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Volodymyr Viatrovych’s American Sojourn and the Orwellian Rewrite of Ukraine’s World War II History

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[6]

Oleh Tihany­bok, leader of the OUN/B suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tion Svo­bo­da, part of the Maid­an coup and post-Maid­an gov­ern­ments.

[7]

Stephan Ban­dera, head of the OUN/B.

COMMENT: In numer­ous broad­casts [8], we have not­ed the Orwellian rewrite [9] of Ukrain­ian his­to­ry to deny the per­pe­tra­tors of the Holo­caust in that coun­try and white­wash the Nazi-allied OUN/B and UPA.

A recent arti­cle in For­eign Pol­i­cy [10] (pub­lished by the CFR and con­se­quent­ly VERY main­stream), fur­ther devel­ops the activ­i­ties of Volodymyr Via­tro­vych, appoint­ed as head of the Insti­tute of Nation­al mem­o­ry by Vik­tor Yuschenko [11] and then re-appoint­ed by Petro Pet­roshenko.

After the Yushc­neko gov­ern­ment left pow­er and pri­or to the Maid­an coup, Via­tro­vych was in the U.S., work­ing as a fel­low at Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty’s Ukrain­ian Research Insti­tute. This is in line with the fun­da­men­tal role of the OUN/B‑based Amer­i­can emi­gre com­mu­ni­ty in the gen­er­a­tion of the Orange Rev­o­lu­tion and the Maid­an coup.

. . . . Dur­ing this peri­od Via­tro­vych spent time in North Amer­i­ca on a series of lec­ture tours, as well as a short sojourn as a research fel­low at the Har­vard Ukrain­ian Research Insti­tute (HURI). He also con­tin­ued his aca­d­e­m­ic activism, writ­ing books and arti­cles pro­mot­ing the hero­ic nar­ra­tive of the OUN-UPA. In 2013 he tried to crash and dis­rupt a work­shop on Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian nation­al­ism tak­ing place at the Har­ri­man Insti­tute at Colum­bia. When the Maid­an Rev­o­lu­tion swept Yanukovych out of pow­er in Feb­ru­ary 2014, Via­tro­vych returned to promi­nence. . . .

Recall that Yuschenko mar­ried the for­mer Yka­te­ri­na Chu­machenko [12]–Rea­gan’s Deputy Direc­tor of Pub­lic Liai­son and a key oper­a­tive of the OUN/B’s Amer­i­can front orga­niz­tion the U.C.C.A.–and had Roman Zvarych [13] (Jaroslav Stet­sko’s per­son­al sec­re­tary in the ear­ly 1980’s) as his Min­is­ter of Jus­tice.

Note, also, that Ser­hiy Kvit, the Ukrain­ian Min­is­ter of Edu­ca­tion is a bird of the same feath­er as Via­tro­vych.  . . . . Last June, Kvit’s Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion issued a direc­tive [14] to teach­ers regard­ing the “neces­si­ty to accen­tu­ate the patri­o­tism and moral­i­ty of the activists of the lib­er­a­tion move­ment,” includ­ing depict­ing the UPA as a ‘sym­bol of patri­o­tism and sac­ri­fi­cial spir­it in the strug­gle for an inde­pen­dent Ukraine” and Ban­dera as an ‘out­stand­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive’ of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple. . . .’ ”

The mea­sure of the revi­sion­ism under­way in Ukraine can be gauged by this: “. . . . UPA supreme com­man­der Dmytro Kliachkivs’kyi explic­it­ly stat­ed [15]: ‘We should car­ry out a large-scale liq­ui­da­tion action against Pol­ish ele­ments. Dur­ing the evac­u­a­tion of the Ger­man Army, we should find an appro­pri­ate moment to liq­ui­date the entire male pop­u­la­tion between 16 and 60 years old.’ Giv­en that over 70 per­cent of the lead­ing UPA cadres pos­sessed a back­ground as Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, none of this is sur­pris­ing. . . .”

It is depress­ing and remark­able to see such ele­ments being por­trayed as “hero­ic!”

“The His­to­ri­an White­wash­ing Ukraine’s Past” by Josh Cohen; For­eign Pol­i­cy; 5/02/2016. [10]

. . . . Advo­cat­ing a nation­al­ist, revi­sion­ist his­to­ry that glo­ri­fies the country’s move to inde­pen­dence — and purges bloody and oppor­tunis­tic chap­ters — [Volodymyr] Via­tro­vych has attempt­ed to redraft the country’s mod­ern his­to­ry to white­wash Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist groups’ involve­ment in the Holo­caust and mass eth­nic cleans­ing of Poles dur­ing World War II. And right now, he’s win­ning. . . .

. . . . In May 2015, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko signed a law [16] that man­dat­ed the trans­fer of the country’s com­plete set of archives, from the “Sovi­et organs of repres­sion,” such as the KGB and its dece­dent, the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU), to a gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion called the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry [17]. . . .

. . . . The con­tro­ver­sy cen­ters on a telling of World War II his­to­ry that ampli­fies Sovi­et crimes and glo­ri­fies Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist fight­ers while dis­miss­ing the vital part they played in eth­nic cleans­ing of Poles and Jews from 1941 to 1945 after the Nazi inva­sion of the for­mer Sovi­et Union. . . .

. . . . And more point­ed­ly, schol­ars now fear that they risk reprisal for not toe­ing the offi­cial line — or call­ing Via­tro­vych on his his­tor­i­cal dis­tor­tions. Under Viatrovych’s reign, the coun­try could be head­ed for a new, and fright­en­ing, era of cen­sor­ship. . . .

. . . . The revi­sion­ism focus­es on two Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist groups: the Orga­ni­za­tion of Ukrain­ian Nation­al­ists (OUN) and the Ukrain­ian Insur­gent Army (UPA), which fought to estab­lish an inde­pen­dent Ukraine. Dur­ing the war, these groups killed [18] tens of thou­sands of Jews and car­ried out a bru­tal cam­paign of eth­nic cleans­ing that killed as many as 100,000 Poles. Cre­at­ed [19] in 1929 to free Ukraine from Sovi­et con­trol, the OUN embraced [20] the notion of an eth­ni­cal­ly pure Ukrain­ian nation. When the Nazis invad­ed the Sovi­et Union in 1941, the OUN and its charis­mat­ic leader, Stepan Ban­dera, wel­comed [21] the inva­sion as a step toward Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence. [This is mod­i­fied lim­it­ed hang­out. The OUN/B was part of the Third Reich’s polit­i­cal and mil­i­tary order of battle.–D.E.] Its mem­bers car­ried out a pogrom in Lviv [22] that killed 5,000 Jews, and OUN mili­tias played a major role in vio­lence against the Jew­ish pop­u­la­tion in west­ern Ukraine that claimed the lives of up to 35,000 Jews. . . . [A street in the Lviv dis­trict has been renamed [23] in hon­or of the Ein­satz­gruppe Nachti­gall or Nachti­gall Bat­tal­ion, com­mand­ed by Roman Shukhevych (named a “Hero of Ukraine” and the father of Yuri Shukhevych, a top archi­tect of the cur­rent Ukrain­ian polit­i­cal landscape.)–D.E.]

. . . . The new law [24], which promis­es that peo­ple who “pub­licly exhib­it a dis­re­spect­ful atti­tude” toward these groups or “deny the legit­i­ma­cy” of Ukraine’s 20th cen­tu­ry strug­gle for inde­pen­dence will be pros­e­cut­ed (though no pun­ish­ment is spec­i­fied) also means that inde­pen­dent Ukraine is being par­tial­ly built on a fal­si­fied nar­ra­tive of the Holo­caust.

By trans­fer­ring con­trol of the nation’s archives to Via­tro­vych, Ukraine’s nation­al­ists assured them­selves that man­age­ment of the nation’s his­tor­i­cal mem­o­ry is now in the “cor­rect” hands. . . .

. . . . In 2008, in addi­tion to his role at TsD­VR, Vik­tor Yushchenko, then pres­i­dent, appoint­ed Via­tro­vych head of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine’s (SBU) archives. Yuschenko made the pro­mo­tion of OUN-UPA mythol­o­gy a fun­da­men­tal part of his lega­cy, rewrit­ing school text­books, renam­ing streets, and hon­or­ing OUN-UPA lead­ers as “heroes of Ukraine.” As Yuschenko’s lead­ing mem­o­ry man­ag­er — both at TsD­VR and the SBU — Via­tro­vych was his right-hand man in this cru­sade. He con­tin­ued to push the state-spon­sored hero­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the OUN-UPA and their lead­ers Ban­dera, Yaroslav Stet­sko, and Roman Shukhevych. . . .

. . . . After Vik­tor Yanukovych was elect­ed pres­i­dent in 2010, Via­tro­vych fad­ed from view. . . . Dur­ing this peri­od Via­tro­vych spent time in North Amer­i­ca on a series of lec­ture tours, as well as a short sojourn as a research fel­low at the Har­vard Ukrain­ian Research Insti­tute (HURI). He also con­tin­ued his aca­d­e­m­ic activism, writ­ing books and arti­cles pro­mot­ing the hero­ic nar­ra­tive of the OUN-UPA. In 2013 he tried to crash and dis­rupt a work­shop on Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian nation­al­ism tak­ing place at the Har­ri­man Insti­tute at Colum­bia. When the Maid­an Rev­o­lu­tion swept Yanukovych out of pow­er in Feb­ru­ary 2014, Via­tro­vych returned to promi­nence. . . .

. . . . The new pres­i­dent, Poroshenko, appoint­ed [9] Via­tro­vych to head the Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry — a pres­ti­gious appoint­ment for a rel­a­tive­ly young schol­ar. . . .

. . . . To that effect, Via­tro­vych has dis­missed [25] his­tor­i­cal events not com­port­ing with this nar­ra­tive as “Sovi­et pro­pa­gan­da.” [This is true of infor­ma­tion pre­sent­ed by any­one that tells the truth about the OUN/B heirs now in pow­er in Ukraine–they are dis­missed as “Russ­ian dupes” or “tools of the Krem­lin” etc.–D.E.] In his 2006 book [26], The OUN’s Posi­tion Towards the Jews: For­mu­la­tion of a posi­tion against the back­drop of a cat­a­stro­phe, he attempt­ed to exon­er­ate the OUN from its col­lab­o­ra­tion in the Holo­caust by ignor­ing the over­whelm­ing mass of his­tor­i­cal lit­er­a­ture. The book was wide­ly panned [27] by West­ern his­to­ri­ans. Uni­ver­si­ty of Alber­ta pro­fes­sor John-Paul Him­ka, one of the lead­ing schol­ars of Ukrain­ian his­to­ry for three decades, described it [28] as “employ­ing a series of dubi­ous pro­ce­dures: reject­ing sources that com­pro­mise the OUN, accept­ing uncrit­i­cal­ly cen­sored sources ema­nat­ing from émi­gré OUN cir­cles, fail­ing to rec­og­nize anti-Semi­tism in OUN texts.” . . . . Even more wor­ri­some for the future integri­ty of Ukraine’s archives under Via­tro­vych is his noto­ri­ety among West­ern his­to­ri­ans for his will­ing­ness to alleged­ly ignore or even fal­si­fy his­tor­i­cal doc­u­ments. “Schol­ars on his staff pub­lish doc­u­ment col­lec­tions that are fal­si­fied,” said Jef­frey Burds, a pro­fes­sor of Russ­ian and Sovi­et his­to­ry at North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty.“ I know this because I have seen the orig­i­nals, made copies, and have com­pared their tran­scrip­tions to the orig­i­nals.” . . .

. . . . Sev­en­ty his­to­ri­ans signed [29] an open let­ter to Poroshenko ask­ing him to veto the draft law that bans crit­i­cism of the OUN-UPA. . . .

. . . . After the open let­ter was pub­lished, the legislation’s spon­sor, Yuri Shukhevych, react­ed [30] furi­ous­ly. Shukhevych, the son of UPA leader Roman Shukhevych and a long­time far-right polit­i­cal activist him­self, fired off a let­ter [30] to Min­is­ter of Edu­ca­tion Ser­hiy Kvit claim­ing, “Russ­ian spe­cial ser­vices” pro­duced the let­ter and demand­ed that “patri­ot­ic” his­to­ri­ans rebuff it. Kvit, also a long­time far-right activist [31] and author of an admir­ing biog­ra­phy one of the key the­o­reti­cians of Ukrain­ian eth­nic nation­al­ism, in turn omi­nous­ly high­light­ed the sig­na­to­ries of Ukrain­ian his­to­ri­ans on his copy of the let­ter. . . .

. . . . UPA supreme com­man­der Dmytro Kliachkivs’kyi explic­it­ly stat­ed [15]: “We should car­ry out a large-scale liq­ui­da­tion action against Pol­ish ele­ments. Dur­ing the evac­u­a­tion of the Ger­man Army, we should find an appro­pri­ate moment to liq­ui­date the entire male pop­u­la­tion between 16 and 60 years old.” Giv­en that over 70 per­cent of the lead­ing UPA cadres pos­sessed a back­ground as Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors, none of this is sur­pris­ing. . . .

 . . . . Last June, Kvit’s Min­istry of Edu­ca­tion issued a direc­tive [14] to teach­ers regard­ing the “neces­si­ty to accen­tu­ate the patri­o­tism and moral­i­ty of the activists of the lib­er­a­tion move­ment,” includ­ing depict­ing the UPA as a “sym­bol of patri­o­tism and sac­ri­fi­cial spir­it in the strug­gle for an inde­pen­dent Ukraine” and Ban­dera as an “out­stand­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive” of the Ukrain­ian peo­ple.” More recent­ly, Viatrovych’s Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry pro­posed that the city of Kiev rename [32] two streets after Ban­dera and the for­mer supreme com­man­der of both the UPA and the Nazi-super­vised Schutz­mannschaft Roman Shukhevych. . . .