Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists

Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Організація Українських Націоналістів
Leader first
Bohdan Kravciv
Volodymyr Timtchyj
Official colors Red, Black

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) (Ukrainian: Організація Українських Націоналістів, Orhanizatsiya Ukrayins’kykh Natsionalistiv or ОУН) is a Ukrainian political organization which as a movement originally was created in 1929 in Western Ukraine (at the time interwar Poland). The OUN accepted violence as an acceptable tool in the fight against foreign and domestic enemies particularly Poland and Russia. The OUN's stated immediate goal was to protect the Ukrainian population from repression and exploitation by Polish governing authorities in particular; its ultimate goal was an independent and unified Ukrainian state that would include territories inhabited primarily by ethnic Ukrainians[citation needed] but whch were under the rule of the Polish, Soviet, Romanian, and Czechoslovak states. In 1940, the OUN split into two parts, with the older more moderate members supporting Andriy Melnyk (OUN-M) while the younger and more radical members supporting Stepan Bandera (OUN-B). The latter group came to control the nationalist movement in western Ukraine including the OUN's military wing, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which was the major Ukrainian armed resistance movement.



Background and creation

Yevhen Konovalets

In 1919, the West Ukrainian National Republic was taken over by Poland. One year later, exiled Ukrainian officers created the Ukrainian Military Organization (Ukrainian - Українська Військова Організація: Ukrayins'ka Viys'kova Orhanizatsiya, the UVO), an underground military organization composed of Ukrainian veterans whose goal was to continue the armed struggle against Poland, to destabilize the political situation, and to prepare disarmed veterans for an anti-Polish uprising. The UVO was strictly a military organization with a military command structure. Originally under the authority of the exiled government of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic, in 1925 following a power struggle all the supporters of the Western Ukrainian People's Republic's exiled president Yevhen Petrushevych were expelled.[1]

UVO's leader was Yevhen Konovalets, the former commander of the elite Sich Riflemen unit of the Ukrainian military, and was secretly funded by West Ukrainian political parties. Although it engaged in acts of sabotage, including the attempted assassination in 1921 of Polish leader Józef Piłsudski, it was more of a military protective group than a terrorist underground.[2] When in 1923 the Allies recognized Polish rule over western Ukraine, many members left the organization, and the Ukrainian legal parties turned against its 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, and 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 in Vienna and united to form the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Although most of its members were Galician youths, its first leader was Yevhen Konovalets and its leadership council, the Provid, was composed mostly of veterans and was based abroad.[3][4]

Pre-war activities

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 some sixty assassinations. Some of the OUN's victims included Tadeusz Hołówko, a Polish promoter of Ukrainian/Polish compromise, Emilian Czechowski, Lviv'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 Babii, and in 1930 assaulted the head of the Shevchenko Scientific Society Kyryl Studynsky in his office.[5] 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." [6]

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.[4]

In 1936 and 1937, the Poles used claims of OUN involvement[specify] to justify mass arrests of Ukrainians, particularly youths[citation needed].

In carrying out the tactics to destroy the Polish-Ukrainian agreement, the OUN also organized attacks on those Ukrainians who have called for peaceful coexistence of Poles and Ukrainians. From 1921 to 1939 UVO and OUN carried out 63 assassinations: 36 Ukrainians (among them one communist), 25 Poles, 1 Russian and 1 Jew.[7]

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[citation needed].

Split in the OUN

Andriy Melnyk
Stepan Bandera

There had always been some tension within the OUN between the young radical Galician students and the older military veteran leadership based abroad. The older generation has the experience of growing up in a stable society and of having fought for Ukraine in regular armies; the younger generation had only known 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). They were 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 youths were more impulsive, violent, and ruthless.[8] 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.[9] Despite such differences, the OUN's leader Yevhen Konovalets through his considerable political skill and reputation was able to command enough respect to maintain unity between both groups within the organization. This unity was, however, shattered when Konovalets was assassinated by 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. Calm and dignified, 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.[10]

Cover of the Bandera's OUN II Conference Resolutions which legalize the existence of the Bandera's OUN. OUN leader Andriy Melnyk denounced as "saboteur". April 1941 General Government

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.[10] 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.[10] 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.[11] 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,[12] during the period of OUN war-time resistance.

During World War II

Early years of the war and activities in Central and Eastern Ukraine

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 "Nachtigall" and "Roland" Battalions. On February 25, 1941 head of the Abwehr Wilhelm Franz Canaris sanctioned the creation of the "Ukrainian Legion" under German command. The unit would have had 800 persons. OUN-R expected that the unit would become the core of the future Ukrainian army. In the spring the OUN received 2.5 million marks for subversive activities against the USSR.[13][14] In the spring of 1941 the Legion was reorganized. One of the units became known as Nachtigall Battalion, a second became the Roland Battalion, a remained personnel was inmmidiately dispatched into Soviet Union for sabotage of Red Army's rear.[14]

Eight days after Germany's invasion of the USSR, on June 30, 1941, the OUN-B proclaimed the establishment of Ukrainian State in Lviv, with Yaroslav Stetsko as premier.

One of the versions of the "Act of Proclamation of Ukrainian State" signed by Stepan Bandera.

In response to the declaration, OUN-B leaders and associates were soon arrested and imprisoned by the Gestapo (ca.1500 persons[15]). Many OUN-B members were killed outright, or perished in jails and concentration camps. Both of Bandera's brothers were murdered at Auschwitz. On September 18, 1941 Bandera and Stetsko were sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp in "Zellenbau Bunker". With Bandera were all 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. 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.,[16] 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 members 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 Kiev. 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.[17]

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.[18] 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.[19] 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 led the League of Ukrainian Writers in Kiev.[18] 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 Ukraine

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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[20]

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.[22] 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.[20] 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 orer to end further bloodshed.[23] In their struggle for dominance in Volhynia, the Banderists would kill tens of thousands of Ukrainians for links to Bulba-Borovets or Melnyk.[24]

OUN-B's struggle against Germany and the Soviet Union

By the fall of 1943 the OUN-B forces had established their control over substantial portions of rural areas in Volhynia and southwstern 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.[25] 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 ethnic cleansing of the Polish population from western Ukraine. For more information about the UPA, see: Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

After the Second World War

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.[26] 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, Czechia, and Slovakia. In the 1970s the ABN was joined by anti-communist Vietnamese and Cuban organizations.[27]

In 1956 Bandera's OUN split into two parts,[13] the more moderate OUN(z) led by Lev Rebet and Zinoviy Matla, and the more conservative OUN led by Stepan Bandera.[13]

After the fall of Communism the 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[28]). Its conspirational leaders within the diaspora did not want to openly enter Ukrainian politics, and attempted to create imbue this party with a democratic, moderate facade. However, within Ukraine the project attracted more primitive nationalists who took the party to the right.[29] During the Ukrainian parliamentary election, 1998 the party was part (o.a. together with Ukrainian Republican Party "Sobor") of the Election Bloc "National Front"[28][30] (Ukrainian: Виборчий блок партій «Національний фронт») which won 2,71% of the national votes[28] and 6 (single-mandate constituency) seats.[31] The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists was a member of Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Bloc in the 2002 and 2006 parliamentary elections.[28] 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.

The Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists refused to join the Our Ukraine–People's Self-Defense Bloc in August 2007[32] and did not run in the 2007 parliamentary elections.[28]

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 Victor 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.[33]


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.[34] 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.[34] Yary would be the only member of the original Provid to join Bandera after the OUN split.[35]


The OUN grew from the 1917-1921 veterans, whose vision of an independent Ukrainian state had been short lived. According to its initial declaration, the primary goal of OUN was to establish an independent, united national state on ethnic Ukrainian territory. This goal was to be achieved by a national revolution, that would drive out the occupying powers and set up a government representing all regions and Ukrainian social groups. The OUN's leadership felt that past attempts at securing independence failed due to democracy, poor discipline and a conciliatory attitude towards Ukraine's traditional enemies. Accordingly, 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.

Integral nationalism

The Ukrainian nationalism of the nineteenth and early twentieth 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,[4] 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 rahter 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.[36]

Romanticism and nationalism of the deed

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".[37] To dramatize and spread such views, OUN literature mythologized the cult of struggle, sacrifice, and emphasized national heroes.[4]

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.[38]

Treatment of non-Ukrainians

According to Timothy Snyder the OUN wanted to create a Ukrainian state consisting of Ukrainian territories, but only of Ukrainian people;it's 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.”[39]


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.[4] 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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[40]

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." [41]

In exile, the OUN's ideology was focused on opposition to communism.

OUN and antisemitism

The OUN shared many similarities with other agrarian radical right-wing Eastern European organizations such as the Croatian Ustashe or Romania's Legion of the Archangel Michael.[42] These were virulently antisemitic.[43] The OUN's ideology, on the other hand, did not emphasize antisemitism and racism despite the presence of some antisemitic writing.[42] Indeed, three of its leaders, General Mykola Kapustiansky, Rico Yary (himself of Hungarian-Jewish descent), and Mykola Stsyborsky (the OUN's chief theorist [34]), were married to Jewish women [44] and Jews belonged to the OUN's underground movement.[45]

According to the OUN, Ukraine's primary enemies were considered to be Poles and Russians, with Jews playing a secondary role.[21] The OUN attitude towards the Jews was initially supportive in the early 1930s but grew more negative towards the end of that decade. 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.[46] Three years later, an article in the OUN journal Rozbudova Natsii ("Development of the Nation"), despite focused on the alleged exploitation of Ukrainian peasants by Jews, also showed that Jews as well as Ukrainians were victims of Soviet policies.[46] By the late 1930s, however, in OUN publications Jews were described 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 while also rejecting forced assimilation of Jews and stating that Jews 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.[46] Evhen Onatsky, writing in the OUN's official journal in 1934, condemned German National Socialism as imperialist, racist and anti-Christian.[47]

German documents from the early 1940s lead to 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.[21] 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.[48] and specifically warned against the pogromist mindset as useful only to Muscovite propaganda.[49] 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."[50]

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.[51] Some historians, such as Yad Vashem, have claimed that militas under the OUN's command were involved in the massacre of 6,000 Jews in Lviv soon after that city's fall to German forces,.[52][53][54] although this claim is controversial and disputed by other historians (see The Lviv pogroms controversy (1941)). OUN members spread propaganda urging people to engage in pogroms.[55] 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".[56][57] 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 the struggle, especially those who defend the [Soviet] regime: send them to their lands, destroy them - especially the intelligentsia...assimilation of the Jews is ruled out." [58] 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 [59] (although in isolated cases Ukrainian policemen also helped Jews to escape [60]) 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, " has been clearly established that the Bandera movement provided forged passports not only for its own members, but also for Jews.".[61] OUN bands also killed Jews who had fled into the forests from the Germans.[62]

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." [10] 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." [63] There were many cases of Jews having been sheltered from the Nazis by the OUN-B's military wing UPA [64] and Jews fought in the ranks of UPA .[65] Finally, the 3rd OUN Congress held in August 1943 proclaimed equal rights to all minorities inhabiting Ukraine [66] 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.[67]

See also

External links



  1. ^ Christopher Gilley (2006). A Simple Question of ‘Pragmatism’? Sovietophilism in the West Ukrainian Emigration in the 1920s Working Paper: Koszalin Institute of Comparative European Studies pp.6-13
  2. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pg. 21
  3. ^ Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists at Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  4. ^ a b c d e Orest Subtelny. (1988). Ukraine: A History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp.441-446.
  5. ^ Lvivska Hazeta (Lviv Gazette), October 7, 2005. The Art of Compromises: Kyryl Studynsky and Soviet Rule. Article written by Ihor Chornovol
  6. ^ Bohdan Budurowycz. (1989). Sheptytski and the Ukrainian National Movement after 1914 (chapter). In Paul Robert Magocsi (ed.). Morality and Reality: The Life and Times of Andrei Sheptytsky. Edmonton, Alberta: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta. pg. 57. A more detailed sample of Sheptytsky's impassioned words condemning the OUN, printed in the newspaper of the maninstream western Ukrainian newspaper Dilo: "If you are planning to kill treacherously those who are opposed to your misdeeds, you will have to kill all the teachers and professors who are working for the Ukrainian youth, all the fathers and mothers of Ukrainian children...all politicians and civic activists. But first of all you will have to remove through assassination the clergy and the bishops who resist your criminal and foolish actions...We will not cease to declare that whoever demoralizes our youth is a criminal and an enemy of our people."
  7. ^ Grzegorz Motyka, Ukraińska Partyzantka 1942-1960, Warszawa 2006
  8. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 39-42
  9. ^ a b Paul Robert Magocsi. (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pg. 621
  10. ^ a b c d e John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 36-39
  11. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pg. 87
  12. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pg. 63
  13. ^ a b c Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія. Інститут історії НАН України.2004р Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія, Раздел 1 стр. 17-30
  14. ^ a b І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004 (No ISBN) p.273-275
  15. ^
  16. ^ A.B. Shirokorad, Uteryannie zemli Rossii: otkolovshiesya respubliki, Moscow:"Veche", 2007, p. 84.
  17. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 91-98.
  18. ^ a b John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 114-117.
  19. ^ Paul Robert Magocsi. (1996). A History of Ukraine. Toronto: University of Toronto Press: pg. 629.
  20. ^ a b c John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 142-165.
  21. ^ a b c Ukrainian Collaboration in the Extermination of the Jews during the Second World War: Sorting Out the Long-Term and Conjunctural Factors by John-Paul Himka, University of Alberta. Taken from The Fate of the European Jews, 1939-1945: Continuity or Contingency, ed. Jonathan Frankel (New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), Studies in Contemporary Jewry 13 (1997): 170-89.
  22. ^ (Ukrainian) Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія p.165
  23. ^ Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Chapter 3 pp. 152-153
  24. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2004) The Reconstruction of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press: pg. 164
  25. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pg. 156
  26. ^ Ukrainian News Agency
  27. ^ Encyclopedia of Ukraine, Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations
  28. ^ a b c d e (Ukrainian) Конгресс Українських Націоналістів, Database DATA
  29. ^ Andrew Wilson. (1997). Ukrainian Nationalism in the 1990's: a Minority Faith. Cambridge University Press.
  30. ^ (Ukrainian) Українська республіканська партія „Собор“, Database DATA
  31. ^ Deputies/Elected in multi-mandate constituency/Elections 29.11.1998, Central Election Commission of Ukraine
  32. ^ (Russian) КУН не пойдет в Раду вне очереди, Kommersant (August 7, 2007)
  33. ^ OUN rejects Tymoshenko's calls to form united opposition, Kyiv Post (March 9, 2010)
  34. ^ a b c John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 33-36.
  35. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pg. 62.
  36. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 20-22
  37. ^ Wilson, A. (2000). The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 0300083556. 
  38. ^ Bandera - romantyczny terrorysta "Bandera - Romantic Terrorist, interview with Jaroslaw Hrycak. Gazeta Wyborcza, May 10, 2008.
  39. ^ Timothy Snyder. The Reconstruction of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press. pg. 143
  40. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 38-39.
  41. ^ John Armstrong (1963). Ukrainian Nationalism. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 159-165
  42. ^ a b Subtelny, Orest. (1988) Ukraine: a History. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, pg. 442
  43. ^ Volovici, Nationalist Ideology, p. 98, citing N. Cainic, Ortodoxie şi etnocraţie, pp. 162-4)
  44. ^ Kost Bondarenko, Director of the Center for Political Research, The History We Don't Know or Don't Care to Know, Mirror Weekly, #12, 2002
  45. ^ Philip Friedman. Ukrainian-Jewish Relations During the Nazi Occupation. In Roads to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust. (1980) New York: Conference of Jewish Social Studies. pg. 204
  46. ^ a b c Myroslav Shkandrij. (2009). 'Jews in Ukrainian Literature: Representation and Identity.' New Haven: Yale University Press, pp. 152-153
  47. ^ Myroslav Yurkevich. (1986). Galician Ukrainians in German Military Formations and in the German Administration. In Ukraine during World War II: history and its aftermath : a symposium (Yuri Boshyk, Roman Waschuk, Andriy Wynnyckyj, Eds.). Edmonton: University of Alberta, Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies Press pg. 69
  48. ^ Jarosław Hrycak, Ukraińcy w akcjach antyżydowskich. Appeared in the journal Nowa Europa Wschodnia
  49. ^ Hunczak, Ukrainian-Jewish Relations, p.41
  50. ^ Philip Friedman. Ukrainian-Jewish Relations During the Nazi Occupation. In Roads to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust. (1980) New York: Conference of Jewish Social Studies. pp.179-180
  51. ^ The Lviv pogrom of 1941 By John Paul Himka. Kyiv Post September 23, 2010.
  52. ^ yadvashem
  53. ^ "Lwów". Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 2006. 
  54. ^ "July 25: Pogrom in Lwów". Chronology of the Holocaust. Yad Vashem. 2004. Retrieved 2006. 
  55. ^ І.К. Патриляк. Військова діяльність ОУН(Б) у 1940—1942 роках. — Університет імені Шевченко \Ін-т історії України НАН України Київ, 2004 I.K Patrylyak. (2004). Military activities of the OUN (B) in the years 1940-1942. Kiev, Ukraine: Shevchenko University \ Institute of History of Ukraine National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. pg. 324
  56. ^ Philip Friedman. Ukrainian-Jewish Relations During the Nazi Occupation. In Roads to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust. (1980) New York: Conference of Jewish Social Studies. pg. 181
  57. ^ Philip Friedman. Ukrainian-Jewish Relations During the Nazi Occupation. at Yivo annual of Jewish social science Yiddish Scientific Institute, 1959 pg.268
  58. ^ Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, Chapter 2, pp.62-63
  59. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2004) The Reconstruction of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press: pg. 162
  60. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2008). "The life and death of Volhynian Jewry, 1921-1945." In Brandon, Lowler (Eds.) The Shoah in Ukraine: history, testimony, memorialization. Indiana: Indiana University Press, pg. 95
  61. ^ Divide and Conquer: the KGB Disinformation Campaign Against Ukrainians and Jews. Ukrainian Quarterly, Fall 2004. By Herbert Romerstein
  62. ^ Philip Friedman. Ukrainian-Jewish Relations During the Nazi Occupation. In Roads to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust. (1980) New York: Conference of Jewish Social Studies. pg. 203
  63. ^ Philip Friedman. Ukrainian-Jewish Relations During the Nazi Occupation. In Roads to Extinction: Essays on the Holocaust. (1980) New York: Conference of Jewish Social Studies. pg. 188
  64. ^ Friedman, P.. Ukrainian-Jewish Relations During the Nazi Occupation, YIVO Annual of Jewish Social Science v. 12, pp. 259-296, 1958-1959. 
  65. ^ Heiman, L.. We Fought For Ukraine - the Story of Jews Within the UPA, in Ukrainian Quarterly, Spring 1964, pp. 33-44. 
  66. ^ Hunczak, Ukrainian-Jewish Relations, p.50
  67. ^ Hunczak, Ukrainian-Jewish Relations, p.51


  • Andrew Wilson, The Ukrainians: Unexpected Nation, New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000, ISBN 0-300-08355-6.
  • Orest Subtelny, Ukraine: A History, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988, ISBN 0-8020-5808-6.
  • Paul Robert Magocsi, Morality and Reality: the Life and Times of Andrei Sheptytskyi, Edmonton Alberta: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, University of Alberta, 1989, ISBN 0-920862-68-3.
  • (Polish) Grzegorz Motyka, Służby bezpieczeństwa Polski i Czechosłowacji wobec Ukraińców (1945–1989), Instytut Pamięci Narodowej, Warszawa 2005, ISBN 83-89078-86-4
  • (Polish) Władysław Siemaszko, Ewa Siemaszko "Ludobójstwo dokonane przez nacjonalistów ukraińskich na ludności polskiej Wołynia 1939–1945, by Kancelaria Prezydenta Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej, Warszawa 2000, tom I i II, 1433 pages, photos, queles, ISBN 83-87689-34-3
  • The Intermarium: Wilson, Madison, & East Central European Federalism by Dr. Jonathan Levy

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