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History General

In the Midst of Civilized Europe:

The Pogroms of 1918-1921 and the Onset of the Holocaust

by (author) Jeffrey Veidlinger

HarperCollins Canada
Initial publish date
Oct 2021
General, Holocaust, Russia & the Former Soviet Union
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Oct 2021
    List Price

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Winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for History

From the two-time winner of the Canadian Jewish Book Award, the first full depiction of the wave of anti-Jewish pogroms that followed the Russian Revolution and how they laid the groundwork for the Holocaust

Finalist for the Lionel Gelber Prize and a National Jewish Book Award

Between 1918 and 1921, over 100,000 Jews were murdered in Ukraine by peasants, townspeople and soldiers who blamed them for the turmoil of the Russian Revolution. In hundreds of separate incidents, ordinary people robbed their Jewish neighbours with impunity, burned down their houses, ripped apart their Torah scrolls, sexually assaulted them and killed them. Largely forgotten today, these pogroms—ethnic riots—dominated headlines and international affairs in their time. Aid workers warned that six million Jews were in danger of extermination. Twenty years later, these dire predictions would come true.

Drawing upon long-neglected archival materials, including thousands of newly discovered witness testimonies, trial records and official orders, acclaimed historian Jeffrey Veidlinger shows for the first time how this wave of genocidal violence created the conditions for the Holocaust. Through stories of survivors, perpetrators, aid workers and government officials, he explains how so many different groups of people came to the same conclusion: that killing Jews was an acceptable response to their various problems. In riveting prose, In the Midst of Civilized Europe repositions the pogroms as a defining moment of the twentieth century.

About the author

JEFFREY VEIDLINGER, a graduate of McGill University, is a professor of history and Judaic studies and the director of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. His books, which include The Moscow State Yiddish Theater and In the Shadow of the Shtetl, have won a National Jewish Book Award, two Canadian Jewish Book Awards, a J. I. Segal Award and the Barnard Hewitt Award for Outstanding Research in Theatre History. Jeffrey Veidlinger lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Jeffrey Veidlinger's profile page


  • Unknown, Canadian Jewish Literary Award for History
  • Unknown, National Jewish Book Award
  • Unknown, Lionel Gelber Prize

Editorial Reviews

"Veidlinger’s crisp prose and extensive research makes the scale of the tragedy immediate and devastating. This is a vital addition to understanding how the Holocaust happened." — Publishers Weekly

"A vital history that draws a direct line from Eastern European anti-Semitic violence to the Holocaust." — Kirkus Reviews

"The mass killings of Jews in 1919-21 are a bridge between local pogroms and the extermination of the Holocaust. No history of that Jewish catastrophe comes close to the virtuosity of research, clarity of prose, and power of analysis of this extraordinary book. As the horror of events yields to empathetic understanding, the reader is grateful to Veidlinger for reminding us what history can do." — Timothy Snyder, author of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin

"Veidlinger’s book ranks alongside Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands in forcing our eyes eastwards. It is deeply researched and masterfully written, with a cool restraint that only intensifies its power." — Telegraph (UK)

"Exhaustive, clearly written, deeply researched." — The Times (UK)

"Veidlinger honors the victims of pogroms and ensures they are not forgotten in this important work . . . . Highly recommended as a critical history analyzing the factors that led to the Holocaust and for readers interested in post–Great War Europe and the Russian Civil War." — Library Journal

"In this rigorously researched, powerful book, award winning historian Jeffrey Veidlinger presents us with . . . the first full depiction of the wave of anti-Jewish pogroms that followed the Russian Revolution." — The Jewish Post and News

“A work of singular importance: a meticulous, original, and deeply affecting historical account, one that provides new insights into the conditions that catalyzed mass murder on an industrial scale.” — Philippe Sands, author of East West Street

“In this extraordinary work Veidlinger disinters a largely forgotten history of tragic and portentous dimensions. Compelling and well-written, the book will find a broad audience. This is a story that needs to be told.” — Ronald Grigory Suny, author of Stalin: Passage to Revolution

“In this deeply learned but highly readable book, Veidlinger demonstrates how the all-but-forgotten pogroms in the collapsing Russian Empire in 1918–21 set precedents for the horrors that were to follow just two decades later.” — Zvi Gitelman, author of A Century of Ambivalence

"In riveting prose, In the Midst of Civilized Europe repositions the pogroms as a defining moment of the twentieth century. . . . A riveting account of a forgotten holocaust: the slaughter of over one hundred thousand Ukrainian Jews in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution." — Dussman das KulturKaufhaus

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