Shukhevych Dossier: political mythology in the academic researches
Analytical report prepared as part of the Shukhevych Dossier project
with the support of the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation.
Olesia Isaiuk, PhD
Center for the Study of the Liberation Movement
National Memorial Museum “Lontskoho Prison”
Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University
Introduction: the Essence of the Issue, Its Object and Methodology
At about the same time as there was a change in the vector of memory policy in Ukraine, a heated debate erupted around the objects and forms of the memorising itself. It shifted from the multi-vector nature of the memory policy, which actually envisaged the dominance of the post-Soviet narrative, towards a Ukrainian-centric one, assuming the central location of the narratives of the Holodomor-genocide and the liberation struggle and its armed stages during the period of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, the UPA and the nationalist underground, represented by the OUN(b). Over time, this discussion centered almost entirely around the Ukrainian liberation movement during World War II, i.e., the legacy of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army; it continues to this day both among the specialists in the history of the OUN, the UPA together with the related issues, and among the interested circles of the public.
All in all, after almost twenty years of debate, which is still ongoing, it can be concluded that, in the end, it all comes down to a few basic issues, which can be formulated in the following questions:
– whether it is possible to interpret the temporary cooperation of the Ukrainian liberation movement with Germany during World War II as the collaboration with the Nazis, or whether it is still a purely pragmatic and ultimately unsuccessful search for an ally out of those available;
– whether the ideology of the OUN and the OUN (b), as one of its parts after the split, should be considered fascist, and if so, to what extent;
– whether there are any grounds to accuse the Ukrainian liberation movement, or rather, that part of it represented by the OUN and the UPA, of complicity in the mass murders of Jews as part of the Holocaust.
It is important to emphasize that the issue under consideration is not just the participation of individual representatives of the underground in the collaboration and mass murders of Jews, it is about the institutional responsibility at the level of organizations, structures and commanders, which are considered to be the leaders of the underground and the UPA command.
The complexity of the problem is entwined in two circumstances, namely, all the three issues under consideration are the component of political legitimacy in the world after World War II, and that is why they have actively been used first by the USSR, and later by Russia, the latter continues to take advantage of it until now. Besides, it is not just about defamation for the latter, but simply for the delegitimization of the Ukrainian liberation movement as the state tradition subject representative, which consistently opposed Russian imperialism.
These same circumstances make the level of the issue importance exceptional for Ukraine. Hence, due to the considerations given in the previous paragraph, the key issue of the discussion about the OUN (b), Jews, the Holocaust and the participation or non-participation of Ukrainian nationalists in the Lviv pogrom in particular and the persecution and murders of the Jews in general concerns not the Jews. The issue price is much higher, since this is not even about the proper place of the OUN and the UPA in the national pantheon. It is about the moral legitimacy of the Ukrainian resistance during World War II and, in particular, the legitimacy of the restored Ukrainian state in the eyes of the Western world.
The ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war actualized all of the listed complications. Partly in opposition to the enemy propaganda and partly as the result of the systematic efforts of scientists and educators, a persistent tendency to associate themselves with the “banderites” and self-perception as the continuation of the UPA tradition has become widespread among the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The same specificity of perception spread among the society. After all, associations with the struggle of the UPA are strengthened by the actions of the Russians in the occupied territories, who in some cases (the importation of Russian teachers or the forced settlement of Russians in homes left by the evacuated residents), practically reproduce the actions of the Soviet authorities in Western Ukraine in 1944–1953. Although, these same associations cause misunderstanding on behalf of Ukraine’s partners and allies in Western Europe and North America, as they are not familiarised with the details of the events and motivations of the parties in the context of the Ukrainian liberation movement. All the mentioned circumstances both add confusion to the case and make the need to close the discussion vitally needful.
This is partially confirmed by one of the most ardent critics of the OUN and the UPA and a staunch supporter of removing the OUN and the UPA from the national pantheon, John-Paul Himka, who stated: They were motivated by the, unfortunately largely successful, campaign of former president Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) in the North American diaspora to put the glorification of these radical right nationalists at the very center of the Ukrainian national identity project. In fact, it is directly about preventing the inclusion of the UPA in the national pantheon and not commemorating their contribution to the struggle for Ukrainian statehood and independence.
However, this is not the only issue which makes the topic of the discussion around the Ukrainian Insurgent Army being a purely scientific problem. In addition to the final crystallization of the issues of the discussion, in the context of the attitude to the OUN and the UPA, right now, we can say that there have actually been formed two circles, which should be described as the “Himka school” (by the name of the most active representative and in fact the founder) and those “paying tribute”. The main stream of the discussion between these circles was not only connected with the arguments regarding one or another answer to the questions formulated at the beginning of the report, but also related to priorities and attitude to the context. Those “paying tribute” prefer to first of all evaluate the contribution of the OUN and the UPA to the struggle for the independence of Ukraine, and in controversial questions they take into account first of all the context of the era in which they had to act. Unlike them the followers of John-Paul Himka believe that the priority for evaluating the activities should be, first of all, the modern ideas about tolerance, inclusivity, non-violence and other things that are extremely important for social order, although they often give the impression of the people who are not too inclined to take into account the specifics of the context of the events of World War II.
It is worth noting that the division between the supporters of this or that point of view is often covered, for example, with the generational division in Ukraine or with the party division in the diaspora. The already mentioned John-Paul Himka once inadvertently talked about the latter in the interview with “Ukraina Moderna” journal, lamenting the dominance of the OUN (b) and its ideological descendants in the diaspora. On the other hand, those “paying tribute” in independent Ukraine always rightly remind about the moral obligation to honor those who, in the literal sense of the word, gave their youth and life for the independence of their country, realizing that they were unlikely to live to independence.
Such coincidences, although quite unsystematic and strongly determined in relation to the country and individuals, suggest that it is rather about the continuation of a complicated complex of working through historical traumas, making sense of complex experiences, and making, in the long run, consensus assessments for the most vivid and – from time to time – controversial figures of the past. This is also about the settlement of relations between the supporters of different points of view on the key events and decisions at the bifurcation moments of Ukrainian history of the 20th century. Previously, usually neither time nor resources were paid due tribute to, this is for the first time in the last century and a half when the Ukrainian community can afford such a long, complex and expensive process of collective study of the past.
Consequently, the discussion around the OUN and the UPA is none the discussion about just a separate historical problem, it is as well, for example, on overcoming colonial trauma, a sign of which is the argumentation from the national interest on the behalf of some individuals and from European values on the behalf of others. In addition, it is about building relations with the outside world from the position of equality, it is about telling the world about oneself first-hand together with a number of other complicated though necessary issues.
Even in a narrow historical context, the themes raised in the discussion entail a number of other issues. For example, the other side of the question still remains unnoticed, namely, whether the passages in the OUN (b) documents, which can be interpreted as directed against Jews, as some of the personalities of our study interpret them, are inherently anti-Semitic in nature, that is, caused by hatred of Jews, as such, or is it the result of long coexistence in conditions of mutual competition within continental empires. One more view of the problem involves a deeper study of both the ways of exercising power and national politics in the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires, in which Ukrainians and Jews lived side by side, and the relations between the two peoples in the colonial period.
Separately, it is worth mentioning and considering such a delicate factor as the circulation of rumors about the pro-Russian nature of at least a part of the representatives of the “hypercritical” circle. To put it simply, it is suggested to suspect this group of agent cooperation with the Russian special services. This version cannot be either proven or denied at this stage. However, it is necessary to outline those facts, sequences and coincidences that provoke its circulation.
The first fact in the line is the statement of the Symon Petliura’s murderer, that the murder of the chieftain was the revenge for the murder of the murderer’s relatives, who were allegedly killed on the grounds of anti-Semitism. This theme was developed during the trial against the murderer and eventually became a popular mainstream. Later, in the 1960s, the KGB made an attempt to repeat the “Schwartzbard case” by distributing a large number of provocative leaflets calling on Jews to deal with Yaroslav Stetsko, who was accused in the text of the leaflets of involvement in mass murders of Jews.
During the defamation campaign against Ukrainian emigration abroad, built around the “Nachtigall” in 1959–1960, the main emphasis was as well placed on the topic of the alleged abuse of Jews. The stereotype formed by this propaganda campaign lasted until the beginning of the 2010s, and in the 2000s it remained stable enough for an attempt to be actualized after Roman Shukhevych was posthumously awarded the title of the Hero of Ukraine. The definitive end of this story was the discovery in the archives of the Security Service of Ukraine of documents that unequivocally testified to the Soviet trace in the “Nachtigall” issue and the non-discovery in the archives of the Yad Vashem Institute of the documents about Roman Shukhevych’s participation in the pogroms, which were claimed by the Institute’s employee Tommy Lapid. In the case of the well-known story of the Ivan Demjanjuk trial the “Soviet track” was proved documentally. Such a sequence forces at least neither to reject the problem at the very beginning, nor to take the option of treating it blindfolded.
In all the described discussions and contexts, the personality of Roman Shukhevych is actually at the forefront of discussions simply due to the exceptional role he played in the history of anti-Soviet resistance and his place in the structure of the OUN and the UPA. In addition, having been the commander of “Nachtigall” and the 201st police battalion, into which the former legion was transferred, he was perfectly suited to build an argument about the collaboration of the liberation movement with the Nazis.
Accordingly, first of all, the subject of the analysis is the image of Roman Shukhevych in the works of the representatives of the “hypercritical” school of research on the liberation movement. Besides, the themes directly related to “Nachtigall” and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army are of particular interest, since the discussion of these topics is closely interwoven with the views of Roman Shukhevych, and the tactics and strategies of the liberation movement, which could not be adopted without his immediate participation and sanction, as well as his co-responsibility, as a commander for the actions of his subordinates. These themes include the topic of Roman Shukhevych’s co-responsibility for the Polish-Ukrainian conflict in Volyn, the presence in the ranks of the UPA of former policemen and fighters of the Halychyna Division and the issue of the presence of anti-Semitism in the ideology of the UPA. Recently, the topic of the alleged presence of systematic discriminatory practices against women in the UPA and the underground was added to this list.
The widely known topic of the probable participation of the members of the OUN (b) in the Lviv pogrom and the discussions about how much this participation was at the level of individuals, and how much it was centralized at the level of the leadership of at least local branches of the OUN (b), also indirectly concerns Roman Shukhevych. The fact is that at one time the first stage of the propaganda war against the Ukrainian community in the West became the topic of seemingly mass shootings and pogroms committed by the fighters of the “Nachtigall” battalion, commanded by Roman Shukhevych. Today, this version has been completely refuted, which is recognized even by such an ardent opponent of both the then OUN (b) and the diaspora nationalists, John-Paul Himka. Nevertheless, at the subconscious level, the theme of the events of the first days of July 1941 is still indirectly connected with the figure of Roman Shukhevych.
Therefore, the purpose of this research is to find out what exactly and on what grounds Roman Shukhevych is accused of both personally and indirectly; and whether it is due to his membership in the OUN (b), which formed the militia accused of participating in numerous Jewish pogroms, or because of his position as a commander the 201st security battalion or the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. To a large extent, it will be necessary to analyze rather the accusations against the OUN or the UPA, because, after all, few of them do without the topic of command orders, and Roman Shukhevych was the Commander-in-Chief of the UPA.
For this purpose, the work will analyze a number of researches of the followers of John-Paul Himka articles on the activities of Roman Shukhevych and his subordinate structures and units, written in the context of accusations of collaborationism and systematic anti-Semitic actions. However, in order to understand the context, the background of Roman Shukhevych’s activity in the OUN (b), the UPA and the history of accusations of collaboration and anti-Semitism by the Ukrainian liberation movement, including Roman Shukhevych, will be described in separate chapters.
The overview of the context: Roman Shukhevych, the OUN (b) and the UPA in 1939–1943 via documents, plans and facts.
Before proceeding to the analysis of the essence of the methods of depicting Roman Shukhevych and the reasons for the approach of the Himka school described in the introduction, it is worth getting acquainted with the events and phenomena that were at the center of the discussions. These include: the episodes of agreements of the OUN (b) with Germany in 1940–1941, the elements of ideology of the OUN (b), especially in matters of external alliances and the attitude towards minorities of the future Ukrainian State, their plans for foreign and domestic policy, as well as the circumstances of the declaration of the Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian state on June 30, 1941, definitely, with a special emphasis on the role and place of Roman Shukhevych in them. The second block of the events that should be considered is the activity of Roman Shukhevych as the commander of the 201st battalion in Belarus. Finally, the third one is the activity of Roman Shukhevych in 1943–1944 as the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
The topic of the Ukrainian-Polish confrontation was deliberately omitted in this study for several reasons: first of all, this discussion lasted before the discussion of the topic of the OUN, the UPA and collaboration and, most likely, will continue in the future; secondly, in relation to the Polish-Ukrainian context, the period of the OUN and the UPA was chronologically the last in the long series of mutual grievances and confrontations. Therefore, a separate emphasis on the Polish-Ukrainian confrontation would go far beyond the scope of the report.
From the point of view of the OUN (b), World War II, despite all its tragedy of the situation, hid within itself a potential opportunity to use the situation for the purpose of restoring Ukrainian statehood. Their calculation was based on the fact that in the event of a new major war, which was the Second World War, first of all, the international system that left Ukraine in a divided and oppressed position would collapse, and, secondly, it would sufficiently weaken the states part of which Ukraine was at those times, and thus their weakness could be used as a chance for Ukraine. In their activities and tactics, the “banderites” were guided by the experience of the previous stage of the liberation struggle, that is, the War of Independence of 1917–1921 and by the political calculation according to the principle “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.
Considering the number of accusations of ideological kinship with fascism and discriminatory plans against national minorities, it is worth taking into account by the latter the ideological and tactical documents that the OUN (b) formed at the end of 1940 – in May 1941. The same documents of the unified OUN are not taken into account in this text, since they were noted for their eclecticism, and the tactics and ideology of the OUN (b) as of 1941 had mostly undergone a significant evolution, compared to the situation in the unified OUN. In addition, in the context of accusations against the OUN (b) in general and its individual members in the context of specific events, it is worth focusing on the documents created by the OUN (b) after the split, both of a general ideological nature and the planning ones.
The first ideological document issued by the OUN (b) was the OUN Leadership Manifesto, issued in December 1940. In the introduction to this document, the main opponent – Moscow and Bolshevism – was clearly defined, and at the same time Ukraine’s place in the vanguard of the anti-communist struggle was postulated: “Demolishing the terrible prison of nations – the Moscow empire – we are creating a new just order and laying the foundations of a new political order in the world”. Although, taken that, an alliance, even situational, with all the countries and peoples whose independence became a victim of the communist empire was obvious, this was emphasized in the document at least three times. Consequently, the main goal of the struggle was declared “for the liberation of the Ukrainian people from all types of Moscow imperialism, and in particular against Bolshevism, which pushed national, political, religious, cultural, social and economic oppression to the extreme”. The next four chapters, in different words, essentially repeat the same idea, i.e., Ukrainians are at the edge of the struggle against Moscow and invite the representatives of other nations to join in this struggle. Provided we allow ourselves a kind of lyrical digression, it is difficult to overcome the feeling that these words sound extremely consonant with the current political situation.
Hereafter, the Manifesto provides a list of “what for” and “against what” the banderites are fighting. The list of “against what” covers primarily political and economic reasons, however, one of the items is worth being quoted here in full: “against robbing him/her (a person – O.I.) of all the joy of life”; in fact, it was actually for the first time in Ukrainian, and it is possible that not only in Ukrainian political practice, that the emotional and psychological trauma inflicted on its citizens by communist totalitarianism was expressed at the level of political declarations.
The answer to the question “what to fight for” was formulated clearly: “For human dignity and freedom, for the right to clearly state one’s beliefs, for freedom of all religions, for complete freedom of conscience”. Here it is important to note that the representatives of the “Himka group” consistently attribute all signs of democracy to 1943, completely ignoring the package of documents dated 1940–1941.
Taking into account the situation of Ukraine at that time and, in particular, the obvious imbalance of forces and capabilities of the OUN compared to its opponents, all the abovementioned sounded rather pretentious. Although, if we look at modern times, we have to admit that the younger generation of nationalists, without realizing it and without knowing it, determined the configuration and arrangement of forces in the eastern part of Europe, which still dominates all disagreements between countries, that is, Ukraine, Poland, Belarus and the Baltic states against Moscow.
The ideological foundations of the OUN were spelled out in more detail in the resolutions of the Second Great Assembly held in April 1941. The preamble contained an account of the history of the nationalist movement, which, according to the authors of the Resolution, was started by Mykola Mikhnovsky and continued by Yevhen Konovalets and his comrades. In the last third of the text, the OUN (b) clearly formulates the reason for its activity – “the immediate proximity of the final days of the war, which are decisive for the fate of Ukraine”. Simply put, the nationalists once again demonstrated that they perceive the war as a window of opportunity for Ukraine in the context of regaining independence. They considered their Assembly as the beginning of another stage in the struggle for Ukraine’s independence.
The Resolutions include programmatic, political, and military resolutions as well as educational and propaganda guidelines. Due to the topic of the suggested review, we will limit ourselves to the analysis of only that part of them, which directly relates to the political goals of the OUN (b), the relations with other nations and states, and propaganda.
Therefore, the main goal and basis of the worldview of the members of the OUN was the welfare of the Ukrainian nation: “The struggle for the strength and good of the Ukrainian nation is the basis of our worldview…”. The nationalists believed that the only way to ensure a free life and comprehensive development of Ukrainians was the acquisition of their own state, and the only way to obtain it was the “revolutionary struggle against the riders”, that is, the occupiers.
The political resolutions contained two fundamental innovations. The first of them was a clearly formulated main opponent: “The USSR is the latest form of Moscow imperialism, which brings enslaved peoples and countries to national, cultural and economic stagnation and ruin. Only the self-reliance of the peoples of Europe and Asia enslaved by Moscow and free cooperation between them will lead to comprehensive development”.
In the issue of allies and opponents, everything was formulated simply, according to the right-wing principle “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, i.e., “The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists considers as allies of Ukraine all states, political groups and forces interested in the collapse of the USSR and in the creation of an independent Ukrainian Sovereign United state. The attitude of the OUN to the states and political movements is determined by their anti-Moscow orientation, and not by the greater or lesser political consonance with the Ukrainian national movement”. The nationalists demonstrated the wonders of political pragmatism: “When creating a single anti-Moscow front of struggle, the political expediency is above all, and not the worldview, ideological or programmatic differences”.
This is especially evident in the case of the Poles – after twenty years of fierce opposition and personal negative experience, the nationalists clearly postulate that they are not satisfied with the Poles’ efforts to restore control over Western Ukraine: “The OUN is fighting the action of those Polish groups that are fighting to restore the Polish occupation of Ukrainian lands”.
The next major document, titled “Political Instructions of the OUN Leadership on State-building Activities in War Conditions with the Aim of Creating the Ukrainian State” included both a vision and understanding of the current situation at that time, as well as substantive instructions that should be followed in the event of an outbreak of war, which happened about a month after they were created.
First of all, the OUN (b) confirms its vision of the war as a convenient moment for the overthrow of Moscow and Ukraine’s independence: “For us, a war between Moscow and other states is only an attractive situation for an armed coup against Moscow and the reconstruction of the Ukrainian state by the Ukrainian people’s own forces”. Moreover, they saw the role of both their own and of the entire Ukrainian nation as the participant in the events as much as possible: “Only their own armed struggle will assure the Ukrainian people of the role of creator of their own destiny, and it will give them the right to speak with other free peoples as a sovereign and as equal to equals…”. Taking into account how the rhetoric of the collective West changed in accordance with the success of the Ukrainian army in combat operations against Russia, it would be difficult not to admit that in some ways the nationalists were right.
Based on this philosophy, the OUN (b) planned an uprising against the USSR. The conduct of combat operations was planned in the form of a rebellion in the rear and open military actions against the Red Army, which were to be conducted by the combat units formed in emigration and, as it was assumed, the units of the Red Army, which would join the rebels. Moreover, the nationalists were not interested in the nationality of those who joined the struggle, on the contrary, regardless of this factor, everyone was promised all possible help, including the return to their homelands. Special emphasis was made on preventing anarchy.
During the uprising and in general during the war, the OUN (b) left to itself the organization of life in all spheres, in relation to what already existed, adopting the tactic “ in case it works – simply leave it as it is”. According to the “Instructions…”, the OUN was supposed to appoint its leaders to all administrative, economic, educational, social and other institutions, which were to be preserved inasmuchas possible in the existing form; the leaders, however, were to manage in accordance with the instructions of the specialists. Besides, the OUN planned to form an army and the necessary auxiliary and paramilitary organizations and arrange the rear of this army. Another area where the OUN planned to ensure its autonomy and dominance was youth education.
These plans for sure do not have much to do with democracy, but two things should be taken into account. First of all, it was a period of war, which, even in fully democratic states, is usually a period of restrictions on civil liberties, as the experience of Western countries during that period proved. In addition, in this case, the OUN consistently separated itself from the parties, formulating the goal of “creating the ideological, political and organizational strength of the order of fighters and fanatics”. Such a conclusion, again, is not connected with democracy, but it is worth remembering that precisely such views on oneself, others and Ukraine were a consequence of the defeat in the war for independence, the blame for which was laid, in particular, on the excess of inter-party discussions and lack of people ready to stand to the end. Dmytro Dontsov was not only the ideologist of integral nationalism, but also the exponent of the emotions of the defeat of the Ukrainian War of Independence of 1917–1921. Therefore, in this case, most likely, we are dealing not so much with a political position, but with the inertia of the psychological consequences of the loss of statehood in 1919–1921.
Summarizing the analysis of the founding documents of the OUN (b) of a strategic nature, it is worth highlighting several common features which are as follows:
– political pragmatism. It would not be an exaggeration to say that banderites were ready to cooperate with almost everyone who, at least, did not object to the idea of Ukraine’s independence. The only entity to which their tolerance in choosing partners did not extend was the USSR, considering it to be one more iteration of Russian imperialism. For example, the convergence of stylistics in the public characteristics of such different countries and political organizations as Nazi Germany in 1941 and the USA in the 1950s can serve as collateral evidence of the statement. The illustration of the former is, for instance, the ill-fated third point of the Act of the Restoration of the Ukrainian State with phrases like “close cooperation with Great Germany and creation of the new order in Europe”. An example of the latter is the characterization of the US government in the introduction to “June 30, 1941” by Yaroslav Stetsko: “such masters of state building as the United States and England”.
– children of their time. At least two characteristic features of the political and intellectual fashion of that time are noticeable in the strategic and ideological texts of the OUN (b). This is the attraction to various forms of “correct organization of the masses”, from which the regular theses about “education of the masses” take their roots, as well as the obvious inclination to militarism. Both these features are currently characterized as signs of a tendency to totalitarianism, but it should be remembered that in the case of the OUN (b) we are talking about individual manifestations of those features that at that time occurred in the vast majority of political forces, and – when it comes to for example, various forms of collectivism – that they were perfectly combined in the program documents of the OUN (b) with the protection of individual rights. This combination is more associated with social democracy than with classical collectivism. This situation in combination with the eclecticism of the social and economic part of the OUN (b) program makes it possible to assume that the real ratio of various features and methods of politics would actually depend on the specific situation.
– the impact of the experience of losing statehood. One of the important factors in the formation of the program and tactics was the experience of the previous stage of the struggle for statehood. It has already become too much of a truism to say that the aversion to democracy and mistrust of Western democratic states was a consequence of the fact that the leaders of Ukraine at the previous stage were precisely representatives of left and democratic parties, and Western democracies at least ignored Ukraine, and at most – like France – actively played on the side of the opponents of the Ukrainian People’s Republic, i.e. Russia and – at that time – Poland. The same experience affected their attitude towards the minorities, i.e., it was about the practice of a series of post-war plebiscites, as a result of which the disputed territory went to the country whose representatives of the titular nation gave more votes in the plebiscite. Moreover, such plebiscites repeatedly took place with violations and fraud on both sides, which also contributed to the formation of distrust in democratic procedures. After all, the experience of Ukraine’s military defeat contributed to the formation of the belief that military force weighs much more than the procedures. The influence of the experience of 1917–1921 on the formation of “undemocratic” features in the ideology and tactics of the OUN (b) was best analyzed by Yaroslav Hrytsak in the article “Fifteen Theses about the UPA”.
– the state as an absolute priority. The idea of the state as an absolute priority runs through almost all the documents of the OUN (b) and this gave grounds for accusing the OUN (b) of ideological commitment and affiliation to fascism. However, Ivan Lysiak-Rudnytsky argues that due to the stateless status of Ukrainians and the specifics of the economic and social evolution of the entire Eastern European region, it is more appropriate to speak not about fascism, but about a specific regional variation of the right-wing ideology. Oleksandr Zaytsev, in his proposal of the concept of “Ustashaism”, was most likely based on the views of Lysiak-Rudnytsky. Actually, it is quite logical to assume that after the painful experience of the loss of the newly acquired statehood and against the background of the radicalization of other independence movements in the region (Slovakia, Croatia) and not only (Ireland), it is more appropriate to speak less about fascism and more about a traumatic reaction to the loss of statehood, as evidenced by passages similar to the one given: “…so that after quarrels and disputes over land and the 8-hour workday lest we forget the most important thing, i.e., the defense against the enemy of the State”.
Summing up the results, which at the same time are a kind of the key to understanding all the following described approaches and actions of the OUN (b), it is worth separately considering the position in the plans of the OUN (b) for the period of the war and in the orders in the first days after its beginning of three topics: the places and roles of democratic practices and the degree of their tolerance by the OUN (b); the attitude towards Germans; and the attitude towards national minorities, primarily Poles and Jews. The choice of the issues is determined by the accusations that are most often leveled at the OUN (b) and, in the end, boil down to three main accusations, namely, undemocratic, collaboration with the Nazis, and intolerance of minorities. By way of introduction, it is worth noting that similar accusations can be made against many political forces, including those with quite respectable reputations in the eyes of both contemporaries and descendants. Three documents dated May 1941 will serve the materials for analysis: “Political Instructions of the OUN Leadership for the Grassroots Organizations in War Conditions”, “Military Instructions of the OUN Corps in the Event of the War for Ukrainian Statehood”, and “Safety Instructions for the OUN Leadership in the Event of War to Protect the State-building Processes”.
The discussion of the problem of democracy could be already ended up by the fact that all the mentioned documents refer, on the one hand, to the war period, and on the other – to the period of the initial development of the state. None of these options is equal to the situation of “ordinary” life, and both often require solutions that are by no means compatible with democratic values. Thus, when it comes to the democratic practices of the OUN (b) in the first weeks of the German-Soviet war, the fact of the extraordinary situation of the start of the war and the establishment of the state apparatus is a sufficient explanation.
It is also worth mentioning that in matters of administration, the nationalists showed pragmatism, suggesting to leave, where possible, the old forms of organization, only replacing them with their own people and creating new administrative bodies where necessary. However, as can be seen from the “Political Guidelines…”, the OUN (b) considered democratic procedures to be quite acceptable after the end of the transition period: “The establishment of long-term state power must be based on the organized manifestation of the will of the entire Ukrainian people in the form of a general, initiated by the OUN, election of the Head of the Ukrainian state after the liberation of most of the Ukrainian lands and the initial establishment of the state life”. At the same time, even during the war, the OUN (b) did not claim a total monopoly on the issue of state revival: “…the OUN will take a completely positive attitude and support with all its might towards every revolutionary initiative in the struggle and state building… aimed at the liberation and sovereignty of Ukraine…”. This opinion is repeated once again in paragraph 7 of the chapter “Relation of the OUN to the issue of state power” – although the OUN did not hide its intentions to take over all of Western Ukraine, it simultaneously proclaimed that “..if another independent center would rather rise in the Central and Eastern Ukrainian lands, which will successfully organize a liberation disruption and state structure…. then the OUN will recognize it as the central government of Ukraine and will be subordinate to it…”. It is worth noting that this scheme looks the closest to the model that was embodied in the relations between the UNR and the ZUNR twenty years earlier.
The OUN(b) planned a multi-party government for one simple reason, i.e., the nationalists realized that they were, at least, not the only political force popular among Ukrainians. The main principle of selection into government bodies had to be meritocratic: “The head of the Ukrainian State should be a man who has the authority and trust of the entire Ukrainian people, and freely chosen by the entire people”. However, such democracy was planned only until the moment when the whole of Ukraine was “completely covered by the nationalist movement”, though, considering that this concept was not explained in detail, and there is nothing more permanent than the temporary, it can be said with a clear conscience that democracy was much more threatened by the realities of war between two totalitarianisms than by the OUN (b).
The process of preparing for the proclamation of the Act on the Restoration of the Ukrainian State should be considered separately, since it stands out in the “undemocratic” package as there are accusations of “voluntarism” and “autonomy” of the OUN (b) in the process of preparing for the promulgation of the Act. Hence, in the process of preparation, the nationalists used the principle of constituencies, namely, when the mandate to declare statehood is issued by the unification of all political forces. It was obvious that independence looks much better when it is proclaimed by the representatives of all political trends, and not by a single political party. In addition, there was another, purely practical argument – the nationalists predicted that the German ally would not be delighted with another declared participant in the processes and wanted, by binding other Ukrainian political forces with an agreement, to make it more difficult for the Germans to play on internal Ukrainian political contradictions.
The formation of such a constituent was granted to Yaroslav Stetsko, together with Roman Ilnytskyi and Yevhen Vretsona, as well as Ivan Ravlyk, Yaroslav Starukh and Vasyl Okhrymovych. In the process of forming an effective constituent assembly, the nationalists faced a lot of mutual, both well-founded contradictions and just ambitions and old grudges. It once more turned out that the State Center of the UNR in exile and the Hetmans still do not tolerate each other, the Melnykites, of course, did not even want to hear about the leadership of the “banderites”, both the Melnyk residents and the State Center of the UNR claimed the leading roles in this general assembly. The Western Ukrainian parties faced a formal problem – as it turned out, in September 1939 they formally announced their self-dissolution.
Finally, after several months of negotiations and agreements, on June 22, 1941, a congress of representatives of Ukrainian political parties and circles gathered in Krakow and formed the Ukrainian National Committee. Only Melnykites were left behind. The committee was headed by General Vsevolod Petriv, his deputies were Viktor Andrievskyi and the secretaries became Stepan Shukhevych and Vasyl Mudryi. In total, the Committee counted 113 participants, representing almost all Ukrainian political forces. As for the problem of collaboration with Germany, it should be noted that from those documents that were not intended for publication, but for daily management, such as the Act of Restoration itself, a rather cynical attitude towards the German side can be clearly traced. The very fact of cooperation with Germany was dictated by the need to find an ally capable of opposing the USSR. Most of the states that could become such an ally were either already controlled by the USSR or they were too far away.
The theme of relations with the German side in general and the German army in Ukraine in particular appeared already in the “Instructions…”. Overall it was as follows: to welcome them as allies, but to look up to the local issues themselves, not to allow newcomers to power: “all affairs… are dealt with by the OUN and the local authorities on their own, although they are ready to enter into friendly relations with the allied forces for joint struggle with Moscow and for cooperation”. However, the nationalists also envisaged the option that the German side would not recognize the newly restored Ukrainian statehood. In this case, it should have been declared that it was impossible to transfer powers, since only the leadership of the OUN could release them from their duties. In the case of a clear threat of repression, it was ordered to give way, but purely legally only to suspend tenure, without formally transferring powers.
Alongside with the preparation of all these documents, on June 23, 1941, the leadership of the OUN (b) sent the government of the Third Reich a memorandum, that consisted of seven chapters. The first chapter formulated the grounds for writing the memorandum, the second was a short historical excursion into the past of Ukrainian and German relations, and the third chapter began very peculiarly: “Even if the German troops, upon entering Ukraine, will, of course, first be greeted there as liberators, then soon this attitude may change if Germany comes to Ukraine not with the aim of restoring the Ukrainian state and without appropriate slogans”. In the entire third chapter, the nationalists explained to the high-ranking addressee that Ukrainians have vast experience in fighting the enemy and a long tradition of existence in, as they would say now, the European space. The rest of the document is a collection of arguments in favor of Ukraine’s independence from the point of view of strategic, economic and political reasoning. In the last part, the Nazis are reminded directly that in case of the Ukrainians they are dealing with a nation-army that fought for most of its history, starting from the princely era and ending with the war for independence of 1917–1921. In fact, it was a disguised threat.
It is worth solely considering the history of the formation of the “Squads of Ukrainian Nationalists”, that is, the volunteer battalions “Nachtigall” and “Roland”. At the beginning of 1941, the negotiations with the command of the Wehrmacht about the creation of the Ukrainian legion within the German army began. As a result of these negotiations, an agreement was reached on the training of 700 Ukrainian volunteers by the German army. Though it was only an intermediate result. After the commander of the Wehrmacht’s Ground Forces (OKV) Walther von Brauchitsch took part in the negotiations, and Stepan Bandera also joined the Ukrainian side at the final stage, the meeting ended with the mutual agreement. On February 25, 1941, Walther von Brauchitsch gave official permission to implement the agreement with the nationalists.
According to this agreement, the German side undertook to teach military skills to 800 volunteers, from whom, after training, two volunteer battalions, “Nachtigall” and “Roland”, were to be formed. The task of both of these battalions under the collective name “Squads of Ukrainian Nationalists” was the struggle for the independent Ukraine. Consequently, the battalions were subordinated to the OUN Leadership and were not required to take an oath of loyalty to Germany and Hitler personally, as was traditionally the case for the rest of the units of the German army. The squads were to be used only on the Eastern Front against the army of the Soviet Union and under no circumstances could be transferred to the Western Front, where they would have to fight against the armies of the Western powers. Only Ukrainians were appointed commanders of both battalions, German officers retained the right of general supervision and the duties of officer-tuitors. The battalion was not subject to the practice of Nazi indoctrination, as was the case with the rest of the German army. “Nachtigall” and “Roland” had their own chaplains, every morning in the camp there was a ceremonial hanging of the Ukrainian national flag and a short prayer was said. The candidates for the battalion were selected by the OUN, specifically by Roman Shukhevych in cooperation with Mykola Lebed. However, Mykola Lebed gradually took over the entire matter of the applicants selection.
As it turned out in practice, the German side did not always strictly adhere to the reached agreements. First of all, under the pretext of training needs, commanding positions were almost entirely occupied by German officers. Ukrainians were titled only squad positions (an approximate analogue of the platoon foreman – O. I.). Roman Shukhevych was particularly dissatisfied with the fact that Ukrainians were perceived simply as new recruits and, accordingly, trained as new recruits, completely bypassing the training in military tactics and other disciplines necessary for the formation of the national army, as he wrote in a personal letter to Stepan Bandera. Finally, both of them decided not to send members of the OUN (b) to the “Legions” anymore.
The last matter under consideration that should be analyzed, regarding the context of the events around which the discussion unfolds, is the issue of the attitude of the OUN (b) to the Jews. The main documents, which clearly state the position of the OUN(b) in relation to the Jews, are the “Resolutions of the Second Great Assembly of the OUN in Krakow” and the “Instructions for the First Days of the Organization of State Life”.
The “Resolutions…” contain, so to speak, the “principle scheme” of the attitude of the OUN(b) to the Jews, which is worth quoting in full: “The Jews in the USSR are the most loyal support of the ruling Bolshevik regime and the vanguard of Moscow imperialism in Ukraine”. The Moscow-Bolshevik government uses the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses to divert their attention from the real cause of the disaster and to direct them to the pogroms of the Jews in times of disruption. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists defeats the Jews as a support of the Moscow-Bolshevik regime, while at the same time making the masses aware that Moscow is the main enemy”. From this passage, it is clear that banderites were fully aware of the presence of anti-Jewish sentiments among the population, not perceiving Jews as the threat to Ukraine. It should be emphasized that in the entire, rather extensive document, the word “race” appears only once and it refers entirely to Ukrainians, but there is nothing similar to Nazi terminology in the style of “racial purity” or “racial enmity” in any of the documents of the OUN(b).
At the same time, in relation to the Jews, as far as it can be judged from the documents, the OUN(b) used the same policy as in relation to the rest of the national communities, i.e., it interacted with them and built up the policy towards them dependent on the loyalty of the Jews to the future Ukrainian state. “Instructions for the First Days of the Organization…” contain a description of what was expected of the community disloyal to the Ukrainian State. First of all, it was about limiting access to leadership positions and narrowing educational opportunities, and those who would defend the regime should be physically exterminated. It may seem that banderites were exceptional chauvinists, if one does not know that the dark side of Galicia, since the days of Austria-Hungary, was a sharp international competition, which at the beginning of the 20th century turned into the armed confrontation, in particular, between Ukrainians and Poles. In this situation, the Jews were between a rock and a hard place, which was clearly manifested, in particular, during the Ukrainian-Polish war. The opportunities provided to the Jews by the Soviet government immediately turned them into one more, now fully-fledged competitor.
As for the more detailed instructions, the Jewish topic does not appear at all in the “Political Instructions…”, and in the “Military Instructions of the Leadership…” when the question comes to the behavior of representatives of different nationalities among the servicemen of the Red Army, Jews in general do not stand out as a separate category: “…for Ukrainians to accept the enslaved by Moscow friendly peoples at their will as well. It is better to create separate units from them. With the rest of the disarmed military forces, one should do as follows: the Moscow muzhva (infantry – O.I.) after disarmament, is to be handed over to the Germans as prisoners, apparently liquidate. Other nationalities should be let home. Politicians and well-known communists and Muscovites should be eliminated”. Besides, Jews are not mentioned in any context in the “Safety Instructions of the OUN Leadership in Case of War…”, although great attention is paid, for example, to the Poles.
In general, it is clearly visible that the Jews, in cases when fixed as an “enemy nation”, took the last place, yielding in this regard to the Soviet Union and the Poles, and it was as well consistently declared that the attitude towards the Jews depended solely on their loyalty to the Soviet Union.
In the first days after the Wehrmacht attacked the USSR, an uprising broke out in Western Ukraine, which the OUN(b) had been preparing underground for a long time. Initially, underground performances began in the north of the Lviv region. The next day after the invasion, on June 23, the fighting began in the Peremyshliany district, a few days later, the rebel groups began their activities in the Vynnyky district on the eastern outskirts of Lviv. On June 24, it broke out almost throughout the whole modern Lviv region (then Lviv and Drohobych regions – O.I.), including Lviv.
Meantime, German troops were advancing towards Lviv, followed by the members of the “departmental group” under the leadership of Yaroslav Stetsko, with the task of proclaiming the restoration of statehood. While all this was happening, mass executions of political prisoners began in the prisons of Lviv and other cities and towns of the region, due to which a total of 22 to 24 thousand political prisoners died.
In the morning of June 30, the “Nachtigall” and German troops entered Lviv. At lunchtime, Stetsko’s subordinates also emerged and met with the local underground in the square in front of the St. Yuriy Cathedral. The meeting was attended by Ivan Klymiv, the “Legend”, who at that time was the leader of the OUN in Lviv. Right there, Yaroslav Stetsko, Ivan Klymiv and Roman Shukhevych decided not to count on the fact that it would be possible to proclaim the restoration of Independence in Kyiv, but to proclaim it on the same day, in Lviv, while the Germans had only just appeared and had not launched their activities in full force.
During the day, the banderites established contacts with the leaders of the Ukrainian community of Lviv, secured their support in the matter of declaring the restoration of statehood, received the blessing of Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky, and began to shape the administration of the city.
In the evening of June 30, 1941, in the “Prosvita” building at the corner of Rynok Square and Ruska street, a meeting was held in which the representatives of all political camps and social movements of Western Ukraine took part. The meeting was also attended by the representatives of the German military authorities, namely, Ernst von Eikern and Hans Koch. It is still unclear whether they were invited beforehand or whether they came on their own. After a short welcome speech, Yaroslav Stetsko proclaimed the Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian State. According to the plan, Ukrainian statehood, proclaimed on January 22, 1918, which ceased to exist as a result of the Soviet occupation, was supposed to be restored at the meeting.
The document itself was short and contained only three paragraphs. The first paragraph dwelt upon the restoration of the Ukrainian state. The same paragraph contained a call to all Ukrainians to fight without laying down their arms until Ukrainian statehood spreads to all Ukrainian lands. The second paragraph was about the creation of local Ukrainian authorities subordinate to the central government, which was planned to be formed in Kyiv as the capital of Ukraine. The third paragraph reported that the newly restored state would closely cooperate with Germany, and the Ukrainian army, whose core was considered “Nachtigall”, would fight in alliance with the German army.
It is this last paragraph that causes the most controversy and serves as the reason for accusing the entire leadership of the OUN in general and Roman Shukhevych in particular of cooperation with the Nazi occupation government. To understand its emergence, one should bear in mind the conditions under which the Act was written. The Nazi Germany was objectively much stronger than the OUN, moreover, as of 1941, it was the strongest actor in the continental Europe. After the start of the aggression against the USSR and its successful development, the Nazis could not be wary of this enemy either. In the case of a direct and open confrontation with the Nazis, the OUN would not stand a chance. And since there was no clarity about how exactly the Nazis would perceive the proclamation of the Act on the Restoration of Statehood, they preferred to play it safe in case of a negative development of events. Reinsurance had to be constructed on the spot, thus the third paragraph appeared in the text of the Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian State, although initially it was not in the document brought from Krakow. After all, after the war, the banderites wrote no less loud praises to those Western countries with which they managed to agree on assistance to the Ukrainian liberation movement.
Meanwhile, Ivan Ravlyk began to form the Ukrainian militia. As can be seen from the documents, it was supposed to be not that much a police unit but the starting unit of the future Ukrainian army.
After the retreat of the Soviet troops and the arrival of the German troops, the new authorities allowed the locals to come to the prison yard to identify their relatives among the dead. The spectacle that unfolded before the eyes of Lviv residents in the prison yards was superimposed on the stereotype of the “Jewish commune”, to which were added the impressions of the relatively rapid advancement of the social ladder during the “first Soviets” of some Jews, as well as some older stereotypes. All this was cleverly heated up by the fact that it was the Jews who were forced to carry the bodies of the tortured out of prison: “…the Germans seemed as if to have broken loose. They seized Jews in houses and on the streets and sent them to work in prisons. Ukrainians and Poles from the newly created Ukrainian police helped them wholeheartedly in this. The work was completed within three, possibly four, days. More than a thousand Jews were collected every morning and distributed among three prisons. Several hundred were immediately assigned to work, forcing them to break cement floors and pull out the corpses. Other Jews were herded into a small prison yard or into a cell and immediately shot”. The fact that the sight of dozens of dead bodies in prison yards provoked the violence is also confirmed by the testimony of German servicemen given in Kai Struve‘s monograph.
The violence, which broke out in full force on July 1, consisted mainly of forcing the Jews to clean the streets, usually with their hands or their own clothes, and beatings. At the same time, Jews were driven to the prison yard to carry out the bodies of prisoners. It should be noted here that although Kai Struve and John-Paul Himka claim that it was the representatives of the Ukrainian militia who drove the Jews to the prison yard, mocking them on the way, it is worth considering the presence of evidence that a blue-yellow armband on the hand was more of a security sign, so it could potentially be worn not only by police officers. In particular, Ostap Tarnavskyi and Kost’ Pankivskyi, who do not belong to the OUN(b), give this kind of testimony.
It was the population of Lviv who took an active part in the events, mocking the Jews – apparently, both Ukrainians and Poles, although we will never know the exact ratio. The murders in prison yards were committed by German policemen and soldiers. The violence continued throughout the day on July 1, with separate outbreaks on July 2 and 3 as well.
As for the beliefs of Roman Shukhevych himself, there is, unfortunately, only one testimony – the words he said to the battalion, sending the soldiers off on a several-day vacation: “Do not allow any crimes or revenge against our enemies Poles or Jews, since it is not our business to deal hereby”. He himself was forced to separate himself from participation in any events, since his brother Yuriy was one of those shot in the prison on Lontsky and he was forced to take care of the funeral and organization of guardianship of his parents. Later, another high-ranking member of the OUN(b), Ivan Klymiv, the “Legend”, when he was approached with clarifications about the behavior of the members of the Organization in relation to the Jews in the new situation, stated: “I give instructions that no one member of the OUN dares to participate in the anti-Jewish campaign”. Of the entire array of documents relating to the issue of the “OUN and Jews”, there is only one episode that directly refers to the killing of Jews by members of the Organization – it is described in the memoirs by Viktor Kharkiv, indicating that under the impression of traces of Bolshevik terror, the fighters of the unit in “Nachtigall” shot all the Jews found in two villages in Vinnytsia region. It should be noted that in this case, the consequence that had already been traced in Lviv before is clearly visible – Jews were killed on the basis of emotional shock from the horror seen, and not consciously, because of the ethnic origin of the victims.
At the end of the first week of July, “Nachtigall” again took part in the combat actions, together with the rest of the German army, the battalion moved to the East. When the “Nachtigalites” were in the vicinity of Vinnytsia, they received a message about the non-recognition of the Act of Restoration of Statehood and the arrest of the Ukrainian State Government. The “Nachtigalites” protested, in response they were sent to Neugamer (now Nowa Kuznia in Poland) for the investigation of the situation. Finally, the battalion was sent to training.
After the training, the former battalion was attached to the 62nd Guard Regiment of the 201st Division of the Wehrmacht under the command of Lieutenant General Alfred Jacobi. On March 19, 1942, the former “Nachtigallites”were sent to Belarus – through Warsaw, Kielce, Grudzondz, Baranovichi to Minsk. The newly created unit was divided into four hundreds under the command of, respectively, Roman Shukhevych, Mykhailo Bryhider, Vasyl Sydor, and Volodymyr Pavlyk.
The newly formed regiment was supposed to guard the communication routes in the Mogilev-Vitebsk-Lepel triangle in north-eastern Belarus, in particular from the Soviet partisans. It was only on the way from Neuhammer that everyone learned about their destination. There was no choice as refusal would almost certainly result in the arrest of at least all of the officers, followed by anything from a lengthy investigation to execution. In such a situation, Roman Shukhevych was faced with the task of preserving the trained personnel for the future struggle and preventing the Germans from using the unit in the role of punitive agents, because the “guard” tasks with a high probability could mean such participation. Even without such predictions, Roman Shukhevych realized that fighting with partisans meant fighting with the civilians, which always comprised the basis for partisans. That kind of war required specially trained units, and “Nachtigall” was prepared for combat operations at the front. There was a grim prospect of large human losses and involuntary complicity in actions that could be classified as war crimes.
Roman Shukhevych was not naive, i.e., in the annual contracts signed by each Nachtigall soldier, it was specified that the German side had no right to use the unit for any actions directed against the civilian population. However, in situ, the local officials from the Wirtschaftskommando (a body of the occupation authorities responsible for economic affairs, in particular for the collection of the contingent) had to be reminded of this point more than once that the former “Nachtigallites” came here “not to rob, but to fight”.
Besides, Roman Shukhevych had one more, unofficial post. As the most authoritative of the “Nachtigall” OUN residents, he was responsible for organizing and coordinating actions in the interests of the OUN. Therefore, a dual power was finally formed in the unit: alongside the official power of the military command, there was a secret power of the OUN, which was based, in fact, on the personal authority of Roman Shukhevych. Due to this secret power, every order of the German command that grossly violated the agreements was inevitably met with organized resistance.
In January 1943, after the former “Nachtigallites” were actually sent to Lviv under arrest after refusing to continue police service, Roman Shukhevych, already in Lviv, escaped from the arrest. Aterwards, in February 1943, as the military referent of the OUN(b) Leadership, he joined the formation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. This period of his life is of interest to the followers of John-Paul Himka for two reasons, namely, the fact of the participation of the former policemen in the UPA and the contacts with the occupation authorities.
At an early stage, i.e., in the spring and summer of 1943, the UPA – apparently with the sanction of Roman Shukhevych – actively involved the former employees of the auxiliary police. The promotion of OUN residents to the bodies of the occupation authorities presupposed that they could infiltrate into the police as well. Although the Germans were not aware about it since the OUN residents were going there under the secret order of the organization. The reason for this is simple – having people in the occupation forces meant ample opportunities for the intelligence as well as for completely legal acquisition of weapons. This method was used not only by the UPA, but by other European resistance movements too, i.e., Polish, French, Greek, and Serbian. That was in no case conscious collaborationism. For sure, one can object, saying that the policemen, regardless of their wishes and motives, had to carry out orders. However, it should be noted here that the main task of the national auxiliary police was to supervise the maintenance of order in the places of deployment. Should they have taken part in operations that can be qualified as punitive, then that was only as an auxiliary force.
Roman Shukhevych actively involved his former subordinates from “Nachtigall” in the formation of the UPA. At least two of them, namely,Vasyl Sydor and Yulian Kovalskyi, had previously carried out his assignments, for example, scouting the situation and examining places where it would be better to start the activities of the partisan army. TheNachtigall’s officers were arrested (some of them later fought in the Halychyna division and the Ukrainian National Army), but the rank-and-file fighters almost all escaped the arrest. In February–March, several hundred former residents of the “Nachtigall” battalions became the instructors and officers of the UPA.
Another issue arises considering the possible collaboration with the Germans. In fact, the entire year of 1943 was marked with the fierce struggle against the Nazis. However, after the Red Army appeared on the right bank of the Dnipro at the end of 1943, the Nazis turned into an enemy that was already surrendering, so it was more logical to concentrate forces against a stronger and, most importantly, existential enemy. The Germans, for their part, did not want to disperse their forces as well and most likely already understood that they would probably not be able to hold the region anyway, thus it was better to fight against a stronger enemy without worrying about the flanks.
In January 1944, the Germans began to seek contacts directly with Roman Shukhevych. At the same time, the commander of the SS and the police of the Reich Commissariat of Ukraine, General Prützner, reached Vasyl Kuk and Luka Pavlyshyn, who were in the Zbarazh area. In March 1944, Roman Shukhevych sent there Rev. Ivan Hrynyokh to be a negotiator. Mykola Lebed insisted on his candidacy, and emphasized that contacts with the Germans should be maintained, and, due to the fact, that Germany was in a complicated situation, there were chances to agree on the release of nationalists from prison, end the repression and punitive actions against the Ukrainian civilian population, and receive weapons and ammunition.
The negotiations continued almost until the end of the year. Both sides showed mutual distrust, so the only real outcome of the negotiations was the draft agreement drawn up in early April 1944. According to it, the Germans should have released Stepan Bandera and other political prisoners from jail and concentration camps, stopped punitive actions against Ukrainians, not hindered the activities of the UPA, in particular, not prevented young people from joining the underground army, and the army itself in the fight against the “Soviets” and also undertook to hand over a considerable amount of weapons to the Ukrainians. Meantime, the battles with the Germans continued throughout 1944, one of the largest took place in July 1944 on Mount Lopata. Therefore, it can be concluded that the accusations to collaborationism do not have substantial grounds.
The Background of the Issue
In this chapter, we will briefly review the history of how the stereotypical view of representatives of the Ukrainian liberation movement, in particular, including Roman Shukhevych, was formed, highlighting them to be exceptional xenophobes and anti-Semites. The issue of the collaboration of the Ukrainian liberation movement, along with Roman Shukhevych, with the Nazi Third Reich, including participation in war crimes and actions that can be recognized as participation in the genocide of the Jews, was for the first time raised in 1959–1960 in a quite specific context.
It all started with the statement of Albert Norden, the professor at the University of Berlin and the member of the Central Committee of the Socialist United Party of Germany (an analogue of the CPSU in the GDR) on October 22, 1959, that the “Nakhtigalites” allegedly killed three thousand Poles and Jews in the first days of the Nazi occupation of Lviv. From there on, there was a wave of publications about the crimes of “Nachtigall” in Lviv, starting from “recollections of witnesses” to the full-fledged articles “based on documents”.
The researcher Andrii Bolyanovskyi notes that in Polish scientific studies until 1959, the “Nachtigall” did not appear in the context of Lviv events, in particular in connection with mass murders. It is worth adding that the archives of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (Katowice branch) contain the investigative file of the murderer of the Bander brothers in Auschwitz, Józef Kral, dated 1951–1952, which contains a number of testimonies about the stay of Ukrainians in Auschwitz and their struggle against the nazis.
The apotheosis of the campaign was a press conference in Moscow on April 5, 1960 under the leadership of Academician Trokhym Lysenko, the notorious figure since the end of the 1940s, known as a fighter against genetics and a “girl-for-sale of imperialism”. At the beginning of the conference, the report of the Extraordinary State Commission for the Detection and Investigation of the Crimes of the German-Fascist Invaders was read; it stated that the lists of future victims were drawn up in the 2nd department of the Abwehr (although in fact it was the work of the SD), and there was information about the hanging of twelve people and the shooting of fifteen more on the Striletska Square.
The last two events did take place, but not in Lviv in June–July 1941. The first one happened in 1942, as retaliation for the murder of a German employee and the second in November of 1943.
Next, the pre-prepared witnesses were released on stage, in particular, the former member of the OUN Yaroslav Shpital and the former “Nakhtigallit” Hryhoriy Melnyk. It is of interest, that the leading speakers of the press conference emphasized the rehabilitation of both, thus, apparently, both were “delicately” reminded to remember whose hands they were in. And even after such preparation, the men were confused in their testimony, did not say anything specific, and out of several tens of thousands of defendants, they could name only three. Particularly symptomatic was the statement that three members of the “Nachtigall” battalion shot the former Polish Prime Minister Kazimierz Bartel. In fact, the professor and the government official died on July 24 or 25, when the battalion had already left Lviv for two weeks.
All these and other discrepancies did not prevent the Soviet authorities from processing all this as the evidence and sending it, in particular, to the Association of Victims of Nazism and the Yad Vashem Institute. In July 1960, they were handed over to the Supreme Court of the GDR, which indicted the “Nakhtigallites” for the shooting of Polish scientists in Lviv and the murder of Jews in Lviv, Zolochiv, Sataniv, Yuzvyn, and Mykhalpol, the places where the battalion was held in July–August 1941. Despite the blurred testimony, which mainly relied on the arguments of the level of “this is to everyone’s knowledge” and “heard it from the neighbors”, the publicity gained strength and launched a long and high wave of accusations against “Nakhtigall”, which eventually spread to Roman Shukhevych as a battalion commander personally. Although he was the commander only for the members of the OUN(b) in the Nachtigall uniform, and the real powers, in particular, from a formal point of view, including the right to issue orders, were in the hands of the German battalion commander Hans Albrecht Herzner.
This was only the top of the iceberg. Until 2008, when with the opening of the KGB archives in Ukraine, the historian Volodymyr Vyatrovych restored the plot of this special information operation, the turbulent activities of the deputy head of the 2nd Department of the KGB of the USSR Fedor Shcherbak remained unknown to the general public. On October 2, 1959, he gave instructions to collect materials that would testify to the involvement of the “Nachtigall” and Oberlander in war crimes in Lviv. Volodymyr Shevchenko, the head of the KGB in the Lviv region, received the corresponding special order.
The intensified search for witnesses to the “crimes” of the “Nakhtigall” in Lviv, Ternopil and Khmelnytskyi regions did not yield results, so General Shcherbak ordered the identified “witnesses” to be “prepared for interrogation by the prosecutor’s office”. In October 1959, as many as fifteen people of that kind were gathered, most of them from outside Lviv. As the researchers rightly noted, the very fact that it took eighteen years to collect witnesses in the region where Nachtigall was located and operated directly, seemed suspicious. In addition, the indictments did not include the names of workers and officers of the Nazi police, SD, in particular the Einsatzgruppen, who were really involved in the mass murders in Lviv in the summer of 1941.
As of today, the story of the fabrication of “crimes” by the “Nakhtigall” has already been fully clarified by the researchers, and the fact that the battalion’s participation in crimes against the civilian population is only a propaganda mythology was also recognized by Professor John-Paul Himka, who is hard to be suspected of sympathies to the nationalists.
The next wave of accusations, this time of all Ukrainians, of collaboration with the Nazis, in particular, in mass murders of Jews, rose in the second half of the 1960s. Since 1966, the leaflets with emotional descriptions of Yaroslav Stetsko’s alleged participation in the murders of Jews and the calls to Jews to take revenge have been actively distributed through KGB channels. Apparently, as mentioned earlier, they counted on the fact that one of the Jews would respond to the call and kill Yaroslav Stetsko, who at that time headed the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Peoples, one of the largest organized structures in the world, which waged a systematic struggle against the USSR. Besides, the leaflets were sent to the editorial offices of the Jewish magazines in the USA, England, France, Israel and Germany.
In April 1974, a member of the US Congress from the state of New York, Elizabeth Holtzman, sharply criticized the US Immigration and Naturalization Service for allegedly allowing about 50 people who were complicit in Nazi war crimes to settle within the US borders. On the list of the accused by the congresswoman was Lev Futala “Lahidnyi”, the member of the UPA in Zakerzonnia and a participant in the Great Raid to the West in the summer-autumn of 1947. The accusation in this and other cases turned out to be completely groundless, although the congresswoman did not stop her determined activities and in 1977 she introduced a bill authored by 50 members of the House of Representatives, which demanded the forcible deportation of all foreigners accused of complicity in Nazi war crimes and their ban on entry to the United States.
Due to her efforts, in 1979 the Office of Special Investigations (OSI) was created under the US Department of Justice specifically to search for war criminals. This Office was given broad powers, including investigations, initiation of legal proceedings, negotiations with foreign governments, and requests for support from other US authorities. In the process of collecting documentary evidence of crimes, the materials were often obtained from behind the “iron curtain”.
The result of the Office’s activities was the investigation concerning 1,700 people who were suspected of involvement in Nazi crimes in Eastern Europe. Among them was Mykola Lebid’, at one time the leader of the anti-Nazi OUN(b) underground, who emigrated to the United States after the war. More than 300 have been prosecuted, at least 100 have had their US citizenship revoked and 70 deported, the last one in 2021. The Office of Special Investigations existed until 2010, when the Department of Human Rights and Special Prosecutions together with the Criminal Division of the Ministry of Justice were created on its basis. It is of interest that its last chairman, Eli Rosenbaum, offered his assisstance to Ukraine in bringing to justice the war criminals of Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine.
The next stage of accusations, not just of the liberation movement, but of all Ukrainians in general, began with the beginning of the so-called Ivan Demjanjuk’s case. The story began in 1975, when Michael Hanusiak, at that time an implicit member of the Communist Party of the USA, the head of the pro-Soviet League of American Ukrainians and the editor of Ukrainian News (the official newspaper of the League), handed over to the US immigration service a list of Ukrainians who in the past were allegedly collaborators and involved in Nazi crimes. In total, the list consisted of seventy surnames, Demjanjuk being one of them. Hanusiak was not an ordinary activist, as he was awarded the Order of “Friendship of Peoples” and a separate article was dedicated to him in the “Ukrainian Soviet Encyclopedia”. He even wrote the whole book about the alleged “crimes of Ukrainian nationalists” titled “Lest We Forget”.
In 1981, the Department of Special Investigations of the US Department of Justice began investigating the Demjanjuk’s case. He was accused of being a sadistic guard of the Treblinka concentration camp during World War II, nicknamed “Ivan Hroznyi”(the Terrible – O.I.). The main evidence in the case was an SS ID document from the Travnyky training concentration camp, issued in the name of Ivan Demjanjuk, with the notes on subsequent transfers to other camps. In the same year Demjanjuk was stripped of his American citizenship.
Two years later, Israel demanded the extradition of the alleged Nazi criminal, and in 1986 the court did extradite Demjanjuk to Israel. The public trial, which even included school excursions, lasted fifteen months during 1987–1988. Demjanjuk spent a total of eight years in the Israeli prison.
Finally, it was possible to find a report in the Soviet archives that “Ivan Hroznyi” was not Demjanjuk, but another prisoner named Marchenko, and there was a photo of the “real” “Ivan Hroznyi”. Thus, under the pressure of irrefutable evidence, in 1993 the Supreme Court of Israel unanimously overturned the death sentence.
While the Demjanjuk trial was ongoing in the US, Saul Littman, the Canadian representative of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Canada, began calling on the Canadian government to create an institution similar to the Office in the US. Both Simon Wiesenthal and Littman stated that there were three thousand former war criminals among the residents of Canada, and over time the number increased to six thousand. Despite the statement, only 217 people were included in the ultimately presented list .
All in all, under the Littman’s pressure, the so-called Deschênes Commission was created in 1985, the official name being the Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes, which got its name from the surname of its chairman, Jules Deschênes. The commission analyzed archival materials, held hearings and interrogated witnesses in Canada and Western Europe, but did not get access to the testimonies and documents in the USSR and Eastern Bloc countries. In December 1986, it completed its investigation, submitted its report, and presented recommendations to the government for the prosecution of each of the suspects . According to the commission’s report, none of the members of the Waffen-SS Division “Galicia” was found guilty of war crimes during World War II.
In 2001, a new trial began against Ivan Demjanjuk. He was once more stripped of his citizenship and the decision was made to deport him to Ukraine. Eight years later, Germany agreed to take the prisoner. This time, Demjanjuk was accused of complicity in the extermination of about 30,000 prisoners in the Sobibor concentration camp, simply because of his service as the concentration camp guard. This time there was no resolution, as Demjanjuk died in German prison in 2012.
All this was unfolding under the condition of constant and systematic objective action of the following factors:
– the issue of anti-Semitism has always been politically sensitive, and as the result of the Holocaust and in general, the understanding of the events of the Second World War it actually became a component of political and social legitimation. To put it simply, a person or an environment, justly and reasonably accused of complicity in the Holocaust or systemic anti-Semitism, is deprived of the access to decent society, and suspicions of such things complicate social communication to a great extent;
– Russia actively used the effect described in the previous paragraph to defame and delegitimize national liberation movements;
– Russia in all its iterations has always sought not only the destruction of Ukrainian statehood, but also the defamation of the Ukrainian liberation movement in the eyes of the Western world, where Ukrainians could potentially find allies in the fight against Russia.
Furthermore, it should be understood that until recently there was an inertia of perception of Ukraine and the entire post-Soviet space as a kind of “Russia, but different” in the West and in general it would not be an exaggeration to say that Eastern Europe was perceived through Russian lenses. This has made it difficult for the Western researchers, journalists, and public activists to understand the processes both in Ukrainian history and in modern Ukraine.
Meanwhile, during Demjanjuk’s lifetime, the questionable details about the evidence in his case began to emerge. On April 14, 2011, the Associated Press Agency published the content of the US FBI report, according to which the KGB of the USSR “very likely forfeited” the Nazi identity card of Ivan Mykolayovych Demjanjuk . As it turned out, the suspicions about possible forgery arose as early as 1985, nevertheless, the FBI has not announced its hesitation for more than 25 years . With all the available facts, the experts of the German court recognized this ID as valid. Already after the end of the process, there was a very interesting reaction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, which, welcoming the Demjanjuk’s sentence, announced that it would provide “necessary assistance” to the German court throughout the process. In this way, this episode also took on considerable flavor of Russia’s intervention.
The following year, in 2013, Ukraine declassified the informational message from February 1981, which announced the start of the Demjanjuk case under the signature of General Vitalii Fedorchuk, the head of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR. According to the document, “the documentary materials about their bloody crimes during World War II were collected by the KGB bodies of the republic and they were transferred to the American authorities, as well as to the mass media via the capabilities of the KGB of the USSR”. Obviously, the “Hanusyak’s lists” were meant here.
Moreover, in a similar information message of the head of the KGB of the Ukrainian SSR addressed to the head of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine Volodymyr Shcherbytsky dated October 18, 1985, among the listed measures aimed at defaming the OUN, the reprint of Michael Hanusyak’s book “Lest We Forget” is mentioned and it is directly indicated there, that the result of the efforts of the agency workers was the creation of the Office of Special Investigations with broad powers and “to create a public opinion in the USA that is beneficial to us”. According to the same document, a similar set of operations was repeated in 1980–1985 in Canada, resulting in the Deschênes commission.
Hence, considering all the given facts and cited documents and studies, it would be rather complicated not to state unequivocally that for at least thirty years immediately before the declaration of independence of Ukraine, the USSR constantly used the topic of Nazi crimes and collaboration in Eastern Europe to consistently and deliberately defame the Ukrainian diaspora and the Ukrainians in general in the eyes of the Western public opinion.
This resulted in the formation of a stereotype about the participants of the Ukrainian liberation movement as mainly collaborators and anti-Semites, which, of course, did not contribute to the positive start of Ukraine’s dialogue with the Western world on its own behalf, as well as it significantly damaged the relations with the Jewish community in the USA and Israel.
It is as well worth noting that this kind of inheritance with obvious or at least highly probable traces of Moscow’s provocative activity did not contribute to a calm consideration of purely scientific problems related to Ukrainian-Jewish relations in general at this stage and, obviously, became the reason for assumptions about cooperation of at least some, if not all supporters of a sharply critical view of the liberation movement with the Soviet and Russian special services.
Representing the Group
This chapter dwells upon the circle of persons who are considered to belong to the “Himka school” and who in this role consistently advance the narrative of principled immanent xenophobia and anti-Semitism of the Ukrainian liberation movement during World War II. Being the Commander-in-Chief of the UPA, Roman Shukhevych inevitably occupies an important position in this scheme – after all, it is he who is credited with issuing orders for mass killings on ethnic grounds.
This narrative first became widespread in the mid-2000s, as will be further demonstrated. At that time, significant changes took place in Ukraine compared to the previous period. In 2004, the protests against the falsification of the presidential elections grew into the Orange Revolution; consequently, pro-Ukrainian and pro-Western forces came to power in Ukraine for the first time. Together with other important changes in the field of national memory, the theme of the Holodomor was promoted to a central place in the national memory, the creation of the Holodomor Genocide Museum, and diplomatic work to promote the recognition of the Holodomor as genocide in the world started. The opening of the archives of the Security Service of Ukraine has begun, and the title of Hero of Ukraine (posthumously) was awarded to Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera. All this caused numerous discussions in society and finally put the issue of national commemoration on the list of important points of political confrontation between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian political forces.
It is important to note that all this took place in an atmosphere of tough political confrontation between pro-European authorities and the representatives of pro-Russian forces. The first was represented by the supporters of Viktor Yushchenko, the second was institutionalized in the then Party of Regions. Soon, the issues of historical commemoration became the part of the political confrontation. However, the “wars of memory” around specific cases that symbolized a change in the historical paradigm at a non-specialist level still remained in the foreground. In particular, the cases of awarding the title of “Hero of Ukraine” to Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera, the opening of the archives of the special services, and the general increase in public interest in the history of the liberation movement were at the epicenter of the heated debate. On both sides of the debate were a group of historians and public activists directly involved in the paradigm shift and researchers — not only in the field of history — who criticized this shift, appealing mainly to left-liberal values. Among them were, in particular, Tarik Cyril Amar and Ivan Kachanovskyi.
The discussion quickly spread abroad. Around the middle of the 2000s, the articles by John-Paul Himka began to appear. He is a Canadian historian of Ukrainian origin, a specialist in the history of the leftist movement in Ukraine, the history of Galicia in the second half of the 19th century, and the history of Ukrainian sacred art and his works are dedicated to the specifics of the collective memory of the circle of the Ukrainian diaspora. In his opinion, the memory of the Holocaust was shifted in the collective memory of the diaspora by the subject of the liberation movement, the OUN, and the UPA which became completely dominating. Actually, these few articles initially provoked a scandal in the diaspora environment  and started a longlasting discussion on the border of science and politics on the issue of the collaboration of the liberation movement with the Nazis, which, by and large, continues to this day.
There are reasons to assert that this discussion is actually supported by the forces of several people who insist on the approach to the assessment of the liberation movement, in particular, the part of it that is represented by the OUN and the UPA, at the stage of the Second World War, as a phenomenon and its legacy from positions that can be called ultra-critical.
Notably, they insist that according to their character and ideology, the OUN and the UPA were fascist, anti-democratic, racist, anti-Semitic organizations that fought for Ukraine, albeit independent, but exclusively for Ukrainians, and their political goals (among which, in their opinion, was as well the “cleansing” of Ukraine from ethnic non-Ukrainians) were achieved through violence and mass terror.
It is worth to pinpoint the number of works on the topic described above relative to the total number of works, as well as the overview of the main specialization of the researcher, starting from the approximate beginning of the discussion, which started, let us recall, in 2005–2007 and has not subsided to this day.
The main reason for applying this approach is the fact that a huge number of researchers from Ukraine and abroad have addressed the topic of the Holocaust in Ukraine, in particular, in Western Ukraine, and the relationship between the Nazi occupation authorities and the Ukrainian liberation movement. It is quite obvious that these researchers represent different approaches and, ultimately, various level of sympathy for the objects of the research. Paradoxically, the surge of interest in this topic was provoked not least by the keen activity of the circle, mentioned in this report.
Therefore, the quantitative analysis based on open data services Academia.edu and Google Scholar makes it possible to assume that the most active in consistent promotion of the theses about the cooperation of the Ukrainian liberation movement with the Nazis and the participation of the Ukrainian liberation movement in the Holocaust and practices of mass extermination of national minorities for purely ideological reasons have been the four researchers, namely, John-Paul Himka, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Jared McBride, and Per Anders Rudling.
The theme of the OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust is the main or one of the main for these scholars, which is clearly indicated by the statistics of the Academia.edu service: John-Paul Himka has 27 publications out of 82 presented on the service, related to the topic; Per Anders Rudling – 15 out of seventy in total, Rossolinski-Liebe owns 43 out of 49 (only articles and books are taken into account), and in the case of Jared McBride, in general, all the articles presented on the service are dedicated to the OUN and the UPA in the context of the Holocaust and collaboration with the Nazis.
Here it is necessary to briefly outline the professional and scientific biography of all four researchers, which is done below.
John-Paul Himka (born in 1949) is a Canadian historian of Ukrainian origin, a descendant of the interwar generation of emigrants. He researched the spread of national identity among the peasantry of Galicia in the second half of the 19thcentury, the history of Ukrainian socialism, and the history of icon painting. Himka’s social and ideological biography is no less diverse than his scientific interests: originally he planned to become a priest, he was deeply religious, in the 1960s he became interested in the left movement and in the 1970s and 1980s he was actually an orthodox Marxist, later, in the 1990s, he once more returned to religious beliefs. The theme of the Holocaust and the Ukrainian liberation movement, according to his own statement , got into the view of his interest in the late 1980s, when his Polish counterpart in the case of the illegal publication of works about the UPA by John Armstrong and Alexander Motyl noted that both authors did not mention the participation of the UPA in the Holocaust. Despite this, he began systematic publishing on these topics in the mid-2000s.
Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe (born in 1979) is a German historian of Polish origin. He graduated from the European University of Viadrina (2005), in 2012 he defended his PhD thesis titled “Stepan Bandera: the Life of a Ukrainian Fascist and His Commemoration (1909-2009)”, which he later published as a book. Later, until 2014, he worked for two years on the topic of Holocaust memory among the Ukrainian diaspora. He is known for his extreme rejection of Bandera and everything related to Ukrainian nationalism as well as a number of scandalous statements on this matter. In 2012, a number of Ukrainian academic institutions refused to accept his lecture.
Per Anders Rudling (born in 1974) is a Swedish-American historian, professor at Lund University. He gained his Doctoral degree in 2009 at the University of Alberta. Per Anders specializes in the history of Belarus. He has a Master degree in the Russian language, and a degree of the Doctor of Philosophy. Since 2000–2010, he has been interested, among other things, in the issue of the alleged participation of the 201st police battalion in war crimes during the confrontation with the Soviet partisans.
Jared McBride is an American historian and the research fellow at the Shoah Foundation. In 2006–2009, he delivered courses at the University of California, in particular, on the history of Russia, Western civilization, and the Holocaust. In 2014, he received his Doctoral degree, since 2015 Jared McBride has been teaching at Columbia University, his scientific interests are the Holocaust issues and the destruction of the multi-ethnic nature of Western Ukraine.
All other authors, in whose texts one can notice the signs of the described approach, either touch on the given topic indirectly, or turn to it from time to time, rather on the margins of their main topic, or focus on specific cases within the framework of their usual theme of research. In any case, the quantitative analysis does not make it possible to assert their special interest in this approach to the problem of the OUN and the UPA and, in general, a special engagement in the subject. Their involvement in the topic is expressed rather in public gestures, such as participation in a signature campaign against the adoption of “decommunization laws”, as in the case of Geoffrey Burds, Omer Bartov and a number of others, or refusing the award of the mayor of Lviv, as in the case of Tarik Syril Amar. The motivation in all the described cases can be extremely different, starting from the rejection of the right-wing ideologies in general to personal or family negative experiences related to Ukraine and the Ukrainian liberation movement.
However, furtheron, our analysis will focus on the highlighted four. To a greater or lesser extent, all these authors are characterized by the use of emotionally colored definitions and epithets in a negative way when it comes to Ukrainian nationalism and its activists and the influence and commitment to a fairly radical version of the concept of the participation of the OUN and UPA members in the Holocaust, which involves the belief in participation in the Holocaust (optionally – the systematic extermination of minorities representatives) on ideological grounds, since, in their opinion, the ideology of the OUN(b) was a mixture of xenophobic, racist and anti-Semitic ideas.
The given biographies make it possible to create an approximate collective portrait, although at the same time it should be noted that absolutely every characteristic will have at least one distinct exception.
The figure of John-Paul Himka requires a separate analysis. He stands out from all the mentioned, first of all, by his Ukrainian origin and relatively older age, which entails the generational specificity of the experience. Notably, John-Paul Himka’s long-term membership and involvement in the activities of the leftist circles in Canada and the USA forces, knowing the severity of ideological and inter-party confrontations in the diaspora in particular and throughout Ukrainian history in general, makes it possible at least not to immediately reject the possibility of political competition being the motivation. The relatively large number of articles by both representatives of the diaspora leftists, i.e., John-Paul Himka and Mark Tsarynnyk, on the topic of historical memory in the diaspora, which appears to be dominated by the OUN (Banderite), is too suggestive of such thoughts. Besides, in one of his interviews, Professor Himka was frank enough to openly complain about the “Bandera” domination in the diaspora.
The history of Professor Himka’s interest in the subject of the OUN, the UPA and the Jews, as explained by him in the introduction, as well raises questions. According to him, it all started with the transfer of the research texts by John Armstrong and Alexander Motyl to Janusz Radzejovsky, the member of the “Solidarity” movement, for publication in the “Solidarity” underground network. In response, Radzejovsky allegedly declared that the texts have no scientific value, since they do not contain the topic of the UPA’s involvement in the murders of Poles and Jews, especially the latter. After a dispute, where Himka took the position that the UPA was not involved in the Holocaust, the latter was persuaded to investigate the issue. The research lasted for about twenty years, and Himka shared the results just during the period of active implementation of President Yushchenko’s memorising policy, which included the opening of the KGB archives and the campaign to honor the memory of the Holodomor victims.
Two circumstances raise the concern here – first of all, the duration of research on the issue, during which nothing on the topic has been published. The second strange circumstance is the emerging of the topic just at the beginning of the implementation of the policy of memorising, while Professor Himka frankly writes, as already quoted in the introduction, that his motivation is the visit of President Viktor Yushchenko to the USA and the Yushchenko’s policy of memorising.
At the level of open biographies, at least three authors have clear connections either with Russia or with the left-wing movement during the “Cold War”. Considering Russia’s manner of using absolutely all possible and impossible channels to promote its own point of view and a certain convergence of the theses of the “Himka group” with the anti-Ukrainian propaganda of Russia, it would be imprudent to ignore this circumstance. Taking into account the same reasoning, some observers a priori believe that the main motivation of this group is stimulated by Russia. Therefore, the coincidences that provoke the circulation of such a version should be considered in more detail.
It has already been mentioned that Professor Himka was engaged in the activities of left circles in the USA for a long time. The other two authors from the distinguished four, namely, Per Anders Rudling and Jared McBride, specialized in Russian studies for a considerable period as well. The former has a Master degree in the Russian language and the experience of being in Russia on internships, the latter, as follows from the open sources, taught courses on the history of Russia and Russian culture for a long time.
In the case of the last of them, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, things are rather more complicated, since there were no direct connections with Russia in any form traced so far. The connections with the USSR are impossible here simply because of the age factor. The ties mediated through, for example, the fact of long-term work under the scientific guidance of John-Paul Himka are rather dubious. Firstly, because it is not clear whether John-Paul Himka himself had any during his left-wing activism, and, secondly, at the time of acquaintance with Rossolinsky-Liebe and the beginning of their cooperation, this period in the supervisor’s life had long been over.
However, no less important are the internal personal connections between the group members. Hence, the fact that Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, being the Doctoral postgraduate student, wrote his thesis under the guidance of Professor Himka, was clearly acknowledged by the latter in one of his articles. As for Per Anders Rudling, it would be quite hard to assume that during several years of scientific work for the purpose of obtaining a Doctoral degree at the University of Alberta, he did not cross paths with one of the most famous employees of the University, especially since it was a specialist from the period that interested the Doctoral postgraduate student himself. Jared McBride is a bit of an exception in this group, but the internal connections between the remaining three allow us to consider Professor Himka to be the main promoter of the thesis and the coordinator of its coverage.
Before moving on to the next stage of the analysis, it should be noted about the two articles on the topic, which were published long before the start of the systemic discussion on the subject of the OUN, the UPA, and the Holocaust. The first such publication belongs to John-Paul Himka, namely, the work Krakivski visti and the Jews, 1943–1944, published in 1996. It discussed the anti-Semitic publications of the Ukrainian-language newspaper in Kraków, which was edited by the Ukrainian Publishing House in Kraków from 1940 to 1945 (since October 1944, the editorial office was based in Vienna). Three years later, in 1999, the article by Mark Tsarynnyk and Karl Berkhoff emerged, it was dedicated to the “Biography” of Yaroslav Stetsko. This article was, in fact, a publication of the document, titled “Biography” written by Yaroslav Stetsko himself after his arrest, and in this article the researchers tried to understand the author’s attitude to both the Nazis and the Jews. However, both articles remained the property of academic discourse and did not cause a wide discussion in the society.
The next important stage of the analysis is the number, subject and sequence of publications. Let us start with John-Paul Himka. In 2005, he published two articles, i.e., War Criminality: A Blanc Spot in the Collective Memory of the Ukrainian Diaspora and First Escape: Dealing with the Totalitarian Legacy. Both publications concerned how the events of World War II were preserved in the collective memory of the diaspora, and in both cases the author came to the conclusion that this collective memory revolves almost entirely around the heroes of the Ukrainian liberation movement, which, in his opinion, is incorrect, since the honored persons and structures are, he believes, connected with war crimes. Subsequently, new publications appeared almost every year as follows:
2006 – Central European Diaspora under the Shadow of World war II: Galician Ukrainians in Nothern America;
2007 — Making sense of suffering: Holocaust and Holodomor in Ukrainian Historical Culture;
2008 — Obstacles to the Integration of the Holocaust into Post-Communist Eastern Europe; Достовірність свідчення: реляція Рузі Вагнер про Львівський погром влітку 1941 р.; Be Wary of Faulty Nachtigal Lessons; Як ОУН ставилася до євреїв? Роздуми над книжкою Володимира В’ятровича (у співавторстві з Т. Курилом)
2009 — UPA and the Holocaust;
2010 — OUN and UPA: unwelcome elements of an identity project;
2011 — Collaboration and/or Resistance: OUN and UPA during the war; The OUN, Ukrainian Police and the Holocaust;
2012 — Ukrainian Memories of the Holocaust; Christianity and Radical Nationalism….; The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: the Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists and the Carnival Crowd;
2013 — Ethnicity and the Reporting of Mass Murder: Krakivski Visti, the NKVD Murders…;
2014 — Hunt for the Jews; The History Behind the regional conflict in Ukraine;
2015 — The Lontsky Street Memorial Museum: An Example of Post-Communist Negationism; Legislating Historical Truth.Ukrainian Laws of 9th, April, 2015;
2021 – What were they thinking? The Attitude of the OUN toward the Jews
2022 — OUN and Fascism. Definition and Blood
Professor Himka’s colleagues in specialization, i.e., Per Anders Rudling, Jared McBride and Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe showed their interest in the discourse somewhat later. Of the three mentioned, Per Anders Rudling shows special interest in the figure of Roman Shukhevych in the context of his stay in Belarus in 1941–1942. His list of publications on the topic “Ukrainians, the Holocaust and Collaboration” is as follows:
2006 — Theory and practice: Historical Representation of the wartime activities of the OUN-UPA;
2011 — OUN, UPA and the Holocaust; Multiculturalism, Memory and Ritualization…;Terror and local collaboration in occupied Belarus: the case of the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 118. Background.
2014 – OUN, UPA i Holokaust: Tworzenie mitów historycznych;
2015 – Schooling in Murder: Schutzbatallion 201 and Hauptmann Roman Szuchewycz;
2016 — The cult of Roman Szuchewycz in Ukraine;
2019 — Eugenics and racial antropology in the Ukrainian radical nationalist tradition Ukrainian variant published in 2020); ….Stalinist, Nazi and Nationalist atrocities in Ukrainian national memory;
2020 – Long-Distance Nationalis: Ukrainian Monuments and Historical Memory in Canada; Rehearsal for Volhynia: Batallion 201 and Roman Szuchewycz in occupied Belorussia.
The third of them, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, focused mainly on the figure of Stepan Bandera, however, one can also find his articles that relate to Roman Shukhevych and the issues directly connected with him. The list of these works is as follows:
2016 – Holocaust Amnesia: The Ukrainian Diaspora and the Genocide of the Jews
2017 — Ukraińska policja, nacjonalism i Zagłada Żydów; Ukraińska rewolucja narodowa 1941 r.: Teoria i praktyka ruchu faszystowskiego
2020 — Bandera, ukrainische Nationalismus und der transnationale Fascismus; Bandera, masowa przemóc i odpowiedzialność; Survivor Testimonies and the Coming to Terms with the Holokaust
2022 — Ukrainian Nationalists, the Jews during the Holocaust;
2023 — Bandera, Genocide and Justice..
Nevrtheless, in the case of the last one mentioned, namely, Jared McBride, all 10 of his publications presented in open sources relate to the subject of collaboration and the alleged “whitewashing” of the alleged collaborators of the OUN and UPA in modern Ukraine.
On reviewing the sequence of publications together and the evolution of the topic, it appears that at the first stage of the elaboration and development of the theme, the main emphasis was made on the topic of the historical memory of Ukrainians in the diaspora, and they were blamed for honoring the fighters for Ukrainian independence on the one hand, and on the other – for inattention to the themes of the Holocaust and its victims. This stage started around 2005 and went into decline in 2009. However, not to the end, since in the future, it happened from time to time that the article on a completely different topic ended with a not entirely clear final twist on the topic of the diaspora. In particular, this happened with Per Anders Rudling’s publications on the subject of the “Halychyna” Division and the 118th Battalion. Particularly noteworthy in this context is the analysis of the activities of the 118th Battalion, which contrasts two characters, namely, Vasyura, who was sentenced to death in the USSR, and Volodymyr Katruk, who lived to old age in exile. Taking into account the author’s postulation of the principled criminality of the Halychyna Division, one gets the impression of a seemingly fair USSR and the West, or rather Canada, which allows criminals to live out their lives on their territory.
The second stage began around 2009–2010, and its main and almost only element was the research into the factual side of the OUN and the UPA relations with the Jews on the one hand, and with the Nazi occupation authorities on the other. Actually, the texts of the early 2010s authored by John-Paul Himka, Per Anders Rudling and Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe formed a quasi-scientific basis for statements about the discriminatory, xenophobic, fascist and anti-Semitic character of the Ukrainian liberation movement. There are signs of attempts both to spread this reputation to all Ukrainian streams, and to eliminate the very possibility of a balanced approach to the case. Notably, this is indicated by the texts of John-Paul Himka regarding the Greek Catholic Church and the Holocaust  and the mentions in the articles of all four authors of representatives of various circles, both in the diaspora and in Ukraine, as well taking into account those who are quite hostile towards the “Banderites”. On the other hand, one can find texts with sharp, including the transition to the personal level, criticism of supporters of a more balanced and by no means complimentary view of the OUN and the UPA, in particular, their ideological discourse.
In 2015–2016, this approach changed to harsh criticism of decommunization. Following that, from around 2017, the topic of publications again switched to general questions in the context of the ttheme. On the other hand, the accusations became more general, i.e., now the nationalists were generally accused of “discrimination” and “violence”.
Besides, judging from the titles and data of the publication, one gets the impression of similarity, and extreme closeness, of the topics of some of the articles of all the mentioned authors. A vivid example may be the title “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust”, it is found in John-Paul Himka’s article (the UPA and the Holocaust), Per Anders Rudling’s (the OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust) and, finally, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s (Ukrainian Nationalists, the Jews during the Holocaust). There are also repetitions of one’s own texts, namely, for example, Per Anders Rudling in the article The Myth of Roman Shukhevych… completely repeats a passage from an earlier article Schooling of Murder…, which concerns the ratio of losses of security battalions and partisans. Of a striking similarity are the thematic structure of Per Anders Rudling’s articles Multiculturalism, Memory and Ritualisation: Ukrainian Nationalist Memorials in Canada, published in Nationalities Papers and the Grzegorz Rossolinski’s text about the memorialization of Stepan Bandera in Canada . It is worth noting that the wording, such as the above, a priori “ties” the OUN(b) and the UPA to the Holocaust, thus providing the reader with an unconscious assumptive negative attitude towards both organizations.
In the case of Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, there are often numerous translations of the same publications, which is surprising against the background of the more authoritative colleagues on the subject. For example, there were translated articles titled “Holocaust Amnesia: The Ukrainian Diaspora and the Genocide of the Jews”, “Ukraińska Rewolucja Narodowa: teeoria i praktyka ruchu faszystowskiego”, “Celebrating fascism and war criminality in Edmonton”, etc. Subsequently, this researcher and the student of Prof. Himka received a huge audience in English, German and Polish. Taken alltogether, this creates the impression that the real goal of the efforts of all four researchers is to maximize the general impression, which is sharply negative towards the OUN and the UPA.
It should be noted that all of the abovementioned are far from being the only followers of the group that can be called the “Himka school”. Tarik Cyril Amar and Ivan Kachanovskyi belong to the sufficiently influential and notable ones. Both are notable for the features of their careers – the former, finally ended up working since 2020 for the propaganda channel Russia Today, whose involvement in the Russian propaganda pool has long been fully evident and evidenced by massive sanctions against this channel and its presenters after the beginning of the Russian invasion to Ukraine, and the latter published in 2014–2015 a number of articles in which he presented a version of the events on the Maidan on February 18–20, 2014, which suspiciously coincided with the version disseminated by the Russian propaganda machine. In this study, we did not dwell on them in depth, since none of them in their theses seriously touched on topics related to Roman Shukhevych personally.
It should also be noted that all four actively use the method of cross-referencing. Thus, in his text about the OUN and the UPA, as “unwanted elements of the identity project ” John-Paul Himka refers first of all to other supporters of his views, such as Per Anders Rudling, Marko Tsarynnyk, Sofia Grachova and others . In the same text, he liberally refers to his own Doctoral student, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, and such critics of the OUN and the UPA as David Marples, Tarik Cyril Amar, and others.
Per Anders Rudling is not far behind – in the article The Cult of Roman Shukhevych… he repeatedly refers to John-Paul Himka, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Jared McBride, Tarik Cyril Amar and others. The same pattern is repeated in the case of the text Multiculturalism, Memory and Ritualisation… – one can find references to almost the same set of like-minded people .
However, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe surpassed all of them – in the conclusions to one of his articles, one can find an interesting contrast to the general, seemingly low level of the CIUS, which did not implement any program for the study of “Ukrainian collaborationism and fascism” and the “only righteous”, i.e., David Marples and Ivan-Pavlo Himka. In itself, such a passage is the evidence of completely non-academic manifestations of personal sympathies and connections.
Given that some of the texts were clearly timed to specific events in the internal public and political life of Ukraine, it makes sense to follow what coincided with the appearance of certain topics.
Therefore, the articles on the topic began to appear systematically in 2005 and as it has already been mentioned, the article about Yaroslav Stetsko, co-authored by Karel Berkhoff and Mark Tsarynnyk, did not go beyond scientific circles.
A year before that, the Orange Revolution took place in Ukraine. Viktor Yushchenko, the pro-Ukrainian and pro-European president, comes to power, and in order to establish contacts with Western governments, the relations with which have been hopelessly damaged by the authoritarianism of his predecessor, he needs the connections of the Ukrainian diaspora in the West. In addition, his second wife, Kateryna Chumachenko, comes from this environment and that was actively used by the pro-Russian forces in the political struggle. In internal policies, the period of his presidency was marked by the introduction of practices of memorialization and commemoration of the victims of the Holodomor-genocide at the state level, the opening of archives, and the commemoration of participants in the liberation struggle of the 1930s–1950s. In particular, in 2007–2008, the KGB archives began to be opened in Ukraine.
At this time, sharp, critical articles about the moral legacy of the OUN and the UPA began to appear, with frequent accusations of the Ukrainian diaspora in the USA and Canada of allegedly covering up the crimes of their ancestors. One should bear in mind that the Ukrainian diaspora was one of the reliable bridges to the Western offices, and one of the colonial practices is to block the possibility of the colonized to communicate with the world directly.
The turning point was when Roman Shukhevych was posthumously awarded the title of the Hero of Ukraine in 2007. This event provoked a wave of accusations against the awardee, which were largely based on the “black legend” about the alleged participation of “Nakhtigall” in violence against the Jews and collaboration with the Nazis. Due to the coincidence in time with the beginning of the opening of the archives, the issue very quickly moved into the field of finding evidence based on archival documents. After it was reported that there were no documents in the archives of the Security Services of Ukraine that would prove the participation of Shukhevych in particular and “Nakhtigall” as a whole in punitive operations, Yosyp Lapid, an employee of the Yad Vashem Institute, stated in December 2007 that he had documents at his disposal, which testify to the fact that Roman Shukhevych did take part in punitive operations. Following that, a delegation was sent to Israel in February–March 2008, which was supposed to search for the relevant documents and get acquainted with them. However, on arriving, it turned out that such documents do not exist, and Yosyp Lapid is not the employee of the archive .
Consequently, the discussion about Roman Shukhevych subsided, though this did not mean the end of the discussion of the topic of the Ukrainian liberation movement in the context of collaboration with the Nazis. After Viktor Yanukovych, a representative of pro-Russian forces, came to power in 2010, the topic of “incorrect” historical memory of the Ukrainian diaspora, as can be seen from the collected chronology, subsided. It was replaced by a wave of publications on the alleged participation of the OUN and the UPA in the Holocaust, starting around 2011, during which the topic finally gained its civil rights in the scientific discourse.
Meantime, the pro-Russian forces in power begin to use the “historical map” in the political game to its full potential. As part of this, the collection “The OUN and the UPA: the Research on the Creation of “Historical Myths” was published in 2012 , which included, in particular, the texts of some of the persons of the current research, namely, Per Anders Rudling and Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe. At least Per Anders Rudling later claimed that the text was included in the collection without his consent. However, regardless of the course of events, the very fact of its appearance in the collection, which was undoubtedly published by pro-Russian groups with a definite political goal, clearly demonstrates both the convergence of the messages of the “Himka school” with part of the messages of Russian propaganda, and the fact that the latter undoubtedly uses the former.
In the due course, more events happen, namely, the Revolution of Dignity of 2013-2014, the expulsion of Viktor Yanukovych and the beginning of the war in the East of Ukraine, so far in the format of ATO, which Russia is trying to present as a regional conflict of identities, at the same time accusing the Ukrainian government of “fascism” and “Nazism”. In the area of national memory there is a turn to Ukrainian centrism again, which is eventually finalized in the legislative field with the adoption of a package of decommunization legislation. This event provokes a sharp reaction among the circles previously seen in the active development of the theme “the OUN, fascism and the Holocaust”, which is embodied, in particular, in the campaign to sign an open letter with a protest against these laws, initiated by the creators of this analysis. In this letter, a group of researchers appealed to the then President of Ukraine with a request not to sign the laws No. 2538-1 and No. 2558, adopted as the part of confirmation of the package of laws on decommunization. The authors of the letter and those who supported them (among whom, by the way, there were many outstanding in their fields scientists and researchers) were concerned about the norms of the law, which prohibited, under the threat of criminal liability, the denial of the legitimacy of the struggle of the OUN and the UPA for independent Ukraine and the denial of the criminal nature of the communist regime in Ukraine. Paradoxically, it turned out that the initiators of the letter were worried about eliminating the potential threat to two basic narratives of pro-Soviet forces not only in Ukraine, but also in the post-Soviet space in general, i.e., about the illegitimacy of the national resistance movement and about the criminality of the communist regime on a par with the Nazi one. The letter was accompanied by numerous publications about the package of decommunization laws, and the journal “Krytyka” even organized a discussion on this topic.
To sum up, the total amount of the accumulated facts makes it possible to assume that Russia, in its least, consistently used both democratic and academic values and procedures accepted throughout the world, as well as its ideological, worldview and party contradictions between individuals and the environments, the collective trauma of the Second World War and the Holocaust, in particular aiming to consistently keep Ukraine in its orbit.
The compilation of the image of Roman Shukhevych on the example of specific cases
Here we will consider the formation and constant replication of the image of Roman Shukhevych within the framework of the approach professed by the “Himka group” and the inertia of a stereotypically negative image, formed in part as the derivative of the basic scheme of popular perception of the Second World War, and partially by the influence of the USSR and Russia, which used this scheme for the systematic defamation of the national movements of the peoples conquered by it. In fact, the analyzed case itself is also a good example of how the academic form becomes a guide and tool of completely non-academic theses and phenomena.
Before proceeding with the review and the analysis, it is necessary to once again emphasize several fundamental methodological points. Notably, the problem with the “Himka group” position is not that there were no anti-Semites or xenophobes in the OUN and the UPA in general or specifically among Roman Shukhevych’s entourage and acquaintances. Unfortunately, they are among every people and can potentially happen in any society. It is as well not about the immanent correctness and infallibility of the position of the OUN(b) or the UPA in all issues – such recognition would inevitably lead to true glorification, a phenomenon that by its very nature does not involve such active discussions as those that continue around the figure of Roman Shukhevych in particular and around the topic of the Ukrainian liberation movement in general.
The point is that the representatives of this circle, as will eventually be shown on the example of their own texts consider the following:
—they regard the OUN(b) to be a fundamentally xenophobic and anti-Semitic organization, the one that has always been that way. Therefore, it is not just about a certain number of anti-Semites among the participants of the liberation movement, it is about the principled institutional anti-Semitism on racial grounds, which is universally and justifiably condemned in the world. The direct consequence of this is the undermining of the moral legitimacy of the Ukrainian liberation movement;
—the researchers completely nullify the obvious and documented contribution of the OUN(b) and the UPA to the fight against Nazism and the long and consistent fight against another totalitarianism, i.e., Bolshevik, which cost the Ukrainians numerous victims;
— based on the interpretation of the OUN(b) and the UPA as fundamentally anti-Semitic and xenophobic organizations at the institutional level, they completely refuse to honor their struggle against the two totalitarianisms.
This, as well as the fact that together with Roman Shukhevych, the UPA and the OUN(b), the indictment in the alleged collaboration and no less alleged anti-Semitism in some publications was made up for a number of Ukrainian personalities of the same period, distant from the OUN(b), and even hostile to it; moreover, the accusation of the entire diaspora of “silencing” the topic of the Holocaust, makes one suspect that at least some of the representatives of the “Himka group” have some personal concerns outweighing the desire to find the truth. However, in order to refute or confirm this fact, it is worth analyzing the texts themselves, and this is our next consideration.
The selected for the analysis works are directly related to the figure of Roman Shukhevych and the main “guilts” he is accused of, i.e., for example, participation in violence against the Jews in July 1941 in Lviv (and sometimes in other places) and xenophobia against national minorities on behalf of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the underground, which was headed by Roman Shukhevych. When it comes to broader issues, namely, the historical memory of the diaspora, the texts chosen for the analysis were those mentioning the commemoration of Roman Shukhevych among the memorial practices.
Besides, before starting a review itself, it is worth separating the OUN and the OUN (Banderites), since this is not followed more or less consistently, as will be seen from the texts, by almost all the representatives of the “Himka group”. Therefore, the OUN (Banderite) emerged as one of two parts after the split of the single OUN into two factions. The final division happened on February 10, 1940 in Kraków, when there was a meeting with the participation of all former and present heads and members of the regional commissar executives. The meeting adopted the resolution according to which Stepan Bandera became the head of the Organization. At the same meeting, Stepan Bandera forms the Revolutionary Leadership, i.e. the Leadership of the OUN (Banderite). Obviously, each part of the Organization considers itself to be real, and its leader to be the legitimate leader of the entire OUN, as is often the case in the event of a split. In response, on April 7, 1940, Andrii Melnyk declared the meetings of the Revolutionary Leadership illegal, and handed Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko over to the Main Revolutionary Tribunal of the OUN, that is, to the organizational court. That was the final stage of the split. All these facts do not prevent from, for example, repeatedly quoting Mykola Stsiborskyi and other members of the OUN(m), writing on topics related to the activities of the OUN(b) in 1943–1944. This, in its turn, leads to confusion and the impression of the OUN(b) remaining in the paradigm of the 1930s, although, closer to the end of the World War II, the OUN(b) was already a completely different ideological organization compared to the OUN(m).
John-Paul Himka: Delegitimization through the Holocaust
John-Paul Himka is the most consistent and persistent in promoting the narrative about the supposed anti-Semitism of the OUN, the UPA and Roman Shukhevych, being the prominent figure of the liberation movement. Unlike the rest of the representatives, in 2010 he actually published his own creed and a kind of motivational letter entitled “The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army: Unwelcome Elements of the Identity Project”, which was published in English in the journal “Ab Imperio”, issued both in New-York and Kazan. This publication brings together four texts written during the debate on the involvement of the Ukrainian liberation movement, represented by the OUN(b) and the UPA, in the Holocaust. In his response to Zenon Kohut, who appeals to the self-sacrifice of the underground and the fact of a long, uncompromising struggle against the communists, this author claims that all this does not matter if there are xenophobic notes in the ideology, in fact, he suggests evaluating people and movements not by the essence of their actions, but by belonging to this or that party or ideology. In his reply to Askold Lozynskyj, the author rejects the accusations of methodological inaccuracies. Already in the introduction, the author clearly indicates his goal:“…were motivated, unfortunately, largely successful campaign of the former President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress in North America to put the glorification of these radical right nationalists at the very center of Ukrainian national identity project”. In fact, we can observe a direct confirmation of the completely non-scientific purpose of the text in particular and all of Professor Himka’s activities in general, aimed at devaluing and hindering Viktor Yushchenko’s “unfortunately, very successful…campaign of glorification of radical nationalists”. Actually, it is about opposing the efforts to revive national memory and defamation of people who fought for the independence of Ukraine. It is worth noting, that in the same text Professor Himka calls his opponents the “pro-OUN elements”. In addition to the fact that such a wording in itself is dehumanizing, purely stylistically it echoes the manner of communist propaganda to designate enemies as “class hostile element” and the like. Finally, the reader sees the following wording: “It is my conviction that building an identity around these organizations, with their heavy history of war crimes and ethnic cleansing, is misguided, and in the texts below I attempt to explain why”. After the introduction with explanations of his motivation, John-Paul Himka considers it necessary to describe his own history of interest in the topic, already mentioned in detail in the previous chapter. The text of the article is full of irrevocable statements about the “fascism” of the OUN and “ethnic cleansing” carried out by the OUN and the UPA. Since the author does not consider it necessary to refer to anything, the reader gets the impression that everything the author claims is the truth. The following passage can serve a vivid example: “OUN was indeed a typical fascist organization as shown by many of its features: its leader principle (Führerprinzip), its aspiration to ban all other political parties and movements, its fascist-style slogan (Slava Ukraini! Heroiam slava!), its red and black lag, its raised-arm salute, its xenophobia and anti-Semitism, its cult of violence, and its admiration of Hitler, Mussolini, and other leaders of fascist Europe. What’s not fascist here?”. As the proof of his rightness of ideological connection, he cites the fact that his doctoral student of that time, Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, found a series of letters from Yaroslav Stetsko to the leaders of the countries allied to the Third Reich at the time, i.e., Benito Mussolini, Ante Pavelić and Francisco Franco, etc. Obviously, it is nothing more than a series of messages to all these figures about the restoration of the Ukrainian state and the offer of diplomatic relations. All these letters were at least eight years old and published in the collection of documents “Ukrainian Statehood: Act of June 30, 1941” at the time of the article publication, and, accordingly, familiarization with them was not a discovery. Somewhatfurther on, one can see the statement that “after Stalingrad and Kursk, the OUN began to distance itself from fascism, in particular, at the 3rd Urgent Congress of the OUN”. This statement completely ignores all the changes in the ideology of the OUN(b) since 1941, discussed in one of the previous chapters. The text “Let us be vigilant with the lessons of Nachtigal” published in March 2008 on the pages of the English-language Kyiv newspaper “Kyiv Post” consideres namely the figure of Roman Shukhevych.. The article dwells upon the alleged discovery of the documents in the archives of the Yad Vashem Institute which testify Roman Shukhevych’s involvement in violence against the Jews. This was claimed by Joseph Lapid, though, in the long run, it turned out to be false, and Joseph Lapid himself, turned out, not to be the employee of the Institute’s archives. The author himself states: “The reason Yad Vashem raised the Nachtigall issue in the first place was because it objected to the Ukrainian government’s honoring of Nachtigall’s Ukrainian commander, Roman Shukhevych, who later became the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Insugent Army (UPA). Some have misinterpreted the vindication of Nachtigall to be the same as the exoneration of Shukhevych of crimes against humanity. Unfortunately, that is not possible”. The text, which the author uses to convince the reader that Roman Shukhevych was allegedly involved in crimes against humanity, is worth quoting in its entirety: Shukhevych commanded the UPA at the time when it committed mass murders of the Polish civilian population in Volyn and Galicia/Halychyna in 1943–1944. As far as we know, no Ukrainian historian has denied this fact. Ukrainian historians of the nationalist point of view pinpointed that the Poles started the conflict, and they stated that the UPA was mainly intended to force the Polish invaders to flee from Ukrainian territory, but they could not deny that the UPA destroyed the entire Polish villages. There is evidence of these atrocities even in the collections of archival documents edited by the UPA historians in Ukraine.
Furthermore, the vindication of Nachtigall does not mean that Shukhevych was not complicit in the Holocaust. In 1942 Shukhevych and most of the soldiers of the former Nachtigall served in Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 in Belarus. No one has specifically studied the activities of Schuma 201 in relation to the destruction of the Jewish population. But we do know that the Germans routinely used the Schuma battalions in Belarus both to fight partisans and to murder Jews. This is a topic that should have been investigated before Shukhevych was named Hero of Ukraine.
The exoneration of Nachtigall from participation in the Lviv pogrom is not, as some seem to think, the same as the exoneration of OUN from participation in the Lviv pogrom. In fact, there is considerable evidence pointing to OUN involvement in the wave of pogroms that encompassed Western Ukraine as the Germans advanced into Soviet territory .
This text is full of factual errors and logical manipulations. To begin with, in the summer of 1943, at the height of the Ukrainian-Polish confrontation in Volyn, Roman Shukhevych did not command the UPA, he was only the military referent of the OUN(b). He became the Commander-in-chief later, in November 1943.
Speaking about the destruction of the Polish villages by the UPA, the author does not mention that the murders were mutual, and, which is more – he does not apply the same approach to the Poles as to the UPA, which can be formulated “there is no difference in the context and the circumstances, they are guilty under any circumstances”.
The paragraph about the Nachtigall seems strange to say the least. In any case, it is not clear how it is possible to claim that the Nachtigall did or did not participate in crimes against humanity, possessing none of the reliable research.Thus, the logic “even if Nachtigall is not involved in crimes, Shukhevych is guilty in any case” is all the weirder. How can the unit commander be guilty if the unit itself is not guilty, despite the fact that in military and police units there is always an order for certain actions? Summarizing, the text appears to be nothing more than an attempt to denigrate Roman Shukhevych personally at any cost.
Moreover, it is worth considering three articles in which John-Paul Himka claims the participation of the UPA in the Holocaust. This topic concerns Roman Shukhevych directly, as he is the one who contributed to the creation of the UPA, and at the end of 1943 became the Commander-in-Chief of the underground army. These are the texts: “Former Ukrainian Policemen in the Ukrainian National Insurgency: Continuing the Holocaust outside German Service”; “The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Ukrainian Police, and the Holocaust”; and “The Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Holocaust”. The first of them researches the issue of the UPA murders of the Jews who were hiding in the Volyn forests in 1943–1944. It is postulated that the former policemen who joined the UPA in the summer of 1943 continued to kill the Jews because of their own indoctrination and the fundamental anti-Semitism of the nationalist movement. The text begins with the statement that the top commanders of the UPA had police experience, then moves on to testimony about the murders of the Jews, followed by a series of statements that collectively give the impression of, at the very least, impossibility of proving whether the UPA actually killed the Jews. As the evidence of indoctrination, the recollections of private conversations and testimony at the investigation are given, while the documents that testify to the change of platform and the general democratic turn are declared as the game for the Western allies. The second article considers the actions of the Ukrainian auxiliary police in the context of the Holocaust and includes the analyzed series of phenomena and individual personal cases. The OUN is presented here as the organization that sent its members to the auxiliary police, as evidenced by a number of examples and personal stories.
The third of the mentioned articles echoes the topic of the previous two, as can be seen from the title. First of all, it is worth noting that the section on sources makes a strange impression since it is based on the evidence only, that is, the author uses the type of sources that is a priori very subjective and needs confirmation through more reliable sources, and in itself it is of primarily personal perception of certain phenomena by the groups of people. Later, the author cites postcards, personal notes, testimonies, all these being the subjective sources. Instead, documents, orders, regulations and the like can justly testify to the policy.
All the three are abundant in methodological and factual inaccuracies. Let us start with the first of them, which opens with an affirmation: “Political movements that represented none of the principal protagonists of the war made use of the militarization and disruption of society and the diffusion of weapons to pursue their own agendas of political, territorial, and ethnic transformation. Nationalists killed Communists and vice versa far from the immediate sphere of Soviet influence, for example, in Greece, Serbia, and China”. In fact, it suggests the paradigm of “the madness of the world”, which almost excludes rational logic and the interpretation of ideologies and value systems in general, in favour of certain absolute forces, the manifestation of which should no longer be allowed. From the very beginning, John-Paul Himka makes a rather serious mistake, writing that Taras Bulba-Borovets was forcibly removed from the command of the “real” UPA. In fact, at the time of the merger, there was a preliminary agreement between the “Banderites” and Taras Bulba, which included a clause that the name of the UPA was given to the unified army, and which was suspended due to the latter’s incomprehensible and chaotic behavior. After all, at the time of the infusion of the remnants of “Poliska Sich” into the UPA, little was left of the first . The entire first third of the text is a list of cases when people who later joined the UPA were, in one form or another, formally in the structures organized by the Germans. One of those mentioned is Roman Shukhevych: John-Paul Himka mentions that he served in the 201st guard battalion, keeping silent that Shukhevych became a “guard” not out of his own will . The same applies to a number of other underground figures.Therefore, Professor Himka depicts how the Jews who escaped death at the hands of the Nazis ended up in the forests of Volyn and the behavior of the UPA: “Thousands of Jews hid in bunkers and in forest camps. As winter approached, the empty houses offered necessary shelter for many of these Jewish survivors. Meanwhile, UPA made little or no progress on the anti-Polish front, and the Red Army was rapidly approaching. In fact, the Soviets recaptured Rivne and Lutsk in early February 1944; Rivne oblast was completely reconquered in March 1944; and only parts of Volhynia oblast held out until July 1944. During this upheaval, UPA leaders in Volhynia decided to eliminate the surviving Jews”. All this is given without any references or evidence, although, for example, the appearance of thousands, as the author claims, of Jews, would surely be reflected in the documents of all of the interested parties. Then the memories of the survivors are given and, finally, the author quotes Aleksandr Dyukov, a person who has long been known for his Ukrainophobia and, in fact, fascist views: “This possibility is consistent with the opinion of the Russian historian Aleksandr Dyukov that “the main burden of the battle against the Jews and other ‘undesirable elements’ fell not on the UPA,” but on a nominally independent structure that was subordinate to its command, the Security Service of OUN”. It is worth noting that this is far from the only case of quoting Dyukov by the author , which will be partially shown later. To estimate the significance of this fact, it is worth getting to know the person of Aleksandr Dyukov in more detail. His official biography states that in 2004 he graduated from the Historical and Archival Institute, having defended his degree thesis on the topics of the Soviet partisan movement, later he worked at the ARMS-TASS Agency for Military and Technical Information.Since 2008, he has been the director of the “Historical Memory” Foundation for Promotion of Current Historical Research, and since 2017, Aleksandr has been an employee of the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The area of his activities comprise the history of the partisan movement, the Nazi occupation, the Holocaust in the territories of the USSR and the “anti-Soviet armed formations”, which, obviously, should be understood as the liberation movements of Central and Eastern Europe directed against Moscow. However, he is better known to the general public for his furious, imperial position and frankly distorting criticism of the liberation movements in Ukraine and the Baltic states. He first manifested himself in this in the mid-2000s, in his book “The Myth of Genocide”, accusing the Estonian authorities of exaggerating the losses from the Soviet repressions in the country and rejecting the ethnic character of these repressions. Later, he accused the authors of the Latvian documentary film “Soviet History” (2008) of deliberate Russophobia and anti-Russian indoctrination of the citizens. After the exhibition “Exiled Childhood”, in which he promoted the idea that the main force behind the deportations to the Salaspils concentration camp were “Latvian nationalists”, he was officially recognized as persona non grata in Latvia. In 2014, Lithuania announced Aleksandr persona non grata as well for his defamation and delegitimization of their national liberation movement. In fact, for the past 15 years, Dyukov has been strongly promoting the idea that the main perpetrators of the Holocaust in Ukraine and the Baltic countries were the local “nationalists”, that is, the members of the liberation movements, who, accordingly, were the collaborators with the Nazi. These ideas are not much different from the messages of Russian propaganda. In the Ukrainian context, since 2014, Dyukov has taken a position that is unambiguously consonant with the narratives of Russian propaganda, he regularly participates in the propaganda broadcasts of the notorious Volodymyr Solovyov, and his research into the sources led to the organization of campaigns to record “testimonies” about the alleged war crimes of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. One more of his practices is the statement about the alleged intentions of the Nazis to create an independent Ukraine together with committing the genocide of Russians.
On quoting the memories, the text ends with long and rather ambiguous on the previous background explanations, which, in fact, boil down to stating the fact that it is not completely clear who killed the Jews, and the witnesses whose memories are given usually could not identify who they actually dealt with. In this case, the questions regarding the validity of the very topic of the article and its main idea arise. At the same time, the mentions of the UPA commanders and the underground give the impression that the OUN is there mainly to form a negative opinion about it in general.
The second of the articles, titled “The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Ukrainian Police, and the Holocaust”, begins, in particular, with an affirmation, “they (the members of the OUN(b) — O.I.) also considered the Ukrainian police to be a cornerstone of Ukrainian nationalists’ policy of creating a “Ukraine for the Ukrainians”. They killed “in the name of the reconstruction of society”. This statement causes at least misunderstanding, since the auxiliary police were at the disposal of the Nazi occupation administration, which persecuted, members of the OUN(b) as well. Thus, it is absolutely unclear how the OUN(b) could be simultaneously the executor of the policy and the persecuted. Not to mention that these slogans do not appear in the ideological documentation of the OUN(b).
Later, the author reports that “the service of OUN members in the Ukrainian police was an important transitional stage in OUN involvement in the Holocaust, bringing the mass anti-Jewish violence perpetrated by the OUN militias in the summer of 1941 and the ethnic cleansing and murder of the Jewish survivors by UPA in the spring 1943 to 1945”. This passage is full of twists and turns, because at this point Kai Struve, on the basis of numerous documents, conclusively proved that the OUN(b) was not the organizer of anti-Jewish violence, and in 1943–1945 there was nothing like “ethnic cleansing” of the Jews simply because they practically did not remain in the region after the genocide carried out by the Nazi. Besides, the author systematically “ties” the Ukrainian militia to the topic of violence against the Jews, although in the order on its creation Ivan Ravlyk clearly states that it was created as the defense tool, which in the future should have become the basis of the national army. Accordingly, the author’s assertion that after the resubordination of the militia to the occupation authorities and, over time, its transformation into an auxiliary police, the tasks of the unit did not change, is also questionable. Therefore, the author reports on the so-called “days of Petliura”, which are still a mystery, since Symon Petliura never enjoyed special popularity in Galicia after the agreement with Pilsudski.
Likewise, the two police schools reported by the author, near Lublin and Krakow respectively, were not “Ukrainian”, but simply police schools, where not only the Ukrainians were trained. Besides, the author does not consider it necessary to distinguish the “Melnyk residents” and the “Banderites” OUN, although both emerge in the text.In addition, the article consistently ignores the context, i.e., while talking about the Ukrainian police, the author does not mention the so-called Polish “grenade” police, as well as the role of, for example, the French police in the deportation of the Jews from Drancy to Auschwitz. As the result of this technique, one gets the impression that the case of the Ukrainian auxiliary police is phenomenal and terrible in its exceptionality.
In the last article, titled “The Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Holocaust”, the author completely turns to the topic of the UPA. This text, in which the author sets himself the goal of proving the involvement of the UPA in the mass murders of the Jews, contains many appeals to the already mentioned odious Alexander Dyukov.
The article actually opens with a devaluation of the “democratic turn” in the OUN(b), which began as early as 1941 and was finally formalized in 1943: “The winter of 1943‐44 was a period when OUN and UPA were officially adopting a policy ofnational tolerance, hoping to become acceptable partners for the Western Allies. At the same time, this was the mos intense period of their murder of Jews. An example of the new, tolerant line is a letter of instruction the OUN leadership addressed to political referents of the nadraiony, dated 8 January 1944. It said simply: “We do not attack [ne vystupaiemo proty] the Jews”. The memories of surviving Jews were chosen as the main tool of this proof. However, these memories cited by the author do not provide the answer to the main question, namely: provided we assume that the authors of the testimonies correctly identified the “Banderites”, exactly as the “Banderites”, then did these “Banderites” know that they were killing the Jews and were they killed exactly for this? In cases where it is about the groups associated with the Soviet partisans, it should be taken into account that the UPA and the Soviet partisans were at odds and, accordingly, the reason for the murder could have been precisely the group’s supposed or actual involvement with the Soviet partisans. Meanwhile, the author describes one of the so-called fugitive camps as “located in the woods south of Sernyky, Lutsk county and associated with the Soviet partisans under the command of Maksim Misyura” At this point, the author “forgets” about the fundamental conflict between the UPA and the Soviet partisans, which fully explains why the “Banderites” preferred to destroy the enemy’s base. In fact, without revealing the context, but presenting a sum of testimonies in which “the Banderites kill the Jews”, the author creates the impression that the “Banderites” persecuted the Jews precisely because they were Jews.
In the end, it should be noted that not only the OUN and the UPA became the objects of deeply personalized criticism by John-Paul Himka, but also the historians who do not agree with the indisputability of his assessments of the OUN and the UPA as fascist and xenophobic, pinpointing, in particular, the Ukrainians’ stateless status. An example of such criticism is the article “OUN and Fascism, Definitions and Blood”, published relatively recently, in 2021. This text is devoted to the criticism of the view according to which Ukrainian nationalism is a separate form of nationalism of a stateless nation, which is determined precisely by the fact of statelessness. This view is embodied in the concepts of Alexander Motyl and Oleksandr Zaitsev.
The text is full of criticism of both scientists, some examples of which should be cited here. For instance, “but I do not believe that this is really about a heuristic distinction that will move objective scholarship forward. It is rooted, rather, in a solidarity with elements of the nationalist narrative, in order to avoid having the label “fascist” attached to OUN and its armed force, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (known from its Ukrainian initials as UPA)”. A bit further one can find the following: “The idea that statehood is a characteristic distinguishing fascism from Ukrainian nationalism had already been elaborated by Yevhen Onatsky in the late 1920s and early 1930”. Both characteristics are nothing more than an attempt to attribute to the opponent the lack of academic courage and to “tie” the opponent in the eyes of the reader to the texts, of, in fact, the nationalists of the 1930s themselves, thus creating the impression that it is about self-defense or somewhat similar, which certainly should not have formed a minimally positive reputation for the opponent.
The criticism gradually acquires an aggressively personal character, for example, Aleksandr Motyl was actually accused of galvanizing outdated views on the political need of the day, and Oleksandr Zaitsev was blamed for having to deal with certain “nationalist” views due to his position and, ultimately, lack of expertise in matters of World War II and understanding the issue at the level of a high school graduate: “I look at Oleksandr Zaitsev differently He works at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv and has to work in an atmosphere that is permeated with nationalist sentiments”. The given phrase leaves the impression of nothing more than finding personal faults.
Next, the author again unites the criticism of both scientists with the following passage: “Also, when we look more closely at the two scholars who deny OUN’s fascism on the grounds of Ukrainian statelessness, we can see that they accept elements of the nationalist narrative and have an aversion to condemning the nationalists as outright fascists”. Here it is appropriate to remind that scientific research is guided by evidence and arguments, and not by emotional subjective feelings such as disgust, which professor Himka for some reason credits to his colleagues.
In fact, it can be stated that the entire article, instead of objective, reasoned criticism, is a set of personal criticism with emotional transitions into frank vilification of the historical politics of Ukraine: “In the wake of the Euromaidan, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his “memory commissar” Volodymyr Viatrovych intensified the glorification of OUN and UPA, which had already begun under President Yushchenko”. At the same time, it becomes clear what the author will consider as the reason to stop the slandering of all the mentioned personalities, and that is the unconditional recognition of the OUN and, correspondingly, its ideology as the fascist.
Over time, the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church came under the crosshairs of the author as well, in the person of its leader during the Second World War, the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytskyi. In general, one gets the impression that eventually the author adopted the position: “Whoever is not with us is against us” regarding almost all institutions of Ukrainian society.
In summary, we can outline several main characteristics of John-Paul Himka’s techniques in his accusations of the liberation movement using scientific texts, namely:
—a large number of absolutizing statements, which are presented without evidence and references, though, due to their matter-of-factness mode, they look plausible. However, these statements are sometimes dubious or false;
—he uses almost entirely memories, which are generally considered to be one of the least objective types of sources by its nature, besides, John-Paul Himka cites them without accompanying analysis;
—he ignores sources, in particular, documentary ones, which testify that the situation was, at least, not that simple;
—he consistently quotes authors known for their Ukrainophobic views, such as Aleksandr Dyukov.
Per Anders Rudling: Shukhevych in Belarus
The next member of the “Himka group”, Per Anders Rudling, put Roman Shukhevych in the center of his works. His main text on the activity of the Commander-in-Chief is the report titled “Schooling in Murder: Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 and Hauptmann Roman Shukhevych in Belarus 1942”, delivered at the international conference “Prawda historyczna a prawda polityczna w badaniach naukowych. Przykład ludobójstwa na kresach połudiowej Polski w latach 1939–1946”, which was held in June 2010 in Wrocław. The article on the topic was published the following year in the conference issue of articles. The English-language original can be found on the service page “Academia.edu”.
The text begins with the postulation of Roman Shukhevych’s guilt for the murders of the Poles in Volyn, after which the author suggests looking for the roots of the phenomenon in Roman Shukhevych’s tenure as the commander of the Nachtigall. Next, the author gives examples of discriminatory statements by the Nazi leaders and characterizes the phenomenon of security forces in itself, focusing exclusively on the auxiliary function in punitive operations. Only after that the author does turn to the essence, that is, the issue of Roman Shukhevych’s role in the events of 1941–1942.
The description of the events surrounding the preparation and promulgation of the Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian State is full of adjectives such as “pro-Nazi”, “totalitarian” and similar in relation to the OUN(b). The opinion expressed by the author, that the members of the OUN(b) considered the future state as an exclusive ally of the Nazi Germany and were surprised by the Nazis’ refusal to recognize the declared statehood, is completely refuted by the text and the fact of the secret Memorandum sent by the OUN(b) to the Reich Chancellery on June 23, 1941.
Therefore, the author renders the story of the 201st battalion in Belarus quite correctly, based mainly on the memories of legionnaires. Later, as part of the contextualization, the author provides the data on the ratio of losses of various German security units to losses among the partisans, in order to prove that such a sharp imbalance clearly indicates the participation of the former Nachtigall in the killing of the non-combatants. However, neither the methods of calculating the losses of the partisans nor who was counted among them, nor the place of the Nachtigall in all the calculations given remain unclear, since all other information is given for the periods and territories where the 201st battalion was not deployed. Nevertheless, the most interesting thing is that in the case of the 201st battalion, the imbalance of losses is the smallest, which can testify in favor of the memories of Roman Shukhevych’s acquaintances, who claimed that Roman Shukhevych did everything possible to avoid losses on his side and on the opposite side, including illegal negotiations with the local leaders of the partisans. This is how contextualization confirms data from such a volatile source as memories.
The theory itself boils down to postulating the opinion that Roman Shukhevych, as the commander of the Nachtigall, was directly involved in the mass murders of the civilians during collaboration with the Nazi Germany, and the belief that such a situation was a direct consequence of the seemingly exclusively xenophobic ideology of the OUN(b) is now being pedaled. Since the issue of the attitude of the OUN(b) to the minorities was discussed in the previous chapter, here it is worth going through the arguments regarding Shukhevych personally. However, such a completely logical approach is made impossible by the researcher’s own admission that there is no accurate information about what exactly the battalion did in Belarus. The information he gives regarding the violent nature of the anti-partisan struggle in Belarus and the loss of the civilian population does not clarify the issue of what role the 201st guard battalion played in this, especially since, judging by the name, its task was to protect, not to participate in hostilities. However, the reality made its adjustments and as the result the battalion lost 22 soldiers as of October 1942.
These rather humble results, despite the bravura beginning of the article, which accuses the OUN(b) and Shukhevych personally of the complicity in the murders of the civilians and Jewish pogroms almost along the entire route of the Nachtigall traffic, seem quite strange and, as the result, do not give the opportunity to seriously either deny or confirm the statement.
In 2016, Per Anders published the text “The Cult of Roman Shukhevych in Ukraine: Myth Making with Complications”. The text begins with the description of the events and circumstances surrounding President Yushchenko’s granting of the title of the Hero of Ukraine to Roman Shukhevych, at the same time, the author does not forget to refer to Yushchenko as to the one “was marred for inefficiency, infighting and inability to address pressing concern about misrule, endemic corruption…”. On reading this, the audience is left with the impression that all that Yushchenko is known for is bad management and giving titles to historical figures who “split Ukraine”. Dwelling on the events surrounding this award, the author refers to Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Anton Shekhovtsov and Volodymyr Ishchenko. Describing the reaction of the Jewish community of Ukraine with the word outraged, for some reason he refers to the persons known not so much for their active position among the Jewish community, but for belonging to the Ukrainophobic wing of the “Party of Regions”, namely Vadym Rabinovich and Oleksandr Feldman.
Having made a five-page introduction, where he describes Yushchenko’s historical policy as being “controversial” and the one that seems to have exposed internal divisions among Ukrainians, the author goes on to characterizing the OUN and the UPA itself, without explaining Roman Shukhevych’s connection to both organizations. He immediately characterizes the OUN as totalitarian, forgetting that it did not claim to change human nature or to spread its ideology to the whole world. In addition, he attributes the OUN gravitation to the “client state” model of the Third Reich, although such a view is completely rejected by the Memorandum discussed in the first chapter, in which the Nazi leaders are actually warned of possible complications in the event of attempts to subjugate Ukraine to their power in any form, the satellite state including.
Next, the author presents the biography of Roman Shukhevych and it must be admitted that it is done quite correctly. However, in the description of Roman Shukhevych’s stay in Belarus, there is an unexpected expansion of the context, i.e., the author clarifies that in the conditions of Belarus, the concept of “partisans” should be understood both the partisan units, and the Red Army men lagging behind the army, as well as “suspicious” civilians and the Jews who were hiding from death. In this way, one gets the impression that the unit under the command of Roman Shukhevych was essentially engaged in not only anti-partisan struggle, but also in the violence against the categories protected by international law or threatened with genocide. Thus, although no evidence is provided regarding the specifics of the anti-partisan activities of the 201st battalion, not to mention Roman Shukhevych in particular, a purely emotional impression is formed, which can be described as the “remaining sediment”. It is as well worth noting that the passage about the imbalance of losses completely coincides with the similar one in the text “Schooling in Murder…”.
It should be mentioned that the Belarusian period of Roman Shukhevych’s life is the least documented. In fact, all the researcher can count on are the memories of Shukhevych’s co-workers, as well as the general documents from the relevant period and region. As a matter of fact, those were the latter Rudling used. However, the biggest issue is the fact that this kind of complex source problem creates a wide space for conjectures, which by their very nature are highly dependent on the likes and dislikes of the author, and, on the other hand, this virtually leaves no chance for clarifying the issue. Furthermore, the very absence of the documentary and private evidence of criminal activities to which the Nachtigall could be firmly linked, says in favour of the fact that, most likely, such crimes simply did not occur.
Next, the author turns to the topic of Roman Shukhevych’s activities in 1943. Initially talking about the creation of the UPA, he immediately moves on to the topic of the “auxiliary police in the ranks of the UPA”, rendering that it was the 201st battalion that made up the “backbone” of the UPA and instantly reports the transition of the Ukrainian police to the UPA in the spring of 1943. This is at least an inaccuracy, since, as Ivan Patrilyak proved, not all policemen who left the service joined the UPA, and the total number of the former policemen in the ranks of the UPA was by no means big enough to form the core of the underground army. Thereafter, the focus is immediately shifted to the Ukrainian-Polish confrontation, and the beginning of the confrontation is defined as February 1943, that is, when the first operations of the UPA took place, and when it comes to estimating the number of victims, the work of Eva Siemashko, known for her anti-Ukrainian prejudices, is called upon, although he previously referred to the texts of Timothy Snyder and Grzegorz Motyka, to whom no questions arise. Though, given the consequence, the reader gets the impression that the main expert on the issue is Eva Siemashko.
Next, it is claimed, without any appeals, that Ukrainian “pro-nationalist” historians have whitewashed and silenced the topic of Volyn, while completely ignoring the works of all Ukrainian historians who have been studying the issue of the Ukrainian-Polish conflict, namely, Volodymyr Vyatrovych, Bohdan Hud, Igor Ilyushyn and many others. This is followed by the at least strange accusation of avoiding the period of 1941–1943 in the biography of Roman Shukhevych in favor of the period of 1943–1950. The fact is that such a statement undermines the study of the biography of Roman Shukhevych by a number of researchers whose efforts were united at the time of publication of the author’s article, for example, in the collection titled “Ukrainian Liberation Movement” or in the biographical study “Roman Shukhevych” by Olesya Isayuk, where a separate chapter is devoted to the period of 1941–1943. In addition, the period of 1943–1950 is trivially longer chronologically and full of important events in the context of Ukrainian resistance to communist totalitarianism. All these circumstances make the accusation manipulative and, in fact, demanding to overshadow the experience of fighting Soviet totalitarianism in favor of unproven crimes of the previous two years.
Almost the entire second half of the text is a chronicle of what the author considers the groundless glorification of Roman Shukhevych. This chronicle contains a list of texts praising Shukhevych in Ukrainian periodicals from different periods, including the practically unknown to the general public Izyaslav Kokodniak, as well as the attempt to describe the film about Roman Shukhevych “The Invincible”. The last quarter of the text is almost entirely devoted to the activities of Volodymyr Vyatrovych considering the commemoration, in particular, of Roman Shukhevych, where the author even quotes the entire pieces from the interviews . This part of the text contrasts with the emotional passages of the previous pages, however, this contrast rather highlights the emotional part.
The finale of the text is a generally unexpressive summary, which boils down to a call to professional historians to think about the appropriateness of “sculpting a hero” specifically from Shukhevych and a repeated list of all the crimes attributed to the latter. In terms of style and tone, it is more reminiscent of addressing the jury than the finale of a scientific text.
Another text of the author, which concerns the memory of the Ukrainian liberation movement in general, is the article “Multiculturalism, Memory and Ritualisation: Ukrainian Nationalist Memorials in Canada”, published in 2011. The topic of the text is the objects of memory of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and the way they are commemorated on the example of the Ukrainian community in Edmonton. One of the objects of the research interest is the manner of honoring Roman Shukhevych among the diaspora.
The text opens with the analysis of national rituals as a phenomenon, and this analysis is full of adjectives such as “ritual”, “mystical”, “imaginary” and the like. This creates the impression of falsehood and generally unrealistic practice of national honoring as such. The next chapter is devoted to the genesis of Ukrainian nationalism. After the generally correct first paragraph, the author states that the experience of the interwar period discredited the Soviet model and then writes that the Western Ukrainian elites considered the rise of fascist Italy and Nazi Germany to be the “new world order”. In the very next sentence, the OUN is declared “fascist” without any preface, and then there is about a page of description of the arguments in favor of the OUN “fascism”, and at the same time it is claimed that one of the motivations of the OUN was… rivalry with Stalinism.. In the description of the alleged crimes of the UPA, the author also attributes to it the ethnic extermination of the Czech, Hungarian, and Armenian minorities. The model used by the author is primarily accompanied by numerous factual errors, and, which is more, it completely deprives the Ukrainian liberation movement, personalized in the OUN, of its actionnes. There is also a noticeable pattern, i.e., in case the organization or the person is not a communist sympathizer, they are either a Nazi or a fascist. Despite the fact that there are still many different possibilities between the two ideological extremes, this scheme is very reminiscent of one of Russia’s favorite schemes of defamation of its opponents among the liberation movements of its subordinate peoples.
Then, several pages are occupied by the description of the activities of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada, for which the author does not spare pejoratives either, that are followed by the description of the history of multiculturalism policy in Canada. The similarity of the structure with the structure of John-Paul Himka’s article on the same topic as well as with Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s article “Świętowanie faszyzmu i zbrodni wojennych w Edmonton. Mit polityczny i kult Stepana Bandery w multikulturowej Kanadzie” is striking.
Later, the author turns to the list of memorials in honor of the figures of the Ukrainian liberation movement, and here, Roman Shukhevych falls into the center of his vision. The subsection opens with a description of the history of the construction of the monument to the Commander-in-Chief, followed by the detailed and lengthy description of the celebrations associated with the monument. All of this is characterized as “ritualization of the nation” and is compared exclusively with the rituals of the interwar OUN; although, for example, comparing national heroes with the characters from ancient history is quite acceptable in European culture since the Renaissance, and it is not characteristic of Nazis and fascists, since they concentrated on purely ethnic heroes or the generalized image of a “white beast”, which the author “forgets”, as well as a number of other details.
Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe: the immanence of fascism
Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe’s publications focus mainly on the figure of Stepan Bandera, who goes beyond the scope of this analysis, yet, Roman Shukhewych sometimes also becomes the object of his criticism. This author is of interest by virtue of the specific vocabulary for his subject, which is worth analyzing; however, due to a certain discrepancy in his main topic, we will focus the analysis on those texts that dwell upon Roman Shukhevych personally or upon the events and issues directly related to him and his activities.
The first of the texts that can be considered as connected to this theme is “Przebieg i sprawcy pogromu we Lwowie latem 1941 roku: Aktualny stan badań”, published in the collection “OUN, UPA i Zagłada Żydów”. As can be seen from the title, the text claims to be an overview of the research on the topic of the Lviv pogrom of July 1–2, 1941, for which the Nachtigall battalion was blamed for for a long time. The author, although not attempting to resurrect this long-disproved propaganda fiction, nevertheless persistently tries to set the blame primarily on the OUN(b). The text, similar to Rossolinskyi-Liebe’s articles in general, is distinguished by an emphasized scientific form, one of the signs of which in this case is a long introduction, which, in fact, is the only part that fully corresponds to the mentioned topic, since what follows is rather an attempt to reproduce the course of the pogrom. Already at the beginning of the reconstruction, in the review of the sources, instead of a list of sources together with the indication of the place of their storage or publication, we see the announcement about the use of the memories only, since the documents do not exist, because they were destroyed by the executors, as well as lengthy explanations about the subjectivity of memories and testimonies being the sources. In fact, after such an introduction, one can risk saying that with such an accumulation of arguments, one is trying to hide the fact that there are no reliable sources about the participation of OUN members in the pogrom.
This is followed by a subsection about Ukrainian nationalists and the concept of the “Ukrainian national revolution”, after which the story about the pogrom continues. This alone creates the impression that the author somehow connects the OUN(b) and the pogroms. This impression becomes even stronger when reading the text. For example, on p. 319, the author claims that the first point of the “Decalogue of a Ukrainian nationalist”, namely, “Either you will win the Ukrainian state, or you will die in the struggle for it!” is the evidence that the ideology of the OUN is a mixture of “ultranationalism, patriotism, fascism, anti-Semitism, racism and revolutionary-rebellious spirit”. In addition to the fact that the concept of patriotism as such finds itself in a very dubious company, the author additionally claims that “the enemy of the OUN were the occupiers (Poland and Russia, that is, the Soviet Union), as well as Polish, Russian, and Jewish civilians who inhabited “Ukrainian territory”. From the quotations from the founding and ideological documents of the OUN(b) given in one of the previous chapters, it is clear that the fundamental enmity was discussed only in the case of the Soviet Union, and even with regard to the Poles, it was exclusively a territorial dispute.
In the next paragraph, the author, referring to the nationalists themselves, quite rightly claims that the OUN(b) is fighting for independence, and then the declaration of independence aspirations is characterized as “typical behavior of small fascist movements in Central and Eastern Europe.”. Consequently, the question arises – should we consider the independence movements in Central and Eastern Europe to be fascist? After all, each and every independence movement quite logically and rationally declares that it is fighting for the independence of its country. In addition, the systematic use of the designation “Poland” in relation to the territory of western Ukraine is of separate attention.
A little lower on the same page, the author claims that most of the young nationalists who were in Galicia joined the OUN(b) during the pogroms. Here again the question arises – since the OUN(b) was formed in February 1941, and the pogrom took place in July 1941, so why the potential “Banderites” waited so long to finally accept one of the sides in the dispute between the two factions of a once unified organization. Besides it is obviously absurd to state, that the greeting “Glory to Ukraine! – Glory to heroes!” is fascist, since it arose in Kharkiv long before the appearance of fascism and far outside the sphere of action of those forces that are traditionally considered fascist movements.
Further there is the chapter “The course of the pogrom in Lviv. Occupation of the city and declaration of the statehood”. In addition to the fact that the wording itself combines three different events, clearly linking them to the theme of the pogrom, the subsection itself is a sequence of memories and testimonies that continue almost to the end of the text.Together, they paint a stunning picture of violence and abuse, though add little to understanding the genesis and motivations of the phenomenon itself. Moreover, in retelling almost every memory, the author does not forget to remind that it is about the Ukrainians . A long list of cases where Ukrainians are mentioned as the initiators or active participants in pogroms creates the impression that the pogroms were exclusively done by the Ukrainians. Taking into account the fact that the above mentioned cases concern mainly cities, the question arises, where and what were the Polish residents of the cities doing, as in some cities they were outnumbering Ukrainians.
The author, which is a rare case, describes Polish anti-Semitism as well, noting that the Polish community was less active in pogroms, because it was wary of Ukrainians. This statement is rather ambiguous, since it is not clear what the essence of the fear was – were they afraid that the Ukrainians would attack the Poles while they were busy with pogroms, or that the Ukrainians would defend the Jews?
It is as well worth mentioning about a number of speculative statements, i.e., “although there are no documents, but violence took place”, “the documents could be destroyed”, “the members of the OUN(b) and German officers, observing the reaction of the population to the bodies of the murdered, decided to take advantage of the situation”. The speculativeness is additionally indicated by the absence of any references or logical conclusion based on the facts.
The most significant of these speculations is the claim that Ukrainian police officers committed violence against the Jews having removed their blue and yellow armbands in order to hide the participation of the OUN(b) in the pogrom . The problem with such statements is that the blue-yellow two-color was an emblem not specifically of the OUN (b) or the OUN(m), but of the Ukrainians and Ukraine in general. Besides, there is evidence that there were cases of wearing blue and yellow armbands precisely to cause the association of armband owners with the Ukrainian community.
The main part of the text is, in fact, a list of quotes from memoirs without much accompanying analysis, and immediately after the numerous memoirs, the reader is offered a conclusion to the article, where the author primarily quotes his mentor John-Paul Himka and laments that the memoirs and testimonies from the time of the Holocaust were ignored for a long time, the statement that is more than dubious, taking into account the amount of memories and testimonies collected by various scientific and public institutions, as well as the fact that not a single trial of the Nazi was complete without the testimony of the survivors. It is further claimed that the OUN(b) and the police were the organizers of the pogrom at the same level as the Einsatz commandos and at the same time, it refers to the same memories, complaining that the documents were probably destroyed. This resembles manipulation too much and the attempt to accuse the Ukrainians in organizing pogroms at all costs.
The next author’s text is titled “Luka w pamięci o Holokauście. Diaspora ukraińska i ludobójstwo Żydów”. This text deals with the issue of the Holocaust memory among the Ukrainian diaspora. The author promotes the opinion that the subject of the Holocaust is completely silenced in favor of Ukrainian martyrology. Moreover, the author believes that the topic of the Holodomor was raised by the diaspora environment in order to silence the topic of the Holocaust and the participation of Ukrainians in it.
Despite the fact that the text deals with a significantly broader issue, it is worth noting the presence of Roman Shukhevych in its focus. A separate passage describing Roman Shukhevych is worth quoting in full: “…battalion 201 of the Schutzmannschaft was disbanded. Some of its members… others, like Shukhevych, joined the UPA, whose actions against the civilian population were no less brutal than those of the German Schutzmannschaft. In August 1943, Shukhevych became the Commander-in-Chief of the UPA and held this position until his death on March 5, 1950, when he was killed in Lviv in a skirmish with the troops of the Soviet Interior Ministry. He was primarily involved in mass violence against the Polish population in Volyn and ordered to continue the “ethnic cleansing” of the Polish population in Eastern Galicia/Halychyna. Under the command of Shukhevych, the UPA committed numerous murders of Ukrainian civilians during the brutal conflict with the NKVD and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which lasted until the early 1950s. Together with the violence against the Jews, the UPA killed the Jews who were trying to survive in the forest. According to the estimates, the number of these victims varies from several hundred to several thousand”.
This description is full of, to put it mildly, inaccuracies and strange formulations. First of all, Shukhevych became the Commander-in-Chief of the UPA in November 1943, not in August. There does not exist such thing as the Shukhevych’s order on “ethnic cleansing” of Poles at all, although the change of the author’s views on sources other than memories and testimonies is somewhat surprising. The sentence about the “conflict” of the UPA with the NKVD and the Ministry of Internal Affairs sounds quite strange, considering that both institutions were subordinated to the USSR government and the Communist Party, and the UPA repeatedly declared the USSR to be its main enemy. After all, the statement about the murder of the Jews is illustrated by an appeal to John-Paul Himka, who is currently the author and practically the only supporter of this position .
The Lviv pogrom did not begin on June 30, as the author claims , but on July 1, 1941. Besides, the figures given by the author do not withstand the least critique. A little further, on p. 821, there is a text about the UPA of 1943, and in the imagination of the author the future independent Ukraine was supposed to be “etnicznie jednolitym, a politycznie faszystowskim państwem”, despite the fact that this statement is not supported by any ideological document of the UPA and the underground from those times. The statement about the presence of torture chambers at the disposal of the OUN(b) in the camps of displaced persons after World War II  can only cause laughter among the specialists in the history of Ukrainian emigration.
On p. 825, the author cites an alleged “order” of Mykola Lebed on the liquidation of Jews, which is actually a report to the head of the Ukrainian Headquarters of the Partisan Movement Timofiy Strokach, based on the oral reports of the agents. The veracity of these initial reports is completely unknown and there may be a lot of confusion. In addition, the reference is related to the times when Lebed was no longer the head of the Security Council, as presented in the article.
Similarly to the previous text, the article titled “Świętowanie faszyzmu i zbrodni wojennych w Edmonton. Mit polityczny i kult Stepana Bandery w multikulturowej Kanadzie” dwells upon broader issues as well, however, the emphasis is on the figure of Roman Shukhevych and memorising him, so it is worth noting it separately. The text aims to show in what way the Canadian policy of multiculturalism contributed to the spread of the “racist and anti-Semitic cult of Stepan Bandera” in Canada, according to the author. The article consists of four parts: the first describes the biography of Stepan Bandera; the second lists the institutions of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada; the third analyzes the essence and content of the Canadian policy of multiculturalism, and the fourth, is a very detailed chronologically consistent exposition of Bandera’s tributes in the diaspora, which, according to the author’s intention, was supposed to serve as proof of exactly how “multiculturalism” contributed to nationalism. Interestingly, the chronology begins in 1959, while multiculturalism began to be implemented in Canada in 1971. A notable characteristic of the tributes themselves: “… prompted a part of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada and other countries to pay tribute to the leader of an ultra-nationalist, fascist and anti-Semitic organization. Not only Bandera’s supporters cooperated with the Nazi Germany, they also “cleansed” Ukraine during World War II of the Poles, the Jews and the Ukrainians who did not support the policy of Ukrainian nationalist extremists”. Such statements are in sharp contradiction, first of all, with the known numerous facts of forcible detention of the members of the OUN(b) in prisons and concentration camps of the Third Reich.
As previously, in this case we will limit ourselves to the analysis of those parts that directly relate to Roman Shukhevych: “In 1941, Shuhevych was the deputy commander of the Nachtigal battalion created by the Abwehr. In 1942, he was the captain of the 201st Schutzmannschaft battalion, which was stationed in Belarus and allegedly committed the crimes against the civilian population there. In 1943, when the UPA carried out ethnic cleansing of the Poles in Volyn and killed the Jews who were hiding in the forests, Shukhevych was not the main commander of this army, though he had a significant influence on its activities. However, he was the main commander of the UPA in 1944, when the UPA carried out ethnic cleansing of the Poles in Eastern Galicia/Halychyna. In this sense, Shukhevych was more directly involved in crimes against humanity than Bandera”. As we can see, there is a consistent “binding” of Roman Shukhevych to ethnic cleansing and war crimes, notably, only on the basis of the parallelism in time of Roman Shukhevych’s activities or his tenure in one or another position and the committing of the corresponding crimes. On the other hand, no evidence of Roman Shukhevych’s personal involvement in these crimes was provided.
Jared McBride: the colonial vision of the “fighters against fascism”
The last of the small group whose texts are considered in this analysis is Jared McBride. Unlike the three previous authors, he has not been interested in the personality of Shukhevych directly, as well as in other leaders and figures of the liberation movement. In addition, due to the relatively smaller number of publications, compared to the rest of the group, he can be considered more like a voluntary fellow traveler of the group, than a full member of it. However, this is not the case.
Although, despite the indirect relationship to the main topic of the suggested analysis, at least two texts of the mentioned author are worth analyzing. The first of them is “Peasants into Perpetrators: The OUN-UPA and the Ethnic Cleansing of Volhynia, 1943–1944”, published in 2016 .
As can be seen from the title, the text is devoted to the Polish-Ukrainian confrontation in Volyn. The author chose the methodology of “everyday history”, putting in the center of consideration a small event against the general background, namely, the attack of the UPA unit on the Polish settlement near Luboml. The text begins with a description of the memories of two local peasants, i.e., Artem Bubela and Vasyl Sikorskyi, portraying both as rather limited people who had never left their native places before the start of the war and were far from any political affairs.
Afterwards, the author announces that his theme is “a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Volyn Poles”, thus making two serious mistakes. First of all, using the term “OUN-UPA”, which at that time was already rightly and well-reasonedly considered outdated and incorrect, primarily due to the incorrect identification of the political structure of the OUN and the underground army of the UPA. Accordingly, it is a mistake to call Mykola Lebed “the leader of the OUN-UPA” since he has never held any position in the UPA, being exclusively a political leader. In addition, in April 1943, he was actually removed from decision-making, therefore, to argue the opinion about the alleged intentions of the UPA, as the author does with the words: “For example, one of the leaders of the OUN-UPA, Mykola Lebed, stated that the organization’s intention is to “’purify all revolutionary territory from the Polish population’”, is at least incorrect, simply because it was, at best, the opinion of a mere dozen high-ranking leaders of the underground.
The mentioned inaccuracies, do not prevent the author from describing the tragedy of the Volyn Poles in vivid details, attributing it exclusively to “nationalist violence”. In the end, the author decides to concentrate on the course of the Ukrainian-Polish conflict in the Lyuboml region , stubbornly attributing its leadership to Mykola Lebed, who ceased to be the head of the underground in April .
Moving directly to the topic of the events in the Lyuboml region, the author puts several former villagers who first joined the police, and from there joined the UPA, in the center of the events. The author reproduces the events based on the materials of the interrogations of both former policemen, who consistently repeated the opinion that everything they did during the attack on the Polish villages, they did on the orders of local members of the OUN and the UPA fighters, who apparently deliberately recruited villagers into the underground army precisely for killing the Poles. This theme is replaced by the list of atrocities committed by the group or squad to which both defendants belonged .
In the next part of the text, the author consistently states that, in his opinion, the information in the interrogation materials undoubtedly indicates the organizational role of the UPA in the violence in the Lyuboml region. In addition, he persistently emphasizes the previously apolitical nature of the former police officers and civilians who participated in the violence. Taken together this creates the impression that everything became possible only because of the evil intentions of the OUN(b), who by trickery and violence dragged completely apolitical people into the bloody crime. This belief is confirmed by the author himself, repeating the thesis several times in the conclusions that the participation of large groups in the violence became possible due to the conscious involvement of previously apolitical villagers in it.
The author consistently suggests that the only force that planned and promoted violence against the Poles on ethnic grounds was the OUN(b). The fact that he practically does not mention the context of the events creates the impression that the only reason for the existence of the OUN(b) and the underground in general was anti-Polish violence. In the last part, the author, in fact, concludes that it was the UPA that turned “peasants” into “murderers”.
Moreover, the criticism of the sources in the text is de facto completely ignored. Focusing exclusively on a single episode, the author practically did not mention the wider context and background of the Volyn events. Besides, as it appears from the text, he does not even consider the possibility that the arrested policemen could well have blamed someone else, in this case – their underground commanders. Likewise, the topic of the motives of the OUN itself is completely avoided, and the reader is suggested, in fact, to believe that the desire to kill non-Ukrainians is immanent for nationalists.
However, the most interesting thing is that the vision presented by Jared McBride have a surprising similarity with that part of the colonial narrative, where the liberation struggle is perceived as the result of the activity of some malevolent forces that seduced completely peaceful and good-natured subordinates. First of all, the raising of the issue “from the peasants to the murderer” together with the insistence of the opinion that it was the OUN that “recruited” and “mobilized” the peasants to violence against the Polish neighbors, without any attempt to analyze why these appeals, if any, were successful, seems to be a replica of the traditional colonial scheme, in which perfectly benevolent natives suddenly become brutal executioners, believing someone’s propaganda.
Moreover, the author demonstrates this in one sentence: «Immediately following the end of hostilities in the Soviet-Polish war, the UVO, led by veterans of various frontier wars, began a coordinated campaign of terrorism against the Polish government».. It is clear to any specialist from this period that by the “wars on the frontier” the Ukrainian-Polish war is meant in particular, as well as a number of wars between Central European states. It is obvious that, if in the mental map of the author of such a text, Eastern Europe is somewhere on the border of the “normal” and some other world, then the struggle for independence will seem like weird wars on the frontier. Actually, here we have a devaluation of the experience both of Ukraine and of a number of Central European nations from the positions of “superiority”; and here it is appropriate to recall the author’s long experience in Russian studies, for which it is customary to practically ignore the nations that were once part of the Russian Empire.
It is not surprising that the text is accompanied by further errors. For example, the author does not pay attention to the fact that Mykola Sciborskyi was a “Melnyk resident” and not a “Banderite”, on whom he puts the blame for “involving in crime” the wider groups of the population. As a matter of fact, we have yet another example of the attributing to the OUN(b) not exactly their practices due to the Western reader’s misunderstanding and ignorance of the difference between the two OUNs, in particular the ideological one.
Next, the author cites an excerpt from the text of the pre-war safety instructions: “During the time of chaos and confusion, we should take the opportunity to liquidate the undesirable Poles, Muscovites and Jews, especially the supporters of Bolshevik-Moscow imperialism.”. Instead, the original document refers to “undesirable elements from the list of…”.
The author goes on to say that in 1942–1943, Taras Bulba-Borovets was building up his power and influence,which is actually not the case, and this is clearly proven by the research of Ihor Marchuk. Besides, according to the author, only in the spring of 1943 did the OUN(b) realize that it needed an army. Although, the decision to form the army for the future uprising against the Nazis was made in the first half of 1942, as Ivan Patrilyak convincingly showed in his monograph. In addition, Roman Shukhevych has never been the leader in the North-Western Ukrainian lands, as the author claims . In fact, it comes down to an attempt to create the OUN(b) the halo of a malevolent force, which turns quiet, calm and apolitical Volyn peasants into ferocious beasts.
To sum up, Jared McBride’s texts on the issues of the UPA in Volyn, should be considered as an example of argumentation with a clear influence of colonial vision. Presumably, this is a consequence of his long training in the field of Russian studies, for which it is quite characteristic to consider non-Russian nations of the former USSR as either “other Russians”, or, in the case of a consistent struggle for their own identity and freedom, to give them the aura of the rebels and criminals.
 АЦДВР. Фонд Ленкавського. Арк. 602.
 Himka John Paul. The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists… Р. 83–101.
 Ibid. Р. 83–84.
 Ibid. Р. 86.
 Там само. Р. 85.
 Оригінал: «OUN was indeed a typical fascist organization as shown by many of its features: its leader principle (Führerprinzip), its aspiration to ban all other political parties and movements, its fascist-style slogan (Slava Ukraini! Heroiam slava!), its red and black lag, its raised-arm salute, its xenophobia and anti-Semitism, its cult of violence, and its admiration of Hitler, Mussolini, and other leaders of fascist Europe. What’s not fascist here?». Там само. Р. 87.
 Ibid. Р. 88.
Himka John-Paul. Be Wary of Faulty Nachtigall Lessons // Kyiv Post, 27 March 2008 (http://www.kyivpost.com/opinion/oped/28686/).
 This story is covered in more detail at the end of the previous chapter.
 Himka John-Paul. Be Wary of Faulty Nachtigall Lessons.
 Himka John-Paul. Former Ukrainian Policemen in the Ukrainian National Insurgency: Continuing the Holocaust outside German Service // Lessons and Legacies XII. New Directions in Holocaust Research and Education. Nortthwestern University Press, 2017. Р. 141–163.
 Himka John-Paul. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the Ukrainian Police, and the Holocaust // Danyliw Seminar, 2011. Р. 1–23.
 Himka John-Paul. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Holocaust.
 Оригінал: «Political movements that represented none of the principal protagonists of the war made use of the militarization and disruption of society and the diffusion of weapons to pursue their own agendas of political, territorial, and ethnic transformation. Nationalists killed Communists and vice versa far from the immediate sphere of Soviet influence, for example, in Greece, Serbia, and China». Himka John-Paul. Former Ukrainian Policemen in the Ukrainian National Insurgency. Р. 141.
 Марчук Ігор. Отаман «Тарас Бульба»: між міфом і реальністю. Львів: Літопис УПА, 2022.
 Himka John-Paul. Former Ukrainian Policemen in the Ukrainian National Insurgency. Р. 143–144.
 Оригінал: «Thousands of Jews hid in bunkers and in forest camps. As winter approached, the empty houses offered necessary shelter for many of these Jewish survivors. Meanwhile, UPA made little or no progress on the anti-Polish front, and the Red Army was rapidly approaching. In fact, the Soviets recaptured Rivne and Lutsk in early February 1944; Rivne oblast was completely reconquered in March 1944; and only parts of Volhynia oblast held out until July 1944. During this upheaval, UPA leaders in Volhynia decided to eliminate the surviving Jews». Ibid. Р. 145–148.
 Оригінал: «This possibility is consistent with the opinion of the Russian historian Aleksandr Dyukov that “the main burden of the battle against the Jews and other ‘undesirable elements’ fell not on the UPA,” but on a nominally independent structure that was subordinate to its command the Security Service of OUN». Там само. Р. 149–150.
 Himka John-Paul. The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists… Р. 92.
 Ibid. Р. 1–23.
 Оригінал: «They also considered the Ukrainian police to be a cornerstone of Ukrainian nationalists’ policy of creating a “Ukraine for Ukrainians.” They killed “in the name of the reconstruction of society”». Там само. Р. 2.
 Ibid. Р. 3.
 Ibid. Р. 7.
 Оригінал: «The winter of 1943‐44 was a period when OUN and UPA were officially adopting a policy ofnational tolerance, hoping to become acceptable partners for the Western Allies. At the same time, this was the mos intense period of their murder of Jews. An example of the new, tolerant line is a letter of instruction the OUN leadership addressed to political referents of the nadraiony, dated 8 January 1944. It said simply: “We do not attack [ne vystupaiemo proty] the Jews”». Там само. Р. 8.
 Himka John-Paul. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army and the Holocaust. Р. 9.
 Himka Jonh-Paul. OUN and Fascism, Definition and Blood. Р. 166–175.
 Оригінал: «But I do not believe that this is really about a heuristic distinction that will move objective scholarship forward. It is rooted, rather, in a solidarity with elements of the nationalist narrative, in order to avoid having the label “fascist” attached to OUN and its armed force, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (known from its Ukrainian initials as UPA)». Ibid. Р. 167.
 Оригінал: «The idea that statehood is a characteristic distinguishing fascism from Ukrainian nationalism had already been elaborated by Yevhen Onatsky in the late 1920s and early 1930s». Там само.
 Ibid. Р. 170.
 Оригінал: «Also, when we look more closely at the two scholars who deny OUN’s fascism on the grounds of Ukrainian statelessness, we can see that they accept elements of the nationalist narrative and have an aversion to condemning the nationalists as outright fascists». Ibid.
 Оригінал: «In the wake of the Euromaidan, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and his “memory commissar” Volodymyr Viatrovych intensified the glorification of OUN and UPA, which had already begun under President Yushchenko». Ibid. Р. 168.
 Himka John-Paul. Metropolitan Andrey Szeptycki and the Holocaust…
 Rudling Per Anders. The Myth of Roman Shukhevych. Р. 31–33.
 Див.: Чайківський Богдан. ФАМА — рекламна фірма Романа Шухевича. Львів: Вид-во «Мс», 2005.
 Rudling Per Anders. The Cult of Roman Shukhevych. Р. 27.
 Ibid. Р. 26–65.
Ibid. Р. 29.
Ibid. Р. 31.
Ibid. Р. 39.
Ibid. Р. 42–43.
 Патриляк Іван. Встань і борись… Слухай і вір…
 Rudling Per Anders. The Myth of Roman Shukhevych. Р. 44.
Ibid. Р. 49.
Ibid. Р. 50–62.
 Rudling Per Anders. Multiculturalism, Memory and Ritualisation. Р. 733–768..
Ibid. Р. 733–734.
Ibid. Р. 735.
Ibid. Р. 736.
Ibid. Р. 737.
Ibid. Р. 743–744.
Ibid. Р. 744–746.
 Rossoliński-Liebe Grzegorz. Ptzebieg i sprawcy pogromu we Lwowie latem 1941 r. // OUN, UPA i Zagłąda Żydów. Kraków, 2015. S. 311–341.
Ibid. S. 316.
Ibid. S. 319.
 Ibid. S. 319–320.
Ibid. S. 320.
 Юзич Юрій. Хто і коли вигадав гасло «Слава Україні» // Історична правда (https://www.istpravda.com.ua/articles/2018/10/4/153036/).
 Rossoliński- Liebe, Grzegorz. Ptzebieg i sprawcy pogromu we Lwowie latem 1941 r. S. 322–340.
Ibid. S. 327.
Ibid. S. 334.
Ibid. S. 340.
 Rossoliński-Liebe Grzegorz. Luka w pamięci o Holokauście. Diaspora ukraińska i ludobójstwo Żydów // OUN, UPA i Zagłąda Żydów. Kraków, 2015. S. 815–846.
Ibid. S. 838–839.
Ibid. S. 839.
Ibid. S. 819.
Ibid. S. 821.
Ibid. S. 822.
182Ibid. S. 825–826.
 Оригінал: Rossoliński-Liebe Grzegorz. Celebrating Fascism and War Criminality in Edmonton.
Ibid. S. 451.
 Rossoliński-Liebe Grzegorz. Świętowanie faszyzmu i zbrodni wojennych w Edmonton. Mit polityczny i kult Stepana Bandery w multikulturowej Kanadzie. S. 471.
 McBride Jared. Peasants into perpetrators: the OUN-UPA and the ethnic cleansing of Volhynia, 1943–1944 // Slavic Review, Vol. 75, no. 3 (fall 2016). Р. 630–654.
Ibid. Р. 631–632.
Ibid. Р. 631.
 Оригінал: «For example, one OUN-UPA leader, Mykola Lebed, declared that the organization’s intention was to “cleanse the entire revolutionary territory of the Polish population». Там само. Р. 631.
 Ibid Р. 633.
 Ibid Р. 637.
 Ibid Р. 642–646.
 Ibid Р. 646–648.
 Ibid Р. 649–651.
 Оригінал: «Immediately following the end of hostilities in the Soviet-Polish war, the UVO, led by veterans of various frontier wars, began a coordinated campaign of terrorism against the Polish government». Там само. Р. 634.
 Ibid Р. 635.
 Ibid Р. 635.
 Ibid Р. 639.
Summing up, first of all, we will note some ways of presenting the opinion common to the entire research group. First of all, the main source cited when stating and illustrating the views are the testimonies and memories of witnesses and victims. Memories and testimonies in general are one of the least reliable sources when it comes to reproducing what happened for two main reasons, i.e., subjectivity and usually heightened emotionality.
When it comes to episodes of violence or traumatic episodes in general, memories become an even less reliable source, since one must take into account the specifics of the perception of reality under stress and possible distortions of the memory due to stress. In case the testimony or memories are recorded many years after the event under investigation, there is the factor of the instability of human memory as such. Much also depends on the questions asked and the personality of the interviewer. The combination of all these factors makes the use of memories as the main source a very unreliable research tactic, except in situations where the actual way of perceiving or remembering a phenomenon or event is being investigated, or when no other documented evidence remains.
However, the issues of the Ukrainian liberation movement in the context of collaboration with Nazism or relations with Jews do not belong to those where the researcher has only memories at their disposal. The OUN(b) itself left many documents that sufficiently illuminate its activities; in addition, its activities were reflected in the documents of its opponents, first and foremost, the Nazi and the communist regimes. Having such a background, to operate mainly with memories is strange in itself.
Actually, here it is worth noting the second characteristic feature of the presentation of their arguments by the “Himka group”, namely, ignoring the documentary base. In case it is taken into account, then the reader will certainly encounter the broken quotes or depreciation – one of the classic techniques is the assertion that the “democratic turn” of the OUN(b) in 1943 was a purely political tactical move aimed at winning the sympathy of the Western allies, ignoring numerous documents that testify to the opposite – that is, that the “democratic turn” was the finale of a long process that took the period of 1940-1943.
A continuation of ignoring the documentary base is the general criticism not only of scientific opponents, but of experts in general who offer a calmer consideration of the issue. Among those attacked at different times were individuals who are difficult to connect with the “Bandera” milieu, which is considered to be the main opponent of the “Himka group”, namely, Yaroslav Hrytsak and Oleksandr Zaitsev. Which is more, nothing else was criticized, but a calm and correct analysis of the issues and an equally correct denial of accusations of outright fascism and collaborationism.
It is worth noting that among the references in the texts of the “hypercritics” there are practically no references to the research of Kai Struve, who, in turn, is distinguished by an exceptionally wide inclusion and careful processing of sources from the period and whose monograph can definitely be considered one of the most accurate reconstructions of the events.
The criticism itself can be divided into two stages. At the first stage, the Ukrainian diaspora in the USA and Canada, especially its organized cells, became the main target of successive critical attacks. After the epicenter of changes, primarily intellectual and social, moved to Ukraine, which happened in the mid-2000s and finally became irreversible in 2014–2015, the individuals, institutions and events closely involved in the processes of change became the objects of attacks in Ukraine.
Provided we consider this question in the context of Russia’s alleged influence, since in the previous waves of attacks, starting with the “Oberlander case”, there were numerous signs of “deep operations” of the USSR special services, as Himka himself admits, then the probable cause of the attack is precisely the activities of the diaspora, which, until recently, remained almost unalternative chain of exit and communication of Ukraine with the “collective West”. In this case, it is also no coincidence that the beginning of another wave of attacks, which, in fact, has not subsided until now, coincided with the victory of the Orange Revolution. This event also meant Ukraine’s gradual return of being an actor in communication with the world, primarily the “collective West” and the clearing of the imperial “bridge” between Ukraine and, in particular, the USA. This development of events was completely opposite to Moscow’s goals to keep Ukraine in its sphere of influence.
Moreover, all this happens in an emphatically emotional way, with the active use of trigger terms, such as “fascist”, “racist”, “discriminatory” and others. Besides, the abuse of these characteristics makes it difficult for the reader to understand the details of the situation. In addition, the triggers themselves are aimed at the Western audience, which results in a manipulative effect.
After all, all the members of the group actively cite each other in their articles, which makes it seem as if there are more of them, and the group itself is more powerful and influential than it probably is.
It is more or less clear, that the way of explaining the events of 1941–1944, characteristic of the “Himka group”, carries in itself two basic ideas. The first of them is the idea that Ukrainians, in numerous variations, either fell under the influence or were violently dominated by the OUN(b) in Ukraine and its ideological followers in the diaspora, as a result of which all those terrible things attributed to the liberation movement. Such an idea is deeply colonial in nature, as it involves a vision of the “obedient and good” locals who suddenly, under someone’s evil influence, become aggressive and cruel towards yesterday’s seemingly same “others”, who, however, stand higher on the hierarchical ladder than the community, which unexpectedly “went rotten”.
Furthermore, the vast majority of active members of the group emphasize precisely the violent nature of what they incriminate the Ukrainian liberation movement. Taking into account the general context of the events, this makes us recall David Grossman’s statement that at one time the displacement and alienation of sexuality provoked a flow of social complexes and personal deviations, and now the alienation of violence threatens the same, but on a different basis.
The second of the mentioned ideas is the idea of the memory construction. First of all, the very idea that memory can be constructed is part of the idea of remaking human nature, and in this context, the objections of the OUN(b) to “totalitarianism” become very ambiguous. However, the representatives of the group do not stop there, since, judging by their texts, they consider the very idea of honoring the participants of the liberation movement to be deeply wrong; instead, they suggest to concentrate exclusively on the memory of the victims of genocides, in this case, the Holocaust.
Provided that these suggestions are to be considered from a more distant perspective, one will get the impression that Ukrainians, from the point of view of the “Himka group”, should become completely peaceful and, in fact, forget the history of their own struggle. Suchlike messages are strikingly reminiscent of the key Soviet and Russian narratives, to say nothing of the constant repetition of the claim about the “Nazi regime” that allegedly seized power in Ukraine, which Russian propagandists have been repeating since 2014, and the de facto ban on remembering one’s own history, which was practiced throughout the Soviet occupation of Ukraine. Naturally, such coincidences make the theses of the “Himka group” extremely convenient for use by Russian propaganda.
At the same time, it cannot be denied that both the topic of the attitude of the Ukrainian liberation movement towards Jews in particular and the topic of Ukrainian-Jewish relations in general still contain many complex questions, some of which we may never get unequivocal answers to. The search for answers is complicated and will be complicated by the sad fact that in both cases it touches upon the most painful parts of the history of both nations and forces to verify the developed ways of rationalizing national tragedies. It is also regrettable that the epicenter of public discussions and debates is not the research of specialists in the field of Henry Abramson, Johanan Petrovskyi-Stern, Kai Shtruve, Dieter Pohl, but the texts in which traces of manipulation and opposition between the communities are visible.
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