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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 18th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

 

Stepan Andriyovych Bandera  (1 January 1909 – 15 October 1959) was a Ukrainian politician and  leader in the Western Ukraine that fought for the Ukrainian independence via a nationalist movement that had no scruples in its allies – the goal overruling any other concerns.

Stepan Bandera was responsible for the proclamation of an Independent Ukrainian State in Lviv on June 30, 1941, eight days after Germany’s attack against the USSR. Members of Bandera’s Ukrainian nationalist movement thought that they had found a new powerful ally in Nazi Germany to aid them in their struggle to free themselves from the Soviet Union.

But NAZI Germany leaders thought differently and arrested his newly formed government, and sent them to concentration camps in Germany. Bandera  himself was imprisoned by the Nazis until September 1944. Eventually he was assassinated in 1959 by the KGB.

On 22 January 2010, President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title of Hero of Ukraine (posthumously). The award was condemned by the European Parliament, and Russian, Polish and Jewish organizations, and was declared illegal by the pro-Russian Ukrainian government and court in April 2010. In January 2011, the award was officially annulled. Consequently, Stepan Bandera remains a controversial figure both in Ukraine and internationally – but the new Nationalism of the 2014 Ukraine is again trying to restore him to a pedestal of national Hero – and this ought to be enough for many outsiders that fear a new Neo-Nazi Ukraine. Bandera’s flag was the red and black flag – not the commonly accepted Yellow and Blue flag – and my seeing on TV his flags on the Maidan made us hesitant in accepting the new Ukraine.

Bandera was jailed by the Polish government and released in 1939 when Poland caved in to the advancing Germans. He moved to Krakow – the seat of Germany’s occupational General Government. He caused a split in the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN)
searching support in Germany’s military circles under his OUN(B for Bandera). In November 1939 about 800 Ukrainian nationalists began training in Abwehr‘s military camps. In the first days of December, Bandera, without co-ordination with the leader of the other OUN group led by Melnyk, and referred to as OUN(M), sent a courier to Lviv with directives for preparation of an armed uprising. The courier was intercepted by the NKVD, which had captured some of the OUN(M)’s leaders. Another such attempt was prevented in Autumn 1940.
He also organized “Mobile Groups”  which were small (5-15 members) groups of OUN-B members who would travel from General Government to Western Ukraine, and after German advance to Eastern Ukraine, to encourage support for the OUN-B and establishing the local authorities ruled by OUN-B activists.  These small groups also incited the Ukrainian peasants to kill the Jews that lived in their midst.I happen to have lost a grand-mother and an aunt to the knives of these murderers who crossed the Cheremush river from former Polish held Galizia to former Rumanian held Bukowina in what is now the Chernivtsi Oblast of the Ukraine. My grandmother and aunt were butchered by the “Banderevtses.”

The intermittently close relationship between Bandera, the OUN and Nazi Germany have been described by historians such as David Marples as “ambivalent”, tactical and opportunistic, with both sides trying to exploit the other unsuccessfully.

Prior to Operation Barbarossa, according to the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and other sources, Bandera held meetings with the heads of Germany’s intelligence, regarding the formation of “Nachtigall” and “Roland” Battalions. In spring the OUN received 2.5 million marks for subversive activities inside the USSR.

Gestapo and Abwehr officials protected Bandera followers, as both organizations intended to use them for their own purposes.

On June 30, 1941, with the arrival of Nazi troops in Ukraine, Bandera and the OUN-B declared an independent Ukrainian State. Some of the published proclamations of the formation of this state say that it “will work closely with the National-Socialist Greater Germany, under the leadership of its leader Adolf Hitler which is forming a new order in Europe and the world and is helping the Ukrainian People to free itself from Moscovite occupation.” – as stated in the text of the “Act of Proclamation of Ukrainian Statehood“.

In 1941 relations between Nazi Germany and the OUN-B soured to the point where a Nazi document dated 25 November 1941 stated that “… the Bandera Movement is preparing a revolt in the Reichskommissariat which has as its ultimate aim the establishment of an independent Ukraine. All functionaries of the Bandera Movement must be arrested at once and, after thorough interrogation, are to be liquidated…”.
On July 5, Bandera was arrested and transferred to Berlin. On July 12, the president of the newly formed Ukrainian state, Yaroslav Stetsko, was also arrested and taken to Berlin. Although released from custody on July 14, both were required to stay in Berlin.

In January 1942, Bandera was transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp‘s special barrack for high profile political prisoners Zellenbau.

In April 1944 Bandera and his deputy Yaroslav Stetsko were approached by an RSHA official to discuss plans for diversions and sabotage against the Soviet Army.

In September 1944  Bandera was released by [the German authorities] which hoped that he will incite the native populace to fight the advancing Soviet Army. With German consent Bandera set up headquarters in Berlin Germans supplied OUN-B and UIA by air with arms and equipment. Assigned German personnel and agents trained to conduct terrorist and intelligence activities behind Soviet lines, as well as some OUN-B leaders, were also transported by air until early 1945.

Views towards other ethnic groups:

Poles

 

 

In May 1941 at a meeting in Krakow the leadership of Bandera’s OUN faction adopted the program “Struggle and action for OUN during the war” (Ukrainian: “???????? ? ?????????? ??? ??? ??? ?????») which outlined the plans for activities at the onset of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the western territories of the Ukrainian SSR.  Section G of that document –”Directives for first days of the organization of the living state” Ukrainian: “???????? ?? ????? ??? ??????????? ?????????? ?????» outline activity of the Bandera followers during summer 1941 In the subsection of “Minority Policy” the OUN-B ordered the removal of hostile Poles, Jews, and Russians via deportation and the destruction of their respective intelligentsias, stating further that the “so-called Polish peasants must be assimilated” and to “destroy their leaders.”

 

In late 1942, Bandera’s organization, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, was involved in a campaign of ethnic cleansing of Volhynia, and in early 1944, these campaigns began to include Eastern Galicia. It is estimated that nearly 70,000 Poles, mostly women and children along with unarmed men, were killed during the spring and summer campaign of 1943 in Volhynia  by the OUN-Bandera which bears primary responsibility for the massacres.

Despite the central role played by Bandera’s followers in the massacre of Poles in western Ukraine, Bandera himself was interned in a German concentration camp when the concrete decision to massacre the Poles was made, and when the Poles were killed. During his internment, from the summer of 1941, he was not completely aware of events in Ukraine and moreover had serious differences of opinion with Mykola Lebed, the OUN-B leader who remained in Ukraine and who was one of the chief architects of the massacres of Poles.

Bandera was thus not directly involved in those massacres, although it cannot be ruled out that they would have occurred had he been present.

Jews

Unlike competing Polish, Russian, Hungarian or Romanian nationalisms in late imperial Austria, imperial Russia, interwar Poland and Romania, Ukrainian nationalism did not include antisemitism as a core aspect of its program and saw Russians as well as Poles as the chief enemy with Jews playing a secondary role.  Nevertheless, Ukrainian nationalism was not immune to the influence of the antisemitic climate in the Eastern and Central Europe,  had already become highly racialized in the late 19th century, and had developed an elaborate anti-Jewish discourse.  However, Ukrainian nationalistic Jews were welcome in the Banderivtsy, provided their adoption of the identity of the Galician Karaites, who were regarded as loyal compatriots.

The predominance of the Soviet central government, rather than the Jewish minority, as the principal perceived enemy of Ukrainian nationalists was highlighted at the OUN-B’s Conference in Krakow in 1941 when it declared that “The Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime, and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in Ukraine. The Muscovite-Bolshevik government exploits the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses to divert their attention from the true cause of their misfortune and to channel them in a time of frustration into pogroms on Jews. The OUN combats the Jews as the prop of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime and simultaneously it renders the masses conscious of the fact that the principal foe is Moscow.”  In May 1941 at a meeting in Krakow the leadership of Bandera’s OUN faction adopted the program “Struggle and action of OUN during the war” (Ukrainian: “???????? ? ?????????? ??? ??? ??? ?????») which outlined the plans for activities at the onset of the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the western territories of the Ukrainian SSR.  Section G of that document –”Directives for first days of the organization of the living state” Ukrainian: “???????? ?? ????? ??? ??????????? ?????????? ?????» outline activity of the Bandera followers during summer 1941. In the subsection of “Minority Policy” the OUN-B ordered: Moskali, Poles, Jews are hostile to us must be exterminated in this struggle, especially those who would resist our regime: deport them to their own lands, importantly: destroy their intelligentsia that may be in the positions of power … Jews must be isolated, removed from governmental positions in order to prevent sabotage, those who are deemed necessary may only work with an overseer… Jewish assimilation is not possible.”  Later in June Yaroslav Stetsko sent to Bandera a report in which he indicated – “We are creating a militia which would help to get remove the Jews and protect the population.” Leaflets spread in the name of Bandera in the same year called for the “destruction” of “”Moscow”, Poles, Hungarians and Jewry. In 1941-1942 while Bandera was cooperating with the Germans, OUN members did take part in anti-Jewish actions.

In 1942 German intelligence concluded that Ukrainian nationalists were indifferent to the plight of the Jews and were willing to either kill them or help them, depending on what better served their cause. Several Jews took part in Bandera’s underground movement, including one of Bandera’s close associates Richard Yary who was also married to a Jewish woman. Another notable Jewish UPA member was Leyba-Itzik “Valeriy” Dombrovsky. According to a report to the Chief of the Security Police in Berlin dated March 30, 1942, “…it has been clearly established that the Bandera movement provided forged passports not only for its own members, but also for Jews.”. The false papers were most likely supplied to Jewish doctors or skilled workers who could be useful for the movement.

When Bandera was in conflict with the Germans, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army under his authority sheltered many Jews. and included Jewish fighters and medical personnel. In the official organ of the OUN-B’s leadership, instructions to OUN groups urged those groups to “liquidate the manifestations of harmful foreign influence, particularly the German racist concepts and practices.”  In summary, Bandera’s movement sometimes harmed and sometimes helped Jews depending on particular circumstances and on Bandera’s relationship with Germany.

Bandera’s execution by the Soviets.

On 15 October 1959, Stepan Bandera collapsed outside of Kreittmayrstrasse 7 in Munich and died shortly thereafter. A medical examination established that the cause of his death was poison (cyanide gas).   On October 20, 1959 Stepan Bandera was buried in the Waldfriedhof Cemetery in Munich.

Two years later, on 17 November 1961, the German judicial bodies announced that Bandera’s murderer had been a KGB defector Bohdan Stashynsky who acted on the orders of Soviet KGB head Alexander Shelepin and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.  After a detailed investigation against Stashynsky, a trial took place from 8 October to 15 October 1962. The sentence was handed down on 19 October in which Stashynsky was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. The Federal Court of Justice of Germany confirmed at Karlsruhe that in the Bandera murder, the Soviet secret service was the main guilty party.

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Above tells us about Bandera – a strong activist against Polish and Soviet domination over Ukrainians – and in the process he also put in motion the killing of Jews by Ukrainians. Exceptions were made for Jews that could help his troops – such Jews as medical personnel.

By the end of WWII many surviving Banderivtsy found their way to British Columbia in Canada  and some of their children turned up in Lviv (Western Ukraine) with Bandera red&black flags and Canadian flags and marched to cellebrate the independence of Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union. Now the same flags showed up on the Maidan in order to free Ukraine of Russia’s stooge – Viktor Yanukovych.

What we find unacceptable is that proponents of the Maidan movement see only the nationalism of Bandera but turn a blind eye at his prejudices and crimes against humanity. Yes, we know that Jews are bellweather to racism – that is that Nationalist revolutions do not mind spilling Jewish blood.  Transparency and rejection of such elements are a must for the acceptance of present day Ukrainian Nationalism, and the fact that none of this was part of the presentations made by Ukrainians at a meeting we attended in Vienna where three different aspects of the Maidan spoke, only one speaker mentioned Bandera but without feeling that he had to reject the Xenophobism of the man,
and the potential danger to the present movement. No, we cannot cheer for the Ukrainian side as long as they do not profess strict adherence to Human Rights of the minorities in their midst.

 

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