"The Ugly Face of Freedom"
"The church and government of Ukraine have tried to ease people's fears, suggesting that things are not as serious as they might appear; that Ukrainians, despite the allegations, are not genetically anti-Semitic. But to a Jew living here, or to one who only remembers the place with horror, such statements are little comfort among the flickering torches of Lvov." — Morley Safer
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of the 60 Minutes story titled
"THE UGLY FACE OF FREEDOM"
broadcast by CBS (Columbia Broadcasting System) television
on Sunday, 23 October 1994
MORLEY SAFER, co-host: The collapse of communism, the breakup of the Soviet Union, have brought independence and a measure of freedom to more than a dozen new states. The most powerful is Ukraine, a nation of 52 million people, the world's third-largest nuclear power, and now free after 300 years of outside rule. But Ukraine is hardly a unified entity. The south, Crimea, wants independence. The eastern part feels the pull to Russia. And the west, where we go tonight, is on a binge of ethnic nationalism. "Ukraine for Ukrainians" can have a frightening ring to those not ethnically correct, especially in a nation that barely acknowledges its part in Hitler's final solution.
[Footage of Flower Garden Square]
SAFER: [Voiceover] In a flower-garden square in the city of Lvov, just about every day of the week, the sounds of freedom can be heard, men and women giving voice to their particular view of how the new independent Ukraine should be governed. They disagree about plenty, but do have two things in common: their old enemy, Russian communism.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1 IN FLOWER GARDEN SQUARE: [Through translator, barely audible. This statement was not provided in the CBS transcript of the broadcast.] A Russian shot my brother!
SAFER: And their old, old enemy, the Jews.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2 IN FLOWER GARDEN SQUARE: [Through translator] We Ukrainians not have to rely on America and kikes. [Nearby spectators laugh at him. Although the translation was ungrammatical, the original Ukrainian was grammatical, and so the translation should have been "We Ukrainians do not have to rely on...."]
[Footage of religious Jews at prayer]
SAFER: [Voiceover] Yaakov Bleich left the United States five years ago to take over as the chief rabbi for the Ukraine.
RABBI YAAKOV BLEICH [Ukraine]: There is, obviously, a lot of hatred in these people that are — that are expounding these things and saying — you know — obviously, if someone — you know? — screams, "Let's drown the Russians in Jewish blood," there isn't too much love lost there.
[Footage of religious Jews at prayer; a march; war footage of Jews being rounded up; a photograph of children; Simon Wiesenthal; a photograph of bodies lying in snow]
SAFER: [Voiceover] The Jews of Lvov have reason to be concerned. These are the kinds of scenes they've been seeing lately — Ukrainian ultra-nationalist parties asserting themselves now that Soviet communism is gone.
UNA UNSO LEADER: Slava natsiyi! Slava natsiyi! [meaning "Glory to the nation" twice — no translation provided]
SAFER: [Voiceover] Their chants and banners mimic another more fearsome time.
UNA UNSO LEADER: Slava natsiyi! [meaning "Glory to the nation!" — no translation provided]
SAFER: The place they're marching in was once called "Adolph Hitler Square." The same square greeted Hitler's troops 50 years ago as liberators. Thousands of Ukrainians joined the SS and marched off to fight for Naziism. In the process, they helped round up Lvov's Jews, helped march more than 140,000 of them to extinction — virtually every Jew in Lvov. Among those who watched in horror was a young man who was to become the world's number one Nazi hunter — Simon Wiesenthal. Now living in Vienna, he remembers that even before the Germans arrived, Ukrainian police went on a three-day killing spree.
WIESENTHAL: And in this three days in Lvov alone, between 5 and 6 thousand Jews was killed.
SAFER: I get the impression from people that the actions of the Ukrainians, if anything, were worse than the Germans.
WIESENTHAL: About the civilians, I cannot say this. About the Ukrainian police — Yes!
[War footage; footage of a Galicia Division reunion]
SAFER: Many of the Ukrainian men of Lvov who marched off as members of the SS never returned — killed fighting for Hitler. But last summer, a good number of the survivors, veterans of the SS Galicia Division, did return for a reunion laid on by the Lvov City Council. Ukrainian SS veterans now living in Canada, the United States, and Ukraine. Nowhere, not even in Germany, are the SS so openly celebrated. And for this reunion, Cardinal Lubachivsky, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, gave his blessing, just as a predecessor did to the SS more than 50 years ago.
SAFER: Did you not hold a ceremony here for the Galician SS?
SAFER: For the men who fought with the Germans?
SAFER: And that you held a mass for these people!
LUBACHIVSKY: No. See ... we didn't fight anybody here. We fought against the Russians in Austria and Yugoslavia. And we were under Germans, we had to do whatever they wanted. We could not — couldn't do anything what we wanted ourselves, really.
SAFER: But even before the Germans entered Lvov, the Ukrainian militia, the police, killed 3,000 people in 2 days here.
LUBACHIVSKY: It is not true!
SAFER: It's horribly true to Simon Wiesenthal. Like thousands of Lvov Jews, his mother was led to her death by the Ukrainian police.
These are remnants of a film the Germans made of Ukrainian brutality. The German high command described the Ukrainian behaviour as "praiseworthy."
WIESENTHAL: My wife's mother was shot to death because she could not go so fast.
SAFER: She couldn't keep up with the rest of the prisoners.
WIESENTHAL: Yes! She was shot to death by a Ukrainian policeman because she couldn't walk fast.
SAFER: It was the Lvov experience that compelled Wiesenthal to seek out the guilty, to bring justice.
WIESENTHAL: Because I feel guilty that I survive. Why you and why not the others? Those people they was better than you, they was more intelligent as you, they could give the society more than you are doing. And this complex was so that I must speak — speak in the name of this people they cannot speak more because they was murdered.
SAFER: The names Auschwitz and Belsen and Buchenwald may be better known, but this place, the Janowska road camp in the city of Lvov, barely a mile from the Opera House, has its share of infamy. 200,000 Jews from the city and surrounding communities were killed here. Today, it serves as a prison for common criminals. Nothing marks what happened here.
There is a stone next door to the camp. This was a place called "The Sands" — a killing ground where 200,000 bodies were dumped into a ravine. It's been filled in, and is now used as a school [pause for effect] for training police dogs.
In Western Ukraine, at least, Hitler's dream had been realized. It was Judenfrei, free of Jews. In the 50 years since, Jews have drifted in from other parts of the old Soviet Union, about 7,000 now in Lvov. For some Ukrainians, that's 7,000 too many.
BLEICH: Yeah, well it's not a secret. They're saying that they want the Jews out. They want the Jews out, they want the Russians out, and they want everybody else out that's not an ethnic Ukrainian.
SAFER: [Voiceover] The group marching is Una Unso, a political party whose motto is "force and order."
UNA UNSO LEADER: Slava natsiyi! [meaning "Glory to the nation!" — no translation provided]
SAFER: Three of its members, including the man shouting orders, were elected members of Ukraine's national parliament. A sister party, the Social Nationalists, calls for the need to liquidate certain people. Most of the parties had their own newspapers. The most popular and the only daily, is called For a Free Ukraine. It blames the Jews for Ukraine's current economic condition. The editor-in-chief says his paper is not anti-Semitic, but he also says:
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF [unidentified]: [Through translator] Ukrainian villagers who represent the spirit of the Ukraine have long considered Jews to be exploiters, and this is reflected in jokes and anecdotes. In terms of the Soviet Union, which is abbreviated SSSR, that stands for "three kikes and a Russian."
BLEICH: There's an article that came out just two weeks ago where they tried to prove that Lenin was really Jewish and his real name was really Chaim Goldman. But there was an article by Sherbatiuk calling for mass murder and extermination of all Jews or Russians who don't leave the country by a certain time. People here have been trained to believe the press, so they'll believe that Lenin was Jewish. And they'll believe that — you know — anything else that they're told because they read it and they saw it in print. So, they are frightening.
[Footage of religious Jews at prayer]
SAFER: [Voiceover] The message is clear to Lvov's Jews. They're leaving as quickly as they can get exit permits. There have been incidents. Rabbi Bleich's apartment was firebombed.
BLEICH: There have been a number of physical attacks. In a small town, two elderly Jews were attacked at knifepoint and stabbed because they are Jews and because of the myth that all Jews must have money hidden in their homes. The same thing was in west Ukraine, the Carpathian region. These are very, very frightening facts, because it's — again that stereotype that we mentioned before, when that leads someone to really — to — to stab an older couple and leave them helpless, and — you know? — they left them for dead. That means that we have serious problems.
[Footage of Ukrainian girls dancing]
SAFER: [Voiceover] As troubling to Jews as nasty incidents and verbal abuse are the heroes and symbols chosen by this new nation. Street names have been changed. There is now a Petliura Street. To Ukrainians, Simon Petliura was a great general, but to Jews, he's the man who slaughtered 60,000 Jews in 1919.
[Footage of a statue of Roman Shukhevych, a ceremony; statue of Stepan Bandera, street name signs; plaques]
SAFER: [Voiceover] Roman Shukhevych is also memorialized. He was deputy commander of SS Division Nightingale. And then there's Stephan Bandera. To Ukrainians, Bandera is the father of the modern state. Peace Street in Lvov has been renamed Bandera Street. He's considered a great patriot even though the Jews remember him as the leader of a notorious army of murderers.
BLEICH: Now when someone puts up as his hero someone who we consider a murderer, and you respect them even though we understand you are not respect him because he was a murderer — whatever, that does send shivers down — you know — down your spine.
[Footage of a farmer working his field; women working a field; nuclear weapons; troops marching]
SAFER: [Voiceover] The western Ukraine is fertile ground for hatred. Independence only underlined its backwardness — uneducated peasants, deeply superstitious, in possession of this bizarre anomaly: nuclear weapons capable of mass destruction thousands of miles away — the Soviet legacy!
[Footage of cadets tramping into a classroom]
SAFER: [Voiceover] Western Ukraine also has a long, dark history of blaming its poverty, its troubles, on others.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF [unidentified]: [Through translator] Kikes have better chanced here than even the original population.
SAFER: Than the Ukrainians.
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF [unidentified]: [Through translator] Yes. This newspaper considers the government's chief task should be the well-being of the Ukrainian population, first and foremost.
[Footage of a Saint Volodymyr's cathedral in Kyiv]
SAFER: [Voiceover] The cardinal's deputy, Monsignor Dacko, denies traditional anti-Semitism in the Ukraine, but in his next breath, he tries to explain it.
MONSIGNOR DACKO [Deputy Cardinal]: The Jews in — in our history predominantly identified themselves with the ruling class. For example, in the city of Lviv itself, before 1939, one-third of the population was Jewish, and practically the entire businesses were in their hands. And in the eyes of the peasants, to some — some extent, the Jews was — was looked upon as an exploiter of this population. Nevertheless, Ukrainian — Ukraine, as a political force, never had the means or the strength, if I could put it brutally, to — to combat or to even — to persecute the Jews. What happened during World War II is a sad history and there were also Ukrainians who were guards or perhaps persecuted the Jews. But identifying the Ukrainians as a strictly anti — anti-Semitic society is an injustice.
[Footage of a church service; religious Jews at prayer; marchers]
SAFER: [Voiceover] The church and government of Ukraine have tried to ease people's fears, suggesting that things are not as serious as they might appear; that Ukrainians, despite the allegations, are not genetically anti-Semitic. But to a Jew living here, or to one who only remembers the place with horror, such statements are little comfort among the flickering torches of Lvov.
WIESENTHAL: [Looking at TV monitor showing marchers in Lviv] Hmm. Not to believe!
SAFER: What's your reaction to this?
WIESENTHAL: They have not changed!