian Schuma battalions, especially as antecedents to the 14th SS, is exceedingly difficult.


2. P. 42 Littman mentions the LAH and SSTK massacring 20,000 civilians at Kharkov.
I'm not going to get into the veracity of this claim. I do believe that the Soviets did consider including it in the charges at the Nuremburg IMT but for some reason decided against it. I don't know if it's true, false, or partly true, but I do know that it is a little-known allegation that I haven't seen much research n


3. July 12-20, 1944: 595 residents of Zolochiv supposedly murdered by 14th SS [note, there appear to be several towns named Zolochiv (Zloczow) in the Ukraine, one near L'viv and one near Kharkov. The former was liberated by the Soviets in July 1944, after suffering several mass executions of Jews, the formation and destruction of a Jewish ghetto, and savage anti-partisan reprisals. The Galician Zolochiv is quite close to Brody, and the timeframe is interesting - the 14th SS had arrived in the Brody region July 1 but the division wasn't engaged in the front line battle until late July. It is certainly possible that elements of the division could have engaged in an anti-partisan sweep during their march to Brody]


4. Littman claims on p. 52 that Roman Shukhevych's Schuma 201 Battalion played a role in the execution of Jews at Pinsk and Luminets. Littman cites Reuben Ainsztein's "The Myth About the Fatalistic and Helpless Galician Jew" in "Jewish Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Europe" p.252 (1974)

This allegation corresponds to what Ukrainian historian John-Paul Himka has written about Shukhevych's possible role in genocidal activities in the essay "True and False Lessons from the Nachtigall Episode":
"Furthermore, the vindication of Nachtigall does not mean that Shukhevych was not complicit in the Holocaust. In 1942 Shukhevych and most of the soldiers of the former Nachtigall served in Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 in Belarus. No one has specifically studied the activities of Schuma 201 in relation to the destruction of the Jewish population. But we do know that the Germans routinely used the Schuma battalions in Belarus both to fight partisans and to murder Jews. This is a topic that calls for investigation."

On a final note to my research, I would like to point out that there was one positive review on amazon.com regarding Sol Littman's work

It will NOT make Ukrainian Nationalists happy, of course, because they are committed to slighting, whitewashing, or ignoring the shameful past of the Ukrainian Nationalists. It is, therefore, a form of endorsement to see so many Uk. nationalists giving this very objective, well-documented book a grade of "1".

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Askold » 28 Apr 2009 18:51

Sounds like you are dying to write a positive feedback for this publication. My views on the book are best summarized by the following quote:
Mr. Littman has made a career out of repeating tired Soviet-era lies. Yet again, he makes accusations without providing credible evidence.
What I don't understand is why, you would not pick a worthy book to study (like Logushe's work or Melnyk's book) and instead waste so much of your time on that worthless crap.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Marcus » 28 Apr 2009 19:02

Askold,

I have not read the book so I can't comment on it but I think Rob has done a very good job of listing up what he feels are the strong and weak aspects of the book, how about you doing something similar instead of just calling it "worthless crap" so the rest of us can get some further information before deciding on wether to buy the book or not. I am sure that I am not the only one who would appreciate it.

/Marcus

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 29 Apr 2009 04:20

Hi Marcus and other forum moderators - please excuse the triple duplicates of the my last post - feel free to delete the extraneous ones.

Hi Askold - you wrote
Sounds like you are dying to write a positive feedback for this publication.
do you think I should condense my findings and write a review on amazon?

You also wrote:
My views on the book are best summarized by the following quote:..Mr. Littman has made a career out of repeating tired Soviet-era lies. Yet again, he makes accusations without providing credible evidence.
You answer has illustrated my point that Sol Littman is a slandered scholar.

First off, as evidence by my posts above, Littman's research isn't "tired Soviet lies." (and that whole accusation goes back to the 1980's Candaian controversy I wrote about. Many Canadian-Ukrainians accused Littman of relying on Communist propaganda to create "baseless" claims about Ukrainian war criminals.

As for providing credible evidence, again I think my posts above illustrate that Littman has provided ample, verifilable fact to support his arguments. I have also illustrated repeatedly above how the facts he uses are the same, or correspond with the facts that 14th SS historians like Jurado and Logusz use.
What I don't understand is why, you would not pick a worthy book to study
I think your response above also illustrates another point I'd like to make. The oft-repeated claims that Littman's 14th SS book is "worthless crap" seem little more than intellectually laziness combined with reactionary agitprop.

I wanted to study Pure Soldiers... because of the controversy, and I ended up discovering that is a good, fact-based divisional history that seems in tune with other books I've read about those darkest of time in WWII Ukraine.

I've read Logusz and Jurado's works multiple times. I am very familiar with the "the blond Ukrainian brotherhood that loved their homeland, loved their mothers, never committed an atrocitity ever and corageously fought against the godless Commies" messages that Logusz in particular espouses. It's probably part of a post-Cold War trend in which old nationalists, so long slandered and repressed by the Soviet authorities, are now getting their day in the sun and dammed be anyone who isn't willing to follow the heroic myth script.

That's why I think Littman's work gets so bashed - he isn't willing to follow the postwar Ukrainian ultra-nationalist script that paints the 14th SS division, the OUN, Bandera and Melnyk as mythic heroes. So Littman get's some facts wrong - so does every historian. I don't see anyone trashing Logusz or Jurado's work as "worthless crap" for the errors they made - and I've determined that they too made errors.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Phil Nix » 03 May 2009 11:57

How about Michael Melnyk's book "To Battle"
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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 03 May 2009 17:41

Hi Phil
How about Michael Melnyk's book "To Battle"
I haven't read it and so can't comment. Have you?

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Manweru » 09 May 2009 03:50

Rob, congratulations for detailed, informative posts.

As for Sol Littman, after reading your list of "What Littman Gets Right", I think it's almost certain that he is a victim of slander to a bigger or smaller extent. To put it simply, Ukrainian and especially Ukrainian diaspora historiography and historical awareness are build largely around denial of facts which put the Ukrainian nationalists in bad light, often combined with personal attacks on individuals who bring those facts to the light.

You've mentioned John-Paul Himka in this thread, so you might already know the article I will now refer to, which is IMO crucial in understanding how strongly is the Ukrainian diaspora entrenched in the position of (sometimes aggresive) denial.

http://www.yorku.ca/soi/_Vol_5_1/_HTML/Himka.html
(...)
Instead, there persists a deafening silence about, as well as reluctance to confront, even well-documented war crimes, such as the mass murder of Poles in Volhynia by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)[7] and the cooperation of the Ukrainian auxiliary police in the execution of the Jews.[8] In his submission to the Deschênes Commission in 1986 John Sopinka, counsel for the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, stated that Ukrainian nationalist organizations “were not in any way allied with the Nazis.”[9] It has also been denied that the Ukrainian movement in World War II had any ideological predisposition which could have facilitated participation in genocidal actions. UPA veteran and military historian Lev Shankovsky, for example, asserted at a round-table discussion that organized anti-Semitism “never existed in Ukraine. But there exists a myth about Ukrainian anti-Semitism” promoted by Moscow.[10]

In the diaspora one frequently encounters a double standard in discussing war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Ukrainians as opposed to those perpetrated against Ukrainians. Memoirs and eyewitness accounts, for example, are considered untrustworthy evidence for the former, but trustworthy for the latter; that is, Jewish or Polish first-hand accounts of Ukrainian war crimes are dismissed as biased, while an important Ukrainian victimization narrative, the famine of 1932-33, has relied primarily on just such eyewitness accounts
(...)
As for Littman, you wrote:
I. The Prominient Role of Fascism & Anti-Semitism in Ukrainian Nationalist Ideology
Littman does a good job of placing the OUN in the context of 1920-30's European political thought and successfully demonstrates it extreme nationalist, anti-democratic, anti-pluralistic, militaristic and anti-Semitic ideology, a belief system very much in tune with the times and sharing platforms similar to Italian fascism and German Nazism.
Littman is correct in this matter and at the same time he's attacking the core issue the Ukrainian [diaspora] denial - the issue of ideological nature of the OUN's "nationalism", which was in reality a rather close counterpart of nazism and which led to similiar genocidal tendencies.

BTW, does Littman write anything about the Huta Pieniacka massacre?

There's a thread about this here:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=18182

While reading the thread, it might be good to notice the rather significant ignorance presented by Michael Melnyk (in his posts) and Michael Logusz (in his article), which shows that any works on this subject written by these gentlemen should be treated with a grain of salt. OTOH, the analisys of the events made by Michael Mills seems to be a very reasonable one.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Melnyk » 10 May 2009 08:59

Hello

It goes without saying Littman, writing in 2007 or whenever his latest book was published, had access to everything that had been published previously. Some of this material corrects often repeated mistakes and corrects errors made over the course of many years - often having originally been made to lack of sufficient documentry (or other) evidence.

My problem with Littman is that it is obvious from what he writes that either by design or default he has ignored this material. Why would any serious researcher ignore material unless of course it didn't fit in with their own view? For my part I waded through countless Soviet propaganda publications and material on the division and wasted no end of time researching unsupported statements - just because for my part I wanted to be as accuaret as possible and to leave no stone unturned in my own quest to tell the story of this unit. Littman is not alone - try the book by Edward PRUIS. Same old thing in brand new drag. One other factor worth considering is that both men were funded to write their respective projects. I was not.

If I can clarify any specific issues, provide additional information or help in any way on the subject of the Galician division, I am always pleased do so.

Best wishes

Mike Melnyk

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Manweru » 10 May 2009 11:49

Melnyk wrote: My problem with Littman is that it is obvious from what he writes that either by design or default he has ignored this material. Why would any serious researcher ignore material unless of course it didn't fit in with their own view?
Could you describe in detail what exactly do you accuse Littman of? Because so far you are making a very, very abstract accusaton.
For my part I waded through countless Soviet propaganda publications and material on the division and wasted no end of time researching unsupported statements - just because for my part I wanted to be as accuaret as possible and to leave no stone unturned in my own quest to tell the story of this unit.
I must say that the above fragment ("no stone unturned") is rather curious, given the level of ignorance you have shown in the thread http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=18182. But of course that was in 2003, so perhaps you did correct your views in the 2003-2009 period.

Anyway, I do get the impression that above you are trying to present yourself as a impartial, objective scholar, while in reality (judging by your previous posts on this forum) your specialty seems to be biased research, for example denial of the fact that one of the sub-units of SS Galizien massacred Polish civilians in the village of Huta Pieniacka.

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Re: Sol Littman - slandered scholar?

Post by Melnyk » 10 May 2009 19:38

A few errors are listed here. I have neither the time nor inclination to list them all, but perhaps someone else will

For example:

page 59:

"Within the first month 82,000 men had volunteered"

Incorrect. 82,000 men had REGISTERED (not quite the same as "Volunteering").

To ensure the avoidance of failure of the recruitment programme the German authorities circulated a list to all the recruitment commissions of those categories who were due for compulsory registration and who were obliged to register for a preliminary medical examination. Thus from the outset, there were those for whom the term 'volunteer' was not applicable. Those who were required to report were;-
• All those born in the years 1920 to 1925 (i.e. those aged 18 -23)
• All non-commissioned officers up to the age of 40, who have served in any army whatsoever.
• All officers and those cadets who have graduated from military academies but have not yet obtained a commission, as well as military officials up to the age of 45
• Doctors and veterinary surgeons up to the age of 45
In the case of university students near the end of their courses the obligation to register was to be
deferred until after completion of their course.

Failure to comply was punishable with imprisonment.

Page 72 "The first batch of recruits entrained for traiining camps in Brno Czechoslovakia and Debica in Poland on 16th July 1943.

Incorrect: In the late afternoon of 18th July, 1943, the first transport left L'viv destined for a transit camp at Brno (Brunn) in Böhmen-Mähren - arriving early in the morning of 19th July. Here, situated in an elevated location the Waffen-SS had established a large military training complex called Kuhberg (Kaserne). As the SS-Pz.Gren.Ausb.u.E.Btl. 10 (SS-Panzer Grenadier Training and Replacement Battalion 10) was based at Brno, for administrative purposes the Ukrainian recruits were temporarily attached to this unit, whose designation subsequently appeared on their Erkennungsmarke (identity tags).

page 68:"All the senior commanders of the division from it's commander General (sic) Fritz Freitag down to the company level, were German nationals transferred from other SS police units":

Incorrect: Ukrainians who held positions of command at the battalion level or above in combat units were; Waffen-Hauptsturmführer Michael Brygidyr who commanded the 1st battalion of the 29th Regiment, Waffen-Hauptsturmführer Mykola Palijenko who commanded a battalion of heavy artillery and Waffen-Sturmbannführer Pobihushtschyi, who temporally commanded a battalion of the 29th Regiment, until he was replaced by SS-Hauptsturmführer Wilhelm Allerkamp who joined the Division on 27th March, 1944. Other Ukrainian officers took up positions as company, battery or platoon commanders, (the majority of company commanders were Ukrainian) while those who were not considered suitable for use in combatant roles were utilised in the supply and support services.

page 74: "On November 23, 1943 the Beyersdorff detachment along with other police units - is reported to have raided the village of Kokhanivka"

Incorrect: on 9th February 1944 HSSPf Koppe, contacted the commander of the Heidelager camp SS-Brigadeführer Voss by telephone who in turn passed on an order to the Galician Division that it was to immediately form a Kampfgruppe for Antipartisaneneinsatz (anti-partisan duties). It was intended to be used specifically to combat Soviet partisans of the 1st Sydir Kovpak Ukrainian Partisan Division under the command of Petro Vershigora which had penetrated the territory of the Generalgouvernement where it operated with impunity and spread fear amongst the civilian population. The strength of the battle group was to be one infantry regiment and one detachment of light artillery supported by detachments of pioneers and anti-tank grenadiers. The order which was ostensibly based on Himmler's personal instruction, further stipulated that the Kampfgruppe, which was to be placed under the jurisdiction of the SS and Polizei leader of the Generalgouvernement, was to be ready to march within 24 hours. This unit became known as 'Kampfgruppe Beyersdorff' and was active from 16th February 1944 until 17th March 1944.


Page 4 of photos caption reads "Despite the rain a huge crowd attended the ceremony in L'viv"

Incorrect: The picture does not show the ceremony in Lviv. It was taken in Stanyslav.

page 7 of photos. Caption reads "General (sic) Fritz Freitag front row thirs from left).
Incorrect: this is not Freitag but a former member of the German civilian administration of Galicia (obvious from his uniform).

Now on the issue of Huta, I concluded that the available evidence (ie witness statements by survivors) relates the event in graphic and dramatic detail but these contain several significant discrepancies. "At the time of writing the author has found no evidence which is sufficient to substantiate either sides contention beyond all reasonable doubt".
I have spent the last 20 years working in the British courts. Under current British law, a criminal conviction can only occur if there is satisfactory evidence in support, sufficent to prove the case "beyond reasonable doubt". To date this has never been the case with the evidence regarding Huta. If it had, the prosecution would have taken place along ago. However information that is new to me appeared in a review of my book which stated:

"there is no evidence to substantiate either sides contention beyond all reasonable doubt". Perhaps he would arrived at a different conclusion had he used another source. I have in mind the reports of representatives of the Ukrainian Aid Committee - subordinate to the UCC in Krakow, currently in the Michael Chomiak collection in the Provincial Archives of Alberta - accession number 85.191, folder 59. One of the reports mentions the incident at Huta and states unambigiously that the "pacification" of the village was conducted by soldiers of the Division in retaliation for the death of their 2 comrades on the outskirts of the village". (the copy of the review I have is in a PDF file and I cannot change it to a word document. If anyone can let me know and i'll send it to you)

I imediately contacted my publisher with a view to including this info in the paperback reprint of my book which came out in 2005, but the publisher declined to make the changes stating that the "cost would be prohibative". Notwithstanding this, I believe ALL evidence must be considered and this adds significant weight to the case against the Ukrainians

best wishes

Mike Melnyk

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