Morley Safer   Letter 13   04-Jul-1999   The Wiesenthal-Safer Calumny
"Thus, it is possible that you contributed to Maksym Tsarenko losing his hands, and to Volodymyr Katelnytsky together with his mother, and Borys Derevyanko, losing their lives." Lubomyr Prytulak
Additional information on the Lviv massacre can be found in the Lubomyr Prytulak 28-Oct-1999 letter to Morley Safer, and also in the writing of Alfred M. de Zayas, The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 1939-1945.  Statistics compiled from the work of Yuri Shapoval throw light on the ethnic and religious composition of the NKVD..
July 4, 1999

Morley Safer
60 Minutes, CBS Television
51 W 52nd Street
New York, NY
USA       10019

Morley Safer:

You Broadcast to 30 Million 60 Minutes Viewers that in the Days Prior to German Occupation, Ukrainians Killed Jews

In your 23Oct94 60 Minutes broadcast, The Ugly Face of Freedom, you joined with Simon Wiesenthal in charging that in the days preceding the arrival of German forces in June 1941, Lviv Ukrainians killed thousands of Jews:

SAFER:  He [Simon Wiesenthal] remembers that even before the Germans arrived, Ukrainian police went on a 3-day killing spree.

WIESENTHAL:  And in this 3 days in Lvov alone between 5 and 6 thousand Jews was killed.


SAFER:  But even before the Germans entered Lvov, the Ukrainian militia, the police, killed 3,000 people in 2 days here.

Some 60 Minutes viewers may have been struck by the observation that while the 60 Minutes expert witness Simon Wiesenthal claimed that the number of Jews killed was "between 5 and 6 thousand" in three days, you supposedly the neutral interviewer chose to reduce the number killed to "3,000" and the duration of the killing to two days but without informing the viewer on what grounds you did so.  One wonders what reason you would have had for undermining the testimony of your chief and only witness.  One wonders what superior authority you discovered for your revised statistic, and why you did not bring this superior authority forward to testify in front of the CBS cameras instead of Simon Wiesenthal whose testimony you apparently distrusted and chose to contradict.  And one wonders that you could have such low regard for the intelligence of 60 Minutes viewers that you would broadcast discrepant accounts without explaining the discrepancy.

However, I Can't Find Anyone Else Substantiating the Wiesenthal-Safer Pre-German Lviv Pogrom

In my reading, I have yet to come across a single account which supports the Wiesenthal-Safer claim of anywhere from 3,000 Jews killed in 2 days to 5,000-6,000 Jews killed in 3 days in Lviv during the pre-German interval.  Had the Wiesenthal-Safer pogrom taken place, then it would have been one of the biggest pogroms of the war, and possibly the very biggest, and thus obligatory to describe in every history of the Holocaust, if not in every history of the Second World War.  What I found, in contrast, was statements contradicting the possibility of the Wiesenthal-Safer pogrom, most notably the following three made by Raul Hilberg:

From the Ukraine Einsatzkommando 6 of Einsatzgruppe C reported as follows:
Almost nowhere can the population be persuaded to take active steps against the Jews.  This may be explained by the fear of many people that the Red Army may return.  Again and again this anxiety has been pointed out to us.  Older people have remarked that they had already experienced in 1918 the sudden retreat of the Germans.  In order to meet the fear psychosis, and in order to destroy the myth [...] which, in the eyes of many Ukrainians, places the Jew in the position of the wielder of political power, Einsatzkommando 6 on several occasions marched Jews before their execution through the city.  Also, care was taken to have Ukrainian militiamen watch the shooting of Jews.
This "deflation" of the Jews in the public eye did not have the desired effect.  After a few weeks, Einsatzgruppe C complained once more that the inhabitants did not betray the movements of hidden Jews.  The Ukrainians were passive, benumbed by the "Bolshevist terror."  Only the ethnic Germans in the area were busily working for the Einsatzgruppe.  (Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 1961, p. 202)

The Slavic population stood estranged and even aghast before the unfolding spectacle of the "final solution."  There was on the whole no impelling desire to cooperate in a process of such utter ruthlessness.  The fact that the Soviet regime, fighting off the Germans a few hundred miles to the east, was still threatening to return, undoubtedly acted as a powerful restraint upon many a potential collaborator.  (Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 1985, p. 308)

First, truly spontaneous pogroms, free from Einsatzgruppen influence, did not take place; all outbreaks were either organized or inspired by the Einsatzgruppen.  Second, all pogroms were implemented within a short time after the arrival of the killing units.  They were not self-perpetuating, nor could new ones be started after things had settled down.  (Raul Hilberg, The Destruction of the European Jews, 1985, p. 312)

Fearing that substantiation for the Wiesenthal-Safer Lviv pogrom did exist somewhere and that I had merely overlooked it, I made enquiry to leading Holocaust historian, Raul Hilberg, on 15Sep97.  Professor Hilberg was good enough in his reply of 15Dec97 to outline for me instances that he knew of anti-Jewish activity conducted in that area at that time, and none of these instances gave credence to the Wiesenthal-Safer Lviv pogrom.

Perhaps the most telling piece of evidence that the Wiesenthal-Safer Lviv pogrom was a fabrication is unearthed upon trying to substantiate it in Simon Wiesenthal's own writing.  In one place, Simon Wiesenthal has the anti-Jewish activity postdating the arrival of the Germans, and mentions neither the number of fatalities nor the duration:

The Ukrainian police ... had played a disastrous role in Galicia following the entry of the German troops at the end of June and the beginning of July 1941.  (Simon Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance, 1989, p. 34, emphasis added)

And later in the same account, Simon Wiesenthal does mention a Lviv pogrom of three day's duration, but again without mentioning the number of fatalities, and again unambiguously placing it after the German occupation:

Thousands of detainees were shot dead in their cells by the retreating Soviets.  This gave rise to one of the craziest accusations of that period: among the strongly anti-Semitic population the rumour was spread by the Ukrainian nationalists that all Jews were Bolsheviks and all Bolsheviks were Jews.  Hence it was the Jews who were really to blame for the atrocities committed by the Soviets.

All the Germans needed to do was to exploit this climate of opinion.  It is said that after their arrival they gave the Ukrainians free rein, for three days, to 'deal' with the Jews.  (Simon Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance, 1989, p. 36, emphasis added)

Also, whereas on your 60 Minutes broadcast you gave the impression that Simon Wiesenthal was making his appearance on 60 Minutes in the role of an eyewitness to the Wiesenthal-Safer Lviv Pogrom, or at least as a researcher who had documented it, yet in the quotation immediately above, Simon Wiesenthal's use of "It is said that" gives the contrasting impression that he is no more than passing along a rumor concerning events that he has neither witnessed nor verified.

In conclusion, the Wiesenthal-Safer story of a massive pre-German Lviv pogrom is not supported in historical writing, and is even contradicted by other testimony, some of it leading Holocaust historian Raul Hilberg's, and some of it your own expert witness Simon Wiesenthal's.  Thus, unless you are able to substantiate the Wiesenthal-Safer pre-German Lviv pogrom, you will invite the conclusion that it never took place, and that your implanting it into the minds of 30 million 60 Minutes viewers constituted an attempt on the part of two individuals Simon Wiesenthal and yourself to fabricate a piece of history.

In Fact, the Consensus Seems to be that in the Days Prior to German Occupation, it was the NKVD that was Killing Ukrainians

In contrast to what appears to be a lack of substantiation of the Wiesenthal-Safer story that in the days prior to German occupation Ukrainians were murdering Jews, I do in my reading keep stumbling across quite a different story that in the days prior to German occupation, it was the NKVD that was murdering Ukrainians.  Below are 22 such statements.  These statements were discovered not through any systematic or exhaustive search, but rather only through casual reading.  A systematic and exhaustive search would turn up a much larger number of such statements.

In order to demonstrate that the NKVD had a general policy of killing Ukrainians prior to retreating, of which the Lviv massacre was but a single instance, I include descriptions of such killings in several locations.

"NKVD," in case you are interested, is an acronym for the Russian "Narodny Komisariat Vnutrenikh Del," which translates as "National Commissariat of Internal Affairs," and which bland title gives no hint of the NKVD's true role.

Please note that the block quotation immediately below is attributable to Simon Wiesenthal, and that in it he demonstrates an awareness of the NKVD massacre of Ukrainians, such that omitting mention of this massacre on your 23Oct94 60 Minutes broadcast, The Ugly Face of Freedom, must be considered not an oversight, but a willful suppression of relevant information:

(1) Thousands of detainees were shot dead.

When the German attack came on 22 June the Soviets had no time to take with them the people they had locked up.  So they simply killed them.  Thousands of detainees were shot dead in their cells by the retreating Soviets.  (Simon Wiesenthal, Justice Not Vengeance, 1989, p. 35)

(2) The NKVD burned prisons with prisoners in them.

While the movement to the East was taking place, the NKVD carried out mass arrests and executions, chiefly of Ukrainians especially those who tried to avoid evacuation.  In the jails most prisoners whose period of imprisonment was more than three years were shot; others were evacuated if possible.  In several cities the NKVD burned prisons with prisoners in them.  (Volodymyr Kubijovyc, editor, Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopaedia, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1963, Volume I, p. 878, Vsevolod Holubnychy and H. M. wrote this section)

(3) Succeeded in annihilating some 10,000 political prisoners.

The Bolsheviks succeeded in annihilating some 10,000 political prisoners in Western Ukraine before and after the outbreak of hostilities (massacres took place in the prisons in Lviv, Zolochiv, Rivne, Dubno, Lutsk, etc.).  (Volodymyr Kubijovyc, editor, Ukraine: A Concise Encyclopaedia, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, Volume 1, p. 886)

(4) Mainly members of the city's [Lviv's] intelligentsia.

Before fleeing the German advance the Soviet occupational regime murdered thousands of Ukrainian civilians, mainly members of the city's [Lviv's] intelligentsia.  (Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Volume 3, p. 222)

(5) NKVD slaughtered their prisoners en masse.

The Soviets' hurried retreat had tragic consequences for thousands of political prisoners in the jails of Western Ukraine.  Unable to evacuate them in time, the NKVD slaughtered their prisoners en masse during the week of 22-29 June 1941, regardless of whether they were incarcerated for major or minor offenses.  Major massacres occurred in Lviv, Sambir, and Stanyslaviv in Galicia, where about 10,000 prisoners died, and in Rivne and Lutsk in Volhynia, where another 5000 perished.  Coming on the heels of the mass deportations and growing Soviet terror, these executions added greatly to the West Ukrainians' abhorrence of the Soviets.  (Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, 1994, p. 461)

(6) Liquidated with a shot at the scruff of the neck.

Right after the entry we were shown 2,400 dead bodies of Ukrainians liquidated with a shot at the scruff of the neck at the city jail of Lemberg [Lviv] by the Soviets prior to their marching off.  (Hans Frank, In the Face of the Gallows, p. 406)

(7) The city stank.

In Lvov, several thousand prisoners had been held in three jails.  When the Germans arrived on 29 June, the city stank, and the prisons were surrounded by terrified relatives.  Unimaginable atrocities had occurred inside.  The prisons looked like abattoirs.  It had taken the NKVD a week to complete their gruesome task before they fled.  (Gwyneth Hughes and Simon Welfare, Red Empire: The Forbidden History of the USSR, 1990, p. 133)

(8) Many of them were found mutilated.

We learned that, before the Russian troops had left, a very great number of Lemberg [Lviv] citizens, Ukrainians and Polish inhabitants of other towns and villages had been killed in this prison and in other prisons.  Furthermore, there were many corpses of German men and officers, among them many Air Corps officers, and many of them were found mutilated.  There was a great bitterness and excitement among the Lemberg population against the Jewish sector of the population.  (Erwin Schulz, from May until 26 September, 1941 Commander of Einsatzkommando 5, a subunit of Einsatzgruppe C, in John Mendelsohn, editor, The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes, Garland, New York, 1982, Volume 18, p. 18)

(9) The killed people in Lemberg [Lviv] amounted to about 5,000.

On the next day, Dr. RASCH informed us to the effect that the killed people in Lemberg [Lviv] amounted to about 5,000.  It has been determined without any doubt that the arrests and killings had taken place under the leadership of Jewish functionaries and with the participation of the Jewish inhabitants of Lemberg.  That was the reason why there was such an excitement against the Jewish population on the part of the Lemberg citizens.  (Erwin Schulz, from May until 26 September, 1941 Commander of Einsatzkommando 5, a subunit of Einsatzgruppe C, in John Mendelsohn, editor, The Holocaust: Selected Documents in Eighteen Volumes, Garland, New York, 1982, Volume 18, p. 18)

(10) Hardly 20% of Ukrainian intelligentsia has remained.

Chief of Einsatzgruppe B reports that Ukrainian insurrection movements were bloodily suppressed by the NKVD on June 25, 1941 in Lvov.  About 3,000 were shot by NKVD.  Prison burning.  Hardly 20% of Ukrainian intelligentsia has remained.  (Operational Situation Report USSR No. 10, July 2, 1941, in Yitzhak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski, and Shmuel Spector, The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads' Campaign Against the Jews July 1941-January 1943, Holocaust Library, New York, 1989, p. 2)

(11) The corpses are dreadfully mutilated.

Location: Lvov

According to reliable information, the Russians, before withdrawing, shot 30,000 inhabitants.  The corpses piled up and burned at the GPU prisons are dreadfully mutilated.  The population is greatly excited: 1,000 Jews have already been forcefully gathered together.  (Operational Situation Report USSR No. 11, July 3, 1941, in Yitzhak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski, and Shmuel Spector, The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads' Campaign Against the Jews July 1941-January 1943, Holocaust Library, New York, 1989, p. 4)

(12) The prisons in Lvov were crammed with the bodies of murdered Ukrainians.

Location: Zviahel (Novograd-Volynski)


Before leaving, the Bolsheviks, together with the Jews, murdered several Ukrainians; as an excuse, they used the attempted Ukrainian uprising of June 25, 1941, which tried to free their prisoners.

According to reliable information, about 20,000 Ukrainians have disappeared from Lvov, 80% of them belonging to the intelligentsia.

The prisons in Lvov were crammed with the bodies of murdered Ukrainians.  According to a moderate estimate, in Lvov alone 3-4,000 persons were either killed or deported.

In Dobromil, 82 dead bodies were found, 4 of them Jews.  The latter were former Bolsheviki informers who had been killed because of their complicity in this act.  Near Dobromil an obsolete salt mine pit was discovered.  It was completely filled with dead bodies.  In the immediate neighborhood, there is a 6X15m mass grave.  The number of those murdered in the Dobromil area is estimated to be approximately several hundred.

In Sambor on June 26, 1941, about 400 Ukrainians were shot by the Bolsheviks.  An additional 120 persons were murdered on June 27, 1941.  The remaining 80 prisoners succeeded in overpowering the Soviet guards, and fled.  [...]

As early as 1939, a larger number of Ukrainians was shot, and 1,500 Ukrainians as well as 500 Poles were deported to the east.

Russians and Jews committed these murders in very cruel ways.  Bestial mutilations were daily occurrences.  Breasts of women and genitals of men were cut off.  Jews have also nailed children to the wall and then murdered them.  Killing was carried out by shots in the back of the neck.  Hand grenades were frequently used for these murders.

In Dobromil, women and men were killed with blows by a hammer used to stun cattle before slaughter.

In many cases, the prisoners must have been tortured cruelly: bones were broken, etc.  In Sambor, the prisoners were gagged and thus prevented from screaming during torture and murder.  The Jews, some of whom also held official positions, in addition to their economic supremacy, and who served in the entire Bolshevik police, were always partners in these atrocities.

Finally, it was established that seven [German] pilots who had been captured were murdered.  Three of them were found in a Russian military hospital where they had been murdered in bed by shots in the abdomen.  [...]

[...]  Prior to their withdrawal, the Bolsheviks shot 2,800 out of 4,000 Ukrainians imprisoned in the Lutsk prison.  According to the statement of 19 Ukrainians who survived the slaughter with more or less serious injuries, the Jews again played a decisive part in the arrests and shooting.  [...]

The investigations at Zlochev proved that the Russians, prior to their withdrawal, arrested and murdered indiscriminately a total of 700 Ukrainians, but, nevertheless, included the entire [local] Ukrainian intelligentsia.  (Operational Situation Report USSR No. 24, July 16, 1941, in Yitzhak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski, and Shmuel Spector, The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads' Campaign Against the Jews July 1941-January 1943, Holocaust Library, New York, 1989, p. 29-33)

(13) Ukrainians thrown into cauldrons of boiling water.

Location: Pleskau [Pskov]  [...]

The population is in general convinced that it is mostly the Jews who should be held responsible for the atrocities that are committed everywhere.  [...]

As it was learned that the Russians before they left have either deported the Ukrainian intelligentsia, or executed them, that is, murdered them, it is assumed that in the last days before the retreat of the Russians, about 100 influential Ukrainians were murdered [in Pleskau].  So far the bodies have not been found a search has been initiated.

About 100-150 Ukrainians were murdered by the Russians in Kremenets.  Some of these Ukrainians are said to have been thrown into cauldrons of boiling water.  This has been deduced from the fact that the bodies were found without skin when they were exhumed.  [...]

[...]  Before leaving Dubno, the Russians, as they had done in Lvov, committed extensive mass-murder.

[...]  Before their flight [from Tarnopol], as in Lvov and Dubno, the Russians went on a rampage there.  Disinterments revealed 10 bodies of German soldiers.  Almost all of them had their hands tied behind their backs with wire.  The bodies revealed traces of extremely cruel mutilations such as gouged eyes, severed tongues and limbs.

The number of Ukrainians who were murdered by the Russians, among them women and children, is set finally at 600.  Jews and Poles were spared by the Russians.  The Ukrainians estimate the total number of [Tarnopol] victims since the occupation of the Ukraine by the Russians at about 2,000.  The planned deportation of the Ukrainians already started in 1939.  There is hardly a family in Tarnopol from which one or several members have not disappeared.  [...]  The entire Ukrainian intelligentsia is destroyed.  Since the beginning of the war, 160 members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia were either murdered or deported.  Inhabitants of the town had observed a column of about 1,000 civilians driven out of town by police and army early in the morning of July 1, 1941.

As in Lvov, torture chambers were discovered in the cellars of the Court of Justice.  Apparently, hot and cold showers were also used here (as in Lemberg [Lviv]) for torture, as several bodies were found, totally naked, their skin burst and torn in many places.  A grate was found in another room, made of wire and set above the ground about 1m in height, traces of ashes were found underneath.  A Ukrainian engineer, who was also to be murdered but saved his life by smearing the blood of a dead victim over his face, reports that one could also hear screams of pain from women and girls.  (Operational Situation Report USSR No. 28, July 20, 1941, in Yitzhak Arad, Shmuel Krakowski, and Shmuel Spector, The Einsatzgruppen Reports: Selections from the Dispatches of the Nazi Death Squads' Campaign Against the Jews July 1941-January 1943, Holocaust Library, New York, 1989, p.38-40)

(14) Had their noses, ears, tongues and even genitals cut away.

F. Fedorenko


When the bolsheviks retreated before the German onslaught in the Second World War they took care in advance not to leave any prisoners behind when the Germans arrived.

The prisoners were driven, en masse, under heavy NKVD guard deep into Russia or Siberia, day and night.  Many of them were so tired that they could go no further.  These were shot without compunction where they fell.  Terrible things happened then.  Sometimes, wives recognized their husbands among the evacuees, as the prisoners were being driven through the villages.  There was great despair when they saw their loved ones taken under the muzzles of automatic guns, to far, unknown places.

The villagers took care of those who did not die at once from the NKVD bullets, but this was a very dangerous thing to do before all the bolsheviks cleared out.

But the NKVD could not evacuate all the prisoners, there were so many arrests, and jails were replenished constantly.  In such a case the NKVD, before making a hasty retreat, would murder the prisoners in their cells.

I recall that when the Germans came, in the fall of 1941, to a little town, Chornobil, on the Prypyat River, 62 miles west of Kiev, 52 corpses of recently murdered people, slightly covered with earth, were found in the prison yard.

These corpses had their hands tied at the back with wire; some had their backs flayed, others had gouged eyes or nails driven into their heels; still others had their noses, ears, tongues and even genitals cut away.  Instruments of torture which the communists used were found in the dungeon of the prison.

Many of the tortured people were identified because they were mostly farmers from the local collectives who had been arrested by the NKVD for some unknown reason.

For instance, one girl (whose name I cannot recall now) from the village of Zallissya, a mile and a quarter from Chornobil, was arrested because one day she failed to go to dig trenches.  All were compelled at that time, to dig anti-tank trenches.  The girl was sick but there was no doctor to examine her and the NKVD arrested her, never to return.

Two days later, when the Germans arrived, she was found among the fifty-two corpses.  (F. Fedorenko, My Testimony, in The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror, Toronto, 1953, pp. 97-98)

(15) Executed 180 persons.

Andriy Vodopyan


In this city in the NKVD prison factory the communists executed 180 persons and buried them in two holes dug in the prison yard.  The corpses were liberally treated with unslaked lime, especially the faces.

My brother was sentenced to three months in jail for coming late to work.  After serving 18 days in the factory prison he was set free, and a month later was drafted to the Red Army because this was in July 1941.

Later, his wife and my mother found him among the corpses, identifying him by the left hand finger, underwear and papers he had on him.

This atrocity came to light when prisoners who remained alive were liberated.  They had also a very close call.  Six days before the arrival of the German troops they heard muffled shots.

The prison was secretly mined by NKVD agents in preparation for the German invaders.  (Andriy Vodopyan, Crime in Staline, in The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror, Toronto, 1953, p. 121)

(16) Had their breasts cut off.

Yuriy Dniprovy


In the little town of Zolotnyky in the Ternopil region the bolsheviks murdered a captain of the former Ukrainian Galician Army (UHA) of 1918-1922, Mr. Dankiw, and clerks of the Ukrainian cooperative store, the sisters Magdalene, Sophia and Clementine Husar from the suburb of Vaha.  Clementine and Magdalene were tortured in a beastly manner and had their breasts cut off.

Other people executed at that time were: Slavko Demyd, Yosyp Vozny, Vasyl Burbela, Zynoviy Kushniryna, Pavlo Kushniryna and a non-commissioned officer of the UHA, Mr. Tsiholsky.  (Yuriy Dniprovy, Innocent Victims, in The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror, Toronto, 1953, p. 122)

(17) The chopped bones and flesh of the victims fell into the sewers.

P. K.

(By an eyewitness)

In the year 1942, when the Red Army, harassed by the German divisions, retreated from Katerynodar (Krasnodar), the regional NKVD division evacuated all the prisoners and sent them in the direction of Novorossiysk.  The railway line between Katerynodar and the station of Krymska was jammed by nearly two hundred freight boxcars filled to capacity with political prisoners.

Suspecting that all these prisoners might fall into German hands the Russian NKVD men, as a precautionary measure, poured gasoline on the cars and let them burn.

Thus a few thousand people perished in inhuman torture merely because they were suspected of anti-communism.

When the Germans entered Katerynodar they found in the regional divisional building of the NKVD in Sinny Bazar, a horrible torture chamber.  In the vault of this building there was a dark passage which ended with a wooden platform which dipped down at a sharp angle.  Right underneath it there was a machine which resembled a straw chopper.  It was a disk equipped with a system of big knives that revolved at great speed.  It was powered by a motor.

After questioning, the innocent victims were driven by the NKVD agents towards the wooden platform and rolled under the knives of the hellish meatchopper.  The chopped bones and flesh of the victims fell into the sewers and were carried away with a stream of sewage into the river Kuban.

Having discovered this horrible place, the Germans gave permission to all who wished to view this inhuman device.  Thousands of people visited the place, among them the author of these lines.

Other nations direct their talents towards the discovery of better medicines, new materials, better means of communication to make living conditions better.  The Russian people are using all their talents for the production of machines and new methods of mass murder and torture.  (P. K., The infernal device of the Russian Communists (by an eyewitness), in The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror, Toronto, 1953, pp. 123-124)

(18) Some had nails driven into their skulls.

M. Kowal


I am Michael Kowal, from the town of Kaminka Strumylova in the Lviw Region in Ukraine.  During the communist occupation of Western Ukraine I personally witnessed three arrests in my native town on June 22, 1941, those of Bohdan Mulkevich, and Michael Mulkevich who lived on Zamok Street, and Michael Mulkevich's blacksmith apprentice, presumably from the village of Rymaniw in the same Region.  They were suspected of disloyalty to the communist regime.

After the communist retreat from Kaminska-Strumylova they were found in the town prison with 33 other victims, murdered in a horribly sadistic manner.  All the corpses were tied together with barbed wire and all bore signs of terrible beatings.  Some had nails driven into their skulls.  None of them had been shot to death.  Their bodies, nude and badly mauled, were practically unrecognizable to their relatives.

Bohdan Mulkevish's wife recognized her husband, but, trying to verify her identification by his gold teeth, found them missing.  All the bodies were taken away for interment.

That Same day 19 other bodies were discovered near the village of Todan about 9 or 10 kilometers from Kaminka-Strumylova.  They were tied to trees and their chests were pierced with bayonets.  These were all identified by relatives and taken away for burial.  (M. Kowal, Bolshevik Murders, in The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror, Toronto, 1953, p. 529)

(19) Shot the children in cold blood.

Andriy Vodopyan


I was serving in the Soviet Russian Army.  Our artillery unit was retreating before the Germans in the direction of Yeletsk.  On September 18, 1941, our unit came to a wide ravine situated about 14 miles from Chartsysk station, and about 60 miles from the city of Staline.  The ravine stretched from the station of Chartsysk to the station of Snizhy.  When we approached the ravine we were taken aback by a horrible sight.  The whole ravine was filled with the bodies of children.  They were lying in different positions.  Most of them were from 14 to 16 years of age.  They were dressed in black, and we recognized them as students of the F.S.U., a well-known trade and craft school.  We counted 370 bodies altogether.  All of them had been killed by machine gun fire.

This group of children was being evacuated from Staline when the Germans neared the city.  The children had marched 60 miles, and, exhausted and unable to continue walking, asked for transportation.  The officers in charge promised to send them trucks.  Instead of trucks, a detachment of the Russian political police (NKVD) arrived, and shot the children in cold blood with machine guns.  This ravine, filled with hundreds of bodies of slain children, moved even the soldiers, accustomed as they were to the sight of death.  (Andriy Vodopyan, A Ravine Filled With the Bodies of Children, in S. O. Pidhainy (ed.), The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror, Toronto, 1953, p. 529)

(20) Throwing hand-grenades into the crowded cells.

Rev. J. Chyrva was imprisoned in 1941 when the Russian Communist armies were withdrawing from the city of Riwne.  He happened to be cast into one of those jails in which the communists, fleeing from advancing German armies, attempted to rid themselves of as many prisoners as possible by throwing hand-grenades into the crowded cells.  When the first grenade was thrown into the cell where Rev. J. Chyrva was kept, he was the first to fall his foot shattered.  On him fell many mutilated bodies, covering him, thus saving his life.  Later, when people came into the cell, they found all the prisoners dead with the exception of Rev. J. Chyrva.  He is alive today, a witness of that horrible manslaughter.  (Rev. Lev Buchak, Persecution of Ukrainian Protestants under the Soviet Rule, in S. O. Pidhainy (ed.), The Black Deeds of the Kremlin: A White Book, Ukrainian Association of Victims of Russian Communist Terror, Toronto, 1953, p. 529)

(21) Exhumed corpses were found without skin.

The Bolsheviks had arrested thousands of Ukrainian patriots, and prior to their retreat, they killed them savagely.  For some reason even highly regarded Jewish authors understate the number of Ukrainian victims of Bolshevik terror.  Gerald Reitlinger gives a figure of three to four thousand in Lviv alone.  Hilberg speaks of "the Bolsheviks deporting Ukrainians," but he does not furnish any overall figures.  But on the basis of a German document (RSHA IV-A-1, Operational Report USSR no. 28, 20 July 1941, No-2943), which I was unable to verify, he recounts one particularly horrible episode:
In Kremenets 100-150 Ukrainians had been killed by the Soviets.  When some of the exhumed corpses were found without skin, rumors circulated that the Ukrainians had been thrown into kettles of boiling water.  The Ukrainian population retaliated by seizing 130 Jews and beating them to death with clubs.
He also quotes the French collaborator Dr. Frederic as saying that the Bolsheviks killed eighteen thousand Ukrainian political prisoners in Lviv and its outskirts alone.

Basing his remarks on an anonymous article entitled "The Ethnocide of Ukrainians in the USSR," in the dissident journal Ukrainian Herald, Issue 7-8, the Ukrainian-American publicist Lew Shankowsky gives the following number of victims of Bolshevik terror in Galicia and Volhynia: as many as forty thousand killed in the prisons of Lviv, Lutsk, Rivne, Dubno, Ternopil, Stanyslaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk), Stryi, Drohobych, Sambir, Zolochiv and other towns and settlements.  The fact of the matter is that, justifiably or not, some Ukrainians felt that some Jews were in the employ of the Stalinist secret police, the NKVD.  For instance, it was pointed out to me by a resident of Western Ukraine that a high NKVD official in Lviv, a certain Barvinsky, was Jewish, despite his Ukrainian name.  (Yaroslav Bilinsky, Methodological Problems and Philosophical Issues in the Study of Jewish-Ukrainian Relations During the Second World War, pp. 373-394, in Howard Aster and Peter J. Potichnyj (eds.), Ukrainian-Jewish Relations in Historical Perspective, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, Edmonton, 1990, footnotes deleted)

(22) From 15,000 to 40,000 prisoners were killed

In their hasty and often panic-stricken retreat, the Soviet authorities were not about to evacuate the thousands of prisoners they had arrested, mostly during their last months of rule in western Ukraine.  Their solution, implemented at the end of June and in early July 1941, was to kill all inmates regardless of whether they had committed minor or major crimes or were being held for political reasons.  According to estimates, from 15,000 to 40,000 prisoners were killed during the Soviet retreat from eastern Galicia and western Volhynia.  (Paul Robert Magocsi, A History of Ukraine, University of Washington Press, Seattle, 1996, p. 624)

However, the Membership of this NKVD was Predominantly Jewish

What was the membership of this NKVD that we see above being so repeatedly blamed for the massacre of Ukrainians in the days before occupation by German forces?  In my analysis of data presented by Yuri Shapoval, I arrive at the conclusion that the senior membership in Ukraine of the organization one of whose names became the NKVD was as follows:

Out of every 10 senior members of the Cheka-GPU-NKVD in Ukraine:
6 were Jewish,
2 were Russian,
1 was Ukrainian, and
1 was other.

Statements made by others support the conclusion that the NKVD was predominantly a Jewish organization.  For example, Yoram Sheftel, Ivan Demjanjuk's Israeli defense attorney, reports that in connection with his visit to the Simferopol, Ukraine, KGB headquarters in 1990, a plaque memorializing the "KGB" dead of the war showed that all thirty of the thirty names were Jewish:

On the right-hand wall was a stone memorial plaque engraved with the names of about thirty KGB men from Simferopol who had fallen in the Great Patriotic War, as the Soviets call World War II.  I was shocked and angry as I read the names: the first was Polonski and the last Levinstein, and all those between were ones like Zalmonowitz, Geller and Kagan all Jews.  The best of Jewish youth in Russia, the cradle of Zionism, had sold itself and its soul to the Red Devil.  (The Demjanjuk Affair: The Rise and Fall of a Show-Trial, Victor Gollancz, London, 1994, p. 301)

Of course Sheftel's sample of 30 is not necessarily a sample that is representative of the entire NKVD in Ukraine; however the Jewish domination of the entire NKVD is not a rare or dubious hypothesis, but is one, rather, that is upheld from more than one direction:

As a Jew, I'm interested in another question entirely: Why were there so many Jews among the NKVD-MVD investigators including many of the most terrible?  It's a painful question for me but I cannot evade it.  (Yevgenia Albats, The State Within a State: The KGB and its Hold on Russia, Past, Present and Future, 1994, p. 147)

Jews abounded [also] at the lower levels of the Party machinery especially in the Cheka and its successors, the GPU, the OGPU and the NKVD....  It is difficult to suggest a satisfactory reason for the prevalence of Jews in the Cheka.  It may be that having suffered at the hand of the former Russian authorities they wanted to seize the reins of real power in the new state for themselves.  (Leonard Shapiro, The Role of Jews in the Russian Revolutionary Movement, Slavonic and East European Review, 1961, 40, p. 165)

But if in the pre-German interval Ukrainians were being killed by the NKVD, and if the NKVD was disproportionately, or even overwhelmingly, Jewish, then one might summarize by saying that in the pre-German interval, Ukrainians were being killed by Jews.

I Expand My Summary Table Once Again

The table which I have been developing in my letters to you of 30Jun99 and 01Jul99 can now be elaborated with the uppermost entry:

Date of my letter Subject of my letter Date of Attack
Violence that you should have reported in your 23Oct94 The Ugly Face of Freedom
04Jul99 The Wiesenthal-Safer Calumny Summer 1941
15May99 Who murdered Volodymyr Ivasiuk? April 1979
30Jun99 Who murdered Vadim Boyko? February 14, 1992
Violence that you might have caused by your 23Oct94 The Ugly Face of Freedom
09Apr99 Who blew the hands off Maksym Tsarenko? Summer 1995
17May99 Who murdered Volodymyr Katelnytsky? July 7-8, 1997
01Jul99 Who murdered Borys Derevyanko? August 11, 1997

The new "The Wiesenthal-Safer Calumny" entry in the table above is of particular importance not only because of the large number of victims involved, but also because it demonstrates your going beyond the fault of overlooking Ukrainians being victimized, to the greater fault of replacing the real killing of a large number of Ukrainians by Jews with an imaginary killing of a large number of Jews by Ukrainians.

And I Find My Earlier Conclusions Strengthened

What a convincing broadcast your The Ugly Face of Freedom would have been if all the instances in the above table had been ones of Jews or Russians being tortured and mutilated and murdered by Ukrainians, instead of the other way around!  However, in your broadcast you documented not a single such story featuring Ukrainians victimizing Jews or Russians.  Evidence of Ukrainians being victimized was plentiful, but you ignored it.  Much worse, in the case of the pre-German violence, you reversed it.

Unless you are able to offer some credible defense, Mr. Safer, two conclusions that have already gained a foothold threaten to climb to wide acceptance:

(1) that your 23Oct94 60 Minutes broadcast The Ugly Face of 60 Minutes demonstrated your lack of competence and integrity; and

(2) that your broadcast served to demonstrate to Ukraine's assassins not only that violence against Ukrainians goes unreported in the world press, but also that it is even buried under fabricated reports of violence committed by Ukrainians.  By means of this demonstration, you informed Ukraine's assassins that they might expect impunity for their work against Ukrainians, and in this way you encouraged them to violence that they might otherwise have feared to commit.  Thus, it is possible that you contributed to Maksym Tsarenko losing his hands, and to Volodymyr Katelnytsky together with his mother, and Borys Derevyanko, losing their lives.

Lubomyr Prytulak

cc:  Yaakov Bleich, Ed Bradley, Jeffrey Fager, Don Hewitt, Steve Kroft, Andy Rooney, Lesley Stahl, Mike Wallace, Simon Wiesenthal.