Letter to TIME
With pedestrians strolling by
February 22, 1993
TIME Magazine Letters
Time & Life Building
New York, NY 10020
Dear Sir or Madam:
For the photo of the rape victim (February 22, 1993, p. 28), I can think of a better caption than "Traditions of atrocity: A Jewish girl raped by Ukrainians in Lvov, Poland, in 1945." It is "Traditions of disinformation: Another Kremlin attempt to discredit Ukrainians and destabilize Ukraine." In the first place, the city of Lviv — a Ukrainian city within Soviet Ukraine in 1945 and within independent Ukraine today — had not been under Polish occupation since 1939. More important, as Lviv was occupied by the Red Army on July 27, 1944, photographs and statements concerning events in 1945 are Soviet in origin and are therefore of doubtful reliability.
The claim that the girl in the photographs was raped by Ukrainians is not credible. By 1945 Ukrainians under arms in UPA (the Ukrainian Revolutionary Army) or in Ukrainian units integrated into the German forces had long ago retreated westward, had been executed, or had been shipped off to Siberia. The only soldiers in Lviv were Red Army soldiers, and it is only soldiers that would have been in a position to commit rape out in the street in broad daylight with pedestrians strolling by. Your own article discloses that the Red Army was guilty of widespread rape and that Stalin took an indulgent view toward rape. To the Soviets who were pulling off such propaganda coups as pinning the Katyn forest massacre on the Germans, the pinning of a single rape on Ukrainians would have posed no insurmountable moral dilemma.
The Kremlin has a long history of issuing disinformation about Ukrainians, and of provoking animosity between Ukrainians and Jews, with the motive of weakening Ukraine and thus undermining its claim to independence. We should be wary of unwittingly serving as the Kremlin's instrument.
Ukraine and Israel today are both beset with threats to their survival, and are faced with the choice of growing stronger through the revival of old friendships or growing weaker through the incitement of old animosities. That photograph with that caption invites Ukrainians and Jews to follow the latter path, an invitation whose only beneficiary can be Russian generals still dreaming of empire.