This would be just over a week after German forces took L'viv and saw the evidence of the massacre of Ukrainian prisoners committed by NKVD troops (on a direct order from Beria, as Oleg tells us) before their flight.July 9: Divisional troops massacre Jews at L'viv:
As the Polish historian, Bogdan Musial, makes clear in his excellent and even-handed book, "Kontrarevolutionäre Elemente sind zu erschießen", is was the sight of theses Soviet atrocities (piles of dismembered bodies in the prisons, thousands of decomposed bodies disinterred from hastily covered mass graves) that confirmed in the minds of the recently arrived German soldiers the basic inhumanity and monstrosity of the regime against which they were now fighting. That confirmation justified in their minds the orders they had received to treat the Soviet enemy with the utmost harshness, and made them more willing to inflict the severest retribution on that enemy.
I note that certain posters on this forum whose outlook may fairly be described as philosemitic neo-Bolshevik constantly list the acts of violence comitted by German forces (which in itself is unobjectionable) while totally ignoring the context in which those acts of violence were committed, namely the consciousness of being involved in an existential conflict with a regime that had for many years been committing equal acts of violence, right up to the arrival of the German forces.
To ignore that context in which the German forces began to commit their own acts of savage violence represents a cynical falsification of history.
It might be protested that acts of violence against the Jewish minority in places like L'viv could not be justified by the crimes committed by the Soviet regime. That is a reasonable point of view, but it needs to be remembered that the Soviet population in general identified the Jews with that regime, and had directed their feelings of resentment against the Bolshevik dictatorship against the Jews ever since 1918. It should not surprise us, therefore, that German soldiers made the same identification.
I have just read an article in the 1999 issue of the periodical "East European Jewish Affairs" by a Michael Beizer, concerning the expressions of antisemitism among the population of Leningrad. The article showed that anti-Jewish sentiment was wide-spread among the common people of the Soviet Union and openly expressed during the 1920s, despite all the attempts of the philosemitic Bolshevik regime to suppress it through education and propaganda. Beizer shows that it was only the imposition of a brutal totalitarianism by Stalin at the beginning of the 1930s that finally crushed all manifestations of anti-Jewish feeling and drove it underground.
So the upshot of all this is, by all means list the acts of violence committed by German forces in their war against the Soviet Union, but remember that those acts were committed in the context of a struggle against a regime that had been committing similar acts for a long time, for far longer than the National Socialist regime in Germany.