LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Areas of Russia that were not under Nazi rule are faring better economically even today than areas that were occupied, according to a new study.
The study by three American academicians shows that the economies in large areas of Russia under Nazi rule 65 years ago lag substantially behind neighboring areas that were spared Nazi occupation and where most of the Jewish middle class survived.
In cities and districts where Jews were largely wiped out, not only do residents earn less than in the rest of Russia, but they are politically less reform minded and cling more to old communist loyalties.
Professors James Robinson of Harvard, Daron Acemoglu of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tarek Hassan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business have opened up a new research field in the area of Holocaust studies.
Their conclusions in “Social Structure and Development: A Legacy of the Holocaust in Russia” — a five-year study of the long-range economic impact of the extermination of Jews in some areas occupied by the Nazis during World War II –are based on research by political scientists and economists
Drawing mainly on detailed Russian census data, supplemented by reports of Nazi death squads, the three professors studied the demographics and economies of 48 oblasts, or administrative districts, across Russia, of which 11 in western Russia were overrun by the German army early in the war, with the subsequent extermination of 1 million Soviet Jews.
Although making up only a minute fraction of the total population of the prewar Soviet Union, Jews predominated in the productive middle class. In some of the oblasts under German control, Jews made up 1 percent of the population but represented 70 percent of the physicians.
Concretely, the study found that in 2002, per capita gross domestic product in the 11 Nazi-occupied oblasts lagged 23 percent behind the nationwide GDP.