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Post Stepan Bandera: Historical Revisionism in Ukraine
Created by John Eipper on 12/16/18 3:45 PM

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Stepan Bandera: Historical Revisionism in Ukraine (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 12/16/18 3:45 pm)

The new democratic Ukraine, darling of the US Empire and the EU (but what about the average Polish citizen who remembers the massacre of Volyn?) has taken another big step towards a complete historical revisionism.

The controversial Stepan Bandera (1909-1959; killed by the KGB?) was the leader of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) who proclaimed the independent state of Ukraine and fought alongside the forces of the Axis during WWII. In recent days he has been honored by the Lviv Oblast, following the town of Zhytomyt, with the proclamation naming the year 2019 in his honor. Several cities in West Ukraine have made him an honorary citizen. The two major political parties have requested president Poroshenko to restore Bandera's title of Hero of Ukraine. This honor had been given to him by Yuschenko but rescinded by Yanukovic. Of course this move greatly angers Russia.

In the city of Lviv, the two main streets are named Bandera and Heroes of UPA, the armed force (Ukrainian Independence Movement) of the OUN.

The UPA was accused of killing at least 60,000 Poles, at Volyn and elsewhere. They also killed many Jews, even if the UPA was not officially anti-Semitic and Jews were welcomed in their ranks when convenient. However the Poles reciprocated the ethnic cleansing in 1947 with Operation Vistula, expelling 140,000 Ukrainians.

By the way, in the Baltic States the Veterans of the Waffen SS Division Wiking, 1° and 2° Latvian and Estonian, are highly esteemed.

This revisionism, instead of being considered an anathema in the West, should be frankly and fairly studied country by country, fact by fact, and it should reject the usual manicheanism or more precisely, the new Western religion of Good versus Evil.

JE comments: Stepan Bandera is a bogeyman at WAIS HQ. My father-in-law was born during the war in the Volyn region, and lived through a lifetime of horrors before age three. Two years ago the biggest film of the summer in Poland was Volyn, telling the story of the massacre from the Polish perspective.

Bandera is a case study on the problem of militant nationalists. Was he a "freedom fighter" against Soviet (now Russian) tyranny, or a genocidal Nazi sympathizer? My enigmatic answer would be...both.

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  • Stepan Bandera (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 12/23/18 3:51 AM)
    I do not have much time to comment on Eugenio Battaglia's one-sided look on Ukraine in general and Stepan Bandera in particular (16 December), so I shall only say no, Eugenio, you are not right in any of your suppositions.

    Eugenio's argument about the massacre of Volyn is also inappropriate because then we have to remember the Katyn massacre where, of course, the blame is on Stalin, Beria and the rest of the Soviet Politburo but also on Great Britain and France for not fulfilling their obligations in September 1939. We can also remember the fate of the Polish government-in-exile in London thanks to the British appeasement, as well as the Warsaw uprising, and Munich, and plenty of other historical episodes that an "average Polish citizen" neither remembers nor knows in detail or historical perspective these days while a shame is on "great democracies" who do their best to forget it.

    If Poland, which I know well and love so much not least of all because by wife is Polish, did remember all the harm inflicted by foreign governments even during its 20th century history, it would be at war with Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Lithuania (EU), Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and a few other countries.

    Regarding Stepan Bandera, he was a Ukrainian patriot all right. And he did not like the Germans, the Russians or the Poles. He refused to collaborate with the Nazis and spent the whole war in a concentration camp. Bandera was not "killed" but assassinated on Moscow's orders by the Ukrainian KGB illegal Bogdan Stashinsky in Munich in 1959. Both MI6 and the CIA knew very well that Bandera was not a Nazi collaborator (check unclassified CIA files on him dating back to 1947-'59) and went out of their way to please him and gain his favour. In my book Assassins (see Amazon), there's a whole chapter on this case.

    Merry Christmas to all WAISers and--I agree with Cameron Sawyer--do not worry about Russian naval bases anywhere, it is just pulling the wool over some naïve people's eyes.

    JE comments:  Same to you and yours, Boris!  I must say I'm not clear here on your appraisal of Bandera.  He indeed is reviled by the Poles, at least those (such as Aldona's family) who had direct experience of Volyn.  Why is remembering Volyn "inappropriate"?  Historians in any case pay far more attention to the Katyn massacre.

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    • Stepan Bandera; Ital0-Polish Relations (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 12/24/18 3:33 PM)
      Frankly I cannot understand why Boris Volodarsky in his post of 23 December wrote that I was "not right in any of [my] suppositions."

      I generally do not present suppositions; I write what I believe to be the truth. I fully agree, anyway, with Boris on almost all his statements. Several times I have already said that Poland was continuously betrayed and used by the West. Moreover, I have pointed out the possibility of the assassination of Sikorski, leader of the Polish government-in-exile, by British intelligence.

      About Stepan Bandera, according to my information, I have a different view. He indeed fought on the side of the Axis during WWII. He was for a certain time in a German concentration camp because of his independent attitude, but then was freed and returned to his fight alongside the Axis. He continued also after the end of the war, supported by the Black Airplanes of the CIA dropping supplies and by the British SIS, later denounced by the spy Philby.

      But it is imperative for me to correct one thing. Italy was always a friend of Poland (at least since 1848 if not earlier). Please see the book of Krzysztof Strzalka (do not ask me to pronounce this!) "Between friendship and hostility: History of the Polish-Italian relations 1939-1945."

      In the earliest times Mussolini sought to form an alliance of Poland, Germany, and Italy against the Soviets.

      On 3 January 1940 Mussolini wrote a letter to Hitler in defense of the heroic Polish people, and Hitler himself recognized their heroism.

      The Italian Authorities, as per Mussolini's orders, did their best to help Polish refugees transiting through or residing in Italy. They helped the extended family of the Great Rabbi Alter to escape to Palestine. At least 2000 people, Christians and Jews, used the former Italian Embassy at Warsaw to escape (see the above-mentioned book of Strzalka).

      The said Italian Mission helped the wife of General Wladyslaw Sikorski to escape to Italy. Also 103 professors of the Jagellonska University of Krakow could be saved and out of gratitude they presented to Il Duce a rare edition of the work of the great Stanislaw Wyspianski.

      After Italy entered in war, 10 June 1940, the Polish Government-in-Exile had to break diplomatic relations with Italy, but the Foreign Minister Ciano informed the Polish Ambassador that he could remain in Italy, officially as private citizen, as long as he liked.

      The kingdom of Italy and the RSI were never at war against Poland.  Of course, some forces of the RSI fought against the Polish soldiers of the great General Alexander in Emilia Romagna. However, the Poles did not behave according to the International Conventions for the protection of prisoners. Apparently for them whoever was fighting alongside the Germans deserved a good beating or even death. But the same soldiers gave a good beating to some Communist partisans too, so as you see they were not such bad fellows after all. Anyway, this fact has not damaged the traditional friendship between the two peoples.

      About the forgotten facts, who remember the 59,000 German civilians killed by Poles in September 1939 in the areas occupied by Poland in 1919? At the time for the Germans, this was a very upsetting fact.

      Finally I do not see myself as one-sided toward Ukraine. It is true that I supported independence from the USSR, but I also believe that Crimea is Russian.

      JE comments: Eugenio, what specifically do you mean by the 59,000 German civilians "killed by Poles" after 1 September 1939?

      Regardless, ‘tis the Season (midnight has already arrived in Europe), and I wish you and your family the very happiest of Christmases.  Here at WAIS HQ, we're preparing the chimney for Santa's visit.

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      • Stepan Bandera; Postwar British Espionage in Ukraine (Boris Volodarsky, Austria 12/27/18 4:15 AM)

        Merry Christmas!

        These festive days are not the best time for fierce political discussions or a battle of wits; therefore I shall explain my view of Bandera in straightforward terms for Eugenio Battaglia (24 December).

        "I generally do not present suppositions," Eugenio stated. "I write what I believe to be the truth." Linguistically, supposition is interpreted as "a belief held without proof or certain knowledge; an assumption or hypothesis."

        Politically, one should differentiate between Stepan Bandera and the Ukrainian nationalist resistance movement, Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, whose pro-Western Galician-centred wing (OUN-B) was headed by Bandera and another, OUN-M, by his political rival, Andrey Melnyk. The OUN was led by Eugene Konovalets, who made contacts with German military intelligence, the Abwehr. "The intense interest shown by the Nazis in the Ukrainian problem," writes Stephen Dorril, a very reliable researcher and academic, "aroused the anxiety of the Polish government and provoked a series of trials, banishments and executions, which created in the OUN a hatred of ‘the Polish orientation'."  This culminated in the murder of Polish Interior Minister General Peiracki in June 1934. The Polish authorities arrested a number of OUN leaders who had conspired in attacks on Polish officials, including Stepan Bandera, Mykola Lebed and Yaroslav Stetsko. At the beginning of 1936, a Warsaw court handed down death sentences which were later commuted to life."

        While Bandera was in prison, several of his followers were recruited by the MI6 head of station in Finland, Harry Carr, and used as a network of informants inside the Soviet Union. In May 1938 Konovalets was assassinated in Rotterdam by the Soviet NKVD illegal Pavel Sudoplatov, later head of its Special Tasks department that exists until this day.

        Andrey Melnyk, Richard Iarii and Roman Sushko, who was head of the OUN military organisation, continued to develop close ties with the Abwehr.

        In the confusion that followed the events of September 1939, Bandera, Lebed and others were released from the recently created Bereza Kartuska prison that ceased to exists immediately after the Soviet invasion of Poland of September 17-18. They immediately began to challenge the authority of the OUN leadership. At the heart of the dispute was the wish to launch a more active policy in pursuit of Ukrainian independence.

        When operation Barbarossa was launched on 22 June 1941, the OUN-B's military formation codenamed NACHTIGALL advanced with the Wehrmacht to Lviv, reaching the city in the morning of 30 June. Prior to their withdrawal from Lviv, Soviet NKVD personnel had slaughtered 3,000 political prisoners, mostly Ukrainian nationalists, and a few Jewish Zionists.

        On 15 September 1941, the Gestapo arrested two thousand Ukrainian nationalists. Melnyk was put under house arrest, while Bandera and a number of other leading OUN members were transferred from Berlin, where Bandera was recalled from Kraków where he had remained after his release from prison, and placed in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In October 1944, as Ukraine finally came under Soviet control, Melnyk, Bandera and their supporters were released from detention to organise a final defence. The peak of the Volhynia massacre, carried out by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), happened in July and August 1943. Its commander was senior Nachtigall officer Roman Shukhevych (nom de guerre "Taras Chuprynka").

        In what concerns the intelligence history, Philby was posted by MI6 to Turkey in January 1947 posing as First Secretary of the British embassy in Istanbul. In this capacity, he only had access to the British operation CLIMBER penetrating Georgian agents from Turkey into the Soviet Georgia. Operation INTEGRAL, to send agents into Soviet Ukraine, was controlled by Harry Carr at the headquarters, controller of the MI6's Northern Department, and in charge of the operation were Colonel Harold "Gibby" Gibson and Hubert O'Bryan Tear, who later served in Moscow. Ukrainians, primarily from OUN-B, were trained at the London's Holland Park special school and then parachuted primarily into the western regions. Although Yuri Modin, who claimed to have been a controller of Philby (which is not true), boasted that Philby betrayed all agents to the NKVD-MGB, this could not have been the case because he knew only those few who were dispatched from Turkey. Although all drops of the Ukrainian agents were successful, nothing more was heard from them and they were assumed to have been captured, which was an easy and convenient explanation. What happened to them in reality is a mystery.

        At the end of 1949, Philby who arrived in Washington as the new SIS liaison officer with the CIA and Frank Wisner's Office of Policy Co-Ordination (OPC), tried to interest the Americans in taking over the entire British-funded Ukrainian network and other émigré groups because of his service's lack of funds. The Americans initially balked at the suggestion because of the known fascist past of the agents...

        JE comments:  All the Christmas best to you, Boris!  The complexity of the Ukraine "problem" is not for the faint of heart--note the intrigues of Germany, Britain, Poland, the Soviet Union, and later the US.  In slightly altered form, the narrative continues to this day.

        Boris, is it safe to say that Bandera was not responsible for the Volyn massacres, given that he was in German custody at the time?  Or was he still directing UPA from the concentration camp, possibly with German complicity?

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