Child victims and female perpetrators: Dealing with the Nazi-murder of disabled children in the post-war Soviet Union

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Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Wednesday, March 14, 20184:00PM - 6:00PM108N, North House, Munk School of Global Affairs
1 Devonshire Place
M5S 3K7
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In November 1943, shortly after the liberation of the occupied Soviet territories by the Red Army, three mass graves with the bodies of 144 children were discovered in a former colony for disabled children in Zaporizhia region. The disabled children had been shot in two mass murder actions by a German SS special unit in October 1941 and in March 1943. In the course of the NKVD investigations of the case, seven former Soviet employees of the colony, among them four women, were put on trial and convicted for complicity with the Germans in the crime. The trial documentation in many ways presents a fascinating historical resource: First, it deals with an understudied context of Nazi-crimes in the Soviet Union in WWII: the murder of disabled people. Second, it shows competing logics and possibilities of action of the Soviet defendants. Third, it is one of the few examples that show how Soviet postwar justice dealt with female collaborators. And fourth, it reveals to a certain extent problems of the Soviet treatment of disabled persons in prewar times.

Tanja Penter is professor of Eastern European History at Heidelberg University, Germany. Her research interests include: comparison of dictatorships, Soviet war crimes trials, questions of transitional justice and compensation for Nazi crimes and memory policies in the Soviet Union and its successor states. Her books include: Kohle für Stalin und Hitler. Arbeiten und Leben im Donbass 1929 bis 1953 (Essen 2010). She is a member of the German-Russian and the German-Ukrainian Commission of Historians and of the scientific board of the German Historical Institute in Moscow.


Tanja Penter
Heidelberg University

Main Sponsor

Joint Initiative in German and European Studies


Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Chair in Holocaust Studies

Petro Jacyk Program for the Study of Ukraine

Center for European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies

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