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Russian army destroys millions of documents on Nazi crimes in Ukrainian state archives

The Russian army has destroyed or stolen millions of historical documents from the Nazi occupation and post-World War II period in Ukraine's state archives, according to a report by the Arolsen Archives, an internationally run centre for the documentation and research of Nazi persecution. The findings were reported on by independent investigative outlet Important Stories.

The documents related to the period of Nazi occupation of Ukraine (1941-1944), and concerned the theft of Ukrainian cultural assets, Holocaust crimes, the forced expulsion and deportation of “Eastern workers” (Ostarbeiter) and the management of the German army (the Wehrmacht). Documents relating to the actions of the Soviet authorities in Ukraine in the post-war period were also destroyed.

The destroyed and booby-trapped State Archive building in Vysokopillia, Kherson Region
The destroyed and booby-trapped State Archive building in Vysokopillia, Kherson Region
Photo: Dina Shelest

Interviews with dozens of employees of Ukrainian state archives revealed that at least five archives in the country have been affected so far — in Chernihiv, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Velyka Oleksandrivka and Vysokopillia in the Kherson region. The latter is booby-trapped and impossible to enter. Half of the Kherson State Archives have been looted. Many of the remaining documents in these archives will also soon be destroyed by damp and mould.

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