|The Shukhevych Cult in Ukraine: Myth Making with Complications
Per A. Rudling, University of Alberta
Draft – please do not cite without author’s permission!
On October 12, 2007, in order to mark the 65th anniversary of the founding of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and the centennial of the birth of Roman Shukhevych, its commander, Ukrainian president Viktor Yushchenko posthumously awarded Shukhevych the highest honor of the Ukrainian state – the order of Hero of Ukraine, “in recognition of his special contributions to the national liberation struggle for the freedom and independence of Ukraine.”1 Yushchenko’s recognition of Shukhevych as a national hero was also meant as a state endorsement of the organizations he led, the UPA and the Bandera wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. The president stated that his recognition of the insurgents was linked to the “importance of establishing the historical truth about the activities of the UPA,”2 identifying its two enemies as Nazism and communist terror.
Roman Shukhevych remains a highly controversial and divisive person in Ukrainian history. A freedom fighter and martyr for Ukraine to some, a Nazi collaborator to others. Yushchenko’s decision has re-opened the issue of historical memory and the ideological use of history. His presidency has been accompanied by an ambitious reevaluation of history. Shukhevych is not the first radical nationalist to be reassessed by the Ukrainian state. In May, 2007 Yushchenko issued a presidential edict to honor the memory of OUN(b) activist Yaroslav Stets’ko and his wife Yaroslava through their promotion in mass media, through the renaming of streets, squares and the creation of a Stets’ko museum in Kyiv.3 In recognition of the centennial of the birth of Stepan Bandera in January, 2009, Yushchenko issued a statement that “today, we need to do everything to make the truth about those who sacrificed themselves in the struggle for Ukrainian independence known to all Ukrainians, and to disperse the fog of lies that surrounds Stepan Bandera’s person.”4 While Yushchenko has awarded the order “Hero of Ukraine” to several controversial figures, none has proven more divisive than the recognition of Shukhevych, something that led to international protests.5
The award ceremony for Shukhevych was preceded by a march of UPA veterans through Kyiv. Shukhevych’s son Yuri, a leader of a far-right paramilitary organization UNA-UNSO accepted the medal on his father’s behalf. Members of this organization and other right-wing extremist groups, dressed in brown shirts and black ties joined the UPA veterans. The march itself degenerated into street brawls between octogenarian veterans of the Red Army and UPA and between radical nationalists on one hand, and protesters from the Communist and Progressive Socialist Parties on the other.6 The small Ukrainian Jewish community was outraged.7
Addressing a meeting of UPA veterans, Yushchenko stated that “The memory about each hero and every victim of the struggle for Ukraine’s liberation, freedom and independence is sacred and undividable…Let us not avoid any difficult pages of our history and in such a way let us restore the truth which is based on the Ukrainian nation’s great exploit – the exploit of the people who defeated death and established their state.”8
As Yushchenko and the western parts of Ukraine celebrated the centennial of Shukhevych’s birth, the Kharkiv city assembly called on the public to stop glorifying the memories of OUN and UPA.9 Statements from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions described Shukhevych’s award as an endorsement of integral nationalism and as an attack on the peoples of eastern Ukraine: “the population of the non-western areas of Ukraine feel an ever stronger ideological pressure from the brand of Banderite Nazism and xenophobia”10 In the Verkhovna Rada, Ukrainian Communist Party leader Petro Symonenko protested “the raising to sainthood today of one who received two Iron Crosses from the hands of Hitler with his order to celebrate his 100th anniversary on a government level.”11 Another high-profile communist, Oleksandr Holub, condemned the move as part of “the president’s attempts to impose pro-fascist, neo-Nazi policy on society.”12 Ukrainian-Canadian political scientist Petro Potichnyj, himself a veteran of the UPA and a leading authority on the history of his movement, asserted that these allegations were incorrect, and that Shukhevych never received such a decoration, let alone from Hitler. The president of the Ukrainian World Congress responded by suing Symonenko for libel.13
Thus, if Yushchenko’s objective was to rally the country around a common national mythology, the results have been mixed. While Yushchenko’s campaign to turn Shukhevych into a national hero was generally well received in the Western part of the country and in the diaspora, it has also opened up old wounds and exposed deep divisions in Ukrainian society - between the right and left, east and west. Internationally, it has displayed the discord with historians and politicians in Israel, Poland, and Russia.
There is, of course, nothing new about Yushchenko being less interested in the establishment of historical “truth” than in the creation of new historical myths to replace obsolete Soviet ones. Similar processes take place in other former Soviet republics as well.14 Whereas Russia and Belarus are restoring heroic myths about Stalin and Soviet exploits in World War II, Yushchenko’s heroic narrative is built around the Ukrainian integral nationalist movement, the OUN and UPA.
Today, most Ukrainian textbooks present Shukhevych in very favorable light. “Relentlessly and almost infallibly, the OUN and the UPA are portrayed as victims and not perpetrators,” writes Swedish historian Johan Dietsch.15 While victimization is often linked to a lack of agency, Soviet oppression is juxtaposed to Ukrainian resistance, active or passive. This history writing presents the Ukrainian nationalist movement, rather than the Ukrainian SSR, as the main actor of the Ukrainian historical process of the 20th century.16 This perspective resembles the traditional diaspora narrative, and has gained prominence following the Orange Revolution in 2004. This perspective has several implications. It means a switch in focus towards Western Ukraine. It combines a vicitmization narrative with a glorification of the leaders of the nationalist movements. It establishes a subaltern perspective of Ukrainian resistance which contrasts sharply with the Soviet narrative which presented unity with Russia as the natural state of affairs for Ukraine. While many Ukrainian editors, opinion makers, and public intellectuals are keenly aware of Russia’s manipulations of history, they are often less perceptive of the myth making that takes place at home. The post-socialist perspective is juxtaposed with the “a-historic, amoral, and a-ethical realm” of Soviet socialism. The new, “national” history is presented as “true history,” in contrast to the “false Soviet history.”17
Roman Shukhevych: Background
Like Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych’s person is associated with myths and legends. And as in the case of Bandera, the accounts of Shukhevych’s life is full of uncertainties and distortions of facts.18 Unlike Dmytro Dontsov and Stepan Bandera, Shukhevych did not start up as a leftist.19 Shukhevych got involved in nationalist radicalism early on. In 1934, he was arrested for his involvement in the murder of Bronisław Pieracki, the Polish minister of the interior. Shukhevych spent two and a half year in the Bereza Kartuska camp, where he was allegedly tortured by the Polish authorities.20 However, many of the most controversial parts of Shukhevych’s biography, those associated with Nazi Germany, are often poorly documented.
In January, 1938, Shukhevych crossed the border from Poland into Carpathian Ukraine, which, according to his son Yuri became his new political base. From there, he often traveled on missions to Prague, Vienna, Berlin, and illegally across the border to L’viv.21 From the spring and summer of that year he was educated as an officer at the German Military Academy in Munich.22 In 1939-1940 Shukhevych joined over 120 other Ukrainian nationalists for training at a secret Gestapo espionage school in Zakopane.23
Shukhevych became a leader of a Ukrainian Wehrmacht battalion of 330 volunteers, called Nachtigall, formed in Krakow in March, 1941. Established for the attack on the Soviet Union, its members received their training in Neuhammer, Silesia. Its volunteers received German uniforms and arms and was attached to the 1st Battalion of the Regiment Brandenburg-800. 24 The division was jointly commanded by Roman Shukhevych, a Ukrainian, and Theodor Oberländer, a German.25
Shukhevych played a key role in organizing the Second Congress (II Velykyi Zbir) of the Bandera Wing of the OUN, held in Nazi-occupied Krakow in April, 1941.26 At this conference, the influences of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy were particularly strong, something that found an expression in the anti-democratic platform adopted.27 The OUN(b) endorsed the removal of all “non-Ukrainians” living in Ukraine and the liquidation of “Polish, Muscovite, and Jewish activists.”28 Nachtigall participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June, 1941, took part in the capture of L’viv, Zolochiv, Ternopil’ and Vinnytsia. Bloody pogroms and mass murders were carried out in these cities, and soldiers of Nachtigall participated in the slaughter of Jews.29 The German refusal to accept the OUN(b)’s June 30 proclamation of Ukrainian independence in L’viv led to a conflict with the leadership of the Nachtigall battalion. On August 13, 1941, it was ordered to return from Vinnytsia to Neuhammer and disarmed at gunpoint. Its members were then transported to Frankfurt an der Oder. On October 21, 1941, the soldiers were reorganized as the 201st Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft Battalion, consisting of four companies. Roman Shukhevych’s title was that of Hauptsturmführer (captain) of the first company and deputy commander of the legion.30 Even though enrollment was voluntary, of the some 300 remaining members of the Nachtigall division, only about 15 declined to sign up for service in the Schutzmannschaften.31 Almost all of its members belonged to the OUN.32 To the battalion were added 60 Soviet POWs from Poltava and Dnipropetrovs’k oblasti, selected by Shukhevych.33 After training in Germany, Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 was assigned to Belarus on February 16, 1942. The soldiers signed a one-year contract with the Germans.34 The men of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 wore German Police Uniforms without national symbols. On March 16, 1942, the battalion arrived in Belarus and was spread out over 12 different points in the triangle Mahiliou-Vitsebsk-Lepel’, guarding a territory of 2,400 square kilometers.35 Frank Golczewski describes the activities of Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 as “fighting partisans and killing Jews.”36 On December 1, 1942, the contracts of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 expired. The Schutzmannschaften had originally agreed to serve until December 31, 1942. Yet, in late 1942, facing an increase in the insurgence of the pro-Soviet partisans, the German authorities extended the Schutzmannschaften’s term of services for an unspecified period of time.37 On January 6, 1943, the battalion was sent to L’viv where most members arrived January 8. An arrest warrant was issued for Shukhevych, but he managed to escape and went underground.38 The officers returned on January 5, the last soldiers left on January 14, 1943.39 Together with several thousand Ukrainian policemen who had deserted the Germans, they formed the backbone of the UPA. From March 15 to April 15, 1943, close to 4,000 Ukrainian former Schutzmänner joined the UPA.40 The skills acquired in 1941-1942 became useful in the UPA’s ethnic cleansing of the Poles of Volhynia.41 In the spring of 1943, the men of the Schutzmannschaft battalion 201, who had crossed over from Belarus to Volhynia came to constitute the heart of the OUN(b) security service, the Sluzhba Bezpeki, or SB, under Mykola Lebed, who also led the OUN until August 1943.42 Other officers of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 became officers in the Waffen SS Galizien.43 From 1943 until his death in 1950, Shukhevych commanded the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, one of the the most forceful armed resistance movements on Soviet territory.
Shukhevych’s defiant resistance to Stalinism has exercised a powerful appeal to the patriotic imagination of many Ukrainians, particularly in the western part of the country. However, there is a different side to his career, which may prove harder to reconcile with the image of Shukhevych as symbol of national reconciliation. While many of the controversies around Shukhevych’s person are linked to his, and Nachtigall’s role in the pogroms and the murder of 45 Polish professors in L’viv in the summer of 1941, or UPA’s destruction of the Polish community in Volhynia in 1943, Shukhevych’s whereabouts in 1942 are by no means uncontroversial. Most of Shukhevych nationalist biographers downplay or omit this period of Shukhevych life.44 Shukhevych’s elevation to a national hero has led to much speculation about the nature of his activities during the “missing year” of 1942.
Heroic representations of Shukhevych
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Shukhevych has been promoted as a national hero for the Ukrainian state. Since independence, a nationalist lobby with considerable influence, particularly in Western Ukraine and in the Ukrainian diaspora has worked to have Shukhevych recognized as a national hero. Shukhevych has long been central to the identity of the Ukrainian diaspora. In 2007, on the centennial of Shukhevych birth, the editors of the Litopys UPA, the multivolume collection of material on the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, dedicated two entire volumes to Shukhevych. The editors are fairly open about the hagiographic nature of their work. Mykola Posivnych’s introduction to Volume 45 of the massive Litopys Ukraїns’koї Povstans’koї Armiї [The Chronicle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army] “dedicated to the glorious memory of Brigadier-General Roman Shukhevych – ‘Taras Chuprynka.’” concisely articulate the traditional diaspora view:
Roman Shukhevych occupies an exceptional place in the twentieth century pantheon of Ukraine’s national warriors. He was one of the organizers of the struggle against all occupiers of Ukraine…The life and deeds of the commander in chief of the UPA, Brigadier-General Roman Shukhevych – “Taras Chuprynka” – are a shining example of the heroic struggles for Ukrainian statehood and should serve as a model to be emulated by future generations of Ukrainians.45
Shukhevych is presented as the man who “in the late 1940s headed the struggle against the two largest totalitarian regimes in the world – the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany…In these memoirs this celebrated military-political figure, leading member of the OUN, and commander in chief of the UPA is portrayed as a brilliant student, athlete, musician, military man, politician, and businessman.”46 Shukhevych is described as “a beacon that shows the path for the young generation,” and his service in Belarus as “a great example of heroic character, the highest ethical values, national honor, and Christian morality.”47
However, the editors are less forthcoming about what they choose not to include. Primary sources are edited in such a way that critical assessments of Shukhevych by other OUN leaders are omitted.48 The 576-page Volume 45 remains largely silent on Shukhevych’s whereabouts in 1942, avoiding the very term Schutzmannschaften. The account of his whereabouts from fall 1941 to early 1943 is short.
In August the legion was removed from the front, its members interned and then transferred to Germany. Here the Ukrainian soldiers reorganized themselves into Defensive Battalion No. 201, and in keeping with a separate contract were compelled to agree to an additional year of service. On 16 March 1942 the battalion was deployed to Belarus, to the vicinity of the town of Borovka, to protect military installations and fight Soviet partisans. After one year of service all the soldiers, led by Shukhevych, refused to continue serving. On 6 January 1943 they were sent under guard to L’viv, where they arrived on 8 January 1943. Shukhevych, who knew that all of the officers would be arrested, slipped away from the Gestapo and disappeared.49
Volume 10 of the New Series of Litopys UPA is a little more elaborate, alluding to atrocities in Belarus, but that Shukhevych managed to maintain human decency.
The struggle against the partisans in Belarus was difficult and exhausting, and the laurels of victory did not fall to either the Germans or their allies, including the soldiers of the Ukrainian police battalion. According to V. Ianiv, “this was a horrible time” in Shukhevych’s life, who was forced “to play the role of the Germans’ friend to the last minute” although “his heart was breaking from pain.” Myroslav Kal’ba recalls that Shukhevych and other Ukrainian commanders sought to avoid taking part in the Nazis’ punitive actions against the local population and tried to evade the food requisitions, declaring “that we were sent here to fight, not loot.”
In taking direct part in battles against the Belarusian partisans and studying the Nazis’ anti-partisan operations, Shukhevych not only acquired combat experience but also absorbed the rules of partisan warfare. In our opinion, he became one of the finest adepts of this specific form of armed struggle in the ranks of the Ukrainian liberation movement.50
Nationalist assessments of the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201
More research is needed in order to establish the exact role and whereabouts of the 201st division and their activities. Older pro-OUN/pro-UPA accounts tend to overlook or ignore the period between August 1941 and January 1943 entirely.51 Recent accounts either diminish the importance of his whereabouts in 1942 or portray Shukhevych’s presence in Belarus as a benign tutorial in patriotism for the Belarusian population, an opportunity for them to advance the relatively underdeveloped Belarusian national consciousness.52 Some supporters of Shukkhevych deny that there were any “real” partisans in Belarus at this point and alternatively that no civilians were victims of the activities of the Schutzmannschaft battalion 201. “In Belarus, the members of the battalion strived to help the local population in any way they could – even though it was strictly forbidden,” writes Schutzmann Myroslav Kal’ba in 2005.53 By and large, the pro-Shukhevych narratives uncritically accept the Schutzmänner’s versions of history, neither of which mention any war crimes or abuses committed against the local population.54 By contrast, killings, attacks and abuses carried out by the pro-Soviet partisans are described in great detail.55
On February 20, 1942, the Legion was sent on military operations. It was sent to a part of Belarus, terrorized by Muscovite-MGB partisans. Much like in the adjacent Ukrainian territories, [the MGB] terrorized the population mercilessly, purposely provoking the German Army and their Polish allies into harsh punitive actions…During its nine-month protective assignment the officers and soldiers of the Legion took every chance to work to enhance the national consciousness of the local population and to implant a conviction that a free and prosperous life is possible only in a powerful, independent state. With that aim the officers and the instructors provided specialized education for hundreds of young Belarusians, preparing them for struggle not only against the Russian-Bolshevik invaders. This could not be talked about openly. Yet, the Ukrainian legionnaires were able to rescue many Belarusian patriots, supporters of state independence from both the Gestapo, and the MGB, which operated under the auspices of Bolshevik partisans. There were many such cases, when such people were able to engage [the local Belarusians] in serious battles or assist them through powerful military support.56
A common theme for Shukhevych’s admirers is that they all reject the notion that there would have been anything unethical in Shukhevych’s collaboration with the Germans in 1941 and 1942.
Did [Shukhevych] have the right to collaborate with evil Germany? In order to answer that question we again need to evaluate the situation not from the perspective of 2008, or even 1945, but only 1941, when that decision was made. However, for us the German army means millions of victims. It means that, what was put on trial at in Nuremberg in 1945. But that had not yet happened in 1941….Thanks to legionnaires in foreign armies they were able to create a national army, and in that way the Greeks, Poles, Czechs, and Hungarians were able to achieve independence….Yes, Shukhevych fought in 1941-1942 in a German uniform, but wearing it does not mean that he assumed responsibility for all crimes, committed by the soldiers of the German army…There are practically no documentary sources on Roman Shukhevych’s stay in Belarus, as all the only recollection of the activities of that period are the memoirs of one comrade from the Battalion. Despite this, after it was established that Shukhevych’s alleged participation in anti-Jewish actions in 1941 was a hoax, [some people] have begun trying to untwist the problem about his possible participation in the pacification against the Belarusian population in 1942. However, if there are no documents, then it will be difficult to prove that Shukhevych did not participate in such actions. Again there is the presumption of guilt.57
Even so, V’’iatrovych categorically denies that Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 committed any crimes against civilians.
In Belarus the 201st Ukrainian battalion was not concentrated in place, as it was protecting bridges over the rivers Biarezina and Dzvina. The detachments in the small villages were also assigned to protect the local German administration. Towards the end of November 1942, in order to avoid further losses, the Ukrainian officers decided to curtail, as much as possible, the battalions’ active participation in German military actions. On December 1, 1942 the soldiers of the battalion declined to renew the contract with the Germans, which led to the arrest of many of them, and their leaders, in particular. Others, including Roman Shukhevych, were able to escape. All together, many soldiers of the battalion joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, where they, as well-prepared soldiers, chose to take up commanding positions. In the functions of that army, defending the Ukrainian population, they fought honorably against their former allies, the Germans.58
In an attempt to reconcile his position that OUN adopted an anti-German line already by the end of 1941, with the fact that Shukhevych kept serving in German uniform until 1943, V’’iatrovych compares Shukhevych’s service in the Schutzmannschaften with Neville Chamberlain.
“After the Germans failed to recognize the Act of Renewal of Ukrainian Independence on June 30, 1941 and the Stet’sko government, and instead began to repress its leadership, the OUN pursued an anti-German political line.” To the obvious follow-up question, as to why Shukhevych then collaborated with the Abwehr from 1939 and then signed up for the Schutzmannschaften V’’iatrovych answers “Shukhevych, as an individual, had the right to collaborate with the [German military] intelligence. We cannot avoid that moment, but evaluate the goals he set up for himself. That goal was one – the formation of an armed formation, which could become the kernel of a Ukrainian army. Very many of the officers of the Nachtigall later became commanders of the UPA. And why did France and Britain have the right to collaborate with Germany during 1938-1939, why did the Soviet Union have the right to collaborate with Germany during 1939-1941?...OUN-UPA was a force that dared to challenge both totalitarianisms: the German as well as the Soviet. Even Churchill made compromises with one evil in order to fight the other. And already in 1946 he realized that they, after destroying one, had supported another.”59
On the question why Shukhevych did not immediately turn his weapons against the Germans after they had lied to him and arrested the leadership of the OUN, V’’iatrovych responded
Let’s be realistic. Roman Shukhevych commanded 700 soldiers, the Wehrmacht, at that time, close to half a million. To turn the weapons against the Wehrmacht in 1941 and tell them: ‘now Roland and Nachtigall will fight the Wehrmacht’ would have meant that they would have been killed on the spot…Until the end of 1942 the soldiers were bound by a contract, which tied them to the Schutzmannschaft battalion. When the contract ended, those people declared: we will no longer serve with you. That decision cost many of them their lives.
Q: They say that after 1942, Shukhevych fought against Belarusian partisans and Poles?
A: The Schutzmannschaft battalion, in which the former Nachtigall members, among them Shukhevych, served, ended its activities in the end of 1942. After that the majority of the boys joined the ranks of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. And anyway, what partisans were there in 1942 in Belarus?
Q: Vasyl Bykau writes, that there were…
A: Vasyl Bykau was a novelist. Let’s look at the documents. The documents show that there were special groups, created under the leadership of the NKVD, who infiltrated and carried out acts of sabotage behind the German lines. To call them partisans is difficult, since partisans are rebels, organized by the local population….
Q: As a historian, can you say that Shukhevych did not participate in [anti-]Jewish pogroms?
Q: Likewise, can you say that Shukhevych did not participate in the killing of peaceful Belarusian and Polish civilians?
A: Very interesting question regarding peaceful population during partisan warfare… In conventional warfare, one soldier differs from another by his uniform. Is it possible to consider Poles or Belarusians a peaceful population, if they work as ordinary villagers, during the day, only to arm themselves in the evening and attack the village? How should they be regarded – as Polish or Ukrainian [soldiers]? With a machine gun – he is a soldier, with a hoe – a peaceful civilian? When such a person is killed in an armed conflict, should he be regarded as a killed civilian or as a military casualty?60
Here lies another danger with the legitimizing narrative: in his eager to justify Shukhevych’s collaborating unit, V’’iatrovych downplay, even justify the Schutzmannschaften’s pursuance of civilians.
Alternative explanations to Shukhevych’s whereabouts are circulating in the Ukrainian media. The “independent researcher” Parmen Posokhov questions the nationalist claim that the Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 guarded the communication infrastructure, such as bridges over the rivers Biarezina and Dzvina. Posokhov asserts that “the Biarezina river with her bridges were not included in the responsibilities of the 201st battalion, although it floated by nearby,” and that the Dzvina river was located too far away from the battalion. He also questions the assumption that there was a weapons and ammunition depot in Lepel’, guarded by Shukhevych and his comrades. Lepel’, Posokhov argues, had no strategic importance. The Lepel’ station was little more than a shack and the city was connected by only one paved road. Furthermore, the population there was small. It would make no sense to keep a weapons and ammunition supply at a place with such poor communications, Posokhov argues. Since transports of strategic importance did not pass through the area more than once a month, he concludes that using a whole battalion for this purpose was illogical. Instead, Posekhov suggests that there could have been a secret Abwehr training camp in Lepel’. There was a sanatorium 28 kilometers from Lepel’, Lesnye Ozera, where the Germans vacationed. They had entrusted members of the OUN for its protection.61 Posokhov backs up his claim by referring to the memoirs of Nikolai Ippolitovich Obryn’ba, a Soviet POW, who was interned in Lepel’. He provides an account of the German “schools in Lepel’, which prepared saboteurs for provocations, intelligence work, the mining of roads, the destruction of wells, and the murder of partisan commanders.”62
Ukraїns’ka Pravda published a similar assessment by Serhii Hrabovs’kyi, a member of the Association of Ukrainian Writers.
[T]he supreme commander of the UPA and the people he commanded were hardly any more “collaborators” than, say, the leaders of the Judenräte in the Nazi-occupied territories, and no more “fascists” than the Gaullists of the French resistance…Strictly speaking, almost all serious researchers speak about the absence of a serious popular partisan movement and battles between “real” partisans (and not intelligence officers and NKVD provocateurs) and the police and parts of the Wehrmacht until 1943. In regards to the 201st battalion, scholars and publicists of diametrically opposed ideological perspectives agree that it did not rush into battle, but at times reached a neutrality agreement with the partisans (Shukhevych, in particular, was interested in such an agreement), though, without doubt, there were battles with victims on both sides. 63
Using examples from 1943, Hrabovs’kyi focuses on atrocities of pro-Soviet partisans against the local Belarusian population. After giving an example of how Soviet partisans cut the throat of an under-aged girl, Hrabovs’kyi asks, rhetorically:
It was this kind of “operations” the Kutuzov Soviet partisan division, commanded by Israil Lapidus carried out. The people were of the same lot as Lazar Kaganovich, who pathetically stressed “I am not a Jew, I am a Bolshevik!” Do we need to question whether the Ukrainian nationalists had the moral right to fight such partisans? ...Naturally, among the Soviet partisans as well as with the OUN there were various kinds of people. Of course it is not possible to portray the warriors of the UPA and their commanders as angels – as the last supreme commander of the insurgents, Vasyl’ Kuk put it: “they killed and we killed.” My purpose is not to “justify” Roman Shukhevych – after all, his political principles, expressed in the programs of the Third Congress of the OUN(b), have today entered the Ukrainian constitution, while the Bolshevik ideology has been thrown on the dust heap of history…I call on politicians and journalists, among them Israeli: do not rush to make simple conclusions regarding “Ukrainian fascists”…64
Shukhevych’s son Iuri, who received the award on behalf of his father, maintains the view that Shukhevych was just an independence fighter, whose alliance with Nazi Germany was strictly tactical:
Let us look at the events of World War II in other countries. In Burma there was Aun Sang, who formed military formations on the side of the Japanese to fight the English colonizers. As a result, Burma became an independent state in 1948! The Indian legions, created by Chandra Bos – the leader of Indian National Congress – fought England as an ally not only of the Japanese, but also of the Germans (!). It was formed in Europe out of captive Hindus. This is not held against them. The Union of Young Officers, which under the leadership of Gamal Abdel Nasser fought for the independence of Egypt against the English, received assistance from Mussolini. That cooperation did not discredit Nasser [in the eyes of the Soviets] who, after becoming president of Egypt, received the order of Hero of the Soviet Union!
Q: Nachtigall, together with Rolland, formed the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201, which fought partisans in Belarus. Is it correct that Roman Shukhevych on October 14 1942 did not desert from the battalion, but was assigned the task to track down Jews, hiding in Belarusian and Ukrainian forests?
A: Nonsense. The dissolution of the battalion began in the fall of 1942. Initially the privates were dismissed, but father stayed there until January 1943. And when the leader of the battalion was taken to Germany, father, at the time in Konotop or in Bakhmach, was informed that Gestapo may arrest him. Also, the leading members of the Provid of the OUN, led by Bandera had been arrested, as we know, already in July of 1941…What kind of killing of Jews in Ukraine could there have been, when he was stationed around Vitsebsk?65