Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine

By Wendy Lower

328 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 21 illus., 5 maps, appends., notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-5863-9
    Published: August 2007
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-7691-6
    Published: May 2006
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-7891-5
    Published: May 2006

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Awards & distinctions

2007 Baker-Burton Award, European History Section, Southern Historical Association

A 2006 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

On 16 July 1941, Adolf Hitler convened top Nazi leaders at his headquarters in East Prussia to dictate how they would rule the newly occupied eastern territories. Ukraine, the "jewel" in the Nazi empire, would become a German colony administered by Heinrich Himmler's SS and police, Hermann Göring's economic plunderers, and a host of other satraps. Focusing on the Zhytomyr region and weaving together official German wartime records, diaries, memoirs, and personal interviews, Wendy Lower provides the most complete assessment available of German colonization and the Holocaust in Ukraine.

Midlevel "managers," Lower demonstrates, played major roles in mass murder, and locals willingly participated in violence and theft. Lower puts names and faces to local perpetrators, bystanders, beneficiaries, as well as resisters. She argues that Nazi actions in the region evolved from imperial arrogance and ambition; hatred of Jews, Slavs, and Communists; careerism and pragmatism; greed and fear. In her analysis of the murderous implementation of Nazi "race" and population policy in Zhytomyr, Lower shifts scholarly attention from Germany itself to the eastern outposts of the Reich, where the regime truly revealed its core beliefs, aims, and practices.

Published in association with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

About the Author

Wendy Lower is research fellow and lecturer in the department of Eastern European history at Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich. She is a former research fellow and director of Visiting Scholars Programs at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum's Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies.

For more information about Wendy Lower, visit the Author Page.


"Lower's excellent study offers important insights into the nature of National Socialist racial visions and efforts to transform colonial fantasy into reality, as well as into the tragic consequences for the Jewish and non-Jewish populations of Ukraine."--Holocaust and Genocide Studies

"A carefully nuanced picture of Ukrainian responses to Nazi occupation. . . . Both specialists and general readers seeking new insights into the Holocaust and the history of Nazi occupation in Eastern Europe will benefit greatly from [this] important study."--Journal of Modern History

"An exemplary local study of . . . the administrative entity encompassing much of the German-occupied Ukraine in World War II."--Central European History

"An excellent study that bravely attempts to put the Nazi occupation of Ukraine in comparative context, and uses newly opened archives to extend our knowledge of the true horror of the era."--Europe-Asia Studies

"A very useful contribution to the field of Holocaust studies. . . . An excellent analysis of Nazi empire-building and the Holocaust in the Zhytomyr district."--English Historical Quarterly

"First-rate."--Journal of Modern History