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SS2 in Britain

Table of Contents

(1) Introduction
(2) Daily Mail, Sat., 13 Jan. 2001
(3) Kurlak to Straw, 12 Jan, 2001
(4) Kurlak to Crown Prosecution Service, 13 Jan. 2001
(5) Kurlak to Daily Telegraph, 12 Jan, 2001
(6) Kurlak to Daily Mail, 13 Jan. 2001
(7) Kurlak to Straw, 18 Jan. 2001
(8) Kurlak to Press Complaints Commission, 16 Jan. 2001
(9) Kurlak to Hendy, 10 Jan. 2001
(10) Hendy to Kurlak, 19 Jan. 2001
(11) Pasicznyk to Press Complaints Officer, ?? Jan. 2001
(12) AUGB Update, 10 Feb. 2001
(13) Transcripts of SS in Britain, 10 Feb. 2001
(14) Kurlak to Press Complaints Commission, 12 Feb. 2001
(15) Goldstein (secretary to Straw) to Kurlak, ?? Feb. 2001
(16) SS mine detectors, Independent - London, 24 Mar., 2001
(17) Pope upsets Ukraine by beatifying priests with Nazi links, Independent - London, June 27, 2001; P. Cockburn
(18) A curious monument with no epitaph sums up the years of bitterness, Independent - London, July 10, 2001; P. Cockburn

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SS in Britain

(1)

Greetings everyone!

Further to the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain's letter to the producer of Yorkshire Television's "SS in Britain" documentary, by way of information please find enclosed:

1. The Association's letter to the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, concerning Yorkshire Television's programme.
2. The Association's letter to the Crown Prosecution Service about Yorkshire Television's programme.
3. Copy of the extensive Daily Mail article about "Dyviziya Halychyna" from Saturday 13 January 2001.
4. The Association's letter of complaint to the Editor of the Daily Mail newspaper.
5. Yorkshire Television's reply to the Association's letter of complaint.

In addition to the above you will be aware that the Association has submitted a copy of its Yorkshire Television complaint to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission. The Association at this stage is still considering pursuing this complaint.

In parallel with the above the Association has also submitted a letter of complaint to the Press Complaints Commission concerning the tendentious press reporting that appeared immediately after the transmission of YTV's programme about "Dyviziya Halychyna".

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Lastly, you will probably be aware that this coming Saturday, 27 January, the United Kingdom will be commemorating its first ever "Holocaust Day". Although its form and content was never intended to focus exclusively on the Jewish victims of Hitler's Holocaust, nevertheless, unsurprisingly, it would appear that this will be the inevitable result. It would seem that one Holocaust is worth more than another.

In light of this the Association has written to the Home Office to express its disquiet at the railroading of the "Holocaust Day" concept (copy of letter enclosed) as well as to the Editor of the Daily Telegraph newspaper which in its recent leader was similarly unhappy at the subjectivity with which the imminent commemoration is about to be imbued (similary, copy of letter enclosed).

If you feel that your friends or colleagues would benefit from having the opportunity to read the attached material do please feel free to forward this email to them also.

Further information to follow as and when appropriate.

The General Secretariat
Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain
49 Linden Gardens
Notting Hill Gate
London W2 4HG

Tel.: (020) 7229 8392
Fax.: (020) 7792 2499
email: augb@gardens.idps.co.uk


SS in Britain

(2)

Article transcribed from "Daily Mail" newspaper (Saturday 13 January 2001)
Subject of letter to Press Complaints Commission

Standing proudly on parade in their badge-bedecked blazers and berets, they look like any group of old soldiers. After the formal inspection, they will gather at a local hotel and, over a drink, reminisce about their exploits during the Second World War. Anyone seeing the ceremony in Manchester might wonder where these doughty comrades had fought. The Western Desert? Italy? Normandy, perhaps?

No such proud history. In fact, with the military record of these grey-haired pensioners from the Ukrainian Veterans Association, it almost beggars belief that they dare show themselves on the streets of a British city.

They fought for Hitler - as members of the dreaded Waffen-SS. And the notorious division of which they were enthusiastic recruits, the Galizien, has the blood of hundreds of innocent civilians on its hands, according to war crimes investigators.

The Galizien was formed in April 1943 from Ukrainian volunteers in Nazi-occupied Eastern Poland. They shared a hatred of communists, and in many cases, of Poles.

In one wartime photograph, the unit is seen being inspected by SS chief Heinrich Himmler. The beaming henchman of Hitler told them: 'I know if I gave the division the order to exterminate the Poles in this area or that, then I would become a very popular man amongst you.'

This week, the Daily Mail reported how poorly the 8,000 members of the division were 'screened' for war crimes before being allowed to settle in Britain in 1947. British officers were ill-equipped to mount any kind of investigation as the division was held at a camp in Rimini, Italy, for two years. Many of the men had no documents and told interrogators they had spent the war on 'guard duty' or working in hospitals. In fairness, if they had been sent to the Soviet Union, they would have probably ended up - at best - in the brutal Gulag labour camps.

Clement Attlee's Labour government ignored requests from the Polish and Soviet authorities to hand over at least 50 who were suspected of involvement in the massacre of 850 civilians in a Polish village in 1944 and several other atrocities.

Now, the Daily Mail has travelled to Poland to uncover the harrowing stories behind the Galizien's trail of barbarism. We have also traced some of its former members now living comfortably in Britain - all of whom reject the allegations of war crimes as 'lies' or even 'Jewish propaganda'.

How many, if any, of the Ukrainian exiles here - some receiving German service pensions averaging ?2,800 a year - were individually guilty of coldblooded murder may never be known.

But there is little doubt that elements of the Galizien, which performed disastrously in battle against the Red Army, were ruthlessly efficient when faced with unarmed civilians. Some of the division was made up of already existing auxiliary formations such as the Nightingale Battalion. The Poles claim this unit was responsible for murdering several thousand Jews in Lvov - now part of the Ukraine in 1941.

In February 1944, Polish partisans shot two Galizien members in the village of Huta Pieniacka, in Western Ukraine. A divisional chronicle left no doubt as to how the deaths would be avenged. 'Now the division begins to write its history in blood,' it read.

MIECZYSLAW Bernacki was 13 when the Galizien's 4th Regiment, commanded by Germans, descended on Huta Pieniacka. 'First they fired on the village with mortars,' recalled the 69-year-old retired railwayman. 'We all went towards the church because we thought it would be the safest place. Then we realised the SS were bringing everyone to the church. With a friend, I climbed to the bell tower. There were 11 of us, including a mother with her month-old son. We could hear people being taken away by the Germans and Ukrainians. Some were shot, some doused in petrol and burned alive.'

Fearing the baby's cries would alert the troops, they voted to kill it. 'But none of us could find it in himself to commit the murder. 'Somehow, they never heard us or searched the bell tower. It was a kind of miracle, I suppose.'

The baby, Tadeusz Kobalczykowski, survived the war and died 15 years ago from natural causes in Poland, Mr Bernacki's mother Maria also escaped, feigning death after being shot and wounded. But a nephew playing dead beside her was killed after he let out a groan.

Mr Bernacki's ten-year-old brother - who had returned to get his coat -also died. 'The village was burned to the ground,' he recalled. 'Only a fruit tree was left untouched.'

Another armed band which later merged with the Galizien was the Ukrainian Self Defence Legion.

In July 1944, it ravaged Chlaniov, near Lublin, Eastern Poland, after its German commander was killed in a partisan grenade attack nearby.

HONORATA Banach, then a partisan of 18, recalled: 'Everyone panicked and ran into the forest, but some were still sound asleep. Some never woke up. As dawn broke, soldiers went from house to house, murdering, looting and then burning the buildings. The machine guns were firing for more than an hour. You could hear the killers shouting obscenities in Ukrainian, warming themselves up for murder. One soldier dragged my cousin outside with his wife and two children. The gun jammed twice and the angry soldier chased my cousin and killed him with a knife. His family survived. I watched one woman kneeling in front of the murderers begging for her life, but they shot her in the heart.'

Forty-four villagers, mainly children and the elderly, were slaughtered. The youngest victim was three. In 1968, the legion's commander was sentenced by a Polish court to 25 years for his part in the massacre.

A Yorkshire Television documentary, SS in the UK, this week uncovered the testimony of a witness at the trial. A former member of the unit, he said: 'It was like a kind of ecstasy. We burned, we shot, we destroyed. We did not leave anyone alive.'

In 1969, the village was awarded the Grunwald Cross, a Polish military medal, for its sacrifice.

In the autumn of 1944, the Nazis brutally suppressed the Warsaw uprising, killing 200,000 in two months. The Galizien was there, say the Poles. But, like so much else, its former members deny it.

Despite the Galizien's woeful fighting record - its soldiers had to be withdrawn from the front line following their one and only experience of battle - its veterans still talk of their 'proud military records'.

The Mail has found a number of veterans, all of whom vehemently protest their innocence. The truth may never be known. But it seems beyond doubt that some of their comrades - and probably some of them in Britain - have innocent blood on their hands.

At his home in Folkestone, Kent, 79-year-old Bohdan Romanowskyj claimed: 'I have been screened three times and the British authorities have never found any evidence I was involved in war crimes. If the proper authorities want to come forward with firm evidence, then so be it.'

Mr Romanowskyj, who lives with his English wife Ella, admitted being in the Galizien, but denied killing civilians. 'You are talking about a division with 10,000 soldiers,' he added. 'Of course there were some maniacs. That doesn't mean everyone is as guilty as those few bad people.'

Jurig Opara, 80, served in the Nightingale Battalion. But, speaking from his home in Oldham, he insisted he had been no more than a regular soldier. 'We fought against the Russians on the front line - and we didn't harm any civilians,' he said. He admitted he had no idea whether others in the division took part in Nazi atrocities. 'We never saw it happen, but we heard plenty about what was happening to the Jews. Even though I wasn't directly involved in any atrocities, I feel sorry for what the Germans did. According to Mr Opara, the move to Britain gave him a 'second chance at life'. He said: 'Things were hard in the Rimini camp - we had a loaf of bread and eight biscuits daily, to share between 12 men. 'I was very glad when we moved to Britain. We were all free men and I have spent the time working and looking after my wife.' His British wife Mary died of cancer four years ago. 'I always swore to her I was never involved in anything like this. It's a waste of government money investigating us - we were just ordinary soldiers.'

It is not a view shared by the Polish government. It has recently beefed up its investigations and has 60 full-time prosecutors working on war crimes at the Institute of National Memory in Warsaw.

Its president, Professor Leon Kieres, said: 'A lot of time has passed, but there is a new impetus in Poland to seek the truth about these atrocities and many others. We just want to know whether members of the unit who have come under suspicion are alive or not and living in Britain, first of all. Then we can see about interviewing them.' He refused to be drawn on whether Poland would push for extradition.

He handed the Mail a list of 48 suspects of the Galizien's 4th Regiment believed to have been in Huta Pienacki on the day of the massacre and said requests to the British authorities to trace them in 1947 fell on 'deaf ears'.

THE Home Office this week promised to take up any alegations passed on by the Poles.

Mr Bemacki admits that 50 years ago he would like to have seen the murderers brought to justice. 'Today, maybe I can forgive, but I will never forget what happened.'

Major Swiatomir Fostun, 77-year old President of the Ukrainian Veterans, told a Polish news magazine this week: 'Digging up old wounds is not good for Ukraine or Poland - only Russia will profit. We found ourselves between the hammer and the anvil. The Germans were not nearly as bad as the Bolsheviks. We did not participate at Huta Pienacki nor Chlaniov, nor the suppression of the Warsaw uprising. It's a lie - this is Jewish propaganda.'

Asked about their innocuous modern veterans' uniforms, he said: 'Of course we don't have any SS uniforms - we would have been arrested immediately if we had. But he was less willing to speak when the Mail called at his home, part of a ?500,000 detached house in Wimbledon, South West London. He yelled: 'I have absolutely no comment to make about anything. Absolutely no comment.' Then he slammed the door and his wife threatened to call the police.

For the innocent victims of the Galizien Division, there were no police to call on.


SS in Britain

(3)

12 January 2000
The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London
SW1H 9AT

Sir,

It is a fact that the Prime Minister intended "to honour the victims of genocide" by holding a Holocaust Memorial Day. Yet according to recent press reports we are led to believe that not all 20th century atrocities are to be commemorated. Indeed yesterday's Daily Telegraph carried a report about the grievances of the Armenian community in this country which has argued for the victims of the 1915-16 genocide massacre to be rightfully honoured.

If such a Memorial Day is to have credibility, all victims of genocide and persecution should be equally acknowledged and honoured. This includes the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian massacre, the 6,000,000 Ukrainians deliberately starved to death in the 1932-33 forced famine and, indeed, the circa 50 million people liquidated between 1917-1953 under the terror regimes of Lenin and Stalin.

May we receive your assurance that these crimes against humanity will not be covered up on 27 January (in line with the undoubted wishes of their perpetrators)?

Yours sincerely

Fedir Kurlak General Secretary


SS in Britain

(4)

18 January 2001
The Crown Prosecution Service
50 Ludgate Hill
London
EC4M 7EX

Sirs

On Sunday 7 January, the Independent Television Network transmitted a documentary, "The SS in Britain", which claimed to provide fresh evidence of war crimes committed during the Second World War by the Galizien Waffen SS Division, the Ukrainian membership of which came to this country in 1947.

The programme, produced by Mr Julian Hendy, claimed that members of the said Division took part in the mass murder of Jews in Lviv in 1941, committed atrocities in the Polish villages of Chlaniow and Huta Pienacka, committed numerous reprisals and murders of innocent civilians in Slovakia in 1944 and took part in the Warsaw Uprising, also in 1944.

These and other such unsubstantiated allegations against the Galizien Division have been made in the past, initially by the Soviets without supporting documentary evidence, and have been investigated and dismissed by, notably, the Canadian Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals headed by the Honourable Jules Deschenes (1986) and the British War Crimes Inquiry headed by Sir Thomas Hetherington and William Chalmers (1989). Indeed, as a result of the Hetherington-Chalmers Inquiry and the subsequent passing of the War Crimes Bill, the War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police was specifically created and charged with the task of investigating whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute any alleged war criminals living in this country. As you are aware, of the 376 cases investigated by this Unit, only one Anthony Sawoniuk was ultimately convicted in March 1999 for war crimes committed in Belarus during the Second World War.

Yet despite the lack of any "fresh evidence", in the past two weeks since the screening of "The SS in Britain", various sensationalist articles have appeared in the British press, each claiming that the "infamous" Galizian Division was responsible for the "massacre" of "hundreds", "thousands" or even "millions" of deaths of innocent civilians. The same articles have also alleged that the Home Secretary is currently considering the scope of British legislation regarding extradition "amid claims that as many as 1500 member of a notorious Ukrainian Waffen SS division are still living in Britain". Furthermore, it has also been stated in the press that the Crown Prosecution Service will consider requests for access to files "from investigating bodies and media in light of the new information".

With consideration to the above and given the profound effect that the various allegations have had on the Ukrainian community in this country (and abroad), we refer to you to grant us the possibility of meeting with a representative of the CPS for the purpose addressing the issue of the latest round of claims of war crimes against members of the Ukrainian community in Great Britain and to confirm our position and proposals regarding the same.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

Fedir Kurlak General Secretary


SS in Britain

(5)

12 January 2000
Letters Editor
Daily Telegraph
1 Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London
E14 5DT

Sir,

I fully agree with your editorial comment Remember the Armenians (11 January). The shallowness of the Government's "key messages" will render the tolls of sorrow considerably more hollow if only certain holocausts are remembered on January 27 whilst others are perhaps too conveniently forgotten. There is still time, however, for the Government to put this right. Let us hope that it does so and that it duly acknowledges not only the 1.5 million victims of the Armenian massacre but also the appalling genocide of 6,000,000 Ukrainians in the 1932-33 forced famine and, indeed, the circa 50 million people liquidated between 1917-1953 under the terror regimes of Lenin and Stalin.

Yours sincerely

Fedir Kurlak General Secretary


SS in Britain

(6)

13 January 2001
Letters Editor
Daily Mail
2 Derry Street
London
W8 5TT

Sir

Following the passing of the War Crimes Bill, the War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police was charged with the task of investigating whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute alleged war criminals living in this country ("SS-GB", DM 13.01.2001.). As readers of the Daily Mail will know, of the 376 cases investigated by the War Crimes Unit, only one Anthony Sawoniuk was ultimately convicted in March 1999 for war crimes committed in Belarus during the Second World War.

Yet in spite of the disbanding of the War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police in 1998, a dismissive conclusion by the then Minister of Justice of Canada, and eleven years prior to that a similar throwing out of the allegations against the Galizien Division by the Canadian Deschennes Commission, your journalists Messrs Craven and Allen urge us to believe that yesterday's unproven allegations, which have already been thoroughly aired, investigated and dismissed by the aforesaid eminent authorities, are today's incontrovertible evidence that SS war criminals are living in our midst.

There is absolutely no evidence to support your sensationalist bold headline claim that the men depicted in the photograph you have reproduced are "Hitler's notorious henchmen with the blood of millions on their hands". Indeed with a headline like that one should hardly be surprised to learn that the proceeding article is littered with inaccuracies, wild accusations, innuendo and a lack of objectivity.

If the Crown Prosecution Service has at its disposal clear, unequivocal and damning evidence of war crime involvement against any person in the UK, irrespective of their nationality, and believes that there is a case to answer against them, then clearly it would be only right, in the first instance, for charges to be brought against that individual and for them to be subjected to the full weight of the British judicial system. Unsubstantiated sub judicial sensationalist allegations, such as those penned in your newspaper by Messrs Craven and Allen, serve only to discredit your trade and completely undermine the concept of fairness and innocence until proven guilty before a British Court of Law.

Yours sincerely

Fedir Kurlak
General Secretary

cc. Press Complaints Commission


SS in Britain

(7)

18 January 2001
The Rt Hon Jack Straw MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate
London
SW1H 9AT

Sir

On Sunday 7 January, the Independent Television Network transmitted a documentary, "The SS in Britain", which claimed to provide fresh evidence of war crimes committed during the Second World War by the Galizien Waffen SS Division, the Ukrainian membership of which came to this country in 1947.

The programme, produced by Mr Julian Hendy, claimed that members of the said Division took part in the mass murder of Jews in Lviv in 1941, committed atrocities in the Polish villages of Chlaniow and Huta Pienacka, committed numerous reprisals and murders of innocent civilians in Slovakia in 1944 and took part in the Warsaw Uprising, also in 1944.

These and other such unsubstantiated allegations against the Galizien Division have been made in the past, initially by the Soviets without supporting documentary evidence, and have been investigated and dismissed by, notably, the Canadian Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals headed by the Honourable Jules Deschenes (1986) and the British War Crimes Inquiry headed by Sir Thomas Hetherington and William Chalmers (1989). Indeed, as a result of the Hetherington-Chalmers Inquiry and the subsequent passing of the War Crimes Bill, the War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police was specifically created and charged with the task of investigating whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute any alleged war criminals living in this country. As you are aware, of the 376 cases investigated by this Unit, only one Anthony Sawoniuk was ultimately convicted in March 1999 for war crimes committed in Belarus during the Second World War.

Yet despite the lack of any "fresh evidence", in the past two weeks since the screening of "The SS in Britain", various sensationalist articles have appeared in the British press, each claiming that the "infamous" Galizian Division was responsible for the "massacre" of "hundreds", "thousands" or even "millions" of deaths of innocent civilians. The same articles have also alleged that you, Home Secretary, are currently considering the scope of British legislation regarding extradition "amid claims that as many as 1500 member of a notorious Ukrainian Waffen SS division are still living in Britain". Furthermore, it has also been stated in the press that the Crown Prosecution Service will consider requests for access to files from investigating bodies and media "in light of the new information".

With consideration to the above and given the profound effect that the various allegations have had on the Ukrainian community in this country (and abroad), we refer to you to grant us the possibility of meeting with you and/or an immediate representative of your good office for the purpose addressing the issue of the latest round of claims of war crimes against members of the Ukrainian community in Great Britain and to confirm our position and proposals regarding the same.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely

Fedir Kurlak
General Secretary


SS in Britain

(8)

16 January 2000
Press Complaints Commission
1 Salisbury Square
London
EC4Y 8JB

Dear Sirs

Re: SS-GB, Daily Mail Article, 13 January 2001

For the record we enclose a copy of our letter to the Editor of the Daily Mail relating to the aforesaid article. A formal complaint to your Commission will follow if we do not hear from him/her by the end of this week.

Yours sincerely

Fedir Kurlak
General Secretary


SS in Britain

(9)

10th January 2001
Julian Hendy
Factual Programmes Department
Yorkshire Television
Kirkstall Road
Leeds LS3 1JS

Dear Sir,

Re: "SS in Britain", ITV, Sunday 7 January 1055 pm.

It is a matter of public record that following the passing of the War Crimes Bill in 1991, the War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan police was charged with the task of investigating whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute alleged war criminals living in this country.

As long ago as March 1997 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Mr Timothy Kirkhope told the House of Commons that since May 1991, the Metropolitan police war crimes unit had considered 376 cases. In 117 of those, the subject of the enquiries was confirmed dead. In a further 253 cases, the evidence at that time was insufficient for the purposes of prosecution and the Crown Prosecution Service and the police agreed that no further action was to be taken, subject to the possibility that cases might be reopened should any further evidence come to light.

That left 6 cases, of which 5 were then still under active consideration and investigation by the Crown Prosecution Service. They related to allegations of murder or mass murder of Jewish and Soviet civilians in Belarus and Ukraine by persons who were then living in the UK. In the remaining case, the defendant had been found by a jury to be unfit to stand trial and in order to bring the proceedings to an end, the Attorney-General entered a nolle prosequi.

And so of the 376 cases investigated only Anthony Sawoniuk was ultimately convicted in March 1999 for war crimes committed in Belarus during the Second World War. The previous year the war crimes unit was officially disbanded without any evidence being made available to the Crown Prosecution Service that would warrant further prosecutions of whomsoever in the UK, including former members of the Galizien Division living in the UK. In the course of their investigations police officers from the war crimes unit travelled extensively throughout Eastern Europe to make their enquiries and to gather evidence. The results of these investigations speak for themselves. There is therefore a lack of evidence to support the thesis that apart from the convicted Mr Sawoniuk that there is even one more, let alone a vast number of war criminals, be they of whatever nationality, who have lived or are living in the UK. Ten years before Mr Kirkhope's statement to the House of Commons, in 1987, the Canadian Deschennes Commission and more recently in 1998 the Minister of Justice of Canada, having made their own separate investigations of war crimes allegations against members of the Galizien Division living in Canada, publicly declared that there was no evidence to support the allegations of war crimes against the Division.

These are the freely available facts concerning the issue of war crime allegations against the Galizien Division as derived from reputable, esteemed and authoritative sources both in the UK and elsewhere.

In putting together the documentary programme "SS in Britain" the producers have lacked objectivity and conveniently chosen to ignore the facts stated above, seemingly on the premise of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story. Following a previous transmission of "SS in Britain" on the History Channel (24 September 1999) former members of the Galizien Division took grave issue with the programme's bias, allegations, falsehoods, errors of omission and misrepresentations. However their concerns have been seemingly dismissed and ignored by the programme's producers who for whatever reason have decided that there can be only one interpretation of events in the Galizien Division's history that merits their investigation.

If the Crown Prosecution Service has at its disposal clear, unequivocal and damning evidence of war crime involvement against any person in the UK, irrespective of their nationality, and believes that there is a case to answer against them, then clearly it would be only too right and proper for charges to be preferred against that individual and for them to be subjected to the full weight of the British judicial system. Sensationalist allegations that lead to 'trial by television' programmes like "SS in Britain" rather than presenting objective evidence to those authorities who are specifically empowered with reviewing that evidence and thereafter prosecuting it, do regrettably simply undermine the concept of fairness and ultimately may prejudice the likelihood of finding unbiased jury members for when a war crimes trial should take place in the interests of justice.

By comparison to the above measured and objective means of investigation of the war criminals issue, because of generalisations "SS in Britain" has irresponsibly done a huge disservice to the good name and reputation of the Ukrainian community at large in the United Kingdom. More specifically to those genuine, honest, freedom-loving Ukrainians who exercised their patriotic duty to defend Ukraine and its people from the future terror and torment that Russian oppression and domination was to give them. The producers of "SS in Britain" ought to be ashamed of themselves for foisting this suspect 'trial by television' programme upon the Ukrainian community and more particularly so for transmitting it on the very day when Ukrainians here and worldwide, as Eastern Rite Christians, were celebrating the second millennium of the Birth of Christ. This in itself is a display of an appalling lack of awareness and sensitivity. The Ukrainian community in the UK have been scandalised by the programme "SS in Britain". They certainly deserve better treatment than that which has been meted out on this occasion.

For and on behalf of
The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain

Lubomyr Mazur JP PhD
Fedir Kurlak
President
General Secretary

cc. The Broadcasting Complaints Commission


SS in Britain

(10)

YORKSHIRE TELEVISION

Dr, Lubomyr Mazur JP, President
and Mr. Fedir Kurlak, General Secretary
Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain
49 Linden Gardens
Notting Hill Gate
London
W2 4HG

Leeds, 19th January 2001,

Dear Sirs

SS in Britain -your letter of January 10th.

Thank you for writing with your comments about my film. I will do my best to answer each of your points as fully and as accurately as I can.

I was aware from the start of our production of this film that these matters were of great sensitivity and delicacy both in this country and abroad and that we should be very conscious of the complex history and difficult choices many Ukrainians had to face under Nazi occupation. I knew as well that several previous journalistic attempts to document the wartime history of the SS Galician Division have not always been based on solid documentary evidence, which justifiably led to concern amongst many Ukrainian commentators.

For these and other reasons I was determined (and as is our usual custom) that this film would be based solidly on reliable concrete documentary evidence. Our lawyers would allow no less. To this end we used the resources of some 30 archives and historical research institutes throughout the world to collect the detailed documentation over many months.

If you have specific questions about these records and testimonies I am, of course, very happy to supply copies, as I have already done to representatives of the Ukrainian community in Canada.

Although I have not recently re-read the relevant parliamentary statements I would agree with your summary of the situation in Britain as outlined in the first three paragraphs of your letter. It is also certainly true that Anthony Sawoniuk is the only man ever to be successfully prosecuted for Nazi war crimes in this country.

Having spoken with sources at the former War Crimes Unit however I cannot agree with you that 'the results of these investigations speak for themselves'.

Scotland Yard's investigation of crimes committed by members of the SS Galician Division was certainly not exhaustive. I am told that it was a 'low priority' for the unit. We could find no evidence during our research in the archives in Eastern Europe that any official British investigator had been looking for or requested any documentary materials concerning former members of the SS Galiclan Division. In many cases we were the first people from the United Kingdom to request such materials.

The Chairman of the Polish Main Commission for the Investigation and Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation, Professor Witold Kulesza, has been reported in the Polish press recently as saying

"We have had much better cooperation with American authorities than wilh the British. The Americans have been asking us for documents and information on war criminals while there have been no such questions from the British side concerning the Galizien members ".

This view is certainly confirmed by former members of the Scotland Yard War Crimes Unit. They told me that they were not aware of me terrible incidents we document in the film. They were not aware of the prosecutions in Poland and Ukraine of former members of the Ukrainian Self Defence Legion for mass murder and the murders of very young children, some just three years old. They were also unaware of the official Polish judicial investigations into the massacre of over 800 civilians by burning them alive in barns and houses, a crime committed by the second batallion of the 4th SS Galician Regiment at Huta Pieniacka in February 1944.

My informants confirmed that the British War Crimes Unit did not request copies of these materials from these official Polish investigative bodies.

It is evident that the Scotland Yard investigations were not as exhaustive as they could have been. It would be a mistake therefore to place too much reliance on their failure to find concrete evidence as somehow indicative of the innocence of members of the SS Galician Division in war-crimes. My film has demonstrated that there is certainly much more evidence available which will bear further investigation.

We know that some 8000 members of the SS Galician Division came to this country in 1947. We know that the screening measures designed to uncover war-criminals amongst them were totally ineffective and inadequate. We know that members of the units that were involved in these terrible atrocities did come to Britain (according to testimony from Michael Melnyk), and I am sure you will agree with me that these matters are serious and deserve to be investigated much more deeply.

I am, of course, familiar with the statements of the Canadian Deschesnes commission from 1986.

You will probably be aware that the Commision's own study noted on page 366

"It has not been possible, given the time constraints on this report to examine all the sources of evidence or even those in Canada In a comprehensive way"

Although the Commision's authors did the best they could with the material available, their report was certainly not exhaustive, The amount of documentary evidence available concerning the involvement of some members of the SS Galician Division in war-crimes has certainly increased since the commission first reported.

It's my understanding that the Commission's researchers did not visit the Polish or Slovakian archives, the very institutions which, in the end, provided much of the detailed documentation used in our film. In their section on the SS Galicia Division they did not appear to cite any original document held in any archive outside of North America.

Some commentators in Canada have told me that had the Deschesnes Commission had access to our film when they first reported their conclusions would certainly have been somewhat different.

I am also aware of the Hon. Anne McLellan's comments on former members of the SS Galician Division from November 1998. Contrary to the claims of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association Press Release, the Minister did not give the veterans of the SS Division quite me 'clean bill of health' they claim. The Canadian Justice Minister did not 'clear the Ukrainian division of any wrongdoing in war'. She was commenting on identification evidence against individuals, and not about the. evidence against certain sub units of the SS Division. What she actually said was that "the evidence we have been able to uncover is insufficient to merit the commencement of court proceedings against any members of the division"

It is surely not surprising that it is now extremely difficult to obtain detailed eye witness identification evidence which would implicate individual members of anti-partisan units who operated in German uniforms far from their home territories, especially when they left few survivors alive. The fact that such testimony is hard to discover does not invalidate the evidence of our film that certain units of the 14th SS Division Galizien were indeed involved in such terrible massacres and atrocities. I have been told by senior members of the Canadian government War Crimes Unit at their Department of Justice in Ottawa that

"Since 1991 this section holds the view that components of the 14, Galician Division were involved in crimes and the division docs not have a blameless record"

The Canadian War Crimes Investigators have also confirmed to me that they were unaware of the terrible wartime history of the Ukrainian Self Defence Legion and the subsequent Polish legal proceedings against them. We have passed on our information to them.

Following the earlier broadcast of this film on History Television (not the History Channel) in Toronto, Canada in 1999 I did indeed receive two letters of complaint from a Ms Mary Szkambara, the president of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress -Committee of Justice - Toronto Branch.

I certainly did not 'dismiss these concerns' as you suggest, I answered them fully and in some detail. (My reply to her first letter was some nine pages long). Her letters alleged that there were some 'inaccuracies' in my film. Some of the alleged 'inaccuracies' referred to statements that we had clearly not made in the film, others were matters of proven and documented historical record. I was able to supply her with source references (and where appropriate copies of the actual documents) to substantiate what we had said in the film.

In sum, not one of the alleged 'inaccuracies' stood up to any critical scrutiny whatsoever and they were all clearly unfounded. I would be very happy to supply you with copies of this correspondence if necessary in order to see for yourselves.

I note your comments about the timing of transmission but that was outside of our control.

It is not correct to say that this film was 'sensationalist'. It was a sober, detailed and strictly factual account, assembled after many months of painstaking investigative work. It attempted for the first time to uncover the actual wartime history of the SS Galician Division based on solid documentary evidence.

It was not an attack on the wider Ukrainian community, either in this country or elsewhere.

I can understand that after years of misinformation it must be difficult for some members of the Ukrainian community to come to terms with the fact that there were indeed a minority of people in the SS Galician Division who committed terrible war-crimes.

In my view, however, to defend this minority of criminals as somehow representative of the wider Ukrainian community in Great Britain, does a severe injustice to the memory of the countless Ukrainian victims of the Nazis.

Please let me know if I can be of any further help.

Yours sincerely,

Julian Hendy
Producer - SS in Britain


SS in Britain

(11)

From:
S. Pasicznyk
74 Jackson Road
East Barnet
EN4 8UU
22/01/01

To:
The Press Complaints Officer
Press Complaints Commission
1 Salisbury Square
EC4Y 8JB

Dear Sir/Madam

My complaint is with regard to two articles Paul Allen and Nick Craven prepared for the Daily Mail on Monday the 8th and Saturday the 13th of January, about the Galizien Division. I am complaining under Clause 1 relating to accuracy.Their articles are inaccurate and based on lies propagated, possibly with or without their knowledge, for ulterior motives. The points set out below relate to these articles and to the television programme mentioned shown at 10.55pm on the 7th of January on ITV. Please consider these points for your information:

Paul Allen and Nick Craven mention in their article that "Lvov" was at the time "in Poland". If they had taken a proper look at their history books, they would have found that Lviv as it is properly known, was founded by Lev (meaning Lion), one of the Princes of the Ukrainian Halych Volynian Kingdom, and that Lviv was a Ukrainian city, capital of the western region of Galicia pronounced Halychyna in Ukrainian. The Poles in Galicia, after which the Division was named, were unwelcome overlords subjugating the indigenous ethnic Ukrainian population. They have obviously never heard of the Cossack revolts against Poland, or the Polish -Ukrainian Cossack wars? These are the terms of reference with which to view events in western Ukraine. Western Ukraine has always been full of Ukrainians !

Following on from this, the ITV programme quite rightly mentions that Ukraine lost more people than any other country in the Second World War, but fails to mention that as well as suffering at the hands of the Nazis and the Bolshevik Russian Imperialists, Ukraine also suffered at the hands of the Polish Imperialist occupants of western Ukraine. In the articles alleged atrocities against Poles are recounted, but no mention is made regarding atrocities such as operation Visla, the Polish forced deportation of thousands of Ukrainians from Ukraine which being forced, could not have been a bloodless affair.

Paul Allen and Nick Craven talk about the possibility of some individuals in Britain guilty of war crimes who belonged to the Galizien Division, and that they should be brought to justice. Is it also possible that amongst the Jewish community in Britain there are people who possibly collaborated with the Bolsheviks (as briefly mentioned in the ITV programme), in committing crimes against the Ukrainian nation? A similar case came to light in Canada recently. Is it also possible that there are people here responsible for crimes against the Ukrainian nation, such as the afore-mentioned operation Visla? Surely to ignore this possibility is a crime in itself as it would again imply that a crime against one nation is worth more investigation than a crime against another. Some people would call an attitude like this fascist. If there are to be any investigations, then they must include those into crimes against the Ukrainian nation as well, which by the programmes own admission , suffered more than any other nation in the Second World War.

Paul Allen and Nick Craven insinuate that this Division was not that good in battle. Untrue again. In fact the defeat at Brody was due to a numerically vastly superior Red Army Force, which also suffered very heavy losses, again, carefully overlooked, or not researched. The Russians threw everything they had at this Division because the thought of a well armed Ukrainian Division terrified them. An old Division member who survived this horrific battle once said to me, "I'm not scared of Hell, I've already seen it."

They insinuate that the volunteers for the 14th Waffen SS Division were committed Nazis and that the German high command viewed them as such. I quote their statement "They fought for Hitler". Absolute rubbish. If so why didn't the German High command entrust these men with tanks and planes like the Polish formations in the RAF?

The German high command was quite reluctant to form a division out of Slavs, who Hitler despised and distrusted. It only agreed to do so out of necessity and lack of any other options due to the loss of German life at the battle of Stalingrad. The unacceptable alternative was to see all this potential manpower join the UPA, the Ukrainian Insurgent army, which was fighting against Russian and Polish occupation of Ukraine, and more relevantly, but still overlooked, against German occupation of Ukraine. Coupled with this, the main motive of the Ukrainian volunteers in joining the Division was to get military training and arms to then join the UPA. Many did just this after the defeat at Brody whilst being returned to Germany to reform a second division.

Paul Allen and Nick Craven write as if this is all new information and there has never been any proper investigation. Not quite. The sole purpose of the Scotland Yard War Crimes Investigation Team in the 1980's was to examine the activities of any suspect individuals who had formerly served in the German armed forces and who came to Great Britain in the post war period. Likewise, an investigation was conducted by the Australian government but later discontinued after no successful prosecutions were made. The Canadian government also has an investigative body for the investigation of war criminals (of all nationalities - not just Ukrainians) but the results produced have been negligible. To date no former member of the Galician Division has been charged in Canada, Australia or the USA.


They talk about this subject as if it is being raised "for the first time" as if they have made some marvellous "scoop" as they call it in the trade. This is not the first time that these issues have been raised, in fact several of these allegations have been raised publicly before over 30 years ago and periodically ever since, principally by former Soviet, Polish and Jewish sources. For example many of the Soviet allegations were catalogued by the Soviets over 16 years ago in "We Accuse" Dnipro Publishers, Kiev, 1984; This work provides full accounts along with details of the un-substantiated allegations with reference to the participation of a section of the 'Volhynian Legion' (Division) in the pacification of the village of CHLANIOW ( pp: 270-272) and the participation of a section of the 'Volhynian Legion' in the Warsaw Rising of August 1944 (see pp: 273-276).

Paul Allen and Nick Craven mention the murder of over 800 Polish civilians in the village of Huta Pieniacka on February 28th 1944. This aspect has been well documented and raised by the Polish authorities and in the British press over the course of the last 15 years for example by Neil Asherton in an article in the Times in the 1980's entitled "Alive and Well and Living Amongst US". The evidence presented in support of this allegation from the moment that it was first reported days afterwards contains a number of serious inconsistencies. Despite searching the archives, no documentary evidence has been produced by the Polish Main Commission for the Investigation of war Crimes against the Polish Nation, nor the makers of the documentary 'The SS in Britain' to corroborate the alleged presence of Ukrainian soldiers in the pacification activities conducted at Huta Pieniacka. Evidence which categorically records that Ukrainian units did not take part (ie; that of the so called Divisional Chronicle which the documentary cites elsewhere) was deliberately omitted).


The name of the Division itself was the proof of its primary purpose, 14th Waffen SS Division. "Waffen" referring to fighting as in Lutwaffe, the German fighting airforce. So the Division was a fighting unit, and not a police type punitive civilian pacification unit as alleged.

The British Govt. did not bring an "entire" SS division to this country as the television the programme suggested. None of the approx. 3000 German cadre and command were included, neither were 1400 or so Ukrainian men who were held in internment by the Americans.

In the "documentary", mention is made of Michael Melnyk's origins but David Cesarani's are overlooked. This can have the effect of making Michael Melnyk appear biased but David Cesarani impartial. Surely David Ceserani's Jewish background as a "war crimes expert" is just as relevant to the programme as Michael Melnyk's Ukrainian background as an "expert on the Galizien Division"?

The one person tried here in the UK and found guilty of war crimes was indeed from Eastern Europe, but the programme forgets to mention that even he was not Ukrainian or in the Galician Division.

In the TV "documentary", Mr David Cesarani although appearing to be objective in his approach, like these journalists, seemed to be vague when referring to "partisans". My simple question is, which partisans? Were they all referring to the Russian Bolshevik partisans working towards the destruction of Ukrainian independence? Or maybe the Polish partisans working for the continuation of Polish occupation of Western Ukraine? What about their atrocities, all aimed at the Ukrainian nation? More interestingly, which Jewish partisans was Mr Cesarani talking about? Who were they fighting for? Ukraine? Poland? Russia? Israel??!! Who were the Polish partisans that they mentioned in Western Ukraine fighting for, and more to the point, who against? Was it for the interests of Ukraine, or the for continued Polish subjugation of Ukraine? How would they feel about German "partisans" found in a village in rural England? Would they invite them into their house and offer them a cup of tea, or maybe a beer?

I doubt whether any of them were talking about the partisans of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), composed of committed Ukrainian Nationalists who fought on many fronts, against Russian, German and Polish imperialism for the independence of Ukraine. Incidentally, many Jewish citizens of Ukraine sought refuge in the Ukrainian Insurgent army (UPA) and served in it, and operation Visla was orchestrated by the Polish occupants of Western Ukraine to destroy popular Ukrainian support for this Ukrainian partisan army.

The word "Nationalist" seems to be a wild card in these debates. A Polish nationalist uprising against Germany seems to be fine as does any kind of western European nationalism equated with the struggle against the Nazis, but as soon as it is Ukrainian nationalism against Russian, German and Polish occupation of Ukraine, it is given the usual liberal coating of negative connotations. In other words what is implied here is that the aspirations of freedom that one nation may have, to be free from foreign domination and subjugation, are more acceptable than the same aspirations of another nation.

Regarding the murder of thousands of Jews in Lviv in June 1941 by men of the Nightingale battalion, it has only been "alleged" that one company of the Nachtigall Battalion ever took part in these atrocities. Ultimately only a few of the former officers from the Nachtigall battalion went on to serve in the Galician Division (as an alternative to imprisonment). Very few if any of the Ukrainian soldiers from this company went on to serve in the Galician Division. The Soviet Embassy release of Soviet War News of December 30 1944, published in London, contains a section entitled "The L'vov Evidence", in which the Soviet "Extraordinary State Commission for Ascertaining and Investigating Alleged Atrocities", lists by name all the major participants in this action (including their function or unit to which the belonged), but significantly makes no reference to the 'Nachtigall Battalion' or any of its' personnel.


The ITV programme mentions numerous reprisals and murders of innocent civilians in Slovakia in October 1944. but the most recent investigations under taken by Mykola Mushynka, an academic at the Precov University, in Slovakia, has revealed serious discrepancies in the statements given to the producers of the TV documentary, and casts serious doubt over their motives and methodology. Two of the witness interviewed by Yorkshire television who made the documentary have subsequently stated that the atrocities were carried out by GERMAN and HILINKA GUARD (indigenous Slovak security forces). Moreover, once again the testimony of the "witnesses" used for the purpose of the documentary has never been tested in a formal court of law and subjected to cross examination as part of 'due legal process'.

The ITV programme claimed to have uncovered rare and chilling archive film, much of which has laid untouched since the Second World War, and which has never been seen in this country before. The blatant manipulation of imagery here was even laughable. With the sole exception of the footage of the recruitment rallies taken in L'viv NONE of the remaining footage used in the documentary actually depict units of the Galician Division or even Ukrainian personnel. This has been employed as "wall paper" simply to provide moving images. For example the battle sequences used to accompany the commentary on the Division's deployment at Brody shows German soldiers wearing winter greatcoats. Oops! The Galician Division was deployed in a combat role at the front in the Brody sector in hot weather, late July 1944.

Both these journalists and the ITV programme state that despite numerous suspicions about them, the men of the 14th SS Division 'Galizien' have never been adequately checked, and that after the war the British sent a small group of officials to check the men, but they didn't speak the language, had no records, and were given only two weeks to try and screen over 2000 men. It was totally inadequate and the officials in charge admitted as much.

This is untrue. Interpreters were at hand and the amount of effort invested in the screening undertaken by the British authorities was directly commensurate with what they considered necessary. There is also evidence that selected screening took place whilst the Ukrainians were held as POW's in Great Britain.

In the ITV programme mention is made that "some Jewish Citizens of Ukraine" co operated with the Bolsheviks, but it is not considered for one minute that any of this co operation might have also amounted to crimes against humanity against the Ukrainian nation. I quote for example, the three most infamous examples of "these Jewish citizens", namely Dzherzinsly, Yezhov and Kaganovich , the main hench men of Stalin, head of the Bolshevick Soviet Russian Empire, (the worst butcher of the 20th century), between them responsible for the deaths of millions of Ukrainians and other non Russian peoples in the Russian Empire (USSR) from the 1920's onwards.

The programme states that no member of the Galicia Division has ever been charged with war crimes offences in Britain. It does not mention Martin Dean, (001-202-488-6119), who at the US Holocaust Museum was the senior historian for the Scotland Yard War Crimes unit. He has confirmed that dossiers were complied on 3 or 4 former Ukrainian members of the 'Volhynian Legion'. Significantly both these journalists and the documentary also make no mention of the lengthy and exhaustive "Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals" report by the Right Honourable Jules Deschenes concluded by the Canadian legal authorities the finding of which resulting from the application of due legal process were published on 30 December 1986. The conclusion states :

"The commission accordingly finds that ;

56- The Galicia Division (14.Waffengrenadierdivision der SS [gal.Nr.1]) should not be indicted as a group.

57-The members of the Galicia Division were individually screened for security purposes before admission to Canada.

58. Charges of war crimes against members of the Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed before this commission.

59. Further, in the absence of any evidence of participation in or knowledge of specific war crimes, mere member ship in the Galician Division is insufficient to justify prosecution.

60. No case can be made against members of the Galicia Division for revocation of citizenship or deportation since the Canadian authorities were fully aware of the relevant facts in 1950 and admission to Canada was not granted them because of any false representation, or fraud, or concealment of material circumstances.

61. In the event, of the 217 officers of the Galicia Division denounced by Mr Simon Wiesenthal to the Canadian government, 187 (ie 86 percent of the list) never set foot in Canada, 11 have died in Canada, 2 have left for another country, no prima facie case has been established against 16 and the last one could not be located.

The Deschenes report, issued in 1986 was later confirmed by another judicial investigation by the minister of justice in Canada Anne McLellan in 1998."

They ended their article with an attempt at making a poignant statement by telling us that unlike here, there were no Police to call on when harassed by unwelcome callers at your home. Wrong again. You had a choice depending on your loyalties. There was the Bolshevick KGB, or the Polish security forces, or the Nazi Gestapo, or if amongst all this you were a Ukrainian being persecuted by any or all of these, there was always the Ukrainian Insurgent Partisan Army, fighting against all of these "police" for the rights of ordinary Ukrainians.

In conclusion, to paraphrase one of their phrases "it beggars belief" that these people can show themselves on the streets of a British city, I say that "it beggars belief" that people such as Paul Allen and Nick Craven have a license to print such ill researched, biased, contrived and inaccurate nonsense. Be it on their consciences, if they have any.

CC. Nick Craven, Paul Allen, and The Letters Editor of The Daily Mail

Yours Sincerely

Stepan Pasicznyk.


SS in Britain

(12)

FROM:
The General Secretariat
Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain

Greetings everybody!

As a follow up to previous emails you will have received from us on this subject, attached is a complete transcript of the 'SS in Britain' soundtrack as transcribed for the Association by Stepan Pasicznyk, one of our recent very keen supporters and active correspondents on this subject. From an entirely objective standpoint the Association is wholly satisfied with the accuracy and authenticity of said transcript and is prepared to underwrite its veracity.

We are conscious of the fact that some of you receiving this emailshot may well have not had the opportunity to see the original programme. This therefore will probably be your first opportunity to become acquainted with the soundtrack contents. What you will read is more than likely to upset you. We can but apologise for this in advance. However, as a result of reading the attached transcript you will now be better placed to appreciate and understand why the Association felt it had no other option but to take up the cudgels to defend the good name of the organised Ukrainian community in the UK.

On the other hand, in reading the attached transcript, some of those amongst you who saw the programme on 7 January 2001 will doubtlessly surprise yourselves, that having avidly watched the programme on that night, that you now find yourself in the position that you seem to remember what you thought you heard on the soundtrack, or that you have actually forgotten what you now wish you had remembered. To whatever degree these two possibilities figure in your own individual situation, we can all be certain of one thing, that our individual memories of the whole experience are not quite as good as what we wish they were. That is why the attached transcript is, and in the long run will prove to be, such a useful piece of work.

Everyone concerned over the past few weeks with the after-effects of 'SS in Britain' now has the opportunity to personally reappraise for themselves in written form just what this programme apparently set out to achieve, and whether it did or did not achieve its objective.

The Association is currently having this transcript analysed. Based on the expected findings and on additional evidence that has recently become available, which clearly and unequivocally casts serious doubt upon the validity and credibility of the allegations made in 'SS in Britain', the Association will be seeking to take appropriate steps to try and win back once more the good name and reputation of Ukrainians in the UK, for and on behalf of the Ukrainian community at large, and to right a lot of the wrong and harm that was so recently done to Ukrainians in general.

Finally, as to the visuals of which 'SS in Britain' was comprised. In the near future the Association will be scrutinising their content in addition to that of the soundtrack. It will be seeking to gauge an objective measure of their intended and perceived effects. Logically, the Association will draw its own inevitable conclusions. Based on preliminary findings, it is expected that analysis of these visuals will be helpful in revealing the nature and true extent of their tenuousness and the prejudicial degree to which they were used to wallpaper the soundtrack of 'SS in Britain', in a cynical and sensational attempt to smear and compromise founder members of the Ukrainian community in the UK.

Once again we thank you for your continued interest and support. Please pass on a copy of the attached transcript to anyone who you feel would benefit from receiving it. If you are aware of anyone else who might be interested to receive future Association briefings on this or other issues directly, please encourage them to send an empty email to the Association's General Secretariat at the following address augb@gardens.idps.co.uk . It will suffice that the words "Keep me informed" should appear in their empty email's subject heading. Everyone's email request will be electronically acknowledged.

Kindest regards to you all!

The General Secretariat
Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain
49 Linden Gardens
Notting Hill Gate
London, England
W2 4HG

Tel.: +44 20 7229 8392
Fax.: +44 20 7792 2499
email: augb@gardens.idps.co.uk

HOT NEWS!

In light of everything that has transpired since 'SS in Britain' was transmitted, the Association recently resolved to invite Prof Lubomyr Luciuk, a prominent Ukrainian contributor to this documentary (cf. attached transcript) to come to the UK after Easter and give a series of talks on issues and implications that have arisen from this and previous anti-Ukrainian TV documentaries.

Prof Luciuk has graciously accepted the Association's invitation.

More details about his scheduled visit will follow in due course as soon as they are available.
Attachment: SSinBritainsoundtrackAUGBtranscript.doc (71k) -- View Attachment


SS in Britain

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Transcript of "SS in Britain" ITV, 7th January 2001, 10.55 pm

Narrator:
The British Govt. cares about war crimes. They went to war to prevent atrocities in Kosovo.

Robin Cook Foreign Secretary:
I will promise a full co-operation of Britain in bringing to justice those who have stained Kosovo with ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Nato Representative:
Every Nato leader made it clear that war criminals were going to be brought to justice.

Prime Minister Tony Blair:
They stand at risk and we should be prepared to use the war crimes legislation to bring them to account.

Narrator:
But despite the concerns over Kosovo, Britain's record on war criminals has not been good. Anthony Savoniuk is the only man ever to be convicted in Britain for Nazi war crimes, but tonight we can reveal that many more Nazi war criminals found refuge in this country, and they were brought here by the British Govt. In 1947, an entire division of the Nazi SS, some 8000 men came to live in Britain, and many of them are still here today.

Michael Melnyk:
In just about every reasonable sized town you will find somebody associated or a direct descendant of a member of the Galizien Division.

Narrator:
For the first time we can reveal evidence that the Division which came to Britain included men who had committed war crimes. Millions of people lost their lives at the hands of the Nazis during the Second World War, but Ukraine suffered more than most.

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk:
Ukraine lost more of its population during the Second World War than any other nation in occupied Europe. Ukraine was entirely occupied during the course of the war and many of the major battles of the Second World War on the Eastern Front were fought on Ukrainian lands. The country itself was fairly thoroughly devastated.

Narrator:
Despite this devastation and 2 years of Nazi occupation thousands of Ukrainians, mainly from the west of the country, volunteered to fight for the German cause. In April 1943 in Lvov in Western Ukraine the Germans announced that after repeated Ukrainian requests the Furher had agreed to the formation of a Division of Ukrainian volunteers within the Nazi SS. The 14th SS Division Galizien. Despite Germany's terrible oppression of the country, 80 000 men volunteered to join within the first two months, enough for two Divisions.

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk:
The Germans came with an anti-Soviet message, a message that some Ukrainians found very appealing. People saw this as one option for asserting Ukrainian independence and they took it.

Professor Cesarani:
Many young Ukrainians were drawn to the Waffen SS for the glamour, the dash of these elite units and because of all German units the Waffen SS had this anti-Communist crusading zeal which also meant that it was a savage fighting force. The German Waffen SS was a fanatical military unit which had grown up out of the units that had guarded the concentration camps in Nazi Germany. The men were specially selected, they were very heavily indoctrinated, and although that fanatical core was diluted as the war went on, the SS always had a ferocious reputation for ideological commitment and fanaticism.

Narrator:
Like other SS units, the recruits to the Galizien Division all swore an oath of absolute allegiance and personal obedience to Adolf Hitler. The Germans appointed officers with specific and singular expertise to the Galizien Division. Men like the Divisional Commander SS general Fritz Freitag who in 1941 served with an SS unit which killed over 6000 unarmed civilians in occupied Russia. Men like the commander of the 5th SS Galizien Regiment Franz Lechthaller who organised the mass execution of over 5900 Jewish men, women and children in Byelorussia in 1941. Men like the commander of the 4th SS Galizien regiment Siegfried Bintz, an anti partisan specialist, who in one operation alone was involved in the murder of over 10 000 alleged partisans and Jews, and men like SS Colonel Friedrich Deyern a member of Himmler's personal command staff a unit estimated to be responsible for the deaths of over 100 000 people. Few if any of the foreign SS divisions had so many officers with such experience of mass murder and all of these German officers served with the Galizien Division.

Michael Melnyk:
They weren't soldiers, they were primarily policemen, people who had done dirty work for the German regime, ardent Nazis.

Narrator:
Michael Melnyk's father was in the Galizien Division. He has spent 12 years talking to hundreds of former members to research the Division's history.

Michael Melnyk:
The Germans wanted to exploit them and use them and weren't fussy and for that reason they would have given them jobs they didn't want to do themselves.

Professor David Cesarani:
Without access to the Soviet archives it was very difficult to work out exactly what the ...er... Ukrainian units had been up to but things have now changed. The material is coming out of the archives and this gives us a much deeper knowledge of who the men were who ended up in the Division that came to England and what they had been doing before they joined the Ukrainian Division.

Narrator:
And some of these men had a long history of serving the Germans. In 1941 as the Germans invaded western Ukraine many people welcomed them as liberators from 2 years of Soviet oppression. The Germans brought with them a specially trained unit of Ukrainian nationalists, the Nightingale battalion, and as they entered Lvov, they discovered that the departing Soviet secret police had murdered several thousand Ukrainian nationalists and intellectuals in cold blood. Although many of the victims were Jewish, the mob blamed the Jews for the massacre and a bloody pogrom ensued.

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk:
It is a regrettable but true fact that there was a very significant component of the Jewish community in eastern Galicia, western Ukraine, that had welcomed the Soviets in 1939 and had actively collaborated with the Soviets during the period of their administration. Some of these people were then targeted for reprisals. There is nothing decent about what happened, then there's nothing decent about what they did to their fellow neighbours, Poles and Ukrainians and other Jews alike during the Soviet occupation.

Narrator:
Several thousand Jews were killed over the next few days. Members of the Nightingale battalion as well as other Ukrainian units serving the Germans were implicated in the pogrom in Lvov. This footage was taken by a German amateur cameraman in Lvov that day, it is some of the only filmed footage of a Nazi action against the Jews which has survived the war. After the war West German courts directly accused members of the second company of the Nightingale battalion of involvement in the deaths of the Jews of Lvov. The Nightingale battalion became an auxiliary police battalion working for the Germans on anti-partisan duties before joining the Galizien Division in 1943. But were units of the Galizien Division itself involved in war crimes?

Professor David Cesarani:
By 1944 ...erm... southern Poland was in a state of near anarchy. There were Polish, Ukrainian resistance movements, Jewish partisan units in the forests. All of these erm operations relied upon the support of civilian populations providing the partisans with food and supplies. The civilian population would sometimes voluntarily help partisan units. Sometimes they had no choice. The Germans wanted a reign of terror. Anyone who helped the partisans usually was shot.

Narrator:
By early 1944 the Polish village of Huta Pieniacka had become a refuge for Polish villagers from the surrounding area, and for Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. But after reports of partisan activity in the area members of the second battalion of the 4th regiment of the Galizien division were sent on a reconnaissance patrol to the village. Mieczeslav Bernadski used to live in Huta Pienatczka. He was 13 years old at the time.

Voice over for Mieczeslav Bernadski:
Some Ukrainian soldiers, about a platoon in strength came out of the forest to a kind of meadow and started to fire at Huta from small arms and rifles. Then one man, in his prime, he was, put his rifle in a fork between the branches of a fruit tree and started to fire at the Ukrainians and as a result he killed two Ukrainians. And the two corpses lay there for three or four days and the Jews whose clothes were in tatters who had nothing to wear undressed the Ukrainian soldiers and put their clothes on and the bodies lay there naked. They were corpses of course.

Narrator:
They were the Division's first casualties of the war. They were given a hero's funeral with full military honours. According to the Galizien Divisions Chronicle the loss was keenly felt. It said, "Now the Division starts to write its history in blood." A few days later the Galizien unit went back to Huta Pieniacka.

Voice over for Mieczeslav Bernadski:
And the Germans came with these Ukrainian soldiers and surrounded the village. It was Monday the 28th of February.

Narrator:
Stefania Yasinska was also in Huta Pieniacka that day.

Voice over for Stefania Yasinska:
First they fired because they thought our people would shoot back but it was quiet and our people didn't do anything. They entered the village only when they were sure nobody would shoot back. People were crying and screaming. Later three Ukrainians entered the church. One was shooting in the air. They shouted that partisans are kept here.

Voice over for Mieczeslav Bernadski:
From one point of view you could say we were a base for the Russian partisans, but the Russians used us, and when it came to defending the village they were nowhere to be found.

Voice over for Stefania Yasinska:
Then they took groups of people one by one to barns and houses, poured petrol over them and burned them. The screaming and crying was terrible. Old women kissed their hands and feet to be set free.

Voice over for Mieczeslav Bernadski:
They killed and burned 850 people. You know we could not recognise who was who as they were burned in the barns, the houses and stables. You could only recognise somebody if they weren't burned completely and only then by their clothes because if one corpse stuck to another the clothes stayed and you could recognise the colour and otherwise only the bones remained.

Voice over for Stefania Yasinska:
Father, mother, brother, grandmother, uncle, aunts, cousins, they were all burned and we could not find them. I could only find part of my father's belt and coat. We were taken as the last group to the barn, so one German was in front and three Ukrainians were on both sides and at the back and when they were urging us on they spoke in Ukrainian. I escaped from this barn because my brother in-law opened the door and we escaped to the forest.

Voice over for Mieczeslav Bernadski:
My Grandmother was taken to such a barn and there the Germans shot her and burned her, a woman of 85 years. She used to say to me "I would like to survive this war and see what Poland will be like" but she did not live to see it.

Narrator:
News of the massacre soon leaked out. A month later the Polish underground sent coded messages to London, which specifically implicated the Galizien division in the attack.

Mike Melnyk:
Elements of the 4th regiment were deployed at Huta Pieniacka. They were deployed in the initial attack. They were not ultimately responsible for the pacification of the village. By that time the responsibility had passed to a following German unit.

Person interviewing Michael Melnyk:
So you are saying they left early and somebody else came and did it?

Michael Melnyk:
Yes indeed.

Voice over for Mycheslav Bernadski:
No No No. If it was like that the people would have realised it and escaped to the forest.

Voice over for Stefania Yasinska:
Don't listen to this. They were there until the end.

Michael Melnyk:
I have also been told from the accounts I have, when the final pacification of the village occurred, the Ukrainian unit had moved on. If somebody tells me otherwise, then all I can do is listen to what's being said and investigate it to the best of my ability.

Narrator:
Members of the 4th regiment of the Galizien division were later were later rewarded the Iron Cross for their anti partisan activities in the area. In October 1947 the Polish Government made an official complaint to the United Nations about the Galizien division, in particular for their part in the mass murder in Huta Pieniacka. Polish authorities are still investigating those killings on February 28th 1944. The lead prosecutor is Boguslava Marchenkovska.

Voice over for Boguslava Marchenkovska:
It was an evil crime that led to the deaths of over 800 people according to our estimates and the people responsible for it should be brought to justice. Our investigation resulted in gathering substantial evidence. Altogether we have 120 witnesses. The evidence we obtained in our investigation explicitly points to one of the sub units of the 14th SS Division Galizien. We have no doubt at all it was that division and our witnesses so testify.

Narrator:
We understand that members of the 4th regiment of the Galicia Division which was involved at Huta Pieniacka came to live in the West after the war.

Person interviewing Michael Melnyk:
Some of the Ukrainian participants in the initial attacks ("Yes" by MM) are in Britain. Is that correct?

Michael Melnyk:
Yes, that's correct, yes.

Narrator:
In May 1944 the Division was inspected by the leader of the SS himself, Heinrich Himmler. He at least was in no doubt about their attitude towards the Poles.

Voice over for Henrich Himmler:
"I know if I gave the Division the order to exterminate the Poles in this area or that then I would become a very popular man amongst you."

Narrator:
In the summer of 1944 the Galizien Division was sent to the Eastern front. They faced the Red Army massing near the Ukrainian city of Brody. It was their first experience of full-scale combat and it was a disaster. After nearly two weeks of heavy fighting the Division was decimated. Of 11000 men who went into battle only 3000 returned.

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk:
After July of 1944 the Division was slowly regrouped and there was an effort to conscript people into the Division which included releasing people from Nazi concentration camps on the promise that they would serve in the Division, and then there were people who were inducted into the Division from various existing battalions and regiments and units that had been attached to other German forces. Men do strange things in war and sometimes men do very horrible things and they should be judged by what they did.

Narrator:
In August 1944 in the Fascist puppet state of Slovakia, a popular rebellion broke out to gain independence for the country from Nazi Germany. German intelligence acknowledged that the uprising was truly popular and said that only a fool would seek to stop it by military means. But a week later the Germans sent in over 40 000 troops including two SS Divisions to crush the rebellion.

Professor David Cesarani:
The Slovakian uprising was a...a savage, bloody conflict. Tens of thousands of civilians were killed. No mercy was shown on either side. If Ukrainian units were involved in suppressing a Slovak national uprising it is almost inevitable that they were engaged in brutal merciless anti partisan warfare.

Dr. Lubomyr Luciuk:
At the time of the so-called Slovak uprising the relations between the members of the Division and the Slovak population in general were considered to be good.

Voice over for Dr Jan Stanislav, Museum of the Slovak national Uprising:
The Division was of course definitely unpopular. I think there would have been all sorts of people within the ranks of the 14th SS Division Galizien. Some of them were really only on guard duties but they couldn't know what the other parts of the division were delegated to do, and the other units did take part in reprisals against civilians and the members of the uprising.

Narrator:
In Slovakia the Division suffered from severe discipline problems. One senior SS intelligence officer later testified "The Ukrainian units of the Waffen SS were very unreliable, often deserted, didn't want to fight and just plundered".

Voice over for Dr Jan Stanislav, Museum of the Slovak national Uprising:
Burning, murdering, terror and reprisals. This was their craft basically. But I have to say that we can also find exceptions among them as is the case everywhere and in every army, but the exceptions rather prove the rule. In Smerchany the Wittenmeyer unit from the Division burnt down the village using artillery and mortar fire. The civilian population was driven out of the village and 80% of the 120 houses burnt down. It has to be said that Smerchany was a supply outpost for the partisan movement. This is the reason why the reprisal was aimed against it and it was in fact a cruel punishment for helping the partisan movement.

Narrator:
But very often the civilians didn't have any choice.

Voice over for Etela Boehmerova:
One day one lot would come and knock on the window and another day another lot would come and knock on the window. They either asked for food, or for food or bread, well anything, or some bacon or, I don't know.

Narrator:
At the end of October 1944 theWittenmeyer unit of the 14th SS Division Gailizien entered the village of Nyzhna Bocha.

Voice over for Etela Boehmerova:
They stormed into the pub first and just drank there and then they did whatever they wanted. The men who were there said that the soldiers who were interrogating them were drunk. It was obvious that they were not alright. And they banged on the doors very hard and then my grandfather went up and they went straight to him because he was an older man and they say, "Well, where are the partisans?" and he said that we had no partisans here.

Voice over for Paulina Boehmerova
They were doing house searches and whoever they found in the houses they were summoned to go to the school. But then in the evening they rounded up all the men into the school. Straight away. Straight away that evening.

Narrator:
The soldiers interrogated five people. Cyril Zahradnyk was arrested solely for having a Russian coin in his pocket. He was 15 years old.

Voice over for Etela Boehmerova:
Those that were sentenced, they were kicked and beaten and they were kept there till morning.

Voice over for Paulina Boehmerova:
When they finished the questioning they sentenced them to death those men, and they just shot them. Zahradnyk he was just a boy.

Voice over for Etela Boehmerova:
He called out for his mother. Apparently in school he cried "My dear mummy you won't see me any more"

Voice over for Paulina Boehmerova:
Such a desperate cry. What did the child do to anyone? He wasn't even a soldier. How the child wept and cried. He was led from the school, led to the bridge, and from the bridge, there, were shot so they fell in the water. They had no mercy.

Voice over for Etela Boehmerova:
It was horrible. It was a horrible feeling. You can never forget it.

Narrator:
Captured German documents confirm that the Wittenmeyer unit of the 14th SS Division Galizien entered the village of Nyzhna Bocha that day. The documents say the Ukrainian volunteers of the 14th SS Division engaged in the battle fought excellently.

Voice over for Paulina Boehmerova:
They didn't find any partisans in the end and our men had to pay for it.

Narrator:
The Slovak uprising was recognised and aided by all of the allies fighting Hitler. Britain, the United Stated and the Soviet Union all sent military missions and essential military supplies to aid the rebels. And allied aircrew who had crash-landed or who had been shot down over Nazi-occupied Europe were airlifted out of the country. But like the partisans the downed allied airmen were also hunted by the German forces, including the Galizien division.

Michael Melnyk:
I have had testimony of a number of veterans who encountered allied flyers during the operations. Allied flyers were captured by the Division or by Divisional personnel. They were taken prisoner. They weren't maltreated by the Ukrainians and they were passed to the military police unit attached to the Division. Whether they were shot or not I don't know.

Professor David Cesarani:
I think it would be a mistake to make a blanket accusation against every man in the er Galizien Division. ...Erm... I think many of those who entered its ranks when it was first raised were anti Russian anti Bolshevik idealists. But as the Division lost men in combat replacements came from very different sources. Ukrainian collaborationist police units, guard units that had been guarding ghettos, labour camps. The Ukrainian Division by the end of the war had become a rallying ground for all sorts of Ukrainian nationalists, fanatical pro-Nazis as well as honest anti-Soviet fighters.

Narrator:
One of the collaborationist units which later joined the Galicia division was the Ukrainian Self Defence Legion. In 1968 Polish prosecutors began an investigation into the Ukrainian Self Defence Legion and into one of its leading members Theodore Dak. Dak was eventually sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for his activities with the Legion during the war.

Voice over for former prosecutor Franciszek Zdanowicz:
I started an investigation to see what Dak had actually done. I proved beyond doubt that he had committed murders. He had murdered about 25 people or thereabouts. He murdered Ukrainians, he murdered Poles, he murdered his own acquaintances.

Narrator:
The Ukrainian Self Defence Legion was recruited from Ukrainian nationalist partisans by members of the notorious murder squads, the Einsatzgruppen. In the summer of 1944 the unit was crossing the Lublin region of southern Poland when their commander SS captain Siegfried Asmus was shot and killed.

Voice over for Polish witness:
As a result after a short while Asmus's Deputy Colonel Chechenko decided to pacify the village of Chlaniow.

Narrator:
One former member of the unit Vasyl Malazynsky, gave evidence to a post war trial about the attack on the village.

Person quoting Vasyl Malazynsky:
It was like a kind of ecstasy. We burned, we shot and we destroyed. I was shooting and perhaps I set fire to things. I don't remember if I shot anybody. We didn't go into houses because they were already burning. I saw the bodies of men, women and children. We didn't leave anybody alive.

Narrator:
44 civilians, mainly old people and children fell victim to the legion in Chlaniow that day. Some were just three years old. After the murders in Chlaniow Dak's unit went on to kill another 105 people in the village of Skalmiasz.

Michael Melnyk:
Partisan warfare by its very nature means the civilians can find themselves in an active role, as the Americans found out to their great cost in Vietnam.

Person interviewing Michael Melnyk:
But they can also be innocent bystanders.

Michael Melnyk:
They can be innocent bystanders. Who is to say which they are in the heat of the moment?

Person interviewing Michael Melnyk:
Are there people from the Self Defence Legion still in Britain today?

Michael Melnyk:
Yes. There are people from the Self Defence Legion living in Britain today.

Voice over for Franciszek Zdanowicz:
It is beyond dispute that it was involved in the pacification of Chlaniow. It is beyond dispute that it was involved in the pacification of Skalmiasz and it is in no doubt whatsoever that the Ukrainian Self Defence Legion took part in suppressing the Warsaw uprising. It is obvious beyond any dispute.

Professor David Cesarani:
It was a ferocious merciless conflict. Warsaw was pretty much razed to the ground. It was one of the most barbaric moments of the Second World War. Surviving members of the Division who came to Britain and settled here always strenuously deny that any of the members of the unit had had any involvement in the suppression of the Warsaw uprising. If there is evidence of that it completely shatters the story that they have perpetuated.

Narrator:
This unit roster of the Ukrainian Self Defence Legion confirms that they saw action fighting for the Germans in Warsaw. Three months later Theodore Dak and the Self Defence Legion joined the SS Division Galizien. In 1945 they surrendered to the British Army in Austria.
In the last days of the War the British Army was pushing into Austria where they discovered thousands of Ukrainians in German military uniforms.

Dennis Hills, British army Major:
We had this shambles of various nationalities. We were tired. We wanted to get rid of the buggers you see, and go home.

Narrator:
In 1945 Dennis Hills was a major in the British army.

Dennis Hills, British army Major:
The job of the army was to clear the place, get rid of the rubbish.

Professor David Cesarani:
They simply gave these men marching orders. They said "head southwards towards Italy and someone will take care of you when you arrive". And that's exactly what the division did. They just trundled off south towards Italy.

Dennis Hills, British army Major:
Ukrainians were put into a camp at Rimini. There were escapes. In fact the guarding was very poor in those days. The SS used to run away. It was slack.

Professor David Cesarani:
Under the agreement reached with the Soviet Union at Yalta the British were committed to sending back all Soviet citizens captured in German army uniform or who had served the Third Reich in any capacity.

Narrator:
But the problem was in determining precisely where the men came from. If they were from eastern Ukraine which before the war had been under Soviet rule they were liable to be deported, but if they came from western Ukraine which before the war had been under Polish rule they were not liable to be sent back.

Dennis Hills, British army Major:
My job was to find out more or less who the hell they were. I found a lot came from Soviet Ukraine. When I made my report I made it clear that these fellows should be given the benefit of the doubt. They should not be repatriated.

Narrator:
In the summer of 1945 the Red Army sent a screening team to Rimini.

Dennis Hills, British army Major:
I remember 4 or 5 officers that had an interpreter screening soldiers who refused to participate. They were there to ...er... check on the Ukrainians and to try to persuade us so that they get sent back to Russia. They couldn't even get into conversation with these fellows. They were simply dumb insolents, you know. The question of war criminals did arise and er the Soviet military mission did give us a few names. And these names were handed into one of our captains and I think he looked at them and threw them in the waste paper basket. Propaganda, can't believe all this rot and nonsense.

Narrator:
But two years later the British decided to check for themselves if there were war criminals in the camp. They sent a screening mission led by brigadier Fitzroy McLean.

Fitzroy McLean (filmed in 1989):
It became quite clear to me that this was a hopeless proposition. We were not qualified to screen Ukrainians. We didn't have the necessary language experts or anything like that.

Professor David Cesarani:
It was very difficult for McLean in the absence of any personal documentation, army pay books etc to work out just who these men were, where they'd come from, what units they'd served with. They basically had to accept whatever it was that they told him.

Narrator:
The Ukrainians told McLean that the Division had only been formed in September 1944 and had been occupied with training and guard duties. They told him that they did not commit a single crime during the entire war.

Professor David Cesarani:
He made it quite clear to Whitehall that his report was not watertight and he had suspicions about them.

Fitzroy McLean (filmed in 1989):
I think it was fairly clear that quite a number of them must have been in the SS as part of a Ukrainian SS Division so there was every probability that they, that there were erm war criminals amongst them.

Professor David Cesarani:
McLean was very honest. He said that he didn't have the time or the resources to do a thorough screening and he thought that they should be screened later on, which meant being screened in England.

Person interviewing Professor David Cesarani:
And did that happen?

Professor David Cesarani:
No.

Narrator:
In London Civil Servants were divided. Eventually it was the Prime Minister Clement Attlee who decided to let all 8000 men of the Ukrainian SS Division into Britain.

Professor David Cesarani:
It was unprecedented for such a large number of men to be brought into the United Kingdom without going through any of the normal channels. The news leaked out that a Division of Ukrainian soldiers who fought for the Germans was arriving in England. Questions were asked in Parliament that men who had been involved in war crimes were now being housed in camps in Britain without apparently having been very carefully screened.

Narrator:
The minister, Hector MacNeil told Parliament that the Ukrainians had been screened twice before and that no war criminals had been found.

Professor David Cesarani:
Hector McNeil was either being deliberately economical with the truth or in unparliamentary language lying erm or else ...erm...he had been fooled by ...erm... the Ukrainians. In either case what we now know about the Division's history suggests that his reply is worthless.

Narrator:
The Home Office has confirmed that Hector McNeil's answer is still official Government policy today.

Professor David Cesarani:
It is quite wrong to insist on the kind of reports that were created immediately after the war in those chaotic conditions as still being valid.

Narrator:
The historical record does not reveal precisely why the British Prime Minister was so generous to the Ukrainian Division. There is some evidence that other agencies had an interest in their arrival.

Michael Melnyk:
The period from the Division's surrender until the Division was eventually brought back to England is extremely murky. I know for a fact from the people that I have spoken to, a number were trained by western intelligence agencies be they American or British for clandestine operations to take place behind Soviet lines in the immediate post war period.

Person interviewing Michael Melnyk:
And these people had been former members of the Galizien division?

Michael Melnyk:
Yes indeed they had. That was the basis for them being selected. No question about that whatsoever.

Professor David Cesarani:
By the time the Ukrainians arrived in the United Kingdom, the British Govt was fed up with trying war criminals. They had no appetite for further war crimes investigations or war crimes trials.

Narrator:
No member of the Galizien Division has ever been tried for war crimes in Great Britain, and we could find no evidence that any member has ever been investigated for crimes committed in the service of the Nazis. Government records which could help expose the guilty men have never been made public.

Michael Melnyk:
1500 hundred former members of the Galizien division live in this country today. It would be naive and unfair to suggest that everybody within the Galizien division was a war criminal but by the same token a small element undoubtedly were. They should be pursued and punished, and the rest should be left in peace.

Voice over for former prosecutor Franciszek Zdanowicz:
These military formations are presented as those that fought for the liberation of Ukraine. It did not serve Ukraine. It served the Germans. It was not fighting with an armed opponent. It was fighting against civilians, against the civilian population, against defenceless people.

Professor David Cesarani:
There should be a reopening of the question of the Ukrainian Division. Who these men were. How they got here. Why were they not investigated years ago when the evidence and the witnesses were available?

Dennis Hills, British army Major:
Why destroy a mans life? Why be a shit and punish people?

Voice over for Boguslava Marchenkovska:
We are under a moral obligation to bring to justice those who are responsible for an evil crime even if it was committed over 50 years ago.

Voice over for Mieczeslav Bernadski:
Now if it was 1945 I would order them to be cut and salted. Today maybe I would forgive them but I will never forget this. Never.

Voice over for Paulina Boehmerova:
Let God judge them according to their own conscience. They should come to terms with themselves for what they have done.


SS in Britain

(14)

12 February 2001

Press Complaints Commission
1 Salisbury Square
London
EC4Y 8JB

Dear Sirs

Re: "SS - GB", Daily Mail Article, 13 January 2001

1. Introduction

1.1. Terms of Reference:

Please note that the expression 'Galicia Division' used in this letter is the Anglo-Ukrainian equivalent of the German expression "Galizien Division". Both terms are mutually interchangable and have the same connotation.

1.2 Further to our letter of the 16 January, we are writing to formally register a complaint against the Daily Mail with regard to the aforesaid article written by Messrs Allen & Craven (copy enclosed) with its sub-headline - "Modern day Manchester and these comrades from the dreaded SS, Hitler's notorious henchmen with the blood of millions on their hands, are back on parade". We contend that the aforesaid article is inaccurate, distorted and misleading and our complaint, therefore, is made under article 1 of the Press Complaints Commission's Code of Practice.

For your benefit we also enclose copies of our letter to the Daily Mail of the 13 January and the reply received from its Deputy Managing Editor, Mr Garth Burden, dated 22 January. We are dissatisfied with his reply to the serious concerns which we addressed in our original letter to the Daily Mail. In its article the newspaper not only failed to uphold the well known premise that British justice has always relied on, i.e. one is presumed innocent until proven guilty, quite the reverse it has acted in a high and mighty fashion as judge and jury and has presented as proven fact unsubstantiable or unsubstantiated allegations and frankly improbable evidence. The newspaper in its reply has failed to acknowledge the falsehoods, misrepresentations, misleading claims, distortions and inaccuracies which have been pointed out to it. Our impression is that the Daily Mail are not in the least bit interested in remedying the injustice and wrong that the article has perpetrated and our dissatisfaction in this instance is all the more. Below we address those points in the Daily Mail's article which we feel make it a tendentious and extremely prejudicial piece of journalism, whose whole premise seems to be never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

For the record it is important at the outset that you be made familiar with the incontrovertible facts. The Galician Division was formed in 1943 and was essentially a military, front-line unit of the Waffen (Armed) SS. It was recruited solely as a combat division to fight on the Eastern Front against the oncoming Soviet forces. Forces who under Joseph Stalin some 10 years earlier (1932-33) had been party to the forcible starvation of over six million Ukrainians in Ukraine. The Division was neither an SS police unit nor an SS extermination unit and its volunteers were neither pro-Nazi, nor sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Members of the Division believed that the impending defeat of Germany would be followed by a war between Stalin and the West in which they, having received formal combat training and equipment from the Nazis, would be able to defend their homeland, Ukraine, against Stalin's Red Army and Soviet partisans.

2. Inaccuracy, distortion and misleading statements.

2.01 Headline allegation: "These comrades from the dreaded SS, Hitler's notorious henchmen with the blood of millions on their hands". This claim has no basis of truth in it whatsoever. Regrettably, the authors set out their stall and are seemingly prepared to demonstrate their ignorance and lack of understanding of the historical circumstances prevailing in Eastern Europe both prior to and during the Second World War. The Division never did deem itself, and was never deemed by the Nazis to be "Hitler's notorious henchmen". Hitler actually regarded Ukrainians as well as all the Slavic people as "sub-humans" and much can be said and written about Nazi atrocities committed in Ukraine against the Ukrainian nation to prove this thesis. Yet this historical truth is a seeming irrelevance and is completely ignored. Instead a smearing allegation is made about the men depicted in the colour photograph, that they are allegedly "Hitler's notorious henchmen" - followed by an even more incredulous claim - "with the blood of millions on its hands" (millions!?!). To the unsuspecting reader, the Daily Mail insinuates that Ukrainian "loyalties" were with the Nazis during the Second World War, when of course Ukrainians in Ukraine were unquestionably victims of the Nazi regime. Moreover, given the overwhelming prominence of the headline the reader cannot but make the assumption that the contents of the supporting article are substantiated and indisputable facts. This is reinforced by the use of phrases like "in fact" , "it almost beggars belief that they dare show themselves on the streets of a British city" , "there is little doubt" and "it seems beyond doubt". In truth, however, the entire headline is pure fiction and the Daily Mail knows that it could not possibly substantiate its contention that the "comrades" in the picture are indeed "Hitler's notorious henchmen with the blood of millions on its hands". Sensationalism of the worst possible order.

2.02 The article alleges that the men depicted in the photograph are at a ceremony in Manchester and that they gather at a local hotel to reminisce about their exploits during the Second World War. In fact, the photograph was not taken in Manchester and, needless to say, the "hotel" referred to by Messrs Allen & Craven is another figment of their own imaginations. The principle of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story is still being applied. What is further reprehensible is the juxtaposition of the black and white photograph showing Himmler inspecting German uniformed troops - by implication the Galician Division, or are they? - alongside the coloured photograph of Ukrainian war veterans. Where are the unique insignia of the Galicia Division on the soldiers' uniforms? Is the photograph meant to be adding further credibility to the article, or meant to be a tool for further discrediting the Galicia Division by associating them with a role which was never theirs to have?

2.03 "They fought for Hitler". "They" did not fight for Hitler but served on strict conditions in an Armed Division to be used in fighting solely against Soviet forces. That is why they were allowed to volunteer to join the Waffen SS and that is why Hitler was prepared to use "sub-humans" as he referred to the Slavs, to support his flagging war effort on the Eastern front. Given the initial tone of the article, we reject the implication made here, i.e. that "they fought for Hitler" and thereby his cause (as if they indeed regarded him as worthy of their overwhelming regard and respect). The Division's members were neither pro-Nazi, nor sympathetic to the Nazi cause. They were undeniably anti Soviet, anti-colonial and pro-Ukrainian. Their participation in the theatre of war was considered by Division members to be a means by which Ukrainians could legitimately demonstrate their opposition to Soviet imperialism.

2.04 "The blood of hundreds of innocent civilians on its hands". A gross contradiction to say the least, especially when one takes into account the headline claim of "millions". Nevertheless, another unsubstantiated claim is being perpetrated.

2.05 "They shared a hatred of communists, and in many cases, of Poles". With this throwaway line the authors mislead their readers and show how ignorant and unsympathetic they are to the historical situation at the time. A more balanced article would have explained how Ukrainians, i.e. Ukrainian nationals living on Ukrainian ethnic territories found themselves living in Eastern Poland. An interesting historical circumstance! Had Ukrainians been deported from Ukraine to Poland, or had Poland absorbed/occupied Western Ukraine? Whichever of these two eventualities, one might logically imagine that neither of these two modes of oppression would have been palatable to Ukrainians. Any antipathy Ukrainians may have legitimately had towards their Polish colonisers may consequently simply assist in clarifying why Himmler attempted to provoke Ukrainians with his cynical comments. But for Messrs Allen and Craven to adopt the same kind of approach by suggesting and emphasising an alleged hatred of Poles as being a supposed Ukrainian national characteristic is inexcusable and is on a par with Himmler's cynical approach. The opening line to this paragraph would have been more objectively phrased and a more accurate representation of the true situation if it had said: "The Galizien Division was formed in 1943 from Ukrainian volunteers in Nazi-occupied, formerly Soviet-occupied and Polish occupied Ukraine." (as opposed to using the geopolitical designation Eastern Poland). The charge of Ukrainian "hatred of Poles" is meaningless hear-say if the authors, being aware of the political situation prior to and at the time when the Galicia Division came into existence, fail to adequately inform their readership.

2.06 "This week the Daily Mail reported how poorly the 8,000 members of the division were screened for war crimes...". Prior to responding to the article which is the subject of our complaint we were not aware of Peter Allen's earlier Daily Mail article. Having now acquainted ourselves of its contents, regrettably, the flavour is very much the same ( i.e. "hundreds of British citizens could face prosecutions for some of the worst atrocities of the Second World War", " 8000 ...allowed into Britain... after slipping through military screening procedures"). For some inexplicable reason (probably not letting the truth get in the way of a good story) the Daily Mail has chosen to make a dismissive, subjective and prejudicial assessment of whatever screening processes members of the Galicia Division were subjected to and this simply based on hearsay evidence No attempt was made to make reference, for example, to the report prepared for the British Government in February 1947 by D. Haldane Porter, who was in charge of Refugee Screening Camp No. 374 in Italy. He wrote that Ukrainians had enlisted in the Division "in the hope of securing a genuinely independent Ukraine... they probably were not, and certainly do not now, seem to be at heart pro-German". Moreover, at that time, the United Nations War Crimes Commission confirmed to the British Foreign Office that it had no Ukrainian war criminals on its list. Though various allegations against the Division were made over the years by the Soviet propaganda machine (for its own purposes) no specific charges were made against any single member of the Division.

2.07 "The Daily Mail has travelled to Poland to uncover the harrowing stories behind the Galizien's trail of barbarism. We have also traced some of its former members now living comfortably in Britain", i.e. those behind the "trail of barbarism". Firstly, to our knowledge, none of the Divisions' members are in hiding so they hardly needed to be "traced" by Messrs Allen & Craven. Secondly, would the readership of the Daily Mail not have been interested to learn whether the "harrowing stories behind the Galizien's trail of barbarism" were ever investigated by the War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police on their visits Poland? Was it not worth a mention for the purposes of objectivity? The other more specific allegations are dealt with below.

2.08 "How many, if any, of the Ukrainian exiles here - some receiving German service pensions averaging ?2,800 a year - were individually guilty of cold-blooded murder may never be known."

Its rather disturbing that the Daily Mail has with this statement seemingly set out to confuse the issue of former Ukrainian POW's, i.e. members of the Galicia Division who have never had a German war pension entitlement, with the issue of Ukrainian Displaced Persons, former Nazi forced labourers who in their hundreds of thousands were forcibly deported to Germany from Ukraine and who have a pension entitlement only provided that their German "employers" during World War II paid German National Insurance contributions on their behalf. Perhaps not unsurprisingly, during the war years many of Germany's employers were not that way inclined. By lumping together these two totally separate groups of Ukrainians and using the expression "Ukrainian exiles" the Daily Mail has now allowed itself the indefensible luxury of making a racist remark against the ethnic Ukrainian community in the UK. We view the mention of money at this stage of the article as extremely insulting and provocative and the implication seems to be that today Division members are receiving (when in fact they are not) their "thirty pieces of silver" for their war time efforts on behalf of the Nazis. Otherwise why make the reference at all? What is the relevance of the monetary information to the story?

Furthermore, having labeled the members of UK based Ukrainian Veterans Association (depicted in the reproduced photograph) as Hitler's henchmen with the blood of millions/hundreds on their hands, etc., the article asks "how many, if any, were individually guilty of cold-blooded murder". How can the Daily Mail permit itself to make such a serious set of allegations over a two-page spread against one ethnic entity - "Ukrainian exiles" living in this country - and then say "if any"?!? Using "if any" looks like a second thought on behalf of the Daily Mail. Weasel words - a means of insinuating and slinging mud without seemingly being responsible for the consequences of one's words!

2.09 "But there is little doubt that elements of the Galizien, which performed disastrously in battle against the Red Army, were ruthlessly efficient when faced with unarmed civilians. Some of the division was made up of already existing auxiliary formations such as the Nightingale Battalion. The Poles claim this unit was responsible for murdering several thousand Jews in Lvov - now part of the Ukraine-in 1941." The Division did not so much "perform disastrously" at Brody but was simply overpowered by the sheer size and scale of the Red Army's unrelenting onslaught. Moreover, the Galician Division was not, as the article alleges, made up of "existing auxiliary formations such as the Nightingale Battalion" since this Battalion was disarmed and disbanded during 1942 and by January 1943 its leaders were either dead, imprisoned or scattered. In any event there is absolutely no evidence provided or available to prove that the Nightingale Battalion was "responsible for murdering several thousand Jews in Lvov... in 1941". So precisely against which "unarmed civilians" was the Galician Division supposed to be "ruthlessly efficient"? The story does not bear scrutiny.

2.10 Regarding the testimony of the then 13 year-old Mieczyslaw Bernacki. We do not dispute that atrocities took place at Huta Pienacka in February 1944. However, Mr Bernacki's testimony is but one version of the events that took place at that time. His testimony ought to be cross referenced with other sources which indicate that Huta Pienacka was, at that time, inhabited by pro-Soviet Polish partisans who turned the village into a back-up base from which, with the support of Soviet partisans, anti-Ukrainian attacks were carried out in neighbouring villages. For the record, in one such attack, for example, partisans from Huta Pienacka killed (among others) a group of unarmed Ukrainian villagers/civilians and brutally tortured their Ukrainian priest before finally ripping his jawbone from his mouth.

Ultimately, following an order from the German command to attack the village for the purposes of destroying the pro-Soviet partisan base, the 4th Regiment of the Galician Division attacked Huta Pienacka on 23 February 1944. A report by the Polish "Armia Krajowa" (National Army) confirms the presence of partisan forces at Huta Pienacka on that day and details battle losses (in contrast to Messrs Allen and Cravens' claim about "unarmed civilians"). Two soldiers of the Division were killed during the ensuing battle. The 4th Regiment then retreated as Polish partisans began to push forward but the latter then came under attack on one flank from the "Siromantsi" troop of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army led by Dmytro Yastrub. Later, a German detachment forcibly moved in and burnt this partisan base down killing most of its inhabitants in the process (although Polish and Soviet publicists persisted in laying the blame for the atrocities on Ukrainians!). Furthermore, a Ukrainian witness to the attack and retreat of the 4th Regiment, M Khronoviat reported to an army committee on 7 March 1943 that "our boys left, only the Germans remained - a separate detachment, which burned the village".

2.11 "Another armed band which later merged with the Galizien was the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. In July 1944, it ravaged Chlaniov, near Lublin, Eastern Poland, after its German commander was killed in a partisan grenade attack nearby."

The Galician Division could not have been performing "disastrously in battle against the Red Army" in July 1944 and at the same time taking part in the events referred to at Chlaniov. The Ukrainian Self Defence Legion, numbering approximately 600 men, was forcibly incorporated into the Galician Division on 6 March 1945, that is to say, two months before the Division surrendered to the Allies. If separate allegations are being proffered against the members of the "Ukrainian Self Defence Legion" for events that may have taken place in July 1944, these should be made separately and not in association with the Galician Division. At this point in time we are unable to confirm or deny the veracity of the claims made with regard to alleged atrocities at Chlaniov.

2.12 "In the autumn of 1944, the Nazis brutally suppressed the Warsaw uprising, killing 200,000 in two months. The Galizien was there, say the Poles. But, like so much else, its former members deny it." No names or dates provided but, of course, the concluding comment had to cast doubt on the assertions made by the Division's former members who by this stage in the article had been completely discredited. Yet again the allegation is incorrect. The Galician Division did not take part in the Warsaw Uprising and the aforesaid allegation cannot seriously be substantiated.

2.13 The Mail claims it received "a list of 48 suspects of the Galizien's 4th Regiment believed to be in Huta Pienacka on the day of the massacre". We have also anonymously received a list of 48 names beginning with Eugen XXXXX and ending with Michel XXXXX. Is this really a list of "suspects" wanted for questioning or is it simply a list of individuals who were officer candidates in the war years?

2.14 It is hardly surprising that the President of the Ukrainian Veterans Association did not wish to speak to the Mail. The tone of the article ventures us to contend that any comment forthcoming from him would have been distorted just as his mere "no comment" elicited the closing damning remark: "For the innocent victims of the Galician Division, there were no police to call on."

3. Supplementary information

In stating our case we wish to draw your attention to the conclusions of the Commission chaired by the Honourable Jules Deschennes in Canada (1986) regarding the Galician Division, to which we referred in our letter to the Daily Mail:

"The Commission accordingly finds that:

56. The Galicia Division (14.Waffengrenadierdivision der SS [gal. Nr. 1]) should not be indicted as a group.

57. The members of the Galicia Division were individually screened for security purposes before admission to Canada.

58. Charges of war crimes against members of the Galicia Division have never been substantiated, either in 1950 when they were first preferred, or in 1984 when they were renewed, or before this Commission.

59. Further, in the absence of evidence of participation in or knowledge of specific war crimes, mere membership in the Galicia Division is insufficient to justify prosecution.

60. No case can be made against members of the Galicia Division for revocation of citizenship or deportation since the Canadian authorities were fully aware of the relevant facts in 1950 and admission to Canada was not granted them because of any false representation, or fraud, or concealment of material circumstances.

61. In any event, of the 217 officers of the Galicia Division denounced by Mr. Simon Wiesenthal to the Canadian government, 187 (i.e., 86 per cent of the list) never set foot in Canada, 11 have died in Canada, 2 have left for another country, no prima facie case has been established against 16 and the last one could not be located."

More recently, publications utilising foreign and Ukrainian documentation/sources, such as, "Galicia Division" (1997) by Major Michael O. Logusz, Major of the US Army Reserves, and "Division Galicia - the history of" (2000) by Andriy Bolianovs'kyi of the National University in Lviv provide extensive accounts on the Division's history and its role in the Ukrainian liberation movement during World War II. These works can be made available to the Press Complaints Commission if necessary in further support of our claim that the article "SS-GB" was biased, prejudicial, inaccurate, distorted and misleading.

4. Concluding remarks

Irrespective of the purported intent of the article in question we maintain that no substantiated cross-referenced evidence has been proffered to support the claim that members of the Galician Division committed atrocities against innocent civilians anywhere and at any time. We maintain that the article contains hearsay and circumstantial evidence, distortions, misrepresentations, half-truths, inaccuracies, confusing elements and falsehoods and that none of these, irrespective of the way they are presented, can form the basis of a credible case against any one person let alone against a whole group of individuals. Unsubstantiated allegations do not become probable facts by default. In the Daily Mail article, with its racist undertone, the good name of the generally fair-minded and law-abiding post-war Ukrainian community in the UK has been deliberately and knowingly tarnished and brought into question. This cannot be the right and proper way for the Daily Mail to go about its business in the multi-cultural society that is Britain today. Speculation, innuendo and smears are not the bastions on which the British justice system was constructed and operates, and should not be used to make baseless allegations, trump up charges and whip up public ill-feeling against innocent members of the British community be their ethnic origin Ukrainian or otherwise. We vehemently protest at this kind of treatment being meted out to the Ukrainian community in this country.

For and on behalf of the
Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain

Lubomyr Mazur PhD
President

Fedir Kurlak
General Secretary


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From the Private Secretary

Home Office
Queen Anne's Gate
London
SW1H 9AT

Fedir Kurlak
General Secretary of the Association
of Ukrainians in Great Britain Ltd
49 Linden Gardens
Notting Hill Gate
London W2 4HG

Dear Mr Kurlak

Thank you for your letter of 18 January to the Home Secretary following the "SS in Britain" television documentary screened on 7 January.

2. The Government believes strongly that all those who commit war crimes and crimes against humanity should be brought to justice whenever possible. As you are aware, the War Crimes Act 1991 allows criminal proceedings to be brought in respect of offences of murder or manslaughter committed in German-controlled territory during the Second World War by people who are now resident in the United Kingdom or are British Citizens. The grave nature of the allegations made in the "SS in Britain" documentary has prompted the Metropolitan Police to initiate an investigation. I understand that they have received the full co-operation of the programme makers and that, to date, there has been no information uncovered to suggest that any individual member of the Galicia Division still resident in the United Kingdom has been involved in crimes of murder or manslaughter.

3. I understand that the Ukrainian community is concerned about the effect of such media coverage. You may know that the immigration Minister, Barbara Roche, met the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United Kingdom on 7 February.

4. The Home Secretary is currently reviewing the scope for greater use of the powers within the immigration and nationality legislation in respect of war criminals but it is too early to say what the outcome of this review will be.

5. I regret that the current commitments of the Home Secretary preclude a meeting with the Association at this time.

Yours sincerely

Dr Mara Goldstein


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2001/03/24
The Independent - London
FOREIGN
Page 2
(Copyright 2001 Independent Newspapers (UK) Limited)

Sir:

SS mine detectors

We had quite a number of members of the former Waffen SS Ukrainian Division through our Army camp in the late Forties ("Straw to pass files on Nazi troops to war crimes investigators", 20 March, 2001). They were all employed on the most dangerous job in the British Army at that time - clearing anti-invasion mines from the beaches and elsewhere, which had been planted in 1940 and spent seven or eight years moving into unknown positions.

I understand that the casualty rate was quite high, but those I spoke to were happy to be doing it and glad not to return to Russia.

I would imagine the deal was perfectly straightforward. They couldn't stay in Italy; the British were upset at returning them to Russia after the experiences with the Cossacks; and we were not happy to be losing more British soldiers after six years of war. If the Ukrainians would clear our mines and take the risks attached, the survivors could stay here.

R T MURRAY
York


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Pope upsets Ukraine by beatifying priests with Nazi links
The Independent - United Kingdom; Jun 27, 2001
BY PATRICK COCKBURN IN LVIV, WEST UKRAINE

MORE THAN half a million people gave Pope John Paul II an ecstatic welcome in the heartland of Ukrainian Catholicism yesterday, their enthusiasm in sharp contrast to the small crowds and protests by the main Orthodox Church which greeted him in Kiev.

The Pope, feebly waving with one hand, drove slowly in his Popemobile through the enormous crowd, which waited for him for six or seven hours at the Hippodrome racecourse in the outskirts of Lviv in western Ukraine. Many shouted "Long live the Pope" in Polish, indicating that they had crossed the nearby border with Poland to see the Pontiff.

At the high point of his visit, the Pope will today beatify 28 Greek Catholics, 27 of whom are regarded as martyrs for their faith under the Soviet Union when the Greek Catholic Church was banned, its priests thrown in prison and many tortured to death. Father Roman Lysko, one of those to be beatified, was arrested by the Soviet secret police in 1949 and disappeared. "We heard one report that he died after he was walled up alive in the prison," said his son Lubomyr yesterday. "But we never found the body."

The Pope's embrace of the Greek Catholics, which survived underground during Soviet times, will also cause controversy because of the church's role during the Second World War. Its charismatic leader at the time was Andrij Sheptytsky, the Metropolitan or head of the Greek Catholic Church for a quarter of a century, who was accused by Russia of supporting the German occupation and a locally recruited SS division, the Galicia.

"We greet the victorious German army that has already taken control over the whole of our region with joy and gratitude for liberation from the enemy," Metropolitan Sheptytsky is quoted as writing in July, 1941, according to Vladislav Petrushko, a Russian theological specialist. He claims that Sheptytsky, along with other Ukrainian leaders, wrote to Hitler on 14 January 1942, pledging their loyalty. He also congratulated the Germans for capturing Kiev.

Lviv, for all its attractive Renaissance and baroque architecture, is at the heart of a region which is soaked in blood. The city is wholly Ukrainian today but in 1939 it was half Polish and more than a third Jewish. Ukrainians made up just 15 per cent of its population.

The Nazis killed most of the Jews and Stalin transferred many of the Poles to parts of eastern Germany he had given to Poland. Memories of past atrocities are not far below the surface. Poland has recently opened an investigation into the massacre of 35,000 Poles in Ukraine by extreme Ukrainian nationalists in 1943 as part of ethnic cleansing.

But there is no doubt that the Greek Catholic Church, with some five million adherents and 1,900 priests, is one of the most vibrant in the Roman Catholic world. "Here the priests are all so young," said Father Andriy Chirovsky, director of a Greek Catholic research institute.

The growing strength of the Greek Catholic Church has implications for the future of Ukraine. It emerged from half a century of persecution with its reputation enhanced. Its members are notoriously nationalistic and anti-Russian. The Pope's visit is seen by both political and religious leaders in Moscow as part of an effort to curtail Russian influence in Ukraine.

Russian journalists noted with suspicion that postcards on sale in Kiev showed the head of John Paul II with the Orthodox cathedral of St Sophia and the Monastery of the Caves in the background. This was taken as an indelicate hint of future papal ambitions to take control of traditional Orthodox sites.

"Orthodox believers have no illusions left about the unity of Christians," writes Komsomolskaya Pravda. "According to the Vatican's version it is possible only under Catholic and western banners." It added that the way religious leaders - with the exception of the main Russian Orthodox Church - bowed and scraped to the Pope during a meeting in Kiev was similar to the way Communist Party activists used to make servile obeisance to Nikita Khrushchev when he was the party leader.


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Independent - London | July 10, 2001

A curious monument with no epitaph sums up the years of bitterness
By Patrick Cockburn in Lviv, Ukraine
02 July 2001

Lviv is a beautiful city full of evil memories. I have always liked cosmopolitan places and, at first sight, the blend of Italian, Austrian and Slavic architecture in the heart of the unofficial capital of western Ukraine gives a pleasing sense of national diversity.

That is a deeply misleading impression. Lviv owes its architectural riches to its position on one of the main political, ethnic and religious fault lines of Europe, where cultures met and clashed over hundreds of years. Once a largely Polish and Jewish city, it is now wholly Ukrainian. In its placid way, the city is a monument to ethnic cleansing and the destructive power of nationalism.

People in Lviv have understandably cultivated a certain amnesia towards the past. Stalin transferred many Poles living in Lviv and western Ukraine to the parts of eastern Germany he added to Poland at the end the war.

That is not the only reason the Poles left. Over the past year, Poland's National Remembrance Institute has been investigating the massacre of 35,000 Polish villagers by west Ukrainian nationalists in 1943.

It is a delicate subject. The Ukrainians I questioned said they had never heard of it. When I asked Wincenty Debicki, an official at the Polish consulate in Lviv, about the killings and the impact of the investigation on Ukrainian-Polish relations, he did not reply directly but, instead, gave a piece of personal biography.

"I myself was born in Lviv," he said. "I remember as a small boy having to hide from Ukrainian nationalist groups with my father in 1944 because we were Poles."

The Ukrainian woman translating his Polish interjected to ask in surprise: "But surely you were frightened of the Germans and Soviets as well?" After a slight hesitation, Mr Debicki agreed to this more politically correct explanation.

There are other signs that historic rivalries have not ended. Traditionally, the Polish gentry were the landowners and the Ukrainians the peasantry in west Ukraine. After years of Austro-Hungarian rule, the region became part of Poland after the First World War. But the cemetery at Lykachiv below a wooded hill on the outskirts of Lviv, where Polish and Ukrainian soldiers killed in 1918-19 are buried, has a curious monument that illustrates the longevity of national sensitivities.

The monument is a piece of rock with nothing written on it. It was originally intended to be the tomb of the Unknown Polish Soldier. An appropriate epitaph was written. It said the Polish soldier had died "in defence of Lviv". The Ukrainians objected strongly. They said this implied Lviv should be Polish. The Poles amended the wording to read that the soldier had died for an independent Poland. Again, the Ukrainians said that, since the Polish soldiers had died on Ukrainian soil, they could not accept this. In the end, the tomb was left without an epitaph.

These differences were put to one side last week when Pope John Paul II visited Ukraine. It was a strange visit.

In Kiev, President Leonid Kuchma, who had invited the Pope, was desperate to milk the visit for all the legitimacy it could give to his notorious corrupt administration. His police were almost ludicrously determined that nothing should go wrong. People were told not to wave from balconies, throw flowers or even wear raincoats, apart from clear plastic ones, in case they should be concealing weapons.

The furious reaction of the Russian Orthodox Church at finding the Pope on its territory shows a battle for influence between Russia and its western neighbours is under way. The Russian ambassador did not turn up to greet the Pope at Kiev airport. Russian journalists chortled at the low turn-out of the followers in the Ukrainian capital. One of them suggested that many of the faithful had only come to eat the shish kebab available after prayers and added, with ponderous humour, that "the tantalising aroma of barbecued meat was much stronger than that of incense".

But in Lviv there were signs that the old Ukrainian-Polish rivalry, which has shaped the history of much of this part of Europe, is coming to an end.

Not only did people wait for five or six hours in the rain for a Polish Pope. There is also a new player on the stage, in the form of the Greek Catholic Church, the strange hybrid, which follows Orthodox rituals and whose priests are allowed to marry, but also recognises the Pope as supreme leader.

In a country where every political institution is discredited, the Greek Catholic Church, with five million members, has emerged alone with credit from the Soviet era. It survived almost half a century of persecution under the Soviet Union. The Pope beatified its martyrs this week. Its priests are young and its seminaries are over-subscribed.

"The government in Ukraine exists quite independently of the people," Vladimir Khrushchak, of the local newspaper Express told me. "It is as if they lived on two different planets." He says Ukrainians are politically passive because they are wholly alienated from the state. This gives the church great influence. For the first time in its history, west Ukraine is close to being ethnically and religiously united.

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