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!
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.