Getting To Know Stepan Bandera And What He Means For Ukraine’s Fight With Russia
ARE you familiar with the name Stepan Bandera?
He was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army leader Stepan Bandera who fought against both Nazis and Red Army soldiers during World War II in a bid to create an independent Ukraine. On October 15, 1959, he died. He’d been poisoned on a Munich street by the KGB.
He’s back in the news. The ousted Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, has slammed the “Banderite thugs” who forced him to flee. The country’s far-right Svoboda party heaps praise upon Bandera and his Organisation for Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The Russian view Bandera and his followers as fascists, keepers of the Nazi ideals the Soviets fought to defeat.
History is alive in the Ukraine.
Here’s a line to ponder:
“Jewish oligarchs and Jewish-Bolsheviks control Ukraine. [We must do more to halt the] criminal activities of organised Jewry.”
Those are the words of Oleh Tyahnybok (pictured below), who has just been brought to power in Ukraine by the West. His ultra-nationalist Svoboda party talks of a “Muscovite-Jewish mafia”.
The nationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party has four posts in the new Ukrainian government. Oleksandr Sych is deputy prime minister and Oleh Makhnitsky becomes acting chief prosecutor. It also runs the agriculture and ecology portfolios but its leader, who has been accused of anti-Semitism, is not in the government.
The party’s support have been filmed calling for action against the “Zhis” (kikes).
He is part of the undemocratic regime now in charge of the Ukraine. We’ve seen similar event already elsewhere in the world thanks to the EU and US.
So. Bandera? William Risch has some background:
Bandera is a polarizing figure in Ukraine. For Ukrainians from central, eastern, and southern Ukraine, he represents collaboration with the Nazis during World War II and the mass murder of Soviet civilians. Bandera’s OUN fraction had collaborated with Nazi Germany before World War II, and on June 30, 1941, it tried to set up an independent Ukrainian state under Nazi protection in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv. Bandera’s subsequent arrest and imprisonment in the Saxenhausen concentration camp did little to dispel this image of Bandera and the “Banderites.” The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), organized by Bandera’s followers, was responsible for killing 40,000 – 60,000 Poles in the Volhynia Region in 1943. Early UPA recruits included former members of police battalions involved in the mass killing of the region’s Jews.
The nationalist organization under the leadership of Stepan Bandera actively cooperated with Hitler’s troops during the war, fighting against Jews, Russians and Poles. The Soviet Army eliminated Bandera’s army only in the late 1950s. “Svoboda” (“Freedom”) was founded after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Its leaders were included on the top ten list of most active anti-Semites of the world and called on to fight with “goat-likes [Russians] and kikes.”
Boris Danik has more in the Kyiv Post:
For someone decidedly critical of right-wing politics — in Ukraine as well as in the USA — to defend the memory of Bandera is indeed a matter of fairness and not ideological inclination. It is for me. Bandera is someone who spent most of the war in a Nazi concentration camp, where also his two brothers were murdered. He is someone who, with the OUN, openly stood up against Adolf Hitler, by declaring an independent Ukraine in Lviv on June 30, 1941, eight days after the start of German – Soviet hostilities. It promptly led to his arrest and jailing of his closest cohorts. That was when many well known personalities in western Europe, yes, cooperated with the Nazis to avoid Hitler’s wrath.
And he is someone who, alone among Ukraine’s so-called leaders of that time, postulated an axiom saying that national liberation must rely on own forces, and not on foreign assistance. It was the time when the country was prostrate on its back under Stalin’s boot.
He omits to mention what the Associated Press opts to leave in:
Bandera did collaborate with the Nazis and receive German funding for subversive acts in the USSR as German forces advanced across Poland and into the Soviet Union at the start of the war. He fell out with the Nazis in 1941, after the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists declared Ukraine’s independence, and he was sent to a concentration camp.Bandera won back Germany’s support in 1944, and he was released. The German army was hoping the Ukrainian insurgents could stop the advance of the Soviet army, which had regained control over much of eastern Ukraine by then. Bandera set up a headquarters in Berlin and oversaw the training of Ukrainian insurgents by the German army.
Bandera is a polarising presence.
On January 20, 2010, third Ukrainian President Viktor Yuschenko conferred the Hero of Ukrainian title to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
On August 2, 2011 the Higher Administrative Court of Ukraine upheld a ruling of Donetsk Circuit Court dated April 2, 2010 and a ruling of Donetsk Administrative Court of Appeals dated June 23, 2010 that declared illegal Yuschenko’s decree dated January 20, 2010 conferring the Hero of Ukraine title to Bandera.
Ben Macintyre adds:
…alongside the extremists stands a more moderate brand of nationalism that sees Bandera as part of a tradition of national self-determination and Ukrainian independence stretching through the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.
Last January some 15,000 people turned out in a torchlight procession in Kiev to celebrate Bandera’s 105th birthday. By no means all of them were neo-Nazi thugs…
The nationalists following Bandera fought a bitter and protracted partisan war against Soviet forces, with backing from the West. Kim Philby, the Soviet spy, was then working in MI6 and played a key role in infiltrating anti-communist insurgents behind the Iron Curtain. “The Ukrainian fascists of Stepan Bandera”, he wrote, were “the darlings of the British”.
The Soviet Union finally prevailed, but not before thousands of Ukrainians had died, fighting what they saw as a Soviet occupation. In Soviet propaganda, these nationalist Ukrainians were demonised as “German-Ukrainian Fascists”, much the same language that is being used by Russia today. The death toll in the fight against communism was particularly horrific in western Ukraine; Nazi oppression had been worst in the east. The name of Stepan Bandera therefore means diametrically different things depending on whether the hearer is in the Russian-speaking east or a Ukrainian-speaker from the west, pro-Russian or nationalist.
The crisis in Ukraine has been portrayed as straightforward geopolitics, with one side looking to Russia, the other leaning to Europe. An equally important perspective is historical. Both sides in the dispute are demanding recognition for historical sacrifice: in Russia, for lives lost and ruined in fighting the long war against fascism; among Ukrainian nationalists, for the long and bloody fight to throw off Soviet domination. The confrontation is about conflicting interpretations of history, with Stepan Bandera as the lightning rod.
A fight continues…