Excerpts from "the first rough draft of history" as reported in
The Washington Post on this date in the 20th century.
Though much of the world was touched by death and destruction during World War II, Russia was virtually consumed. The cost of victory there was staggering. The United States lost about 300,000 men and women during the war, Britain some 400,000. The Soviet Union lost 27 million. The war on the Russian front -- the arena upon which so much of the Allies' ultimate success depended -- destroyed more than 70,000 villages and 1,710 cities and towns. Kiev was but one. An excerpt from The Post of Nov. 29, 1943:
Kiev, Nov. 26 -- (Delayed) -- (INS). --
Ancient Kiev, once one of the most beautiful cities of the Soviet Union, is today a metropolis stalked by the specter of death, with its famed university and many other edifices ruined by the blight of war and invasion.
But the greatest destruction Kiev has suffered was not to its buildings, streets and public services, but to the lives of its people. All of its surviving residents who were interviewed -- ranking from the humblest to the highest -- testified that the Germans had executed inhabitants estimated to number as high as 80,000 -- in what they described as the worst massacre perpetrated by the Nazis in Russia. Between 60,000 and 70,000 of the victims were declared to be Jewish.
There were many other deaths, too, from bombing, fighting in the streets and hunger.
Before the war Kiev was populated by more than one million persons. When the Germans withdrew, there were only about 10,000 inhabitants left.
When I arrived at Kiev, recently liberated by the Red Army, I discovered the city still was without electricity and water supply. The power plants had been blown up and the water mains destroyed by the retreating Nazis.
In the heart of the city seven blocks of buildings had been destroyed. All first and second-class hotels were gone.
The University of Kiev had been blown up. The Germans had destroyed or removed some of the best specimens from the university's laboratories and anything else they wanted. ...
Some 1,600,000 books were blown up in the destruction of the university library. In the entire city, the Kiev librarian estimated six million books were lost.
A beautiful marble building which has housed the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Communist Party was systematically torn apart. All its marble and bronze were carefully taken down and, together with doors and windows, shipped off to Germany.
Gone also is the beautiful Uspensky Cathedral. Some of its walls, however, remain, with their priceless frescoes and paintings, standing like a grim sentinel, exposed to the rain and snow amidst a mass of debris and rubble. ...
The Russians I interviewed in Kiev alleged that before the city was liberated on November, 6, 1943, the Germans tried to obliterate evidences of the mass shootings of Jews by burning the bodies. ...
Testimony regarding the shooting of Jews is not confined to the City of Kiev. The same charge has been made in other cities and in villages which I have visited following their liberation from the Nazis.
In every case such stories were supported by local residents whom I interviewed, including priests, peasants and workers.
Time and history eventually will give the evidence to render a verdict.