Maeve Korengold is a seventeen-year-old high school student from Virginia. She likes to write and spend time on Instagram. Korengold is alsoJewishand, for her, it’s an integral part of her identity.
Interview with Maeve Korengold
“I’m obviously not a survivor but I have distant relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust. Most of my family immigrated to the U.S. before the Holocaust, although their reasons for fleeing were still the persistent anti-semitism present in Europe leading up to the Holocaust,” she tells me in a one-on-one interview.
Like many of us, she’s closely been watching the war in Ukraine. “I think the Jewish community as a whole is struggling, both with Russia's claims that they're ‘de-nazi-fying’ Ukraine and that tokenization of Jewish trauma, and the pain that Jews living in Ukraine are experiencing.”
Korengold is referring to a claim that Russian President Vladimir Putin made last February — a claim that many believe was an excuse for war.
When we think of the Holocaust, we primarily think of Germany. However, the Holocaust happened in many other countries, including Ukraine.
“My Ukrainian family was killed by the Einsatzgruppen, who were members of an SS ‘task force’ who were deployed to find, abuse, and ultimately murder Jews living in nazi-occupied countries. The largest murder that the Einsatzgruppen carried out is called the Babi Yar Massacre, and this is significant because Russian forces recently destroyed a Ukrainian memorial honoring the 33,771 Jews who were killed,” Korengold shares.
Interview with Dr. Elizabeth Edwards
After speaking with Korengold, I reached out to theWell-Trained Mind Academy’sDr. Elizabeth Edwards for further input.
Please note that Dr. Edwards does not wish to be quoted as an expert on this topic.
LB:Putin claimed that one of the reasons he was bringing war to Ukraine was to “de-nazi-fy” the country. Aside from the fact that Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish, Putin decided to bring up Ukraine's anti-semitic past. Why do you think that Putin decided to bring it up?
EE:I’m not an expert on this; this is way far beyond what I’m an expert on, so I can tell you what my opinion is here. I think it is very easy to play this card of anti-semitism in some cases. When you actually look at what Putin is doing in Russia, I do think it is very close to an authoritarian-type — leaning towards fascism — move. You know, it’s convenient to identify. And there isanti-semitismin Ukraine; there is anti-semitism pretty much everywhere. You’ve seen in the news maybe where people are like, “Well, you know, Putin’s not wrong,” and it gets tricky. Anti-semitism is not limited to Ukraine.
LB:How do you think this war is affecting the Jewish community, and more specifically, Ukrainian Jews?
EE:It’s interesting actually because I follow a professor who is Ukrainian. She’s in the U.S. and her background is Jewish. I’ve read articles about it, but other than following her, I can’t really tell you how it’s affecting people. I think that just the general experience of war is a hardship for anyone.
LB:What is something that you want others to remember about the Holocaust that you think is often overlooked or even sometimes forgotten?
EE:I think often when we study history it’s very easy for us — myself included — to imagine ourselves in the group that would have resisted and the group that would have stood up for our beliefs and would have stood up for our neighbors. But we really can’t know how we would act until we are in that situation. I think that what’s overlooked is: By continually trying to act in a way where we love our neighbors, we are best in a situation to resist hatred and evil.
Dr. Edwards went on to say that we must remember hatred is not the byproduct of any one country.Hatredis a byproduct of us.
Maeve Korengold is hopeful and believes that Ukraine’s efforts will be rewarded. However, Korengold reminds me that, despite her hope, she is extremely cautious about what the future may hold for her and the Jewish community in Ukraine. “I feel weird saying that more attention should be put on Ukraine’s Jewish population because the situation is terrible for everybody in Ukraine,” she explains, “but Ukrainian Jews are facing a different kind of profound anxiety and grief right now. We have experienced the victims of great evil while the rest of the world watched.”