Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) (Ukrainian: Організація Українських Націоналістів (ОУН), Orhanizatsiya Ukrayins'kykh Natsionalistiv) was a radical far-right Ukrainian ultranationalist political organization established in 1929 in Vienna. The organization first operated in Eastern Galicia (then part of interwar Poland). It emerged as a union between the Ukrainian Military Organization, smaller radical right-wing groups, and right-wing Ukrainian nationalists and intellectuals represented by Dmytro Dontsov, Yevhen Konovalets, Mykola Stsyborsky and other figures.[nb 1]
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Організація Українських Націоналістів
|Leader||Bohdan Kravciv (first)|
Volodymyr Timtchyj (last)
|Paramilitary Wing||Ukrainian Insurgent Army|
|Colors||Red and black|
|Anthem||March of Ukrainian Nationalists|
The ideology of the OUN is described as similar to Italian fascism. The OUN sought to infiltrate legal political parties, universities and other political structures and institutions.[nb 2] OUN strategies to achieve Ukrainian independence included violence and terrorism against perceived foreign and domestic enemies, particularly Poland, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union.
In 1940 the OUN split into two parts. The older, more moderate members supported Andriy Melnyk and the OUN-M, while the younger and more radical members supported Stepan Bandera's OUN-B. After the start of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), the OUN-B in the person of Yaroslav Stetsko declared an independent Ukrainian state on 30 June 1941 in occupied Lviv, while the region was under the control of Nazi Germany, pledging loyalty to the Adolf Hitler. In response, the Nazi authorities suppressed the OUN leadership. In October 1942 the OUN-B established the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).
To pre-empt future Polish efforts at re-establishing Poland's pre-war borders, in 1943–1944 some UPA military units carried out large-scale ethnic cleansing against Polish people. Historians estimate that 100,000 Polish civilians were massacred in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia.
After World War II the UPA fought against Soviet and Polish government forces. During Operation Vistula in 1947, the Polish government deported 140,000 Ukrainian civilians in Poland to remove the support base for the UPA. In the struggle Soviet forces killed, arrested, or deported over 500,000 Ukrainian civilians. Many of those targeted by the Soviets included UPA members, their families, and supporters.[nb 3]
A number of contemporary far-right Ukrainian political organizations claim to be inheritors of the OUN's political traditions, including Svoboda, the Ukrainian National Assembly and the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists.[nb 4] The role of the OUN remains contested in historiography, as these later political inheritors developed a literature denying the organization's fascist political heritage and collaboration with Nazi Germany, while also celebrating the SS Division Galicia.[nb 5] On the other hand, some scholars argue that political opponents emphasized the far-right or extreme-right aspects of modern OUN descendants for electoral purposes.
Background and creationEdit
In 1919 with the end of the Polish–Ukrainian War, the Second Polish Republic took over most of the territory claimed by the West Ukrainian National Republic (the rest was absorbed by the Soviet Union). One year later, exiled Ukrainian officers set up the Ukrainian Military Organization (Ukrainian – Українська Військова Організація: Ukrayins'ka Viys'kova Orhanizatsiya, the UVO), an underground military organization composed of Ukrainian veterans with the goals of continuing the armed struggle against Poland, of destabilizing the political situation, and of preparing disarmed veterans for an anti-Polish uprising. The UVO was strictly a military organization with a military command-structure. Originally the UVO operated under the authority of the exiled government of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic, but in 1925 following a power struggle all the supporters of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic's exiled president Yevhen Petrushevych were expelled.
Yevhen Konovalets, the former commander of the elite Sich Riflemen unit of the Ukrainian military, led the UVO. West Ukrainian political parties secretly funded the organization. Although it engaged in acts of sabotage and attempted to assassinate the Poland's Chief of State Józef Piłsudski in 1921, it functioned more as a militant protective organization rather than as a terrorist organization. When in 1923 the Allies recognized Polish rule over western Ukraine, many members left the organization. The legal Ukrainian parties turned against the UVO's militant actions, preferring to work within the Polish political system. As a result, the UVO turned to Germany and Lithuania for political and financial support. It established contact with militant anti-Polish student organizations, such as the Group of Ukrainian National Youth, the League of Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Union of Ukrainian Nationalist Youth. After preliminary meetings in Berlin in 1927 and Prague in 1928, at the founding congress in Vienna in 1929 the veterans of the UVO and the student militants met and united to form the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Although the members consisted mostly of Galician youths, Yevhen Konovalets served as its first leader and its leadership council, the Provid, comprised mostly veterans and was based abroad.
At the time of its founding, the OUN was originally a fringe movement in western Ukraine, where the political scene was dominated by the mainstream and moderate Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (UNDO). This party promoted constitutional democracy and sought to achieve independence through peaceful means. UNDO was supported by the Ukrainian clergy, intelligentsia, and the traditional establishment and published the main western Ukrainian newspaper, Dilo.
In contrast, the OUN accepted violence as a political tool against foreign and domestic enemies of their cause. Most of its activity was directed against Polish politicians and government representatives. Under the command of the Western Ukrainian Territorial Executive (established February 1929), the OUN carried out hundreds of acts of sabotage in Galicia and Volhynia, including a campaign of arson against Polish landowners (which helped provoke the 1930 Pacification), boycotts of state schools and Polish tobacco and liquor monopolies, dozens of expropriation attacks on government institutions to obtain funds for its activities, and assassinations. From 1921 to 1939 UVO and OUN carried out 63 known assassinations: 36 Ukrainians (among them one communist), 25 Poles, 1 Russian and 1 Jew. This number is likely an underestimate, because there were likely unrecorded killing in rural regions. Some of the OUN's victims included Tadeusz Hołówko, a Polish promoter of Ukrainian/Polish compromise, Emilian Czechowski, Lwow's Polish police commissioner, Alexei Mailov, a Soviet consular official killed in retaliation for the Holodomor, and most notably Bronisław Pieracki, the Polish interior minister. The OUN also killed moderate Ukrainian figures such as the respected teacher (and former officer of the military of the West Ukrainian People's Republic) Ivan Babij. Most of these killings were organized locally and occurred without the authorization or knowledge of the OUN's emigre leaders abroad. In 1930 OUN members assaulted the head of the Shevchenko Scientific Society Kyryl Studynsky in his office. Such acts were condemned by the head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Metropolitan Andriy Sheptytsky, who was particularly critical of the OUN's leadership in exile who inspired acts of youthful violence, writing that they were "using our children to kill their parents" and that "whoever demoralizes our youth is a criminal and an enemy of the people."
As Polish persecution of Ukrainians during the interwar period increased, many Ukrainians (particularly the youth, many of whom felt they had no future) lost faith in traditional legal approaches, in their elders, and in the western democracies who were seen as turning their backs on Ukraine. This period of disillusionment coincided with the increase in support for the OUN. By the beginning of the Second World War, the OUN was estimated to have 20,000 active members and many times that number in sympathizers. Many bright students, such as the talented young poets Bohdan Kravtsiv and Olena Teliha (executed by the Nazis at Babi Yar) were attracted to the OUN's revolutionary message.
As a means to gain independence from Polish and Soviet oppression, before World War II the OUN accepted material and moral support from Nazi Germany. The Germans, needing Ukrainian assistance against the Soviet Union, were expected by the OUN to further the goal of Ukrainian independence. Although some elements of the German military were inclined to do so, they were ultimately overruled by Adolf Hitler and his political organization, whose racial prejudice against the Ukrainians precluded cooperation.
Split in the OUNEdit
Tensions between young radical Galician students and the older military veteran leadership based abroad existed within the OUN from the beginning. The older generation had the experience of growing up in a stable society and of having fought for Ukraine in regular armies; the younger generation perceived Polish repression and an underground struggle. The leadership abroad, or Provid, thought of itself as an unapproachable elite. Most of the Provid, such as general Mykola Kapustiansky, referred to themselves using their military titles acquired during the war, which the youthful members could never attain. The older faction was also more politically moderate, and adhered to an officer's code of honor and standards of military discipline that prevented them from fully following the belief that any means could be used to achieve the goal. In contrast, the younger faction was more impulsive, violent, and ruthless. The older leaders living in exile admired aspects of Benito Mussolini's fascism but condemned Nazism while the younger more radical members based within Ukraine admired fascist ideas and methods as practiced by the Nazis.
Despite these differences the OUN's leader Yevhen Konovalets thanks to his considerable political skill and reputation was able to command enough respect to maintain unity between both groups within the organization. This was shattered when Konovalets was assassinated by a Soviet agent, Pavel Sudoplatov, in Rotterdam in May, 1938. Andriy Melnyk, a 48-year-old former colonel in the army of the Ukrainian People's Republic and one of the founders of the Ukrainian Military Organization was chosen to lead the OUN despite not having been involved in political or terrorist activities throughout the 1930s. Melnyk was more friendly to the Church than were any of his associates (the OUN was generally anti-clerical), and had even became the chairman of a Ukrainian Catholic youth organization that was regarded as anti-Nationalist by many OUN members. His choice was seen as an attempt by the leadership to repair ties with the Church and to become more pragmatic and moderate. However, this direction was opposite to the trend within western Ukraine itself.
The Galician youths formed the majority of the membership. Due to their presence in western Ukraine rather than in exile abroad, they faced the danger of arrest and imprisonment. Yet, they were shut out of the leadership. After failing to come to an agreement with their elder leaders in the Provid, in August 1940 they held their own leadership conference, choosing Stepan Bandera, who as an iron-willed, extremist conspirator was in many ways the opposite of the cautious, moderate and dignified Melnyk. On the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the OUN was thus divided into two competing and hostile factions: the "legitimate" OUN-M headed by Andrii Melnyk and the OUN-B (or OUN-R for "revolutionary") headed by Stepan Bandera. Each group had its strengths. The OUN-M retained the loyalty of some youths in Galicia as well as a majority of the youths in the regions of Bukovyna and Trancarpathia, whose political leader monsignor Avgustyn Voloshyn praised Melnyk as a Christian of European culture, in contrast to many nationalists who placed the nation above God. The OUN-M's leadership was more experienced and had some limited contacts in Eastern Ukraine; it also maintained contact with German intelligence and the Germany army. The OUN-B, on the other hand, enjoyed the support of the majority of the nationalistic Galician youth, who formed the backbone of the underground Ukrainian nationalist movement. It had a strong network of devoted followers and was powerfully aided by Mykola Lebed, who began to organize the feared Sluzhba Bezpeky or SB, a secret police force modelled on the Cheka with a reputation for ruthlessness.
Within the Bandera group but somewhat apart from its political leaders such as Stepan Bandera or Mykola Lebed were a number of young Galicians who were less concerned with ideology and whose interests were primarily pragmatic and military. The most prominent among them was Roman Shukhevych. This group was not yet very significant, although their importance would increase rapidly later, during the period of OUN war-time activity.
During World War IIEdit
Early years of the war and activities in Central and Eastern UkraineEdit
After the invasion of Poland in September 1939, both factions of the OUN collaborated with the Germans and used the opportunity of the invasion to send their activists into Soviet-controlled territory. OUN-B leader Stepan Bandera held meetings with the heads of Germany's intelligence, regarding the formation of Ukrainian staffed forces. On February 25, 1941, the head of Abwehr Wilhelm Franz Canaris sanctioned the creation of the "Ukrainian Legion" under German command. The formation was planned to have 800 persons. OUN-B expected that it would become the core of the future Ukrainian army. In the spring of 1941 the Legion was organized as two units; one unit became known as Nachtigall Battalion, while the other became the Roland Battalion.
In response to the declaration, OUN-B leaders and associates were arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo (ca.1500 persons). Many OUN-B members were killed outright, or perished in jails and concentration camps (both of Bandera's brothers were eventually murdered at Auschwitz). On September 18, 1941 Bandera and Stetsko were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in "Zellenbau Bunker". Bandera was imprisoned along with some of the most important prisoners of the third Reich, such as the ex-prime minister of France Léon Blum and ex-chancellor of Austria, Kurt Schuschnigg. The prisoners of Zellenbau received help from the Red Cross unlike common concentration camp prisoners and were able to send and receive parcels from their relatives. Bandera also received help from the OUN-B including financial assistance. The Germans permitted the Ukrainian nationalists to leave the bunker for important meeting with OUN representatives in Fridental Castle which was 200 meters from Sachsenhausen., where they were kept until September 1944.
As a result of the German crackdown on the OUN-B, the faction controlled by Melnyk enjoyed an advantage over its rival and was able to occupy many positions in the civil administration of former Soviet Ukraine during the first months of German occupation. The first city which it administered was Zhitomir, the first major city across the old Soviet-Polish border. Here, the OUN-M helped stimulate the development of Prosvita societies, the appearance of local artists on Ukrainian-language broadcasts, the opening of two new secondary schools and a pedagogical institute, and the establishment of a school administration. Many locals were recruited into the OUN-M. The OUN-M also organized police forces, recruited from Soviet prisoners of war. Two senior members of its leadership, or Provid, even came to Zhitomir. At the end of August 1941, however, they were both gunned down, allegedly by the OUN-B which had justified the assassination in their literature and had issued a secret directive (referred to by Andriy Melnyk as a "death sentence") not to allow OUN-M leaders to reach Ukrainian SSR's capital Kiev (now Kyiv, Ukraine). In retaliation, the German authorities, often tipped off by OUN-M members, began mass arrests and executions of OUN-B members, to a large extent eliminating it in much of central and eastern Ukraine.
As the Wehrmacht moved East, the OUN-M established control of Kiev's civil administration; that city's mayor from October 1941 until January 1942, Volodymyr Bahaziy, belonged to the OUN-M and used his position to funnel money into it and to help the OUN-M take control over Kiev's police. The OUN-M also initiated the creation of the Ukrainian National Council in Kiev, which was to become the basis for a future Ukrainian government. At this time, the OUN-M also came to control Kiev's largest newspaper and was able to attract many supporters from among the central and eastern Ukrainian intelligentsia. Alarmed by the OUN-M's growing strength in central and eastern Ukraine, the German Nazi authorities swiftly and brutally cracked down on it, arresting and executing many of its members in early 1942, including Volodymyr Bahaziy, and the writer Olena Teliha who had organized and led the League of Ukrainian Writers in Kiev. Although during this time elements within the Wehrmacht tried in vain to protect OUN-M members, the organization was largely wiped out within central and eastern Ukraine.
OUN-B's struggle for dominance in western UkraineEdit
As the OUN-M was being wiped out in the regions of central and western Ukraine that had been east of the old Polish-Soviet border, in Volhynia the OUN-B, with easy access from its base in Galicia, began to establish and consolidate its control over the nationalist movement and much of the countryside. Unwilling and unable to openly resist the Germans in early 1942, it methodically set about creating a clandestine organization, engaging in propaganda work, and building weapons stockpiles. A major aspect of its programme was the infiltration of the local police; the OUN-B was able to establish control over the police academy in Rivne. By doing so the OUN-B hoped to eventually overwhelm the German occupation authorities ("If there were fifty policemen to five Germans, who would hold power then?"). In their role within the police, Bandera's forces were involved in the extermination of Jewish civilians and the clearing of Jewish ghettos, actions that contributed to the OUN-B's weapon stockpiles. In addition, blackmailing Jews served as a source of added finances. During the time that the OUN-B in Volhynia was avoiding conflict with the German authorities and working with them, resistance to the Germans was limited to Soviet partisans on the extreme northern edge of the region, to small bands of OUN-M fighters, and to a group of guerillas knowns as the UPA or the Polessian Sich, unaffiliated with the OUN-B and led by Taras Bulba-Borovets of the exiled Ukrainian People's Republic.
By late 1942, the status quo for the OUN-B was proving to be increasingly difficult. The German authorities were becoming increasingly repressive towards the Ukrainian population, and the Ukrainian police were reluctant to take part in such actions. Furthermore, Soviet partisan activity threatened to become the major outlet for anti-German resistance among western Ukrainians. By March 1943, the OUN-B leadership issued secret instructions ordering their members who had joined the German police in 1941–1942, numbering between 4,000–5,000 trained and armed soldiers, to desert with their weapons and to join the units of the OUN-B in Volyn. Borovets attempted to unite his UPA, the smaller OUN-M and other nationalist bands, and the OUN-B underground into an all-party front. The OUN-M agreed, while the OUN-B refused, in part due to the insistence of the OUN-B that their leaders be in control of the organization.
After negotiations failed, the OUN commander Dmytro Klyachkivsky coopted the name of Borovets' organization, UPA, and decided to accomplish by force what could not be accomplished through negotiation: the unification of Ukrainian nationalist forces under OUN-B control. On July 6, the large OUN-M group was surrounded and surrendered, and soon afterward most of the independent groups disappeared; they were either destroyed by the Communist partisans or the OUN-B, or joined the latter. On August 18, 1943, Taras Bulba-Borovets and his headquarters was surrounded in a surprise attack by OUN-B force consisting of several battalions. Some of his forces, including his wife, were captured, while five of his officers were killed. Borovets escaped but refused to submit, in a letter accusing the OUN-B of among other things: banditry; of wanting to establish a one-party state; and of fighting not for the people but in order to rule the people. In retaliation, his wife was murdered after two weeks of torture at the hands of the OUN-B's SB. In October 1943 Bulba-Borovets largely disbanded his depleted force in order to end further bloodshed. In their struggle for dominance in Volhynia, the Banderists would kill tens of thousands of Ukrainians for links to Bulba-Borovets or Melnyk.
OUN-B's struggle against Germany, Soviet Union and PolandEdit
By the fall of 1943 the OUN-B forces had established their control over substantial portions of rural areas in Volhynia and southwestern Polesia. While the Germans controlled the large towns and major roads, such a large area east of Rivne had come under the control of the OUN-B that it was able to set about creating a "state" system with military training schools, hospitals and a school system, involving tens of thousands of personnel. Its military, the UPA, which came under the command of Roman Shukhevich in August 1943, would fight against the Germans and later the Soviets until the mid-1950s. It would also play a major role in the genocide of the Polish population from western Ukraine. For more information about the UPA, see: Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
After the Second World WarEdit
After the war, the OUN in eastern and southern Ukraine continued to struggle against the Soviets; 1958 marked the last year when an OUN member was arrested in Donetsk. Both branches of the OUN continued to be quite influential within the Ukrainian diaspora. The OUN-B formed, in 1943, an organization called the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (headed by Yaroslav Stetsko). The Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations it created and headed would include at various times emigre organizations from almost every eastern European country with the exception of Poland: Croatia, the Baltic countries, anti-communist emigre Cossacks, Hungary, Georgia, Bohemia-Moravia (today the Czech Republic), and Slovakia. In the 1970s the ABN was joined by anti-communist Vietnamese and Cuban organizations.
After the fall of Communism both OUN factions resumed activities within Ukraine. The Melnyk faction threw its support behind the Ukrainian Republican Party at the time that it was headed by Levko Lukyanenko. The OUN-B reorganized itself within Ukraine as the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN) (registered as a political party in January 1993). Its conspirational leaders within the diaspora did not want to openly enter Ukrainian politics, and attempted to imbue this party with a democratic, moderate facade. However, within Ukraine the project attracted more primitive nationalists who took the party to the right. Until her death in 2003, KUN was headed by Slava Stetsko, widow of Yaroslav Stetsko, who also simultaneously headed the OUN and the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations.
On March 9, 2010 the OUN rejected Yulia Tymoshenko's calls to unite "all of the national patriotic forces" led Bloc Yulia Tymoshenko against President Viktor Yanukovych. OUN did demand that Yanukovych should reject the idea of cancelling the Hero of Ukraine status given to Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych, Yanukovych should continue the practice of recognizing fighters for Ukraine's independence, which was launched by (his predecessor) Viktor Yushchenko, and posthumously award the Hero of Ukraine titles to Symon Petliura and Yevhen Konovalets.
On 19 November 2018 Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and fellow Ukrainian nationalist political organizations Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists, Right Sector and C14 endorsed Ruslan Koshulynskyi's candidacy in the 2019 Ukrainian presidential election. In the election Koshulynskyi received 1.6% of the votes.
The OUN was led by a Vozhd or Supreme Leader. Originally the Vozhd was Yevhen Konovalets ; after his assassination he was succeeded by Andriy Melnyk resulting in a split where the Galician youths followed their own Vozhd, Stepan Bandera. Underneath the Vozhd were the Provid, or directorate. At the start of the second world war the OUN's leadership consisted of the Vozhd, Andrii Melnyk, and eight members of the Provid. The Provid members were: Generals Kurmanovych and Kapustiansky (both generals from the times of Ukraine's revolution in 1918–1920); Yaroslav Baranovsky, a law student; Dmytro Andriievsky, a politically moderate former diplomat of the revolutionary government from eastern Ukraine; Richard Yary, a former officer of the Austrian and Galician militaries who served as a liaison with the German Abwehr; colonel Roman Sushko, another former Austrian and Galician officer; Mykola Stsyborsky, the son of a tsarist military officer from Zhytomir, who served as the OUN's official theorist; and Omelian Senyk, a party organizer and veteran of the Austrian and Galician armies who by the 1940s was considered too moderate and too conservative by the youngest generation of Galician youths. Yary would be the only member of the original Provid to join Bandera after the OUN split.
The OUN was formed from a number of radical nationalist and extreme right-wing organizations including the Union of Ukrainian Fascists. Initially, it was led by war veterans who failed to establish a Ukrainian state in 1917–1920. The ideology of the organization was heavily influenced by the philosophy of Nietzsche, German National Socialism and Italian Fascism; combining extreme nationalism with terrorism, corporatism, and anti-Semitism, as well as totalitarianism and anti-democracy. In order to create an illusion that the Ukrainian brand of nationalism was a product of domestic development, most early OUN writers denied their ideological connection to fascism in a self-deceptive manner, contradicting generally known facts. The OUN viewed the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church as a rival and condemned Catholic leaders as police informers or potential informers; the Church rejected integral nationalism as incompatible with Christian ethics. The conflict between the OUN and the Church eased in the late 1930s. According to its initial declaration, the primary goal of OUN was to establish an independent and ethnically pure Ukrainian state. This goal was to be achieved by a national revolution, that would drive out all foreign element and set up an authoritarian state led by a strong man. The OUN's leadership felt that past attempts at securing independence failed due to democratic values in society, poor party discipline and a conciliatory attitude towards Ukraine's traditional enemies. Its ideology rejected the socialist ideas supported by Petliura, and the compromises of Galicia's traditional elite. Instead the OUN, particularly its younger members, adopted the ideology of Dmytro Dontsov, an émigré from Eastern Ukraine.
The OUN shared the fascist attributes of antiliberalism, anticonservatism, and anticommunism, an armed party, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, Führerprinzip, and an adoption of fascist greetings. Its leaders eagerly emphasized to Hitler and Ribbentrop that they shared the Nazi Weltanschauung and a commitment to a fascist New Europe.
The Ukrainian nationalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries had been largely liberal or socialist, combining Ukrainian national consciousness with patriotism and humanist values. In contrast, the nationalists who emerged in Galicia following the First World War, much as in the rest of Europe, adopted the form of nationalism known as Integral nationalism. According to this ideology, the nation was held to be of the highest absolute value, more important than social class, regions, the individual, religion, etc. To this end, OUN members were urged to "force their way into all areas of national life" such as institutions, societies, villages and families. Politics was seen as a Darwinian struggle between nations for survival, rendering conflict unavoidable and justifying any means that would lead to the victory of one's nation over that of others. In this context willpower was seen as more important than reason, and warfare was glorified as an expression of national vitality.
Integral nationalism became a powerful force in much of Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. The OUN's conceptualization of this idea was particular in several ways. Because Ukraine was stateless and surrounded by more powerful neighbors, the emphasis on force and warfare was to be expressed in acts of terrorism rather than open warfare, and illegality was glorified. Because Ukrainians did not have a state to glorify or serve, the emphasise was placed on a "pure" national language and culture rather than a State. There was a strain of fantastic romanticism, in which the unsophisticated Ukrainian rejection of reason was more spontaneous and genuine than the cynical rejection of reason by German or Italian integral nationalists.
Myth and nationalism of the deedEdit
Dmytro Dontsov claimed that the 20th century would witness the "twilight of the gods to whom the nineteenth century prayed" and that a new man must be created, with the "fire of fanatical commitment" and the "iron force of enthusiasm", and that the only way forward was through "the organization of a new violence." This new doctrine was the chynnyi natsionalizm – the "nationalism of the deed". To dramatize and spread such views, OUN literature mythologized the cult of struggle, sacrifice, and emphasized national heroes.
The OUN, particularly Bandera, held a romantic view of the Ukrainian peasantry, glorified the peasants as carriers of Ukrainian culture and linked them with the deeds and exploits of the Ukrainian Cossacks from previous centuries. The OUN believed that a goal of professional revolutionaries was, through revolutionary acts, to awaken the masses. In this aspect the OUN had much in common with 19th-century Russian Narodniks.
The nation was to be unified under a single party led by a hierarchy of proven fighters. At the top was to be a Supreme Leader, or Vozhd. In some respects the OUN's creed was similar to that of other eastern European, radical right-wing agrarian movements, such as Romania's Legion of the Archangel Michael, Croatia's Ustashe, Hungary's Arrow Cross Party, and similar groups in Slovakia and Poland. There were, however, significant differences within the OUN regarding the extent of its totalitarianism. The more moderate leaders living in exile admired some facets of Benito Mussolini's fascism but condemned Nazism while the younger more radical members based within Ukraine admired the fascist ideas and methods as practiced by the Nazis. The faction based abroad supported rapprochement with the Ukrainian Catholic Church while the younger radicals were anti-clerical and felt that not considering the Nation to be the Absolute was a sign of weakness.
The two factions of the OUN each had their own understanding of the nature of the leader. The Melnyk faction considered the leader to be the director of the Provid and in its writings emphasized a military subordination to the hierarchical superiors of the Provid. It was more autocratic than totalitarian. The Bandera faction, in contrast, emphasized complete submission to the will of the supreme leader.
At a party congress in August 1943, the OUN-B rejected much of its fascistic ideology in favor of a social democratic model, while maintaining its hierarchical structure. This change could be attributed in part to the influence of the leadership of Roman Shukhevych, the new leader of UPA, who was more focused on military matters rather than on ideology and was more receptive to different ideological themes than were the fanatical OUN-B political leaders, and was interested in gaining and maintaining the support of deserters or others from Eastern Ukraine. During this party congress, the OUN-B backed off its commitment to private ownership of land, increased worker participation in management of industry, equality for women, free health services and pensions for the elderly, and free education. Some points in the program referred to the rights of national minorities and guaranteed freedom of speech, religion, and the press and rejected the official status of any doctrine. Nevertheless, the authoritarian elements were not discarded completely and were reflected in continued insistence on the "heroic spirit" and "social solidarity, friendship and discipline."
In exile, the OUN's ideology was focused on opposition to communism.
Treatment of non-UkrainiansEdit
The OUN intended to create a Ukrainian state with widely understood Ukrainian territories, but inhabited by Ukrainian people narrowly understood, according to Timothy Snyder. Its first congress in 1929 resolved that "Only the complete removal of all occupiers from Ukrainian lands will allow for the general development of the Ukrainian Nation within its own state." OUN's "Ten Commandments" stated: "Aspire to expand the strength, riches, and size of the Ukrainian State even by means of enslaving foreigners" or "Thou shalt struggle for the glory, greatness, power, and space of the Ukrainian state by enslaving the strangers". This formulation was modified by OUN's theoreticians in the 1950s and shortened to "Thou shalt struggle for the glory, greatness, power, and space of the Ukrainian state".
OUN and antisemitismEdit
Antisemitism was an attribute OUN shared with other agrarian radical right-wing Eastern European organizations, such as the Croatian Ustashe, the Yugoslav Zbor and Romania's Legion of the Archangel Michael. The OUN's ideology, on the other hand, did not emphasize antisemitism and racism despite the presence of some antisemitic writing. Indeed, three of its leaders, General Mykola Kapustiansky, Rico Yary (himself of Hungarian-Jewish descent), and Mykola Stsyborsky (the OUN's chief theorist), were married to Jewish women and Jews belonged to the OUN's underground movement.
The OUN in the early 1930s considered Ukraine's primary enemies to be Poles and Russians, with Jews playing a secondary role or not considered an enemy. An article published in 1930 by OUN leader Mykola Stsyborsky denounced the anti-Jewish pogroms of 1918, stating that most of its victims were innocent rather than Bolsheviks. Stsyborsky wrote that Jewish rights should be respected, that the OUN ought to convince Jews that their organization was no threat to them, and that Ukrainians ought to maintain close contacts with Jews nationally and internationally. Three years later, an article in the OUN journal Rozbudova Natsii ("Development of the Nation"), despite its focus on Jews' alleged exploitation of Ukrainian peasants, also stated that Jews as well as Ukrainians were victims of Soviet policies.
By the late 1930s, the OUN attitude towards Jews grew more negative. Jews were described in OUN publications as parasites who ought to be segregated from Ukrainians. For example, an article titled "The Jewish Problem in Ukraine" published in 1938 called for Jews' complete cultural, economic and political isolation from Ukrainians, rejecting forced assimilation of Jews but allowing that they ought to enjoy the same rights as Ukrainians. Despite the increasingly negative portrayal of Jews, for all of its glorification of violence Ukrainian nationalist literature generally showed little interest in Nazi-like antisemitism during the 1930s. Evhen Onatsky, writing in the OUN's official journal in 1934, condemned German National Socialism as imperialist, racist and anti-Christian.
German documents from the early 1940s give the impression that extreme Ukrainian nationalists were indifferent to the plight of the Jews; they were willing to either kill them or help them, whichever was more appropriate, for their political goals. The OUN-B's ambivalent wartime attitude towards the Jews was highlighted during the Second General Congress of OUN-B (April, 1941, Kraków)in which the OUN-B condemned anti-Jewish pogroms. and specifically warned against the pogromist mindset as useful only to Muscovite propaganda. At that conference the OUN-B declared "The Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime, and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in Ukraine. The Muscovite-Bolshevik government exploits the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses to divert their attention from the true cause of their misfortune and to channel them in a time of frustration into pogroms on Jews. The OUN combats the Jews as the prop of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime and simultaneously it renders the masses conscious of the fact that the principal foe is Moscow."
On the other hand, the OUN was willing to support Nazi antisemitic policies if doing so would help their cause. The OUN sought German recognition for an independent Ukrainian state. Despite its declared condemnation of pogroms in April 1941, when German official Reinhard Heydrich requested "self-cleansing actions" in June of that year the OUN organized militias who killed several thousand Jews in western Ukraine soon afterward that year. The Ukrainian People's Militia under the OUN's command led pogroms that resulted in the massacre of 6,000 Jews in Lviv soon after that city's fall to German forces. OUN members spread propaganda urging people to engage in pogroms. A slogan put forth by the Bandera group and recorded in the July 16, 1941 Einsatzgruppen report stated: "Long live Ukraine without Jews, Poles and Germans; Poles behind the river San, Germans to Berlin, and Jews to the gallows". In instructions to its members concerning how the OUN should behave during the war, it declared that "in times of chaos ... one can allow oneself to liquidate Polish, Russian and Jewish figures, particularly the servants of Bolshevik-Muscovite imperialism" and further, when speaking of Russians, Poles, and Jews, to "destroy in struggle, particularly those opposing the regime, by means of: deporting them to their own lands, eradicating their intelligentsia, which is not to be admitted to any governmental positions, and overall preventing any creation of this intelligentsia (e.g. access to education etc)... Jews are to be isolated, removed from governmental positions in order to prevent sabotage... Those who are deemed necessary may only work under strict supervision and removed from their positions for slightest misconduct... Jewish assimilation is not possible." OUN members who infiltrated the German police were involved in clearing ghettos and helping the Germans to implement the Final Solution. Although most Jews were actually killed by Germans, the OUN police working for them played a crucial supporting role in the liquidation of 200,000 Jews in Volyn in the beginning of the war (although in isolated cases Ukrainian policemen also helped Jews to escape.) The OUN also helped some Jews to escape. According to a report to the Chief of the Security Police in Berlin, dated March 30, 1942, "...it has been clearly established that the Bandera movement provided forged passports not only for its own members, but also for Jews." OUN bands also killed Jews who had fled into the forests from the Germans.
Once the OUN was at war with Germany, such instances lessened and finally stopped. An underground OUN publication in 1943 condemned "German racism, which carried anthropological nonsense to the absurd." In the official organ of the OUN-B's leadership, instructions to OUN groups urged those groups to "liquidate the manifestations of harmful foreign influence, particularly the German racist concepts and practices." There were many cases of Jews having been sheltered from the Nazis by the OUN-B's military wing UPA and Jews fought in the ranks of UPA. Finally, the 3rd OUN Congress held in August 1943 proclaimed equal rights to all minorities inhabiting Ukraine The OUN position concerning the Jews was disseminated through its IDEIA I CHYN clandestine journal, and it specifically asked for resistance to manifestations of Antisemitism.
The organization's symbols were established in 1932 and were published in a magazine 'Building a Nation' (Ukrainian: Розбудова Нації, Rozbudova Natsii). The author of the OUN emblem with stylized trident (nationalistic trident) was R. Lisovsky. The organization's anthem "We were born in a great hour" (Ukrainian: Зродились ми великої години) was finalized in 1934 and also was published in the same magazine. Its lyrics were written by Oles Babiy, while music, by composer Omelian Nyzhankivsky.
For long time OUN did not officially have its own flag, however during the Hungarian campaign against the Republic of Carpathian Ukraine in 1939, Carpathian Sich, a militarized wing of OUN, adopted its flag from the OUN's emblem – golden nationalistic trident on a blue background. The flag was finalized and officially adopted by the organization only in 1964 at the 5th Assembly of Ukrainian Nationalists.
During the World War II in 1941 OUN split. The newly created organization, OUN-revolutionary, was headed by Stepan Bandera (hence sometimes is known as OUN-B). OUN-r refused to adopt the nationalistic trident as a symbol and came up with its own heraldry. As the original OUN emblem previously, Robert Lisovskyi created in 1941 the organizational emblem for OUN-r as well. The central element of the new emblem was a stylized cross within a triangle. According to Bohdan Hoshovsky, the combination of colors red and black was based on a concept of the OUN ideologue and a veteran of the Ukrainian Galician Army, Yulian Vassian. The red and black colors represent the German expression, "Blut und Boden", blood and earth.
2019 official veteran statusEdit
Late March 2019 former OUN combatants (and other living former members of irregular Ukrainian nationalist armed groups that were active during World War II and the first decade after the war) were officially granted the status of veterans. This meant that for the first time they could receive veteran benefits, including free public transport, subsidized medical services, annual monetary aid, and public utilities discounts (and will enjoy the same social benefits as former Ukrainian soldiers Red Army of the Soviet Union).
There had been several previous attempts to provide former Ukrainian nationalist fighters with official veteran status, especially during the 2005–2009 administration President Viktor Yushenko, but all failed.
- 1940 – 1964 Andriy Melnyk
- 1964 – 1977 Oleh Shtul
- 1977 – 1979 Denys Kvitkovskyi
- 1979 – 2012 Mykola Plaviuk
- 2012 – Bohdan Chervak
- 1940 – 1959 Stepan Bandera
- 1959 – 1968 Stepan Lenkavskyi
- 1968 – 1986 Yaroslav Stetsko
- 1986 – 1991 Vasyl Oleskiv
- 1991 – 2001 Slava Stetsko
- 2001 – 2009 Andriy Haidamakha
- 2009 – Stefan Romaniv
- Shekhovtsov writes, "In 1926, Dontsov published his magnum opus, Nationalism, in which he expounded the ideology of Ukrainian nationalism (Dontsov 1926). Although frequently referring to works by such thinkers as Friedrich Nietzsche, Georges Sorel and Charles Maurras, Dontsov nevertheless managed to create an indigenous fascist doctrine, in which European revolutionary ultra-nationalist thought was introduced into the Ukrainian context. Following the publication of Nationalism, Dontsov set to further turn nationalist socio-political organisations in Western Ukraine in a fascist direction and he personally translated Mussolini's Dottrina del Fascismo into Ukrainian, in addition to a few chapters from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf."
- Rudling writes: OUN founder Evhen Konovalets' (1891–1938) stated that his movement was "waging war against mixed marriages" with Poles, Russians and Jews, the latter of whom he described as "foes of our national rebirth" (Carynnyk, 2011: 315). After Konovalets' was himself assassinated in 1938, the movement split into two wings, the followers of Andrii Melnyk (1890–1964) and Stepan Bandera (1909–1959), known as Melnykites, OUN(m), and Banderites, OUN(b). Both wings enthusiastically committed to the new fascist Europe.
- Rudling writes: After the war, the UPA continued a hopeless struggle against the Soviet authorities until 1953, in which they killed 20,000 Ukrainians. The Soviet authorities killed 153,000 people, arrested 134,000 and deported 203,000 UPA members, sympathizers and their families (Siemaszko, 2010: 93; Motyka, 2006: 649).
- Rudling writes: After 1991, the OUN faced considerable difficulties re-establishing itself in independent Ukraine. It split between the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (KUN) in Ukraine and the émigré OUN(b), led by second-generation émigrés in Germany and Australia. Today, no fewer than four organizations claim to be the heirs to Stepan Bandera — KUN and the émigré OUN(b), the clandestine "Tryzub imeni Bandery" ("Trident"), and VO Svoboda (Kuzio, 2011). The latter was initially founded in Lviv in 1991 as the Social- National Party of Ukraine through the merger of a number of ultranationalist organizations and student fraternities. Its ideology was inspired by Stets'ko's ideology of "two revolutions" one national and one social. As party symbol, it chose a mirror image of the so-called Wolfsangel, or Wolf's hook, which was used by several SS divisions and, after the war, by neo-Nazi organizations. It organized a paramilitary guard and recruited skinheads and football hooligans into its ranks. Its appeal to Ukrainian voters was limited.
- Rudling writes: The OUN wings disagreed on strategy and ideology but shared a commitment to the manufacture of a historical past based on victimization and heroism. The émigrés developed an entire literature that denied the OUN's fascism, its collaboration with Nazi Germany, and its participation in atrocities, instead presenting the organization as composed of democrats and pluralists who had rescued Jews during the Holocaust. The diaspora narrative was contradictory, combining celebrations of the supposedly anti-Nazi resistance struggle of the OUN-UPA with celebrations of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Galician) a Ukrainian collaborationist formation established by Heinrich Himmler in 1943 (Rudling, 2011a, 2011c, 2012a)
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Dr Georges Digas przekazał zebranym interesujące informacje na temat pracy aparatu sprawiedliwości w ZSRR, który zajmował się OUN-UPA po 1944 roku. Według danych oficjalnych, pod wpływem OUN pozostawało podczas wojny ok. 300 tys. Ukraińców, z czego w walkach z NKWD i Armią Czerwoną (do 1950 r.) zginęło 120 tys., 60 tys. uciekło na Zachód, a ok. 80 tys. wywieziono na Syberię.
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During the Cold War, US, West German, and British intelligence utilized various OUN wings in ideological warfare and covert actions against the Soviet Union (Breitman and Goda, 2010: 73– 98; Breitman, Goda, Naftali and Wolfe, 2005). Funded by the CIA, which sponsored Lebed's immigration to the United States and protected him from prosecution for war crimes, OUN(z) activists formed the core of the Proloh Research and Publishing Association, a pro-nationalist semi academic publisher.
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In 1990, one of the best known nationalist parties—the Ukrainian National Assembly (UNA), headed by Dmytro Korchyns'kyi—was established in Lviv… In Ukraine itself, the UNA-UNSD became a media phenomenon, not least thanks to its deliberate provocation aimed at left-wing and pro-Russian forces and its frequent clashes with the police. But the UNA had little political success… The second best-known ultraright party to emerge at the beginning of the 1990s was the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists (CUN)—a direct heir of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Bandera) (OUN-B), which Stepan Bandera headed in 1940 after a split in the original OUN. The continuity between the OUN-B and the CUN was ensured by the return from emigration of Iaroslava Stets'ko, a former member of the OUN-B and the widow of Iaroslav Stets'ko, one of the leaders of the OUN-B and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army
Rudling, Per Anders (2013). "They Defended Ukraine: The 14 Waffen-Granadier-Division der SS (Galizische Nr. 1) Revisited". Slavic Military Studies. 25: 231.
While Yushchenko's successor Viktor Yanukovych has revoked the hero status of Bandera and Shukhevych and largely put an end to the state cult of the ultra-nationalists, in Western Ukraine, apologetics for the Waffen-SS Galizien is entering the mainstream. On April 28, 2011, the 68th anniversary of the establishment of Waffen-SS Galizien, neo-fascist 'autonomous nationalists,' together with the far-right Svoboda Party, which dominates the L'viv city government organized a march through the city. Led by Svoboda ideologue Iurii Mykhal'chyshyn of the L'viv city council, the nearly 700 participants (2,000 according to the organizers), carrying banners with neo-Nazi symbols marched down the streets of L'viv, shouting slogans like 'Halychyna—division of heroes!,' and 'One race, one nation, one Fatherland!'7 Svoboda, which dominates the L'viv city council, decorated the city with billboards with the symbol of the unit, accompanied by the texts 'the treasure of the nation' and 'they defended Ukraine'.
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