(Un)Known Holocaust

Directors: Les Kasyanov, Yurii Kaparulin.
Narrator: Olena Ostrous.
Duration: 4 episodes, 13 min. each.
Year: 2021.

The Film

On August 19, 1941, German troops invaded Kherson. A long period of occupation of the city began. The Nazis established a regime which they called “The New Order”. This order led to mass violence, deportations and murders. Nazi policies included the extermination of certain classes of the population, such as Jews, Romani, prisoners of war, and the patients of psychiatric hospitals. This phenomenon was later called the Holocaust.

In the Soviet policy of memory there was no place for POWs, Jews, patients of psychiatric hospitals, or Romani. Politically neutral “ordinary Soviet citizens” euphemism was used to mark places of mass executions. Today it is obvious that the study of the Holocaust phenomenon would not be complete without highlighting the fate of all the categories of victims.

Countering xenophobia and chauvinism remains a challenge for many modern countries. So, when we talk about the unknown Holocaust, we don’t mean the lack of knowledge about this tragic event, but the inability to fully assimilate the bitter experience of the past in the modern world.

The (Un)Known Holocaust project consists of four parts. Each episode is devoted to a separate category of the Holocaust victims. The first two episodes are available, the third one is in postproduction. Due to the full-scale invasion of Russia, the filming of the episode about Romani is questioned. The Russian soldiers ransacked the Roma centre in Nova Kakhovka, where the filming was planned, and killed some community representatives.

Prisoners of the Eastern Front

Hundreds of thousands of the Soviet soldiers were taken prisoners during the Wehrmacht’s rapid offensive into Ukraine. The German Army’s command did not burden itself with food, treatment and accommodation for the prisoners. The soldiers of the Red Army were driven to hastily erected camps, where they were left to die of starvation in the open air. By the end of 1941, 3,5 million of the Soviet soldiers had been taken prisoner on the Eastern Front. More than 2 million of them died.

Southern Ghetto

On August 20, 1941, 13 members of the special SS unit arrived to Kherson. Their task was to make a list of the local Jews, separate them from the rest of the population to ghetto, and “evacuate” them later. The Nazis tried to hide the traces of their crimes, so the word “kill” was excluded from the orders and reports. A number of euphemisms developed in the Third Reich. In the documents on this “delicate issue” the phrase “special approach” was used. The term “final solution” acquired a new meaning: mass extermination of all Jews in Europe.

“Euthanasia” Operation

The Nazi regime consistently eliminated those who could not benefit Germany and produce full-fledged offsprings. It was not just about the so-called “inferior races”, such as Jews and Romani. It also included unfit arias — people with disabilities, mental and neurological disorders, as well as terminally ill people. Between 1941 and 1942, about 8,000 psychiatric patients were killed in Ukraine. Many of them died of starvation and exhaustion.


The extermination of the Roma population was a part of the Nazi’s “New Order” in Ukraine. According to their racial theory, the Romani were parasites of society rather than people. They were perceived as a threat to the purity of the Aryan blood. In the fall of 1941, along with the mass killings of Jews, the executions of Romani began. Einsatzgruppes destroyed the camps they found on their way. At least 20,000 Romani were killed in the occupied territories of Ukraine.