The Ravine: A Family, a Photograph, a Holocaust Massacre Revealed

Houghton Harcourt. Feb. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780544828698. $8. HIST
In August 2009, a shocking photo was presented to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. A woman's execution, face obscured by rifle smoke, falling forward while dropping a small child, her other hand still gripping that of a kneeling toddler. The photo dated from 1941 in Miropol, Ukraine, was unique because the executors’ faces were visible. Holocaust scholar Lower (history, Claremont McKenna Coll.; Hitler's Furies) was compelled to identify everyone in the photograph in an attempt to prove how a single story welds "power to hold our attention, reveal a wealth of information about the Holocaust, and demand action." Successfully solving a 70-year-old murder seemed improbable, yet Lower named the photographer, several perpetrators already prosecuted for war-era crimes, and the likely identities of the victims. Lower combed archives throughout Europe, the United States, and Israel in her quest for justice. Her research also contributed to the broader history of Ukrainian genocide, which remains underdeveloped. The personal narratives and photographs throughout are rich with heartbreaking detail into lives lost and the severe persecution of Ukrainian Jews.
VERDICT No comparable title exists that focuses exclusively on the mysterious background behind one single photo, making this compelling history an essential read for World War II enthusiasts.
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