The Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, which had been enlarged by annexations from Poland and Romania in 1939/40, was invaded during Hitler’s assault on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. During the summer and autumn of 1941, the Germans occupied most of the territory of Ukraine, including the capital Kiev (on 19 September), and reached the eastern borders of the republic by the summer of 1942. They handed over the North Bukovina, Dorohoi and Bessarabia regions to their Romanian allies, who also administered the so-called Transnistria region between the Dniester and Southern Bug rivers. On 1 August 1941, the Germans combined the Lviv, most of Ternopil, Stanyslaviv and Drohobych regions into the Galicia District which was attached to the General Government of occupied Poland. On 1 September 1941, the Reichskommissariat Ukraine was established, mostly in order to administer districts in central and southern Ukraine, but also some in southern Belarus. The Chernihiv, Voroshilovgrad, Stalino, Kharkiv and Sumy districts were managed by the German military administration. The liberation of Ukraine began after the Red Army victory at Stalingrad in early 1943, and final liberation took place in August 1944.

Before the German attack, Soviet Ukraine and western Ukraine (the territory annexed from Poland in 1939) had an estimated total population of about 41 million inhabitants. Some 2.7 million were Jewish. After the onset of the war, pogroms were staged by German units and local militias, during which more than 10,000 Jews were murdered. Einsatzgruppen C and D, units specially designated to murder Jews, accompanied the German army invasion, as did other police and Waffen-SS units. The largest operation carried out by the Einsatzgruppe C was at Babi Yar in Kiev, resulting in 33,771 Jews being killed there on 29-30 September 1941. Approximately 20, mostly temporary, ghettos were set up in the area under the German military administration. The Galicia District contained many large ghettos, especially the Lviv ghetto. In the Reichskommissariat Ukraine area approximately 160 ghettos were set up, with the Kamyanets-Podilsky ghetto among the largest and earliest. The largest number of ghettos was installed in the areas of Ukraine which Germany had handed over to Romanian control (particularly in the Odessa and Vinnitsa regions). The murder of the Jews came to an end by March 1942 in the areas of Ukraine under military administration. In the area of Reichskommissariat Ukraine, most Jews were murdered until the end of 1942. In the Galicia District, approximately 500,000 Jews were shot to death or deported to the Belzec extermination camp until mid-1943. The number of Jews who perished in the entire territory of Ukraine was about 1.5 million. This number also reflects the victims in the areas annexed by Romania (Transnistria, Northern Bukovina) and in Subcarpathian Rus (then part of Czechoslovakia, but annexed by Hungary) and the Crimea (then part of the Russian Federation). An additional approximately 100,000 Jews from other areas (mostly from Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, as well as Hungarian-controlled Subcarpathian Rus) were also murdered on Ukrainian territory. About one third of Ukraine’s Jewish population, especially in central and Eastern Ukraine, were evacuated in time or managed to escape by other means before the German advance.

Archival Situation

Ukraine’s archival system is headed by the State Archival Service of Ukraine, which administers and coordinates most of the central and regional archival matters. Within the archival system there are central, regional, and sectoral (e.g. ministerial) archives. There are no municipal archives in the strict sense. There are some archives, libraries and museums which are not subject to the State Archival Service of Ukraine, such as the Judaica Institute Archive, the Academy for Science Archive in Kiev, the Historical Museum in Kiev, the Vernadskiy National Library in Kiev, and the Lviv University Science Library.

EHRI Research (Summary)

In the case of Ukraine, EHRI could rely on, and cooperate with, third parties which had carried out important previous survey and copying work, or were in the process of doing so, when EHRI started out. Among them were Project Judaica, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), and Yad Vashem. For a full list of the archival guides identified in the process by EHRI, such as Nataliya Makovska’s “Arkhivy Okupatsii 1941-1944” (2005), see the extensive report. EHRI has merged and updated information from existing repository overviews and finding aids in various languages (English, Hebrew, Ukrainian, Russian), integrated the findings in EHRI’s own repository and collection descriptions. In Ukraine, EHRI has identified 46 repositories and is now able to present archival descriptions on 860 collections. For more detailed information on Ukraine’s Holocaust-relevant repositories, see the extensive report. Where possible, links to copy collections and their descriptions are also provided.Despite all efforts, more survey work needs to be carried out to fully cover all Holocaust-relevant sources in the country.

Among the Central Archives in Kiev there are the Central Archives for Public Organisations of Ukraine (TsDAHO of Ukraine), which contain collections on the history of the Communist Party, the General Headquarters of the Partisans in Ukraine as well as material on nationalist Ukrainian organisations; they also contain the collection of the Committee for the History of World War II attached to the Academy for Science as well as documentation of the Ukrainian Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory. The Central Archive of Supreme Bodies of Power and Government of Ukraine (TsDAVO of Ukraine) similarly holds material generated by the Extraordinary Commission as well as central German occupation administration files. The Sectoral Archive of the SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) is also located in Kiev. Regional archives contain among other relevant files, local documentation of the Extraordinary Commission, German and local occupation administration files as well as Jewish personal documents.

EHRI Research (Extensive)

A. EHRI approach to Ukraine: Pre-existing research, available archival guides, third- party surveys, expert workshop and support

EHRI’s exploration of Holocaust-relevant archival sources in Ukraine could rely on some important pre-existing research in the field, such as Yitzhak Arad’s “The Holocaust in the Soviet Union” (2009) and Karel Berkhoff’s “Harvest of Despair. Life and Death in Ukraine Under Nazi Rule” (2004), which have made use of relevant archival material long before EHRI, should be mentioned. To get started, however, the archival guide published by the Ukrainian state archives in 2005 was of special importance for EHRI’s efforts: Nataliya Makovska’s Arkhivy okupatsii 1941-1944. Anotovanyi reestr fondiv derzhavnykh arkhiviv Ukrainy [Archives of the Occupation. Annotated Register of Fonds in the state archives of Ukraine] (Kyiv, 2005). It provided Ukrainian-language descriptions of war-time collections in Ukrainian central and regional state archives, which have been entered into the EHRI portal. However, the guide rarely explicitly refers to Ukraine’s Jewish population. Thus, the main difficulty in using it is to choose the collections which possibly concern the persecution of the Jews. This problem was solved thanks to the help of Yad Vashem, whose staff had previously marked a number of collections as Holocaust-related.

All collections in the guide indicated by Yad Vashem's surveyors have been entered into the EHRI portal. Where available, more detailed Russian language descriptions of Project Judaica were added. About one hundred unpublished new collection descriptions from Project Judaica on their new research guide on Southern Ukraine have been translated from Russian into English and have been added to the EHRI database. The already published Russian language Project Judaica collection descriptions on Ukraine are currently being translated by the Yerusha project of the Rothschild Foundation. The Holocaust-relevant collection descriptions from Project Judaica which have been so far entered in Russian will, therefore, in the near future all receive an English version as well. In the cases where USHMM and Yad Vashem have copied from the collections and have described the copy-collections, a link has been made in the EHRI portal between the original collection and the copy collection. Furthermore, since often in the past the copy-collections contained copies from more than one collection in the original archive (merging for example all the copies taken in one repository), EHRI also engaged in some case studies with Yad Vashem and USHMM on the archives of Kiev, Vinnitsia and Rivne based on the original survey materials. This was done in order to have more detailed overviews of what exactly was copied from which collection. In a last step of EHRI’s identification work, Mikhail Tyaglyy, a researcher at the Ukrainian Centre for Holocaust Studies, has verified and completed information into the EHRI portal. He has functioned as EHRI’s general feedback person as his institution is involved in, or aware of, the abovementioned projects.

EHRI was able to identify a number of helpful archival guides, some of which are available online:

Furthermore, a number of traditional archival guides are available, some of which are the result of third-party surveys carried out, for instance, by Project Judaica which does not focus exclusively on the Holocaust, but aims to identify sources on Jewish life in Eastern Europe in general. The available guides include, ordered by year of publication, the following titles:

  • [2010] Danilenko, Vasilii et al. (eds), Otraslevoi Gosudarstvennyi Arkhiv SBU [Sluzhby Bezopasnosti Ukrainy]. Putevoditel ("SSU Branch-Wise State Archive: Guide-book") (Kharkiv, 2010) – contains collection descriptions,
  • [2010] Kistruskaya, Nina, *Okkupatsionnyi rezhim na Dnepropetrovshshine v chronologicheskikh spravkakh mestnikh organov vlasti: sbornik dokumentov *(Dnipropetrovsk: State Archive Dnipropetrovsk, 2010),
  • [2009] Haluzevy derzhavnyj arkhiv SBU [Sluzhby Bezopasnosti Ukrainy]: Putivnyk (Kharkiv, 2009),
  • [2009] Melamed, Efim (ed.), Dokumenty po istorii i kulture evreev v regionalnykh arkhivakh Ukrainy. Volynskaya, zhitomirskaya, rovenskaya, cherkasskaya oblasti (Jewish Documentary Sources in the Regional Archives of the Ukraine: Volyn, Zhitomir, Rovno, Cherkassy regions) (Moscow: RSUH, 2009),
  • [2006] Melamed, Efim/Kupoveckij, Mark (eds), Dokumenty po istorii i kulture evreev v arkhivakh Kieva: Putevoditel (Jewish Documentary Sources in Kiev Archives: A Guide)* (Moscow/New York: JTS, RSUH, State Committee on Archives of Ukraine), 2006),
  • [2005] Makovska, Nataliya (ed.), Arkhivy okupatsii 1941-1944. Anotovanyi reestr fondiv derzhavnykh arkhiviv Ukrainy (Kyiv, 2005),
  • Sallis, Dorit/Marek Web (eds), Jewish Documentary Sources in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus: A Preliminary List (New York: JTS, 1996).

Further volumes on southern Ukraine are currently being prepared by Project Judaica. Other organisations and institutions also either carry out archival surveying or support third parties to do so. For instance, in an ongoing process the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) and Yad Vashem are surveying Ukrainian archives with the aim of copying materials and making them available in their own reading rooms. The London-based Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe funds surveying and digitising of Jewish sources.

Given EHRI’s special focus on the Holocaust in Eastern Europe and the vast spectrum of Holocaust-related sources in Ukraine, EHRI organised an expert workshop at the Munich-based Institut für Zeitgeschichte in July 2012, which pursued a double objective: to learn about goals, methods and results of already active surveyors of Holocaust-related sources in Ukraine and to co-ordinate EHRI’s own efforts with their ongoing work.

From Ukraine, there were leading representatives of the State Archival System reporting on Holocaust-related archives in the country (Olha Hinzburh, Director General, Juliya Prylepisheva, Head of the Information and International Department), of Archival Information Systems (Kyrylo Vyslobokov, Director), a Kiev-based company involved in digitising a key archival collection on the Holocaust in Ukraine from the Central State Archive of Supreme Bodies of Power and Government of Ukraine (TsDAVO, see below under C. I.), and of the Kiev-based Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies (Mikhail Tyaglyy, researcher,, an NGO which has been active in Holocaust research and education since 2002. Further participants came from the Archives and Libraries Department of the London-based Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe, and the United States Holocaust Historical Museum in Washington. EHRI’s Identification and Description Work Package 15, which includes team members from CEGESOMA, DANS-KNAW, Institut für Zeitgeschichte and Yad Vashem, was fully present. Two specialist invitees, Wendy Lower and Karel Berkhoff, were unable to attend at the time.

The participating parties reached an understanding as to which archives in Ukraine are of key importance to Holocaust-research and should be given priority by EHRI. While most of the archives agreed upon are located in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, and operate within the framework of the Ukrainian State Archive system, it was also apparent that the importance of Ukraine’s regional, or Oblast, archives cannot be overstated, as they hold collections of German and Romanian occupational authorities of all levels. For a full list of the archival and research institutions thus identified and described by EHRI, see below under C. I.

EHRI will continue to cooperate with these institutions to expand its knowledge about the Ukrainian archives and their content. The most concrete outcomes of the workshop are that USHMM, Yad Vashem and Project Judaica shared their available survey information and collection descriptions. EHRI and Project Judaica also entered into a cooperation in which EHRI provided for the translation from Russian into English of collection descriptions for Southern Ukraine, in order to open up the materials to a non-Russian reading audience (since not all collections are necessarily in Russian or Ukrainian; there are also German and French materials, for example).

B. Characteristics of Ukraine’s archival situation and specific challenges

Many administrative documents were destroyed during the course of the Second World War, while other parts were subject to dislocation (esp. to Germany and to central administrations of the Soviet Union, to Moscow in particular). Some files of the partisan movement, but especially post-war investigations (esp. documents on the aggregate level) about events in occupied Ukraine are today located in Moscow. Despite this, the amount of surviving documentation and the spread throughout the regions of Ukraine, especially of documents from local administrations, is dense. Documents from a Jewish perspective are relatively rare, as are contemporary personal letters and diaries by witnesses. Some Jewish documents have been relocated to emigration countries.

For many decades, many archives (esp. those relating to the security apparatus) were closed to general access. Access remains an issue for researchers, but can vary locally despite the highly centralised nature of the Ukrainian state archives system. Diligence and expertise of local researchers is thus often necessary to unlock the potential of the Ukrainian archival heritage.

C. EHRI identification and description results on Ukraine

C.I. In Ukraine

In Ukraine, EHRI has identified 46 archival institutions which hold or may hold Holocaust-relevant documents on Ukraine. For 29 out of 46 institutions, EHRI made a total of 860 Holocaust-relevant archival descriptions available. The extent and importance of the remaining 17 institutions’ holdings remain to be determined. It is important to note that huge Holocaust-relevant collections are dispersed among the 24 regional, or Oblast, archives of Ukraine, even though a number of relevant institutions is clustered in the country’s capital, Kiev:

  • the Central State Archive of Public Organization of Ukraine (Tsentralnyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Hromads’kych Ob’iednan’ Ukrainy, TsDAHO), (former Communist party archive)

    • Collection most relevant to Holocaust research include Romanian, Hungarian and German records related to the Second World War in Ukraine,
    • Collections on the history of the Communist Party (esp. the Central Committee),
    • The General Headquarters of the Partisans in Ukraine,
    • Material on nationalist Ukrainian organisations, such as the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UPA,
    • Collection of the Committee for the History of World War II attached to the Academy for Science.
  • the Central State Archive of Supreme Bodies of Power and Government of Ukraine (Tsentralnyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Vyshchych Orhaniv Vlady i Upravlinnia Ukrainy, TsDAVO),

    • At TsDAVO, three collections of the Records of the Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR) were scanned and described on the document level by the Kiev-based Archival Information Systems (Kyiv). Additionally, an index of individual, geographic, and organizational names was compiled. The results are available online via (in Russian and Ukrainian). The website provides descriptions on the following levels: collections, finding aids, documents, indexes, as well as providing digital images of the documents. Even though the website is only available in Russian at the moment (descriptions being in Russian), Ukrainian, English and German versions are planned,
    • documentation of the Ukrainian Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory.
  • the Sectoral State Archive of the Security Service of Ukraine (Haluzevyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Sluzhby Bezpeky Ukrainy),

    • The Sectoral Archive of the SBU (Security Service) of Ukraine, which has branches in every region, or Oblast, holds Holocaust-relevant documents. It holds documentation generated by the security services of Soviet Ukraine (GPU, NKVD and KGB), and is independent of the general archival system. The most important are documents concerning investigations against persons accused of collaboration with the German occupant, which often entailed taking part in the extermination of the Jewish people. However, it it is difficult to easily identify Holocaust-related documents in the collection “Criminal cases against non-rehabilitated persons 1919-1991”, as it contains 12,502 files.
  • the State Archive of Kiev Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Kyivskoi Oblasti),

  • the National Historical Memorial Reserve “Babyn Yar” (Natsionalnyi Historiko-Memorialnyi Zapovidnik Babyn Yar),

  • the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies (Ukrainskyi Centr Vychennya Istorii Holokausta),

  • the National Museum of the Great Patriotic War (Natsionalnyi Muzei Istorii Velykoi Vitchyznyano Viyny),

  • the V.I. Vernads’kyi National Library of Ukraine, Institute of Manuscripts (Natsional’na Biblioteka Ukrainiy im. V.I. Vernads’koho, Instytut rukopysu),

  • the History Museum of the City of Kiev (Muzey Istoryi Mista Kyeva),

  • the Sectoral State Archive of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Haluzevyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Ministerstva zakordonnikh sprav Ukrainy),

  • the Sectoral State Archive of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Haluzevyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Ministerstva Vnutrishnikh Sprav Ukrainy),

  • the State Archives Research Library in Kiev (Derzhavna Naukova Arkhivna Biblioteka m. Kyiva),

  • the Central State CinePhotoFonoArchive of Ukraine (Tsentralnyi Derzhavnyi kinofotofonoarkhiv Ukrainy im. H.S. Pshenychnoho),

  • the Judaica Institute (Instytut Yudaiki),

  • and the State Archive of the City of Kiev (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv mista Kyiva).

Another centre for Holocaust-related archives can be found in Lviv:

  • the Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine in L’viv (Tsentralnyi Derzhavnyi Istorychnyi Arkhiv Ukrainy u misti Lvovi),

    • collection of documents of Jewish religious community, which also contains the documents of the Lviv Judenrat from the period of German occupation,
    • collections of the Greek-Catholic consistory,
    • the personal papers of Greek-Catholic archbishop Andrei Sheptytskyi.
  • the State Archive of Lviv Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Lvivskoi Oblasti), and

    • collection of the District of Galicia Governor’s Office.
  • the Archive of the Ivan Franko National University (Arkhiv Lvivskoho Natsionalnoho Universitetu im. Ivana Franka).

Beyond Kiev and Lviv, EHRI has identified the archives of 22 oblasts, and made available a varying number of archival descriptions. On average, at least over a dozen Holocaust-relevant collections can be found in the following Oblast archives, which are located in the respective regional capital (name of location is given only where different from the oblast name):

  • the State Archive of Cherkasy Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Cherkaskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Chernihiv Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Chernihivskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Chernivtsi Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Chernivetskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Dnipopetrovs’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Donetsk Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Donetskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Ivano-Frankivs’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Kharkiv Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Kharkivs’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Kherson Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Khersons’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Khmelnitsky Oblast (Derzhavnyi Khmelnytskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Kirovohrad Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Kirovohradskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Luhansk Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Luhanskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Mykolayiv Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Mykolaivs’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Odessa Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Odeskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Poltava Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Poltavs’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Rivne Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Rivnens’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Sumy Oblast (Derzhavyni Arkhiv Sumskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Ternopil Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Ternopilskoi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Transcarpathian Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Zakarpatskoi Oblasti) in Uzhhorod and Mukacheve,
  • the State Archive of Vinnytsia Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Vinnyts’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Volhynian Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Volyns’koi Oblasti) in Lutsk,
  • the State Archive of Zaporizhia Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Zaporizhs’koi Oblasti),
  • the State Archive of Zhytomir Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Zhytomyrs’koi Oblasti).

While technically not an “Oblast” archive, the State Archive in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv v Avtonomnoi Respublitsi Kryma) in Simferopol belongs also in this group. Furthermore, Crimean territory is covered by the State Archive of the City of Sevastopol (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv mista Sevastopolia).

In all of the regional archives one can find the documents of German (and in some regions also Romanian) occupation authorities. The regional archives contain local documentation of the Extraordinary Commission, local occupation administration files as well as Jewish personal documents. There are documents of Generalkommissariate, Gebietskommissariate, Stadtkommandanturen and Stadtkommissariate, German town burgomasters, Gendarmerie and Schutzpolizei authorities, district commandantures (sometimes named Ortskommandantur) and district commissariats (in some regions also county commissariats and communal commissariats), rural commandantures and local labour offices (Arbeitsamt).

In the former Romanian occupation zone (Odessa and Mykolayiv regional archives) there are a number of collections of documents issued by Romanian authorities: various directorates of the Transnistria Governorate, town administrations (primaria), county administrations (prefectura) and district administrations (pretura).

In all regions of the former German occupation zone there are numerous collections of local administrative bodies run by the local population under supervision of the occupiers. There are documents concerning town as well as district (okruh or rayon) administrations (uprava), as well as the entities of Ukrainian auxiliary police (sometimes called protection police, rural police or village police).

Specific collections are to be found in Chernivtsi and Transcarpathia (Uzhorod and Mukacheve) regional archives. These archives cover the regions of Bukovina and Carpathian Ruthenia, which, during the war, were part of respectively Rumania and Hungary. These archives store collections of documents created by regional Romanian and Hungarian administrations.

Among post-war documents concerning the German occupation the most important are collections of local Extraordinary State Commissions on Determining and Investigating the Crimes of the German-Fascist Aggressors and their Accomplices. Such collections are stored in most of the regional archives.

Very few documents concerning the Holocaust can be found outside the framework of the Ukrainian state archives. EHRI particularly mentions the History Museum of the City of Kiev (which collects documents for the future Babii Yar museum), and the Judaica Institute Archive in Kiev (which collects testimonies from the war period). Other relevant bodies not subject to the Archives Authority include the Academy for Science Archive in Kiev, and the Vernadskiy National Library in Kiev.

C.II. In other countries

EHRI has identified and partially described archival institutions and/or collections outside of Ukraine that are relevant to Holocaust research on Ukraine. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, for instance, holds selected records from a number of Russian Federation archives, both capital and regional. In Israel, Yad Vashem also holds significant documentation from archives in Russia and a huge quantity of sources pertaining to Jewish individuals and/or groups during the Holocaust period. Polish archives should be considered as well when doing research on Ukraine, as should Canadian and US archives, which, among others, hold materials generated by the Ukrainian exile communities.