This article was written for and first published in
Renditions of the Peaceable Kingdom at War,
from Narratives of WWI and the Red Scare to the Mass Internment of Civilians
Issue #68 of
Press for Conversion
(Spring 2016), pp.44-45. (As a sidebar to
Camps: A Century of Ukrainian Canadian Internment.)
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Glorifying Ukrainian-Canadian Veterans of OUN/UPA Terrorism
By Richard Sanders, Coordinator,
Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT)
Since the 1930s, Canada’s Ukrainian Right has included groups representing the two main factions of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). This fascist European political/military organisation embraced terrorism as a strategy for achieving its goal of statehood. Testimony at the Nuremberg Tribunal showed that leaders of both OUN camps worked with the Abwehr, the military intelligence service of the Nazi Army’s “Supreme Command.”1
One faction, known as the OUN-M, was led by Andriy Melnyk. After commanding a company of Ukrainian rifleman in the Austro-Hungarian Army during WWI, Melnyk spent the 1930s managing the huge forested estate of the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop. Melnykites are represented in the Ukrainian Canadian Congress (UCC) by the Ukrainian National Federation (UNF). The UNF website says it “was founded ...by members of the... Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, who’s [sic] influences and vision remain a vital part of the organization to this day.”2
A militant OUN spinoff, the OUN-B, was led by Stepan Bandera, the son of a Ukrainian Catholic priest. In 1954, he said “Ukrainian Nationalism was a Christian movement whose roots lay in the world view and spirituality of Ukrainian people.”3 The League of Ukrainian Canadians is Canada’s leading Banderite group. Joining the UCC in 1959, it became a dominant force in this government-created alliance of Ukrainian nationalists bound by their fervent antiCommunism. The League, and its youth and womens’ groups, are still members of the UCC, whose “executive committee is dominated by Banderites.”4
Bandera’s followers see him as an “eternal hero” of
Ukrainian nationalism. The cult’s myths obfuscate and deny the OUN-B’s role in
terrorism, mass murder, ethnic cleansing and Nazi collaboration during the
Holocaust,5 in which 90% of Ukraine’s Jews were killed.6 Also sublimated is the
OUN-B’s recourse to Judeo-Red conspiracy narratives. For example, a resolution
from its 1941 congress said:
“Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime, and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in Ukraine.... The OUN combats Jews as the support of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime but ...gives notice to the popular masses that the principal foe is Moscow.”7
University of Alberta professor Karyn Ball and Swedish
historian Per Rudling detail how the UCC and others have
“dismissed or minimised an increasingly well-documented history of Ukrainian nationalist participation in pogroms and collaboration with the Nazis in mass murder in order to consolidate a heroic-victim identity for Canadian-Ukrainians....”8
Rudling and Ball describe how Ukrainian-Canadian “ultranationalists” have often
“resorted to a competitive victimology as they exaggerate the death count associated with the Ukrainian famine of 1932-33...[the Holodomor], in order to appropriate and supersede the Jewish genocide’s perceived moral capital.”9
The OUN-B used the mass atrocities of Stalin’s secret police “as a pretext for pogroms across Western Ukraine, holding Jews collectively responsible.”10 In May 1941, when “the OUN-B...issued a blueprint for the nationalist uprising that was to accompany the German invasion,” its fliers were crystal clear, saying: “Know this! Moscow, Magyars, Jews—these are all your enemies. Exterminate them.” The OUN-B called for a “dog’s death” for “Muscovite-Jewish intruders,” and “internment camps...for Jews, [and] asocial elements.” Its slogans included: “Ukraine for the Ukrainians” and “Death to the Muscovite-Jewish commune!”11
As the OUN-B’s paramilitary force, the UPA committed major atrocities during it ethnic-cleansing of western Ukraine. Yale History professor Timothy Snyder detailed how in 1943 the UPA killed 40,000 to 60,000 Polish civilians in Volhynia. They also wiped out most of the Jews who had survived the previous year when 13,000 Ukrainian police aided some 1,400 German police in murdering about 200,000 Volhynian Jews.12
In 1942-1943, the UPA also killed up to 40,000 Poles in
east Galicia. In early 1944, the UPA commander said that:
“In view of the success of the Soviet forces, it is necessary to speed up the liquidation of the Poles, they must be totally wiped out, their villages burned... [O]nly the Polish population must be destroyed.”13
Despite such evidence, says Rudling, UCC president Paul Grod “remains... committed...to the cult of the OUN and the UPA, vehemently and categorically denying Ukrainian nationalist involvement in the Holocaust.”14 For example in 2010, while praising Ukraine’s government for exalting the OUN and UPA as national heroes, Grod and the UCC asked Canada’s government to change “the War Veterans Allowance Act by expanding eligibility to include...[the] OUN-UPA.”15
Rudling has also noted that
“the Canadian government directly paid for OUN front groups, gave them tax-exempt status, covered part of the publication costs for their papers, and gave grants to the construction of community centers.”16
1. Trials of war criminals before the Nuernberg
Military Tribunals, Vol.6, p.252.
2. About Us
3. Anton Shekhovtsov, “By Cross and Sword: ‘Clerical
Fascism’ in Interwar Western Ukraine,” in Clerical Fascism in Interwar Europe,
4. Karyn Ball & Per A.Rudling, “The Underbelly of
Canadian Multiculturalism: Holocaust Obfuscation and Envy in Debate about the
Canadian Museum for Human Rights,” Holocaust Studies, Winter 2014, p.47.
5. Grzegorz Rossolinski, Stepan Bandera: Life and
Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist: Fascism, Genocide and Cult, 2014.
6. H.M.Troper, M.Weinfeld, Old Wounds: Jews,
Ukrainians & the Hunt for Nazi War Criminals in Canada, 1988, pp.11-12.
7. Michael Marrus, The Nazi Holocaust. Part 5, Vol.1,
8. Ball and Rudling, Op. cit., p.38
9. Ibid. While Rudling and Ball say 3.3 million Ukrainians starved to death in the famine, the UCC (and the Canadian government) often inflate this to over 10 million.
10. Per Anders Rudling, “‘The Honor They So Clearly
Deserve:’ Legitimizing the Waffen-SS Galizien,” Journal of Slavic Military
Studies, 26:1, 2013, p.121.
11. Ball and Rudling, Op. cit., p.44.
12. Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations:
Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999, 2003, pp.170, 162.
13. Cited by Per Anders Rudling, “Theory and Practice:
Historical representation of the wartime accounts of the activities of the
OUN-UPA,” East European Jewish Affairs, Dec. 2006, pp.172.
14. Per Anders Rudling, “The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths,” The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies, No.2107, November 2011, p.37.
15. Ukraine’s President Recognizes Ukraine’s Freedom
Fighters, February 1, 2010.
16. Per Anders Rudling, personal communication, April 29, 2015.