• Donald V. Watkins

Western Cowardice Fuels Genocide in Ukraine

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published April 12, 2022


The United States announced last week that it expects the Russian-Ukraine War to last for years. It took me a while to figure why this war will drag out. Then I realized a fundamental truth about presidential leadership in America since the end of World War II in 1945.


As a nation, we no longer fight to win wars. We engage in skirmishes and special operations in conflict zones long enough to get an adversary to the table for peace talks. This is what we did in Korea and Vietnam.


Our adversaries killed America soldiers and contractors while running us out of Somalia. We did not have a strategy for winning in Iraq and Afghanistan. So, we lost in these war theaters in humiliating fashion.


In 1994, America promised the Ukrainians that we would defend them from invaders if they gave up their nuclear weapons. To their detriment, they believed us and surrendered their nuclear weapons. Now, they are being slaughtered by Vladimir Putin and his Russian soldiers in a new Ukrainian Holocaust.


Ukraine's Brave Fighting Spirit is Borne Out of the Nazis' Genocide of Its Citizens


Unfortunately for the Ukrainians, they still believe in fighting to win wars. However, they are being supplied by America and other NATO nations that do not share this level of conviction.


It must be frustrating for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his military to set a goal of winning the war, only to realize that America and its NATO allies are cowards. America, its allies and partners are fighting Russian war crimes and genocide in Ukraine with meaningless economic sanctions against Russian oligarchs and a handful of financial institutions tied to Putin and these oligarchs.


Germany, which is one of the key NATO members, ought to be ashamed of itself for not doing more to help the Ukrainians. One million of the six million Europeans Jews Nazi Germany exterminated during the reign of Adolf Hitler were Ukrainian Jews.


The best-known massacre, with the greatest number of victims, took place in Babi Yar on the outskirts of Kyiv. There, in the course of two days on September 29 and 30, 1941, Heinrich Himmler's Einsatzgruppen, with the help local police formed by the German occupiers, gunned down 33,761 Jewish citizens of Kyiv. Those who tried to stop the Holocaust in Ukraine by rescuing Jews were subject not only to arrest but also to execution.


Erich Koch, Germany's Reichskommissar (or ruling Commissioner) of Ukraine was particularly brutal. He was tasked with raping Ukraine of its resources and depopulating the conquered territory. He treated the Ukrainian population as European colonies treated blacks and Asians in their overseas colonies, asserting, "No German soldier will ever die for that nigger people." He proudly bolstered that, "if I find a Ukrainian who is worthy of sitting at the same table with me, I must have him shot."


By the time the German occupation of Kyiv ended in November 1943, another 60,000 Nazi victims had found their final resting place in Babi Yar.


Starting in January 1942, the Nazis exploited Ukraine as a source not only of agricultural products but also of forced labor. The Germans rounded up close to 2.2 million Ukrainians and sent them off to Germany by force in 1942 and 1943. Many died of malnutrition, disease, and Allied bombing of the military and munitions factories where they worked. Those who survived and were liberated by Russian Army soldiers in late 1944 and 1945 (only 120,000 individuals registered as displaced persons at the end of the war) were often treated as traitors, and some were shipped directly from German concentration camps to Soviets ones in the Gulag system.


Germany Owes Ukraine A Full Measure of Protection from Russia


Germany never fully atoned for its murderous role in the Ukrainian Holocaust. Yet, Germany is watching Russia inflict its modern-day version of genocide on innocent Ukrainian men, women, and children, and is doing absolutely nothing to prevent it. Russia is doing to Ukraine what Hitler did.


No NATO country is standing up to Russia's ongoing genocide in Ukraine. All of them are afraid of Putin. Their actions are based on this fear. This is why they are only trying to punish Russia for murdering innocent Ukrainian citizens, rather than stopping the Holocaust.


Germany owes Ukraine a special measure of protection. It has an affirmative obligation to save at least 40 Ukrainian lives for every one it murdered during World War II. Germany cannot bring Nazi-era Ukraine Holocaust victims back to life, but it can stop Russia from creating new Holocaust victims.


[Author's Note: Celebrated historian Serhii Plokhy is a professor of Ukrainian history at Harvard University and is the director of the University's Ukrainian Research Institute. Plokhy is also the author of "The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine, published by Basic Books, New York (2015, 2021). Plokhy explains that today's crisis in Ukraine is only the latest in a long history of turmoil over Ukraine's sovereignty. Situated between Central Europe, Russia, and the Middle East, Ukraine has been shaped by empires that exploited the nation as a strategic gateway between East and West -- from the Roman and Ottomans to the Third Reich and the Soviet Union. In "The Gates of Europe," he examines Ukraine's search for its identity through the lives of major Ukrainian historical figures, from its heroes to its conquerors. I drew heavily from Plokhy's book to connect Ukraine's past with its present and future.]



IMAGE: Mutilated and burnt bodies in mass grave in Bucha, Ukraine

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