The Untold Story of How the Murder of More Than Two Million Jews Was Carried Out

In Broad Daylight – The Secret Procedures behind the Holocaust by Bullets

By Father Patrick Desbois

In his National Jewish Book Award-winning book The Holocaust by Bullets, Father Patrick Desbois and his organization Yahad – In Unum,  documented for the first time the murder of 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during World War II, based on wartime records, interviews with locals, and the application of modern forensic practices on long-hidden gravesites. Nearly a decade of further work by his team, drawing on interviews with four thousand neighbors of the Jews, has resulted in stunning new findings about the extent and nature of the genocide.

In Broad Daylight documents mass killings in seven countries formerly part of the Soviet Union that were invaded by Nazi Germany. It shows how these murders followed a template, or script, which included a timetable that was duplicated from place to place. Far from being kept secret, the killings were done in broad daylight and deliberately involved the local inhabitants in the mechanics of death—whether it was to cook for the killers, to dig or cover the graves, to witness their Jewish neighbors being marched off, or to take part in the slaughter. The Nazis availed themselves of local structures and people in order to make the Eastern Holocaust happen.

Narrating in lucid, powerful prose that has the immediacy of a crime report, Father Desbois assembles a chilling account of how, concretely, these events took place in village after village, from the selection of the date to the twenty-four-hour period in which the mass murders unfolded. Today, such groups as ISIS put into practice the Nazis’ lessons on making genocide efficient. The book includes an historical introduction by Andrej Umansky, research fellow at the Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure, University of Cologne, Germany, and historical and legal advisor to Yahad-In Unum.


“Bluster can grab attention, but it is details that shake the conscience. Father Patrick Desbois has done the heroic work of documenting, literally down to the bullet, how genocide was perpetrated by the Nazis, and how it was tolerated, even facilitated, by civilians. By doing so, he has not only given us insight into what happened, but what will continue to happen if we, as civilians, are not vigilant.

This book should be required reading.”

—Jonathan Safran Foer, bestselling and award-winning author of Everything Is Illuminated 

and member of the US Holocaust Commission

“Were it not for Father Desbois and his team, most of us would still think the Holocaust was carried out in secret, behind the walls of the concentration camps. . . . Genocide, we learn from Desbois, ‘does not happen without the neighbors.’ It is not happening today ‘without the neighbors.’ And the reality for us all is that we are ‘the neighbors.’ Anyone who cares about humanity will not want to miss this book.”

—Lara Logan, 60 Minutes

The Author, Father Patrick Desbois is the founder and president of Yahad-in-Unum, a French organization to seek and to give voice to The Holocaust by Bullets, a chapter of history that has remained silent for far too long. Through the work with Yahad-in-Unum, Father Desbois and his team identify each execution site and collect the testimonies of surviving witnesses (often non-Jews) are in. Without eyewitness testimony, it will be impossible to identify the location of the mass graves and collect the evidence of the genocide. To date, Yahad-In Unum has recorded more than 5,300 witness testimonies and identified over 2,100 execution sites during the course of its research.

Yahad-In Unum