The Last Jew in Vinnitsa

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The last Jew in Vinnitsa

The Last Jew in Vinnitsa is a photograph taken during the Holocaust in Ukraine showing a Jewish man near the town of Vinnitsa (Vinnytsia) about to be shot dead by a member of Einsatzgruppe D, a mobile death squad of the Nazi SS. The victim is kneeling beside a mass grave already containing bodies; behind, a group of SS and Reich Labour Service men watch.[1]


The photograph dates from some time between mid-1941, when the Germans occupied the oblast (region) of Vinnytsia, and 1943.[1] During this period there were numerous massacres of Jews in the oblast,[2] including in the town itself on 16 and 22 September 1941 and April 1942, after which those spared were sent to labour camps and Yerusalimka, Vinnitsa's Jewish quarter, was largely razed.[1][3][4] The Germans' summer uniforms mean the photograph is unlikely to have been taken in winter.[5]

The photograph was circulated in 1961 by United Press (UPI) during the trial of Adolf Eichmann.[6] UPI had received it from Al Moss (b. 1910) a Polish Jew who acquired it in May 1945 shortly after he was liberated from Allach concentration camp by the American 3rd Army.[6][7] Moss, living in Chicago in 1961, wanted people "to know what went on in Eichmann's time".[6] The UPI copy was published over a full page of The Forward.[8]

Later sources give sometimes contradictory details of the picture. Some say that the original physical image was in an Einsatzgruppe member's photograph album,[6] or removed from the pocket of a dead soldier;[9] and that written on its reverse side was "Last Jew in Vinnitsa",[6][10] now widely used as the image's name.[6][10][9][11] Several people have contacted Die Welt, each purporting to identify the shooter as a relative.[5]


The photograph has become iconic. Some features are unusual among well-known Holocaust pictures: it was taken during the Holocaust rather than after its end, and presumably by someone complicit in the killing; it depicts Einsatzgruppen rather than concentration or extermination camps; the focus is on a solitary victim rather than a multitude.[10][12][13][14][15][16]

The photograph has been reproduced, with different degrees of cropping,[17] in many books and museum exhibits about the Holocaust.[13][14][15][18] Books include ones by Guido Knopp[9] and Michael Berenbaum.[19] Exhibits include in Berlin at "Questions on German History" in the Reichstag building from 1971 to 1994,[10] and then at Topography of Terror[12] and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe;[20] the Institute of National Remembrance in Poland;[20] the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum;[1] and Yad Vashem.[21]

The photograph was used on the cover of Agnostic Front's 1984 album Victim in Pain, liable to be interpreted as part of the Nazi chic then current in the New York hardcore scene.[11] Roger Miret later said his thinking had been "this needs to be publicized in order to prevent history from repeating itself."[22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Photograph Number 64407: German soldiers of the Waffen-SS and the Reich Labor Service look on as a member of an Einsatzgruppe prepares to shoot a Ukrainian Jew kneeling on the edge of a mass grave filled with corpses". Collections Search. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Vinnitsa". Online Guide of Murder Sites of Jews in the Former USSR. Yad Vashem. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Vinnitsa, Vinnitsa County, Vinnitsa District, Ukraine". The Untold Stories. Yad Vashem. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  4. ^ Vinokurova, Faina A. (2002). The Holocaust in Vinnitsa Oblast (PDF). Jewish Roots in Ukraine and Moldova. Routes to Roots Foundation. pp. 332–335. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  5. ^ a b Kellerhoff, Sven Felix (18 July 2021). "Fotos des Holocaust: So starben Chiwa Wasseljuk und ihr Sohn Boris". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 6 October 2021.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "2012.1.397 : "The Last Jew in Vinnitsa"". Bulmash Family Holocaust Collection. Kenyon College. 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  7. ^ "USC Shoah Foundation Institute testimony of Al Moss". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  8. ^ Ouzan, Francoise S.; Mikhman, Dan (2008). "La mémoire de la Shoah dans le vécu des Juifs aux Etats-Unis jusqu'au procès Eichmann". De la mémoire de la Shoah dans le monde juif (in French). CNRS éditions. p. 306. ISBN 9782271067630.
  9. ^ a b c Knopp, Guido (2014-09-10). "»Der letzte Jude von Winniza«". Der zweite Weltkrieg: Bilder, die wir nie vergessen (in German). Edel. pp. 146–151. ISBN 9783841903358. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  10. ^ a b c d Patterson, Glenn (25 October 2014). "A photograph seen once, long ago, haunted me – and taught me to distrust memory". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  11. ^ a b Sanneh, Kalefa (9 March 2015). "United Blood: How hardcore conquered New York". The New Yorker. pp. 82–89: 86.
  12. ^ a b Gee, Denise (16 March 2017). "'Photography describes everything and explains nothing'". SMU Adventures. Southern Methodist University. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  13. ^ a b Rakitova, Maya (2016-11-01). Behind the Red Curtain. Azrieli Foundation. pp. 11–12. ISBN 9781988065229. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  14. ^ a b Staines, Deborah R. (2010). "Auschwitz and the camera". Mortality. 7 (1): 13–32. doi:10.1080/13576270120102544. ISSN 1357-6275. S2CID 144625471.
  15. ^ a b Wollaston, Isabel (2010). "The absent, the partial and the iconic in archival photographs of the Holocaust". Jewish Culture and History. 12 (3): 439–462. doi:10.1080/1462169X.2012.721494. ISSN 1462-169X. S2CID 161970796.
  16. ^ Boehlke, Erik (2016-10-10). "Geheime Botschaften in Bildern; 5 Entdeckungen bei genauem Hinsehen". In Sollberger, Daniel; Böning, Jobst; Boehlke, Erik; Schindler, Gerhard (eds.). Das Geheimnis: Psychologische, psychopathologische und künstlerische Ausdrucksformen im Spektrum zwischen Verheimlichen und Geheimnisvollem (in German). Frank & Timme. pp. 238–239. ISBN 9783732903016. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Nazis executing a Jew at the edge of a mass grave, Vinnitsa, Ukraine". Images of the Holocaust: Photos from the YIVO Archives. YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Archived from the original on 16 March 2013. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  18. ^ Taylor, Alan (16 October 2011). "World War II Part 18: The Holocaust". The Atlantic. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  19. ^ Berenbaum, Michael (1993). The World Must Know: The History of the Holocaust as Told in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316091343.
  20. ^ a b "Memorials to the Murdered Jews of Vinnytsya". Information Portal to European Sites of Remembrance (in English and German). Berlin: Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. Tab "Victims". Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  21. ^ "July 1941, a Member of the Waffen-SS Shoots a Jew at a Mass Grave in Vinnitsa, Ukraine". Yad Vashem Photo Archives. Yad Vashem. 2626/4. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  22. ^ Miret, Roger (4 September 2018). "Chapter 15". My Riot: Agnostic Front, Grit, Guts & Glory. Lesser Gods. ISBN 978-1-944713-64-5 – via Kerrang!.