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Washington Post | 06Jan2010 | John Pancake, [2] UABA response, [3] UABA (ukr), [4] Pancake (ukr)

In Ukraine, movement to honor members of WWII underground sets off debate

[W.Z. 2015.06.21: This article by John Pancake was published at the beginning of the Viktor Yanukovych era (2010-2014), which proved to be such a disaster for Ukraine. It was the beginning of an all out attack on Ukraine's independence, which fortunately was stymied by the Euromaidan "Revolution of Dignity" from 30Nov2013 to 22Feb2014 when Yanukovych fled the country. (We note that in this article, John-Paul Himka is allotted 3 paragraphs to spout his poison; rabbis Dukhovny and Bleich continue repeating their accusations despite Moses Fishbein's article "The Jewish Card in Russian special operations against Ukraine".) The Ukrainian American Bar Association wrote a rebuttal to Mr. Pancake's defamation of the UPA, in particular, and the Ukrainian Independence Movement, in general, but, unfortunately, the Washington Post declined to publish it. Today, 5.5 years later, the Ukrainophobes are still attacking the UPA and the Ukrainian Independence Movement, while Vladimit Putin with his $300 million propaganda machine and troll army is doing everything possible to destroy Ukraine. Should not these Ukrainophobes be labelled as Putin's collaborators?

For the historical record, we are archiving these two articles, as well as Ukrainian-language translations thereof, in the Ukrainophobia section of our website.]

LVIV, UKRAINE -- In World War II, members of the Ukrainian underground fought to make their vision of an independent nation real. They battled Hitler and Stalin. Ultimately they lost, and the Soviets took control of most of Eastern Europe after the war.

The Ukrainians finally achieved independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Now many in this fledgling nation would like to formally recognize those earlier nationalists -- the "brave defenders of the Motherland," as President Viktor Yushchenko has called them. Newly introduced legislation would honor members of the underground and provide them with benefits accorded to war veterans.

But the movement to pay tribute to the insurgent fighters has set off a national debate about exactly what happened more than six decades ago. Many say the underground collaborated with the Nazis, killed thousands of Jews and perpetrated a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Poles.

The legacy of the underground flows through Ukrainian culture today. Its best-known banner -- a red-and-black flag -- is seen at the rallies of nationalist politicians. In this western Ukrainian city, where the insurgency was active, members of the underground are buried in elaborate marble tombs in a historic cemetery. Street vendors sell memorabilia commemorating the resistance. There is even an underground-themed restaurant outfitted as a bunker. In one corner, diners can do target practice using a picture of Stalin.

While those involved in the debate over the underground are somewhat polarized, they agree on one thing: It's complicated.

To begin with, the underground was made up of many factions, subfactions and rivals. In hindsight, some look better than others. Meanwhile, for the majority of Ukrainian families, the experience of "the Great Patriotic War" was fighting with the Red Army to defend the homeland. Some descendants of Red Army soldiers view members of the underground as traitors.

The effort to recognize the insurgents also is taking place against the backdrop of centuries of persecution of Jews in Ukraine, where pogroms were common.

The Cossack chieftain Bogdan Khmelnytsky, whose statue stands in the Ukrainian capital, fought for independence during the 17th century. But he also presided over the killings of tens of thousands of Jews, said Rabbi Alexander Dukhovny, head of the Religious Union for Progressive Jewish Congregations of Ukraine. "Was he a hero or an anti-hero? Even after 350 years, it is difficult to know," Dukhovny said.

Considerable research on the underground is underway in Ukraine and Canada, a center of the Ukrainian diaspora.

One of the key figures involved in the research is Peter J. Potichnyj. Born in a Ukrainian family in a village in what was then eastern Poland, Potichnyj experienced the horrors of the war firsthand. Soviet secret police executed his father. Poles massacred most of the people in his village.

In 1945, at age 14, he joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, or UPA, and fought against the Soviets until 1947. He eventually became a historian at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and helped edit 77 volumes about the Ukrainian underground.

Potichnyj, 79, said that although the underground may have had brief strategic alliances with the Germans, it was mostly fighting the Soviets. He said much of the anti-underground talk these days is orchestrated from Russia.

"You know the Russians don't want to admit there were people fighting them -- not because they were cooperating with the Germans but because they were fighting for their own culture and the liberation of their own countries," he said.

As for the killings of Jews and Poles, Potichnyj argues that no matter where guerrillas fight for liberation, it's a messy affair. The Poles provoked the Ukrainians, he said.

"With respect to Jews," he said, "obviously, in the situation there must have taken place some killing of the Jews, although in 1943, when the UPA was quite strong, there were hardly any Jews left because the Germans had, unfortunately, killed them all off. But there were some remnants, and the remnants were either working with the Ukrainian underground or they were working with the Soviets." Those allied with the Red partisans were obviously enemies of the underground, he said.

Potichnyj said the underground made a terrible mistake in not condemning the Germans' efforts to exterminate the Jews. But he strongly denies that there is any document showing that the underground ordered the "systematic" killing of Jews.

John-Paul Himka, a historian at the University of Alberta, believes there was a systematic killing of Jews in some Ukrainian areas. Himka has written extensively on the Holocaust and Ukrainian history. He said he has read hundreds of accounts, composed in different places and at different times, of Jews who survived; many mention killings by the Ukrainian militia.

Of the plan to honor UPA fighters, he says: "This is really a problem area because they killed so many people, civilians." In addition to Jews, he said, they killed 60,000 to 100,000 Poles, as well as political opponents, Orthodox clergymen, teachers of Russian and many prisoners of war from eastern Ukraine. He estimates that UPA fighters killed several thousand Jews, "but perhaps the number was much higher."

"Although what UPA did to the Jews may not have been, in the larger scheme of things, a major contribution to the Holocaust, it remains a large and inexpugnable stain on the record of the Ukrainian national insurgency," he said.

Olexiy Haran, a professor of comparative politics at the University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, said Russian "propaganda" distorted the extent of the atrocities. The Ukrainian insurgents were fighting for independence, he insists.

"I believe that these people deserve to be veterans, maybe with the exception of those who committed crimes," he said. "This was guerrilla warfare, and it's difficult to imagine guerrillas without atrocities."

Many academics say the debate over the underground is part of a larger tug of war over Ukraine's national identity. Russia ruled most of what is now Ukraine for more than three centuries. But relations between the countries have been testy, and since Yushchenko's election in late 2004, Ukraine has distanced itself from Russia while moving toward the West.

Yaakov Bleich, whose title is chief rabbi of Ukraine, said of Yushchenko's effort to legitimize the insurgents: "His goals are noble; the means stink."

"What I mean is that we all understand that Yushchenko is trying to build up national pride, and we all understand that that is needed," Bleich said. "After 350 years that the Ukrainian people were subjugated, they have to rebuild national pride.

"But should we take things that are controversial -- heroes that are still of questionable repute -- and use them to do that?" he said. "At this point you have people out there living today [who suffered], and the image is one that would hurt people. The Ukrainian insurgents fought alongside the fascists. And maybe their intentions were good, but I will say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions."

-- Special to The Washington Post

To Washington Post | 22Jan2010 | Victor Rud [Not published]


January 22, 2010
The Washington Post
1150 15th St. NW
Washington, DC 20071
Via EMail to [email protected]
and [email protected]

RE: John Pancake’s UPA Article of January 6, 2010

Dear Sir / Madam,

As an organization of practicing attorneys and jurists, we have over many years encountered the unchallenged acceptance of Soviet (and now Russian) disinformation campaigns concerning Ukraine. John Pancake’s article about the Ukrainian underground during World War II (January 6, 2010) unwittingly, but no less unfortunately, lends credibility to those efforts.

The issue is not merely one of historical accuracy. Russia re-catalyzed the disinformation campaigns after Ukraine declared independence and, even more, after Ukraine struck firmly on a democratic path and integration with the rest of Europe in the wake of the Orange Revolution five years ago. The trajectory of that path may be reversing, in which case the implications for the security of the rest of Europe and the United States will be profound. As stated by Sherman Garnett of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: ”Whether Russian led integration on the territory of the former USSR will pose a serious, long-term military challenge to the West, depends in large part on the role that Ukraine plays or is compelled to play.”

Although the article begins by recognizing Ukrainian opposition to both Hitler and Stalin, it references the Ukrainian Insurgent (Povstans’ka) Army (“UPA”) and concludes by quoting Rabbi Bleich’s allegation that “[t]he Ukrainian insurgents fought alongside the fascists. And maybe their intentions were good, but I will say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” By ending on such a note, The Post necessarily accedes to the consequent imagery of the UPA as a Hitler ally, seemingly roaming the countryside with no purpose other than to indiscriminately kill Poles and Jews.

The labeling of the UPA as “fascist” has repeatedly been shown to be a Soviet-era fabrication, but that accusation is still frequently revived today by those who are not aware of the fabrication, or those intent on compromising a democratic Ukraine independent of Russian rule. The falsification was documented, yet again, with the declassification of KGB archives in Ukraine by President Yushchenko. A recent study, The Jewish Card In Russian Special Operations Against Ukraine, was presented by Moses Fishbein, at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 24-27 June 2009 (available on the website http://www.vaadua.org/VaadENG/News%20eng-2009/fishbeyn2.htm), which concluded as follows:
Russia’s special services are seeking to destabilize the situation in Ukraine, undermine its sovereignty and independence, create a negative image of this country, block its integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, and turn Ukraine into a dependent and manipulated satellite. In their special operations against Ukraine they attribute exceptional importance to the “Jewish card.”

A voluminous historical record establishes that the UPA uncompromisingly battled Nazi Germany. Simultaneously and against impossible odds, the UPA battled Hitler’s erstwhile coconspirator, Stalin, well into the 1950’s. The declared position of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (“OUN”), whose military arm was the UPA, was clear: “The OUN is resolutely fighting against both internationalist and fascist national-socialist programs and political concepts, for they are the tools of imperialist policies of conquest. Thus, we are opposed both to Russian-Bolshevik communism and to German National Socialism”

The image created by many of the statements in Mr. Pancake’s article should be assessed against the following: Writing in the January 27, 1945 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, Edgar Snow wrote about World War II: “The whole titanic struggle, which some are so apt to dismiss as ‘the Russian glory,’ was first of all a Ukrainian war. No fewer than 10,000,000 people had been lost to Ukraine since 1941. ***No single European country suffered deeper wounds to its cities, its industry and its humanity.” Decades later, with all the evidence in, the University of London’s Norman Davies, the world’s pre-eminent historian of Europe, confirmed that the country most savaged by Nazi Germany was Ukraine. More Ukrainian civilians were killed than the total military deaths of the United States, Canada, the British Commonwealth, France, Germany and Italy, combined. An additional more than 2 million Ukrainians were deported as slave laborers to Germany.

Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union was history’s largest military operation, with more than 3,200,000 German Hungarian, Rumanian, Italian, Finnish, Spanish and Slovakian forces (compare D Day with a total of 132,000 Allied troops). Ukraine was both the prize and the crucible. Hitler told Carl Burckhardt, the League of Nations High Commissioner, “I need the [sic] Ukraine, so that nobody can ever starve us out again, as they did in the last war.” Following Moscow’s 1932-33 man-made famine in Ukraine that scythed millions of innocents out of existence, Hitler planned a repeat, as set forth in a report of the German Economic Armament Staff, dated December 2, 1941. In the same month, Walther Funk, the German Minister of the Economy and president of the Reichsbank, declared in Prague that Ukraine, “this promised colonial land,” had become accessible to “European” exploitation.

As a result, Ukraine was one of the few countries in all of Nazi occupied Europe to be ruled directly from Berlin. It had no Nazi or fascist party like the Iron Guard in Romania, the Arrow Cross Party in Hungary, or the smaller but no less fanatic fascist parties in Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Holland. Ukraine had no puppet government as did Quisling’s Norway or Petain’s Vichy France. To the very contrary, upon Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Ukrainians promptly (June 30) declared an independent government, refusing to ally with Hitler. The Germans considered this to be a coup d’état and reacted instantly, arresting the Ukrainian leadership, which was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. An Einsatzkommando C/5 Order stated: “It has been established with certainty that the Bandera Movement [OUN] is preparing an uprising in the Reichscommissariat, whose ultimate objective is to create an independent Ukraine. All functionaries of the Bandera Movement are to be immediately arrested and, after a thorough interrogation, secretly liquidated as pillagers.” In the ensuing period of Nazi occupation, Ukrainians, whether or not members of the insurgency, were tortured, massacred, and condemned to Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Treblinka, Sobibor, Belsen and Dachau. There, the Nazis refused to identify them as Ukrainians, but only as Russians or Poles.

That in the midst of this carnage there were instances of collaboration and anti-Semitism (meaning invidious actions based on one’s identification as a Jew (or a Pole) and not because one was an enemy combatant) is tragic, but it was not unique to Ukraine. Such instances, however, did not reflect the UPA’s purpose or conduct. Indeed, Jews became members of the UPA, some as officers.

To attribute the kind of behavior that the article does to the UPA, whether sourced as “eyewitness” reports or otherwise, is a matter that should be examined with more than the usual diligence, and not only because of the demonstrable disinformation. One particularly effective tactic of Stalin’s NKVD units was masquerading as the UPA and committing the very atrocities against Jews and Poles that the article lays at the feet of the UPA. Such NKVD tactics were even more extensively implemented against the local Ukrainian population to alienate the sole source of UPA support. This was a repeat of tactics employed by Leon Trotsky as head of the Red Army in Russia’s conquest of Ukraine in 1918-1920.

One may ask: “Doesn’t Moscow have anything better to do?” No, it does not. The dissolution of the USSR is bemoaned as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century, Stalin is being rehabilitated as an “efficient manager,” and a wholesale rewriting of Soviet era history in Russian schools is well underway. Ukraine remains the linchpin to the process, just as it was both in the formation of the USSR and also in its fall. Zbigniew Brzezinski noted that “It cannot be stressed strongly enough that without Ukraine, Russia ceased to be an empire, but with Ukraine suborned and then subordinated, Russia automatically becomes an empire.” This has been a constant. “If we lose Ukraine,” said Lenin, “we lose our head.” On August 11, 1932, Stalin wrote to his executioner in Ukraine, Lazar Kaganovich: “Things in Ukraine are terrible... If we don’t make an effort to improve the situation in Ukraine, we may lose Ukraine. . . Give yourself the task of transforming Ukraine into truly a fortress of the USSR. . .Without these and similar measures. . . I repeat -- we can lose Ukraine.” In the ensuing months of 1932-33, millions of Ukrainians were murdered in history’s first man-made famine.

Regrettably, given The Post’s stature and apparent credibility, Mr. Pancake’s article -- despite "good intentions" -- will be cited in predictable quarters with satisfaction. We urge that both Mr. Pancake and The Washington Post revisit this issue.

Sincerely yours,
Victor Rud, Chairman
Foreign Affairs & Human Rights Committee
[email protected] / 1-201-906-3254
CC: John Pancake

Ukrainian-language version published in
"Амеріка" -- Філядельфія, ПА, субота, 17 квітня 2010
with the title
Українська Амеріканська Асоціяція Адвокатів відповіла газеті "Вашінґтон Пост"

[... rud20100417Amerika.pdf ...]

Ukrainian-language translation of article by John Pancake in 06Jan2010 issue of  the Washington Post

Washington Post | 06Jan2010 | John Pancake

В Україні рух в честь учасників підпільної організації Другої Світової Війни почав дебати.

Джон Пенкейк
Спеціально для “The Washington Post”
Середа, 6 січня 2010; Ф07

Львів, Україна -- У Другій Світовій Війні члени української підпільної організації боролися задля становлення свого образу незалежної нації. Вони воювали з Гітлером та Сталіном. В кінцевому підсумку вони програли, і, після війни, члени Радянського Союзу взяли під свій контроль більшу частину східної Європи.

Врешті-решт, українці досягли незалежності коли у 1991 Радянський Союз розпався. Зараз багато людей з цієї молодої нації хотіли б офіційно визнати цих ранніх націоналістів – «сміливих захисників Батьківщини» , як назвав їх Президент Віктор Ющенко.  Нововведене законодавство буде вшановувати підпільників та надавати їм пільги ветеранів війни.

Але рух в шану повстанцям почав загальнонаціональні дискусії щодо того, що ж насправді відбувалось більш ніж 60 років тому. Говорять, що вони співпрацювали з нацистами, вбили тисячі євреїв та чинили антиетнічну кампанію проти поляків.

Спадок підпільної організації протікає через українську культуру й до сьогодні. Найвідоміше їх знамено, червоно-чорний прапор, можна побачити на мітингах націоналістичних політиків. У цьому місті західної України, де повстання було активним, учасники підпільної організації поховані в гарні мармурові могили на історичному цвинтарі. Вуличні торговці продають пам’ятки в ознаменування опору. Існує навіть ресторан з тематикою підпільної організації обладнаний як бункер. В одному куті, клієнти можуть попрактикувати стрільбу, мішенню якої є фотокартка Сталіна.

Хоч в тих, хто залучений у дебати щодо повстанців думки розділяються, в одному вони згідні: це складно.

Почнемо з того,що підпільна організація була зроблена з багатьох фракцій, підфракцій та конкурентів. Розглянувши ближче, дехто виглядає кращим за інших.  Тим часом,для більшості українських сімей, досвід «Великої Вітчизняної Війни» боровся з Червоною  Армією задля захисту Батьківщини. Деякі нащадки солдатів Червоної Армії вважають підпільників зрадниками.

Зусилля задля визнання повстанців також відбувається на тлі багатовікового переслідування євреїв в Україні, де були розповсюдженими погроми.

Отаман Богдан Хмельницький, чия статуя височіє у столиці України, боровся задля незалежності протягом  XVII століття. Він також здійснював контроль над  десятьма тисячами євреїв, сказав Олександр Духовний, голова Релігійної Союзу прогресивних єврейських громад в Україні. «Був він героєм чи антигероєм? Навіть через 350 років, складно сказати»,- говорив Духовний.
Значні дослідження щодо учасників підпільної оргінізації відбуваються в Україні та Канаді, центрі української діаспори.

Однією з головних фігур, залучених в дослідження є Петро Потічний. Народжений в українській родині в селі, пізніше ставше частиною східної польщі, Потічний зазнав всіх жахів війни безпоссередньо.  Секретна міліція Союзу стратила його батька. Поляки знищили більшість жителів його села.

У 1945, у віці 14 років, він приєднався до Української повстанської армії (УПА), і боровся проти Радянського Союзу до 1947. В кінцевому підсумку він став істориком у МакМастер Університеті в Хамільтоні, Онтаріо, та допомагав у публікації  77 томів про українських підпільників.

Потічний,  в віці 79 років, сказав,що хоча підпільники і могли мати короткі стратегічні альянси з німцями, в більшості своїй вони боролися з Союзом. Сказав він щодо анти-підпільницької розмови  організованої з Росії. 

«Знаєте, росіяни не хочуть визнати, що існували люди,які боролись з ними – не тому що вони співпрацювали з німцями,а тому що вони боролися за свою власну культуру та визволення їх власних країн»,- сказав він.

Щодо вбивства євреїв та поляків, Політичний переконує,що незважаючи на те, що партизани боролися за визволення, все це безладна справа. Він казав, що поляки провокують українців.

«З повагою до євреїв,- говорив він,- очевидно, повинно було статися якесь вбивство євреїв, незважаючи на те,що в 1943, коли УПА була досить сильною, навряд чи залишились якісь євреї, тому що німці, на жаль, вбили їх всіх. Але дехто все-таки залишився, і вони або працювали з українськими підпільниками, або з Радянський Союзом».  Ті,що співпрацювали з Червоними партизанами,були,очевидно,ворогами підпільників.

Потічний говорив,що підпільники зробили надзвичайну помилку не засудивши намагання німців знищити євреїв.  Проте він рішуче заперечує існування будь-якого документу , що підпільники наказали «систематичне» вбивство євреїв.

Джон-Пол Хімка, історик при Університеті Альберти, вірить,що в деяких українських областях й насправді були систематичні вбивства євреїв. Хімка докладно написав про голокост та історію України.  Він казав,що перечитав сотні облікових записів, створених у різних місцях та в різні часи, про євреїв, які вижили; багато з них згадують вбивства українською міліцією.

У проекті вшанування бійців УПА, він зазначає: «Це дійсно проблемна територія,тому що вони знищили так багато людей, цивільних осіб.»  В додаток до євреїв, говорив він, вони вбили від 60000 до 100000 поляків, а також політичних супротивників, православне духовенство,вчителів Росії та безліч військовополонених зі східної України. Він оцінює УПА, як вбивців кількох тисяч євреїв, «але кількість можливо й значно більша».

«Хоча те,що УПА зробило євреям могло і не бути, у більш детальному розгляді, основним внеском в голокост, вона  залишається великою і неприступною плямою на репутації української національної армії повстанців», - сказав він.

Олексій Харан, професор  порівняльної політики при Університеті в Києво-Могилянській Академії, говорив, що російська пропаганда спотворила масштаб злодіянь. Він наголошує, що українські повстанці боролися за незалежність.

«Я вірю,що ці люди заслуговують бути ветеранами, можливо за винятком тих, хто вчинив злочин»,- сказав він. «Це була війна партизанів, і досить складно уявити партизанів без жорстокості».
Велика кількість академіків говорять,що дебати щодо підпільників є частиною значнішого зусилля війни проти української національної індивідуальності.Більше трьох тисячоліть Росія керує тою більшістю з того,що є зараз Україною. Проте стосунки між країнами були запальними, і з тих часів, як Ющенко став президентом в кінці 2004, Україна тримає дистанцію від Росії і крокує до заходу.

Яков Блейх, головний равин України, сказав щодо зусиль Ющенка узаконити повстанців: «Його цілі благородні; можливості нікчемні».
«Я маю на увазі те,що ми всі повинні зрозуміти,що Ющенко намагається створити національну гордість, і ми всі роозуміємо,що це якраз те, що потрібно», - Говорив Блейх.- «Через 350 років,що українці були підкорені, вони повинні відновити українську гордість».
 «Але чи повинні ми прийняти це спірне питання – використовувати героїв з сумнівною репутацією в цих цілях?» сказав він. «На цьому етапі є люди які живуть саме зараз (які страждали), та образ який завдавав болю. Поряд українські повстанці, які боролися з фашистами. І можливо їх наміри були гарними, та я б сказав,що дорога в пекло прокладена благими намірами».