Yakiv Suslensky (1929.05.10 -- ????.??.??)

Ukrainian-Jewish relations have been a thorny issue in Ukraine for hundreds of years -- since the time of Bohdan Khmelnitsky circa 1654 or perhaps even earlier since the time of the Khazars circa 1000 AD. For the past 100 years, this issue has spread to the Diaspora in North America and around the world. Ukrainians are accused of anti-semitism, pogroms, war crimes, responsibility for the Holocaust, etc., etc. Every conceivable negative is dredged up; every positive relationship or event is ignored. Any individual or organization that defends Ukrainians and refutes the calumny directed against Ukraine and Ukrainians is demonized -- not only by Jewish individuals and organizations but by some Ukrainians themselves.  The names of Ukraine's defenders that come to mind are Petro Mirchuk, Valentyn Moroz, Myron Kuropas and Lubomyr Prytulak.

Many attempts by sincere Ukrainians to improve Ukrainian-Jewish relations have failed. The "Ukrainian Jewish Encounter Project" headed by James Temerty is the most recent attempt. However, I doubt that that this Project will be successful. Until the Israeli government and the Jewish Diaspora recognize Simon Petlura (Petliura) as one of the best friends Jews ever had in Ukraine, there is little hope of success. [My summary of the Project is archived at .]

My encounter in this area involved Yakiv Suslensky. This encounter is archived in two pdf files (Suslensky1988.pdf and Suslensky1991.pdf) reproducing 3 letters dated 1988.12.05, 1991.10.20 and 1993.12.30.

(1) Suslensky1988.pdf  [pages 1 to 6]
- A translated version of the 05Dec1988 letter on page 1 reads as follows:

Respected and dear Lily and Willy!

As you see, I am not forgetting you. I remember your hospitality and support of Jewish-Ukrainian peaceful relations.

I expect that you will be able to come to Israel at the beginning of May to take part in the 10th annivesary of our Association.We also invite you for my 60th birthday -- 10 May, 1989.

I am sending you Volumes 19-20 of the "Dialogues", knowing that you have all earlier volumes. It looks like this will be the last issue. Because of lack of funds, we must stop publishing the bulletin.

Greet our mutual acquaintances. If you know my old prison-mate, Yuriy Dziuba, greet him. Telephone (514)522-8092.

With best wishes,
Y. Suslensky [1988.12.05]

- An image of the front cover of  "Volumes 19-20  1998  Dialogues" is shown on page 2 of the 1988 pdf.
- Page 3 (inverted) reproduces page 40 of "Volumes 1-2  1983 Dialogues", which is a resolution of the Association for Jewish-Ukrainian Cooperation dated 1988.02.01 removing Dr. Petro Mirchuk as a member of the Association.
- Pages 4 and 5 of this pdf reproduce a letter from Levko Lukyanenko to Yakiv Suslensky dated 1988.04.13 from the Tomsk oblast Gulag camps. [Lukyanenko was arrested on 12Dec1977 and sent to the Siberian Gulags. When Ukraine declared its independence and the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Lukyanenko was released, became Ambassador from Ukraine to Canada and later a deputy in the Verkhovna Rada (Member of Parliament) in Ukraine. My wife, Lily, and I met him several times when he visited Montreal to attend Ukrainian functions.]
- Page 6 reproduces the first page of a letter form Nadia Lukyanenko (wife of Levko) to Yakiv Suslensky dated 1988.07.07 outlining their efforts to obtain his release. [ Both letters are on pages 244 to 250 of Vol. 19-20, 1988 Dialogues.]

Dialogues: Volumes 1 to 20 from 1983 to 1988

The Association for Jewish-Ukrainian Cooperation headed by Yakiv Suslensky published 10 books in all from 1983 to 1988 (2 books  per year from 200 to 300 pages each) discussing Jewish-Ukrainian affairs. There are from 60 to 95 articles per book in the Ukrainian and Russian languages. During this time period, the trials of John Demjanjuk were in full swing with countless accusations of Judeophobia and Ukrainophobia. It was also the time of "glasnost"  and "perestroika" preceding the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Ukrainian independence. Furthermore, Suslensky had served time in the Gulags amongst many Ukrainian political prisoners -- two of whom he credited with saving his life. Consequently, he had good contact with and great empathy for the Ukrainian dissidents -- which is reflected in the articles appearing in the Dialogues. Unfortunately, Suslensky could not remain impartial and responded viciously to articles which criticized the hypocrisy of Jewish preconceived views of historical events and people. Nevertheless, the Dialogues have archived a wealth of information for future historians to study and interpret.

(2) Suslensky1991.pdf  [20Oct1991 letter on pages 1 and 2]
- After greetings, references to a tour of the Tokamak de Varennes during his previous visit and thanking Lily for offering to shelter his children should they be threatened by "Saddam's scud missiles", Suslensky announces that he is coming to Montreal. He has just returned from 50th-year commemorations of the Babyn Yar tragedy in Ukraine. At an earlier conference in Kyiv on Jewish-Ukrainian relations, it was decided to host a similar forum in Jerusalem in May 1992 to which 100 people from Ukraine and 100 people from the Diaspora (ratio of 70 Ukrainians and 30 Jews). He is trying to find sponsors to subsidize the participants from Ukraine. He asks us to organize a meeting of members of the Association in Montreal for 11November1991 and to organize a paid lecture at the University [McGill] on a theme such as Israel, Ukraine, Jewish-Ukrainian relations or Ukrainian "Righteous of the World". He wants someone to meet him at the airport at 21:00 hrs 10Nov1991 from a Delta Airlines standby flight from New York and to arrange an overnight stay. He asks us to inform Yuriy Dziuba, Ihor Kutash, Zorianna Hrycenko-Luhovy, Roman Serbyn, Anatoly Bilotserkivsky, Irwin Cotler, Adrian Chomenko, Yaroslav Pryshlyak, Natalie Vitkovsky and others of his arrival.
(3) Suslensky1991.pdf  [30Dec1991 letter on pages 3 to 6]
- Page 3 is a postcard with New Years Greetings and remembering Lily's offer to shelter his children should they be endangered by war. He asks God to protect us.
- On pages 4 and 5, Suslensky thanks us for Hannukah Greetings, which he celebrated in Kyiv -- his sixth visit in 3 years. He is very pleased with the progress in Jewish-Ukrainian relations in Ukraine, since this is his life goal. However, he is troubled by the state of Jewish-Ukrainian relations in the Diaspora. Recently, his book on "Righteous Heroes" was published in Kyiv and he would like to tour North America to promote his book, the funds from which would go to publish an English-language version. He asks Lily, if she could organize a book-launching with the Ukrainian community in Montreal after consulting with Roman Serbyn and other influential people. If response is yes, to reimburse travel costs of 200 to 250 dollars and lodging for 1 or 2 nights. He has reserved a ticket to New York for 29Mar1994 and could be in Canada in April. He awaits Lily's reply.
- Page 6 is a photocopy of a newspaper article  promoting his book "Righteous Heroes".

(4) Montreal lecture
- My memory of Suslensky's visits to Montreal is very hazy, since it was Lily who made all the arrangements and I was just a bystander. I think he stayed at our home only once during the summer of 1988, but I am not sure if he gave his Montreal lecture at that time or circa 11Nov1991.
- I recall him describing evacuating to the East with his parents after the German invasion of 22June1941 and describing leaflets scattered from airplanes warning the population to welcome the Germans peacefully and not to harbor Jews. He always emphasized the victimhood of the Jews and atrocities perpetrated against them, but said that this was understandable, because of the difficult circumstances that Ukrainians were under.
- He was arrested (when?), because of his protests demanding that a Jewish dissident (who?) be allowed to emigrate to Israel. In the Gulags (where?), he found himself amongst Ukrainian political prisoners (the so-called 60s Dissidents). He became seriously ill and was preparing to die, but two Ukrainians (who?) coaxed him back to life. I do not recall the time and circumstances of his release and emigration to Israel.
- I recall taking Suslensky to tour the Tokamak de Varennes at the Hydro Quebec research facilities, where I worked.. (Just as I had done with Johnny Demjanjuk, Ed Nishnic and Yoram Sheftel.)
- His Montreal Lecture on Jewish-Ukrainian relations took place in a McGill University classroom, with some 30 people attending -- mostly Ukrainians. However, in the midst of his lecture an elderly Jewish gentleman got up, denounced Suslensky and demanded that he stop his lecture. Surprised and confused, Suslensky turned to the audience and asked if he should continue his speech. They, of course, said yes, such that the lecture continued, but in a subdued atmosphere.
- Some years later, I discussed Suslensky with Dmytro Cipiwnyk, then President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, who had deep reservations about Suslensky. He said that while driving Suslensky to the airport after one of his lectures, Suslensky told him bluntly that his goal was to make Ukrainians admit and repent the atrocities they had committed against Jews.
- It is surprising that on Wikipedia there is no entry for the "Association for Jewish-Ukrainian Cooperation" or for "Suslensky". He appears to have disappeared into a memory hole.

(5) Petro Mirchuk (1913.06.26 -- 1999.05.16); , Suslenskyr20.html
- Petro Mirchuk was a Ukrainian nationalist, who was imprisoned by the Germans in Auschwitz for his nationalist activities. The external link above gives a brief outline of his background leading to the text of his book "My Meetings and Discussions in Israel" published in 1982. Excerpts from this book explaining his involvement with the "Association for Jewish-Ukrainian Cooperation" and Yakiv Suslensky are archived in the second internal link above. As noted above, Dr. Mirchuk was kicked out of Suslensky's Association because of his uncompromising stance against Jewish calumny against Ukrainians.
- His obituary was published in the 30May1999 issue of the Ukrainian Weekly.
- It is my impression that Dr. Mirchuk and his books have also been ostracised by the Ukrainian academic community, because of his uncompromising nationalism.
- Wikipedia has a "stub" with his name, biography and obituary, but needs to be expanded.

 (6) Valentyn Moroz  
- Misinterpreting Valentyn Moroz  UKAR | XXX | Lubomyr Prytulak
- Surprisingly, there is no page for "Valentyn Moroz" on Wikepedia.
- On the other hand, an Internet search reveals that Valentyn Moroz is still very active:
Valentyn Moroz to present his 2-vol. history of Ukraine in Lviv | 07Mar2013 | staff
March 10, 2013 Valentyn Moroz, the renowned Ukrainian historian and political dissident, is to present his 2-volume Ukraine in the 20th Century at the Lontsky St. Prison museum to the victims of occupation regimes.
The two volumes, published in 2005 through 2012, are remarkable for their vivid style of presentation, something which makes this scientific book a breath-taking reading.
To avoid propaganda clichés, the historical figures depicted in the book are described both in the positive and negative vein, with their actions explained by the then historical facts.
Valentyn Moroz spent 14 years in Soviet concentration camps.
In 1979, he was exchanged for KGB agents and went to live and work in Canada and USA.
Since 1997, Moroz has lived in Ukraine, lecturing and writing.
The Origin of the Artificial Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine  Institute for Historical Review | 1986 | Valentyn Moroz
Ukrainian-Jewish Relations: An Attempt at an Analysis  Ukrainian Voice/Canadian Farmer |  21May1984 | Valentyn Moroz

(7) Myron Kuropas
- Lessons from the recent controversy surrounding Myron Kuropas | 10Feb2005 | Max Pyziur
- Statement by Myron B. Kuropas  Ukrainian Weekly | 06Feb2005 | Myron Kuropas
- Should Neal Sher be disbarred? Ukrainian Weekly | 01Mar1998 | Myron Kuropas
- In response to an item in my GRC Report on 01Aug2011, Dr. Kuropas wrote "I don't believe reconciliation is possible. The Jewish establishment  needs to have Ukrainians as enemies."
- There is no page for "Myron Kuropas" on Wikepedia, although there are many references to him on other pages on Wikepedia.

(8) Lubomyr Prytulak  UKAR
Simon Wiesenthal: Grand Calumniator of Ukraine  UKAR | 1984 | Lubomyr Prytulak
Simon Wiesenthal attempts to silence Valentyn Moroz  UKAR | 1984 | Lubomyr Prytulak
Letter to the Ukrainian Canadian community in Edmonton  Email | 25Jun2004 | Lubomyr Prytulak
harasymiw20040815UCC-APC.html Support for Lubomyr Prytulak UKAR website
- There is no page for "Lubomyr Prytulak" on Wikipedia, nor are there any references to him on other pages on Wikipedia.
- However, there are thousands of references to him and his articles on the Internet.

(9) Conclusion
There are 5 documents Suslensky1988.pdf, Suslensky1991.pdf, Suslenskyr20.html, prytulak20040625Jacuta.html and suslensky.html  in the "suslensky" subdirectory.

Based on the material above, I have concluded that the role of Yakiv Suslensky and his Association for Jewish-Ukrainian Cooperation was to act as a "good cop" to soften Ukrainian resistance to calumny. To him Jewish-Ukrainian cooperation entailed Ukrainians accepting the thesis that Jews were/are the victims and Ukrainians were/are the victimizers. Nevertheless, his 10 Dialogues books are of great historical significance requiring further analysis.

The material on Petro Mirchuk, Valentyn Moroz, Myron Kuropas and Lubomyr Prytulak indicates that these individuals are attacked and ostracized, because they refuse to sell their souls. Sadly, there are some individuals in the Ukrainian academic community in the Diaspora, who decline to defend Ukrainians against calumny.

Will Zuzak; 2013.12.08