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Heroes and Villains

David R. Marples

Chapter 5. UPA’s Conflict with the Red Army and Soviet Security Forces

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1This chapter takes the discussion and debates about the Ukrainian insurgence one step further, into the later war years, with focus on two major issues: first, it analyzes discussions of UPA’s conflict with the Soviet security forces and the Red Army; and second, it looks at writings on the alleged change of outlook and “democratization” of the OUN in 1943-44. It also examines the creation of the SS Division Halychyna, and its place in the narrative about wartime nationalist formations, and to what extent the Division occupies a place today in the nationalist pantheon. In the background were the epic events of the Second World War: the German defeat at Stalingrad and the Battle of the Kursk Salient in July 1943, followed by the lengthy and costly German retreat from the Soviet Union. Under these circumstances, the question for the nationalist forces was no longer the degree to which it was feasible to collaborate with the occupiers, but how to prepare for a potential new Soviet takeover. Ideologically, perhaps, the situation was more straightforward as the Soviet Union had always been the principal foe. In the changed conditions, the conflict became more extreme, particularly after Soviet forces arrived in Western Ukraine where there had been bitter fighting between Ukrainians and Poles (the subject of the next chapter), with the presence of a hostile population. Under the new conditions, the OUN-B, in particular underwent a partial metamorphosis to a more moderate and “democratic” ideology and the chapter addresses the continuing debate as to the extent to which this conversion was a genuine phenomenon or a matter of convenience.

The Long Struggle: Soviet Security Forces versus UPA

  • 1 The NKVD (Narodnyi komissariat vnutrennikh del: the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) was (...)
  • 2 Mykola Porovs’kyi, “Konvoi korovu z soboyu ne veze…” Visti z Ukrainy, No. 27 (1991): 1.

2The most documented and discussed aspect of Ukraine during World War II is the conflict that occurred in the later part of the war between the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Soviet security forces of the NKVD.1 The NKVD was not the only unit involved, many other forces were deployed against the guerrillas, including members of the Komsomol. Throughout the postwar years, the conflict was narrated in Soviet writings as one of patriots fighting against ruthless and treacherous bandits, who were tarred with the phrase “Ukrainian-German nationalists,” evidently coined by Nikita Khrushchev, the Ukrainian party boss in the late 1930s who was again sent into the region in 1944. It is also possible that it derives from Soviet propaganda organs. It signified that in official eyes the UPA was a close partner of the retreating Germans and fought on their behalf. However, this view was already being questioned prior to the end of the Soviet period. Thus in 1991, a people’s deputy from the Rivne region, Mykola Porovs’kyi, was reminding the public that the 30,000 people reportedly killed by the UPA—mainly party members sent to Western Ukraine—was the lamentable outcome of a fratricidal struggle initiated by Stalin and his cronies. He noted the crimes committed against the Ukrainian population by the NKVD and demanded the equal treatment of criminals irrespective of what parties or organizations they represented.2

  • 3 V. I. Maslovs’kyi, “Shcho na ‘oltari svobody’? Dekil’ka utochen’ shchodo viiny ‘na dva fronty,’ ya (...)

3Perhaps the most important article to appear on the subject in the Soviet period was that of V. I. Maslovs’kyi in the journal Komunist Ukrainy. Its appearance in this source indicated that the question was being discussed at the highest levels of the party hierarchy in Ukraine, with an eye to revising the official perspective. Maslovs’kyi remarked that the complexity of the acute political confrontation in the western areas of Ukraine needed to be reflected truthfully by social scientists and historians. Hitherto, discussion had been dominated by clichés and stereotypes. In the Brezhnev years, it had been a taboo subject, and the authorities limited inquiry by restricting or prohibiting access to special archival holdings. However, most people could now acknowledge the archaic methods by which the past was formerly studied; it had led to deformations or even outright falsifications in interpretation. The reason was that the authorities in the area of research and ideology did not like the truth about these dramatic events. By the late 1970s and early 1980s, the political struggles in Western Ukraine came under review, but there was still a marked reluctance to expose the social and political roots of the confrontations: their brutality and scale. It was now time in Maslovs’kyi’s view to begin the discussion. The Communist Party in the spring of 1943 had tried to avoid bloodshed. It published and disseminated slogans that guaranteed amnesty to UPA members and supporters if they would cease fighting. This leniency, however, was only one side of the story. Stalin and NKVD chief, L. P. Beria, undermined this humanistic decision and there simultaneously occurred illegal and inhuman actions. Thus Stalin and Beria essentially ignored the official decision to end the conflict in the western areas and escalated the violence. For the first time in an official narrative, it was suggested that anti-Soviet treachery was not the root cause of the violence in this region.3

  • 4 These were local forces coerced into fighting against the insurgents.
  • 5 Maslovs’kyi, “Shcho na ‘oltari svobody’?” p. 72.

4According to Maslovs’kyi, after the liberation of Western Ukraine from German occupation, it was possible to avoid large-scale conflict with OUNUPA since the armed underground and armed formations of the nationalists had begun to disintegrate politically, organizationally, and psychologically. At that time, over 13,000 UPA soldiers had given themselves up to Soviet organs. From February 1944 to 1 June 1945, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the NKGB, and the people’s “destruction battalions”4 had eliminated 9,619 UPA troops, 24,888 had been arrested, and 40,395 had surrendered voluntarily. These figures constituted some 74,902 men out of a total membership of 90,000. Thus by mid-1945, major formations of the UPA barely existed. Its remnants were forced to go underground and change their tactics. At this stage they were “brutalized and doomed.” However, by the end of this same year, these remnants had managed to fill the enormous gaps in their ranks. These reinforcements arrived in the shape of the OUN underground and those who wished to avoid being drafted into the Soviet army. As a result the armed nationalist underground returned to its original strength. Maslovs’kyi asks: how could this have happened? The main answer, he finds, lies in the massive reprisals against the local Ukrainian population initiated by Stalin and Beria. The first wave began immediately once the area had been cleared of the Germans and continued until the spring of 1945. Even in the autumn of 1944, reprisals had begun against the families of German collaborators and OUN-UPA members. Illegally repressed, with no resort to trial and adequate investigations, tens of thousands of people (including the elderly and children) were dispatched to remote areas of the country. Such punishment befell not only prisoners, but even those who had surrendered voluntarily to Soviet organs. Such measures aroused a wave of indignation and immediately increased the number of people in the armed underground. This factor was the most significant reason why 300,000 people came through the ranks of the OUN-UPA in the postwar years, writes Maslovs’kyi.5

5Having revealed such astonishing figures, Maslovs’kyi then tries to convince his readers that the pro-Soviet section of the population nonetheless constituted a majority. He writes that from the time of the liberation of Western Ukraine from the Germans, i.e., from February 1944 until the autumn of 1945, the Soviet army mobilized over 750,000 working class people from these regions, which was 95-98 % of those subject to recruitment. All reportedly fought bravely against the enemy, and half were decorated with orders

  • 6 Ibid., pp. 72-73.

6 and medals, including twenty-three that won the award “Hero of the Soviet Union”. In 1945, he continues, the Komsomol organizations encompassed 65,000 young Western Ukrainians, and in May of this year, the village Soviets employed 300,000 activists. By the end of the year there were 33,165 Communists in this region. By May 1945, 57,000 troops operated in destruction battalions, and organizations of women and the intelligentsia were growing. By the end of the 1940s, there were reportedly around 500,000 Soviet and Komsomol activists in Western Ukraine, and “it is an inviolable fact” that most inhabitants of the region had been consolidated to fight in the battle against the nationalist “bandits.”6 The figures seem inflated, but they only add credence to the perception of Western Ukraine as a mass battleground in the 1940s, especially at a time when the front had long moved forward, and well after the end of the “Great Patriotic War” following the April 1945 Battle of Berlin. Nevertheless, the Maslovs’kyi article marked a turning point because it ended the one-sided depiction of events and opened the way for further discussion of issues that had long divided residents of Ukraine. One now had a portrayal of more than one million combatants operating in a small agricultural region, flanked on the western side by the Carpathian Mountains, and with village after village divided in their allegiance, but no doubt more inclined toward native sons than to outsiders sent by the Soviet regime. There followed from the nationalists a sustained campaign to denigrate the Soviet forces.

  • 7 “Terror enkavedysts’kykh harnizoniv,” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 85 (September 1992): 3.

7An article reprinted from the Litopys UPA series noted that numerous NKVD garrisons began to appear in Western Ukraine from January 1946. The NKVD would drive local residents out of their houses. These garrisons were moved frequently from one location to another so that their members could not strike up an acquaintance with local residents. With their arrival, an “extraordinary state” was established in which people required a permit to travel from one village to another. Those caught at night would be arrested or shot outright. The main theme in this article, however, is that of the rape of women and young girls and sometimes even elderly women by NKVD men. To the incidence of rape is linked the transmission of venereal disease, which was allegedly brought to the West Ukrainian village by “the Bolsheviks,” since none existed hitherto. In every village that had an NKVD garrison, there were said to be 10-20 women with venereal disease. The article maintains that its dissemination was a deliberate plot on the part of the NKVD to infect local Ukrainians. On 22 June 1946, UPA insurgents detained an NKVD soldier with venereal disease and under interrogation he confessed that his task was to infect girls held in prisons. The NKVD is also charged with desecrating the bodies of insurgents. In the village of Oleshiv (Stanislav region), the NKVD men tied the body of a dead insurgent to the tail of a horse and dragged it through the streets. Dead bodies were also reportedly left along the roadside with inscriptions on them, while in Sambir cigarettes were inserted into the mouths of dead insurgents and used for target practice.7 The Soviet security forces are thus characterized as despicable and brutal in their actions against the local population.

  • 8 Ivan Bilas, “Protystoyannya: aktsii represyvnoho aparatu totalitarnoho rezhymu proty natsional’no- (...)

8The image was developed further in a series of articles by Ivan Bilas, which appeared in the reputable weekly of the Ukrainian Writers’ Union, Literaturna Ukraina. Bilas begins his account with the story of the most treacherous method used by the Soviet authorities to fight Ukrainian nationalists, namely the creation and deployment of special units that masqueraded as UPA members and as the security services of the OUN. The goal was to compromise the nationalists by killing civilians in the name of the UPA, as well as to eliminate the leaders of both the OUN and UPA. The beginnings of such an operation reportedly began with the dissolution of Kovpak’s Partisan Brigade and its division into mobile units on 20 September 1944. The goal of these units was to combat UPA insurgents, while the staff and property of the Kovpak brigade were transferred to the NKVD. In 1944-45, most NKVD attacks on so-called bandits and rebels took place in Volyn, Rivne, and Ternopil’ oblasts. Bilas cites a commander of a special NKVD unit in the Rivne region called Boris Pavlovich Koryakov (b. 1921, Gorky region), and wounded during the encirclement of Kyiv in September 1941. Under his leadership, the NKVD conducted some 200 operations in the Rivne region. Sometimes they posed as UPA insurgents to gain access into villages, and in this way they could inflict large numbers of casualties among the rebels. The victims of such operations, Bilas notes, were predominantly civilians, and sometimes the scope of the terror inflicted was so extreme that even the NKVD began to complain—this was the case in the spring of 1949. The chief culprits were “special units” of the MGB, created to “root out remnants of the nationalist underground.” Allegedly these units led to tensions between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of State Security because the former was in control of criminal activities, and the special units were committing robberies and murders. It was thus difficult to distinguish who was a mere criminal and who was acting on the orders of the MGB.8

  • 9 Ibid.
  • 10 Ivan Bilas, “Protystoyannya: aktsii represyvnoho aparatu totalitarnoho rezhymu proty natsional’no- (...)

9Similarly, on 9 June 1949, the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR, Tymofii Strokach, sent a report to his all-Union counterpart in Moscow, S. N. Kruglov, in which he complained that there had been several occasions when persons posing as MGB agents carried out robberies in Western Ukraine. The MGB had provided them with weapons but refused to clamp down on their ties to the criminal world. Consequently, these employees pretended to be OUN bandits and robbed and plundered the civilian population.9 Bilas clearly has perused the archives in depth in his coverage of the role of NKVD-MGB punitive and military units that operated in Western Ukraine as the Soviet fronts moved westward. In a subsequent article, he notes that there were a total of 26,304 troops of military police forces already in action by the spring of 1944, of which the largest numbers were in Rivne, L’viv, and Volyn oblasts. Two infantry brigades were about to be transferred to the region from the Caucasus, and a tank battalion with 22 tanks was also to be deployed. Later a further 7,700 troops were dispatched from Russia, and this large contingent would be increased each year to fight UPA insurgents until 1953. In general, these intruders, according to Bilas’s account, behaved barbarically. His examples, taken from the autumn of 1944, portray drunken state officials and troops carrying out rape and murder, executing the elderly, beating priests, and setting fire to property. In one case, in the village of Kryven’ke, Ternopil’ oblast, 60 NKVD troops under the command of a Major Polyans’kyi burned 45 households, 20 of which belonged to families of sons currently serving in the Red Army at the front. Several senior officials of the NKGB and NKVD were present during this mission, but did nothing to stop the provocative actions of Polyans’kyi.10

  • 11 Ibid.
  • 12 Ibid.

10Bilas points out that Western Ukraine, from the perspective of the authorities, was a hostile war zone. He provides stark statistics to illustrate this contention (taken from 1 January 1946, seven months after the end of the Second World War in Europe), citing the completion of almost 40,000 security missions, the deaths of 103,313 “bandits,” the arrest of almost 16,000 active insurgents, and the voluntary surrender of a further 50,058. In the second quarter of 1946 there were reportedly instances when Soviet soldiers fell under the influence of OUN-UPA and began to slander the kolkhoz system and demonstrate an unwillingness to fight the “Ukrainian-German nationalists.” One soldier, born in Gorky oblast, evidently commented to his comrades: “I am tired of this duty. Why did they bring us to Western Ukraine? We are fighting Banderites but they have done no harm to us.” Crime rates among these troops began to soar, and, as a result of the lenient attitude of some officers, a number of unit commanders had become morally decayed. Together with subordinates, they embarked on drinking sprees and often took part in committing crimes. Torture and abuse, says Bilas, became common in some units, usually involving drinking vodka or moonshine, and then abusing and raping women (including both pregnant women, minors, and the elderly), and frequently posing as OUN bandits. On 23 October 1945, Soviet troops broke into a local branch of the L’viv Historical Museum and stole 18 artworks. Some of the items were discovered after an official inquiry, but others were destroyed or used to decorate local clubs. Another such action occurred at the L’viv archives, involving Soviet cadets training to be military cooks who stole 128 valuable documents of Russian and Polish princes. However, the precise link between this event and those involving actions against Ukrainian insurgents is difficult to discern from Bilas’s text. Yet many MVD and MGB commanders operating in such capacity are cited as committing robberies, often furnishing their apartments with the takings.11 Alongside the rape and pillage there occurred the systematic deportations of large numbers of Western Ukrainians, which reached a peak of 15,597 persons in 1945, and in the period 1944-49 totaled 50,453 families and 143,141 residents. During the deportations, the mortality rates were very high, and many died from hunger and cold. At the special settlement, the regime was harsh and there was a high death rate. On 17 December 1948, Bilas notes, Strokach sent a letter to Kruglov, in which he suggested that as a result of the situation in the western regions of Ukraine, the return of those who had completed their terms in exile was “inexpedient.” On 6 April 1950, the USSR Council of Ministers issued a secret directive that revoked the original sentences and stipulated that there were no term limits on the period in exile.12

  • 13 “Emhebisty u formi UPA,” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 45 (1992): 3.
  • 14 Bohdan Pasichnyk, “Provokatsiya vyvirenym metodom,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 4 May 1995, p. 2.

11Bilas’s account is a very detailed one that offers a picture of the Soviet security forces as depraved and vindictive, while citing numerous examples of individual atrocities that he found in the Ukrainian Central Archives. It was published during the first year of independence in Ukraine’s main literary weekly, arguably the most authoritative newspaper in Ukraine (at least at that time). His articles describe a repressive regime clamping down on the “national liberation movement of the Ukrainian people,” but he seems to adopt a viewpoint that is based on a non-sequitur, namely that if the authorities are repressive, then the movement of the repressed is necessarily democratic and imbued with ideas of freedom and humanity. The question of disguise is also an important one, but raises the question of whether such a ruse could not be adopted by the other side, i.e., UPA insurgents posing as members of the security forces. It is also cited in the publication of an abridged version of the report that Koshars’kyi, the military prosecutor of Ukraine, sent to Nikita Khrushchev in February 1949, concerning the activities of MGB special task forces disguised as UPA combatants. This document enables the editors of the newspaper in which it appeared to brand all accusations against the UPA of crimes against humanity as deliberate falsifications of history. They adopt the perspective that all the crimes were perpetrated by the MGB to discredit UPA. Undoubtedly some were, but the statement is too sweeping. The editors cite from the report the detention and torture of individuals in Western Ukraine, many of which had no links to the Ukrainian underground. In general, the examples replicate those in the accounts offered by Bilas.13 An article written three years later continues this same theme. It was evidently provoked by a publication in the newspaper Vil’na Ukraina, in which an author wrote that an UPA unit had killed twenty-two civilians in the village Novosilky. It was based on the testimony of an H. Boshyk, who had witnessed the events in which his family died. The 1995 author, Bohdan Pasichnyk, refers to the Vil’na Ukraina article as a deliberate attempt to create a rift in OUN ranks. He maintains that it is a creation of Bolshevik propaganda, a fabrication that does not contain a single accurate sentence. He rejects the testimony of Boshyk, who was only 12 years of age at the time, remarking that international law would only consider the testimony of those over 16 years. How does the author know, asks Pasichnyk, that these were not NKVD men in disguise? He adds several examples of NKVD atrocities, and then comments that Boshyk himself belonged to a pro-Soviet family, and that two of his uncles had positions in Soviet destruction battalions.14

  • 15 Viktor Koval’, “Ukrains’ka povstans’ka armiya: dovidka Instytutu istorii AN URSR dlya Komisii Verk (...)
  • 16 M. V. Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh (1939-1945 rr.) (Kyiv: Vyd (...)
  • 17 Yaroslav Lyal’ko, “Vony povernuly nam muzhnist’ i natsional’nu hidnist’,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 12 Se (...)

12Several articles focus on the early days of the UPA-Soviet conflict and the goals of the opposing sides. Viktor Koval’ writes that by the start of 1944, the forces of the UPA had expanded substantially, but so had those of the Soviet Partisans. Following a raid by Partisan leader Sydir Kovpak into the Carpathian Mountains, the number of direct clashes between his unit and the UPA began to increase. In this author’s opinion, the Red Partisans appeared to aid the Germans against the insurgents. One assumes that such aid was indirect. An anti-Communist underground, Koval’ adds, was organized on the territory of Western Ukraine at the time of the defeat of the Germans and the arrival of Soviet power in the region. The UPA could not logically fight against the forces of the Soviet Union. However, the OUN Provid took the view that at the end of the war the empire would be weakened, or else Stalin would be obliged to fight a war with the West. Thus under these circumstances the UPA could lead the entire Ukrainian people for the attainment of independence.15 Koval’s namesake, Mykhailo Koval’, notes that the UPA was carrying out the orders of the central leadership of the OUN-B and the decisions of the Third Extraordinary Congress of the OUN (August 1943) (discussed below), which prepared the way for armed clashes with Soviet Partisans and the Red Army. The UPA’s achievements, he maintains, were remarkable and elicited as much concern from the Soviet authorities as the major conflicts on the war front. Its methods included poisoning soldiers garrisoned in villages and killing others while they slept (Belashivka, Rivne region, 9 January 1944).16 In these conditions, Khrushchev and his associates demanded ruthless treatment, including the hanging of captured prisoners rather than shooting, in order to intimidate the population. In fact, stresses one author, hardly any prisoners were taken as the NKVD simply killed all the insurgents that fell into its hands.17

  • 18 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, pp. 304-308.

13M. V. Koval’ states that the local population received the Soviet Army calmly and without enthusiasm, with most people staying in their homes and dealing coldly with soldiers and officers when they were forced to come into contact with them. In conversations recounted by Koval’ from local residents, many were afraid of hunger and famine if the collective farm system were to be introduced. However, although the Soviet regime assumed control, there was a competing power structure in all areas in which the OUN operated underground. Thus the rival network operated in apartments and lodgings, in forests, at regional, local and national levels. Even in those areas in which the Soviet authorities had a monopoly of power, there was “an invisible” OUN presence under the control of the OUN security service (SB). Practically on a daily basis for the following decade there were reports of the murders of party or Soviet government functionaries, as well teachers, doctors, and industrial leaders who arrived from the eastern regions; attacks on the lodgings of security and internal police officials; and acts of arson against collective farms, agricultural buildings, silos, and barns. Official figures cited by Koval’ note that there were about 14,500 terrorist acts carried out by the OUN in towns and villages, as a result of which more than 30,000 people were killed, including over 4,000 Soviet officials. Why did such a conflict occur? Koval’ believes that failure was guaranteed and the costs for the people would inevitably be high. However, the Bandera leadership was hoping for a Third World War and an Anglo-American victory. After 1943, the OUN reoriented itself from Germany to the United States, as the dominant world power. It faced a vindictive Khrushchev, who recommended the sort of “dirty tricks” vis-à-vis the local population as described above.18

  • 19 Ibid., p. 310.
  • 20 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “Ukrains’ki natsionalisty v chervono-korychnevii Yevropi (do 70-richchya (...)

14What occurred afterward, according to M. V. Koval’s account, was a decade-long “secret war.” The NKVD and MVD acted as if they were above party rules, took on the roles of both judge and executioner, and turned the entire territory of Western Ukraine into an alienated zone. He cites the notes made by Strokach, indicating that cities and villages were covered by a vast network of agents from state security that included more than 13,000 secret informers by 1945, and 22,000 employees of security and internal affairs directed into this area. The MGB went from one workplace and residence to another, arresting suspicious characters and deporting some 200,000 insurgents. By 1945, the authorities had introduced an internal passport system, and entire villages were denounced as being “bandit” communities. This conflict appeared more natural in the light of the developing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. Having followed the general inclination to highlight the deviousness of Soviet methods, Koval’ then makes a telling admission: there are signs that in its turn the OUN SB also used its own methods to divert Soviet agents. On 29 November 1944, a large group of “Banderites” dressed in NKVD uniforms and surrounded the village of Bilyi Kamin’, located between Zolochiv and Oles’ko (L’viv oblast) and shot 18 fighters from a counter-insurgency battalion that had gathered around a silo to deposit grain. This same author reports other similar attacks that offer a wider perspective of this vicious encounter.19 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi has also made the same point, namely that the UPA (in this case) did not hesitate to use terror to control the local population and Soviet citizens who were sent to work in Western Ukraine.20 In other words, although Soviet methods were arguably barbaric and ruthless, no quarter was offered on either side, as both agencies were seeking control—whether short or long term—over the territory formerly controlled by Poland prior to September 1939. The key question is whether the population was caught in the middle of two warring factions and obliged to choose one or the other side or whether it was a unified population, led by the forces of OUN-UPA in a quest for independence, which is the prevailing line of the more sympathetic narratives that began to appear in 1992.

  • 21 Ivan Krainii, “Ostanni z pidzemnoho bunkera,” Ukraina moloda, 15 November 2002, p. 5.

15In 2002, Ivan Krainii conducted an interview with the former UPA insurgent Mykhailo Zelenchuk, which offered a different perspective of the Soviet-UPA conflict. In Zelenchuk’s recollection, Red Army soldiers (as opposed to state security and internal troops) were reluctant to fight. Often, UPA troops and Red Army men would pass each other without firing. He concurs, however, with the reports of the vast network of agents and secret informers in Western Ukraine and offers examples, similar to those cited, of operations to discredit leading insurgents, as well as public displays of violence by the Soviet occupiers. Many peasants, he states, gave in or agreed to cooperate with the Soviet regime, but others continued to supply food and clothing to the insurgents. However, by early 1950 the informer network was so extensive that the UPA could no longer counter it solely with acts of terror. His own unit was forced to use different methods. In one village, for example, they discovered that the local priest was informing for the MGB. They confronted the priest and offered him a choice: immediate execution or confession in front of the villagers. He chose confession and betrayed the location of the radio with which he kept in touch with the MGB. Several days afterward the MGB arrested the priest for loss of the radio and he received a 10-year prison sentence. Zelenchuk also maintains that the MGB used forms of biological warfare during the conflict, including supplying clothing to the insurgents that was infected with typhoid lice. In his underground bunker, all the insurgents became ill through such schemes, though none died.21 The difficulty in assessing the nature of the Soviet-UPA conflict, inevitably, is the partisan nature of reports on both sides. Post-independence narratives have largely succeeded in depicting the Soviet forces as ruthless and cruel, and the stories of rape and theft have analogies in the way Red Army troops behaved when they occupied Eastern Europe in the spring of 1945. What remains debatable is the local response and to what degree it reflected the sentiments of the local population. Further, it is the vast scale of the conflict that becomes apparent from these discussions, particularly from figures on losses and casualties on both sides.

  • 22 Koval’, “Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiya,” Ukraina i svit, No. 36 (25 September-1 October 1996): 10.
  • 23 It is highly unusual to have a higher figure of dead than wounded in a military conflict, which ca (...)
  • 24 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, p. 305.

16Turning to the accounts by Viktor Koval’ (1996) and M. V. Koval’ (1999), we find a variety of figures that at first glance appear inflated. Viktor Koval’ cites historians’ estimates that in the period of 1944-45, the number of UPA troops reached a maximum of 150,000. The UPA “lost” 56,600 dead and had 108,500 wounded. A further 48,300 “Banderites” emerged from the forest after Soviet promises of an amnesty. He remarks that the Soviet side tends to overestimate the losses of its opponents and underestimate those of its own troops—the same clearly might be said of any participant in a major conflict. He relies instead on the figures provided by the UPA command, which reported that in 1946 there were 1,945 clashes in which the UPA sustained losses of 5,186 men and Soviet forces 15,645. In 1947, the respective figures were 342 and 1,406. The UPA reportedly attained such a one-sided result despite the fact that in Galicia alone in 1944, the Red Army contingent amounted to 200,000 troops, in addition to over 300,000 punitive detachments formed from Partisan units.22 M. V. Koval’ has added the following information culled from the recently opened Central Archive of the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation under the signature of Strokach: in the 21 months after February 1944, there were 26,685 armed operations against OUN-UPA. The “rebels,” in turn, carried out 6,128 operations. Up to that date, 98,846 insurgents had been killed, 104,990 had been arrested, and 48,800 had deserted from the Red Army. On the Soviet side, 9,621 people had been killed, 1,343 wounded, and 2,456 had disappeared.23 In one document it was reported that during eight months of fighting, 12,500 people had been killed, 146,000 arrested, and 66,000 rebels from UPA formations and underground sections of the OUN had surrendered. As the UPA losses began to rise, Koval’ adds, between 1945 and 1948 about 50,000 insurgents escaped to the West, while those that remained were reorganized into smaller formations. Some foreign reports are cited, which suggest that the UPA controlled formally or informally more than ten oblasts with a combined territory of 150,000 square kilometers, and a population of 15 million people.24 Perhaps this is a case of hyperbole, but these authors make a strong case for a mass movement and a full-scale military confrontation taking place within the confines first of the Second World War and later of the Cold War.


17Gulag literature pertaining to members of OUN-UPA is a developing industry. Such figures already had a place—albeit a far from predominant one—in the writings of Solzhenitsyn. Narratives that have appeared since the late Soviet period have begun to undermine the existing image of the Gulag camps. While they are still represented as slave labor camps in which political prisoners were hapless victims deprived of their rights, a new image emerges of camps in which Ukrainian prisoners were the organizers of resistance within the vast camp system, and were in many respects treated differently from the other inmates. In other words, the time when Ukrainians were present in the camps in large numbers has been linked to the resistance in Western Ukraine and was to some extent a continuation of the struggle against Soviet power and for Ukrainian independence. The Gulag experience also represents an essential part of the life story of “heroes,” or of insurgents removed from the battlefield in such large numbers that even in exile they constituted—or were perceived to constitute—a threat to the authorities. In terms of the construction of a national history, the story is important because it permits an uninterrupted narrative. Hitherto, many accounts of resistance in Western Ukraine after the war ended in 1950, and others in 1953. The death of Roman Shukhevych in a skirmish near L’viv in 1950 might be seen as the traditional conclusion to the epic struggle between freedom fighters and a repressive authority. However, through tales from the Gulag and the camp life, the long gap between the 1950s and the period of independence (or Perestroika, as the starting point for a revival of Ukrainian national consciousness) can be bridged. To do so, the Ukrainian experience in the camps needs to be singled out and made distinct from the general Soviet experience, a difficult task given the plethora of ethnic groups in the system, and the problems of offering any form of organized resistance.

  • 25 M. Buhai, “Deportatsii naselennya z Ukrainy,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal, No. 11 (1990): 21-2 (...)

18The question of deportations was dealt with in some depth in the late Soviet period by M. Buhai. According to his account the decision to deport families of UPA insurgents to the eastern regions of the Soviet Union was taken by the NKVD in March 1944. By the end of 1945, 967,085 families were living in special settlements, with a total of 2.3 million deportees from across the USSR. This movement of people occurred at the same time as the forced re-location of ethnic minorities displaced by the war, among whom Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, and Ukrainians figured prominently (discussed below). NKVD troikas and special councils of the MVD-MGB supervised the process. Once forced collectivization began in Western Ukraine—it began in earnest in 1948—kulaks and former members of the Polish army led by General Anders were also added to the mix. With the death of Stalin in March 1953, the regime’s attitude to the “special settlers” relaxed somewhat, and a USSR Council of Ministers’ decree of 5 July 1954 lifted some of the restrictions, demanding that party organs reintensify their efforts to reeducate deportees and promote their integration into “active political and social life.” However, such measures did not apply to the Nationalist insurgents, their accomplices, family members, and kulaks. Thus by the mid-1950s, 135,762 OUN members and their families remained in special settlements. On 15 May 1956 another government decree rescinded the restrictions on nationalist insurgents, and they began to return to their places of origin. However, the numbers were relatively small. By March 1957, the author notes, 20,043 members of the OUN, together with 22,497 accomplices, 1,666 German collaborators, 5,713 people who served in German military formations, and 6,416 people sentenced for anti-Soviet activity returned to Ukraine.25 The period of the most intense activity of nationalist inmates appears to have been in the 1950s, and particularly in the uncertain time between the death of Stalin and the issuing of the new laws as the Khrushchev administration began to distance itself from its predecessor.

  • 26 Oles’ Lernatovych, “Svityt’ zoreyu nadiya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 24 January 1991, p. 4.
  • 27 Roman Pastukh, “Orhanizator hulahivs’koho pidpillya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 15 June 1991, p. 2.

19A fairly typical example of late-Soviet period accounts is that of Oles’ Lernatovych, a native of Brody region who served in the Polish army and was taken prisoner. He comments that the German POW camps compared favorably with the Gulag. He was accused of belonging to the SS Division Halychyna (see below), and offers a recollection of brutal beatings and arduous work in the gold mines. He weighed less than 22 kilograms when he was in the camp.26 A resident of a camp in Irkutsk, Mykhailo Lutsyk, was the subject of an article by Roman Pastukh in early 1991, who offers a stirring story of Lutsyk’s early career working for the OUN cause. In 1943, it is reported, Lutsyk led an UPA unit that freed 500 POWs from a German labor camp. In the following year he was betrayed by a former POW and arrested by the NKVD in Transcarpathia. In the camp he met a Ukrainian inmate who informed him that the camp guards had massacred inmates after they started a brawl, and only one person survived under a pile of corpses. To protect inmates from a similar fate, Lutsyk decided to organize an underground cell for Ukrainian nationalists, which was called the Ukrainian Liberation Organization (UVO) and founded in July 1945. In the cell, every member knew no more than four of his comrades. When prisoners were transferred to other camps, members of UPA were added to the list in order to organize new cells. In his next camp Lutsyk organized an “academy” and taught history, philosophy, and law so that inmates could defend themselves at interrogations. They learned to make weapons, and reportedly could raise six to seven divisions in the camps. Yet the secrecy level was so high that the NKVD could not penetrate the movement. This organization, it is stated, lasted until the summer of 1953, when strikes began in the Gulag and many prisoners died. In 1957, Lutsyk was rearrested and accused of membership in the UVO, insurgency, and terrorism, and received a sentence of fifteen years, which he served in full before being placed in a psychiatric hospital for a further five years.27

  • 28 Bohdan Pavliv, “I perevernem zaharbnyts’kyi svit: spomyn chlena OUN,” Literaturna Ukraina, 15 Octo (...)

20The story of Lutsyk contains most of the ingredients of legend: heroic activities, followed by arrest, but continued resistance in the camp, and longterm persecution by the authorities. In the early years of independence, the literary weekly published the memoirs of Bohdan Pavliv, a native of L’viv region, which provide a much more detailed depiction of the role of insurgents in the Soviet camp system. Pavliv had joined the OUN at the age of 17 and took the alias “Zenko.” His responsibilities included gathering information about events in the L’viv countryside and informing his superiors about measures taken by the authorities. In 1950, he entered the Department of English Language at L’viv University, but he was arrested in April 1951. His elderly parents were sent to Siberia and he was placed in a labor camp. After his release he worked at construction jobs in Irkutsk and Kyiv. In his later years he joined the Ukrainian Republican Party and he was officially rehabilitated in 1991. Recalling the early illusions of the insurgent movement, Pavliv recounts that by the end of 1946, it had become clear to all that there would be no Third World War, and that the OUN could not count on any allies in the struggle against the “Russian-Bolshevik Empire.” Therefore the OUN leadership began to train a younger generation to lead a legal existence while at the same time carrying out clandestine work. In the postwar years in Western Ukraine, Lutsyk recalls, the NKVD took special measures to disrupt any contacts between the local population and the underground. The group with which he was in contact was eventually exposed, and encircled by the NKVD in the spring of 1950. Those arrested were tortured and one revealed Lutsyk’s name. He was convicted under Articles 58-1 and 58-11 of the Soviet Criminal Code: treason and membership in the OUN. His sentence was 25 years in the camps and five years in exile.28

  • 29 Ibid.

21Having arrived at the Kamyshlag camp in Kemerovo oblast of Siberia, Lutsyk noted that he realized that its purpose was to use prisoners for work in the nearby coal mines. The authorities had evidently sent active young inmates there, most of whom were Ukrainian, with convoys arriving from all over Western Ukraine. Formerly, the inmates had been composed of intelligentsia and peasants, who felt they had been sent there by mistake and were inclined to behave passively. As in other camps, the administration used regular criminals to subdue the political prisoners. The criminals occupied the best positions and enjoyed privileges, whereas politicals were generally fearful and hungry. However, in 1949-53 the situation changed dramatically. Young people from the UPA arrived in the camps, but by this time they also had some experience of Soviet schools and knew some of the methods that would be employed in the camps. The camp administrators soon recognized that it was no longer possible to browbeat prisoners and that there was always a possibility that their weapons might end up in prisoners’ hands. Conditions were as harsh as in the past: a 12-hour working day; searches in the morning and evening; hard labor; camp food consisting of sardines and porridge, 450 grams of bread, 9 grams of sugar, and 2 grams of oil; sleeping at night with lights on; the receipt of one letter per year; and no visitors. The insurgents, says Lutsyk, kept together to survive the cruelty of the criminals. Unfortunately, he adds, political prisoners from the Caucasus were not “on our side” and the Chechens and Ingushi were particularly hostile. The Baltic groups were neutral and the Belarusians sympathetic, but essentially the Ukrainians were alone. Skirmishes and full-scale conflicts occurred with the criminals, usually with the camp authorities taking the latter’s side. As a result, many insurgents received extended sentences.29

  • 30 Ibid.

22In 1953, as Stalin approached his death, Ukrainian coal miners from the camps were the main organizers of a strike that put forward both economic and political demands. The strike began in Vorkuta on 3 March, and Lutsyk remembers how the authorities tried to prevent other prisoners from contact with the OUN. The situation, however, was unclear. Fellow Ukrainians had informed the strikers of Stalin’s illness and they also had information from the radio. The camp appeared to be under the control of professional criminals. On the morning of Stalin’s death, the camp leaders singled out 100 men, provided them with dry rations and marched them into the tundra. They began to sing insurgent songs, believing that they were about to be executed, but after an hour of wandering they were escorted back to the camp. NKVD officers confronted the prisoners, but ultimately they were afraid of the influence that the Bandera men would have on other prisoners and moved them to a power plant construction site by the Vorkuta River. Reportedly this was a site deployed as a center for the most troublesome inmates from other camps, too. After Stalin died and Beria was arrested, the author recalls, they felt sure they would be released, and together with other groups—including Russians, Germans, and inmates from the Caucasus and Central Asia—a delegation was sent to the camp administration with a demand to release all political prison-ers. This demand was refused. The OUN group formed a committee led by “Sasha” Babinchuk, which elaborated a plan for easing work conditions until the prisoners were released. This included not locking the barracks, removing inmates’ numbers, permitting correspondence with relatives on a monthly basis, and allowing visitors. Other mines, lacking the same discipline, entered into direct conflict with their guards and 60 were killed and hundreds injured as a result. When the amnesty was issued, it was offered only to those convicted of minor non-political crimes and to German POWs.30

  • 31 Ibid.

23According to Lutsyk, the critical issue at this time was to maintain a grip on events that were happening all-too quickly. A promising sign was the increasing criticism of Stalin. However, he considered the most advantageous development to be the rise of nationalism in the Third World. It reinforced his belief that the foundations of “our Ukrainian nationalism” were becoming a global phenomenon, and that the national-liberation ideology was not reactionary but held true for all oppressed nations. It is somewhat unclear whether the reference to the “Third World” is applied to less-developed countries as is sometimes implied by this term. It may refer rather to nations besides the Super Powers. By this time (after the 20th Party Congress of the CC CPSU in 1956), discipline in the camps had loosened considerably, and it was possible to dress in civilian clothing, grow one’s hair, and visit the city twice a week, as well as subscribe to newspapers and magazines. Lutsyk’s sentence was shortened by 15 years, and for good behavior, one day of a sentence would be counted as three. After a meeting with a camp committee—it comprised 10-12 men in civilian clothes—Lutsyk was released on 7 July. “My joy was unspeakable, but Ukraine was still occupied.” The release was a result, he says, partly of “our own efforts.” A difficult life lay ahead, but they were ready to continue the great ideals and goals of their struggle.31 Again, the image presented is that of a protracted engagement that transcended the period of documented conflict between nationalist insurgents and the Soviet regime, with incarcerated prisoners keeping their cause alive while in captivity and claiming to represent the interests of Ukraine the nation rather than that of the relatively small area of the uprising.

  • 32 Yaroslav Demchyna, “Dolyna smerti,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 16 February 1995, p. 2.
  • 33 Tetyana Kharchenko, “Mizh povstantsiamy i chervonymy partyzanamy nemaye niyakoho antahonizmu,” Ukr (...)

24Other accounts of camp life for insurgents have surfaced periodically. In the mid-1990s a former inmate recounted his experience in the Spask camp, some thirty miles south of Karaganda in Kazakhstan. He maintains that it was a death camp like Auschwitz, in which people were killed by hard labor. He was sent there in 1949, together with 10,000 political prisoners. The camp was run by a Major Vorobyev, and each prisoner had an ID number attached to his clothing and hat. Adjacent to the camp was a women’s gulag, in which Ukrainian nationalist women were singled out for violent abuse. He reports that they would be sent into a camp for common criminals for a night and raped. “The guards laughed: ‘Let the fellows have some fun with these Bande-rites. They wanted an independent Ukraine’.”32 More recently an interview was held with Mykola Symchych, an insurgent who spent a total of thirty-two years in Soviet camps and prisons. His unit was encircled by MGB troops on a cold winter night and he was taken prisoner in an unconscious state after the house in which he was staying was set on fire. He was placed in IvanoFrankivs’k prison where MGB officers tried to persuade him to defect. Following his refusal he received a 25-year sentence in the Gulag. He maintains that in 1953, the Bandera prisoners rose up against the criminals; and for his participation in this clash, Symchych received an additional ten years to his sentence. He was transferred to Kolyma to extract lime, which brought on lung disease. His group refused to work there and received a further five years each. Later he served time in Perm region where he encountered many of the so-called 60ers. He portrays these dissidents as successors to the UPA, people who enabled the world to learn about the Ukrainian liberation movement. The author refutes the possible impression that the UPA looked down on the 60ers as Soviet people rather than sincere nationalists. Rather the dissidents were the carriers of the national message into a new generation.33

SS Division Halychyna

25While the quest for recognition of UPA insurgents as Second World War veterans continues to elicit disputes in Ukraine, the position of the former members of the SS Division Halychyna is considerably more difficult. Formed in 1943 through negotiations between the Germans and the Ukrainian Central Committee in Krakow, its members were cited in Soviet propaganda as the worst form of traitors: not only had they joined directly with the German army, they had linked-up with the SS, an organization guilty of some of the most heinous crimes against humanity. Several authors have offered Englishlanguage monographs on the topic and offered a variety of conclusions for the reader as to whether the Division was simply an effort to form a national army that would be directed solely against the incoming Red Army; or whether it represented a more sinister form of collaboration.34 The Division’s official title was the 14th Waffen-Grenadier Division of the SS, Halychyna No. 1, and it later became the 1st Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army. It was formed as the Germans belatedly tried to solicit the help of Soviet nationalities after the failure at the Battle of Stalingrad. Its organizer was the governor of Galicia, Otto von Waechter, who worked closely with the chairman of the Ukrainian Central Committee, Volodymyr Kubiiovych. Though many thousands volunteered to join the Division, its final contingent was around 18,000 troops, with three regiments of infantry, one of artillery, and one of training reserves. The title “Halychyna” (Galicia) was used either because the Germans wished to avoid direct use of the more inflammatory “Ukrainian” or to ensure tighter German control. Attached to the German 13th Army Corps, the Division was encircled by Soviet forces near Brody in the summer of 1944 and routed. It was later reformed and transferred to Slovakia, and in March 1945, the Germans declared the formation of a Ukrainian National Army un-der General Pavlo Shandruk to which the Division was attached. With the defeat of Germany and the loss of the war in Europe, a large portion of Division troops surrendered to the British. The POWs spent almost two years in Italy and were eventually permitted to enter the UK. Subsequently, many immigrated to North America.35

  • 36 K. Doroshenko, “Pamyatnik fashistskim prikhvostnyam,” Pravda Ukrainy, 25 May 1991, p. 3.

26In the Soviet period, nothing of a positive nature appeared in official propaganda about the Division. Even at the end of the Soviet period, reports were uniformly hostile. One writer, for example, expressed fury at the erection of a monument to casualties of the Division in the village Yaseniv, Brody region, L’viv oblast. The author maintains that the Germans used the Division as a terrorist instrument against those who were defying German rule, and provides an excerpt from a chronicle of the Division’s activities that tells of driving Poles in the region of the city of Ternopil’ into a church and massacring them. The author writes that the archives objectively tell the story of a special commando unit from the Division that killed 1,500 civilians in L’viv, shooting Soviet POWs in Zolochiv, and of its members burning the settlement of Oles’ko, causing the deaths of 300 inhabitants. Its members are even accused of rounding up people for slave labor work in Germany. All the commanding positions in the Division, this same article reports, were held by Germans, and SS chief Heinrich Himmler had expressly forbidden the use of the term “Ukraine” and its derivatives when creating the unit.36

  • 37 See, for example, John-Paul Himka, “A Central European Diaspora under the Shadow of World War II: (...)
  • 38 Yurii Pryhornyts’kyi, “Ivan Oleksyn: Use zhyttya borovsya za Ukrainu. Dyviziya ‘Halychyna’. Yak ts (...)

27Ostensibly, the raison d’être of the Division was to create a national army that would be used to defend native territory against the Soviets. Its members have been identified by historians with the Mel’nyk branch of the OUN, which was prepared to cooperate with the German occupiers long after the Bandera wing turned hostile.37 Its members have not been found guilty of war crimes. Indeed the Deschenes Commission in Canada, investigating such assertions in 1985, found no evidence to suggest that Division members had taken part in atrocities, guarded camps, etc. However, whatever its motives, by choosing to fight on the German side to attain its objectives, the Division would always be treacherous in Soviet eyes, and far from reputable in the eyes of neutrals. Many Ukrainians today appear divided in their assessments of the motives behind the creation of the Division and whether they were justified. In mid-June 1992, Literaturna Ukraina offered an interview with a former participant, Ivan Oleksyn, then president of the Ukrainian Fraternal Association in the United States and a man who was well-known for providing aid to the victims of the 1986 disaster at Chornobyl. The interviewer cited earlier comments from the newspaper Visti z Ukrainy (Kyiv) from 1979-80, which had referred to Oleksyn as an “SS-ite” and “Nazi stool pigeon.” He then adds the following by way of an introduction: “Today most of our people know what the UPA fought for. But an understanding of what led Ukrainians into regular military formations needs to be developed.” Oleksyn responds by saying that when the war began in Galicia, some people developed the idea of creating the UPA and others the Division. The political organizations of Bandera and Mel’nyk backed the insurgent army in order to mount a struggle against both enemies. Others considered that forces were too deficient to fight on two fronts, and no assistance to the Ukrainians was forthcoming from other states. So it was resolved to form a division with the German army—there was no alternative, he states, to a civil conflict.38

  • 39 Ibid.

28As the interview continues, Oleksyn is asked what the “SS” denotes in SS Division Halychyna. He responds that it did not have this name, but was the First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army (in fact, it took that name only in 1945) and Ukrainian troops did not have the SS insignia on their uniforms. Its goal, in contrast to those depicted in Communist propaganda, was the struggle for Ukraine, to free it from the “Bolshevik yoke.” Each member considered himself an inheritor of the mantle of the Sich Sharpshooters of the First World War, and had no wish to assist the Germans. As for the UPA, Oleksyn says that “we supported it” and many Division members eventually found their way into its ranks. Toward the end of the war, they found themselves in Austria, close to the border with Yugoslavia. But no one believed it was really the end of the war. Everyone “was convinced” that the United States would refuse to countenance the Soviet takeover of Central and Eastern Europe. After the 1945 Yalta summit, however, people recognized that a new situation had arisen. Many troops had died at Brody, because after the first engagement the Germans had retreated, leaving the Division to face the Soviet army. Many had subsequently been interned at the large camp in Rimini, Italy. Concerning his own and his associates’ attitude to Hitler, Oleksyn responds that they believed he could not win the war. If matters had developed differently, then the Division might have turned arms against the Germans, except the latter had convinced the Ukrainians that they supported the idea of the liberation of Ukraine. Later, “when we realized that Hitler had other plans,” many members went into the UPA and led the battle on two fronts.39 The interview stretches the bounds of credibility at times. One wonders how in the summer of 1943 it was possible to believe that Hitler and the Germans supported the concept of Ukrainian independence. By this time both leaders of the OUN were confined in Sachsenhausen, the abortive declaration of independence in June 1941 was becoming a distant memory, and the concept of new collaboration was clearly induced by the changing circumstances of the war, i.e., with the Germans retreating and the Red Army advancing rapidly.

  • 40 Vasyl Veryha, “Im prysvichuvala velyka ideya…. Dyviziya ‘Halychyna’, yak tse bulo,” Literaturna Uk (...)

29Another article by Vasyl’ (Wasyl) Veryha in the same newspaper continues the theme, stating that the insurgency of the “sharpshooters division ‘Halychyna’” in the summer of 1943, when all of Ukraine was occupied by the Germans and “Red Moscow imperialism,” should be interpreted as a continuation of the struggle of the Ukrainian people for independent state life. Ukrainian youth, especially those in the Western territories, had been educated in the traditions and legends of the Liberation War of 1918-21. In 1941, when war broke out, “all Ukrainian people” sympathized with the Germans. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians in the Soviet army crossed the border to the German side, believing that the time had come for Ukrainian independence. However, by the end of 1941, it was revealed that an inde-pendent and sovereign Ukrainian state was not in the plans of the Germans. Ukraine had been transferred into an exploited colony, under the guise of the Reichskommissariat Ukraine run from the town of Rivne. On 2 February 1943, following the German defeat at Stalingrad, Ukrainians again faced the question “What is to be done?” In the following month, the German administration of Galicia took into account the fact that Ukrainians were prepared to take up arms in the struggle with Bolshevism and turned to the Ukrainian Central Committee under Kubiiovych. The proposition was to create a Ukrainian armed formation, one division in size. While it is true, writes Veryha, that the Germans made the proposal for their own political ends, leading Ukrainian circles accepted it for their own ideological reasons. A partisan struggle could not continue without a regular army, and Ukrainian leaders—especially veterans of the struggle of 1918-20—maintained that Germany could either conclude a peace preserving some of its occupied regions or else it would collapse, leaving behind a chaotic situation in Eastern Europe. How would Ukrainians respond?40

  • 41 Ibid.

30Veryha’s response, in defense of the Division, is as follows. In the first scenario, the Division would stand as a Ukrainian people’s army to restore and strengthen the independent state, similar to the way the Sich Sharpshooters operated after the First World War. In the second case, it was evident that Ukrainians required an armed formation in order to protect people and property from the Germans before the possible chaos of a revolution. A request was made to the Germans that the Division would only be used on the Eastern Front against the Bolsheviks, and never against the Western allies. It was clear, he writes, that the Division was not part of the structure of a German New Europe, but operated only in the interests of the Ukrainian people. Ukrainian military leaders had approved contacts with the Western allies. The Division was met with hostility by the Soviet Partisans under Kovpak, and by the Polish Government-in-Exile. However, Ukrainian young people supported it because it was Ukrainian, not because it was part of the SS. Again the question arose: Why the title SS? Veryha’s response is that the Division was given this name “against the will of Ukrainians.” But it was only a formal title and had no links with Nazi ideology or implications of subordination to the Nazi party. Officially, its title was the Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS rather than the SS Grenadier Division as was traditional for German organs. Its soldiers did not have the right to wear the SS emblem and bore the gold and blue color of Ukraine.41 Thus runs Veryha’s essentially defensive justification for the existence of the Division.

  • 42 Heike, The Ukrainian Division ‘Galicia’.
  • 43 Yuri Pryhornyts’kyi, “Shcho ikh velo u dyviziyu?” Literaturna Ukraina, 14 January 1993, p. 6.

31Yurii Pryhornyts’kyi took up the same cause some six months later. Until recently, he comments, we knew very little about the Division. The equation with the Germans was enough to frighten some people, eliciting feelings of righteous anger. But “sooner or later reality will become more ambivalent.” The Division was never part of the German army, but the question remains whether Ukrainians took up the arms of an alien occupier that wished to en-slave their country. That question can be answered in the negative based on materials published in the West, he concludes. He cites a 1990 brochure published in Toronto and New York, which comments that locals could recall vividly the Soviet occupiers’ brutal massacre of prisoners before they retreated in the wake of the German invasion in the summer of 1941. They recognized the ruinous nature of Russian Communism and the harm it could inflict on Ukraine. They also realized that German rule had brought few benefits, but did not want to miss an opportunity to create a strong, modern, and welltrained Ukrainian military unit within the German armed forces that could constitute the core of a future Ukrainian army. The author cites, with reference to the book by Wolf-Dietrich Heike,42 that the training also brought benefits for the UPA, which used division soldiers as military instructors. Various commissions subsequently investigated the Division for potential war crimes, but none were uncovered. They included the Porter Commission of 1947 in the UK, which resolved that in spirit Ukrainians were “anti-Fascists.” In Toronto, a Congress of the Brotherhood of the former First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army assembled, and its chairman noted that it was celebrating the 40th anniversary of its formation. While aware that there are people in Ukraine who are hostile to the Division veterans, writes Pryhornyts’kyi, a majority would understand the quiet, restrained celebration of the anniversary.43

  • 44 Oksana Snovydovych-Mazyar, “To chy byly vony kolaborantamy?” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 8 June 1993, p. 2.
  • 45 Yaroslav Yakymovych, “Z zhertovnym styahom ikh zvytyah,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 21 August 1993, p. 4.
  • 46 Strictly speaking, this was the 50th anniversary not of the 1st Ukrainian Division of the UNA, but (...)
  • 47 Danylo Kulnyak, “Esesivs’ka chy ‘Persha ukrains’ka?” Z pryvodu odnoho yuvileyu,” Ukraina moloda, 3 (...)

32Other narratives have been more forthright. In one article, the author insists that the Division was not a collaboration force but fought for Ukrainian independence. Unlike German SS units, the Division did not commit crimes. Bolshevik propaganda, to the contrary, represents nothing more than the fabrications of a hostile power trying to discredit any force that challenged its authority. Why did they join the Germans? This author replies that they had no choice. The clash of two imperial powers demanded armed resistance, and “UPA could not take everyone.” Therefore an opportunity was taken to train cadres. The Division received the blessing of the respected Metropolitan Andrii Sheptyts’kyi and the author tells of one Division soldier who saved thirty peasants from German reprisals.44 Another author demands that the SS Division must be rehabilitated. It was a combat unit, its SS affiliation was a formality, and it did not carry out war crimes. Many people joined for patriotic reasons.45 Not everyone agreed with this assessment. In Kyiv in 1993, there was a campaign to ban celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the 1st Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army.46 One author deliberately distinguished this army from the earlier one that had “compromised itself” as a tool in the hands of the Germans. The later formation, in his view, was more worthy of Ukrainian national aspirations. As for the SS Division, it had been organized by the “collaborationist” Ukrainian Central Committee in Krakow. German attempts to recruit members, in this author’s view, fell flat and young people had to be drafted by force. There was a high rate of desertion and a lack of commitment to serve under the German banner. This comment hardly explains why there were so many volunteers, however, so the author adds that a majority of recruits did believe that they were fighting for the national interests of Ukraine.47

  • 48 Ibid.
  • 49 Ihor Fedyk, “Vystoyaly; prorvalysya!” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 14 July 1994, p. 2.

33What should these young people have done? In the opinion of this same author, the only true example of patriotism would have been to join the UPA and fight both the Bolsheviks and the Germans. In this context he denounces both the members of the Ukrainian Central Committee and the members of the OUN-M, which collaborated with the Germans, and allegedly provided impetus for Soviet propaganda and the unfortunate phrase “Ukrainian-German nationalists.” The diverse examples of collaboration by the OUN-B are conveniently omitted from this onslaught, and the author quotes some insurgents who criticized the formation of the Division. However, he opines, it is now time for reconciliation between the remaining former SS men and the Ukrainians who advanced from the east but failed to bring democracy, statehood, and well-being.48 One might describe the attitude of this author as one of reluctant acceptance of people who went astray. It is a far cry from other authors who insist that the heroism of Division fighters be recognized. Ihor Fedyk, for example, gives a full account of the battle of Brody, a time when morale of Division members was high because they were about to de-fend their motherland from a Bolshevik onslaught (no doubt including Ukrainians who also thought they were freeing their motherland!). For the first hours of its deployment at the front, the Division was subject to constant air strikes. On 13 July 1944, the Red Army began its offensive. Between 15 and 18 July, despite heroic resistance, the Division was encircled, together with the 13th German army corps, in the area of several villages. In each village the conflict continued, and many of the soldiers who fell into Soviet captivity were executed. About 7,000 Division soldiers died, and almost 3,000 of those who could not break out of encirclement joined the UPA. A further 3,000 did break out and retreated with the Germans, forming the 2nd Ukrainian Division on Austrian territory. Fifty years ago, writes Fedyk, Ukrainian soldiers died fighting for the freedom of Ukraine and their sacrifice was not wasted. “The echo of their valor, enshrined in our memory for 50 years” can now be heard in an independent Ukraine.49

  • 50 Vasyl Sirs’kyi, “Knyha, yaka vymahaye dyskusii,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 29 July 1994, p. 2.
  • 51 “Ishly u bii za svoyu peremohu,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 7 August 1993, p. 4.

34In like fashion, another author retorts that patriotism is not measured by the kind of uniform a soldier is wearing. The volunteers for the Division, he argues, joined their military unit under German auspices because they were conscious of the need to fight for Ukraine. He is resentful at the way the UPA is being constantly glorified at the expense of the soldiers of the Division. Politicians and professors who seem to have allergies toward the German army, he claims, should remember that it was in German-sponsored units that the careers of Generals Myron Tarnavs’kyi and Roman Shukhevych began. Yet the UPA evaluates the Division negatively and derides its commemoration of its martyrs. It should be kept in mind, this author believes, that the battle of Brody cost 7,000 lives, but it saved the lives of thousands of Ukrainians who managed to flee to the West. It compares favorably with the millions of losses caused by the actions of UPA, including members of families that were deported to Siberia. In the 1940s, older and more experienced people had doubts about the creation of UPA, regarding this as tantamount to national suicide. Time has shown that they were accurate.50 This angry diatribe, which takes the form of a review of a book by American professor Taras Hunczak about the SS Division, thus takes matters a step further. Hunczak is requesting not recognition of Division members, alongside UPA, as genuine Ukrainian heroes, but rather the replacement of the UPA with the Division as more deserving recipients of such an accolade. These comments are echoed in an anonymous article that appeared in August 1993, which explains the difficulties in organizing Ukrainian military formations in the General Government territory of Galicia. The key figure was Volodymyr Kubiiovych, head of the Ukrainian Central Committee. When approached by Governor Waechter, Kubiiovych claims that the Ukrainian side issued a list of demands: that the Division must be used only against the Bolsheviks; that officers must be Ukrainian; that the name and insignia should be Ukrainian; the Division had to be subordinate to the German army; and it must constitute the first step toward the creation of a Ukrainian national army. However, the Germans broke this agreement and subordinated it to the SS. Though members were hostile to Nazi ideology, they faced the option of slave labor in Germany if they did not join.51

  • 52 Mykhailo Yatsura, “Professor Kubiiovych i Dyviziya ‘Halychyna’,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 30 September 1 (...)
  • 53 Ivan Haivanovych, “Ne nazyvaite ‘SS’!” Ukraina moloda, 30 January 2001, p. 4.

35Another author describes Kubiiovych as a Ukrainian patriot who was conscious of German goals and willing to promote the Ukrainian agenda. He was also aware of the expansion of the UPA insurgency in Volhynia and therefore at first was cautious about accepting Waechter’s proposal to form the Ukrainian Division. He preferred to retain some control over the formation, according to this version, and therefore made the set of demands that the Germans largely ignored. The Germans needed the support of the Ukrainian Central Committee in order to recruit members. In this account, there is no question that the initiative came from the Germans and it was likely that they would have attempted the Division’s formation even without Ukrainian assistance.52 However, more recently there have been further attempts to shed more light on the Division and to explain the motives of its creators with more clarity and sympathy. One such article is authored by Ivan Haivanovych, who decries the lack of objectivity in contemporary Ukraine, which has acknowledged its inheritance from the 1918 Ukrainian National Republic, and showed some understanding toward OUN-UPA. The Division, however, is mistakenly accused of collaboration. He argues for proper historical context, stating that the key question is why Galicians volunteered en masse to join it. He main-tains that by 18 June 1943 there were 84,000 volunteers. In his view this response was a reaction to the repressive policies of the Soviet regime, including mass deportations and the NKVD murders of 1941. Nazi propaganda had some appeal for the population but there was disappointment over the German failure to recognize an independent Ukraine on 30 June 1941. So why did Ukrainians continue to turn to the Germans? The answer is that after the battle of Stalingrad, joining up with the Germans was the lesser evil. The article contains an interview with a former Division recruit, Roman Debryts’kyi, from 1993, in which the interviewee states that the only alternative was forced labor in Germany (an argument discussed earlier). Debryts’kyi describes the war as a tragic period when Ukrainians had to fight each other. He and his comrades fought with the weapons of the SS, but they remained patriots.53

  • 54 Ivan Krainii, “Za shcho voyuvala dyviziya ‘Halychyna’?” Ukraina moloda, 7 February 2001, p. 10.

36Ivan Krainii maintains that most allegations about the Division’s war crimes derive from Polish memoir-literature. He finds these sources unconvincing and demands an unemotional examination of the Division’s legacy. He believes that its soldiers should be rehabilitated, as was the case in the Bal-tic countries, where four similar divisions were organized by the Waffen SS. In the Soviet period, as a result of official propaganda, the public perceived the SS men as traitors and collaborators. Only in 1990 did some émigré memoirs about the Division arrive in Ukraine. The most ominous problem is that of the two letters “SS.” However, he writes, the Division belonged to the Waffen SS and was intended to be a battle unit, and members of the Ukrainian Central Committee had insisted that it be a Ukrainian formation. Krainii interviewed a former member, Volodymyr Malkosh, who reveals that he joined the Division because of his strong anti-Soviet sentiments and nationalism. He had two roads open to him—UPA or the Division. He chose the latter because he felt it would be the basis of the future Ukrainian national army. He was fearful that “warlike neighbors” would lay claim to Ukraine’s territory. After he joined up, there was a period of training and Ukrainian language instruction. After the Division’s defeat at Brody, he remained in the area of Soviet occupation. He entered L’viv Polytechnic University in 1946, but was arrested when the authorities noticed a tattoo characteristic of the Waffen SS on his arm. He was then sent to the Gulag for fifteen years.54 Krainii’s account differs from the others in the issue of choice. Whereas fellow authors suggest that the alternative to joining the Division was forced labor in Germany, he maintains that the choice was between the SS unit and the UPA. Other authors have declared that joining the Division enhanced opportunities for ending up in the ranks of the insurgents. Evident here is a political division rather than diverse options for the average nationalist whose long-term goal was an independent Ukrainian state. In other words, those who joined the Division were influenced by political leaders with very different views from those of the chief determinants of how Western Ukrainians acted i.e., the OUN-B.

  • 55 Kost’ Bondarenko, “Istoriya, kotoruyu ne znaem ili ne khotim znat’?” Zerkalo nedeli, 29 March-5 Ap (...)

37The latter statement is corroborated by Kost’ Bondarenko, who explains the formation of the SS Division as follows. It was organized to take part in military operations rather than punitive actions, and the Ukrainian Central Committee was responsible for the recruitment of its servicemen. Whereas the Bandera faction of the OUN resented the idea of its creation, the OUN-M regarded it as a good opportunity for the future national army to gain skills and experience. Its top commanders were German, while the troops wore German uniforms with a blue and yellow insignia and the Halychyna lion in their buttonholes. The troops took an oath of allegiance to Ukraine, which later saved the Division’s soldiers and officers from retribution—they were found not guilty of war crimes after the war. In 1944 it was almost completely destroyed, and its remnants were transferred to the south of Poland, and subsequently to Slovakia and Yugoslavia where it was merged with the 34th SD Battalion (the “Volyn’ Legion”) in the spring of 1945. By April 1945 it had surrendered to the Western allies and its troops were not subject to repatriation because in Allied eyes they had remained Polish subjects. Bondarenko maintains that when the German leaders made the decision to create the Division, they were of the opinion that residents of Galicia and Ukrainians were representatives of different nations. They felt that the former were close to the Aryans, and this myth was the basis on which the Division was formed. This author asserts that Hitler was well aware of the Division—some reports suggest that he was ignorant of its existence—and even used to discuss it during his dinner conversations. Its origins dated from 1941, when the Germans announced the goal of establishing an SS Division Sumy from Ukrainian POWs, with further efforts in 1944 in the Carpathians.55 Presumably, however, if the Germans intended to establish a division from Ukrainian POWs, then the Aryan issue might have been a secondary factor.

38At the time of writing, no consensus had been reached in Ukraine on the question of the SS Division Halychyna. It remains the most controversial of all the national formations of the interwar and war years, not least because members of the OUN and UPA insist that the recruits had an alternative. The Division was undoubtedly part of the German war effort, whether or not members joined with other motives. The SS appellation would already have had dark connotations among the population. It seems fair to say that the situation for the young recruits was extremely problematic with none of the possible options offering any prospect of an easy existence. Before long, a new option—joining the Soviet Army—would also be a possibility. On the other hand, the severe criticism emanating from some members of UPA also seems unjustified, in that the insurgents were also prepared eventually to reach a new modus vivendi with the retreating Germans as they awaited the advancing Red Army. However, it could be argued that the UPA did not operate as a military formation on the German side and always maintained its independence. Thus the SS Division represented more of a last hope of cooperation with the Germans on the part of the UCC and OUN-M, both organs that had favored collaboration and continued to work with the Germans even after the nature of the occupation regime had become evident. Undoubtedly, life under the Polish General-Government was much more tolerable and easygoing than in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. The question, though, is whether such relative moderation could justify the establishment of a Ukrainian military formation on the German side and on the Germans’ initiative, particularly at such a late stage of the war when it appeared to most observers that a German defeat was simply a question of time. It represented poor judgment and naivety on the part of Kubiiovych and others, and after more than sixty years, the motives of the UCC in particular seem just as inexplicable as they did at the time. No doubt the debates will continue.

The Moderation of the OUN Program

  • 56 M. Yurkevych, “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists,” Encyclopedia of Ukraine, online edition; [(...)

39At its Third Congress in August 1943, the OUN moderated its official program, and according to its defenders, adopted a more tolerant and liberal out-look, divesting itself of some of the more unpleasant facets of what has been termed “integral nationalism.” Following this meeting, a new all-Ukrainian assembly was formed, entitled the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR) in July 1944, made up predominantly of members of the OUN-B, with a General Secretariat that was led by the military leader of the UPA, Roman Shukhevych. The new organization came after the establishment of a similar organization by the OUN-M, which had also recognized that policies of extreme nationalism were unlikely to win followers on a national basis in an independent Ukraine. The motives behind this change of policy are open to debate and they form the basis for the discussions that are to be found in narratives in Ukraine from the late Gorbachev period onward. The change of direction forms part of another history, that of the OUN in exile and the protracted and fractious disputes that have occurred among its members living in North America, Western Europe, and elsewhere. According to Myroslav Yurkevych, “The OUN factions have had a decisive impact on the Ukrainian émigré community. The community’s identity and public image have been shaped largely by the nationalist commitment to Ukraine’s liberation.”56 In turn, with the transfer of these discussions to an independent Ukraine after 1991, along with the physical presence of the OUN in Ukraine, the outlook of the nationalists—and the unbending hard-line integral nationalism that was retained by Bandera in exile—has become part of a wide-ranging discussion and many of the disputes in the Diaspora have been transferred to Ukraine (and sometimes back again).

  • 57 Maslovs’kyi, “Shcho na ‘oltari svobody’?” p. 68.
  • 58 Petro Duzhyi, “Vede nas v bii bortsiv polehlykh slava,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 4 February 1993, p. 2.
  • 59 Koval’, “Ukrains’ka povtsans’ka armiya,” Ukraina i svit, 18-24 September 1996.

40The Communist view, even in the latter years of the Soviet state, was that the change of policy was a matter of expediency. Maslovs’kyi, in his authoritative article in Komunist Ukrainy, writes that the social doctrine of the OUN was purely “bourgeois.” Only at its Third Extraordinary Congress did the nationalists make their program worker-friendly, but this occurred precisely because the Red Army was approaching the Dnipro River and was about to begin the liberation of Western Ukraine.57 The nationalists themselves argue that the decision was more rational and based on careful rethinking of priorities. Petro Duzhyi, for example, writes that Ukrainian nationalists always proclaim the primacy of the idea over matter. Unlike pragmatists and adherents of realpolitik, they never lose faith. Enemies may beat them physically but the national idea remains intact. The Nazis and the Communists cultivated the principle of a supreme leader, and worshipped their Hitlers, Lenins, and Stalins, as well as lower-level leaders, but the Ukrainian nationalists, having recognized the negative repercussions of a leadership cult, categorically relinquished the fuehrerprinzip and at the Third Congress substituted a three-man leadership for the single leader, with all three leaders carrying the same weight. Duzhyi appeals for the democratization of society and says that the OUN should not simply try to replace the CPSU in Ukraine, with its tradition of authoritarianism.58 Likewise, Viktor Koval’ notes that the Third Congress raised the question “What is UPA fighting for?” It concluded that the UPA was opposed to Russian Bolshevism and German occupation, and supported the reconstruction of the USSR without landowners, capitalists, and Bolshevik commissars. In this program, he writes, alongside the appeal for a democratic reconstruction of society, for the first time in the history of the peoples of the Soviet Union all the principles of the protection of people’s rights were formed. The decision of the Congress was in solidarity with all those political moods prevailing in Ukraine after the resurrection of independence.59 There could hardly be a clearer claim for the prevalence of the 1943 edition of the OUN in contemporary Ukraine.

  • 60 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, p. 155.
  • 61 Kul’chyts’kyi, “Ukrainski natsionalisty v chervono-korychnevii Yevropi,” pp. 6-7.
  • 62 I. I. Il’yushyn, “Natsional’no-vyzvol’ni prahnennya ukrains’kykh ta pol’s’kykh samostiinyts’kykh s (...)

41Other writers are less convinced by the change of direction. M. V. Koval’ comments that the Third Congress of the OUN decided that OUN-UPA would now fight against Nazi Germany, the collapse of which appeared imminent, as well as against a new Bolshevik occupation. However, the real course upon which the Congress embarked was one of truce with Germany, and the coordination of the armed struggle against Soviet forces. At the same time, losses suffered by the Germans on the Eastern Front had failed to change the outlook of the Mel’nyk wing of the OUN, and Mel’nyk, Kubiiovych and Kost’ Pankivs’kyi supported a political line of loyalty to the German occupiers. He also cites as an example of this collaboration the initiative to establish the SS Division Halychyna. With the same goal of opposing the Soviet Union, the OUN attempted the political maneuver in the summer of 1944 of forming the Supreme Liberation Council, in which other nationalist movements from Western Ukraine were represented.60 Kul’chyts’kyi has described the ideological change as remarkable. In August 1943, the OUN-B began to recognize the rights of minorities, and revoked the unlimited powers of the head of the SB, Mykola Lebed’, and set up a leading council under the chairmanship of Shukhevych. In July 1944 the Supreme Liberation Council was formed, which controlled the UPA. However, he continues, this attempt at democratization eventually failed, leading to more ideologically motivated divisions among the leadership of the OUN-B.61 Il’yushyn maintains that the Red Army had remained “the sole enemy” of the Ukrainian insurgents and that during the occupation of the Germans, the OUN-B leaders tried to re-strict anti-German actions of the UPA. Similarly, during the period of retreat from Ukraine, some German officers and intelligence leaders began to regard the UPA as a tactical ally, and following a meeting of 19 April 1944, they decided to hold talks with the OUN to see if the UPA would halt its acts of sabotage. The formation of the UHVR, in Il’yushyn’s view, did not denote a profound change of direction, and he cites the view of Taras Borovets’ that the Banderites’ attempt to consolidate all Ukrainian groups under one platform was a “falsification” similar to the aborted declaration of independence in June 1941.62

  • 63 Serhii Stepanyshyn, “Nationalist Internationalism: The Conference of the Captive Nations of Easter (...)

42Finally, mention should be made of the convocation of a conference of peoples “suffering under the Soviet yoke” in Rivne region in November 1943, which allegedly led to the subsequent formation of the Anti-Bolshevik bloc of nations, established in the West and headed by OUN-B leader Yaroslav Stets’ko, and later by his wife and parliamentary deputy in Ukraine, Yaroslava Stets’ko. A laudatory account of this conference appeared in the newspaper Den’, which described it as a highly significant endeavor because for the first time the concept of uniting peoples in opposition to the Soviet Union was expressed. It noted that the highly secretive assembly was led by OUN member Rostyslav Voloshyn, and included UPA’s first commander Dmytro Klyachkivs’kyi (Klym Savur), as well as Shukhevych. Among those represented were Ukrainians, Georgians, Azeris, Tatars, Ossetians, Poles, Czechs, Belarusians, Russians, Jews, Kazakhs, and Circassians, all with one thing in common: a hatred for the Stalin and Hitler regimes.63 The conference is part of the nationalist conception of Ukrainian history and linked closely to the broadening of the OUN-B appeal and change of political direction.

Evolution of the OUN

  • 64 H. V. Kasyanov, “Ideolohiya OUN: istoryko-retrospektyvnyi analiz,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal(...)
  • 65 Ivan Demyanyuk, “Natsionalizm: shlyakh do derzhavnosti chy do ruiiny,” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 46 (...)

43The history of the OUN in the postwar period merits a separate discussion and is too complex to be fully incorporated within this study. At the end of the Second World War, the emigrant OUN-B used the name: the Foreign Sections of the OUN (Zakordonni Chastyny OUN or ZCh OUN). In February 1954 after a prolonged internal dispute between the so-called “orthodox” followers of Bandera and the revisionists, a breakaway group formed from the ZCh OUN, based on a joint leadership (Lev Rebet from the Bandera faction and Mykola Lebed’ as the head of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council) and called “dviikari” (OUN-Z). The split derived from attitudes toward the 1943 Congress, moderating the views of the OUN-B. Bandera’s faction became known as the revolutionaries or OUN-R. In 1957 and 1959, KGB agents assassinated Rebet and Bandera respectively. Mel’nyk, whose faction also used the name “solidarysty” (OUN-S), was left untouched. H. V. Kas’yanov writes that all three wings of the OUN began to develop in different directions after the war. The OUN-B reverted to ideological dogmatism after expelling the revisionists; the dviikari adopted democratic nationalism without abandoning some ideological declarations; and the OUN-M, which published its newspaper Ukrains’ke slovo in Paris, revived after a period of stagnation and was to subsequently become active in Kyiv. In 1992, the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN) was created in Kyiv by the OUN-R/OUN-B in Ukraine on the initiative of Roman Zvarych (Ukrainian Minister of Justice in the Yushchenko administration) and Slava Stets’ko, the widow of Yaroslav Stets’ko.64 Some of the contentiousness and disputes that had been manifest in the Diaspora were soon transferred to Ukraine. A leader of the Ukrainian Republican Party noted in late 1992 that KUN wished to retain for itself the exclusive representation of what was termed “Ukrainian nationalism” while regarding those proto-nationalist organizations not sharing OUN-B ideology as “democrats-traitors.” This author refuted this conception by referring to the important role played in the creation of an independent Ukrainian state by his own party, the Rukh, and the Association of Ukrainian Youth. In a subsequent article he also remarked that nationalism was not confined to noisy rhetoric but involved with concrete activities for the well-being of the people.65

  • 66 Taras Kuzio, letter to the author, 19 August 2006.

44The transferal of the headquarters of the OUN-B to Kyiv did not prove to be a decisive event, which is indicative of the marginal impact of the Bandera group on Ukrainian politics and Ukrainian political thought. After Stets’ko died in 2002, the leadership of the OUN-B/OUN-R devolved to Andrii Haidamakha in Brussels, and thus once again it became a Diaspora organization. The KUN and OUN-B/OUN-R split and went their different ways. The intolerance of the OUN-B has been its undoing, as well as its evident reluctance to cooperate with other organizations that are at least similar in spirit, such as the Rukh and the Ukrainian Republican Party. Ironically, the OUN-M, which arguably has been less effective in the Diaspora, has been better organized in Ukraine. According to Taras Kuzio, the Olzhych Foundation, affiliated with the OUN-M, published throughout the 1990s the popular monthly journal Rozbudova derzhavy, a revival of the magazine of the same name published by the (united) OUN in the 1930s. The OUN-M newspaper, Ukrains’ke slovo, transferred its headquarters from Paris to Kyiv after Ukraine became independent, and has taken an active part in some of the key debates on the war years, and in general has been a far more effective organ than its Bandera counterpart, Shlyakh peremohy.66 The key issue here is the failure of the OUN-B-OUN-Z to propagate its version of the past as the key inheritance of the modern state. In this respect it has clearly failed, and its influence within Ukraine does not match its effectiveness outside its native land. One source puts the matter succinctly:

  • 67 Borys Hayevs’kyi, Fedir Kyrylyuk, and Mykola Obushnyi, “Pravda i domysly navkolo “naukovo natsiona (...)

Every generation has its struggle and its heroes. Every generation has its victories and its defeats. Our victories occurred on 16 July 1990, 24 August, and 1 December 1991. They are forever engrained in the annals of Ukrainian history, and they cannot be sacrificed for the sake of any idea or organization, however “real” and “sincere” they may be, because they belong to the whole people and the whole nation.67

45To what extent the perspective of the OUN and the UPA as the main representatives of the Ukrainian liberation movement has pervaded political thought in Ukraine is debatable. Certainly it is in a more favorable position than the SS Division Halychyna, which has as yet failed to find a positive place in the historical narrative, largely because there appeared to be alternatives to fighting in a German formation, and perhaps also because of its almost immediate destruction in the conflict that followed. The key question is whether nationalists could overnight be transformed into democrats, and largely because of the forthcoming defeat of their would-be patrons (at least at the outset of the war), the German army and occupation regime. It has proved hard to separate the change in political outlook from the transformation of the military situation. However, there is another issue to be considered. Arguably the largest stumbling block to a changed perception of the OUN and its military counterpart, the UPA are the events of the summer of 1943 in Volyn’, namely the conflict with the Polish population, a topic that has elicited quite frenzied debates and the intervention of political leaders such as Viktor Yushchenko. It is to these issues that we will now turn.


1 The NKVD (Narodnyi komissariat vnutrennikh del: the People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) was created on 10 July 1934 on the basis of the former OGPU (Unified Main Political Administration) and originated with the formation of the CHEKA (the Committee to Combat Counter-Revolution and Sabotage) by Lenin in December 1917. From February-July 1941 it was divided into two independent organizations, the NKVD and the NKGB USSR, but with the outbreak of war it again became a single commissariat under L. P. Beria until April 1943 when the two were once again divided. In March 1946 it was renamed the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) of the USSR, and on 5 March 1953 a single, more powerful MVD USSR was created through the merging of the MVD and MGB (Ministry of State Security). The NKGB was renamed the Ministry of State Security (MGB) in March 1946. During the period under review it was led by V. N. Merkulov (1943-46) and V. A. Abakumov (1946-51).

2 Mykola Porovs’kyi, “Konvoi korovu z soboyu ne veze…” Visti z Ukrainy, No. 27 (1991): 1.

3 V. I. Maslovs’kyi, “Shcho na ‘oltari svobody’? Dekil’ka utochen’ shchodo viiny ‘na dva fronty,’ yaku vela UPA, ta skil’koma nevynnymy zhertvamy oplachuvavs’ tsei propahandysts’kyi mif,” Komunist Ukrainy, No. 7 (July 1991): 70-71.

4 These were local forces coerced into fighting against the insurgents.

5 Maslovs’kyi, “Shcho na ‘oltari svobody’?” p. 72.

6 Ibid., pp. 72-73.

7 “Terror enkavedysts’kykh harnizoniv,” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 85 (September 1992): 3.

8 Ivan Bilas, “Protystoyannya: aktsii represyvnoho aparatu totalitarnoho rezhymu proty natsional’no-vyzvol’noho rukhu ukrains’koho narodu,” Literaturna Ukraina, 22 October 1992, p. 7.

9 Ibid.

10 Ivan Bilas, “Protystoyannya: aktsii represyvnoho aparatu totalitarnoho rezhymu proty natsional’no-vyzvol’noho rukhu ukrains’koho narodu,” Literaturna Ukraina, 29 October 1992, p. 7.

11 Ibid.

12 Ibid.

13 “Emhebisty u formi UPA,” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 45 (1992): 3.

14 Bohdan Pasichnyk, “Provokatsiya vyvirenym metodom,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 4 May 1995, p. 2.

15 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): 9-10.

16 M. V. Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh (1939-1945 rr.) (Kyiv: Vydavnychyi dim Al’ternatyvy, 1999), pp. 304-305.

17 Yaroslav Lyal’ko, “Vony povernuly nam muzhnist’ i natsional’nu hidnist’,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 12 September 1996, p. 2.

18 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, pp. 304-308.

19 Ibid., p. 310.

20 Stanislav Kul’chyts’kyi, “Ukrains’ki natsionalisty v chervono-korychnevii Yevropi (do 70-richchya stvorennya OUN,” Istoriya Ukrainy, No. 5 (February 1999): 6-7.

21 Ivan Krainii, “Ostanni z pidzemnoho bunkera,” Ukraina moloda, 15 November 2002, p. 5.

22 Koval’, “Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiya,” Ukraina i svit, No. 36 (25 September-1 October 1996): 10.

23 It is highly unusual to have a higher figure of dead than wounded in a military conflict, which casts suspicion on the authenticity of these figures.

24 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, p. 305.

25 M. Buhai, “Deportatsii naselennya z Ukrainy,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal, No. 11 (1990): 21-25.

26 Oles’ Lernatovych, “Svityt’ zoreyu nadiya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 24 January 1991, p. 4.

27 Roman Pastukh, “Orhanizator hulahivs’koho pidpillya,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 15 June 1991, p. 2.

28 Bohdan Pavliv, “I perevernem zaharbnyts’kyi svit: spomyn chlena OUN,” Literaturna Ukraina, 15 October 1992, p. 7.

29 Ibid.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid.

32 Yaroslav Demchyna, “Dolyna smerti,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 16 February 1995, p. 2.

33 Tetyana Kharchenko, “Mizh povstantsiamy i chervonymy partyzanamy nemaye niyakoho antahonizmu,” Ukraina moloda, 20 July 2003, p. 5.

34 See, for example, Wolf-Dietrich Heike, The Ukrainian Division “Galicia,” 1943-45: a Memoir (Toronto: The Shevchenko Scientific Society, 1988); Taras Hunczak, On the Horns of a Dilemma: the Story of the Ukrainian Division Halychyna (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000); Michael O. Logusz, Galicia Division: the Waffen SS 14th Grenadier Division 1943-1945 (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2000); and the very unsympathetic Sol Littman, Pure Soldiers or Bloodthirsty Murderers? The Ukrainian 14th Waffen-SS Galicia Division (Toronto: Black Rose Books, 2003).

35 [\\G\\A\\GaliciaDivision.htm].

36 K. Doroshenko, “Pamyatnik fashistskim prikhvostnyam,” Pravda Ukrainy, 25 May 1991, p. 3.

37 See, for example, John-Paul Himka, “A Central European Diaspora under the Shadow of World War II: The Galician Ukrainians in North America,” Austrian History Yearbook, 37 (2006): 19.

38 Yurii Pryhornyts’kyi, “Ivan Oleksyn: Use zhyttya borovsya za Ukrainu. Dyviziya ‘Halychyna’. Yak tse bulo,” Literaturna Ukraina, 18 June 1992, p. 3.

39 Ibid.

40 Vasyl Veryha, “Im prysvichuvala velyka ideya…. Dyviziya ‘Halychyna’, yak tse bulo,” Literaturna Ukraina, 25 June 1992, p. 3.

41 Ibid.

42 Heike, The Ukrainian Division ‘Galicia’.

43 Yuri Pryhornyts’kyi, “Shcho ikh velo u dyviziyu?” Literaturna Ukraina, 14 January 1993, p. 6.

44 Oksana Snovydovych-Mazyar, “To chy byly vony kolaborantamy?” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 8 June 1993, p. 2.

45 Yaroslav Yakymovych, “Z zhertovnym styahom ikh zvytyah,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 21 August 1993, p. 4.

46 Strictly speaking, this was the 50th anniversary not of the 1st Ukrainian Division of the UNA, but of the SS Division Halychyna, in its original form.

47 Danylo Kulnyak, “Esesivs’ka chy ‘Persha ukrains’ka?” Z pryvodu odnoho yuvileyu,” Ukraina moloda, 3 September 1993, p. 10.

48 Ibid.

49 Ihor Fedyk, “Vystoyaly; prorvalysya!” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 14 July 1994, p. 2.

50 Vasyl Sirs’kyi, “Knyha, yaka vymahaye dyskusii,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 29 July 1994, p. 2.

51 “Ishly u bii za svoyu peremohu,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 7 August 1993, p. 4.

52 Mykhailo Yatsura, “Professor Kubiiovych i Dyviziya ‘Halychyna’,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 30 September 1995, pp. 1-2.

53 Ivan Haivanovych, “Ne nazyvaite ‘SS’!” Ukraina moloda, 30 January 2001, p. 4.

54 Ivan Krainii, “Za shcho voyuvala dyviziya ‘Halychyna’?” Ukraina moloda, 7 February 2001, p. 10.

55 Kost’ Bondarenko, “Istoriya, kotoruyu ne znaem ili ne khotim znat’?” Zerkalo nedeli, 29 March-5 April 2002.

56 M. Yurkevych, “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists,” Encyclopedia of Ukraine, online edition; [\\O\\R\\OrganizationofUkrainianNationalists.htm].

57 Maslovs’kyi, “Shcho na ‘oltari svobody’?” p. 68.

58 Petro Duzhyi, “Vede nas v bii bortsiv polehlykh slava,” Za vil’nu Ukrainu, 4 February 1993, p. 2.

59 Koval’, “Ukrains’ka povtsans’ka armiya,” Ukraina i svit, 18-24 September 1996.

60 Koval’, Ukraina v Druhii svitovii i Velykii Vitchyznyanii viinakh, p. 155.

61 Kul’chyts’kyi, “Ukrainski natsionalisty v chervono-korychnevii Yevropi,” pp. 6-7.

62 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): 94-95.

63 Serhii Stepanyshyn, “Nationalist Internationalism: The Conference of the Captive Nations of Eastern Europe and Asia was held sixty years ago,” The Day Digest, 9 December 2003 [].

64 H. V. Kasyanov, “Ideolohiya OUN: istoryko-retrospektyvnyi analiz,” Ukrains’kyi istorychnyi zhurnal, No. 2 (February 2004): 30; and information provided to the author by Dr. Taras Kuzio in a letter of 19 August 2006.

65 Ivan Demyanyuk, “Natsionalizm: shlyakh do derzhavnosti chy do ruiiny,” Samostiina Ukraina, No. 46 (12 December 1992): 3; No. 47 (19 December 1992): 3; and No. 48 (26 December 1992): 3.

66 Taras Kuzio, letter to the author, 19 August 2006.

67 Borys Hayevs’kyi, Fedir Kyrylyuk, and Mykola Obushnyi, “Pravda i domysly navkolo “naukovo natsionalizmu,” Osvita, 22 June 1994, p. 8.

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