Tarik Cyril Amar, The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv: A Borderland City between Stalinists, Nazis, and Nationalists

Tarik Cyril Amar, The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv: A Borderland City between Stalinists, Nazis, and Nationalists

Tarik Cyril Amar
The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv: A Borderland City between Stalinists, Nazis, and Nationalists. Cornell University Press, 2015

About the book

In The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv, Tarik Cyril Amar reveals the local and transnational forces behind the twentieth-century transformation of one of East Central Europe’s most important multiethnic borderland cities into a Soviet and Ukrainian urban center. Today, Lviv is the modern metropole of the western part of independent Ukraine and a center and symbol of Ukrainian national identity as well as nationalism. Over the last three centuries it has also been part of the Habsburg Empire, interwar Poland, a World War I Russian occupation regime, the Nazi Generalgouvernement, and, until 1991, the Soviet Union.

Lviv’s twentieth-century history was marked by great violence, massive population changes, and fundamental transformation. Under Habsburg and Polish rule up to World War II, Lviv was a predominantly Polish city as well as one of the major centers of European Jewish life. Immediately after World War II, Lviv underwent rapid Soviet modernization, bringing further extensive change. Over the postwar period, the city became preponderantly Ukrainian—ethnically, linguistically, and in terms of its residents’ self-perception. Against this background, Amar explains a striking paradox: Soviet rule, which came to Lviv in its most ruthless Stalinist shape and lasted for half a century, left behind the most Ukrainian version of the city in history. In reconstructing this dramatic and profound change, Amar also illuminates the historical background to present-day identities and tensions within Ukraine.

About the Author

Tarik Cyril Amar is Assistant Professor of History at Columbia University and the former Academic Director of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv.


1. Lviv/Lwów/Lemberg before 1939
2. The First Soviet Lviv, 1939–1941
3. The Lemberg of Nazism: German Occupation, 1941–1944
4. After Lemberg: The End of the End of Lwów and the Making of Lviv
5. The Founding of Industrial Lviv: Factories and Identities
6. Local Minds
7. Lviv’s Last Synagogue, 1944–1962
8. A Soviet Borderland of Time
Conclusion: A Sonderweg through Soviet Modernity


“The Paradox of Ukrainian Lviv is deeply researched and makes contributions to Ukrainian, Russian/Soviet, East European, and European history. It speaks to all those concerned with the history of the Holocaust and German occupation in the east, in Sovietization, in communism and nationalism, and in urban/regional studies. But that is not all. Anyone following the conflict between the Russian Federation and Ukraine will understand the dramatic and seismic events occurring before our eyes with greater depth in light of the findings of this landmark book. Tarik Amar is one of the best informed and level-headed analysts of contemporary as well as historical events in Ukraine.”—Michael David-Fox, Georgetown University, author of Crossing Borders: Modernity, Ideology, and Culture in Russia and the Soviet Union

“Tarik Cyril Amar has written an excellent and deeply researched study of a multiethnic city in the borderlands of Europe. It is a lasting contribution to the literature on communism, nationalism, and ethnic cleansing.”—Jan T. Gross, Norman B. Tomlinson ’16 and ’48 Professor of War and Society and Professor of History, Princeton University, author of Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedwabne, Poland

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