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New Book about Stephan Bandera Tells It Like It Is

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COMMENT: 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. 

The OUN/B led by Ban­dera did­n’t con­fine its blood­let­ting to Europe. We first encoun­tered the orga­ni­za­tion through its par­tic­i­pa­tion in the assas­si­na­tion of JFK.

“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.



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