Sol Littman   Letter 12   08-Oct-1999   Hitler was surprised
"The Austrian Ruthenians were pacifists.  They were lambs, not wolves.  They were miserable even in the Austrian Army." Adolf Hitler
  October 08, 1999

Sol Littman
Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center
8 King Street East, Suite 710
Toronto, ON

Tel: (416) 864-9735
Fax: (416) 864-1083

Sol Littman:

In your Tryzub and Swastika Speech of 31Aug97, you portray the Galicia Division as fanatically loyal to Nazism, as reliably performing the vilest deeds that the Nazis allocated to them (like killing Ukrainian women and children), as being utilized in a diversity of actions throughout Europe, and as receiving high praise from senior Nazi leadership.

The passage below, however, paints an entirely different picture:

During the night of March 23-24, 1945, with the Russians less than 100 miles from Berlin, Hitler held a conference in the living quarters of his underground bunker.  The proceedings were taken down stenographically and the record provides us with Hitler's own final assessment of the eastern SS.

HITLER:  One never knows what's floating around.  I've just heard, to my surprise, that a Ukrainian [Waffen] SS-Division has suddenly turned up.  I knew absolutely nothing about this Ukrainian [Waffen] SS-Division.

GÖHLER:  [SS Liaison Officer]  It has been in existence for a long time.

HITLER:  But it has never been mentioned at any of our conferences.  Or do you recall otherwise?

GÖHLER:  No, I don't remember.


HITLER:  [In reference to foreign units in general and the Ukrainian Division in particular]  Either the unit is reliable or it isn't reliable.  At the moment I can't even create new formations in Germany because I have no weapons.  Therefore it is idiocy to give weapons to a Ukrainian division which is not completely reliable.  I would much rather take their weapons away and set up a new German division.  I assume that it is outstandingly equipped, probably much better armed than most of the German divisions we are creating at present.

BURGDORF:  [General and Chief Wehrmacht Adjutant to the Füuhrer]  It is the same with the Latvian 20th [sic].  It also collapsed immediately down there [Silesia].

DE MAIZIERE:  [Lieutenant Colonel on the General Staff]  The Latvian is fighting in Courland at the moment, and quite well at that.  It was the Estonian [20th Waffen-Grenadierdivision der SS (estn. Nr. 1)] down there.

BURGDORF:  Yes, it was the Estonian that disintegrated immediately.  One has to look at it also from a psychological viewpoint.  A bit too much has been demanded of these people.

HITLER:  After all, why should they still fight?  They are far from their homeland.


HITLER:  [...]  The whole business is nonsense.  If one has a surplus of weapons, one can permit oneself such amusements for propaganda purposes.  But if one has no such surplus [it] is simply not justifiable.


HITLER:  [Again referring to the Ukrainian-Galicia Division]  If it is composed of [former] Austrian Ruthenians [Western Ukrainians living within the Austro-Hungarian empire prior to WW II], one can do nothing other than immediately to take away their weapons.  The Austrian Ruthenians were pacifists.  They were lambs, not wolves.  They were miserable even in the Austrian Army.  The whole business is delusion.


HITLER:  I don't want to maintain that nothing can be done with these foreigners.  Something can indeed be made of them.  But it requires time.  If one had them for six or ten years and controlled their homelands as the old monarchy did, they would naturally become good soldiers.  But if one gets them when their homelands lie somewhere over there [in enemy territory]--why should they be expected to fight?

George H. Stein, The Waffen SS: Hitler's Elite Guard at War, 1939-1945, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 1966, pp. 194-195.  My own deletions or insertions are indicated in bold red; those that are not in bold red can be attributed to Stein.  The back cover of Stein's book provides the following information about the author:

George H. Stein is Vice President for Academic Affairs at the State University of New York, Binghamton, where he also teaches history.

The above passage clashes with your depiction of the Galicia Division in the following respects:

(1) The Galicia Division's lack of accomplishments on behalf of Nazism led to its being concealed from Hitler.

Hitler discovered the existence of the Division inadvertently, only in the final days of the war, leading to the supposition that his staff had been concealing the existence of the Division from him.  The only motive for the staff to have concealed the Division from Hitler was that scarce resources had been allocated to it, which its performance did not justify.  In other words, when the time arrived to itemize the accomplishments of the Division on behalf of the Nazi cause, the military staff could find nothing to say.

(2) Ukrainians historically did not support German or Austrian military causes.

Hitler understood that there existed a disinclination on the part of Ukrainians to support German or Austrian war machines, and when he proposed this generalization, his staff was unable to offer any contrary observations.

(3) Ukrainians could be depended upon to fight only for Ukraine.

Hitler understood that cooperation with German or Austrian war efforts might be counted upon only where Ukrainians were fighting on their own territory, presumably in defense of their own homeland.

The above depiction of the Galicia Division clashes markedly with the one you present in your Tryzub and Swastika Speech of 31Aug97.  In order to fully evaluate the merits of the many accusations which you level against the Galicia Division, it will be necessary for you to disclose the evidence on which your accusations are based.  You have had more than two years since your Tryzub and Swastika Speech in which you could have done so, and your doing so without further delay has become a matter of urgency.

Lubomyr Prytulak