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Heroes and Villains

David R. Marples

Chapter 3. The OUN, 1929-43

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1This chapter analyzes discourse and writings on the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), founded in 1929 in the territories of Ukraine that were included in Poland as a result of the Paris Peace treaties that followed the First World War. The OUN offered an extreme nationalist perspective somewhat similar to parties in various East European states in the interwar period, though it is compared most frequently with Mussolini’s version of Fascism in Italy. Through the writings of Dmytro Dontsov, a mentor rather than a member, the theory it embraced is known as “integral nationalism.” Though forced into an illegal existence, the OUN became popular in the ethnically Ukrainian territories of Galicia, particularly in the 1930s. In 1940, and following the 1938 assassination of its original leader Yevhen Konovalets’, the OUN split into two bitterly opposed factions: an older group led by Andrii Mel’nyk and a more militant youthful faction under Stepan Bandera. After the war ended, further factions appeared in the emigration. The OUN represented a particularly contentious issue in the Soviet period because of its alleged collaboration with the Germans, as well as its association with the military organization of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) after 1943. In the Soviet period, the OUN’s members were regarded as traitors to the motherland, who preferred to side with the enemy during the greatest crisis in Soviet history. Most OUN publications appeared either in underground form or in the Diaspora, where the World War II generation constituted a highly politicized group in their new homelands in Europe, North America, and Australia.

2Why is the OUN important in the development of a national history of Ukraine? It is precisely because it constituted the closest approximation to a national army on one hand, and through its consistent advocacy of an inde-pendent Ukraine on the other. For exactly this same reason, the group was always anathema to the Soviet authorities, and referred to by the derogatory, all-encompassing names of “Banderites” or “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists.” Soviet propaganda never made much effort to distinguish between the various factions of the OUN and generally linked the OUN and the UPA together as one organization, even when describing periods of history prior to the formation of UPA. Entire generations grew up in the central and eastern parts of Ukraine believing that OUN-UPA was a treacherous organization that collaborated with the enemy throughout the course of the war, and then continued to resist Soviet rule long afterward with the assistance of US and British intelligence. On the other hand, generations deriving from the World War II group of émigrés that had moved to western countries were raised to believe that the OUN represented the interests of a substantial group of Ukrainians—perhaps even a majority in Western Ukraine—who boldly resisted not one, but two occupation forces in their homeland: Nazi Germany and totalitarian USSR under an equally malevolent dictator, Stalin.

3In the next three chapters we will trace the history of the OUN and the UPA through Soviet and post-Soviet writings and examine the changing perspectives, and how the government of Ukraine under Viktor Yushchenko sought to elevate the OUN-UPA to the rank of official war veterans and heroes of the Second World War. Perhaps more than any other aspect of recent history, the subject of OUN-UPA continues to divide residents of Ukraine. On the occasion of the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Second World War, Red Army and UPA veterans were witnessed fighting in the streets of Kyiv. In addition to the confrontation with Soviet forces and the question of OUN-UPA’s relationship with the occupation forces, which is dealt with in detail below, there are also two very thorny issues: the attitude of the OUN in its early phases to the Jewish population of Ukraine; and the mass slaughter by the OUN-UPA of the Polish population—the former ruling group—of Volhynia in 1943. As with the Famine, it is too early to state that a consensus has been reached on any of these subjects, but it is possible to discern a radical change of perspective, particularly during the start of the second decade of Ukraine’s independence. Though the opening of the Ukrainian archives has added appreciably to the picture of the OUN-UPA since the late 1980s, most of the articles that appear in newspapers and journals could be termed propagandistic, even those written by quite distinguished scholars. It is as though even highly educated Ukrainian historians or political scientists approach the subject from a certain viewpoint, which would be understandable given the fact that virtually every family in Ukraine lost relatives in the war, while many had relatives sent to the Gulag (where OUN-UPA members made up a large proportion of the camp population, particularly the politicized sectors).

Writings of the Late Glasnost Period

  • 1 Nikolai Romanchenko, “Plamya,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 16 February 1988, p. 3.

4To provide some examples of the flavor of late Soviet writings on OUN-UPA, one can turn to the main party newspaper in Western Ukraine, L’vovs’kaya pravda. In early 1988, the Communist perspective still held sway in the media and readers were still being regaled with horror stories about the crimes of Ukrainian nationalists. A fairly typical example was the story of a hero of the secret police, Fedor Ulanov, to whom a monument was erected in his native village of Ryhove, in the Turkivs’kyi district of the L’viv region on 14 February 1988. Ulanov was in charge of an MGB unit given the task of capturing alive a “Banderite” leader with the pseudonym of Roman, an operation that began on 16 February 1945. According to the story, four soldiers, together with Ulanov, reached the cottage where Roman was rumored to be hiding. However, only an old woman was found there, and recklessly the MGB allowed her outside her cottage, at which point the soldiers found themselves surrounded by insurgents, clearly forewarned by the old lady. One MGB soldier got trapped in the house covering the retreat of his comrades, and took his own life with his last bullet after killing an insurgent. Ulanov was left alone inside the cottage to face the insurgents. The latter set the cottage ablaze, and Ulanov emerged from the flames, shooting at them with a machine gun. However, he was captured and tortured with needles under his fingernails. He stoically resisted his tormentors, the article continues, and kept silent even though his body was eventually hacked to pieces. His last words—one wonders who recorded them!—were “God damn you animals! Long live Communism!”1

  • 2 Myron Sluka, “Palacha k otvetu,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 12 March 1988, p. 3.

5The articles often take on a highly moral tone, particularly when making reference to alleged war criminals now living abroad. Thus one related how the village assembly in Radekhiv district had called for the extradition of an OUN member, Ivan Stetsiv, a resident of Canada. This episode began when Ivanna Semenyuk from Ohlyadiv visited her father in Canada, to which he had emigrated in the 1930s. From her father she heard about the presence of Stetsiv, a name that was well-known to her from stories circulating in her native village. Stetsiv, the article noted, was born in 1916 and became a member of the OUN, fighting against Soviet forces as a member of an unspecified German formation. The writer accuses him of war crimes causing the deaths of peaceful citizens, women, and children. In August 1987 in Radekhiv there was an open trial of a man called R. Didukh, reportedly a collaborator of Stetsiv. In this hearing Didukh revealed that he had joined the OUN in 1941 and was recruited by Stetsiv. The latter ordered the execution of Ohlyadiv “activists” and allegedly tortured two young girls and killed a young male. He also, according to this account, burned an entire family in its home and massacred 21 Polish families in Kuty and was a “willing tool” of the German police. Following the trial Didukh was sentenced to death and the assembled throng appealed to the Canadian government to extradite Stetsiv.2 The tale, gruesome though it may have been, was a fairly typical affair. Whether or not Stetsiv committed the crimes of which he was accused, the key issue for the authorities was to ensure that the villagers believed in such crimes and his and other nationalists’ responsibility for them.

  • 3 P. Maksimyuk and G. Slivka, “Ispytannym oruzhiyem pravdy,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 20 February 1988, p (...)
  • 4 V. Zarechnyi and O. Lastovets, “Banderovshchina,” Pravda Ukrainy, 9 August 1989, pp. 3-4.

6It was considered important for the Soviet leadership to discredit the OUN and the UPA in every way possible to try to limit their influence among the population of Western Ukraine. This goal was the main theme of a book by Klym Dmytruk, which attempted to expose the history and the class roots of “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism” and its connections with “international imperialism.” The two reviewers who discussed the volume in the pages of L’vovskaya pravda support Dmytruk’s contention that Ukrainian nationalism is “the enemy of the Ukrainian people” and “a servant of German Fascism.” Dmytruk also chronicles the Soviet struggle against OUN-UPA, including the creation of 292 “destruction battalions” with a total strength of 24,000.3 In a similar vein, the newspaper Pravda Ukrainy ran a series of articles under the general title of “Banderovshchina” in the fall of 1989, a period when the media was becoming more open and the stereotypical perspective of the OUN-UPA became a topic for discussion. The early articles sought to counter “nationalist” claims that the UPA was a national liberation movement that represented the interests of the population of Western Ukraine. It states that workers, peasants, and intellectuals of that region gave Soviet troops an enthusiastic welcome when they crossed the Soviet border in September 1939, and un-der the guidance of the Communist Party, the working people eagerly started to rebuild the economy. But from the first days of “liberation” they met ferocious resistance from the leaders of the UPA and the OUN underground. This assertion barely takes into account historical accuracy. In fact, the UPA had not even been formed by 1939, and the OUN went into an underground existence on the Soviet side of the border and began to negotiate with the German military regime on the western side of the former Polish state.4

  • 5 Ibid., Pravda Ukrainy, 9 August 1989, pp. 3-4; 10 August 1989, p. 4; 11 August 1989, p. 3; 17 Augu (...)

7This same series provided an outline of the Communist perspective. The OUN, it noted, was founded by Konovalets’, Mel’nyk, and Yaryi, who “personally” took part in shootings of workers, particularly a rebellious faction in the “Arsenal.” Once Hitler came to power in Germany, the OUN became his “paid agents.” The OUN members entered Ukraine as part of the Nachtigal unit, which killed 5,000 civilians. The UPA presented a more difficult subject since the insurgents without doubt opposed the Germans for some time. The Communist discourse counters this apparent contradiction in its narrative by noting an alleged agreement between the Germans and the nationalists that led to the latter changing its tactics. The link between the OUN leadership and the Germans, the article declares, was kept secret from rank-and-file members. Further, the article selectively uses documents to highlight atrocities of OUN-UPA in Western Ukraine, including over 3,000 assaults on Soviet activists, as well as attacks on innocent victims such as women and children. All these actions, the authors declare, were orchestrated by the Germans who to the very last days of the war used nationalist groups behind the lines as saboteurs. However, they also acknowledge that many OUN members were simple and honest people who were duped by the leaders, and that is why toward the end of the war the Soviet authorities offered an amnesty to all OUN personnel who surrendered willingly. Before the end of the year 1945, state the authors, about 38,000 insurgents gave themselves up.5

  • 6 A. Gorban’, “Krovavyye sledy banderovtsev,” Pravda Ukrainy, 11-12 October 1989, p. 3.

8A lengthy article of October 1989 counters “nationalist” claims that the UPA was a national liberation movement that represented the interests of the population of Western Ukraine. It familiarizes readers with accounts of the postwar trials of “Banderites” and the information uncovered on these occasions about the barbaric methods used by OUN-UPA, including the torturing of prisoners. Of particular concern to the author was coverage of the trial of the assassins of the Soviet agent and writer, Yaroslav Halan: Ilarii Lukashevych and Mykhailo Stakhur, who conducted this murder on the instructions of the regional OUN leader, Roman Shchepans’kyi (known as Bui-Tur) who was apprehended four years later. After a failed first attempt, the assassins killed Halan with an axe. Lukashevych and Stakhur were executed after a trial in L’viv in 1951. Shchepans’kyi began to speak in Communist language at his trial in 1953, declaring that the OUN was an organization of fanatics and under its influence he committed numerous crimes against the Ukrainian people, the Soviet authorities, and his motherland. He said that he recognized the enormity of the deed—destroying a talented Ukrainian writer—but he had organized the murder on the orders of his higher authorities in the OUN leadership.6 The way that Shchepans’kyi confesses to his crimes suggests some lengthy sessions in the hands of the NKVD. Indeed, the Soviet secret police excelled in such tactics, and public confessions were favored during the later years of Stalin’s leadership. In print, however, the confessions and admissions of guilt seem formalistic.

  • 7 Visti z Ukrainy, No. 3 (January 1991): 1.
  • 8 V. Maslovskii, V. Pomogayev, “OUN-UPA: Dokumenty svidetel’stvuyut’,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 11 June 1 (...)

9Ukrainian Communist newspapers published a number of letters from readers in the late 1980s that expressed concern with the gradual and partial rehabilitation of OUN-UPA, as well as about the denunciations of Stalinist crimes that became more accentuated in the Gorbachev period. A letter to one newspaper from Mykhailo Hryshchenko of Cherkasy pointed out that in an earlier issue, materials had been published about the horrors of Stalinism, “which was all well and good.” But, he wanted to know, why was there nothing about the atrocities of Banderites in the western regions against their fellow Ukrainians? He sought information about the reburial of the victims of the UPA in the Rivne region, and the testimony of eyewitnesses about these “terrible crimes.”7 Two authors of a summer-1991 article lamented the fact that a Congress of the Brotherhood of UPA soldiers had taken place in April, and defended Fascist ideology while denying Communist accusations that the movement had collaborated with Fascists. It outlined the OUN ideology, which it equated with racism, and declared that the “OUN struggles for the domination over the Ukrainian people and for the expansion of Lebensraum.” The authors cite Ukrainian claims to ethnically linked regions of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Belarus, the Bryansk, Kursk, and Voronezh regions of Russia, as well as the Kuban’. They describe OUN members as immoral, and operating according to the maxim “the cause justifies the means.” The OUN, the article avows, advocated a totalitarian regime based on the Fuehrer (Leader) principle, and they reproduced a list of OUN tenets.8

  • 9 V. P. Troshchyns’kyi, “Proty vyhadok pro tak zvanyi ‘antyfashysts’kyi rukh oporu’ Ukrains’kykh nat (...)
  • 10 S. Makarchuk, “OUN: Metamorfozy voennogo vremeni,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 27 November 1988, p. 3.

10Sometimes, articles denouncing the OUN could be found in more scholarly form, particularly in the late 1980s when the topic increasingly came up for debate. Soviet writers always stressed the link between the OUN and the Germans, particularly in the 1930s. One author writes that in the interwar period, Ukrainian nationalists, using subsidies and other forms of aid from Berlin and Rome, turned to terrorist methods of struggle against “progressive forces.” Nationalist theoreticians at the same time outlined the general compatibility of Fascism and Ukrainian nationalism. Even in the 1930s, he continues, there is no doubt that the Hitlerites regarded the OUN as political partners, including in terrorist acts such as the assassination of the Polish Minister of the Interior, Bronislaw Pieracki, in 1934. The attack of the Germans on Poland had led to discussion about the possibility of creating a West Ukrainian puppet state. However, the Germans were accused of betraying the Ukrainians on this issue.9 Another author believes that even more moderate Ukrainian political groups operating under Polish rule in the 1930s were evolving in the direction of Fascism, particularly after the adoption of the Polish Constitution in 1935. He points to the OUN alliance with Germany in the 1930s, the objective of which was to win Ukrainian independence. The value of the nationalists to the Germans increased after the fall of Poland, and the Hitler regime had sponsored the creation of the Ukrainian Legion with two units: Nachtigal and Roland by May 1941, and the former entered L’viv in the wake of the German army.10 As the Soviet regime declined and finally dissolved, Ukrainian historians were thus faced with the task of dealing with the thorny topic of OUN-UPA, and how this history should be rewritten. How could one explain the history of an organization that had collaborated with the Hitler regime, even if that link was forged with the sole purpose of creating an independent Ukrainian state? In the world at large the search for pro-Nazi war criminals was continuing apace, and time had not dispelled the gruesome image of the Hitler period. The task was a formidable one, particularly after the lengthy years of Soviet propaganda about OUN-UPA, which led residents of Ukraine to adopt polarized views of the organization. In Western Ukraine, particularly the Galician provinces, the OUN-UPA was resurrected as an organization that embodied patriotism and an independent Ukraine, whereas in the rest of the country it was still regarded as collaborationist and bloodthirsty, and comprised of traitors to the motherland.

OUN under Polish Rule

  • 11 Wiktor Poliszczuk, Legal and Political Assessment of the OUN and UPA (Toronto, 1997), pp. 13-26. F (...)

11Initially, a number of articles attempted to humanize the OUN by focusing on the lives of individual members. In doing so, the emphasis was often on the cruelties of the Polish regime and the creation of nationalist martyrs. Young and politicized Ukrainian intellectuals, it is postulated, really had little choice about adherence to the OUN, as other organizations, such as the Ukrainian National Democratic Union (UNDO), had failed the Ukrainian cause through close cooperation with the Polish regime. National heroes and heroines were created at the rank-and-file level, as well as at the level of leadership through figures like Konovalets’, Mel’nyk, and Bandera. The writings are obliged to deal with the issue of murder and terrorism directed against Polish officials, and attempt to convey the impression that support for the OUN was widespread in the Ukrainian ethnic regions of interwar Poland, and that a mass movement was taking shape. In general, the Ukrainian communities are portrayed as politically active and highly religious—many of the activists came from families headed by Greek Catholic (Uniate) priests. One critic notes the importance of the philosopher Dmytro Dontsov and his influential pamphlet Natsionalizm, which became a sort of guideline for OUN activists, even though Dontsov himself was never formally a member of the organization. Through Dontsov, politically active Ukrainians came to the belief that the Ukrainian nation was the highest value, to which all other values had to be subordinated, and the ethnically homogeneous group had to seek to establish the future nation by any means. The “national will” found its expression through a charismatic leader figure, and a national elite that was encompassed in a single party. This same critic claims that the strategic objective of Ukrainian nationalism, as outlined at the first OUN Congress in Vienna in 1929, was the establishment of a Ukrainian nation in all ethnically Ukrainian territories. He cites Petro Mirchuk that “only the complete removal of all occupants from Ukrainian lands will create the possibility for an expansive development of the Ukrainian nation” and believes that the model for integral Ukrainian nationalism was that of Fascist Italy. To carry out this mission, OUN members swore to a decalogue, vowing to destroy Ukraine’s enemies, and to establish a Ukrainian state for Ukrainians, or to die in the attempt to do so.11

  • 12 Roman Holovyn, “Pomsta za smert’ Ol’hy Basarab,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 13 February 1999, p. 2.

12One of the martyrs described in the nationalist vision of history in the early years of independence was Ol’ha Basarab, born Ol’ha Levyts’ka, in 1889 near Rohatyn. Her father was a priest and a nationalist. She was educated at the local gymnasium and later at the University of Vienna and became active in several Ukrainian organizations: the Union of Ukrainian Women, the Red Cross, and the Sich Society, an organization which also included Dontsov. In 1914, Ol’ha married Dmytro Basarab, an officer in the Hungarian army, who was killed in 1915 at the front. In November 1918 when the West Ukrainian Republic was created, Ol’ha Basarab went to Vienna and disseminated propaganda among demobilized Ukrainian soldiers of the former Austrian army, with the goal of building up the units of the Ukrainian Galician Army, now engaged in a conflict with the Poles. After the failure of the republic, Basarab worked for the émigré government of Ye. Petrushevych, but was gradually drawn into the orbit of the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO) led by Yevhen Konovalets’. While she was working in L’viv, on 9 February 1924, the Polish police arrested her by accident when they were searching for a Communist. During their search of the premises, the police discovered materials about UVO and demanded to know the origin of the documents. Ol’ha was reportedly subjected to cruel torture for the next three days, suffering beatings and broken fingers, and she was unable to survive such treatment for long. Finally she scratched the following on the wall of her prison cell with her fingernails: “Dying a martyr, take revenge!” The article exemplifies the genre of OUN martyrdom, with a young heroine suffering at the hands of her cruel oppressors, in this case the Polish authorities. Though Basarab became an important figure in the eyes of émigré organizations, for many years her name was forbidden in Ukraine. The article describes how the torturer of Basarab, Kaidan, became so haunted by her image that he fled to Western Poland. A local priest passed this information to UVO members, who then organized and carried out the murder of Kaidan, in revenge for his treatment of Basarab.12

  • 13 Mariya Bazelyuk, “Zaplatoyu nam radist’ borot’by,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 11 February 1994, p. 2.
  • 14 Mariya Bazelyuk, “Z rodu Kravtsivykh,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu,” 22 February 1994, p. 2.

13In the early 1990s, there were numerous accounts about the activities of young OUN members in the 1920s and 1930s, which gradually created a picture of the organization in its early days that countered the prevailing former Soviet perspective. One newspaper interviewed Petro Duzhyi, a member of the OUN leadership (Provid). Duzhyi recounted that he had joined the OUN as a 16-year-old in 1932, after being encouraged by his friend Zelenyi, who was two years his senior. He became acquainted with the OUN ideology through the journal Rozbudova natsii, which was published in Prague from 1928 and outlawed in Poland and Romania. The UVO organ Surma as well as Rozbudova natsii stopped circulation in 1934 after the Polish crackdown on the OUN. In Galicia, OUN supporters could read the monthly Yunak, as well as numerous leaflets, brochures, and books by Dmytro Dontsov. When young people joined the OUN, Duzhyi recalled, they had to observe the forty-four rules in the life of a Ukrainian nationalist, compiled by Z. Kossak, as well as the “Prayer of the Ukrainian Nationalist” by Mashchak.13 In similar vein is an interview with Marta Kravtsiv-Barabash, daughter of the OUN Provid member, Mykhailo Kravtsiv. She grew up in Stryi and attended OUN youth organizations where participants read works by Dontsov. In 1937-38 she worked as a liaison person between Oleksa Hasyn and Yaroslav Stets’ko on the one hand, and the regional leaders Lev and Dariya Rebet on the other. She studied in Vienna and had a passport so that she was free to cross the border regularly. After the war she immigrated to Canada. Her father was prominent in the OUN, and fought for the Western Ukrainian People’s Re-public, as well as the Ukrainian National Rada founded in 1918. Her father believed that “socialists” had destroyed Ukraine. In 1934, she was arrested and sent to the Polish concentration camp at Bereza Kartuska. In 1939 she moved to the German-occupied part of Poland, returning to Ukraine in 1941 where she joined the short-lived Stets’ko government in L’viv (discussed below). Arrested on 15 September 1941, she was incarcerated at Auschwitz camp until December 1944.14

  • 15 Leonid Cherevatenko, “Heznanyi voyak,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 10 June 1994, p. 2.
  • 16 Roman Pastukh, “Za narod poklaly molodi zhyttya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 23 December 1995, p. 2.

14Another article concerned Oleh Kandyba Ol’zhych, a prominent OUN member and son of a famous poet, Oleksandr Oles’. Born in 1907, Ol’zhych attended the department of archeology at Prague University, where he received a doctoral degree. In 1929 he joined the OUN, and was on personal terms with Konovalets’. In 1938-39 he took part in the unsuccessful campaign to secure the independence of Transcarpathian Ukraine, but was taken prisoner by the Hungarians. At the start of the German-Soviet war in the summer of 1941, Ol’zhych directed the OUN underground in Kyiv and avoided arrest (the article neglects to state that he was a member of the OUN faction that followed Andrii Mel’nyk). He was arrested by the retreating Germans in L’viv in May 1944 and died in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen.15 The portrayal of Ol’zhych was provided under the title of “the unknown warrior.” Other OUN heroes were better known, including two of the most famous figures from the 1930s, Vasyl’ Bilas and Dmytro Danylyshyn, who fulfilled the OUN mission of terrorism by murdering a Polish postmaster after a bungled attempt to rob the post office at Horodok to obtain funds for the organization. The attack took place on 30 December 1932, and after its failure, Bilas and Danylyshyn fled to the village of Veryn. According to one account, Polish police disseminated a rumor that they had robbed the local Ukrainian cooperative, in order to solicit help for the apprehension of the two activists. As a result they were detained by Veryn peasants who handed them to the Polish police. At the ensuing trial they were sentenced to death. The author of the article is at pains to emphasize that the resort to such terrorist acts was simply a response to the harsh policies of the Polish authorities. His theme is that although heroes may suffer a physical death, they remain alive in people’s memory. Thus the graves of Bilas and Danylyshyn at the Yaniv cemetery in L’viv have been a site for pilgrimage for some time.16

  • 17 Roman Pastukh, “Dva portrety narodnykh heroiv,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 22 December 1998, p. 3.
  • 18 Peter J. Potichnyj, ed. Litopys UPA: Underground Journals from Beyond the Curzon Line: 1945-1947, (...)
  • 19 Myron Kuropas, “Free at last! Free at last!” The Ukrainian Weekly, 8 December 1991, p. 7.

15A more elaborate account of the same episode is provided by nationalist scribe Roman Pastukh. He writes that the two young men had been “raised in the Ukrainian nationalist spirit” and enrolled in the OUN to avenge Polish oppression of the Ukrainian population. He states that the action took place on 30 November 1932 (rather than 30 December as cited in the earlier article). The action did not go as planned and resulted in a skirmish, in which there were dead on both sides. Bilas and Danylyshyn attempted to flee to Drohobych but were caught after the ruse by the Polish police. In Pastukh’s account, the peasants were informed of the blunder they had made by Danylyshyn, who declared that “We are members of the Ukrainian military organization. If you continue to behave this way, you will never see a free Ukraine.” The peasants then fell on their knees as if before icons, the account continues. Bilas and Danylyshyn were executed in the Bryhidky prison in L’viv on 23 December 1932. Pastukh observes the ways in which the two heroes have been immortalized in popular memory, and their exploit has been the subject of songs, reflected in a number of scholarly publications, and their portraits hung in the reading rooms of the Prosvita society.17 The link between “martyrs” like Basarab, Bilas, and Danylyshyn and the modern Ukrainian state is cited frequently by supporters of the nationalist cause. The sixteenth volume of the Litopys UPA series, for example, dates the start of Ukrainian resistance to the Poles to the action in Horodok,18 and publicist Myron Kuropas links Bilas and Danylyshyn to later martyrs such as Vasyl’ Stus (as well as Stepan Bandera), as key factors in the ultimate success of Ukrainian independence.19 The outsider is left to ponder how the death of an innocent postmaster could serve as an act of martyrdom and courage in the Ukrainian cause. Yet the key point is that the creation of martyrs is an integral part of mythmaking.

  • 20 Viktor Koval’, “Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiya: Dovidka Instytutu istorii AN URSR dlya Komisii Verk (...)
  • 21 Stepan Mudryk-Mechnyk, “OUN—kermanych nashoi borot’by,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 5 February 1998, p. 2.

16Some of the more general accounts of the creation and evolution of the OUN are replete with hyperbole. Historian Viktor Koval’ declares that following the defeat of the attempt to create an independent Ukrainian state in 1917-20, the “single force” that carried out the will of the Ukrainian people was the OUN underground, which struggled against Polish domination throughout the interwar period. The programmatic goal of the OUN, he writes, was the creation of a Ukrainian independent sovereign state. Because of its military operations against the Polish government, and its organization of mass protests among the Ukrainian community, OUN members constituted a majority of the inmates of the Bereza Kartuska camp.20 The same sort of reasoning is employed by Stepan Mudryk-Mechnyk, who writes that after the loss of statehood in 1920, Ukrainian resistance did not end and activists organized the UVO, which destroyed Polish settlements in “Ukraine,” deprived Poles of money confiscated from Ukrainians, and punished functionaries of the Polish authorities. In January-February 1929, the First Congress of the OUN was held, and the new organization was created from UVO and a number of Ukrainian youth organizations. The OUN, the author writes without corroboration, “represented the majority of Ukrainians” but representatives of other legal parties refused to accept it. The OUN spread its conspiratorial network and directed the struggle against the Polish government. For example, in response to a Polish ban on the sale of land to Ukrainian peasants, the OUN constructed grave mounds with the inscription “Ukrainian land belongs to the Ukrainian peasants!” In addition to the assassination of Pieracki, the Soviet trade attaché in L’viv was also killed to protest the deaths of millions of Ukrainian peasants in the Famine of 1932-33.21

  • 22 Mykhailo Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, 1939-1945 rr. (Kyiv: V (...)

17Two serious attempts to come to terms with the impact of the OUN on Ukrainian life were offered in 1999 and 2000 by Mykhailo Koval’ and Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi. The former writes that the national liberation struggle of 1918-21 failed to bring about a permanent Ukrainian independent state, and therefore other means to accomplish that goal were sought. The OUN, established in 1929, took on this same task and united the “national-liberation forces” of Galicia in response to anti-Ukrainian policies introduced by the Polish government. He also perceives the formation of the OUN as an instrument to prevent the expansion of the Stalin regime into Western Ukraine, though such an assertion seems to take advantage of the benefit of hindsight. The OUN operated during a period in which totalitarianism dominated the political landscape, not only in Ukraine, but in most of Europe. The OUN was a product of the epoch in the same way as Bolshevism or German National Socialism, Koval’ writes, with equivalents in many of the nations of Europe. In the struggle for Ukrainian statehood and independence, the OUN from the outset relied on radical methods, such as propaganda and terror, to accomplish its goals. The extreme radicalism of this revolutionary organization was expressed in its program, which envisaged a state ruled by the nation, expressed in a leader figure. In its policies of a charismatic leader, economic power merged with the political authority of the nation, and its Russophobia, the OUN adopted several policies that had much in common with German National Socialism.22 This argument is not new, and was propagated by wellknown Diaspora historians such as Ivan Lysyak-Rudnyts’kyi in the 1970s, i.e., that the anti-democratic movements appeared to be the main catalysts for change, and that if change were to come to Ukrainian lands, then it was likely to occur through Germany rather than any other power. Thus the title of this section of Koval’s book is how the OUN and the Third Reich took advantage of each other, in fulfilling their political goals.

  • 23 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “Za Ukrainu, za ii volyu,” Ukraina moloda, 31 August 2000, p. 10.

18Kul’chyts’kyi writes less frequently about the OUN than he does on the Famine, but he gives a succinct account of the history of UVO, placing the evolution of Ukrainian nationalism in a pan-European context and observing the erosion of democratic ideologies and their gradual replacement with extreme nationalism or Communism by the late 1920s. Ukrainian nationalists rejected the liberal slogans offered by writers and philosophers such as Mykhailo Drahomaniv and Mykhailo Hrushevs’kyi because ostensibly these policies had failed to provide an independent Ukrainian state. Instead, they adopted the ideas of Mikhnovs’kyi—“Ukraine for Ukrainians!” or Dontsov’s more moderate slogan of “Ukrainians for Ukraine!” The Nationalist movement, in his view, was set in motion by the formation of the Legion of Sich Sharpshooters within the army of the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR). The Legion was disbanded in Prague in 1920, and simultaneously its leaders announced the creation of the Ukrainian Military Organization (UVO). He describes the activities of UVO as terrorist and directed against figures of authority within interwar Poland. In 1921, for example, he cites an attempt on the life of Jozef Pilsudski and the L’viv governor, Kazimierz Grabowski, both of which resulted in failure. UVO also practiced sabotage, expropriations of money, and the destruction of farms owned by Polish settlers. The peak of UVO’s activities occurred in 1922 when its servicemen destroyed 38 Polish farms and burned 2,300 items of Polish property, but it is difficult to distinguish its actions from those of the Communists, who conducted similar tac-tics. The UVO suffered a major setback when the Entente Council of Ambassadors gave Galicia to Poland, and a split occurred in the movement, with one faction advocating a united Ukraine and a second backing an independent Western Ukrainian state. The former perspective prevailed.23

  • 24 Kost’ Bondarenko, “Istoriya, yakoi ne znayemo, chy ne khochemo znaty?” Dzerkalo tyzhnya, No. 12, 2 (...)

19Most writers concur that the UVO was one of the principal foundation stones for the creation of OUN, which—Kost’ Bondarenko maintains—“was a classical, radical rightist terrorist organization,” ideologically close to Fascism of the Italian type, which was believed to be the “avant-garde European ideology” of that time. He warns that Fascism should not be confused with German National Socialism and says that the OUN did not espouse racist principles. Several OUN leaders were married to Jewish women. However, it was commonly believed in Soviet times that the OUN was financed by Germany, and indeed Konovalets’ had made use of money from a fund set up during the Weimar Republic to support stateless nations. But by the late 1920s, the Germans preferred to finance the former Hetmanate leader Pavlo Skoropads’kyi, and once Hitler came to power, support for the OUN ended. The new donors were Lithuania, Japan, Italy, and the Ukrainian Diaspora in the United States. Bondarenko gives a lengthy account of the best-known event in the interwar history of the OUN, namely the 1934 assassination of the Polish Interior Minister, General Bronislaw Pieracki. He comments on the cooperation between Nazi Germany and Poland in apprehending the culprits: Germany extradited the terrorist Mykola Lebed’ to Poland, for example. Other nationalist activists were arrested and later sent to a concentration camp. However, the trials that ensued in Warsaw and L’viv turned into a forum for the OUN, which gained them huge popularity in Galicia and transformed them into the most respected political force. In prisons and camps, nationalists and Communists combined to organize actions against the authorities.24 Bondarenko’s account is for a general readership, offering one of the most sympathetic accounts to that date (2002) of the development and program of the OUN, but it is lacking in detail. One recalls, for example, Kul’chyts’kyi’s earlier remark about the difference between those who adhered to the ideas of Mikhnovs’kyi and those who preferred the writings of Dontsov as guidance for their actions, a distinction that is ignored by Bondarenko.

20A recent scholarly account, which primarily focuses on the rival Polish-Ukrainian aspirations during the Second World War, also provides a portrayal of the early years of the OUN as well as the opposing Ukrainian perspective. I. I. Il’yushyn writes that by the end of the 1930s the two major influences on Ukrainians had been formed, but two entirely different ideological-political groupings, the UNDO-UNR (followers of Symon Petlyura) and the OUN. The former included activists and supporters of UNDO (which he describes as “the most authoritative” legal force in Ukrainian national democracy in Western Ukraine in the interwar period) and activists of the Ukrainian National Republic State Center in exile, which was the only legitimate carrier of Ukrainian statehood after the collapse of the liberation efforts of 1917-20. Il’yushyn’s use of words like “legal” and “legitimate” imply from the outset that the OUN was something contrived and subversive. He continues with an account of the main figures in the UNR camp. They included leader Vasyl’ Mudryi, president of the UNR Andrii Livyts’kyi, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Professor Roman Smal’-Stots’kyi, and the War Minister, Volodymyr Sals’kyi.

  • 25 I. I. Il’yushyn, “Natsional’no-vyzvol’ni prahnennya ukrains’kykh ta pol’s’kykh samostiinyts’kykh s (...)

21The ex-government camp anticipated an armed conflict between the democratic western countries and the Bolshevik regime of the USSR, which they believed would end in the defeat of the latter—the so-called Prometheist conception. The leading role in that program belonged to Poland, which would form a federation with a newly created Ukrainian state. Hence the Union disseminated the view that Ukrainians should cooperate with the Poles rather than oppose them, and questions about the future status of ethnic Ukrainian territories like eastern Galicia, Volhynia, Bukovyna, and Transcarpathia would be decided by the diplomatic route and discussions with the relevant powers, i.e., Poland, Romania, and Czechoslovakia. In contrast, the OUN perspective was formed under the leadership of Andrii Mel’nyk, following the death of Konovalets’ in May 1938. The OUN activists, writes Il’yushyn, had a negative attitude toward any form of cooperation with the “occupiers of Ukrainian lands” and their supporters, among which were considered first and foremost the members of the UNR government. They were oriented toward Germany rather than Poland, and saw Poland and the USSR as their chief enemies. The coming conflict, it was hoped, would achieve the OUN’s only goal, an independent sovereign state that would include all Ukrainian lands “without exception.”25 In contrast to Bondarenko’s account, Il’yushyn suggests that the OUN was indeed an extremist organization.


  • 26 “Yevhen Konovalets’: do natsional’noho kalendarya,” Literaturna Ukraina, 28 May 1992, p. 7.
  • 27 Ihor Hulyk, “Yevhen Konovalets’—za Ukrainu i za ii idei,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 14 June 1991, p. 2.

22One of the most important tasks of those propagating new analyses of the OUN and its incorporation into the mainstream of Ukrainian history is the examination of individual leaders, their lives, and policies. Konovalets’ is one of the most important early leaders of the Ukrainian nationalist cause. At the end of 1938, an editorial in Literaturna Ukraina states, Yevhen Konovalets’ tragically lost his life at the age of only 47. He was a colonel in the army of the Ukrainian National Republic, a military leader and politician, commander of the UVO, and Chairman of the Provid of Ukrainian Nationalists.26 However, from the nationalist perspective, his name had been “tarred” by both Bolshevik propagandists and well-known Communist professors. Therefore, Ihor Hulyk, writing in the late Soviet period, sets himself the task of informing the public about Konovalets’ and his relevance to the modern Ukrainian state. The article is a straightforward attempt “to set the record straight.” Hulyk notes that Konovalets’ was born on 14 June 1891 in the village of Zashkiv (L’viv region). His father was a teacher and supporter of the Ukrainian idea. After finishing the gymnasium, Konovalets’ entered the Faculty of Law at L’viv University, and during this period he participated in Prosvita, Ukrainian cooperatives, and the Ukrainian Students’ Union. One of the major influences on his ideological outlook was Dontsov. Prior to the First World War, Konovalets’ organized the Sich Sharpshooters. In 1915, fighting on the Austrian side, he was taken prisoner by Russian forces, but he subsequently took part in the formation of the Ukrainian National Republic in Kyiv, and also organized a Galician branch of the Sharpshooters.27

  • 28 Ibid.

23Hulyk’s message is explicitly political and he draws a direct line between Konovalets’ public career and the situation in Ukraine today. The struggle for the nation is a lengthy one and “cannot be carried out with kid gloves.” If Konovalets’ outlook is projected to the present day, declares the author, then its relevance is self-evident. The Galician youngsters’ resistance to the Bolsheviks played a direct role in the issuance of the Fourth Universal in January 1918 by which Ukraine declared its full independence from Russia. When Skoropads’kyi came to power (at the behest of the German occupation regime), Konovalets’ proposed an alliance by which the Sharpshooters would support his regime if it confirmed the idea of a sovereign and independent Ukraine. On the other hand, he (Konovalets’) refused to assist the West Ukrainian Republic in its conflict with the Poles and did not participate in its alliance with the White Russian general, Anton Denikin. In 1920, Konovalets’ created the UVO, which provided both military training for young Ukrainians as well as “political enlightenment.” When Galicia was attached to Poland in 1923, UVO abandoned its enlightenment ideology and four years later, in the wake of the assassination of Symon Petlyura, Konovalets’ was able to unite the disjointed nationalist organizations with the first OUN Congress in 1929. In the 1930s, the author writes, Konovalets’ lived a precarious existence in Switzerland where he was monitored by Polish police and was the subject of assassination attempts by the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. On 23 May 1938, the NKVD finally succeeded, by arranging a meeting with Konovalets’ at the Café Atlanta in Rotterdam, Holland, and passing on to him a package that exploded. The OUN Provid declared that Moscow had recognized that Konovalets’ represented Ukraine, and Ukraine is Konovalets’. “History confirmed the truth of these words,” writes Hulyk, and “Konovalets’ is coming back to us.”28

  • 29 Volodymyr Yavors’kyi, “Vin ne vpadav u vidchai. Vin borovsya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 22 May 1993, pp. (...)

24The same story, with a few modifications, is provided by Volodymyr Yavors’kyi. In 1915, he states, after his capture by the Russian army, Konovalets’ spent two years at a Russian POW camp near Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad, today Volgograd). After the February Revolution broke out in Russia he was freed to travel to Kyiv, where he met with M. Mikhnovs’kyi, and the two Ukrainian leaders began to organize the Ukrainian armed forces, the Sharpshooters’ Legion. He imposed strict discipline on his troops and on 18 January 1918, his unit crushed a rebellion at the Kyiv arsenal. He agreed to work for Hetman Skoropads’kyi but only on the condition that the latter would support the Ukrainian cause. Whereas Skoropads’kyi turned to the Russian White Guardists for support, Konovalets’ switched his allegiance to the UNR leaders, Petlyura and Volodymyr Vynnychenko. The collapse of the UNR government, the Directory, led Konovalets’ to ponder the causes of the defeat, and he reached the conclusion that it had resulted from an underestimation of the Ukrainian national idea, weak discipline in the armed forces, and the “socialist utopianism” of many of the Directory leaders. In the future, writes Yavors’kyi, Konovalets’ decided that the struggle for liberation must be based on quite different principles: strength and the nation. Under his leadership the OUN became very active, both in Poland and the Ukrainian SSR, in responding to the Pacification in Poland, and Soviet repressions in Ukraine. As for the death of the OUN leader, Yavors’kyi writes that in Rotterdam he was supposed to meet an OUN delegate from Eastern Ukraine called Valyukh, who turned out to be an agent of the NKVD. By 1992, it became known that the figure who organized the murder was P. A. Sudoplatov.29

  • 30 Mykola Oleksyuk, “Ubyvtsya Konoval’tsya vidomyi,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 19 September 1992, p. 1.
  • 31 Mykhailo Yatsura, “Vidlunnya zlochynu,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 23 May 1998, p. 2.

25Much of the mystery surrounding Konovalets’, an upright military figure, has centered on his untimely death and subsequent martyrdom. Thus there are a number of articles that focus on his murder. We will cite two examples here. In 1992, the all-Ukrainian association “Derzhavna Samostiinist’ Ukrainy” sent a request to the Prosecutor-General of Ukraine to initiate a criminal case against Pavel Anatol’evich Sudoplatov, a retired general lieutenant in the KGB, born in 1907 and currently residing in Moscow. The pretext of this appeal, writes Mykola Oleksyuk, was a letter from Sudoplatov to the 23rd Congress of the CC CPSU, in which he clearly and unambiguously stated that on 23 March 1938 in Rotterdam, fulfilling the orders of the Central Committee, he personally eliminated Yevhen Konovalets’ using a bomb. This author goes further, however, and accuses Sudoplatov also of murdering the Ukrainian Communist writer Yaroslav Halan in 1949.30 A later article comments that in 1937 the NKVD succeeded in planting an agent inside the OUN, a man called Lebed’. According to Sudoplatov, who was behind the murder of Konovalets’, Lebed’ was an officer in the Austrian army who served in the war alongside Konovalets’. Reportedly, Lebed’ introduced Konovalets’ to a man called Valyukh (Sudoplatov), claiming that the latter was a secret member of the OUN. The attack, according to this article, was planned meticulously. In addition to an explosive device, Sudoplatov was equipped with a gun and a large sum of money. He met Konovalets’ in the “Atlanta” restaurant and they arranged a second meeting a few hours later. Valyukh gave Konovalets’ a box of chocolates as a small gift (which later exploded). After the meeting, Sudoplatov left for Paris and subsequently Barcelona. Konovalets’ was buried on 23 May in a funeral attended by Ukrainian general Kurmanovych, several nationalists, and a Lithuanian consul.31

26The significance of these lengthy descriptions is in the link between the past and the present. Sudoplatov, who died in September 1996, is better known for his role in the assassination of L. D. Trotsky in 1940, and for his role in the Soviet atomic project. In some ways he appears the archetypal evil Soviet agent. In this instance he is revealed belatedly to have been the man behind the assassination of one of Ukraine’s new heroes, a man bedeviled in his lifetime by adverse depictions of his career, but now perceived as a genuine hero of Ukraine who elevated nationalism and military discipline as the main watchwords in order to attain his future goal. Sudoplatov, on the other hand, despite his mixed Ukrainian-Russian parentage and Ukrainian birth, represents the truculence of both the Soviet Union and Russia: devious, cunning, and treacherous. Strangely there is a scarcity of discourse about Konovalets’ chosen successor, Andrii Mel’nyk, probably because of the fractious split in the OUN two years later that divided it into two wings: that under Mel’nyk and that under the younger, more dynamic, and more extremist Stepan Bandera. Bandera, on the other hand, is the subject of polemics both for and against him, and in the pantheon of national heroes, it is Bandera—at least in terms of discussion in the newspapers and journals surveyed—who takes his place alongside Konovalets’ prior to the UPA leader Roman Shukhevych on the national stage. This statement is not to say that Mel’nyk was a less important or even more diplomatic and sensible leader than the headstrong Bandera; it rather suggests that he was less charismatic and unlikely to encourage fanaticism and self-sacrifice on the part of his followers. For this reason, rather than any objective choice, the next figure for focus in this discussion of late- and post-Soviet discourse is Bandera.

Stepan Bandera

  • 32 N. Karpova, “Vybor,” Pravda Ukrainy, 4 January 1990, p. 4.

27There are few more controversial figures in contemporary Ukraine than Stepan Bandera. A national hero to some and a war criminal to others, he is venerated as a hero in many parts of Western Ukraine, with statues, museums, and even one of the more prominent streets of L’viv named after him. Clearly, he is a substantial figure in the recent past of Ukraine and one that had a continuing and lasting impact in the Diaspora after the Second World War. It is probably impossible at the present time in Ukraine to obtain an objective and dispassionate assessment of Bandera because he evokes such strong emotions even fifty years after his death. However, what is evident is his gradual but almost relentless transformation into a national hero, as the Ukrainian public is confronted with a volte-face and the erstwhile traitor becomes a figure for admiration and veneration. Though the main events in Bandera’s life are clearly delineated, there is also a lack of detail, especially during the war years and his long incarceration in Germany. His links to the Germans throughout his career are also a subject for debate. Further, unlike Dontsov, Bandera was no philosopher, left no memoirs of note, nor did he provide any lasting treatises regarding his political outlook. According to one source, “rank-and-file fighters never saw Bandera or Mel’nyk.” The commanders lived relatively well, whereas the troops endured hardships living in the forest.32 We examine here discourse on various aspects of Bandera’s life in approximate chronological or-der, starting with the hostile portrayals of the late Soviet period and ending with the positive accounts of the early 21st century when writers were attempting to consolidate the position of Bandera as a Ukrainian national hero.

  • 33 V. Dovgan’, “Kem byl Bandera: shtrikhi k politicheskomu portretu,” Pravda Ukrainy, 13 December 199 (...)

28An early and very negative account of Bandera’s political career was provided on the pages of Pravda Ukrainy in late 1990 by V. Dovgan’. It begins with Bandera’s appointment as head of the regional executive of the OUN in Western Ukraine in 1932. From that point, Dovgan’ argues, this particular branch became increasingly terror-oriented in its activity. The victims of the OUN included not only Poles, but also those Ukrainians who overtly disagreed with OUN tactics. One example provided is that of M. Bilets’kyi, a peasant activist brutally murdered by the OUN. Another victim was a professor of philology at L’viv Ukrainian Gymnasium, Babii, who refused to allow political agitation on the school premises. A student called Bachyns’kyi, who was interested in joining the OUN, was killed on suspicion that he was a provocateur. The 1936 trial of Bandera, the author points out, revealed that Bandera had personally ordered the murders of Babii and Bachyns’kyi. After the murders of the Soviet consulate worker A. Mailov in L’viv, and the assassination of Interior Minister Pieracki in 1933-34, Bandera was arrested and trials took place in Warsaw in 1935 and L’viv in 1936. Dovgan’ writes that Bandera never received the death sentence, as some sources claim, but only life imprisonment. It is suggested that he received a relatively light sentence because of an agreement between Nazi Germany and Poland in 1934—no evidence is given for such a statement. The author also maintains that Bandera fled from Polish confinement during the relocation of prisoners in September 1939. Other sources state that he was released by the Germans.33 This article is concerned in particular in emphasizing the close links between the latter and Bandera.

  • 34 Ibid.

29His main thesis is the close collaboration between Richard Yarii, a man with long-term contacts with the Abwehr, and Bandera, and that the two worked together to bring down the leadership of the Provid. The implication is that the Germans were behind the 1940 split in the OUN leadership, but soon began to be concerned that the mutual assassinations of key members in the two wings of the OUN might prove detrimental to German war aims. Dovgan’ is also at some pains to demonstrate that the OUN did not reflect the mood of the population of Western Ukraine, i.e., that it was an alien force in the region. He cites an OUN directive calling local activists to arrange a cordial welcome for the German “liberators” in Ukrainian villages. Leaflets were reportedly handed to Red Army soldiers that read: “At the front, surrender, and say that you are Ukrainians who wish to fight against Moscow under the leadership of the OUN-B.” The article also refers to German-OUN appeals to the civilian population to cross the border into Eastern Ukraine to spread panic and sow disbelief in the fighting capacity of the Red Army, and guide them in carrying out anti-Moscow resistance. An entire propaganda apparatus was to be set up, including radios, loud-speakers, and radio stations, as well as the dissemination of leaflets, orders, and appeals. Such tactics, the author writes, are exactly the same as those applied by Rukh members and Bandera supporters “today.” In this way, the OUN-B is depicted as a primary agent of a hostile occupation force fighting against the interests of the majority of Ukrainians. Likewise, Dovgan’ argues that although Bandera was taken into captivity in Germany, from the Fall of 1941, he was treated well and continued to cooperate with the Germans. He writes that SS leader Heinrich Himmler personally released Bandera so that he could conduct anti-Soviet activities in Ukraine!34

  • 35 Ol’ha Ivanova, “Kto vin, Stepan Bandera?” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 15 (April 1992): 4.

30By 1992, writers in the media were trying to “correct” such harsh interpretations of Bandera. Ol’ha Ivanova, for example, responds to a reader from Kyiv who did not understand “how can one glorify someone [Bandera] who killed people?” The author calls on her readers to become nationally conscious, to cast off all past propaganda mixed with lies that had been fed to residents of Ukraine since kindergarten. Instead one should “look into the face of history with honest and unbiased eyes.” One should not turn away from obvious facts known to the world for years, but which Ukrainians still question. In order to familiarize readers with such facts she provides an “ABC of Ukrainian History,” which declares that Bandera was arrested in 1936 for fighting for the independence of Ukraine and given a death sentence by the Polish authorities (the fact that he may have been responsible for the murders of two officials is not mentioned by the author). She also cites Bandera’s arrest in July 1941 for his part in the proclamation of Ukrainian independence in L’viv on 30 June 1941 (discussed below). In her opinion, Bandera refused to work with the Germans against the Bolsheviks. Rather, the OUN leadership under Bandera was prominent in resistance against the occupiers, and the OUN was the only genuine opposition force, even in Eastern Ukraine. There she maintains, the Young Guard, which in past writings has usually been associated with the Communist Party, was in fact a creation of the OUN. Any part of this version of history that does not comply with Ivanova’s version is dismissed as an invention of enemy propaganda that might be Polish, Communist, or Jewish.35

  • 36 Roman Pastukh, “Rodyna Stepana Bandery,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 13, October 1994, p. 2; 14 October 199 (...)
  • 37 Roman Pastukh, “Sestry Stepana Bandery pereizhdzhayut’ do Stryya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 18 January 1 (...)

31Several articles focus on the background and personality of Bandera. Roman Pastukh has tried to reconstruct the Bandera family history, noting that his grandfather Mykhailo, who was a church deacon, lived in Stryi with his wife Yefrosynya. They had two sons and two daughters. The oldest son was Andrii, the father of Stepan. Andrii studied theology in L’viv University and was ordained as a priest in 1906. His house was something of a magnet for the cultural elite, and was the locale for lively discussions on social and political life in Galicia, with regular visits from people like Pavlo Hlozdins’kyi, founder of the Ukrainian cooperative movement, Yaroslav Veselovs’kyi, a member of parliament, and the well-known sculptor Havrylko. When the Habsburg Empire disintegrated at the end of the First World War, the author points out, the Ukrainian Galician army emerged, and Andrii became a chaplain in one of the units, returning to Galicia only after this army was defeated in the field. He continued to serve as a priest in the village Uhryniv until 1933, but by then life had become difficult because the Polish police regularly searched the house because of son Stepan’s affiliation with the OUN. During the first Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine, in May 1941, Andrii and his sisters Ok-sana and Mariya were arrested, and Andrii was executed in July 1941. The two sisters were deported to Siberia.36 The story continues with the return of Stepan’s own sisters from Siberian exile in the independence period. They reportedly settled in the village Kozakivtsi, near Bolekhiv, in the IvanoFrankivs’k region. The Stryi branch of the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists appealed to the Stryi city council, which found an apartment for the two elderly women, and the local furniture factory provided for free the furnishings for the apartment.37 The Bandera legend in Western Ukraine could be maintained through the presence of his family members.

  • 38 Ivan Krainii, “Vo im’ya ottsya Andriya Bandery,” Ukraina moloda, 28 October 1999, p. 10.

32Another biography of Bandera’s father Andrii appeared in 1999 in the popular youth newspaper Ukraina moloda. It is reportedly based on materials from the Polish police contained in the regional archives of Ivano-Frankivs’k, as well as NKVD materials made available in Kyiv. In addition to the material contained in the earlier account, it also notes that in November 1928, Andrii was arrested for conducting a mass for slain soldiers of the Ukrainian Galician Army. According to the police report, he was attempting to sow hatred of the Poles and the Polish government, and had argued that Galicia was an inseparable part of Ukraine, and sooner or later would gain independence. The criminal case also contained several leaflets, which according to the testimony of the witnesses, were disseminated by Stepan Bandera. Four days later, both Andrii and Stepan (who had also been arrested) were released for lack of evidence (November 1928). Andrii was arrested by the Soviet authorities who made use of the criminal case conducted in Poland. In this way a direct link is implied between the two occupation authorities, although these countries had remained bitterly hostile between their two wars of 1920 and 1939. Andrii was arrested again on 23 May 1941, together with his daughters Marta and Oksana in the village Trostyanets’ in Dolyna district on charges of hiding the OUN member Stefanyshyn. Andrii never hid his close ties with his son and while in prison boldly enunciated his support for the OUN: “I am a Ukrainian nationalist according to my world view, but I am not a chauvinist. I believe the only true state for Ukrainians is a united, independent, Ukraine.” As noted above, the tribunal in Kyiv Military District on 8 July 1941 imposed a death sentence on him.38 The article has demonstrated the direct link between the elder Bandera and the modern Ukrainian state.

  • 39 Omelyan Kushpeta, “Znav ioho osobysto,” Literaturna Ukraina, 23 January 1992, p. 6.
  • 40 Yaroslav Kitura, “Stepan Bandera—symvol svobody,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 4 January 1996, p. 2.

33Would-be biographers have tended to provide a rather wishful characterization of the OUN leader. One writes that he lived a Spartan life and one of constant struggle for his family. “He was a good man and father, and deeply religious with a strong and forceful character. This is why the Communists killed him.”39 Yaroslav Kitura follows suit, observing that Bandera was raised in a patriotic Ukrainian family and joined the Ukrainian youth organizations Plast and Sokil while attending the Ukrainian gymnasium in Stryi. When he was in the fourth grade, writes Kitura, he joined the UVO and became a formal member of the association when he was a university student in 1928. A year later, the OUN was created, and the 20-year-old Bandera became a member. From 1931 he was head of the propaganda section of the regional OUN executive branch. In 1932-33 he was the deputy leader of the regional branch. In the 1930s, the young nationalist carried out several “revolutionary acts” against representatives of the Polish and Soviet governments. Kitura points out that the Soviet official, Mailov, who was assassinated in 1933, was an agent of Stalin’s intelligentsia. After the murder of minister Pieracki in 1934, Bandera was sentenced to life imprisonment, but he was freed at the beginning of the war and moved to Krakow. This biographical account is notable for several omissions, most notably the split in the OUN in 1940 and its division into the two wings following Mel’nyk and Bandera. This account would imply to an uninformed reader that Bandera was the natural successor to Konovalets’. This same author maintains that Bandera was arrested by the Germans in 1941 because he refused to cooperate with them, and that he was assassinated in Munich by the Soviet agent Stashyns’kyi in 1959.40

  • 41 Petro Duzhyi, “Borot’ba za derzhavu tryvaye,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 1 January 1997, p. 2.

34Concerning Bandera’s political thought, another account declared that the OUN-B was different from other political parties. It did not represent the interests of a certain faction of the population, but struggled for the liberation of an independent and united Ukraine. The Ukrainian people would have an opportunity to live well only after it was freed from the tyranny of “Russian Bolshevik imperialism” and had become the sole master in its own state. Bandera, according to this account, never anticipated that Ukraine would be isolated politically. However, it would enter alliances only when such agreements were made by sovereign nations, as equal partners, to achieve common goals with no privileges for one group of people at the expense of another. The principle of sovereignty would not be broken if such alliances were concluded voluntarily “by non-imperialist peoples.” Bandera, in Kitura’s view, contended that the major objective for Ukrainians should be the restoration of an independent, united Ukraine through the dismemberment of the Russian empire and the destruction of Bolshevism. The author concludes in the same fashion, taking on Bandera’s mantle and stressing the importance of the Bandera heritage for modern Ukraine. “The struggle for Ukrainian sovereignty continues. It will end only after the Russian Empire is completely dissolved, regardless of what name or ideology conceals its real aims.”41 In other words, just as Bandera can be equated with today’s Ukraine, so also can Stalin’s USSR be equated with the then Russian Federation under President Boris Yeltsin. In this way, Bandera becomes a modern hero rather than a figure of the past.

  • 42 Nataliya Khramamova, “Rol’ Bandery: bez pyshnykh vusiv ta ek’zal’tovanoho patriotyzmu,” Ukraina mo (...)
  • 43 Yuri Kril, “Stepan Bandera is back home,” Den’; The Day Weekly Digest, 15 October 2002 [http://www (...)

35In addition to the reinterpretation of Bandera and his relatives in the popular press, other means of resurrecting him as a natural hero have also been deployed. These have included monuments and even a movie. The latter was evidently initiated by the Ukrainian Congress of America, and directed by Oles’ Yanchuk under the title: “Assassination: the autumn murder in Munich.” The role of Bandera was played by L’viv actor Yaroslav Muka. In an interview, the actor claimed that the major objective of the film was to fill a gap in history, that of Bandera who hitherto had never been depicted on screen. In “Assassination,” Bandera is depicted as a simple man who stands by his beliefs, rather than the “devil incarnate” described in Soviet-era publications. Muka points out that the idea was also to commemorate people who fought for their ideals, for the state, and who frequently sacrificed their lives in a seemingly hopeless struggle, when it seemed impossible to beat the [Soviet] machine. However, they had also fought for the victory that was finally attained by independence in 1991. It was also important to trace the lives of Ukrainian heroes who eventually resurfaced in Canada and the United States, having fled from Stalin’s forces. Muka prepared for the role by sifting through photographs collected in American archives and private collections. He tried to depict Bandera as a real, living person. However, he emphasizes, the movie was not only about Bandera because there were other important characters, too.42 By 2002 there were several official monuments to Bandera, including one in the village of Dublyany on the premises of the L’viv State Agrarian University, at which Bandera was enrolled as a student.43

Writings on other OUN Leaders

  • 44 See, for example, the vitriolic article by Nikolai Shybyk, “Porkhavka,” Pravda Ukrainy, 21 Novembe (...)
  • 45 Mariya Bazelyuk, “Khto vidvazhnyi, nekhai ide z namy,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 28 January 1994, p. 2.
  • 46 Ivan Krainii, “Nevidomyi Yaroslav Stets’ko,” Ukraina moloda, 1 February 2002, p. 4.

36Though the figure of Bandera has monopolized discourse on nationalist thinkers, other leaders have also been the subject of media focus. In the past, two obvious targets for Soviet vitriol were Yaroslav Stets’ko, Bandera’s subordinate, and Stets’ko’s wife Yaroslava, who later became a well-known politician in Ukraine.44 Yaroslava Stets’ko provided an interview to Za vil’nu Ukrainu in 1994 that represented the OUN as the voice of the Ukrainian nation. She stressed its spiritual values, high morality, honesty, heroism, and the bravery of its members. It was linked directly with the people: “they relied on the people and on their own strength.” When OUN members appeared in the villages, it signified that there would be order and an end to thievery. What were the nationalists struggling for six decades later in an independent Ukraine? “To fill the Ukrainian state with Ukrainian content, and make it a truly national state.”45 The same link between past and present is made in the memorial about the late Yaroslav Stets’ko by his former secretary, the then deputy of the Supreme Soviet Roman Zvarych, who became Justice Minister in the first year of the Yushchenko presidency (he lost his position in the governmental upheaval of September 2005 but was recalled to office in August 2006). Stets’ko, he recalls, was an extremely optimistic person who never lost faith, even in the darkest times, that Ukraine would soon become independent. Such optimism derived from his belief “in the invincibility of the human thirst for freedom.” To Stets’ko the Soviet Union was always called the Russian or Moscow Empire because a real union can only be based on free will. The nationalist leader emerges from this biographical account as a prophet of the Ukrainian people who anticipated independence as early as 1986, the time of the dramatic nuclear disaster at Chernobyl (Chornobyl) in Northern Ukraine. Once when Zvarych informed Stets’ko that Ukraine was experiencing bad weather, the latter replied that the inclement weather was the fault of Muscovites who had cut down Ukrainian forests, which generally dispersed the clouds, bringing fair weather.46

  • 47 Vasyl’ Marochkin, “Trydtsyat’ dniv z Mykoloyu Lebed’em,” Visti z Ukrainy, No. 27 (June 1991): 3.

37In 1991, historian Vasyl’ Marochkin visited the United States, ostensibly to offer a series of lectures on Ivan Mazepa. However, the article he wrote upon his return spends far more time on his encounters with his host, Mykola Lebed’, a controversial figure within the OUN for his alleged role within the security service. Marochkin presents Lebed’ as an outstanding leader of the Ukrainian liberation movement and the prime organizer of a number of successful terrorist attacks, including those that accounted for the deaths of Pieracki and Mailov. These actions are depicted as justifiable and laudable deeds. In the next section of the article, Marochkin sets himself the task of debunking the notion that Lebed’ was the head of the SB. Rather, he asserts, after the arrest of Bandera, Lebed’ became the head of the OUN-B. Moreover, the emergence subsequently of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was a result of the labors and organizational work of Lebed’. He maintains that the security service was not as bad as the image conveyed in Communist writings, which depict it eliminating enemies and unreliable Ukrainians with impunity. Its main task was to protect the leaders of the OUN-B. Though Lebed’ has been accused in a number of sources of carrying out war crimes, Marochkin dismisses the notion and perceives his actions as revenge against an outside and alien impostor who has broken into one’s home at night and killed one’s wife and children. He wonders how one could be blamed for committing a violent act under such circumstances.47

  • 48 Mykola Lebed’, “My znaly-nas chekae Ukraina,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu (22 August 1992): 1-2.

38More details about Lebed’ (or Lebid’) emerged from an interview he gave to the newspaper Za vil’nu Ukrainu in 1992, a year after Ukraine’s independence. He recalled that he had joined a circle of nationalists at L’viv gymnasium in 1927, which formed the basis of the future Union of Nationalist Youth. After the OUN was created in 1929, he was instructed to organize an OUN cell in the gymnasium and other places. In turn, the group denounced traditional Polish national holidays, such as the birthday of Jozef Pilsudski. One Polish professor had spoken disrespectfully about the Ukrainian trident symbol and “had to be taught a lesson.” When a Polish eagle was hung in the classroom, the young Ukrainians painted it with ink and broke its wing. The eagle had to be removed. Lebed’ maintains that Ukrainian national identity was crafted in part as a response to the Polish Pacification of the early 1930s. Although three policemen had been killed, he recalls, he felt that such retribution was inadequate because the real guilty parties were those giving the orders. Therefore the OUN regional executive decided to assassinate a member of the government, and eventually Pieracki was selected. The goal of the attack was to “tell the world” about the Ukrainian national movement. Shortly after the assassination Lebed’ was arrested in Germany and escorted to Poland. An open trial took place a year later, and he served his term in the harshest of prisons, attaining his release only after German troops entered Warsaw in 1939. Once released from prison, the younger members of the OUN gathered in Krakow. Lebed’ makes it plain that they were dissatisfied with the leadership of Mel’nyk. Also, “we knew Ukraine was waiting for us,” and therefore the younger nationalists resolved to get military training in Germany, fearing that some day the Germans would round them up and imprison them all.48 The account seems far-fetched in that in the years prior to 1941, it would appear from most accounts that cooperation with the Germans was anticipated to be of mutual benefit.

  • 49 Halyna Hordasevych, Stepan Bandera: lyudyna i mif (L’viv: Piramida, 2001).

39The biographical accounts of Bandera, Lebed’, and Stets’ko, perhaps the best known leaders of the OUN-B, all serve a purpose: to nullify the impressions provided in Soviet accounts of nationalist cut-throats in the pay of the Germans, who were about to invade the USSR in the summer of 1941. A laudatory biography of Bandera was published in L’viv in 2001 by a professional writer from Ternopil’, Halyna Hordasevych.49 who was a member of the Democratic Party of Ukraine and also of the Popular Movement for Perestroika (Rukh). Its appearance was the culmination of an outpouring of literature, both scholarly and popular, on OUN-UPA in Western Ukraine in the independence years, some of which initially appeared in the West and mainly in English; and some that represented new scholarship on the OUN and its leaders. Bandera at least is a mythical figure in his native region, though not yet in his native land as a whole. The difficulty with such a figure is his distance from the events that took place in his name for most of his career. His legend was really made during his youth as a terrorist in Western Ukraine, and for his stance as the most implacable of nationalists after the death of Konovalets’ in 1938. Thereafter, he remained in German-occupied territory during the most traumatic events in Ukraine, the invasion, the immediate aftermath (that saw the German refusal to countenance an independent Ukrainian state), and the UPA’s emergence and conflict with Soviet and Polish forces (for the most part) in the late war and post-war years. Bandera’s murder in Munich in 1959 by a West-Ukrainian-born Soviet agent Bohdan Stashyns’kyi (who was also responsible for the murder of his associate Lev Rebet in 1957) has added to the myth and the emergence of a modern-day hero.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact and its Aftermath

  • 50 Transcarpathia was incorporated in June 1945, by agreement with Czechoslovakia, and the Crimea was (...)
  • 51 Jan T. Gross, Revolution from Abroad: the Soviet Conquest of Poland’s Western Ukraine and Western (...)

40The period of 1939-41 is a critical one in Ukrainian history and for the OUN-B. It begins with the Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 1939, an event that led to the reunification of Ukrainian lands inside a single republic, similar to the borders of the contemporary state.50 This event has been the subject of an acclaimed book by the Polish-American historian Jan Gross, which provides an accurate perspective of the mixed blessings of Soviet rule for the local population.51 From the Soviet perspective, the Pact with Hitler was a strategic necessity that led directly to the “liberation” of territories that had long yearned for reunion with their ethnic counterparts in Soviet Ukraine and Soviet Belorussia. Some of these writings can be illustrated by examples from the late Gorbachev period, a time when the Baltic States had already renounced the Nazi-Soviet Pact as an illegal treaty that had led to the annexation of these states by Stalin’s Soviet Union through the use of military threats and the presence of the Soviet army. As a result, Soviet writings took on a more defensive aspect as it became necessary to justify what was perceived as an imperialistic piece of land grabbing. The period is also an important one for the OUN, which continued its underground existence at a time when all legal Ukrainian political parties were dissolved. Even the Communist Party of Western Ukraine (KPZU) had minimal influence since it had been officially terminated, along with its mother organization, the Communist Party of Poland, by the Comintern on Stalin’s orders in July 1938.

  • 52 S. Makarchuk, “Volya naroda,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 26 October 1988, p. 2.

41One of the earliest discussions of the Perestroika period to comment on the consequences of the Pact with Hitler appeared in October 1988 in a L’viv newspaper. The article, by S. Makarchuk, set out to explain how Western Ukraine became part of the USSR after the Soviet invasion of 17 September 1939. The historical context was that the Soviet leadership had extended “a helping hand” to fraternal Ukrainians and Belorussians living in Poland. The author decried Hitler’s earlier annexation of Austria, as well as the dismantling of the state of Czechoslovakia after the Munich Treaty, and the failure of Soviet-British negotiations, thanks to the lack of interest on the British side, in August 1939. The Western powers acted insincerely in the hope that Hitler’s forces could be turned against the Soviet Union. As a result the Soviet-German Pact was a “historical necessity” in order to win time and protect the Soviet Union in the event of an outbreak of war with Poland. However, Stalin’s collaboration with Hitler in dismantling the Polish state, according to Makarchuk, was “politically incorrect” and “destroyed the dignity of the Polish nation.” He cites Molotov’s reference to Poland as “the ugly offspring” of the Versailles Treaty. The author maintains that the invasion did not ipso facto attach Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia to the USSR, it simply created the prerequisites for such an action. He states that the concept of a union of these lands with the Soviet territories was not new, and had even been advocated by native Communists in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1936, the KPZU had spoken out in favor of the autonomy of Western Ukraine and even its secession from the Polish state. Its strategic goal by this time was union (or reunion) of these territories with the Soviet Union. In 1939, the “age-old dreams” of the Ukrainian people were realized, and the concept was extremely popular with workers and peasants. Makarchuk admits that the elections to the People’s Assembly in L’viv to decide the fate of the region were rigged, but he perceives no contradiction because the CC CPU was taking care of the people. The vote count was not distorted.52

  • 53 Cited in V. Bondarchuk, “Velichiye oktyarbrs’kikh dnei,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 28 February 1991, p. (...)

42A deputy of the L’viv city council, V. E. Honcharuk, addressed the “Act of Union” of Western Ukraine with Soviet Ukraine in a speech of early 1991. While condemning the crimes of the Soviet period, Honcharuk stressed that only under Soviet rule was it possible to unite the Ukrainian lands and Ukrainian people. He criticizes those politicians and historians who seek to diminish the significance of the October 1939 People’s Assembly that issued the decree on unification. He believes that such views were prevailing because some politicians are prejudiced against any measures that were introduced by Communists. He maintains that the allegations of illegal actions, falsifications, and Red Army interference in these elections are unfounded. In the past, Ukrainian residents of Poland had generally boycotted Polish elections, and yet in 1939 about 92 % of the electorate participated in the process. As for the apparent lack of democracy, Honcharuk observes, 340,000 people opted not to vote and a further 326,000 voted against the single list of candidates, which is an indication that dissent was possible. He acknowledges that at the time of writing, the Nazi-Soviet Pact was being assailed from various sides. Did this affect the unification of ethnic Ukrainian lands? He feels the answer is no because the decision to incorporate Western Ukraine was a reflection of the popular will.53 It needs hardly to be said that the accounts of Makarchuk and Honcharuk soon receded into the background, as more analytical studies were offered from the perspective of an independent Ukraine. They represented the last attempts to offer a Soviet perspective of one of the more blatant examples of Stalin’s empire-building.

  • 54 V. Kovalyuk, “Zakhidna Ukraina na pochatku Druhoi svitovoi viiny,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal(...)

43In this same year of 1991, historian V. Kovalyuk examined the impact of the Ukrainian question on the making of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. He agrees with the émigré historian Basil Dmytryshyn that the Ukrainian question was one of Stalin’s key considerations in pursuing an agreement with Germany. The Germans sought to use the Ukraine issue to destabilize Poland, thus using the OUN underground, but never contemplated seriously the formation of an independent Ukrainian state. The concept of an independent Ukraine could be used to prod the Soviet leadership into invading the eastern part of Poland, thus facilitating the downfall of the troublesome Polish regime. At the very outset of the war, Kovalyuk claims, Ukrainians openly expressed their anti-Polish sentiments. The Poles responded by arresting Ukrainian activists. When Ukrainians (and particularly those in the OUN) perpetrated violent attacks on the Poles, these were a direct response to Polish excesses: “Violence breeds violence.” The Red Army, in Kovalyuk’s account, had orders to avoid engagements with Polish forces provided there was no resistance to the invasion. Another order prohibited artillery and aerial bombardment of Polish centers. The Polish authorities took advantage of this mild approach to evacuate a large number of troops into Romania and Hungary. Kovalyuk addresses the question of the reception of Soviet troops in Western Ukraine, contrasting the views of Gross—who maintains that the welcome was quite warm—and Dmytryshyn, who asserts that there was little popular enthusiasm for them. Kovalyuk states that many people welcomed the Red Army, but members of intellectual and business elites, as well as OUN members, remained suspicious of the new rulers.54

44The Pact receives short shrift from historian Yurii Shapoval. He notes that Communists “then and now” have claimed that the Pact permitted the postponement of the inevitable conflict between Hitler’s forces and the Red Army for 20 months, but says that this is only part of the story. In fact, Stalin’s regime had violated the very principles of Leninist diplomacy that opposed any secret treaties. How can one ignore the fact that the Pact led to the dissolution of the Polish state, he asks? Such an agreement was brazen aggression that had little to do with the liberation of Ukrainian and Belarusian territories, particularly when one takes into account the NKVD reprisals against the local population that occurred after 1939. He also cites evidence that a part of the Soviet population had difficulty comprehending the rapid volte-face in Soviet diplomacy. NKVD monitoring of the population uncovered the following comment:

We older people became accustomed to many things under the Soviets. We learned not to be surprised by anything. But the young people are not only shocked, they are also angry. In the demonstrations of friendship with the instigators of pogroms they see treason on the part of the party leadership. We teach young people to hate Fascism and yet Stalin stands alongside these people.

  • 55 Yurii Shapoval, “Komunistychno-fashysts’kyi ‘roman.’ Podii 1939 roku ochyma komunistiv todi i tepe (...)

45Shapoval stresses that the secret protocols that supplemented the Pact—specifying the division of Polish and Baltic territories between Germany and the Soviet Union—were unknown not only to the population, but also to many Politburo and Central Committee members. They were thus manifestations of Stalin’s personal authority that did not reflect the mood of the people, who could not understand why it was necessary to form an alliance with the enemy. Shapoval discusses the disruptive impact of the Pact on Communist parties worldwide and the failure thereafter of the common front against Fascism. In fact many German Communists who had sought refuge in the USSR were handed over to the Gestapo.55

  • 56 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “I znovu pro 17 veresnya 1939 roku,” Istoriya Ukrainy, No. 38 (October 20 (...)

46So should the date 17 September 1939, when the Red Army crossed the Soviet border, be celebrated as an important date in Ukrainian national history? Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi calls for a thorough and accurate analysis of the various events. He looks in depth at the terms of the Pact, signed on 23 August in Moscow with a secret protocol that envisaged the division of “zones of mutual interests” between the two signatories. The second article of the secret protocol declared that most of the German-Soviet line demarking control was to run along the Narew, Vistula, and San rivers, with the larger part of Polish territory falling under Soviet control. Kul’chyts’kyi sees the Pact as the start of the Second World War (rather than 22 June 1941, the traditional Soviet starting point), and argues that Hitler hoped the Western democracies would simply swallow the occupation of Poland in the same way they had accepted—albeit grudgingly—the Anschluss of Austria and the incorporation of most of Czechoslovakia into Germany. On 3 September the German ambassador to the USSR, Count Schulenberg, requested that Molotov inform his German counterpart von Ribbentrop when Moscow intended to deploy troops to its section of Polish territory, as the Germans were concerned about a possible war with European powers. On 5 September Molotov had responded evasively without stating a precise date for the movement of the Red Army. On 17 September when Stalin gave the order to advance, the Soviet side depicted the event as a mission of liberation to protect vulnerable ethnic Ukrainians and Belarusians after the Polish state “had ceased to exist.” Therefore a media campaign was launched that condemned the Polish authorities for their brutal treatment of the Ukrainian and Belarusian communities. Though there was in Kul’chyts’kyi’s view some grounds for that comment, the issue had never come up publicly prior to 1939.56

  • 57 Ibid.

47German diplomats were disappointed with the publicly expressed Soviet perspective, particularly as Molotov admitted in his conversations with Schulenberg that the USSR hitherto had not expressed concern for national minorities in Poland. The new interpretation of the invasion forced the Soviet leadership to abandon plans to occupy Lublin and a portion of Warsaw provinces, as stipulated by the Pact. In a subsequent agreement of 27 September 1939 Stalin allowed Germany to occupy these territories in return for obtaining Lithuania. Hitler meanwhile was obliged to go along with Stalin’s wishes at this point because he could not risk a two-front war. As is well known, neither the British nor the French declared war on the Soviet Union after the latter’s invasion of Poland, and the Polish Government-in-Exile (which moved from Romania to France, and ultimately to London, England) was obliged to accept the situation, too. Kul’chyts’kyi acknowledges that initially the population of Eastern Poland welcomed the Soviet troops, and the Ukrainian SSR grew by almost 8 million people. Initially he perceives both benefits and drawbacks to Soviet rule from the Ukrainian perspective: standards of living rose and unemployment was virtually eradicated, and about 500,000 peasant families received land and property, while industrial goods began to arrive from Eastern Ukraine. On the other hand, repressions soon began against socalled unreliable elements. The Poles estimated that about 1 million ethnic Poles had been removed from their native lands but, Kul’chyts’kyi notes, the Soviet side remained unwilling to divulge such information. One should admit, he points out, that the Soviet authorities had played a crucial role in reuniting Ukrainian territories, but on the other hand it is also possible to comprehend why local Ukrainians offered such a hearty welcome to Hitler’s forces when they crossed the border on 22 June 1941.57

  • 58 Ibid.

48Kul’chyts’kyi also observes that some basic facts from this period have rarely entered the debate hitherto. On 31 July 1941, the USSR officially declared the Nazi-Soviet Pact to be invalid. In September 1941, the USSR joined the Atlantic Charter, rejecting the use of force to gain advantages in international relations. Thirdly, the conferences of the wartime leaders at Tehran (November-December 1943) and Crimea (February 1945) recognized Soviet control over formerly Polish territories, while the Poles were compensated by the return of western and southern regions that had been Germanized since medieval times. In conclusion, he believes that the analysis of the Pact requires a broad-minded approach. The historical circumstances of 1939 provided a rare opportunity to reunite Ukrainian territories and it was necessary to take advantage of this situation—Kul’chyts’kyi does not incidentally indicate why Stalin would have wanted to expand the territory of Ukraine specifically; particular given this same author’s depiction of Stalin’s hostile attitude to Ukrainians during the Famine of 1932-33. However, only at this juncture and under the corresponding circumstances was it possible to ensure international recognition of the new Ukrainian borders. Thus, had such borders only been changed in later years, as Soviet Ukraine underwent a metamorphosis into an independent state, the international community would not have supported such a notion. Therefore notwithstanding some of the negative connotations, 17 September is a great historical date for Ukrainians and should be celebrated accordingly.58 The logic of Kul’chyts’kyi’s argument is somewhat bewildering if one is to believe that violent annexation of territory rather than negotiated treaty was a means to ensure that most ethnic Ukrainian territories were to be included in what became the modern state. An argument could equally be made that according to the principles of the Paris peace treaties that followed the First World War, the independent Polish state had agreed to the autonomy of the large region inhabited by ethnic Ukrainians. Presumably what is behind his statement is an understandable reluctance to even broach the question of potential revisions of the borders of contemporary Ukraine. However, such a question—other than briefly over the future of Crimea in the early 1990s—has never entered public discussion.

  • 59 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykyii Vitchyznyanii viinakh (1939-1945 rr.) p. 146.

49The Nazi-Soviet Pact also changed the situation of the OUN, which faced a leadership crisis after the assassination of Konovalets’. Historian Mykhailo Koval’ provides an entertaining outline of the evolution of the OUN, including the period of the German and Soviet occupation of Ukrainian lands in the period September 1939 to June 1941. Koval’ notes that Stepan Bandera became one of the most important figures of the Western Ukrainian “national liberation movement.” “The intense winds of history,” i.e., the start of the Second World War, brought about a split in the OUN leadership. There had been serious differences regarding tactical strategy that manifested themselves at an early stage in the movement’s history. He points out that at the OUN conference in February 1940, the older generation of members supported Andrii Mel’nyk, but the majority of the attendees—young people of the democratic persuasion (he does not define what he means by democratic)—backed Bandera as leader. In April 1941, the followers of Bandera convened for the Second Great Congress of the OUN in Krakow. At this meeting Mel’nyk was excluded from the organization, and the OUN formally split into two wings: the group following Mel’nyk (OUN-M) and that following Bandera (OUN-B). The split was caused in part by disagreements concerning their respective attitudes toward Germany. German preparations for an attack on the USSR were well known and thus played a role in the key question of the leadership of an anticipated future independent Ukrainian state. Should those leaders be the veterans of the organization or the leaders of the younger generation? Koval’ seems in no doubt as to the correct answer to this question. The rift, which lasted for dozens of years, prevented the unification of all national liberation movements in Western Ukraine, thus enabling foreigners to take control of Ukrainian lands. However, the consequences of the division were not immediately apparent as OUN leaders wished to take advantage of an international situation that promised much for the emergence of an independent Ukraine.59

  • 60 Ibid.

50What Koval’ deems as requiring an explanation is why the strategic conceptions of the OUN anticipated that an alliance with the German dictator would be of benefit or advantage to Ukraine. He cites OUN leader Myroslav Prokop, who wrote in 1989 that in post-Versailles Europe only one revisionist force had the capability to start a war that could alter the international situation by force. Therefore the OUN oriented itself toward Germany and sought allies among the members of the German government. Koval’ also comments that the strategic thinking of the OUN was based on the ideas of Dmytro Dontsov, according to whose writings Ukraine would be liberated from the Bolsheviks “in the shadow of the German war in the east.” The Germans regarded both factions of the OUN as reliable partners in the quest to transform Germany into a great power. In turn, the Ukrainian leaders did not anticipate German aggression against Ukraine during the coming military operations. From a scientific perspective, Koval’ reflects, that paradox is hard to explain. In retrospect, it is plain that the OUN leaders would have little impact on the thinking of the Nazi leadership, but they seem to have been swayed by the old image of the relatively tolerant German leadership under Kaiser Wilhelm II that had seen German troops occupy Ukraine in the latter months of the First World War. Such naivety, says Koval’, betrayed a lack of political skill on behalf of the OUN leadership. However, the OUN-Nazi link emulated similar contacts by authoritarian governments of Central Europe during the 1930s. It should not be described as collaboration, in part because most of the OUN functionaries were not Soviet citizens, and even Stalin and Molotov had entered into a union with the Nazis—the logic of this deduction is somewhat hard to follow.60

  • 61 Yurii Shapoval, “Skazaty vsyu pravdu: do 50-richchya UPA,” Literaturna Ukraina, 1 October 1992, p. (...)
  • 62 Larysa Hupalo, “Vony polehly na Kulebakh,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 7 March 1991, p. 4.
  • 63 “Tsya pamyat’ rozstrilyuye hrudy,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 16 January 1999, p. 3.

51The period 1939-41 in the Soviet-held territory was a relatively quiet one in terms of overt activities of the OUN, the leaders of which for the most part had moved to the German-occupied lands. However, the political situation for the Ukrainian population in the Soviet zone soon began to deteriorate. Shapoval notes that one of the consequences of the Nazi-Soviet Pact was the deportation between the autumn of 1939 and autumn of 1940 of 312,000 families, or 1,173,170 people.61 Most of these early victims were Poles. According to another writer, V. Kovalyuk, who is commemorating the 50th anniversary of a little-known event, the first OUN encounter with the NKVD occurred on 27 February 1941, when seven young Ukrainians rose up against “the regime of Red Terror” on the farmstead Kuleby, located at the juncture of L’viv, Ternopil’, and Ivano-Frankivs’k (then Stanyslaviv) oblasts. Two of the rebels are described as “aliens” from Zbarazh Rayon. Kovalyuk portrays the protests as part of a struggle that had lasted hundreds of years and which was continuing, i.e., the desire for Ukraine to become a free country.62 In the summer of 1941, the NKVD massacred thousands of prisoners in West Ukrainian jails before retreating eastward. One article focuses on the exploration of the prison at Volodymyr-Volyns’k by the L’viv association Memorial. In 1941, the open prison gates confronted the new German occupants and civilians with the sight of hundreds of dead prisoners, but only twenty bodies could be identified. Likely, the author writes, these were not Poles since they had already been moved to the east or killed elsewhere. The skeletons all had a single bullet hole in the back of the head and the majority of victims were young men aged 20-30 years. “The memory,” the title of the non-attributed article states, “shoots right through you.”63

The “Akt” of 30 June 1941

52Easily the most controversial episode to this point in the war from the perspective of the OUN was the declaration of independence by supporters of the Bandera faction which had entered L’viv with the Nachtigal unit, accompanying the German army into Ukraine. That the announcement was premature seems self-evident looking at the event from the perspective of 65 years. Equally controversial is the aftermath to the declaration, with the eventual arrest of the OUN leaders, including Bandera who did not enter Ukraine; and the rapid demise of the period of cooperation between the OUN-B and the German authorities. Among Ukrainians today, one finds a broad range of views on the significance of the Akt from those who regard it as one of the most important events in the history of Ukraine—the prelude to what occurred in 1991—to those who maintain that independence was announced without popular support and under the auspices of Hitler, hence a signal of the close links between the OUN-B and the German High Command, if not the Nazi regime itself. Here we will look more or less chronologically at a sampling of writings on this event and its consequences, based both on scholarly research and more popular writings in the Ukrainian media, in order to assess the importance of the Akt for the modern state, and its place in the minds of residents of Ukraine, as well as being a symbol of national aspirations for an independent state during the anticipated opening of Ukraine and defeat of the Soviet forces.

  • 64 V. P. Troshchyns’kyi, “Proty vyhadok pro tak zvany ‘antyfashysts’kyi rukh oporu’ Ukrains’kykh nats (...)

53In an article published in May 1988, V. P. Troshchyns’kyi writes that just a few days after the attack on the Soviet Union, the Germans demonstrated definitively their negative attitude to the notion of creating even a fictional, puppet “Ukrainian state.” Berlin regarded the announcement of an independent Ukraine in L’viv “under Fascist occupation” as inexpedient. However, the Ukrainian nationalists continued to perceive their future through the instrument of Germany. That is why the Akt included the statement that the Ukrainian state would be closely linked with National Socialist Greater Germany which, under the leadership of Hitler, “is creating a new order in Europe and the world.” As to the immediate task, together with the independence declaration, the nationalists gave priority to the creation of a Ukrainian army, which would assist the German army and enter immediately into battle. When the Akt was announced, texts of the statement by acting premier Yaroslav Stets’ko were telegraphed to Hitler, Goering, Mussolini, Spanish dictator Franco, and other Fascist leaders. Troshchyns’kyi remarks that the telegram to Hitler referred to him as “our Fuehrer.” He concludes that the declaration of an inde-pendent Ukraine on 30 June was a propaganda action carried out by the German leaders through their agents, “the Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists.” However, it was never approved by Hitler. Despite such reticence, the collaboration continued, and according to some spokespersons among the nationalists, the lack of approval from the German leadership did not have great significance and the subsequent arrest of Stets’ko was nothing more than a temporary misunderstanding.64

  • 65 L. Chishkun, “Ploshchad’ Rynok 10, 30 yunya 1941-90 gg.” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 6 July 1990, p. 4.

54On 30 June 1990, activists from the Ukrainian Rukh and the Ukrainian Republican Party organized a meeting in the market square of L’viv. To commemorate the declaration of 30 June 1941, the black and red flag of the OUN was hung on a house in front of the tribune. Author L. Chishkun took exception to what he termed the “nationalists’ open-air history lesson” and accused them of falsifying history. He expressed surprise that one of the speakers at the meeting, Y. Nikols’kyi, should characterize the Akt restoring the Ukrainian state as an unknown page of Ukrainian history. In fact, he pointed out, the speakers took care to ignore “the treacherous essence” of the independent government of Stets’ko. In future writings, the “nationalists” omitted the third point of the Akt, i.e., the words pledging loyalty of the new government to the Third Reich, which is building a new order in Europe and the world, “and helps the Ukrainian people to liberate themselves from the Moscow occupation.” One of the major Nationalist myths, continues Chishken, is that of OUN resistance to the Nazis. He doubts that an independent Ukrainian state could have been proclaimed without the prior knowledge of the Germans and he accuses leaders of Nachtigal, like the future UPA leader Roman Shukhevych, of murdering Polish scholars in L’viv. Such distortions of history, in the writer’s view, had a clear political objective, namely to elicit Nationalist sentiment. He quotes one of the youth leaders among the Ukrainian nationalists as referring to a “struggle to the death with Moscow” and urging his compatriots not to get carried away with support for democracy or a parliamentary system.65 The purpose of this article seems clear: to equate the OUN-B closely with Hitler’s Germany, dispense with the notion that the Ukrainians only allied with the Germans in order to attain an independent Ukraine, and to undermine the emerging sentiment that the OUN-B represented interests that had come to fruition in modern Ukraine, now on the verge of independence. This was a fairly typical propagandistic piece of the late Soviet period. But how was the Akt portrayed in subsequent discourse?

  • 66 R. Rakhmannyi, “Vyznachnyi Akt istorii,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 30 June 1992, p. 2.

55One rejoinder appeared in mid-1992, a time when many of the more controversial issues of Ukraine’s recent past were questioned. The author, R. Rakhmannyi, attempts to make sense of the Second World War through the prism of the “Ukrainian Question.” In the author’s view, the date of 30 June 1941 ranks as the most important in 20th-century Ukrainian history, because it was on this date that the Ukrainians unambiguously charted their future path in the struggle for liberation. He perceives the war as the struggle of Western democracies to re-establish state borders as they existed in 1935, and to restore the Versailles system, which had ignored the principle of selfdetermination. The Atlantic Charter, he observes, speaks only of the restoration of states destroyed by Germany, Italy, and Japan. To the cohort of these states, belongs the “aggressive state” of Poland and “destructive” Russia, signifying that all those people “melting away in the Russian pot” were supposed to do the same in the future as they had done after Versailles, thus forming a single Soviet people. In this way, the war was completely anti-popular and totally unnecessary. Implicitly Rakhmannyi appears to be arguing that the war might have been just if the Ukrainian question had not been ignored. The importance of 30 June 1941 is that it revealed the real strivings of the Ukrainian people and augured the creation of the armed resistance in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.66

  • 67 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, p. 148.

56A more detailed account of the events behind the Akt is offered by Mykhailo Koval’. He writes that on the night of 29 June 1941, the OUN-B leadership took control of the city of L’viv in order to carry out the declaration of independence. Within seven hours after the German occupation of the city, the battalion Nachtigal, together with underground resistance fighters, fought with the retreating Soviet army, which departed from the city in panic and chaos. On 30 June, the OUN-B leadership met in secret, but with the knowledge of the German authorities, and declared Ukrainian independence in or-der to confront the Germans with a fait accompli. However, Koval’ writes, such insubordination elicited a sharply negative reaction in Berlin. It became clear that Ukraine had a new and uncompromising enemy that would adopt an imperialistic policy toward it. This reaction led to a crisis in German-OUN-B relations both in Berlin and with the occupation authorities. The message given to Bandera was that only the Fuehrer could lead the fight against Moscow, and Ukrainian allies were not needed. Therefore relations between the OUN-B and the Germans deteriorated and links between the two wings of the OUN also became more complex. The Mel’nyk wing was permitted to exist legally and collaborated openly with the occupation authorities, even though some rank-and-file OUN-M did carry out some acts of resistance against the new occupants. The OUN-B, on the other hand, suffered as a result of the Akt. Bandera and Stets’ko were arrested and sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, and they were later joined by several hundred OUN members arrested in July. In consequence, the OUN-B ordered its units to go underground and added the Germans to its list of irrevocable enemies.67

  • 68 Viktor Koval’, “Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiya: dovidka instytutu istorii AN URSR dlya Komisii Verk (...)
  • 69 Myroslav Kalba, “Hirka-pravda—zlochynnist’ OUN-UPA,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 25 June 1996, p. 2.
  • 70 Stepan Zlupko, “Ukraina v svitli nimets’kykh dokumentiv,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 28 June 1997, p. 2.

57Koval’s namesake, Viktor Koval’, provides a succinct account of this same event. On 30 June, Banderites entering L’viv ahead of the main German forces announced the L’viv Akt of the rebirth of the Ukrainian state and created a government. On 5 July, the members of this government were arrested by the Gestapo. On 15 September, before the capture of Kyiv, the Germans shot many OUN-B members, and Bandera and many of his supporters were taken to a concentration camp. On 25 November 1941, a German report was issued that warned of OUN-B preparations for an uprising in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine with the goal of establishing Ukrainian independence. It was therefore necessary to arrest all Banderite activists immediately and exterminate them in secret as thieves. Thus in December a new wave of executions began. The followers of Mel’nyk, on the other hand, operated freely on the territory of Galicia and in the Generalgouvernement, created on former Polish territories by the German administration.68 This account elevates the OUN-B to the main resistance force among the Ukrainian activists, and the OUN-M as the collaborators. A former member of the Nachtigal battalion, taking issue with a hostile account of the OUN-B written by Wiktor Poliszczuk, writes that although Poliszczuk has tried to implicate OUN-B in collaborating with the Germans, the two battalions formed, Nachtigal and Roland, did not commit a single crime against either Communists or the Polish population of Western Ukraine.69 Reviewer Stepan Zlupko, citing a book by V. Kosyk on Ukraine and Germany in the Second World War, likewise comments approvingly on the author’s contention that the OUN-UPA was a more dangerous enemy of the Germans than the Soviet Partisans. This same author evidently cited the OUN-B Memorandum of 15 June 1941 that an alliance with Germany could be possible only if the interests of both sides were respected.70 Both these sources offer a strongly slanted perspective of history.

  • 71 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “Kolaboratsionizm OUN-UPA: derzhavnoi zrady ne bulo,” Ukraina moloda, 8 D (...)
  • 72 S. Kul’chyts’kyi, “Akt 30 chervnya 1941 roku,” Istoriya Ukrainy, No. 23-24 (June 2000): 6-9.

58A more academic analyst, Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, for his part observes in a 1999 article that the OUN tried to embellish the Akt by removing the words expressing allegiance to Nazi Germany, which opponents of the OUN subsequently used as evidence of collaboration. However, the OUN-B, in this writer’s view, may have had little choice and it would be naïve to think that the Akt heralded anything other than a puppet state. Nationalists proclaimed the state, in other words, so that they could ascertain Germany’s intentions, and the German response accordingly deprived them of any illusions. As for the long-term consequences of the Akt, it convinced the Western allies that the OUN was indeed a firm supporter of Hitler, and this belief was supported by the barrage of Soviet propaganda that followed. However, the Germans came to realize that the OUN (he does make any distinction between the two branches) was the enemy and began repressions.71 A year later, the same author offered a more lengthy espousal of his views on the Akt in an article written for Ukrainian schoolteachers. In this article he states that between September 1939 and June 1941 relations between the Nazi officials and Ukrainian nationalists were practically problem-free. Since the OUN members were the enemies of the Poles, they were ipso facto the allies of the Germans. Although there was a formal ban on activities of non-German organizations on territories occupied by the Third Reich, the OUN leadership (Provid) in Krakow began to prepare the way for creation of future state structures in Ukraine. The OUN-B thus created the State Commission of the OUN, while the OUN-M established a Commission on State Planning. It was evident to both groups that a German-Soviet war would break out in the near future. The OUN believed that the Germans would support an independent Ukraine as it was in their strategic interest, and after the expected destruction of the USSR there would be a union of Germany and the enemies of Russia.72

  • 73 Ibid.

59Kul’chyts’kyi notes the similarities between the ideologies of German National Socialism and Ukrainian integral nationalism, and also the interest of the German special services in deploying the OUN forces on the territory of Ukraine. He adds that Ukrainians took part in preparatory work at instruction centers of the German Abwehr, as well as in specially created police schools and OUN organizations in Krakow. By the end of 1940, units of the Ukrainian auxiliary police had been created. Subsequently, in March-May 1941 two battalions—Roland and Nachtigal—were created in special detachments of the Abwehr. Clearly, Kul’chys’kyi believes, the Germans were exploiting the Ukrainian nationalist forces, but the latter were quite genuine in their desire for cooperation. He cites an NKVD document of 31 May 1941, stating that “the Mel’nyk faction openly supports links with the Gestapo.” On 22 June 1941, the leader of the diversionary administration of the Abwehr, Captain E. Stolz, instructed Bandera and Mel’nyk to carry out provocative actions in the rear of the Soviet army. These actions were reportedly carried out by Bandera’s forces in Galicia and Volyn, and by Mel’nyk’s troops in Bukovyna. Soviet sources, writes Kul’chyts’kyi, interpreted this cooperation in only one way, that of actions against the true interests of the Ukrainian people. This perspective was heightened following the 2nd Great Assembly of the OUN in Krakow in April 1941, which elaborated the tactics of the OUN-B for the immediate future, with the primary goal of establishing Ukrainian independence. Both wings of the OUN sought that same goal, but as German archival materials demonstrate, Kul’chyts’kyi writes, OUN-M wanted to expand Ukrainian lands at the expense of Russia, and with German support, whereas the OUN-B wanted to use its own forces to create the independent state. To the West, such distinctions were unclear, and the Western democracies did not generally see beyond the obvious: that the OUN as a whole was standing behind the forces of Hitler. In Kul’chyts’kyi’s opinion, the attitude of the West toward the nationalists did not change much even when the Cold War started; a state-ment that would not be accepted everywhere.73

  • 74 Of course the question of what was legal is surely up for debate. The city had been under Austrian (...)
  • 75 Ibid.

60Kul’chyts’kyi goes on to detail the specific events surrounding the Akt. On 30 June, Stets’ko, speaking on behalf of his absent leader Bandera, announced the Act of Independence, which was broadcast twice on a L’viv radio station, on the evening of 30 June and the early morning of 1 July. For several days afterward the Stets’ko government operated legally.74 This time was used to prepare the administrative apparatus and to form a Ukrainian national revolutionary army. On 3 July, the author reveals, Stets’ko declared that the Ukrainian state was part of a “new European order subordinate to the great Fuehrer of the German army and the German people.” To this point evidently the reader should consider the OUN-B as close partners of the occupants. However, on 2 July the Gestapo in L’viv informed Berlin about the formation of a Ukrainian political government, as well as its organization of a militia and a magistrate’s office. So, Kul’chyts’kyi asks: should we consider the Akt of 30 June 1941 one of the episodes marking state-creation activity of the Ukrainian people in the 20th century? Such a view is expressed quite often in certain literature, he adds. But the real goal was to force the hand of the Germans, who were not allies of the Ukrainian nationalists, but the conquerors of Soviet Russian territory. At the same time, Kul’chyts’kyi indicates that events happened with almost painful slowness—at least from the Ukrainian nationalist perspective. It took three weeks before Bandera refused to reject the declaration of independence, at which point he was sent to a concentration camp. Only on 5 August was the order given by the German army commander in Ukraine to arrest Bandera’s followers. At that time Roland and Nachtigal were disbanded. Yet the first mass arrests and executions of OUN-B members did not begin until mid-September, and the wholesale crackdown on them began only after 25 November, five months after the original declaration.75

  • 76 Bondarenko, “Istoriya, kotoruyu ne znaem, ili ne khotim znat’,” Zerkalo Nedeli, No. 12 (29 March-5 (...)

61Ukrainian writers continued to struggle with the events of this period, ostensibly in an attempt to reconcile a period of cooperation with the Germans and the short-lived Akt. The reflective and intelligent article published by Kost’ Bondarenko under the title “The history we don’t know or don’t care to know” has been cited above. Bondarenko rationalizes that after Poland surrendered, the OUN faced a situation in which one harsh ruler was replaced by an even more ruthless one. The Ukrainian peasants had long recognized two clearly delineated enemies: the Polish and Soviet authorities, but the new situation brought just one enemy: the USSR. Hence it became necessary to use the assistance of Germany to defeat this oppressor. He describes the beginning of the split in the OUN and how the dissenting group formed under Bandera was unable to reach a compromise with the forces of Mel’nyk. Nevertheless, he observes, both OUN factions hoped for a military victory by the Germans, and each branch cooperated with different sections of the German authority: Mel’nyk had close links with the Gestapo and the Wehrmacht, whereas Bandera maintained contact and worked with the Abwehr. He provides perhaps the key point in this whole debate, namely that Hitler’s state was far from monolithic and agencies could operate independently. Other historians have pointed out Hitler’s policy of “divide and rule” among his minions. Ukrainians benefited from such disorder but ultimately suffered for it as well. Even prior to the formation of the two battalions, one of Mel’nyk’s followers, Roman Sushko, formed a military unit called the Bergsbauernhilfe, which advanced as far as Stryi but had to leave the town in September 1939 as it had been designated as Soviet territory according to the Nazi-Soviet Pact.76

  • 77 Ibid.

62Bondarenko acknowledges that the Nachtigal and Roland units were accused by both Polish and Soviet historians of wartime atrocities after they entered Western Ukraine, including the execution of Polish officials and subsequently—in July 1941—taking part in pogroms against L’viv’s Jewish population. He notes that none of these accusations has ever been convincingly proved and that those who took part in these campaigns have been consistent in their avowals of innocence. He states that the battalions were disbanded in 1942—which is quite different from the August 1941 date cited by Kul’chyts’kyi. They were dispatched to Belarus, but most of the troops deserted and eventually found their way into the UPA. Concerning the Akt, he outlines the tactical differences between the two branches of the OUN at this time. The OUN-B’s plan was to accompany the Germans through Ukraine and to declare independence as they moved from one town to another. The OUN-M, on the other hand, considered the Akt premature because the declaration of an independent Ukraine could only take place in Kyiv. Both plans proved to be pipedreams because the Germans did not take such programs seriously. After the arrest of the 29-year-old Stets’ko in early July, the occupier concealed as far as possible the events of 30 June. Such a decision ran counter to the plans of Hitler’s associates such as Alfred Rosenberg, who considered that an independent Ukraine might supply some 4 million troops that could assist the German army in its push eastward. Bondarenko notes that the OUN-M leaders suffered dreadful fates and several were executed at Babyn Yar in February 1942. Like Bandera, Mel’nyk was eventually transferred to the Sachsenhausen camp.77

  • 78 Il’yushyn, “Natsional’no-vyzvol’ni prahnennya ukrains’kykh ta pol’s’kykh samostiinyts’kykh syl za (...)

63Finally, an account of the happenings of late June 1941 was provided in a scholarly account in Ukraine’s main historical journal by I. I. Il’yushyn. He lists the main events: Stets’ko’s proclamation of a Ukrainian state after a 23-year hiatus; the formation of a revolutionary army by Ivan Klymiv (Lehenda) on 1 July for the protection of the new state; and Stets’ko’s 3 July decree about the creation of a Ukrainian state administration. Despite the apparent initial success of the new government, he notes, the attitude of Ukrainian groups was mixed and dramatically different. The Banderites offered unequivocal support, while the OUN-M was strongly opposed. The supporters of the Hetmanate of Skoropads’kyi were also hostile not to the creation of a state per se, but to the way that the OUN-B had tried to bring it about. Many Ukrainians of the older generation were of the opinion that a long-term administration could only be constructed with the aid of the Germans. Documents indicate that a considerable portion of Ukrainian society of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia regarded the Akt positively, but the same cannot be said of Central and Eastern Ukraine, where the basic mass of the population felt that independence could better be attained by a struggle with, not alongside, the Fascists. What was the attitude of the German leadership, Il’yushyn asks? The German reaction was extremely negative. The Nazi leadership did not consider the Ukrainian people suitable for independent statehood. That is why on 3 July members of the Ukrainian National Committee and leaders of the OUN-B were brought to Krakow to explain their actions to the Understate Secretary of the Generalgouvernement, Kundt. A week later, a directive was issued by Rosenberg in his capacity as Reich Minister for Occupied Eastern Territories concerning the non-recognition of the Ukrainian government.78

  • 79 Ibid., p. 89.

64According to Il’yushyn, however, the mass arrests occurred mainly among the OUN-B, as the OUN-M managed to get its representatives into key leadership posts in the organs of civil government in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Zhytomyr, and other towns and smaller settlements of Central and Eastern Ukraine. Following the German occupation of Kyiv, the OUN-M, together with local Ukrainians, created on 5 October 1941 a Ukrainian National Council led by Professor Mykola Velychkivs’kyi. However, Hitler never agreed with Slavic peoples holding significant positions, and the Council proved short-lived despite pro-tests from the Ukrainian leaders.79 This account provides some new insights into the thorny issue of the OUN and the Akt of 1941. Clearly its importance has been emphasized over those actions that were conducted in Ukraine’s capital by the followers of Mel’nyk. It is the Akt that is becoming recognized in modern Ukraine as the forerunner of the declaration of independence of August 1991. Yet the episode represents no more than a small footnote in the horrific events of the German-Soviet war. The overwhelming impression from the overall discourse that has pervaded Ukraine since the late 1980s is of the naivety of the youthful nationalists who clearly misread German intentions regarding the establishment of the future state. Of unspoken significance is the fact that no Ukrainian state could in reality be announced from L’viv, which at best was the unofficial capital of Western Ukraine—and indeed only recognized as such by the Soviet creation of the People’s Assembly in October 1939. However, the ramifications for the future do not represent the most discussed issue: that position belongs to the alleged collaboration with a regime that has been consigned to infamy, riddled with war criminals, and forever linked with the events of the Holocaust and its death camps scattered across Central and Eastern Europe. This same issue was to plague the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) as well.


1 Nikolai Romanchenko, “Plamya,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 16 February 1988, p. 3.

2 Myron Sluka, “Palacha k otvetu,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 12 March 1988, p. 3.

3 P. Maksimyuk and G. Slivka, “Ispytannym oruzhiyem pravdy,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 20 February 1988, p. 3.

4 V. Zarechnyi and O. Lastovets, “Banderovshchina,” Pravda Ukrainy, 9 August 1989, pp. 3-4.

5 Ibid., Pravda Ukrainy, 9 August 1989, pp. 3-4; 10 August 1989, p. 4; 11 August 1989, p. 3; 17 August 1989, pp. 3-4; and 19 August 1989, p. 3.

6 A. Gorban’, “Krovavyye sledy banderovtsev,” Pravda Ukrainy, 11-12 October 1989, p. 3.

7 Visti z Ukrainy, No. 3 (January 1991): 1.

8 V. Maslovskii, V. Pomogayev, “OUN-UPA: Dokumenty svidetel’stvuyut’,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 11 June 1991, p. 2.

9 V. P. Troshchyns’kyi, “Proty vyhadok pro tak zvanyi ‘antyfashysts’kyi rukh oporu’ Ukrains’kykh natsionalistiv,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal, No. 5 (1988): 77-78.

10 S. Makarchuk, “OUN: Metamorfozy voennogo vremeni,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 27 November 1988, p. 3.

11 Wiktor Poliszczuk, Legal and Political Assessment of the OUN and UPA (Toronto, 1997), pp. 13-26. For a more objective account, see Alexander J. Motyl, The Turn to the Right: the Ideological Origins and Development of Ukrainian Nationalism, 1919-1929 (Boulder, CO: East European Monographs, 1980), pp. 142-143.

12 Roman Holovyn, “Pomsta za smert’ Ol’hy Basarab,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 13 February 1999, p. 2.

13 Mariya Bazelyuk, “Zaplatoyu nam radist’ borot’by,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 11 February 1994, p. 2.

14 Mariya Bazelyuk, “Z rodu Kravtsivykh,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu,” 22 February 1994, p. 2.

15 Leonid Cherevatenko, “Heznanyi voyak,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 10 June 1994, p. 2.

16 Roman Pastukh, “Za narod poklaly molodi zhyttya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 23 December 1995, p. 2.

17 Roman Pastukh, “Dva portrety narodnykh heroiv,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 22 December 1998, p. 3.

18 Peter J. Potichnyj, ed. Litopys UPA: Underground Journals from Beyond the Curzon Line: 1945-1947, Vol. 16 (Toronto: Litopys UPA, 1987), p. 112.

19 Myron Kuropas, “Free at last! Free at last!” The Ukrainian Weekly, 8 December 1991, p. 7.

20 Viktor Koval’, “Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiya: Dovidka Instytutu istorii AN URSR dlya Komisii Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy z pytan’ bezpeky vid 1 lypnya 1991 roku,” Ukraina i svit, No. 35 (18-24 September 1996).

21 Stepan Mudryk-Mechnyk, “OUN—kermanych nashoi borot’by,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 5 February 1998, p. 2.

22 Mykhailo Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, 1939-1945 rr. (Kyiv: Vydannyi Dim Al’ternatyvy, 1999), p. 144.

23 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “Za Ukrainu, za ii volyu,” Ukraina moloda, 31 August 2000, p. 10.

24 Kost’ Bondarenko, “Istoriya, yakoi ne znayemo, chy ne khochemo znaty?” Dzerkalo tyzhnya, No. 12, 29 March-5 April 2002 [].

25 I. I. Il’yushyn, “Natsional’no-vyzvol’ni prahnennya ukrains’kykh ta pol’s’kykh samostiinyts’kykh syl za chasiv Druhoi svitovoi viiny,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal, No. 1 (2003): 82-96.

26 “Yevhen Konovalets’: do natsional’noho kalendarya,” Literaturna Ukraina, 28 May 1992, p. 7.

27 Ihor Hulyk, “Yevhen Konovalets’—za Ukrainu i za ii idei,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 14 June 1991, p. 2.

28 Ibid.

29 Volodymyr Yavors’kyi, “Vin ne vpadav u vidchai. Vin borovsya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 22 May 1993, pp. 1-2.

30 Mykola Oleksyuk, “Ubyvtsya Konoval’tsya vidomyi,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 19 September 1992, p. 1.

31 Mykhailo Yatsura, “Vidlunnya zlochynu,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 23 May 1998, p. 2.

32 N. Karpova, “Vybor,” Pravda Ukrainy, 4 January 1990, p. 4.

33 V. Dovgan’, “Kem byl Bandera: shtrikhi k politicheskomu portretu,” Pravda Ukrainy, 13 December 1990, p. 3. In another article of this same period, S. Karnautska cites the proceedings of the interrogation of the Abwehr colonel, Erwin Stolz. Stolz states that in September 1939, after the defeat of the Polish army, the Germans released Stepan Bandera from prison and recruited him as an agent. S. Karnautska, “Portret bez retushi,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 8 May 1991, p. 2.

34 Ibid.

35 Ol’ha Ivanova, “Kto vin, Stepan Bandera?” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 15 (April 1992): 4.

36 Roman Pastukh, “Rodyna Stepana Bandery,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 13, October 1994, p. 2; 14 October 1994, p. 2; 15 October 1994, p. 2; and 18 October 1994, p. 2.

37 Roman Pastukh, “Sestry Stepana Bandery pereizhdzhayut’ do Stryya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 18 January 1995, p. 2.

38 Ivan Krainii, “Vo im’ya ottsya Andriya Bandery,” Ukraina moloda, 28 October 1999, p. 10.

39 Omelyan Kushpeta, “Znav ioho osobysto,” Literaturna Ukraina, 23 January 1992, p. 6.

40 Yaroslav Kitura, “Stepan Bandera—symvol svobody,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 4 January 1996, p. 2.

41 Petro Duzhyi, “Borot’ba za derzhavu tryvaye,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 1 January 1997, p. 2.

42 Nataliya Khramamova, “Rol’ Bandery: bez pyshnykh vusiv ta ek’zal’tovanoho patriotyzmu,” Ukraina moloda, 23 July 1996, p. 8.

43 Yuri Kril, “Stepan Bandera is back home,” Den’; The Day Weekly Digest, 15 October 2002 [].

44 See, for example, the vitriolic article by Nikolai Shybyk, “Porkhavka,” Pravda Ukrainy, 21 November 1989, p. 4.

45 Mariya Bazelyuk, “Khto vidvazhnyi, nekhai ide z namy,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 28 January 1994, p. 2.

46 Ivan Krainii, “Nevidomyi Yaroslav Stets’ko,” Ukraina moloda, 1 February 2002, p. 4.

47 Vasyl’ Marochkin, “Trydtsyat’ dniv z Mykoloyu Lebed’em,” Visti z Ukrainy, No. 27 (June 1991): 3.

48 Mykola Lebed’, “My znaly-nas chekae Ukraina,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu (22 August 1992): 1-2.

49 Halyna Hordasevych, Stepan Bandera: lyudyna i mif (L’viv: Piramida, 2001).

50 Transcarpathia was incorporated in June 1945, by agreement with Czechoslovakia, and the Crimea was transferred from Russia to Ukraine as a “gift” in 1954 to mark the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav. Otherwise the boundary changes that occurred in September 1939 basically were adhered to in the formation of the modern state.

51 Jan T. Gross, Revolution from Abroad: the Soviet Conquest of Poland’s Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002).

52 S. Makarchuk, “Volya naroda,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 26 October 1988, p. 2.

53 Cited in V. Bondarchuk, “Velichiye oktyarbrs’kikh dnei,” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 28 February 1991, p. 2.

54 V. Kovalyuk, “Zakhidna Ukraina na pochatku Druhoi svitovoi viiny,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal, No. 9 (September 1991): 36.

55 Yurii Shapoval, “Komunistychno-fashysts’kyi ‘roman.’ Podii 1939 roku ochyma komunistiv todi i teper,” Ukraina moloda, 22 October 1999, p. 4.

56 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “I znovu pro 17 veresnya 1939 roku,” Istoriya Ukrainy, No. 38 (October 2000): 9.

57 Ibid.

58 Ibid.

59 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykyii Vitchyznyanii viinakh (1939-1945 rr.) p. 146.

60 Ibid.

61 Yurii Shapoval, “Skazaty vsyu pravdu: do 50-richchya UPA,” Literaturna Ukraina, 1 October 1992, p. 7.

62 Larysa Hupalo, “Vony polehly na Kulebakh,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 7 March 1991, p. 4.

63 “Tsya pamyat’ rozstrilyuye hrudy,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 16 January 1999, p. 3.

64 V. P. Troshchyns’kyi, “Proty vyhadok pro tak zvany ‘antyfashysts’kyi rukh oporu’ Ukrains’kykh natsionalistiv,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal, No. 5 (May 1988): 79-80.

65 L. Chishkun, “Ploshchad’ Rynok 10, 30 yunya 1941-90 gg.” L’vovs’kaya pravda, 6 July 1990, p. 4.

66 R. Rakhmannyi, “Vyznachnyi Akt istorii,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 30 June 1992, p. 2.

67 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, p. 148.

68 Viktor Koval’, “Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiya: dovidka instytutu istorii AN URSR dlya Komisii Verkhovnoi Rady Ukrainy z pytan’ bezpeky vid 1 lypnya 1991 roku,” Ukraina i svit, No. 55 (18-24 September 1996).

69 Myroslav Kalba, “Hirka-pravda—zlochynnist’ OUN-UPA,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 25 June 1996, p. 2.

70 Stepan Zlupko, “Ukraina v svitli nimets’kykh dokumentiv,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 28 June 1997, p. 2.

71 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “Kolaboratsionizm OUN-UPA: derzhavnoi zrady ne bulo,” Ukraina moloda, 8 December 1999, p. 7.

72 S. Kul’chyts’kyi, “Akt 30 chervnya 1941 roku,” Istoriya Ukrainy, No. 23-24 (June 2000): 6-9.

73 Ibid.

74 Of course the question of what was legal is surely up for debate. The city had been under Austrian rule until the outbreak of the First World War; Polish after the Treaty of Riga; Soviet from September 1939; and was now Ukrainian under German auspices!

75 Ibid.

76 Bondarenko, “Istoriya, kotoruyu ne znaem, ili ne khotim znat’,” Zerkalo Nedeli, No. 12 (29 March-5 April 2002).

77 Ibid.

78 Il’yushyn, “Natsional’no-vyzvol’ni prahnennya ukrains’kykh ta pol’s’kykh samostiinyts’kykh syl za chasiv Druhoi svitovoi viiny,” pp. 88-89.

79 Ibid., p. 89.

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