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For The Record  

FTR #875 Update on Ukraine

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This program was recorded in one, 60-minute segment

Stephan Bandera

Introduction: Resuming our coverage of the stunning events overtaking Ukraine and the world (eclipsed for the moment by the overlapping dynamics of ISIS), we begin with discussion of the governance of the SBU–the Ukrainian intelligence service.

Pravy Sektor associate Valentyn Nalyvaichenko had been the head of the SBU since the Maidan Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not surprisingly, he had operated the organization along the lines of the OUN/B. Previously, he had served in that same capacity under Viktor Yuschenko, seeing the outfit as a vehicle for rewriting Ukraine’s history in accordance with the historical revisionism favored by the OUN/B. Very close to Pravy Sektor head Dymitro Yarosh, Nalyvaichenko employed Yarosh while serving in the Ukrainian parliament.  Yarosh claims that the two collaborated on “anti-terrorist” operations conducted against ethnic Russians. Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cognitive window” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

The bulk of the program consists of the reading of a review and summary of a new book was just pub­lished exam­in­ing the life of Stephan Ban­dera, the Ukrainian fascist and Third Reich ally whose political heirs ascended to power in Ukraine through the Maidan coup.

We have repeatedly made the point that the dimensions of official lying in the West were of truly Orwellian proportions–documented World War II history was being dismissed as “Russian propaganda” or “Kremlin propaganda.”

Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of the SBU (Ukrainian intelligence service)

Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft, OUN/B Nazi Collaborators

” . . . But thanks to Grze­gorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s Stepan Ban­dera: The Life and After­life of a Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist, it now seems clear: those ter­ri­ble Rus­sians were right. . . Although Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers would later try to paint the alliance with the Third Reich as no more than “tac­ti­cal,” an attempt to pit one total­i­tar­ian state against another, it was in fact deep-rooted and ide­o­log­i­cal. Ban­dera envi­sioned the Ukraine as a clas­sic one-party state with him­self in the role of führer, or provid­nyk, and expected that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrella, much as Jozef Tiso’s new fas­cist regime had in Slo­va­kia or Ante Pavelic’s in Croatia. . . .

Indeed. This is the point we have been making all along.

The book–and the encapsulation of it in this review–detail some of the brutal, post-World War I ethnic conflicts that spawned the OUN/B. Fierce animosity between Poles, Russians, Ukrainians and Jews ultimately spawned the murderous Bandera forces.

The organization reached its consummation, within the Third Reich’s murder machine and were incorporated into the Committee of Subjugated Nations, formed by Hitler in 1943. This organization became the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations in the postwar period.

(It is impossible within the scope of this post to cover our voluminous coverage of the Ukraine crisis. Previous programs on the subject are: FTR #‘s 777778779780781782783784794, 800803804, 808811817

818824826829832833837849850853857860, 872Listeners/readers are encouraged to examine these programs and/or their descriptions in detail, in order to flesh out their understanding.)

Program Highlights Include: 

  • Review of the Yuschenko regime, the predecessor of the Maidan/OUN/B government that currently reigns in Ukraine.
  • Review of Yuschenko and Poroshenko’s honoring of the OUN/B at Babi Yar, site of a major World War II massacre perpetrated largely by OUN/B soldiers, with some German soldiers and officers participating.
  • Review of the use of the “Institute of National Memory”–the Orwellian ministry founded by Yuschenko to re-write Ukrainian history in a pro-OUN/B fashion.
  • Review of the inclusion of ISIS-linked Chechen fighters in the Ukrainian armed forces, operating under Pravy Sektor administrative command.
  • Review of the guerilla warfare conducted by CIA/OPC-assisted OUN/B forces in the post-World War II period.

1a. Pravy Sektor associate Valentyn Nalyvaichenko had been the head of the SBU (Ukrainian intelligence service) since the Maidan Coup, up until his ouster in June of 2015. Not surprisingly, he had operated the organization along the lines of the OUN/B.

Previously, he had served in that same capacity under Viktor Yuschenko, seeing the outfit as a vehicle for rewriting Ukraine’s history in accordance with the historical revisionism favored by the OUN/B.

Very close to Pravy Sektor head Dymitro Yarosh, Nalyvaichenko employed Yarosh while serving in the Ukrainian parliament.  Yarosh claims that the two collaborated on “anti-terrorist” operations conducted against ethnic Russians.

Bear in mind that the SBU has been the “cognitive window” through which the events in Ukraine have been processed.

“The Return of the Ukrainian Far Right: The Case of VO Svoboda,” by Per Anders Rudling;  Analyzing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text edited by Ruth Wodak and John E. Richardson;  Routledge [London and New York] 2013; pp. 228-255, more.

. . . A reconstructed historical memory is created as ‘true memory’ and then contrasted with ‘false Soviet history’ ”(Jilge, 2007:104–105). Thus, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, SBU director under Yushchenko, described the task of his agency as being to disseminate “the historical truth of the past of the Ukrainian people,” to “liberate Ukrainian history from lies and falsifications and to work with truthful documents only” (Jilge, 2008:179). Ignoring the OUN’s antisemitism, denying its participation in anti- Jewish violence, and overlooking its fascist ideology, Nalyvaichenko and his agency presented the OUN as democrats, pluralists, even righteous rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust. . . .

1b. Nalyvaichenko ran the SBU along the lines of the methodology advocated by the OUN/B, to the surprise of no one.

Poland Stretches Out Its Hands to the Freedom Fighters” by Rob Slane; The Blogmire; 4/11/2015.

. . . . Unfortunately, the Ukrainian authorities show no signs whatsoever that they are about to abandon their admiration of those responsible for these horrific crimes. To the contrary, they seem to be intent on admiring them all the more, as the SBU head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko’s recent words indicate: “SBU does not need to invent anything extra — it is important to build on the traditions and approaches of the OUN-UPA security service. It [the OUN-UPA security service] worked against the aggressor during the temporary occupation of the territory, it had a patriotic upbringing, used a counterintelligence unit, and had relied on the peaceful Ukrainian population using its support.” . . . .

1c. According to Pravy Sektor chief Dymtro Yarosh, Nalyvaichenko had collaborated with his organization on “anti-terrorist” matters. This may well have been the precipitating dynamic in the burnings of anti-government demonstrators in Odessa and elsewhere. It may well account for the lack of investigation of those incidents (discussed below.)

“Yarosh Comments on Dismissal of His ‘Friend’ Nalyvaichenko;” EurAsia Daily; 6/25/2015. 

The leader of the Right Sector extremist group Dmytro Yarosh believes that the dismissal of Chief of the Security Service Valentyn Nalyvaichenko was illogical and untimely. He writes in Facebook that Nalyvaichenko is his friend, who has raised the Security Service from zero and has neutralized lots of terrorist threats all over the country. “I know what I am talking about as my Right Sector was involved in many of his special operations against Russian terrorists,” Yarosh said. . . . . . In the past Yarosh was Nalyvaichenko’s advisor.

1d. When Nalyvaichenko was a member of the Ukrainian parliament, Yarosh worked as an aide and advisor.

“Switching Spymasters Amid War Is Risky” by Brian Mefford; Atlantic Council; 6/18/2015.

Valentin Nalyvaichenko, head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), is in trouble again. On June 15, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said he was “unsatisfied” with Nalyvaichenko’s work. Three days later, Ukraine’s parliament dismissed him. . . . . . . . Poroshenko Bloc MP Serhiy Leshchenko released a document confirming old rumors that Right Sector’s Dmitro Yarosh worked for Nalyvaichenko when he was a member of parliament from 2012 to 2014. While the connection between the two raises some questions about the events of Euromaidan and the origins of Right Sector, this attack alone wasn’t enough to discredit Nalyvychenko. Yarosh is now a member of parliament and an advisor to the chief of general staff of the Ukrainian army. In other words, Yarosh has been legitimized by the political establishment. . . .

2. A new book was just pub­lished exam­in­ing the life of Stepan Ban­dera, the Ukrainian fascist and Third Reich ally whose political heirs ascended to power in Ukraine through the Maidan coup.

We have repeatedly made the point that the dimensions of official lying in the West were of truly Orwellian proportions–documented World War II history was being dismissed as “Russian propaganda” or “Kremlin propaganda.”

” . . . But thanks to Grze­gorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s Stepan Ban­dera: The Life and After­life of a Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist, it now seems clear: those ter­ri­ble Rus­sians were right. . . Although Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers would later try to paint the alliance with the Third Reich as no more than “tac­ti­cal,” an attempt to pit one total­i­tar­ian state against another, it was in fact deep-rooted and ide­o­log­i­cal. Ban­dera envi­sioned the Ukraine as a clas­sic one-party state with him­self in the role of führer, or provid­nyk, and expected that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrella, much as Jozef Tiso’s new fas­cist regime had in Slo­va­kia or Ante Pavelic’s in Croatia. . . .

Indeed. This is the point we have been making all along.

“Who Was Stepan Ban­dera?” by Daniel Lazare; Jacobin Magazine; 9/24/2015.

Lion­ized as a nation­al­ist hero in Ukraine, Stepan Ban­dera was a Nazi sym­pa­thizer who left behind a hor­rific legacy.

When West­ern jour­nal­ists trav­eled to Kiev in late 2013 to cover the Euro­maidan protests, they encoun­tered a his­tor­i­cal fig­ure few rec­og­nized. It was Stepan Ban­dera, whose youth­ful black-and-white image was seem­ingly every­where — on bar­ri­cades, over the entrance to Kiev’s city hall, and on the plac­ards held by demon­stra­tors call­ing for the over­throw of then-president Vik­tor Yanukovych.

Ban­dera was evi­dently a nation­al­ist of some sort and highly con­tro­ver­sial, but why? The Rus­sians said he was a fas­cist and an anti­semite, but West­ern media were quick to dis­re­gard that as Moscow pro­pa­ganda. So they hedged.

The Wash­ing­ton Post wrote that Ban­dera had entered into a “tac­ti­cal rela­tion­ship with Nazi Ger­many” and that his fol­low­ers “were accused of com­mit­ting atroc­i­ties against Poles and Jews,” while the New York Times wrote that he had been “vil­i­fied by Moscow as a pro-Nazi trai­tor,” a charge seen as unfair “in the eyes of many his­to­ri­ans and cer­tainly to west­ern Ukraini­ans.” For­eign Pol­icy dis­missed Ban­dera as “Moscow’s favorite bogey­man . . . a metonym for all bad Ukrain­ian things.”

Who­ever Ban­dera was, all were in agree­ment that he couldn’t have been as nasty as Putin said he was. But thanks to Grze­gorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s Stepan Ban­dera: The Life and After­life of a Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ist, it now seems clear: those ter­ri­ble Rus­sians were right.

Ban­dera was indeed as nox­ious as any per­son­al­ity thrown up by the hell­ish 1930s and ’40s. The son of a nationalist-minded Greek Catholic priest, Ban­dera was the sort of self-punishing fanatic who sticks pins under his fin­ger­nails to pre­pare him­self for tor­ture at the hands of his ene­mies. As a uni­ver­sity stu­dent in Lviv, he is said to have moved on to burn­ing him­self with an oil lamp, slam­ming a door on his fin­gers, and whip­ping him­self with a belt. “Admit, Stepan!” he would cry out. “No, I don’t admit!”

A priest who heard his con­fes­sion described him as “an übermen­sch . . . who placed Ukraine above all,” while a fol­lower said he was the sort of per­son who “could hyp­no­tize a man. Every­thing that he said was inter­est­ing. You could not stop lis­ten­ing to him.”

Enlist­ing in the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) at age twenty, he used his grow­ing influ­ence to steer an already-violent group in an even more extreme direc­tion. In 1933, he orga­nized an attack on the Soviet con­sul in Lviv, which only man­aged to kill an office sec­re­tary. A year later, he directed the assas­si­na­tion of the Pol­ish min­is­ter of the inte­rior. He ordered the exe­cu­tion of a pair of alleged inform­ers and was respon­si­ble for other deaths as well as the OUN took to rob­bing banks, post offices, police sta­tions, and pri­vate house­holds in search of funds.

What sent Ban­dera off in such a vio­lent direc­tion? Rossolinski-Liebe’s mas­sive new study takes us through the times and the pol­i­tics that cap­tured Bandera’s imag­i­na­tion. Gali­cia had been part of Austro-Hungary prior to the war. But whereas the Polish-controlled west­ern half was incor­po­rated into the newly estab­lished Repub­lic of Poland in 1918, the Ukrainian-dominated east­ern por­tion, where Ban­dera was born in 1909, was not absorbed until 1921, fol­low­ing the Polish–Soviet War and a brief period of independence.

It was a poor fit from the start. Bit­ter at being deprived of a state of their own, Ukrain­ian nation­al­ists refused to rec­og­nize the takeover and, in 1922, responded with a cam­paign of arson attacks on some 2,200 Polish-owned farms. The gov­ern­ment in War­saw replied with repres­sion and cul­tural war­fare. It brought in Pol­ish farm­ers, many of them war vet­er­ans, to set­tle the dis­trict and rad­i­cally change the demo­graph­ics of the coun­try­side. It closed down Ukrain­ian schools and even tried to ban the term “Ukrain­ian,” insist­ing that stu­dents employ the some­what more vague “Ruthen­ian” instead.

When the OUN launched another arson and sab­o­tage cam­paign in sum­mer 1930, War­saw resorted to mass arrest. By late 1938, as many as 30,000 Ukraini­ans were lan­guish­ing in Pol­ish jails. Soon, Pol­ish politi­cians were talk­ing about the “exter­mi­na­tion” of the Ukraini­ans while a Ger­man jour­nal­ist who trav­eled through east­ern Gali­cia in early 1939 reported that local Ukraini­ans were call­ing for “Uncle Führer” to step in and impose a solu­tion of his own on the Poles.

The con­flict in the Polish-Ukrainian bor­der­lands exem­pli­fied the ugly eth­nic wars that were erupt­ing through­out east­ern Europe as a new world war approached. Con­ceiv­ably, Ban­dera might have responded to the grow­ing dis­or­der by mov­ing to the polit­i­cal left. Pre­vi­ously, lib­eral Bol­she­vik cul­tural poli­cies in the Ukrain­ian Soviet Social­ist Repub­lic, had caused a surge in pro-Communist sen­ti­ment in the neigh­bor­ing Pol­ish province of Volhynia.

But a num­ber of fac­tors got in the way: his father’s posi­tion in the church, the fact that Gali­cia, unlike for­merly Russ­ian Vol­hy­nia, was an ex-Habsburg pos­ses­sion and hence ori­ented toward Aus­tria and Ger­many, and, of course, Stalin’s dis­as­trous col­lec­tiviza­tion poli­cies, which, by the early ’30s, had com­pletely destroyed the Soviet Ukraine as any sort of model worth emulating.

Con­se­quently, Ban­dera responded by mov­ing ever far­ther to the right. In high school, he read Mykola Mikhnovs’kyi, a mil­i­tant nation­al­ist who had died in 1924 and preached a united Ukraine stretch­ing “from the Carpathian Moun­tains to the Cau­ca­sus,” one that would be free of “Rus­sians, Poles, Mag­yars, Roma­ni­ans, and Jews.” Entry into the OUN a few years later exposed him to the teach­ings of Dmytro Dontsov, the group’s “spir­i­tual father,” another ultra-rightist who trans­lated Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Mussolini’s La Dot­t­rina Del Fas­cismo and taught that ethics should be sub­or­di­nate to the national struggle.

Entry into the OUN also plunged him into a milieu marked by grow­ing anti­semitism. Anti-Jewish hatred had been deeply bound up with the con­cept of Ukrain­ian nation­hood since at least the sev­en­teenth cen­tury when thou­sands of Ukrain­ian peas­ants, mad­dened by the exac­tions of the Pol­ish land­lords and their Jew­ish estate man­agers, engaged in a vicious blood­let­ting under the lead­er­ship of a minor noble­man named Bohdan Khmelnytsky.

Ukraine was the scene of even more grue­some pogroms dur­ing the Russ­ian Civil War. But anti­se­mitic pas­sions rose a fur­ther notch in 1926 when a Jew­ish anar­chist named Sholom Schwartzbard assas­si­nated the exiled Ukrain­ian leader Symon Petliura in Paris.

“I have killed a great assas­sin,” declared Schwartzbard, who had lost four­teen fam­ily mem­bers in the pogroms that swept through the Ukraine when Petliura headed up a short-lived anti-Bolshevik repub­lic in 1919–1920, on sur­ren­der­ing to the police. But after hear­ing tes­ti­mony from sur­vivors about impaled babies, chil­dren cast into flames, and other anti-Jewish atroc­i­ties, a French jury acquit­ted him in just thirty-five minutes.

The ver­dict caused a sen­sa­tion, not least on the Ukrain­ian right. Dontsov denounced Schwartzbard as “an agent of Russ­ian impe­ri­al­ism,” declaring:

Jews are guilty, ter­ri­bly guilty, because they helped con­sol­i­date Russ­ian rule in Ukraine, but “the Jew is not guilty of every­thing.” Russ­ian impe­ri­al­ism is guilty of every­thing. Only when Rus­sia falls in Ukraine will we be able to set­tle the Jew­ish ques­tion in our coun­try in a way that suits the inter­est of the Ukrain­ian people.

While the Bol­she­viks were the main enemy, Jews were their for­ward strik­ing force, so the most effec­tive way of coun­ter­ing one was by thor­oughly elim­i­nat­ing the other. In 1935, OUN mem­bers smashed win­dows in Jew­ish houses and then, a year later, burned around a hun­dred Jew­ish fam­i­lies out of their homes in the town of Kostopil in what is now west­ern Ukraine. They marked the tenth anniver­sary of Petliura’s assas­si­na­tion by dis­trib­ut­ing leaflets with the mes­sage: “Atten­tion, kill and beat the Jews for our Ukrain­ian leader Symon Petliura, the Jews should be removed from Ukraine, long live the Ukrain­ian state.”

By this point, Ban­dera was already in jail serv­ing a life sen­tence fol­low­ing a pair of highly pub­li­cized mur­der tri­als in which he taunted the court by giv­ing the fas­cist salute and cry­ing out, Slava Ukraïni – “Glory to Ukraine.” But he was able to escape fol­low­ing the Ger­man takeover of west­ern Poland begin­ning on Sep­tem­ber 1, 1939 and make his way to Lviv, the cap­i­tal of east­ern Galicia.

But the Soviet incur­sion on Sep­tem­ber 17 sent him flee­ing in the oppo­site direc­tion. Even­tu­ally, he and the rest of the OUN lead­er­ship set­tled in German-controlled Cra­cow, about two hun­dred miles to the west, where they set about prepar­ing the orga­ni­za­tion for fur­ther bat­tles still to come.

The Nazi inva­sion of the Soviet Union, which the OUN lead­er­ship seems to have got­ten wind of months ahead of time, was the moment they had been wait­ing for. Not only did it promise to free the Ukraine from Soviet con­trol, but it also held out the prospect of uni­fy­ing all Ukraini­ans in a sin­gle state. The dream of a greater Ukraine would thus be realized.

A month ear­lier, Ban­dera and his chief lieu­tenants — Stepan Lenkavs’kyi, Stepan Shukhevych, and Iaroslav Stets’ko — had put the fin­ish­ing touches on an inter­nal party doc­u­ment enti­tled “The Strug­gle and Activ­i­ties of the OUN in Wartime,” a to-do list for when the Wehrma­cht crossed the Soviet border.

It called on mem­bers to take advan­tage of the “favor­able sit­u­a­tion” posed by a “war between Moscow and other states” to cre­ate a national rev­o­lu­tion that would draw up all Ukraine in its vor­tex. It con­ceived of rev­o­lu­tion as a great purifi­ca­tion process in which “Mus­covites, Poles, and Jews” would be “destroyed . . . in par­tic­u­lar those who pro­tect the [Soviet] regime.” Although the OUN regarded the Nazis as allies, the doc­u­ment stressed that OUN activists should com­mence the rev­o­lu­tion as soon as pos­si­ble so as present the Wehrma­cht with a fait accom­pli:

We treat the com­ing Ger­man army as the army of allies. We try before their com­ing to put life in order, on our own as it should be. We inform them that the Ukrain­ian author­ity is already estab­lished, it is under the con­trol of the OUN under the lead­er­ship of Stepan Ban­dera; all mat­ters are reg­u­lated by the OUN and the local author­i­ties are ready to estab­lish friendly rela­tions with the army, in order to fight together against Moscow.

The doc­u­ment con­tin­ued that “it is per­mis­si­ble to liq­ui­date unde­sir­able Poles . . . NKVD peo­ple, inform­ers, provo­ca­teurs . . . all impor­tant Ukraini­ans who, in the crit­i­cal time, would try to make ‘their pol­i­tics’ and thereby threaten the deci­sive mind-set of the Ukrain­ian nation,” adding that only one party would be per­mit­ted under the new order — the OUN.

Although Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers would later try to paint the alliance with the Third Reich as no more than “tac­ti­cal,” an attempt to pit one total­i­tar­ian state against another, it was in fact deep-rooted and ide­o­log­i­cal. Ban­dera envi­sioned the Ukraine as a clas­sic one-party state with him­self in the role of führer, or provid­nyk, and expected that a new Ukraine would take its place under the Nazi umbrella, much as Jozef Tiso’s new fas­cist regime had in Slo­va­kia or Ante Pavelic’s in Croatia.

Cer­tain high-ranking Nazis thought along sim­i­lar lines, most notably Alfred Rosen­berg, the newly appointed Reich min­is­ter for the occu­pied east­ern ter­ri­to­ries. But Hitler was obvi­ously of a dif­fer­ent mind. He saw Slavs as “an infe­rior race,” inca­pable of orga­niz­ing a state, and viewed Ukraini­ans in par­tic­u­lar as “just as lazy, dis­or­ga­nized, and nihilistic-Asiatic as the Greater Russians.”

Instead of a part­ner, he saw them as an obsta­cle. Obsessed with the British naval block­ade of World War I, which had caused as many as 750,000 deaths from star­va­tion and dis­ease, he was deter­mined to block any sim­i­lar effort by the Allies by expro­pri­at­ing east­ern grain sup­plies on an unprece­dented scale. Hence the impor­tance of the Ukraine, the great gra­nary on the Black Sea. “I need the Ukraine in order that no one is able to starve us again like in the last war,” he declared in August 1939. Grain seizures on such a scale would mean con­demn­ing vast num­bers to star­va­tion, twenty-five mil­lion or more in all.

Yet not only did the Nazis not care, but anni­hi­la­tion on such a scale accorded per­fectly with their plans for a racial makeover of what they viewed as the east­ern fron­tier. The result was the famous Gen­er­alplan Ost, the great Nazi blue­print that called for killing or expelling up to 80 per­cent of the Slavic pop­u­la­tion and its replace­ment by Volks­deutsche, set­tlers from old Ger­many, and Waffen-SS veterans.

Plainly, there was no room in such a scheme for a self-governing Ukraine. When Stets’ko announced the for­ma­tion of a Ukrain­ian state “under the lead­er­ship of Stepan Ban­dera” in Lviv just eight days after the Nazi inva­sion, a cou­ple of Ger­man offi­cers warned him that the ques­tion of Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence was up to Hitler alone. Nazi offi­cials gave Ban­dera the same mes­sage a few days later at a meet­ing in Cracow.

Sub­se­quently, they escorted both Ban­dera and Stets’ko to Berlin and placed them under house arrest. When Hitler decided on July 19, 1941 to par­ti­tion the Ukraine by incor­po­rat­ing east­ern Gali­cia into the “Gen­eral Gov­ern­ment,” as Nazi-ruled Poland was known, OUN mem­bers were stunned.

Instead of uni­fy­ing the Ukraine, the Nazis were dis­mem­ber­ing it. When graf­fiti appeared declar­ing, “Away with for­eign author­ity! Long live Stepan Ban­dera,” the Nazis responded by shoot­ing a num­ber of OUN mem­bers and, by Decem­ber 1941, plac­ing some 1,500 under arrest.

Still, as Rossolinski-Liebe shows, Ban­dera and his fol­low­ers con­tin­ued to long for an Axis vic­tory. As strained as rela­tions with the Nazis might be, there could be no talk of neu­tral­ity in the epic strug­gle between Moscow and Berlin.

In a let­ter to Alfred Rosen­berg in August 1941, Ban­dera offered to meet Ger­man objec­tions by recon­sid­er­ing the ques­tion of Ukrain­ian independence. On Decem­ber 9, he sent him another let­ter plead­ing for rec­on­cil­i­a­tion: “Ger­man and Ukrain­ian inter­ests in East­ern Europe are iden­ti­cal. For both sides, it is a vital neces­sity to con­sol­i­date (nor­mal­ize) Ukraine in the best and fastest way and to include it in the Euro­pean spir­i­tual, eco­nomic, and polit­i­cal system.”

Ukrain­ian nation­al­ism, he went on, had taken shape “in a spirit sim­i­lar to the National Social­ist ideas” and was needed to “spir­i­tu­ally cure the Ukrain­ian youth” who had been poi­soned by their upbring­ing under the Sovi­ets. Although the Ger­mans were in no mood to lis­ten, their atti­tude changed once their for­tunes began to shift. Des­per­ate for man­power fol­low­ing their defeat at Stal­in­grad, they agreed to the for­ma­tion of a Ukrain­ian divi­sion in the Waffen-SS, known the Gal­izien, which would even­tu­ally grow to 14,000 members.

Rather than dis­band­ing the OUN, the Nazis had mean­while revamped it as a German-run police force. The OUN had played a lead­ing role in the anti-Jewish pogroms that broke out in Lviv and dozens of other Ukrain­ian cities on the heels of the Ger­man inva­sion, and now they served the Nazis by patrolling the ghet­toes and assist­ing in depor­ta­tions, raids, and shootings.

But begin­ning in early 1943, OUN mem­bers deserted the police en masse in order to form a mili­tia of their own that would even­tu­ally call itself the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (Ukraïns’ka Povstans’ka Armiia, or UPA). Tak­ing advan­tage of the chaos behind Ger­man lines, their first major act was an eth­nic cleans­ing cam­paign aimed at dri­ving Poles out of east­ern Gali­cia and Vol­hy­nia. “When it comes to the Pol­ish ques­tion, this is not a mil­i­tary but a minor­ity ques­tion,” a Pol­ish under­ground source quoted a UPA leader as say­ing. “We will solve it as Hitler solved the Jew­ish question.”

Cit­ing the Pol­ish his­to­rian Greze­gorz Motyka, Rossolinski-Liebe says that the UPA killed close to 100,000 Poles between 1943 and 1945 and that Ortho­dox priests blessed the axes, pitch­forks, scythes, sick­les, knives, and sticks that the peas­ants it mobi­lized used to fin­ish them off.

Simul­ta­ne­ously, UPA attacks on Jews con­tin­ued at such a fero­cious level that Jews actu­ally sought the pro­tec­tion of the Ger­mans. “The Ban­derite bands and the local nation­al­ists raided every night, dec­i­mat­ing the Jews,” a sur­vivor tes­ti­fied in 1948. “Jews shel­tered in the camps where Ger­mans were sta­tioned, fear­ing an attack by Ban­derites. Some Ger­man sol­diers were brought to pro­tect the camps and thereby also the Jews.”

Rossolinski-Liebe car­ries the story of Ban­dera and his move­ment through the Nazi defeat when the Gal­izien divi­sion fought along­side the retreat­ing Wehrma­cht and then into the post­war period when those left behind in the Ukraine mounted a des­per­ate rear­guard resis­tance against the encroach­ing Soviets.

This war-after-the-war was a deadly seri­ous affair in which OUN fight­ers killed not only inform­ers, col­lab­o­ra­tors, and east­ern Ukraini­ans trans­ferred to Gali­cia and Vol­hy­nia to work as teach­ers or admin­is­tra­tors, but their fam­i­lies as well. “Soon the Bol­she­viks will con­duct the grain levy,” they warned on one occa­sion. “Any­one among you who brings grain to the col­lec­tion points will be killed like a dog, and your entire fam­ily butchered.”

Muti­lated corpses appeared with signs pro­claim­ing, “For col­lab­o­ra­tion with the NKVD.” Accord­ing to a 1973 KGB report, more than 30,000 peo­ple fell vic­tim to the OUN before the Sovi­ets man­aged to wipe out resis­tance in 1950, includ­ing some 15,000 peas­ants and collective-farm work­ers and more than 8,000 sol­diers, mili­tia mem­bers, and secu­rity personnel.

Even given the bar­bar­ity of the times, the group’s actions stood out.

Stepan Ban­dera is an impor­tant book that com­bines biog­ra­phy and soci­ol­ogy as it lays out the story of an impor­tant rad­i­cal nation­al­ist and the orga­ni­za­tion he led. But what makes it so rel­e­vant, of course, is the OUN’s pow­er­ful resur­gence since the 1991.

Although West­ern intel­li­gence eagerly embraced Ban­dera and his sup­port­ers as the Cold War began to stir — “Ukrain­ian emi­gra­tion in the ter­ri­tory of Ger­many, Aus­tria, France, Italy, in the great­est major­ity is a healthy, uncom­pro­mis­ing ele­ment in the fight against the Bol­she­viks,” a US Army intel­li­gence agent noted in 1947 — the movement’s long-term prospects did not seem to be very promis­ing, espe­cially after a Soviet agent man­aged to slip through Bandera’s secu­rity ring in Munich in 1959 and kill him with a blast from a cyanide spray gun.

With that, the Ban­derites seemed to be going the way of all other “cap­tive nations,” far-right exiles who gath­ered from time to time to sing the old songs but who oth­er­wise seemed to be relics from a bygone era.

What saved them, of course, was the Soviet col­lapse. OUN vet­er­ans has­tened back at the first opportunity. Stets’ko had died in Munich in 1986, but his widow, Iaroslava, returned in his place, accord­ing to Rossolinski-Liebe, found­ing a far-right party called the Con­gress of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists and win­ning a spot in par­lia­ment. Iurii Shukhevych, the son of the exiled UPA leader Roman Shukhevych, estab­lished another ultra-right group call­ing itself the Ukrain­ian National Assem­bly. Even Bandera’s grand­son, Stephen, made an appear­ance, tour­ing Ukraine as he unveiled mon­u­ments, attended ral­lies, and praised his grand­fa­ther as the “sym­bol of the Ukrain­ian nation.”

A home­grown group of Ban­derites mean­while formed the Social-National Party of Ukraine, later known as Svo­boda. In a 2004 speech, their leader, the charis­matic Oleh Tiah­ny­bok, paid trib­ute to the fight­ers of the UPA:

The enemy came and took their Ukraine. But they were not afraid; like­wise we must not be afraid. They hung their machine guns on their necks and went into the woods. They fought against the Rus­sians, Ger­mans, Jews, and other scum who wanted to take away our Ukrain­ian state! And there­fore our task — for every one of you, the young, the old, the gray-headed and the youth­ful — is to defend our native land!

Except for the omis­sion of the Poles, the speech was an indi­ca­tion of how lit­tle things had changed. The move­ment was as xeno­pho­bic, anti­se­mitic, and obsessed with vio­lence as ever, except that now, for the first time in half a cen­tury, thou­sands of peo­ple were lis­ten­ing to what it had to say.

One might think that the lib­eral West would want noth­ing to do with such ele­ments, but the response was no less unscrupu­lous than it was dur­ing the open­ing years of the Cold War. Because the ban­derivtsi were anti-Russian, they had to be demo­c­ra­tic. Because they were demo­c­ra­tic, their ultra-right trap­pings had to be inconsequential.

The Ban­dera por­traits that were increas­ingly promi­nent as the Euro­maidan protests turned more and more vio­lent, the wolf­san­gel that was for­merly a sym­bol of the SS but was now taken up by the Azov Bat­tal­ion and other mili­tias, the old OUN war cry of “Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes” that was now ubiq­ui­tous among anti-Yanukovych pro­test­ers — all had to be ignored, dis­counted, or whitewashed.

 

Discussion

One comment for “FTR #875 Update on Ukraine”

  1. Check out who just got the first official minute of silence in Ukraine. And be warned that, while you won’t want to actually participate in a minute of silence in relation to this individual, you’ll probably be a little speechless when you find out who received this honor so an involuntary moment of silence may not be optional. Also, Vladimir Vyatrovich announced that Stepan and Roman Shukhevych will both get roads named after them. So it’s been a big week for the official rehabilitation of Ukraine’s mass murdering favorite sons:

    Times of Israel

    Ukraine honors nationalist whose troops killed 50,000 Jews
    Country for the first time observes a minute of silence in memory of Symon Petliura, a 1920s statesman killed by a Russia-born Jew

    By JTA May 31, 2016, 8:42 pm

    Amid a divisive debate in Ukraine on state honors for nationalists viewed as responsible for anti-Semitic pogroms, the country for the first time observed a minute of silence in memory of Symon Petliura, a 1920s statesman blamed for the murder of 50,000 Jewish compatriots.

    The minute was observed on May 25, the 90th anniversary of Petliura’s assassination in Paris. National television channels interrupted their programs and broadcast the image of a burning candle for 60 seconds, Ukraine’s Federal News Agency reported.

    A French court acquitted Sholom Schwartzbard, a Russia-born Jew, of the murder even though he admitted to it after the court found that Petliura had been involved in or knew of pogroms by members of his militia fighting for Ukrainian independence from Russia in the years 1917-1921. Fifteen of Schwartzbard’s relatives perished in the pogroms.

    Separately, the director of Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance, Vladimir Vyatrovich, said in a statement on Monday that Kiev will soon name a street for two other Ukrainian nationalists — Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych — who are widely believed to be responsible for lethal violence against Jews. Another street is to be named for Janusz Korczak, the pen name of Henryk Goldszmit, a Polish Jewish teacher who was murdered in Auschwitz.

    Bandera and Shukhevych collaborated with Nazi forces that occupied what is now Ukraine and are believed to have commanded troops that killed thousands of Jews. Once regarded by Ukrainian authorities as illegitimate to serve as national role models because of their war crimes against Jews and Poles, Petliura, Bandera and Shukhevych are now openly honored in Ukraine following a revolution spearheaded by nationalists in 2014.

    Eduard Dolinsky, director of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, condemned the plan to name streets for Bandera and Shukhevych.

    “My countrymen should know that Bandera and Shukhevych considered me and all of the Ukrainian Jews — children, women, the elderly — enemies of Ukrainians,” he wrote on Facebook.

    In the 2014 upheaval, street protesters brought down the government of President Viktor Yanukovych, whom critics perceived as a corrupt Russian stooge. The revolution unleashed a wave of nationalist sentiment and with it the naming of streets and memorial events for the three men and their peers across Ukraine, where they are honored for fighting Russian domination.

    The issue is divisive among Jews and non-Jews in Ukraine, where 40 percent of the population are ethnic Russians, and where thousands have died since Russian-backed separatists sparked a conflict in 2014 between Ukraine and Russia.

    “The minute was observed on May 25, the 90th anniversary of Petliura’s assassination in Paris. National television channels interrupted their programs and broadcast the image of a burning candle for 60 seconds, Ukraine’s Federal News Agency reported.”
    History isn’t going to remember this remembrance of history very well. Hopefully.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 2, 2016, 10:44 am

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