Ukraine during World War II: History and Its Aftermath: A Symposium


291 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-920862-37-3




Edited by Yury Boshyk
Reviewed by Hans B. Neumann

Hans B. Neumann is a history lecturer at Scarborough College, University
of Toronto.


This book highlights the complexities of the historical experience of the Ukraine during the Second World War and its consequences. Most of the text is drawn from papers and discussions emanating from a symposium held in Toronto in March 1985. The major issues discussed at this gathering were the Ukraine under Nazi occupation, relations between Ukrainians and Jews, collaboration and resistance, and Canadian and American perspectives on bringing war criminals to justice.

The book is divided into three sections. The first deals with the history of the Ukraine during World War II; the second treats the controversial question which emerged from the events of this period: the ferreting-out and prosecution of possible war criminals who came to Canada and the United States after 1945; the third contains documents relating to these topics covering the years 1929-1966.

A brief preface by editor Yury Boshyk, sharply outlining the perimeters of the background to the symposium, precedes the selections. An otherwise helpful map depicting Central and Eastern Europe in 1942 is marred by a surprising error. According to the map legend, the province of East Prussia is erroneously shown as having been forcibly annexed into the Third Reich. East Prussia was in fact part of the Third Reich from its inception. The paperback further includes rare black-and-white photographs and an appendix that sets out the terms of reference of the controversial Deschênes Commission established by the Canadian federal government in February 1985. A twenty-one page bibliography thoroughly sums up the source material for the text.

For Sovietologists and their like, the first section containing papers presented by notable professional scholars would be of greatest interest. For the interested observer of Canadian domestic affairs and especially members of the Ukrainian and Jewish communities, the second section would be of keen interest. The document section contains much important and striking source material including several pieces relating to the First Ukrainian Division.

Any reader wishing to upgrade his/her knowledge of this period in Ukrainian history, a period fraught with such terrible memories for so many people, will find this book illuminating reading. Altogether this work represents an enlightening mix of history, journalism, and comparative jurisprudence. It was courageous of the authors to tackle such rancorous subject matter.


“Ukraine during World War II: History and Its Aftermath: A Symposium,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 24, 2024,