The Holocaust in Russia

The Holocaust in Russia refers to the Nazi crimes during the occupation of Russia (Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic) by Nazi Germany.

WW2-Holocaust-ROstland big legend
A map of the Holocaust in Reichskommissariat Ostland, which included Russia

On the eve of the Holocaust

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F016206-0003, Russland, Deportation von Juden
Russia. Jewish women and children being forced out of their homes. A Romanian soldier is marching along as a guard, 17 July 1941

Beyond longstanding controversies, ranging from the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact to anti-Zionism, the Soviet Union did grant official "equality of all citizens regardless of status, sex, race, religion, and nationality." The years before the Holocaust were an era of rapid change for Soviet Jews, leaving behind the dreadful poverty of the Pale of Settlement. 40% of the population in the former Pale left for large cities within the USSR. Emphasis on education and movement from countryside shtetls to newly industrialized cities allowed many Soviet Jews to enjoy overall advances under Joseph Stalin and to become one of the most educated population groups in the world. Due to Stalinist emphasis on its urban population, interwar migration inadvertently rescued countless Soviet Jews—Nazi Germany penetrated the entire former Jewish Pale, but were kilometers short of Leningrad and Moscow. The great wave of deportations from the areas annexed by Soviet Union according to the Nazi-Soviet pact, often seen by victims as genocide, paradoxically also saved lives of a few hundred thousand Jewish deportees. However horrible their conditions, the fate of Jews in Nazi Germany was much worse. The migration of many Jews deeper East from the part of the Jewish Pale that would become occupied by Germany saved at least forty percent of this area's Jewish population.

World War II

Map used to illustrate Stahlecker's report to Heydrich on January 31, 1942
Map titled "Jewish Executions Carried Out by Einsatzgruppe A" from Stahlecker's report. Marked "Secret Reich Matter," the map shows the number of Jews shot, and reads at the bottom: "the estimated number of Jews still on hand is 128,000"

On 22 June 1941, Adolf Hitler abruptly broke the non−aggression pact and invaded the Soviet Union. The Soviet territories occupied by early 1942, including all of Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, and Moldova and most Russian territory west of the line Leningrad-Moscow-Rostov, contained about four million Jews, including hundreds of thousands who had fled Poland in 1939. Despite the chaos of the Soviet retreat, some effort was made to evacuate Jews, who were either employed in the military industries or were family members of servicemen. Of 4 million about a million succeeded in escaping further east.The the holocaust by bullets was tasked to SS formations called Einsatzgruppen ("task groups"), under the overall command of Reinhard Heydrich. These had been used on a limited scale in Poland in 1939, but were now organized on a much larger scale. According to Otto Ohlendorf at his trial, "the Einsatzgruppen had the mission to protect the rear of the troops by killing the Jews, gypsies, Communist functionaries, active Communists, and all persons who would endanger the security." In practice, their victims were nearly all defenseless Jewish civilians (not a single Einsatzgruppe member was killed in action during these operations). Raul Hilberg writes that the Einsatzgruppe member were ordinary citizens; the great majority were university-educated professionals.[1] They used their skills to become efficient killers, according to Michael Berenbaum.[2] By the end of 1941, however, the Einsatzgruppen had killed only 15 percent of the Jews in the occupied Soviet territories, and it was apparent that these methods could not be used to kill all the Jews of Europe. Even before the invasion of the Soviet Union, experiments with killing Jews in the back of vans using gas from the van's exhaust had been carried out, and when this proved too slow, more lethal gasses were tried. For large-scale killing by gas, however, fixed sites would be needed, and it was decided—probably by Heydrich and Eichmann—that the Jews should be brought to camps specifically built for the purpose. Units of the Wehrmacht also participated in many aspects of the holocaust in Russia.

Although the Soviet Union was victorious in World War II, the war resulted in around 26–27 million Soviet deaths (estimates vary)[3] and had devastated the Soviet economy in the struggle. Some 1,710 towns and 70 thousand settlements were destroyed.[4] The occupied territories suffered from the ravages of German occupation and deportations of slave labor in Germany.[5] Thirteen million Soviet citizens became victims of a repressive policy of Germans and their allies in occupied territory, where they died because of mass murders, famine, absence of elementary medical aid and slave labor.[6][7][8][9] The Nazi Genocide of the Jews carried by German Einsatzgruppen, and Wehrmacht along with local collaborators resulted in almost complete annihilation of the Jewish population over the entire territory temporary occupied by Germany and its allies.[10][11][12][13] During occupation, Russia's Leningrad, now Saint Petersburg, region lost around a quarter of its population.[9] 3.6 million Soviet prisoners of war (of 5.5 million) died in German camps.[14][15][16] British historian Martin Gilbert used a similar approach in his Atlas of the Holocaust, but arrived at a number of 5.75 million Jewish victims, since he estimated higher numbers of Jews killed in Russia and other locations.[17] Lucy S. Dawidowicz used pre-war census figures to estimate that 5.934 million Jews died.[18] In October 1943, 600 Jewish and Russian prisoners attempted an escape at the Sobibór extermination camp. About 60 survived and joined the Belarusian partisans. In Eastern Europe, many Jews joined the ranks of the Soviet partisans: throughout the war, they faced antisemitism and discrimination from the Soviets and some Jewish partisans were killed, but over time, many of the Jewish partisan groups were absorbed into the command structure of the much larger Soviet partisan movement.[19] Soviet partisans were not in a position to ensure protection to the Jews in the Holocaust. The fit Jews were usually welcomed by the partisans (sometimes only if they brought their own weapons); however women, children, and the elderly were mostly unwelcome. Eventually, however, separate Jewish groups, both guerrilla units and mixed family groups of refugees (like the Bielski partisans), were subordinated to the communist partisan leadership and considered as Soviet assets. Even as some assisted the Germans, a significant number of individuals in the territories under German control also helped Jews escape death (see Righteous Among the Nations). During World War II, Léon Poliakov established the Center of Contemporary Jewish Documentation (1943) and after the war, he assisted Edgar Faure at the Nuremberg Trial. By 1944, the Germans had been pushed out of the Soviet Union onto the banks of the Vistula River, just east of Prussia. With Soviet Marshal Georgy Zhukov attacking from Prussia, and Marshal Konev slicing Germany in half from the south the fate of Nazi Germany was sealed. It is estimated that up to 1.4 million Jews fought in Allied armies; 40% of them in the Red Army.[20] In total, at least 142 500 Soviet soldiers of Jewish nationality lost their lives fighting against the German invadors and their allies[21] Salomon Smolianoff was selected for Operation Bernhard, transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944, and eventually to the Ebensee site of the Mauthausen camp network,[22] where he was liberated by the US Army on 6 May 1945.[23] Without changing its official anti-Zionist stance, from late 1944 until 1948 Joseph Stalin had adopted a de facto pro-Zionist foreign policy, apparently believing that the new country would be socialist and would speed the decline of British influence in the Middle East.[24]

After World War II

Soviet Jews participation in WW2
1946. The official response to an inquiry by the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee about the military decorations of Jews during the war (1.8% of the total number). Some antisemites accused Jews of lack of patriotism and of hiding from military service

.

Following the war, the Soviet Union suppressed or downplayed the impact of the Nazi crimes on its Jewish citizens. An anti-semitic campaign against "rootless cosmopolitans" (i.e. "Zionists") followed. On 12 August 1952, in the event known as the Night of the Murdered Poets, thirteen most prominent Yiddish writers, poets, actors and other intellectuals were executed on the orders of Joseph Stalin, among them Peretz Markish, Leib Kvitko, David Hofstein, Itzik Feffer and David Bergelson.[25]

In 2012, Yad Vashem began releasing more than a million new testimonial pages about Jews in the Soviet Union that are expected to help researchers measure the scope of persecution and extermination of Jews in the former Soviet Union.[26]

Perpetrators and commanders

Executor units

German security and police units

Bundesarchiv Bild 147-0483, Berlin, Besuch Amin el Husseini
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, talking to Azerbaijani Legion volunteers

Volunteers in German armed forces

Collaborationist parties

European front

Pacific front

See also

References

  1. ^ Hilberg, Raul cited in Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2nd edition, 2006, p. 93.
  2. ^ Berenbaum, Michael. The World Must Know. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Johns Hopkins University Press, 2nd edition, 2006, p. 93.
  3. ^ This is far higher than the original number of 7 million given by Stalin, and, indeed, the number has increased under various Soviet and Russian Federation leaders. See Mark Harrison, The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison, Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 291 (ISBN 0521785030), for more information.
  4. ^ As evidenced at the post-war Nuremberg Trials. See Ginsburg, George, The Nuremberg Trial and International Law, Martinus Nijhoff, 1990, p. 160. ISBN 0-7923-0798-4.
  5. ^ Final Compensation Pending for Former Nazi Forced Laborers
  6. ^ Gerlach, C. «Kalkulierte Morde» Hamburger Edition, Hamburg, 1999.
  7. ^ Россия и СССР в войнах ХХ века", М. "Олма- Пресс", 2001 год
  8. ^ Борис ЯЧМЕНЕВ. "Цена войны (Борис ЯЧМЕНЕВ) - "Трудовая Россия"". Tr.rkrp-rpk.ru. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  9. ^ a b "Рыбаковский Л. Великая отечественная: людские потери России". Gumer.info. 2006-12-16. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  10. ^ [1] Archived January 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ [2] Archived January 13, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Request Rejected". Yad Vashem. Retrieved 2014-03-13.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-06-06. Retrieved 2007-06-06.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Case Study: Soviet Prisoners-of-War (POWs), 1941-42". Gendercide Watch. Retrieved 2007-07-22.
  15. ^ "Soviet Casualties and Combat Losses in the Twentieth Century", Greenhill Books, London, 1997, G. F. Krivosheev
  16. ^ Christian Streit: Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die Sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen, 1941-1945, Bonn: Dietz (3. Aufl., 1. Aufl. 1978), ISBN 3-8012-5016-4
  17. ^ Gilbert, Martin, Atlas of the Holocaust, New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc, 1993.
  18. ^ Dawidowicz, Lucy S. (1986). The war against the Jews, 1933-1945. New York: Bantam Books. ISBN 0-553-34532-X.
  19. ^ Marek Jan Chodakiewicz (2006-04-21). "Review of Sowjetische Partisanen in Weißrußland by Bogdan Musial". Sarmatian Review, Vol. XXVI, No. 2. Retrieved 2006-07-09.
  20. ^ Lador-Lederer, Joseph. World War II: Jews as Prisoners of War, Israel Yearbook on Human Rights, vol.10, Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 1980, pp. 70-89, p. 75, footnote 15. [3] Archived 2010-08-25 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ [4] Archived February 9, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ Adolf Burger (1989) Akcia Bernhard: Obchod s miliónmi. Bratislava.
  23. ^ Max Garcia, "Befreiung des KZ-Nebenlagers Ebensee: Neue historische Details." Zeitschrift des Zeitgeschichtemuseums Ebensee, 1998.
  24. ^ A History of the Jews by Paul Johnson, London, 1987, p.527
  25. ^ Stalin's Secret Pogrom: The Postwar Inquisition of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee Archived 2005-10-28 at the Wayback Machine (introduction) by Joshua Rubenstein
  26. ^ Revital Blumenfeld (11 April 2012). "'Silent Holocaust' finds its voice: Wartime documents tell story of lost Soviet community". Haaretz. Tel Aviv. Retrieved 9 April 2012. Dr. Arkadi Zeltser, head of Yad Vashem's center for the research of Jews of the Soviet Union during the Holocaust, says the new documents should help break the silence surrounding the murder of Jews in the Soviet Union. On the eve of the war, some five million Jews lived in the Soviet Union; by the end of the war, some 2.7 million had been murdered, estimates Zeltser, one of many researchers who refer to the extermination of Jews of the former Soviet Union as the 'Holocaust that was silenced.' 
  27. ^ Yitzhak Arad (2009). "The Holocaust in the Soviet Union". U of Nebraska Press, p.211, ISBN 080322270X
Einsatzgruppen reports

The Einsatzgruppen Operational Situation Reports (OSRs), or ERM for the German: Die Ereignismeldung UdSSR (plural: Ereignismeldungen), were dispatches of the Nazi death squads (Einsatzgruppen), which documented the progress of the Holocaust behind the German-Soviet frontier in the course of Operation Barbarossa, during World War II. The extant reports were sent between June 1941 and April 1942 to the Chief of the Security Police and the SD (German: Chef des Sicherheitspolizei und SD) in Berlin, from the occupied eastern territories including modern-day Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and the Baltic Countries. During the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials the originals were grouped according to year and month and catalogued using a consecutive numbering system, as listed in the below table. The original photostats are held at the National Archives in Washington D.C..

Einsatzkommando

During World War II, the Nazi German Einsatzkommandos were a sub-group of five Einsatzgruppen mobile killing squads (term used by Holocaust historians) – up to 3,000 men total – usually composed of 500–1,000 functionaries of the SS and Gestapo, whose mission was to exterminate Jews, Polish intellectuals, Romani, homosexuals, communists and the NKVD collaborators in the captured territories often far behind the advancing German front. After the outbreak of war with the Soviet Union with Operation Barbarossa, the Red Army began to retreat so rapidly that the large Einsatzgruppen had to be split into dozens of smaller commandos (Einsatzkommandos), responsible for systematically killing Jews and, among others, alleged Soviet partisans behind the Wehrmacht lines. After the war several Einsatzkommando officers were tried, in the Einsatzgruppen trial, convicted of war crimes and hanged.

As a military term, the German Einsatzkommando (Operational Command) is roughly equivalent to the English task force and is still in use for German paramilitary organizations, such as SEK and Einsatzkommando Cobra.

Generalplan Ost

The Generalplan Ost (German pronunciation: [ɡenəˈʁaːlˌplaːn ˈɔst]; English: Master Plan for the East), abbreviated as GPO, was the Nazi German government's plan for the genocide and ethnic cleansing on a vast scale, and colonization of Central and Eastern Europe by Germans. It was to be undertaken in territories occupied by Germany during World War II. The plan was partially realized during the war, resulting indirectly and directly in millions of deaths of ethnic Slavs starvation, disease, or extermination through labor. But its full implementation was not considered practicable during the major military operations, and was prevented by Germany's defeat.The plan entailed the enslavement, forced displacement, and mass murder of the Slavic peoples (and substantial parts of the Baltic peoples, especially Lithuanians and Latgalians) in Europe along with planned destruction of their nations, whom the 'Aryan' Nazis viewed as racially inferior. The program operational guidelines were based on the policy of Lebensraum designed by Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party in fulfilment of the Drang nach Osten (drive to the East) ideology of German expansionism. As such, it was intended to be a part of the New Order in Europe.The master plan was a work in progress. There are four known versions of it, developed as time went on. After the invasion of Poland, the original blueprint for Generalplan Ost (GPO) was discussed by the RKFDV in mid-1940 during the Nazi–Soviet population transfers. The second known version of GPO was procured by the RSHA from Erhard Wetzel in April 1942. The third version was officially dated June 1942. The final settlement master plan for the East came in from the RKFDV on October 29, 1942. However, after the German defeat at Stalingrad planning of the colonization in the East was suspended, and the program was gradually abandoned.

Lokot Autonomy

The Lokot Autonomy (Russian: Локотскoe самоуправление, Локотская республика, Lokot Republic) was a semi-autonomous region in Nazi German-occupied Central Russia led by Bronislav Kaminski's administration from July 1942 to August 1943. The name is derived from the region's administrative center, the urban-type settlement of Lokot in Oryol Oblast (now located in Bryansk Oblast).

The "Autonomy" covered the area of eight raions (the present-day Brasovsky, Dmitriyevsky, Dmitrovsky, Komarichsky, Navlinsky, Sevsky, Suzemsky and Zheleznogorsky districts) now divided between Bryansk, Oryol and Kursk Oblasts. The autonomy was to serve as a test case for a Russian collaborationist government under the SS in Reichskommissariat Moskowien.

Mogilev Conference

The Mogilev Conference was a September 1941 Wehrmacht training event aimed at improving security in the rear of Army Group Centre during Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The event was organised by General Max von Schenckendorff, commander of Army Group Centre Rear Area, in cooperation with the officials of the security and intelligence services of Nazi Germany—SS and the Sicherheitsdienst (Security Service; SD)—operating in the same area. Ostensibly an "anti-partisan" training conference, the event marked an escalation of violence against Jews and other civilians in the area of Schenckendorff's command.

Order Police battalions

The Order Police battalions were militarised formations of the German Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During World War II, they were subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Rear Areas and territories under German civilian administration. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen and the Waffen-SS, these units perpetrated mass murder of the Jewish population and were responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

Police Battalion 303

The Police Battalion 303 (Polizeibattalion 303) was a formation of the German Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment South. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen of the SD and the 1st SS Infantry Brigade of the Waffen-SS, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

Police Battalion 307

The Police Battalion 307 (Polizeibattalion 307) was a formation of the Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment Centre. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations. In mid-1942, the battalion was reassigned to the 23rd Police Regiment and operated in Belarus.

Police Battalion 309

The Police Battalion 309 (Polizeibattalion 309) was a formation of the Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the German Army's 221st Security Division and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Wehrmacht's security forces. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen and the SS Cavalry Brigade, it perpetrated mass murders and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

Police Battalion 314

The Police Battalion 314 (Polizeibattalion 314) was a formation of the German Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment South. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen and the 1st SS Infantry Brigade, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

Police Battalion 316

The Police Battalion 316 (Polizeibattalion 316) was a formation of the Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment Centre. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen and the SS Cavalry Brigade, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations. In mid-1942, the battalion was reassigned to the 4th Police Regiment and operated in Slovenia.

Police Battalion 320

The Police Battalion 320 (Polizeibattalion 320) was a formation of the German Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group South Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment Special Purpose (later the 11th SS Police Regiment). Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen of the SD, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

Police Battalion 322

The Police Battalion 322 (Polizeibattalion 322) was a formation of the German Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment Centre.

Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen and the SS Cavalry Brigade, it perpetrated mass murder during the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations. In mid-1942, the battalion was reassigned to the 5th Police Regiment and operated in German-occupied territories of Slovenia.

Police Battalion 45

The Police Battalion 45 (Polizeibattalion 45) was a formation of the German Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the SS and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union, as part of Police Regiment South. Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen of the SD and the 1st SS Infantry Brigade of the Waffen-SS, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations.

Police Regiment Centre

The Police Regiment Centre (Polizei-Regiment Mitte) was a formation of the Order Police (uniformed police) during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the Schutzstaffel (SS) and deployed in German-occupied areas, specifically the Army Group Centre Rear Area, of the Soviet Union. In mid-1942, its three constituent battalions were reassigned and the unit was redesignated as the 13th Police Regiment.

Alongside detachments from the Einsatzgruppen and the SS Cavalry Brigade, it perpetrated mass murders and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting civilian populations. The scope of the regiment's operations was known to the British intelligence since July 1941 but, for reasons of national security, information pertaining to their activities was not released until 1993.

Police Regiment South

The Police Regiment South (Polizei-Regiment Süd) was a formation of the German Order Police, the German national uniformed police force, during the Nazi era. During Operation Barbarossa, it was subordinated to the Schutzstaffel (SS) and deployed in German-occupied territories, specifically the Army Group South Rear Area. In July 1942, its three constituent battalions were redesignated as the 10th Police Regiment.

Alongside the Einsatzgruppen detachments and the 1st SS Infantry Brigade, it perpetrated mass murder in the Holocaust and was responsible for large-scale crimes against humanity targeting the civilian population. The scope of the regiment's operations was known to British intelligence from August 1941, but for reasons of national security these materials were not released until 1993.

Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center

The Russian Research and Educational Holocaust Center was founded in 1992 in Moscow and has since then been working on awareness raising of the Holocaust in the Russian society. It is the only non-governmental organization in the Russian Federation, devoted to the study of the life of Soviet Jews during the Great Patriotic War.

Severity Order

The Severity Order or Reichenau Order was the name given to an order promulgated within the German Sixth Army on the Eastern Front during World War II by Generalfeldmarschall Walther von Reichenau on 10 October 1941.

Zmievskaya Balka

Zmievskaya Balka (Russian: Змиёвская балка, IPA: [zmʲɪˈjɵfskəjə ˈbaɫkə]), Zmiyovskaya Balka is a site in Rostov-on-Don, Russia at which 27,000 Jews and Soviet civilians were massacred in 1942 to 1943 by the SS Einsatzgruppe D during the Holocaust in Russia. It is considered to be the largest single mass murder site of Jews on Russian territory during the Second World War. The name means "the ravine of the snakes".

The Holocaust in Europe
Sovereign states
States with limited
recognition
Dependencies and
other entities
Africa
North America
South America
Asia
Europe
Oceania

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