Ukraine’s Institute of National Memory addresses myths about UPA for the new Day of the Defender

upa

 

History

On October 14, Petro Poroshenko signed a decree proclaiming October 14 to be the day of celebrating Day of Defender of Ukraine, instead of the the post-Soviet analogous holiday celebrated on February 23. October 14 is a symbolic date, being the Orthodox Feast day of the Intercession of the Virgin Mary and the symbolic founding day of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The Institute of National Memory of Ukraine, a research institution dealing with national memory in its practical aspects, has published a FAQ on the holiday and on the UPA, which Euromaidan Press has translated – Ed.

Historical Background

Religious Feast of Pokrova (Intercession of the Virgin Mary)

pokrova

Miid-17th century icon of Intercession of the Virgin Mary, bestowing her hands and protection on the Ukrainians

On October 14th, the Eastern Rite churches (Orthodox and Greek Catholic) celebrate the Feast of Pokrova. The origin of this religious tradition is associated with the legend of the Holy Virgin Mary who protected the city of Constantinople with her shroud.

In Ukrainian traditions, this feast is closely linked to protecting the people and nation from enemies. The Ancient Chronicle of Rus mentions that Prince Yaroslav the Wise put Kyiv and all Rus lands under the protection of Our Lady. Many Orthodox churches built in Rus and Kozak days were devoted to the veneration of the Virgin Mary.

The Feast of Pokrova of Our Holy Virgin was one of the most important religious celebrations for the Kozaks. The renowned researcher of Zaporizya, Yaroslav Yavornytsky wrote: “… covered and protected by the shroud of Our Lady, the Kozaks were afraid of no enemy fire, no disaster or sea storms.” This was a religious feast for Zaporizhya Kozaks, and the Church of the Holy Intercession always stood in the center of the Kozak stronghold. It was a sacred place to each Kozak – they left the door of the church to defend their native land, and returned from combat with humble gratitude for saving them from the enemy. It was during the Feast of Pokrova that the Kozaks conducted their council, during which they elected a new hetman or ataman.

Church of the Pokrova in Kyiv

Church of the Pokrova in Kyiv

The cult of Pokrova spread throughout the Ukrainian Kozak state – the Hetmanate. Churches were constructed and Pokrova iconography spread through the country, especially during the period of Hetman Ivan Mazepa.

Seeing that Ukrainian Kozaks so greatly honoured this feast, it became known as the Kozak Pokrova. It is in this way that the Feast of Pokrova began to be associated with such concepts as military honour, courage, bravery and chivalry.

In the XX century, partisans and soldiers fighting for Ukraine’s independence followed Kozak traditions, namely the Army of the Ukrainian People’s Republic and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).

A Presidential Decree issued in 1999 established October 14th as the Day of Ukrainian Kozaks. 

 

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army was a military -political formation of the Ukrainian liberation movement. The UPA was symbolically founded on October 14, 1942. It was operational until September 1949, and was then reorganized into an armed underground resistance movement that lasted until early 1960.

UPA division in

UPA division

The UPA was the only military force in World War II to define a strategic goal – the creation of an independent Ukrainian state; therefore, the soldiers were ready to fight against all countries that tried to prevent the formation of an independent nation.

From the very beginning, the UPA was created as a response to Nazi Germany’s occupation and terror. Anti-German campaigns were organized and waged throughout the entire period of German occupation. Whole Ukrainian regions were freed from German occupants; it is in such zones that the so-called ‘insurgent republics’ were created, where supreme authority was exercised by the UPA.

Between 1943 and 1944, the UPA engaged in guerilla attacks against the Polish forces that were trying to restore the pre-war borders of Poland.

During its entire existence, the UPA fought against the Soviet Union as their primary opponent as it was this state that had caused the Ukrainian people the most suffering and losses due to mass political repression, the Holodomor (famine), and forced deportation.

In 1944, the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council was created as a separate body of the UPA’s political leadership and the entire liberation movement; it was a kind of proto-parliament, consisting of representatives of different political forces.

The UPA was most active in the second half of 1944, when it included such territories as present-day Volyn, Rivne, Zhytomyr, Khmelnitsky, Vinnytsa, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv, Transcarpathian oblasts, the eastern territories of Precarpathian and Lublin voivodships of Poland, and the southern areas of Brest and Pinsk oblasts of Belarus. In 1944, the insurgent movement controlled an area of about 150,000 square kilometers, inhabited by about 15 million people. This represents about a quarter of the area of ​​present-day Ukraine, a territory larger than modern Greece, with a population equal to the population of the Netherlands. Moreover, the nationalist underground organization OUN, which was linked to the UPA, operated throughout Ukraine, including in Crimea and Donbas.

The UPA observed the principles of a regular army: it had central military headquarters and headquarters for military units, officers’ schools, a military gendarmerie, and its own system of ranking and awards.

Over a hundred thousand people served in the ranks of the UPA. More than half a million people were repressed by the Soviet Union for participating in or supporting the insurgent movement.

The UPA reflected a logical continuation of previous Ukrainian liberation movements, i.e. the national uprising in 1917-1920, and the underground resistance and combat operations of the Ukrainian Military Organization and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists from 1920 to 1930. The UPA’s struggle for independence continued in the form of non-violent resistance as witnessed in the dissident movement and the national democratic revival of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The struggle of the Ukrainian insurgents was one of many anti-totalitarian movements in Central and Eastern Europe, such as the underground movements in Poland and the Baltic countries. The UPA stands for the right of every nation to self-determination and sovereignty. In accordance with international conventions, the armed forces of liberation movements should answer to several criteria – a clear hierarchical/vertical command structure, specific army insignia, the right to bear arms, and adherence to international rules of war. All these criteria are features of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

The UPA falls clearly within the description of a Ukrainian liberation movement – different kinds of activities carried out by organizations and individuals, which were aimed at reviving the independence of the Ukrainian people. UPA veterans, as well as participants of similar military formations in Poland and the Baltic countries, should receive special status from the Ukrainian government naming them members of a liberation movement.

Hystorical myths about UPA

As the UPA fought against the Soviet forces, it has been subject to extensive Soviet propaganda after the end of WWII, a tradition that the Kremlin continues today. Here we examine some of the most widespread myths perpetuated by Russian media – Ed.

Myth 1: UPA, SS Nachtigall, SS Halychyna are organizations that were created by Germans out of “traitors of the Soviet motherland” 

As a result of long-term soviet propaganda, names and affiliations of different Ukrainian political and military organizations have been mixed together. To have an objective assessment of anti-soviet military organizations, details are important.

A common misconception is that Nachtigall battalion belonged to SS (ger. Schutztaffel – protection troops) – it didn’t. For this reason its Ukrainian leader Roman Shukhevych  couldn’t have a rank of Hauptsturmfuhrer – this is a myth. This was a formation created by the Abwehr German military intelligence service. Most of Nachtigall’s soldiers had never been citizens of USSR and therefore couldn’t betray the Soviet Union. When the battalion was disbanded, many of them, including Roman Shukhevych, became guerrillas and fought against German fascists.

UPA is a guerrilla formation that appeared in the far rear line of the German forces in 1942. Its goal was to resist German occupation. UPA’s first battles were against Hitler’s police. The leaders of UPA saw the German-Soviet war as a favorable time for a revolution that would lead to the liberation of Ukraine. They were not interested in the full victory of any side. That is why many short-time agreements on neutrality and cooperation with both sides were made. On the political level, Germany was considered to be an enemy, as it was an invader. Ukrainian rebels fought the Germans until 1944, when the last fascist forces left Ukrainian territory. The losses that were inflicted on German forces by UPA come close to those inflicted by soviet partisans.

The SS Halychyna division was created by the German occupation administration. The Ukrainian nationalist underground held campaigns among young people to not to enter its ranks to avoid becoming German “cannon fodder.” Many of those who did make this mistake later defected and joined UPA ranks.

 

Myth 2: UPA general Shukhevych received Iron Crosses from the hands of Hitler.

This is nonsense. There is an official registry of people who received this medal, but Roman Shukhevych is not in list. The same as there is no confirmation that he has ever met Hitler at all. Only a couple of Ukrainians received these military awards during WWII, all of them from the Halychyna division, in which Shukhevych never served at all.

 

Myth 3: The leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) Stepan Bandera collaborated with Hitler.

Stepan Bandera was arrested by German police in July 1941 for refusing to withdraw the Declaration of Ukrainian Independence of June 30, 1941, declared in Lviv. He spent most of his prison time in the German Sachsenhausen concentration camp in a special block for political and valued prisoners. His two brothers died in the camp Oswenzim. He was released in 1944 due to new politics of attracting anti-soviet force leaders to Germany’s side. Bandera refused to collaborate, and the fascists had to work with other Ukrainian politicians. In 1945 Bandera managed to go underground and to wait until the war was over.

 

Myth 4. UPA didn’t fight with Germans and unlike the Red Army (USSR) didn’t liberate any settlement from German forces.

The first battles of UPA were not against USSR or Poland, but against Germany, such as was the combat of Hrygoriy Perehiyniak’s division near the town of Volodymyrets on Volyn (North-West Ukraine) on 7 December 1943. During 1943-1944, UPA fought regular battles against German forces. The insurgents were called “Ukrainian or national gangs” in German security service reports. Many UPA members that were imprisoned by the Germans got killed. The UPA was so effective that in 1943 the fascists admitted in letters that they had no control over more than 75% of arable lands and lost of 52% of livestock supply in Volyn, North-West Ukraine. The German Commissioner General of Volyn and Podilia (Central South-West Ukraine) Shene noted in early May 1943 that many regions were fully controlled by “national gangs” and “the situation should be regarded as a rebellion.” Hitler’s forces led anti-partisan campaigns against the UPA as well as against the soviet partisans. In order to discredit the Ukrainian nationalist movement, German propaganda called the insurgent leaders “agents of Moscow.”

The question of which settlements were liberated by UPA is speculative in its nature. Both the UPA and Red partisans had their own “partisan lands” – regions and settlements under temporary control. One of the most famous such “partisan land” was located near the town Kolky in Volyn. Settlements were only freed by the regular army and partisan movements that acted in conjuncture with it. As the UPA wasn’t interested in the victory of the Red Army and couldn’t oppose its advance, it didn’t make sense to place effort into liberating settlements that would end up under Soviet control anyway.  Polish partisans tries to free Lviv, Vilnius, Warsaw, but in the end they either lost them to the Germans or to Soviet occupation.

 

Translated by: Christine Chraibi&Kate Zuieva
Edited by: Alya Shandra
Source: memory.gov.ua

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  • Petraeus

    If you talk about UPA you must mention the atrocitis against the poles, you should not miss out such a part of history. Horrible things happened in most countries and talking about it honestly shows commitment to democratic values.

    • Oleksandra Shandra

      Petraeus, agree – all sides must be shown. That is coming soon, this is only a translation of materials prepared in the Institute

      • rooscow

        And one of the best translations I have read. Most seemingly appear to be the product of software which totally misses the nuances of conversational English. Good work, I eagerly anticipate additional works, especially from this darkly misinformed period.

        • Milton Devonair

          Agreed and sometimes it would be good for the authors here to have their work edited by a native english speaker. It also helps the good work of the authors come across as more professional to the english speaking audience.

  • http://euromaidanpress.com Mat

    This article is poorly written and edited, and creates more myths than it debunks since it’s so full of revisionism and false history. The most glaring is saying the UPA existed into the early 60s, when it really was the 50s.

    • Milton Devonair

      Weren’t they finally murdered off as an formal, organized entity in 1956? Some of the people may have continued on, but as an organization, I think it was in 56 that it ended.

      First picture though is a good one. The Ukrainians have a combination of German, English and russian weapons. Ukraine for Ukrainians.

      • http://euromaidanpress.com Mat

        56 was the moment it was “official” from Russia’s perspective, good historians I’ve read will just say “early 50s”

        Honestly, the date is the least of my concerns. The first sentence: “The Ukrainian Insurgent Army was the military and political wing of the Ukrainian liberation movement.” – It wasn’t a political wing of anything. I could go on, but I’d rather keep my blood pressure down lol.

        The picture is good. They were a scrappy bunch, just like Maidan – very patchwork.

        • Oleksandra Shandra

          “The Ukrainian Insurgent Army was a military-political formation of the Ukrainian liberation movement.” Does that suit you better? You have every chance to edit it better

          • http://euromaidanpress.com Mat

            I can’t change a translation to have new meaning. If the original makes wild or wrong statements, I can only point it out, not change it.

          • Oleksandra Shandra

            That specific part was translated wrong. No more. And in any case you can make editors notes.

        • Milton Devonair

          ” They were a scrappy bunch, just like Maidan – very patchwork.”

          Exactly. And that is Ukraine. And why “We can never be Brothers” (with russia).
          Very hard not to respect that. I didn’t know much about Ukraine other than I worked with a lot of them in the USA.
          Then when the last Maidan protests happened, I witnessed not some demonstrations or nazis or police beatings, what I witnessed was a people standing up, trying to become free, only to be beaten down, then shot down, only to have more and more people stand up each time.

          There was no quit in the Ukrainians and kept their goal in mind, to get a free country, not revenge, not violence, not anything but to free their country for good. And to witness a government trying all the usual means they knew of to maintain their control…and in the end, one night at Maidan as the coffins were being passed around, when “a deal” was reached by the self appointed leaders that didn’t matter, a normal person butted in, grabbed the microphone and changed the course of history…and the corrupt president fled that night.

          What’s not to respect/admire stand in awe of a people and a country?

          Since then I’ve just learned more and more and more about Ukraine. And help them whenever and however I can.

  • sandy miller

    What about their anti-semitism…Is that true? Did they participate in the Holocaust? I’ve read that and have a hard time believing it. I keep hearing about Ukraine’s anti-semitism and that Stepan Bandera was an anti-semite???? Can history clarify because I see no mention of anti-semitism but most jewish americans say ukrainians were the worst of th worst?

    • Milton Devonair

      Stephen Bandera was imprisoned by the germans and murdered by the soviets. That should give him a lot of credibility.
      A lot of jewish people were responsible for bolshevism and soviet russia and there were a lot of them in Ukraine, allies of the bolshevik russians. So they were a natural target for Ukrainians wanting to free Ukraine of soviet russia as they were in favor of soviet russia.
      Thus they sided with the germans as germany was their natural ally (a lot of countries/people sided with germany due to german’s war against boshevism). When the Ukrainians found out that germany wouldn’t let Ukraine be a free state, then fought the germans also…and Bandera was sent away to a german prison.

      Some good reading for you:
      http://tabletmag.com/scroll/165455/why-are-jews-so-afraid-of-stepan-bandera

      This is a great read on many levels, but Churchill coined the term “Judeo-Bolshevism” and separated out different kinds of jewish people.
      https://www.winstonchurchill.org/support/the-churchill-centre/publications/finest-hour-online/725-the-creeds-of-the-devil-churchill-between-the-two-totalitarianisms-1917-1945

      Churchill’s “Zionism versus Bolshevism”
      http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Zionism_versus_Bolshevism

    • http://euromaidanpress.com Mat

      I wont make flat statements because you are bound to find anti-semitic statements from this period, and/or find members who did horrible things.

      The UPA was founded by members who defected from the German police. When in the police, they were very close to the atrocities, but historians say it was the German squads that took part in the Holocaust while the ‘local’ police were used as cover. They may have been implicit, but death was the alternative. They took that alternative though, and the Germans issued commands to wipe out the village of every Ukrainian who defected to fight for freedom. A high cost.

      As Milton said, Bandera was imprisoned by the Nazis and his family targeted as well.

      Also, there were some Jews in the UPA. Fun fact.

    • Lilianna Juhasz

      One of Stefan Bandera’s lieutenant’s was Jewish. Those people that keep emphasizing anti-Semitism among Ukrainians just keep repeating something they heard but have little evidence to support. They also seem to have forgotten that anti-Semitism was probably more pronounced in the United States at that time than it was in Ukraine. The biggest reason that Jewish summer resorts flourished in the Catskills for so long was because Jews were banned from the ‘White’ resorts and country clubs of New York. Some of the ‘better’ restaurants and night clubs throughout the US would openly post signage that stated ‘NO NEGROES, NO JEWS’ . Things usually look different when they are kept in context, don’t they?

  • Zwykly Czlowiek

    http://www.volhyniamassacre.eu/

    Is that a myth too? So my father who miraculously escaped canrnage is a liar? He saw who did it. For years I didn’t fully believe his stories because I couldn’t comprehend that other people (neighbours) are capable of such atrocities. But there are other witnesses and pictures that tell the same story: UPA is responsible for horrific crimes on civil population.

    “Liquidate all Polish traces. Destroy all walls in the Catholic Church and other Polish prayer houses. Destroy orchards and trees in the courtyards so that there will be no trace that someone lived there… Pay attention to the fact that when something remains that is Polish, then the Poles will have pretensions to our land” (OUN)

    “Villages were torched. Roman Catholic priests were axed or crucified. Churches were burned with all their parishioners. Isolated farms were attacked by gangs carrying pitchforks and kitchen knives. Throats were cut. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were cut in two. Men were ambushed in the field and led away. The perpetrators could not determine the province’s future. But at least they could determine that it would be a future without Poles” (Norman Davies).

    Don’t build your independence on lies. Only cowards can’t face the truth. If Germany could confront their dark pages of history, you also can.

    • Lilianna Juhasz

      Perhaps you should read some of the books written by Ukrainians living in Galicia during the Polish Occupation before you decide who can or cannot face the truth. Pacification was a time during which the Polish government went to extremes to eradicate any element of Ukrainian culture among those Ukrainians living in Galicia. The Ukrainian language was banned, Ukrainian books were burned and libraries were closed. National dress elements were forbidden in any remote form, Young people caught speaking Ukrainian amongst themselves were hung for their ‘crime’ as an example to others. This was supposed to ‘Pacify’ the population, kill the Ukrainian soul, and Polonize the people. While many people complied as a way to survive, at least publicly, it did not breed love between Poles and Ukrainians. Just as much as you have stories told to you by your father, I have stories told to me by my Grandmother. Being Ukrainian was not easy either under Poland or under Russia. Both countries wanted to eradicate any element of a Ukrainian ethnicity with equal fervor. So, before you accuse, look at your own history. Our world has come to a day where it is best to bury the dead and stop waging old wars. Otherwise, the Russian Empire will rise again and it will be due to old enemies fighting amongst themselves, rather than fighting a common foe.

      • searchingfortruth

        Lilliana, you seem to be under the impression that indeed there was massive repression of Ukrainian national identity under Polish rule. Tell me that you didn’t mean it when you wrote: “The Ukrainian language was banned, Ukrainian books were burned and libraries were closed. National dress elements were forbidden in any remote form, Young people caught speaking Ukrainian amongst themselves were hung for their ‘crime’ as an example to others.” That statement borders on the bizarre. Who was ever hung in Poland for speaking Ukrainian? Up until Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, Poland was the only place where Ukrainian culture thrived. One could reasonably argue that Ukrainian national identity was born in Jagellonian Poland. Not only Ukrainian language was not banned, but if Poland was not invaded, I would have been going to a neighborhood school in which instruction would have been in Ukrainian as the first language. Polish would have been my second language of instruction. A few kilometers away, where Poles were in majority the opposite was true. As for burning villages and other gore, that never happened. There was repression of the terror campaign, which began soon after Polish independence, and also after 1932 after OUN was created. OUN terror was largely supported by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Over 1200 political leaders and officials were killed by OUN. The vast majority of the victims, about 90%, were Ukrainians. Only 120 were Poles.The use of the military was controversial and many Poles opposed it, and it was exploited by the Russians and Germans. There was constant agitation of the Ukrainians by both the Nazis and the Soviets.

        Are Poles afraid of the truth? This one isn’t, and frankly I haven’t met one that was afraid of listening to rational arguments. Please try again.

  • Tim Bucknall

    Thanks for removing the misleading statement “The UPA was the only Army that fought the Nazis & The Soviets at the same time”

  • Stefan Wisniowski

    EUROMAIDAN – POKROVA OF THE VIRGIN MARY PROTECT US ALL FROM SUCH “HISTORY”.

    Why are our Ukrainian friends so oblivious or uncaring about the offense they cause to their Polish friends who have supported their aspirations for freedom and democracy so strongly? Do you really want to alienate your best friends in Europe?

    Surely there are other ways to build Ukrainian national pride than by celebrating UPA, the mass murderers of Polish civilians? Imagine if Germany declared a National “Defenders Day” to mark the founding of the Nazi party – of course they were strong German patriots and battled the Soviets to the death. Isn’t it just a bit awkward and inconvenient when patriots and defenders turn out to be mass murderers as well… What a dilemma for Ukraine :(

    DON’T YOU KNOW THAT ONLY THE TRUTH CAN SET YOU FREE?

    Why defend or deny or now CELEBRATE (!) war-time atrocities by a generation 70 years ago when our new generations have a possible future together? Wouldn’t it be better to take the German example to accept, acknowledge and apologize for past atrocities and move forward together rather than the Russian example of deny deny deny that worsens relations and future prospects?

    Your translation presents a Ukrainian Institute of National Memory publication that is a partial and highly selective version of “history” (or rather “histriography”) and bears all the hallmarks of newly-appointed (March 2014) Institute chief and revisionist young historian Wołodymyr Mychajłowycz Wiatrowycz (ukr. Володимир Михайлович В’ятрович). Before his prestigious appointment, Wiatrowycz wrote a book about the Ukrainian ultra-nationalist mass murder of up to 100,000 unarmed Polish civilians (mostly women and children) and the expulsion of nearly half a million other Polish civilians living in Soviet and German-occupied Ukraine during World War II, and he called this a “POLISH-UKRAINIAN WAR”. Will he next write books on the Holodomor and call it the “UKRAINIAN-SOVIET WAR” and on the Holocaust and call it the “JEWISH-GERMAN WAR”???

  • Lilianna Juhasz

    Reading her apology makes me wonder if she is a Soviet historian more than a Ukrainian historian. Some Polish historians and academic analysts recognize that Volyn was just one occurrence of the shared problem between Polish and Ukrainians that began with the annexing of Galicia to Poland after the end of WWI. This was the start of the period of Pacification, that my Grandmother remembered so vividly and recounted to me. But, I would like to also point out that there are discrepancies and disagreements among Polish historians about who, what, where and why. I will add to that ‘ when’. I refer you to a quote from a different academician, Timothy Snyder, whose work I cite below.

    “The shift of attention to the histories of nations raises problems of method. If the aerie of geopolitics is too distant from events, the rough ground of each nation’s historiography is too close. Territory and nationality are among the most powerful sources of bias, and the match of political and ethnic frontiers is such a defining event that people are apt to forget just how it was achieved. In addition, ethnic cleansing always involves mutual claims, and creates the conditions for a convenient dispute in which each side can present itself as innocent defenders of legitimate interests, its opponents as savage nationalists, and the noise of the quarrel as support for these contentions. An important example is the ethnic cleansing of Galicia and Volhynia in the 1940s. It is indisputable that (aside and apart from the Holocaust and casualties of the Second World War) about 50,000-100,000 Poles and Ukrainians were murdered and about 1.5 million Ukrainians and Poles forced to leave their homes between 1943 and 1947. It is incontestable that the territories now constituting western Ukraine were cleansed of their large Polish minority, and the territories now constituting southeastern Poland cleansed of their large Ukrainian minority. Behind these general statements, however, stand two apparently contradictory accounts of what happened and why.

    Among several other approaches, I used my MIT-Mellon grant to ascertain both how these instances of forced migration are remembered, and how they in fact took place. This involved interviews, the use of private and state archives, and the exploitation of published material available in Poland and Ukraine (see footnotes). The private archives, both Polish and Ukrainian, were the result of efforts by NGOs within Poland, both before and after 1989. Although the Eastern Archive and the Ukrainian Archive have distinct agendas, each of them has allowed for the memories of both Poles and Ukrainians to be preserved in a form that is now available to the individual researcher. In this sense, the work of NGOs in Poland has allowed for the recreation of the history of a moment of massive forced migration: a history that often contrasts with and serves as a check upon one-sided accounts based upon more limited archival resources.

    In other words, the work of NGOs is contributing to the emergence of a more balanced image of the ethnic cleansings of the 1940s. To see the importance of this, it is sufficient to compare the peace between Poland and Ukraine to national conflict elsewhere in Eastern Europe. It is also important to see that these ethnic cleansings are important within both national societies, Polish and Ukrainian, and that in this sense the efforts of NGOs have indirectly served to prevent what might have been divisive conflicts between states or between majorities and minorities. Today, both Ukrainians and Poles believe that their claim to Eastern Galicia and Volhynia in 1939 and 1945 was legitimate. Both Ukrainians and Poles assert that the other side cooperated with organs of power of the Nazi and Soviet occupiers in Galicia and Volhynia during and after the Second World War. Both Ukrainians and Poles believe that the other side’s partisans killed their civilians. Both Ukrainians and Poles believe that hundreds of thousands of their own were expelled or dispersed by an ethnically cleansing state after the war. Although in practice these beliefs are often held to be mutually contradictory, since one accusation is usually met with another, logically speaking they are not. Indeed, all of these beliefs, in various measures and with various qualifications, are true.”

    http://web.mit.edu/cis/www/migration/pubs/rrwp/9_resolve.html

    Please note that this brief quote does not settle any arguments, nor make any apologies, but provides an explanation for the reasons that there are variances in memories, statistics, opinions and even history itself.

  • searchingfortruth

    It is hard to believe that someone would write an article like that and call it history and national memory. Before I continue, let me say that we should not look for reasons for irrational mass murders driven by an insane political philosophy. There are dozens of such “explanations” all of them false, and we are being asked to pick one that seems most “reasonable” to us. But all versions are false. It is a tactic that was perfected by the Soviets and these days is used with more frequency in the West. When horrific crimes are not punished they become fodder for apologists and their fantasies.

    Let us put in a perspective who the mass murderers were and what they were not. They comprised no more than 10% of the Ukrainians in pre-war Poland. All members of Ukrainian SS formations, the Auxillary police (responsible for Wolyn murders), the Concentration camp guard unit, the UPA (a unified command for both Bandera’s and Melnyk’s followers), and the Criminal police were all followers of OUN, which can be best described as the Ukrainian Nazi Party. Their philosophy did not differ in any way from that of the Nazis and in defining who are the Ukrainians they were more extreme than the Nazis were in defining who was German.The SS-Galizien, the last Ukrainian formation created by the Nazis, did not differ in its composition from that of UPA or the OUN bands which preceded UPA. They were both composed of remnants of other Ukrainian SS units, members of police, and new recruits. To understand the ties that bound these different formations together, look at the leadership. Roman Shukhevych was an organizer and the first head of Ukrainian Staff of SS-Nachtigal; then in 1943 he became the Chief of Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Wolyn responsible for mass murders of Polish population, and in September of 1943 he became the Commander in Chief of the UPA. The members of different units tended to drift from one formation to another depending on who needed them more. Like Shukhevych, they simply changed their uniforms. OUN and their philosophy of hate was the bond that bound them.

    The notion that the members of these formations many, wearing Nazi uniforms and swearing allegiance to Hitler, were fighting the Nazis is an absurdity. Many if not most of the UPA (both OUN-B and OUN-M followers) partisans were trained at one time or another by the Nazis. They also received their arms from the Nazis.The Germans used them to fight the Polish underground not only in Kresy, but throughout Eastern and Central Poland. They distinguished themselves by mindless brutality. The collaboration between the Nazis and the OUN began in 1933 and continued until the Nazi surrender. You probably heard a lot about the UPA fighting an underground war against the Nazis, but do not believe it. To this date there is no known incident in which UPA band fought a German Unit. If any apologists know of one please let us know.

    Likewise, their exploits against the Soviets are a myth. They did fight the Soviet partisans, Ukrainians from central Ukraine who were infiltrated into occupied Eastern Poland, with the same brutality and barbarity that they treated the Poles. But in Brody, when the SS-Galizien faced by the Red Army they fled on mass. That was the beginning and the end of their fighting against the Soviets. After the Soviets vanquished the Polish underground army in 1945-6, they turned on the UPA. When the Soviets turned on them they all tried to flee to Austria even though the Germans left them huge caches of arms. At that point they were fighting for their lives and not for Ukraine.

    The OUN crimes did not begin in 1943 but in 1939, when OUN bands, trained in Slovakia, were infiltrated into Eastern Galicia and Wolyn, and began killing Poles. Their primary assignment was to stop Polish soldiers who were trying to reach Rumania. They also attacked and sacked Polish villages. My village, Huta Pieniacka not far from Brody, was attacked for the first time in late September after the Russian invasion. These OUN bands became the source of manpower for other units.

    As for reconciliation, who are the Poles to forgive? No one in official capacity and none of the perpetrators of the crimes and their followers have asked for forgiveness and instead are asking the Poles for apologies for crimes that they did not commit. The Communists and post-Communists obliged with false apologies, thus feeding Ukrainian ultranationalist paranoia. As Ukraine seems to be drifting towards the heirs of OUN for their inspiration, there is very little hope for such a reconciliation. The first step toward true reconciliation has to be unqualified condemnation of OUN and its leadership and all the military formations that they spawned. Their victims and their descendants are crying for justice. The truth is the only justice left for them.

  • searchingfortruth

    It is hard to believe that someone would write an article like that and call it history and national memory. Before I continue, let me say that we should not look for reasons for irrational mass murders driven by an insane political philosophy. There are dozens of such “explanations” all of them false, and we are being asked to pick one that seems most “reasonable” to us. But all versions are false. It is a tactic that was perfected by the Soviets and these days is used with more frequency in the West. When horrific crimes are not punished they become fodder for apologists and their fantasies.

    Let us put in a perspective who the mass murderers were and what they were not. They comprised no more than 10% of the Ukrainians in pre-war Poland. All members of Ukrainian SS formations, the Auxillary police (responsible for Wolyn murders), the Concentration camp guard unit, the UPA (a unified command for both Bandera’s and Melnyk’s followers), and the Criminal police were all followers of OUN, which can be best described as the Ukrainian Nazi Party. Their philosophy did not differ in any way from that of the Nazis and in defining who are the Ukrainians they were more extreme than the Nazis were in defining who was German.The SS-Galizien, the last Ukrainian formation created by the Nazis, did not differ in its composition from that of UPA or the OUN bands which preceded UPA. They were both composed of remnants of other Ukrainian SS units, members of police, and new recruits. To understand the ties that bound these different formations together, look at the leadership. Roman Shukhevych was an organizer and the first head of Ukrainian Staff of SS-Nachtigal; then in 1943 he became the Chief of Ukrainian Auxiliary Police in Wolyn responsible for mass murders of Polish population, and in September of 1943 he became the Commander in Chief of the UPA. The members of different units tended to drift from one formation to another depending on who needed them more. Like Shukhevych, they simply changed their uniforms. OUN and their philosophy of hate was the bond that bound them.

    The notion that the members of these formations many, wearing Nazi uniforms and swearing allegiance to Hitler, were fighting the Nazis is an absurdity. Many if not most of the UPA (both OUN-B and OUN-M followers) partisans were trained at one time or another by the Nazis. They also received their arms from the Nazis.The Germans used them to fight the Polish underground not only in Kresy, but throughout Eastern and Central Poland. They distinguished themselves by mindless brutality. The collaboration between the Nazis and the OUN began in 1933 and continued until the Nazi surrender. You probably heard a lot about the UPA fighting an underground war against the Nazis, but do not believe it. To this date there is no known incident in which UPA band fought a German Unit. If any apologists know of one please let us know.

    Likewise, their exploits against the Soviets are a myth. They did fight the Soviet partisans, Ukrainians from central Ukraine who were infiltrated into occupied Eastern Poland, with the same brutality and barbarity that they treated the Poles. But in Brody, when the SS-Galizien faced by the Red Army they fled on mass. That was the beginning and the end of their fighting against the Soviets. After the Soviets vanquished the Polish underground army in 1945-6, they turned on the UPA. When the Soviets turned on them they all tried to flee to Austria even though the Germans left them huge caches of arms. At that point they were fighting for their lives and not for Ukraine.

    The OUN crimes did not begin in 1943 but in 1939, when OUN bands, trained in Slovakia, were infiltrated into Eastern Galicia and Wolyn, and began killing Poles. They primary assignment was to stop Polish soldiers who were trying to reach Rumania. They also attacked and sacked Polish villages. My village, Huta Pieniacka not far from Brody, was attacked for the first time in late September after the Russian invasion. These OUN bands became the source of manpower for other units.

    As for reconciliation, who are the Poles to forgive? No one in official capacity and none of the perpetrators of the crimes and their followers have asked for forgiveness and instead are asking the Poles for apologies for crimes that they did not commit. The Communists and post-Communists obliged with false apologies, thus feeding Ukrainian ultranationalist paranoia. As Ukraine seems to be drifting towards the heirs of OUN for their inspiration, there is very little hope for such a reconciliation. The first step toward true reconciliation has to be unqualified condemnation of OUN and its leadership and all the military formations that they spawned. Their victims and their descendants are crying for justice. The truth is the only justice left for them.

  • Tim Bucknall

    article By Dr Paweł Kozłowski: kresoviana.pl/czy-musialo-dojsc-do-rzezi-wolynskiej-szkic-o-ideologii-ukrainskich-nacjonalistow/ he mentions influence of Dmytro Doncowa (who i was not aware of before) on the ideology of OUN/UPA. sorry its in Polish but you can use Google translate

    I would like to learn more about the Ideological splits between OUN-A & OUN-B, I understand these were a consequence of a leadership vacuum that followed the assasination of Yevhen Konavalets in Rotterdam in 1938 by the NKVD. is that basically correct?
    I asked on the Anglo-Belarusian Forum and apparently it was the Anti-Bandera faction that were based in the Pinsk region