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Ukrainian Presidents Honored the Executioners of Babi Yar: Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Continued

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Lvov Pogrom, 1941--Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall youth in action.

Babi Yar Massacre

COMMENT: Once again we set forth political developments  against the scenario presented in Serpent’s Walk.

In that Nazi tract, the SS go underground in the aftermath of World War II, build up their economic muscle, buy into the opinion-forming media, infiltrate the American military, and–following a series of terrorist incidents in the U.S. which cause the declaration of martial law–take over the United States.

Central to this takeover is the use of the Nazi-controlled opinion-forming media to fundamentally revise history in a pro-Hitler fashion. Just such a revision is underway in Ukraine.

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 777778779780781782783784794800803804, 808811817818824826829832833837849, 850Listeners/readers are encouraged to examine these programs and/or their descriptions in detail, in order to flesh out their understanding.

In Ukraine, political history is being stood on its head. Both former president Yuschenko and current president Poroshenko have visited the site of the Babi Yar massacres, among the most notorious incidents of the Holocaust. They did so, however, in order to honor the UPA/OUN/B cadre who participated in the murders! The OUN/B was heavily involved with staffing the executioners roster.

The deep politics surrounding the Ukraine crisis are such that we should not be surprised by such developments. “ABSTRACT: In the wake of the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has witnessed a substantial growth in organized anti-Semitism. Central to this development is an organization, known as the Interregional Academy of Human Resources, better known by its Ukrainian acronym MAUP. It operates a well-connected political network that reaches the very top of the Ukrainian society. MAUP is the largest private university in Ukraine, with 57,000 students at 24 regional campuses. MAUP is connected to the KKK; David Duke is teaching courses in history and international relations at the university. Funded by Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iran, MAUP’s printing house publishes about 85% of the anti-Semitic literature in Ukraine. Until very recently, Ukrainian President Yushchenko and Foreign Minister Tarasiuk served on its board; former President Kravchuk still does. . . 

The article below is also significant because of the relativization of history:

  •  The preposterous claims (by the UPA and its defenders) that the UPA contained a significant Jewish membership is tantamount to saying that the SS had significant Jewish participation.
  • This political inertia will lead to the Holocaust being relegated to “maybe it happened and maybe it didn’t”–and finally Holocaust denial as established historical truth.
  • The above items ARE Serpent’s Walk in action.
  • Note how documented World War II history is couched in relativistic terms like “so and so says,” or “according to one article,” or “journalist so and so has written.”
  • The extermination of the Jewish ghetto by the Einsatzgruppe Nachtigall (Nachtigall Battalion) is historical fact. The organization’s political officer was SS officer Theodor Oberlander, later the (West) German minister for expellees, forced to resign when his role in the massacre was revealed. Oberlander (also spelled “Oberlaender” in some sources) is discussed on pp. 191-192 of T.H. Tetens’ The New Germany and the Old Nazis. Note that Lvov was also known as Lemberg (the Polish name of a city that was part of various countries at various times, including Ukraine, Poland and the former Soviet Union.) “Nachtigall” translates into English as “Nightingale,” the name for the unit commanded by Oberlander, as discussed in the Tetens text.
  • A street in the Lvov district was named in honor of the group.
  • Although it does not appear to have occurred to the author of this article (or many other observers) the installation of the direct politically evolutionary progeny of World War II-era Nazi butchers on Russia’s borders has not gone unnoticed by Putin and other Russians. This had much to do with the overwhelming support the people of Crimea gave to re-unification with Russia. It would be impossible to exaggerate the galvanizing effect that the awareness of the presence of World War II Nazis at Russia’s borders has had on Russian public sentiment.

“Ukraine: World War II Fiasco Leads to Public Relations Disaster and Thorny Relations for Kiev  and Foreign Diaspora” by Nicholas Kozloff; The World Post; 6/29/2015.

For Kiev, winning the public relations war against Vladimir Putin would seem to be a no-brainer. For a year now, the Kremlin has conducted a thinly-disguised war of aggression in eastern Ukraine resulting in the deaths of thousands. Yet Kiev seems intent on squandering any international public support it might have had amidst a bizarre crackdown on free speech and censorship of controversial historical debates. Through its crackdown, Ukraine has actually played into Putin’s propaganda war and facilitated Russia’s PR efforts.

At issue is Ukraine’s contentious World War II past, some of which isn’t particularly flattering. With the support of Nazi Germany, militias affiliated with the extremist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) allegedly committed a pogrom in the western city of Lviv. Writing in the London Independent, journalist Patrick Cockburn notes that while “Ukrainian politicians and historians have denied complicity… surviving Jewish victims, other witnesses and contemporary photographs prove that Ukrainian militiamen and mobs of supporters carried out the pogrom, though the Germans oversaw it and committed many of the murders.”

One scholar, John Paul Himka, has concluded that the pogrom was mostly conducted by the OUN under German supervision. According to Himka, the OUN sought to demonstrate to the Nazis “that it shared their anti-Jewish perspectives and that it was worthy to be entrusted with the formation of a Ukrainian state.” . . . . the OUN fought the Soviets and strived for an independent Ukraine, many [of its] leaders were influenced and trained by Nazi Germany. Indeed, the OUN could be characterized as a far right terrorist group which hoped to consolidate an ethnically homogenous Ukraine and a totalitarian, one party state.

Wartime Controversy

“The truth is that the official policy of the OUN was openly anti-Semitic, including approval for Nazi-style Jewish extermination,” writes Eduard Dolinksy of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee. Dolinksy adds that it was only at the end of the war, when it became clear that Germany would be defeated, that the Ukrainian right changed its position. The OUN in fact played an important role in pogroms which spread across Western Ukraine in the summer of 1941, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of Jews. After the Nazis dissolved the militias, many members linked up with the Ukrainian police and helped carry out the Holocaust throughout Western Ukraine.

Then, for good measure, the OUN assumed control over the Ukrainian Insurgent Army or UPA in 1943. A paramilitary outfit, the UPA initially leaned toward Germany but later turned against both the Nazis and the Soviets. The Times of Israel notes “according to some historical accounts the group murdered thousands of Jews in the 1940s” [other historians, as well as supporters of the UPA, dispute this, claiming there were many Jews who themselves served in the ranks of the organization]. A recent article by Reuters claims the UPA shuttled victims into labor camps where they were subsequently executed. Furthermore, it is claimed the UPA was also guilty of conducting ethnic cleansing of Poles in 1943-44. The massacres in Eastern Galicia, which formed part of an overall UPA strategy aimed at creating a homogenous Ukrainian state, resulted in the deaths of 100,000 people.

Criminalizing Dissent

Amidst escalating war in the east, Ukraine desperately needs allies and popular foreign support. Given the desperate stakes, one would think that Kiev would come to terms with some of the unsavory aspects of its World War II past. Yet strangely, political elites are running hard in the opposite direction in an effort to coddle the extremist right. At issue is a highly controversial law recently signed by President Petro Poroshenko which honors the OUN and UPA.

Under the new law, it would be a crime to question the likes of the UPA. Specifically, legislation stipulates that Ukrainians and even foreigners [including Americans?–D.E.] who “publicly insult” the memory of wartime partisans “will be held to account in accordance with Ukrainian law.” The bill does not specify the penalty for questioning Ukraine’s wartime past, nor does the state explain which body will enforce the legislation. On the other hand, it is possible that any private individual could bring a case to court.

Babi Yar Massacre

Though certainly distressing, Kiev’s approval of the retrograde law comes as little surprise. Former President Viktor Yushchenko, in fact, honored Ukrainian nationalists at a memorial in Babi Yar, where the most horrific massacre of Jews took place throughout the Holocaust. Not stopping there, Yushchenko then bestowed the highest government honor on none other than Stepan Bandera, a leader of the OUN.

Rehabilitating Extremist Right

Perhaps, Yushchenko’s efforts helped to rehabilitate Bandera and others in the minds of many. As recently as 2013, radical nationalists were visibly active during Ukraine’s Maidan revolution. Indeed, rightists brandished a host of OUN and UPA flags on Maidan square while belting out partisan wartime songs [for a fuller discussion of such curious rightist symbolism, see my earlier article here]. If anything, the UPA’s popularity has soared ominously since the Maidan.

Even more disturbingly, a number of OUN-UPA apologists currently hold important government positions in Kiev, and Poroshenko has done nothing to confront the radical right. In fact, the President has gone out of his way to follow in the footsteps of his reactionary predecessor Yushchenko by once again laying a wreath in honor of the OUN at Babi Yar. In addition, Poroshenko has labeled the UPA as “defenders of the fatherland” and established an official holiday in honor of the partisans.

Needless to say, Putin and Russian media have made a lot of hay out of Kiev’s backward politics and the emergence of so-called fascist hardliners. But while the new laws have raised a predictable response from Russia, the legislation has also reportedly led to hackles in Poland. Szczepan Siekierka, a leader of a civic organization dedicated to the memory of Poles killed by Ukrainian nationalists, is particularly concerned. Speaking with the Christian Science Monitor, Siekierka remarked “it’s hard to see reconciliation and forgiveness when the Ukrainians treat the UPA criminals and Bandera like national heroes. Accepting one extremism now will lead to the acceptance of other extremisms in future.”

Kiev Draws International Fire

Predictably, Kiev’s new legislation has drawn international fire from a variety of quarters. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has protested the new legislation, noting “as Ukraine advances on the difficult road to full democracy, we strongly urge the nation’s government to refrain from any measure that preempts or censors discussion or politicizes the study of history.” The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has echoed such sentiments, noting that “broadly and vaguely defined language that restricts individuals from expressing views on past events and people, could easily lead to suppression of political, provocative and critical speech, especially in the media.”

Perhaps, the new legislation could even harm Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union. Dolinsky writes “modern Ukrainians need to realize and comprehend this difficult and tragic history in order to become a truly European nation. Such laws as that recently signed by President Poroshenko can only harm the Ukrainian people.” For their part, some scholars have expressed grave dismay over developments in Kiev. Recently, a group of forty historians from western universities even signed an open letter of protest.

Still others worry about the chilling effect upon scholarship. Writing in the History News Network, academic experts declare that “the danger is that a prohibition on ‘insulting’ the ‘fighters’ or questioning the legitimacy of their ‘struggle’ is tantamount to a ban on critical research. The law does not specify what constitutes ‘insulting’, raising the question as to what scholars of modern Ukrainian history are allowed to write and say, and what they are not.”

The Search For Ukrainian Identity

Controversy swirling around the historic role of the OUN and UPA highlights Ukrainian soul searching and the quest for a modern national identity. Though Ukraine has its right wing agitators and even mainstream apologists, the country has by and large practiced tolerance and inclusiveness since gaining independence in 1991. Unfortunately however, backward legislation may serve to obscure such history. According to the Christian Science Monitor, recent political controversy demonstrates that “the debate over Ukrainian fascist history isn’t simply a he-said-she-said between Moscow and Kiev, but a deeper problem of how to square Ukraine’s sometimes sordid past with its efforts to find a modern identity.”

While the recent World War II flak poses thorny questions for many in Ukraine proper, the imbroglio may prompt some soul searching within the wider foreign Diaspora, too. In the wider metropolitan New York area, the Ukrainian community numbers more than 100,000 people. In Manhattan’s East Village, sometimes known as “Little Ukraine,” locals expressed opposition to Russian influence while holding fundraisers in support of Maidan protest. Though the East Village has become gentrified in recent years, the neighborhood still sports landmarks such as the Association of Ukrainian-Americans; the Ukrainian National Home; the Veselka restaurant; a Ukrainian Church, and the local Ukrainian Museum.

In the wake of Maidan protests in Kiev, Ukrainian-Americans took to the Brooklyn Bridge in support of demonstrations back home and even sang the national anthem on the subway. Indeed, EuroMaidan encouraged the growth of civic pride and patriotism, with many brandishing Ukrainian flags and embracing native folklore, crafts, music and food. The Kremlin’s subsequent annexation of Crimea united Ukrainian-Americans like never before in opposition to Russian aggression. Along Second Avenue in the East Village, local residents set up an improved shrine honoring the EuroMaidan movement with signs attacking Washington for not standing shoulder to shoulder with Kiev.

Tackling Difficult Questions

Uniting the Ukrainian-American community against external threats is one thing, but looking inward and trying to define the new soul of a nation is quite another. Perhaps, as Kiev’s political class increasingly moves to coddle extremist constituencies, the foreign Ukrainian community will undertake serious reflection. Hopefully, the wider Diaspora will not only condemn right wing politics and legislation but also build upon and expand modern concepts of Ukrainian identity. Rather than appease World War II apologists, Ukraine should recognize the historic role of Jews in the country. Today, many are sorely under-informed about such contributions and may not even be aware of such literary giants as Shalom Aleichem, for example.

In New York meanwhile, the expat community seems to follow familiar scripts. At the Ukrainian Museum, which supported the EuroMaidan movement by displaying patriotic posters in windows, curators have by and large played it safe by pushing rather narrow definitions of Ukrainian identity. Rather than tackle the tangled history of Ukrainian-Jewish relations, for example, the museum tends to concentrate on folk art and themes such as historic Ukrainian resistance to Russian expansionism. At the height of the EuroMaidan movement, one exhibit displayed — apparently without irony — a photo of a colorful “Cossack” protester on the Maidan [needless to say, many Jews of Ukrainian ancestry may have fearful associations of such Cossack history]. On their way out, patrons may purchase kitschy folkloric items in the museum gift shop.

Just a few blocks south of the East Village lies the Lower East Side, a neighborhood which absorbed waves of Jewish immigrants in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Many of the immigrants hailed from Czarist Russia, prior to modern Ukrainian independence. Later, many of the Jewish arrivals moved out of the Lower East Side and assimilated into the wider culture. Arguably, however, many of the immigrants’ descendants could be considered just as Ukrainian as more recent arrivals in the East Village. To be sure, memory or associations of Ukraine may seem quite distant and abstract to the great grandchildren of Lower East Side migrants. On the other hand, it is not unheard of for Americans of Italian or Irish descent, for example, to express sympathetic ethnic ties to the mother country. Maybe it is time for Ukraine to take a hard look in the mirror and ask itself why Jewish descendants are not clamoring for the same.

“The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid Of” by George Eliason; OpEdNews; 3/16/2014.

. . . . During WW2, Babi Yar was the single most horrific act of holocaust at the time. Even today, the Banderite response to Babi Yar is “I am proud of the fact that among 1,500 Polizei executioners in Babiy Yar there were 1,200 OUN men but only 300 Germans.” This quote is from a Rivne city official named Shkuratiuk, and appears in the book Organized Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Ukraine: Structure, Influence and Ideology by Pers Anders Rudling.

The atrocities at Babi Yar, and the accompanying brutality, were left to SS Nachtigall and the polizei. Both were Banderite. The reason was simple. The brutal work of genocide at this level made even hardened German SS uncomfortable. This fact is even obscured in the Holocaust Encyclopedia at the United States Holocaust Museum.

During the period September 29-30, 1941, the first massacre at Babi Yar killed over 30,000 Jews. Over the next few years the genocide piled up. Victims from the Roma (Gypsies) alone numbered almost 200,000. Banderite apologists have offered a range of rationalizations, from “Ukrainians suffered too” to the surreal “Bandera’s men stepped back and the Jews did it themselves.” No kidding. Babi Yar was racial suicide. . . .

“The Honor They So Clearly Deserve” by Per Anders Rudling; Journal of Slavic Military Studies; 26:114–137, 2013; Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1351-8046 print/1556-–137.

. . . . In May 1941, the OUN(b) had issued a blueprint for the nationalist uprising that was to accompany the German invasion. The outbreak of violence would ‘permit the liquidation of undesirable Polish, Muscovite, and Jewish activists’34 and to ‘shoot the Muscovites, Jews, and NKVD men.’35 The violence was interconnected as the OUN(b) used the NKVD mass murders as a pretext for pogroms across Western Ukraine, holding Jews collectively responsible for Soviet atrocities.36 OUN(b) fliers proclaimed ‘Know this! Moscow, Magyars, Jews —these are all your enemies. Exterminate them.’37 Current research show that there were over 140 pogroms in 58 cities in Western Ukraine following the German invasion, in which between 17,000 and 35,000 Jews were killed.38 OUN(b) propaganda presented Bolshevism being a tool of Jewry. This stereotype was not only embraced by the OUN. During the recruitment of the Waffen-SS Galizien, Volodymyr Kubijovyc, one of the initiators of the ˇ Waffen-SS Galizien publically called upon its volunteers to help ‘exterminate the Jewish-Bolshevik pestilence.’ . . . .

Organized Anti-Semitism in Contemporary Ukraine: Structure, Influence and Ideology” by Pers Anders Rudling; Canadian Slavonic Papers; Vol. 48, No. 1/2 (March-June 2006): pp. 81-118.

ABSTRACT: In the wake of the Orange Revolution, Ukraine has witnessed a substantial growth in organized anti-Semitism. Central to this development is an organization, known as the Interregional Academy of Human Resources, better known by its Ukrainian acronym MAUP. It operates a well-connected political network that reaches the very top of the Ukrainian society. MAUP is the largest private university in Ukraine, with 57,000 students at 24 regional campuses. MAUP is connected to the KKK; David Duke is teaching courses in history and international relations at the university. Funded by Saudi Arabia, Libya and Iran, MAUP’s printing house publishes about 85% of the anti-Semitic literature in Ukraine. Until very recently, Ukrainian President Yushchenko and Foreign Minister Tarasiuk served on its board; former President Kravchuk still does. This paper is a study of anti-Semitism in Ukraine, of its intellectual roots, influence and strength. It traces the Soviet, Christian, German and racist political traditions and outlines the political ambitions of organized anti-Semitism in post-Orange Revolution Ukraine.

Discussion

2 comments for “Ukrainian Presidents Honored the Executioners of Babi Yar: Walkin’ the Snake in Ukraine, Continued”

  1. In a famous poem inspired by the Babi Yar massacre, the poet’s description of himself could also apply to a certain anti-fascist broadcaster:

    There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
    But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
    Am I by antisemites like a Jew.

    http://remember.org/witness/babiyar

    Posted by Tom Hartley | July 2, 2015, 7:32 pm
  2. In the book “Sabotage the Secret War Against America” by Michael Sayers and Albert E. Kahn © 1942 by Harper and Brothers. It had some interesting history of Ukrainian Fascists in the US and their origins in Germany. This shows some possible aspects of the historical antecedents to the Galacian division of the Waffen SS.

    The book discusses how a Baltic German, Dr. Paul Rohrbach, who was a close friend of Nazi philosopher Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, created the theory that Ukrainians are a Germanic-type people and should therefore come under German Rule. He wrote propaganda (well received by Ukraines Czarist Subjects) and urged to have an “Independent Ukraine” which appealed to Kaizer Wilhelm who wanted their wheat and oil. Then, in 1918 after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Kaizer Wilhelm established an “Independent Ukraine” under German “protection”. Rohrback was friends with protégés of the German High Command in 1920s and his idea of an Independent Ukraine appealed strongly to Adolf Hitler – pps.83-85

    German Intelligence Colonel Nicolai set up a fifth column with the Ukrainian Community in the US under Colonel Eugene Konovaletz for the Intelligence Department of the German War Office under the name OUN and established their cells. They trained the OUN members in the art of espionage, sabotage, and assassination under the German Intelligence instructors starting in 1928. When Hitler came to power, a central academy for the OUN was established in Berlin. Konovaletz was killed in an assasination by a Gestapo man, and his successor was Omeilan Senyk-Gribiwsisky and he created the ODWU a terrorist organization the Organization for the Rebirth of the Ukraine. With Nazi Money he financed Ukrainian front companies – pps. 85-87

    The Ukrainians ran a Ukrainian Aviation School. The chief “flying instructor” at the school was Burton H. Gilligan who was intimately associated with the German American Bund. Just before he joined the school, Gilligan had returned from a visit to Nazi Germany. It also reports that another “prominent American” who took an active part in the Aviation school lost his US Army commission in 1941 for supplying the ODWU leader, Senyk-Gribiwisky, with confidential information concerning the US armed forces. In January of 1935, Senyk-Gribiwisky reported to his superiors in Berlin that more than one hundred ODWU units were operating in the US and there was not an important industrial center without its active cell of Nazi-Ukrainians who were posing as workers, insurance agents, salesmen, priests, journalists, etc. pps.89-90.

    The book mentions a Ukrainian Nationalist Publication named “Svoboda”. At some point a former Austrian Army Officer named Luke Myshuha, who fought with the Kaizer in WWI, became the editor of Svoboda. In 1939 his Rome Nazi Contact told him that all Nazi-Ukrainians could “get administrative posts – without the slightest difficulty under the Germans in Western Galacia. In February, 1941 he published in this newspaper, detailed instructions for making homemade bombs for sabotage p. 93-97

    Posted by Sojourner Truth | December 30, 2015, 12:29 pm

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