The Fateful Decision: The Flight of the Jews into the Soviet Interior in the Summer of 1941
The difficult situation is described of the Jewish populations of the Ukraine, Belarus, Moldavia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and certain districts in Russia after the outbreak of the war. The Soviet decision of June 27, 1941, to evacuate came too late, as large parts of these territories had already been occupied by the German army. There was confusion among the Jews facing the decision to stay or to follow the Red Army in its retreat. Success or not in escaping was determined by the attitudes of local authorities toward evacuation, the interdiction to abandon work posts, the shortage of means of transportation, preferential treatment accorded to state officials and their families, and the refusal of many Soviet border authorities to allow border crossings. The total number of Jewish escapees and evacuees from western Poland and the German-annexed areas is estimated at between 140,000 and 170,000.