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March 10, 2022 36 mins

As Putin invaded Ukraine last month, the Atlantic writer Franklin Foer found the Russian leader’s justification for violence uncanny. Putin referred to the “Nazification” of Ukraine—a distortion of history at best. But Franklin was told a similar story his whole life from his grandmother. This week, The Experiment tells the story of the Holocaust survivor Ethel Kaplan, and traces Franklin Foer’s own journey—how he once came to believe Putin’s myth, and his journey to Ukraine to debunk it.

Further reading: “It’s Not ‘The’ Ukraine,” I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir.

A transcript of this episode is available

If you or someone you know is considering suicide or self-harm, please get help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 800-273-8255. And if you’re outside the U.S., you can visit to find resources for your country.

Be part of The Experiment. Use the hashtag #TheExperimentPodcast, or write to us at

This episode was produced by Salman Ahad Khan and Julia Longoria, with editing by Emily Botein. Reporting by Franklin Foer and Esther Foer. Fact-check by Sam Fentress. Sound design by Joe Plourde. Transcription by Caleb Codding. Special thanks to Andy Lanset and Roberto De La Noval.

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