Introduction: Prof. Timothy Snyder of Yale University, author of Bloodlands and more than a dozen articles in the NYRB and other intellectual outlets, spoke as an invited guest of the Holocaust and Genocide Studies program at Kean University (New Jersey) on April 17 2012.

Snyder had already become notorious among historians of the Soviet Union because he blatantly lies about Soviet history. What's more, there is a method to his falsifications: Snyder is spreading the historical mythology of the Ukrainian fascists and anti-Semitic Polish nationalists to an English-speaking audience who are largely ignorant of the history of Eastern Europe and do not recognize this propaganda for what it is -- an apology for the Ukrainian nationalists' Nazi collaboration and participation in the mass murder of Jews, and Polish nationalists' fanatic anti-Semitism.

I distributed the letter below as a two-sided leaflet to every member in attendance. There was no Q&A period -- the moderator took one question from the floor, asked one question himself, and then ended the program.

My hand was the only one raised. I was pointedly ignored. I had a great quotation from Yitzhak Arad about the ferocious antisemitism of the Polish Home Army, all ready to cite. But I never got to say a word. Here is that quotation from Arad, one of the founders of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Center in Israel:

In Poland, the Home Army (A.K.- Armia Krajowa), the general Polish Partisan Movement, was not open to Jews. Moreover, thousands of Jews were murdered by the rightist factions of the official Polish underground. In eastern Poland, in Byelorussia, and sometimes in other areas as well, groups of Polish rightist guerillas took an active role in the killing of many Jewish families and partisans in the forest. Among their victims was also a group of Jewish fighters who had succeeded in breaking out of the Warsaw Ghetto at the time of the uprising, had reached the forests, and launched guerilla warfare against the Nazis.
- introduction to Isaac Kowalski, comp. and ed., Anthology on Armed Jewish Resistance, 1939-1945 (Brooklyn, New York: Jewish Combatants Publishers House, 1984-1991), vol. 1 (1984), 27.

Snyder makes the Home Army, and anticommunist, antisemitic Polish nationalists generally, his heroes. It is their historical paradigm that he retails to his readers.

I'm far along in a project of writing a detailed, documented review of Snyder's writings, including all the primary-source evidence proving his truly shocking lies.  - Grover Furr April 18 2012

I Protest the Appearance of Professor Timothy Snyder!

To the attendees at Prof. Timothy Snyder’s talk at Kean University this evening:

As a historian of the USSR during the 1930s and ‘40s, I am both shocked and saddened at Prof. Timothy Snyder’s appearance at Kean U. today. First, because in Bloodlands and recent articles Prof. Snyder propounds the anti-Semitic historical misrepresentation of today’s Polish, Baltic and Ukrainian nationalist regimes. Second, because virtually everything Snyder has to say about Soviet history of this period is false.

Dovid Katz, expert on the Holocaust in the Baltics, has written that Snyder’s work echoes Baltic historical revisionism by “almost” equating liberators – the Soviet Union – with the Nazi perpetrators of the Holocaust while persecuting former Jewish partisans who fought Baltic fascists in Soviet partisan formations and praising the local fascists who murdered Jews and fought the Soviets.[1] Concerning Poland, Snyder also repeats the historical lies of the anti-Semitic Home Army (Armia Krajowa) of the wartime “London” Polish regime – lies that are taught as “truth” in Poland today.

Today’s Baltic, Ukrainian, and Polish elites apologize for their crimes by comparing the Nazis with Stalin’s Soviet Union as “parallel” mass murderers. To do this they have to fabricate fraudulent tales of Soviet “atrocities” or recycle Nazi propaganda. Snyder repeats these falsehoods as fact.

My own concern is with Snyder’s falsification of Soviet history. Virtually every “fact” Snyder cites is false and long since disproven. Here are just a few of them:

* Snyder repeats the “Holodomor” myth: that the Soviets “deliberately starved” to death more than 3 million Ukrainians. NO reputable scholar of the famine accepts this fable today. The “Holodomor” myth was invented by the Nazis and their Ukrainian Nationalist allies during the 1930s. Today it is the Ukrainian nationalists’ “cover story” to justify their siding with the Nazis against the Soviets – and their participation in murdering millions of Ukrainian Jews.

* Snyder repeats Polish nationalist lies about the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of August 1939. He falsely claims the Nazis and Soviets were “military allies”; that German and Soviet troops “jointly” invaded Poland and held a “joint victory parade.” All false! Winston Churchill praised the Soviets for entering Eastern Poland thereby preventing the Nazi army from reaching the Soviet border. There was no “joint victory parade”, as the memoirs of both the German and Soviet generals, Guderian and Krivoshein, attest. There was no “Soviet-German alliance.” Soviet neutrality was recognized by every Allied government. In addition, the only part of “Poland” occupied by the Red Army was Western Ukraine-Belorussia, had been taken by conquest from Russia in 1921.

* Official Polish anti-Semitism before, during, and after WW2 is actively denied by Polish nationalists today. Snyder aids them by scarcely mentioning it. Instead he attacks the Soviets. This is all wrong.

In his memoir Menachem Begin wrote: “the Soviet Government fought anti-Semitism with characteristic pertinacity... The truth is that the Soviet Government is anti-anti-Semitic.” (White Nights 1951) Dovid Katz writes:

… in 1944, the USSR did liberate these lands from Nazi dominion, and they did bring freedom to the tiny remaining remnant of the targeted-for-extinction races. From the day the Holocaust started here, in June 1941, the Soviets were often the only hope of escape for members of a doomed race, whether by fleeing eastward before Nazi control was firmly established in the first week after 22 June that year, or, by evading the ghettos to link up with the Soviet supported anti-Nazi partisans in the forests.

* Snyder falsely claims that the Soviets “tortured the Polish Home Army’s best officers and hanged its last commander.” The facts are different. Okulicki, the last Home Army commander, admitted to setting up an armed anti-Soviet underground inside the USSR, and died in prison. Home Army terrorists went around killing people in Western Ukraine and Belorussia until 1963; the Soviets did torture some of them during interrogation.

* Snyder states: “When the Germans, like the Soviets, specifically targeted educated Poles in 1939-41, that was genocide.” This is completely false – an example of the “redefinition of genocide” that Katz exposes and deplores. The Soviets never “targeted educated Poles.”

* Snyder: “In early 1940, the German leadership tried to persuade its Soviet ally to take two million Jews from Polish territory; Stalin refused.” False! The documents in question state that the Nazis offered to forcibly send the Jews of Germany – there were, at most, only 214,000 left - to the USSR. None had volunteered to be shipped to the USSR. Meanwhile in 1939 the USA and Canada refused to accept 930 Jewish refugees from Germany on the infamous “Voyage of the Damned” (the SS St Louis). And, of course, the USSR was never an "ally" of Nazi Germany -- this is the Polish nationalist falsification again.

*Snyder repeats the Polish Nationalist – and Nazi – version of the “Katyn massacre” of Polish prisoners that the Nazis blamed on “Jewish Bolsheviks.” He fails to mention the important historical controversy over who killed these Poles. The American Historical Association states that to inform one’s readers about such controversies is the duty of every historian. (For details see my Katyn web page at )

* Snyder criticizes the Bielski Jewish partisan group for collaborating with Soviet partisans and the Red Army against the Polish Home Army. But Snyder’s source Bernhard Chiari attests to the Home Army’s murderous anti-Semitism.

* Snyder claims the Soviets “betrayed” the Polish Home Army “who were fighting, like themselves, against Nazi Germany.” In reality, the Home Army fought against the Red Army and attacked Jewish as well as Soviet partisans. Snyder’s own source (Chiari) shows this, but Snyder never tells his readers.

*Snyder claims the Red Army refused to aid the Home Army when the latter started the Warsaw Uprising of 1944 and tries to blame the Soviets for the German murder of 100,000 Warsaw residents and the city’s destruction. Polish Nationalists invented this lie to hide the fact that Home Army commanders knew they never had a chance but led the people of Warsaw to the slaughter anyway.

* Snyder writes: “As for the women who joined the partisans, perhaps it is enough to say that the standard form of address in the Soviet camps was ‘whore.’” This is a lie. Snyder’s own source, German historian Bernhard Chiari, says that partisans generally, not Soviet partisans, “often” called women “whores.” Chiari also notes that (a) the Home Army often fought against Jewish partisans to the point of “complete annihilation”, while Jewish men often fought in the ranks of Soviet partisans; (b) Soviet partisan leaders regarded anti-Semitism in their ranks as seriously as looting and rape. Not even Snyder can claim the Home Army fought anti-Semitism – the Home Army was anti-Semitic!

* Snyder claims that 70,000 Jews were deported to Kazakhstan and Siberia in 1940, of whom about 1/3 died. This is false. All of these 70,000 fugitives – we don’t know how many were Jews -- were sent to work in cities and towns, or in the lumber industry. There is no evidence that “about 1/3 died”.

In conclusion: Snyder’s “scholarship” cannot be trusted! I have checked dozens of his footnotes. In most cases they either do not lead to evidence at all, or the source footnoted does not state what Snyder claims it does.

Snyder is a most unsuitable speaker for any discussion of the Holocaust, or of Eastern European history generally.

Grover Furr [2]

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[1]Dovid Katz. “Why red is not brown in the Baltics. Unhappily, Timothy Snyder's historical reassessment of the Nazi-Soviet pact coincides with Baltic ultra-nationalist agendas.” The Guardian 10 Sept. 2010.  

[2] My research on Soviet history, including Stalin, Katyn, and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, may be consulted on my Home Page.