Article by Boris Czerny

In one of Omer Bartov’s latest books Tales from the Bonderlands. Making und Unmaking the Galician Past (Yale University Press, 2022) he writes about an almost forgotten “end of the world” – that of a Galicia where Jews, Poles and Ukrainians lived side by side – whose memory the historian seeks to narrate from its tales and legends. Boris Czerny provides a critical account, noting that Bartov’s nostalgia for this lost Eden-like land is matched by a mistrust of the way in which Jews have taken over another “end of the world”, which would appear to have turned them into “bullies”.

Russia’s unbearable aggression against Ukraine is combined with the fact that the country under attack has a problematic relationship with its past, to say the least. The history of its national construction and its memory of the Shoah sometimes violate Jewish memory. Boris Czerny examines the place accorded to the Shoah in Ukraine, and asks what it means in the debate surrounding the country’s eventual integration into the European Union.

The history of relations between Jews and Ukrainians came back with insistence from the beginning of the war initiated by Putin. It is an essentially tragic history, which Boris Czerny revisits, but reminding us that it is not limited to acts of violence. Through the evocation of Dovbush, a popular hero of the Carpathians, and of Rabbi Israel Ben Eliezer, known as the “Baal Shem Tov”, he focuses on the web of linguistic and cultural exchanges that demonstrate the richness of the links between Ukrainians and Jews and that constitute the complex material of a common past.

Nicknamed the ‘Je Sais Tout’ brothers, Joseph, Salomon and Théodore Reinach represent both the academic excellence and the extreme assimilation of French Jews at the turn of the 20th century….

With the support of:

Thanks to the Paris office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation for their cooperation in the design of the magazine’s website.