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Sol Littman   Letter 16   17-Oct-1999   Enhancing your Roland and Nachtigall coverage
How astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them that the Nachtigall unit refused to swear loyalty to Germany and the Führer
  October 17, 1999

Sol Littman
Director, Simon Wiesenthal Center
8 King Street East, Suite 710
Toronto, ON
CANADA,  M5C 1B5

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


Sol Littman:

Your Portrayal of the OUN

If there is a single generalization that you recommend most insistently in your Tryzub and Swastika Speech of 31Aug97, it is that the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was pro-German, pro-Nazi, and fanatically loyal in carrying out the Nazi agenda.  You recommend that as Bandera and Melnyk led the OUN, they were simple Fascists, not nationalists as Ukrainians claim.  You recommend that as Roland and Nachtigall were the two chief Ukrainian units within the German army at the start of the invasion of the Soviet Union, then the members of these units were simply Hitlerites:

In your Tryzub and Swastika Speech, you say that the OUN was not primarily motivated by Ukrainian nationalism:

When you talk to Ukrainians today, they will tell you that Melnyk and Bandera were great nationalist heroes, who wanted nothing more than to free the Ukraine from the Bolsheviks, and to create an independent Ukraine.  Don't believe them!  Don't believe them!  Both branches of the OUN were intrinsically Fascist.  Both believed the Ukrainians were a superior race.  Both believed in rule by an inspired, charismatic dictator.  Both proclaimed Jews as their major enemy, and both uttered "Jew-Bolshevik" as if it were one word.


In your Tryzub and Swastika Speech, you say that the OUN was pro-Nazi and pro-German:

Now there's a point that I have to make here.  These were not ordinary policemen.  These were not traffic cops, or people who went out to look for people who robbed somebody of sixteen kopeks.  Their job was very, very specific.  It dealt with Jews.  It dealt with rounding them up, ghettoizing them, and then massacring them.  Also, the Germans didn't recruit just anybody.  All these people were volunteers.  But the Germans were selective.  Now what were their criteria?  Well, they wanted to know first of all that the person had some political experience in which they demonstrated they were pro-Nazi and pro-German.  And for this, the OUN members were the most qualified, because they were certainly pro-Nazi and pro-German.  So in the Ukraine, most of the people who served in police auxiliary units were ideologically OUN members.


In your Tryzub and Swastika Speech, you say that the OUN hung pictures of Hitler on their church walls:

The pre-war Ukrainian community in Canada was divided up into thirds, approximately.  [...]  One third were out-and-out Fascists.  They had pictures of Hitler on the church wall.  They were all members, supporters of one or of the other branch of the OUN.


In your Tryzub and Swastika Speech, you say that the OUN was committed to the Fascist ideology:

I don't wanna stigmatize or condemn a whole people.  This is why my emphasis is on the OUN and the Division, because I believe it was those people largely who were committed to the Fascist ideology that were the most dangerous and the most vicious.


Some Discrepant Observations

However, even a quick scanning of the historical record reveals that your depiction above distorts the OUN beyond recognition.

How astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them that the Nachtigall unit refused to swear loyalty to Germany and the Führer:

When the Germans attempted to have Nachtigall swear loyalty to Germany and the Führer, Shukhevych lodged a formal protest.  Only after this step had been taken and a telephone call made to Bandera were Nachtigall's soldiers able to swear allegiance to Ukraine and the OUN-B leadership.
Myroslav Yurkevich, Galician Ukrainians in German military formations and in the German administration, in Yury Boshyk (editor), Ukraine During World War II: History and its Aftermath, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1986, pp. 67-87, p. 71


How astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them that upon the occupation of Lviv, the OUN disrupted Nazi aims by proclaiming Ukrainian independence:

When the invasion occurred on 22 June 1941, Nachtigall advanced with the Wehrmacht to the Galician capital, Lviv, reaching it on 30 June.  Roland was sent with the German forces to southern Bessarabia.  In Lviv, the OUN-B acted immediately to realize its political plans, hastily summoning a "National Assembly" and proclaiming an independent Ukrainian state in the name of Stepan Bandera and his lieutenant, Iaroslav Stetsko, who was given the title "Head of the National Congress."  Nachtigall was represented in the congress by Shukkevych.  The OUN-B also succeeded in obtaining a statement of support from the Ukrainian Catholic primate, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky.

Although the Germans had not been consulted about the proclamation, OUN-B leaders believed that the Wehrmacht would accept the fait accompli in order to gain Ukrainian support on the Eastern front.
Myroslav Yurkevich, Galician Ukrainians in German military formations and in the German administration, in Yury Boshyk (editor), Ukraine During World War II: History and its Aftermath, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1986, pp. 67-87, pp. 71-72


How astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them that the Nazi response to the proclamation of Ukrainian independence was to begin arresting and murdering members of the OUN:

They [the OUN-B leaders] failed to understand, however, that German policy in the East was determined by the Nazi party, which considered Ukraine a territory for German exploitation and colonization; the Nazis regarded Ukrainians, like other Slavs, as subhumans who were to serve them as slaves.  Accordingly, the German secret police proceeded to arrest the OUN-B leaders and demand that they withdraw the proclamation of independence.  Bandera and Stetsko refused and spent most of the war in German prisons and concentration camps.  The Melnyk faction (OUN-M), which had intended to proclaim Ukrainian independence in Kiev, was hunted down before it could proceed with its plan; Melnyk was kept under house arrest and sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944.  After having arrested the nationalist leaders, the Germans began a campaign of wholesale repression against the OUN, imprisoning or killing as many of its members as they could track down.
Myroslav Yurkevich, Galician Ukrainians in German military formations and in the German administration, in Yury Boshyk (editor), Ukraine During World War II: History and its Aftermath, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1986, pp. 67-87, p. 72


How astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them that when the OUN saw that the Nazis would not support Ukrainian independence, it waged war on the Nazis:

In 1943 Shukhevych became commaner-in-chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) (Ukrainska povstanska armiia), remaining at this post until March 1950, when he and his men were surrounded and killed by the Soviet secret police.

The UPA was initiated by an independent activist in Volhynia, Taras Borovets, who established a Polissian Sich, which attacked retreating Soviet forces in 1941.  Conceiving of this Sich as the nucleus of a national army, Borovets allied himself with the OUN-M and, in the spring of 1942, undertook anti-German resistance.  By that autumn, however, the OUN-B had begun its own resistance to the Germans and in 1943 managed to seize control of the UPA, which had grown to a peak strength of about 40,000.

Since the UPA was now fighting the Germans, who made a determined but unsuccessful attempt to destroy it, the nationalist underground was obliged to shed any ideological affinities with totalitarianism.  In 1943, both the UPA and the OUN-B adopted official programmatic statements condemning Nazi and Soviet imperialism and affirming the nationalist movement's commitment to political pluralism and to the traditional democratic freedoms associated with Western liberalism.
Myroslav Yurkevich, Galician Ukrainians in German military formations and in the German administration, in Yury Boshyk (editor), Ukraine During World War II: History and its Aftermath, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1986, pp. 67-87, pp. 72-73


How astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them that Roland and Nachtigall were not the loyal and obedient servants of Hitler that you portrayed:

Upon the arrest of the OUN-B leaders, Shukhevych addressed a protest to the Wehrmacht general staff, but this brought no positive result.  The Germans, concerned that Nachtigall and Roland might rebel against them, withdrew the two units from the front lines to Frankfurt an der Oder, where they were united into a single formation, Schutzmannschaftbataillon (Guard Battalion) No. 201.  In April 1942 the battalion was sent to Belorussia to fight Soviet partisans.  Its formal agreement to fight in the German ranks was to expire at the end of 1942, and the Germans insisted on renewal of the agreement in November of that year.  The officers and soldiers refused, claiming that promises to give them equal rights with German soldiers and to provide assistance to their families had not been kept.  The battalion was then dissolved, its officers arrested and imprisoned in Lviv.
Myroslav Yurkevich, Galician Ukrainians in German military formations and in the German administration, in Yury Boshyk (editor), Ukraine During World War II: History and its Aftermath, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1986, pp. 67-87, p. 72


How astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them that the Nazi attempt to place some of the Galicia Division recruits into police units failed:

Some recruits to the division were assigned to five police regiments, all of whose officers were Germans, and which underwent training near Grynia and Bialstok and at various locations in France.  In the course of their training, some of the soldiers were used against the French Resistance (Forces Françaises de l'Intérieur).  Having no wish to fight the French, the Ukrainian soldiers made plans to desert to the Resistance but were arrested before they could do so.  The train taking them out of France came under fire from Allied bombers, and a number of soldiers managed to escape.  Led by Lieutenant Osyp Krukovsky, they joined the Resistance.  Following protests by Wächter, the Ukrainian Central Committee, and the Military Committee against the formation of police regiments, they were dissolved and their personnel returned to the division.
Myroslav Yurkevich, Galician Ukrainians in German military formations and in the German administration, in Yury Boshyk (editor), Ukraine During World War II: History and its Aftermath, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1986, pp. 67-87, p. 78


And how astonished your audience would have been to learn that you hid from them the following Nazi poster:

Proclamation issued on 21 January 1944 by the SS and Police Leader in Galicia informing the local population of death sentences passed against prisoners convicted of OUN and UPA membership and of sheltering Jews.  Half of the prisoners had already been executed; the others were being held as hostages, with the promise of a pardon if attacks on Germans ceased.  (Archives of the SP UHVR Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council, New York)
Myroslav Yurkevich, Galician Ukrainians in German military formations and in the German administration, in Yury Boshyk (editor), Ukraine During World War II: History and its Aftermath, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1986, pp. 67-87, p. 79


Please Disclose Your Documentation

If you hold yourself out to be either a scholar or a historian or a journalist and not a propagandist or a hatemonger, then do today what you should have done on the day you delivered your Tryzub and Swastika Speech of 31Aug97 supply the evidence which justifies your accusations.



Lubomyr Prytulak


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