Inserted to promote hatred
COMMUNITY REACTION: Time and "traditions of atrocity"
Following are the texts of letters to the editor of Time magazine written in reaction to a photo accompanying the article "Unspeakable" published in the February 22 issue.
Promotion of Hatred
In the article "Unspeakable" (February 22), there is a photo captioned "Traditions of atrocity: A Jewish girl raped by Ukrainians in Lvov, Poland, 1945." Before addressing my main objection to the use of this photo, there are several problems with the caption that should be discussed.
In the first place, as the city in question is in Ukraine today, the word Lviv, not Lvov, which is the Russian redaction, should be used.
Secondly, Lviv ceased to be a part of Poland in 1939, after western Ukraine was annexed by the Soviet Union. Therefore, the term Soviet Union, or Soviet Ukraine, not Poland, should be used.
Thirdly, as the article concerns rape as a weapon and by-product of warfare, the date 1945, if authentic, makes the use of this photograph marginal at best. Lviv was taken from the Germans in the summer of 1944. Also, Ukraine did not have its own armed forces, as it was a part of the multi-national, but Russian-dominated, Soviet Union. A Ukrainian partisan force, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, was active in western Ukraine. As far as I am aware, however, their units never entered Lviv. Therefore, to which Ukrainians is the photo referring? Because of the inconsistencies, one can legitimately call into question the veracity of the entire caption.
The editors of Time magazine know very well that there are many painful issues in the history of Jewish-Ukrainian relations. The article speaks mainly of rapes committed by soldiers during wartime and, particularly, to those taking place in Bosnia-Herzegovina. As this photo is questionable at best, and has little or nothing to do with the article at hand, one is left to conclude that it was inserted to promote hatred as well as to reinforce prejudices and negative stereotypes against both Jews and Ukrainians. Many members of the Ukrainian community will undoubtedly conclude that the photo was inserted to deliberately discredit Ukrainians. More ignorant and extremist members of this community may conclude that this was done by Jews.
Some members of the Jewish community, on the other hand, may conclude that Ukrainians are little more than anti-Semites and barbarians, who have absolutely nothing good to offer this planet. People outside of these two ethnic groups may arrive at similar conclusions.
I know that representatives of the Ukrainian community in Canada and the U.S. will respond sharply to the use of this photo in the context of this article. I hope that representatives of Jewish groups will join Ukrainians in denouncing this example of hatred promotion.
Assistant to the Director
Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies