The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist 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 (Kyiv) by 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, Stanyslaviv and Drohobych, and most of the Ternopil 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 major parts of Ukraine, but also some territory in southern Belorussia. The Chernihiv, Voroshilovgrad, Stalino, Kharkiv and Sumy districts were managed by the German military administration. The liberation of Ukraine from German occupation began after the Red Army’s victory at Stalingrad in early 1943 and concluded in October 1944.

Before the German attack, Soviet Ukraine, western Ukraine (the territory annexed from Poland in 1939) and the areas annexed from Romania in 1940 had an estimated total population of about 41 million inhabitants. Some 2.7 million were Jewish. Approximately one third of these were evacuated or fled east after the start of the German invasion. Right 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 which were 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 Babyn Yar in Kyiv, resulting in 33,771 Jews being killed there on 29-30 September 1941. Approximately twenty, 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. The largest number of ghettos were established in Transnistria, the areas of Ukraine which Germany had handed over to Romanian authorities (particularly in the Odessa and Vinnitsa regions). Under Romanian occupation, a majority of the Jews were killed by the summer of 1942. The murder of the Jews by and large came to an end by March 1942 in the areas of Ukraine under military administration, including Crimea. In the area of Reichskommissariat Ukraine, most Jews had been murdered by 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. Jews from Subcarpathian Rus, which became part of Soviet Ukraine in 1946, were first killed in August 1941 and then, after the German occupation of Hungary in 1944, they were sent to Auschwitz in June 1944. The number of Jews who perished in the entire territory of Ukraine was about 1.5 million. This number also includes victims from other areas, particularly central Bessarabia. Of those Jews who came under German or Romanian occupation, only 5-10% survived.

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. Regional archives normally have double subordinations. While in their operational activities they are subordinated to the State Archival Service of Ukraine, at the same time they are considered to be part of the structure of regional (Oblast) administrations who fund and maintain them. For that reason the working rules of each regional archival institution can vary. 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 archive of the private Judaica Institute, or the Archive of the Academy of Science of Ukraine in Kyiv, the Historical Museum in Kyiv, the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in Kyiv, and the Lviv Ivan Franko National University Science Library.

EHRI Research (Summary)

In the case of Ukraine, EHRI could rely on, and cooperate with, third parties that had carried out important previous survey and copying work, or were in the process of doing so, when EHRI began. 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), and integrated the findings in EHRI’s own archival institutions and collection descriptions. In Ukraine, EHRI has so far identified more than 45 archival institutions and is now able to present archival descriptions for more than 970 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 Kyiv there are the Central State Archive for Public Organizations of Ukraine (TsDAHO of Ukraine), which contains 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 of Science as well as documentation of the Ukrainian Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory. The Central State 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 Kyiv. Regional archives contain, among other relevant files, local documentation of the Extraordinary Commission, German, Romanian 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 and expert support

EHRI’s starting point was the archival guide published by the Ukrainian state archives in 2005: 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 and war-related 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 identify collections which 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 identified as Holocaust-related by Yad Vashem's surveyors have been entered into the EHRI portal. Where available, more detailed Russian language descriptions from Project Judaica were added. About one hundred unpublished new collection descriptions from Project Judaica’s new research guide on Southern Ukraine have been translated from Russian into English and added to the EHRI database. The other Russian language Project Judaica collection descriptions on Ukraine that have already been published are currently being translated by the Yerusha project of the Rothschild Foundation. Therefore, the Holocaust-relevant collection descriptions from Project Judaica which have been so far entered on the EHRI Portal in Russian will 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, as copy-collections often contained copies from more than one collection in the original archive in the past (for example, merging all the copies taken in one repository), EHRI has also engaged in case studies with Yad Vashem and USHMM on the archives of Kyiv, Vinnytsia and Rivne based on the original survey materials. This was done in order to obtain more detailed overviews of what exactly was copied from which collection.

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 these 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: Putevoditel (SSU Branch-Wise State Archive: Guide-book) (Kharkiv: Prava Iudyny, 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: 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/Kupovetskii, 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)

  • [1996] 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 their own archival surveying or turn to third parties. For instance, in an ongoing process the USHMM and Yad Vashem are surveying Ukrainian archives with the aim of copying materials and making them available in their own reading rooms, while the London-based Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe funds surveying and digitising of Jewish sources. 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 coordinate EHRI’s own efforts with their ongoing work. EHRI will continue to cooperate with these institutions to expand its knowledge about Ukrainian archives and their content. EHRI and Project Judaica also entered into a agreement in which EHRI provided for the translation of collection descriptions for Southern Ukraine from Russian into English, in order to open up the materials to a non-Russian reading audience.

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 (especially to Germany and to central administrations of the Soviet Union, and Moscow in particular). Some files of the partisan movement, but especially post-war investigations (notably documents on the aggregate level) about events in occupied Ukraine are currently located in Moscow. Despite this, the amount of surviving documentation spread throughout the regions of Ukraine, especially documents from local administrations, is considerable. 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 (particularly those relating to the state security apparatus) were closed to general access. Access remains an issue for researchers, and despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of the closed in the Soviet time collections have been now already declassified, access to collections remains complicated.

One of them is that regional archival institutions usually do not have enough staff to respond to the dramatically increasing number of visitors and enquiries the archives receive. Some archives, because they are still located in buildings that are not suited to their archival purposes, invent their own ways to save documentation from the poor preservation conditions (for instance, in the 1990s, when dozens of the wartime collections in the State Archives of Vinnytsia Oblast were found humid and suffered from mold, they were subsequently covered with DDT; they are still closed to researchers today).

Another issue which has complicated access to archives is the fact that the archival legislation of Ukraine is complex and, to some extent, contradictory; particular elements can be interpreted in different ways and the addition of certain by-laws and inner departmental instructions has made access to some collections impossible (for instance, the Law on Protecting of Personal Information adopted in 2010 was used for some years by the archival administrations as a pretext not to grant access for researchers to the files containing names of locals who collaborated with the occupation administrations).

Taking into account the fact that the Holocaust-related documentation is rarely reflected in the reference apparatus (guides, finding aids, inventories), this makes the work on the identification of the Holocaust-related sources a very slow process. Diligence and expertise of local researchers is thus often necessary to unlock the potential of Ukraine’s archives.

As for the archives of former Soviet security bodies, much has changed over the last years. Among the four so-called “Decommunization Laws” that were adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament on April 9 2015 there was one called “On access to Archives of Repressive Agencies of Totalitarian Communist Regime of 1917-1991”. This legislation removed access restrictions to the documentation of the Soviet security bodies and aimed to enable scholars and the general public to use this documentation with no limitations. However, of the several sectoral archives which possess documentation of the Soviet security apparatus, only the Security Service of Ukraine currently provides unrestricted access to its Soviet-era archival holdings.

C. EHRI identification and description results on Ukraine

C.I. In Ukraine

In Ukraine, EHRI has identified over 45 archival institutions which hold or may hold Holocaust-relevant documents on Ukraine. So far, EHRI has made over 850 Holocaust-relevant archival descriptions available for the majority of the institutions currently on the portal. The extent and importance of the remaining institutions’ holdings remain to be determined. It is important to note that vast Holocaust-relevant collections are dispersed among the 24 regional, or Oblast, archives of Ukraine, even though a number of relevant institutions are concentrated in the country’s capital, Kyiv:

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

  • Collections on the history of the Communist Party (especially 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

2) 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 at the document level by the Kyiv-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, Ukrainian, English and German versions are planned
  • documentation of the Ukrainian Extraordinary State Committee to Investigate German Fascist Crimes Committed on Soviet Territory

3) 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 (NKVD/NKGB and KGB), and is independent of the general archival system. The most important documents concern investigations against persons accused of collaboration with the German occupant, which often entailed taking part in the extermination of the Jewish people. However, 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

Other notable Holocaust-relevant archival institutions in Kyiv include the National Historical Memorial Reserve “Babyn Yar”; the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies; the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War.

Outside of Kyiv, another centre for Holocaust-related archives can be found in Lviv:

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

  • collection of documents of the 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

2) the State Archive of Lviv Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Lvivskoi Oblasti)

  • collection of the District of Galicia Governor’s Office

Beyond Kyiv 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 their 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 Dnipropetrovskaia Oblast (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Dniprs’koi Oblasti) in Dnipro
  • 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) in Kropyvnytskyi
  • 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 Odesa 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 Zaporizhzhia 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 also belongs to this group. Furthermore, Crimean territory is covered by the State Archive of the City of Sevastopol (Derzhavnyi Arkhiv mista Sevastopolia).

After spring 2014, when the Russian Federation annexed the Crimean peninsula and pro-Russian separatist groups gained control of parts of eastern Ukraine, four Holocaust-relevant archival repositories (namely the State Archive of Donetsk Oblast, State Archives of Luhansk Oblast, the State Archive in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and State Archive of the City of Sevastopol) are no longer under Ukrainian administrative control. Nevertheless, these repositories are presented in the EHRI Database in the status they had before the events of 2014, i.e. under the Ukrainian archival system.

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 and 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 Rumania and Hungary respectively. 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. Still, it is worth drawing attention to the History Museum of the City of Kyiv (which collects documents for the future Babyn Yar museum), and the Judaica Institute Archive in Kyiv (which collects testimonies from the war period). Other relevant bodies not subject to the Archives Authority include the National Academy of Science Archive in Kyiv, and the Vernadsky National Library of Ukraine in Kyiv.

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 vast 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 Ukrainian exile communities.