Stalingrad author Anthony Beevor speaks out over Ukraine book ban

Historian says prohibition of his book, over passage detailing wartime murder of Jewish children by Ukrainian militia, is ‘utterly outrageous’

Leading British historian Antony Beevor has described a Ukrainian ban on his award-winning book Stalingrad as “utterly outrageous”.

The bestselling history, winner of the 1999 Samuel Johnson prize, tells of the battle for the Russian city during the second world war. A Russian translation was one of 25 titles included on a banned list issued by Ukrainian authorities last week, alongside books by authors including Boris Akunin and Boris Sokolov.

In 2016, Ukraine passed a law that banned books imported from Russia if they contained “anti-Ukrainian” content, with an “expert council” assessing titles for such content. It is almost four years since Russian president Vladimir Putin annexed Crimea, during which time around 10,000 people have died, and more than 1.7m have been displaced.

Serhiy Oliyinyk, head of the Ukrainian Committee for State TV and Radio Broadcasting’s licensing and distribution control department, told Radio Free Europe (RFE) that the ban was imposed because of a passage that details how 90 Jewish children were shot by Ukrainian militia “to save the feelings of the Sonderkommando”, the work units made up of the Nazis’ death camp prisoners.