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Proletarian issue 65 (April 2015)
Stepan Bandera – the Ukrainian fascists’ ‘hero’
As we mark the 70th anniversary of the victory over fascism, let us never forget that fascist movements are spawned by and serve the imperialist system.
US and British imperialism and their fascist junta in the Ukraine have the same venomous hatred of Russia as Stepan Bandera and Hitler had for the Soviet Union. In December 1944, just five months before the end of the Great Patriotic War, Nazi Germany gave Bandera a million roubles to fight the Soviet Union from western Ukraine.

The money, which had been stolen from the USSR, was parachuted into the hills near Lvov and given to the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists – Bandera (OUN-B) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The OUN-UPA spread the fascist propaganda that a third world war was imminent, and that they, together with “American and British troops, would defeat the Soviet Union and establish a Ukrainian state”. (Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Stepan Bandera, The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist; Fascism, Genocide, and Cult, 2014, p301)

However, an increasing number of Ukrainians refused to believe the fascist propaganda, so they were conscripted into the UPA by force, while those who did not believe the OUN-UPA could defeat the Soviet Union were murdered. In 1945, in the Volhynia region, western Ukraine, the security service (SB) of the OUN killed about a thousand ‘disloyal’ UPA partisans.

On 3 May 1946, the OUN-UPA tortured to death two Soviet officials in the village of Myl’sk by “taking out their eyes, cutting them with knives, burning their bodies with iron, hitting them with ramrod”, while, in 1948, “In the town of Sernyky in the Rivne region, five people from the family of a collective farm were slaughtered with a hatchet.” (Ibid, p303)

When Churchill made his ‘Iron Curtain’ speech on 5 March 1946 (a phrase he stole from Goebbels, who said that if the Nazis were to lose the war “An iron curtain would fall over ... this territory controlled by the Soviet Union”) Stalin correctly called him a “warmonger”. Stalin responded to the speech, saying that “Churchill now takes the stand of the warmongers, and in this Mr Churchill is not alone. He has friends not only in England but also in the United States ...

Churchill’s aggressive anti-communism

“Churchill and his friends bear a striking resemblance to Hitler and his friends. Hitler began his work of unleashing war by proclaiming a race theory, declaring that only German-speaking people constituted a superior nation. Mr Churchill sets out to unleash war with a race theory, asserting that only English-speaking nations are superior nations, who are called upon to decide the destinies of the entire world.

“The German race theory led Hitler and his friends to the conclusion that the Germans, as the only superior nation, should rule over other nations. The English race theory leads Mr Churchill and his friends to the conclusion that English-speaking nations, as the only superior nations, should rule over the rest of the nations of the world.

“Actually, Mr Churchill and his friends in Britain and the United States present to the non-English speaking nations ... an ultimatum: ‘Accept our rule voluntarily, and then all will be well; otherwise war is inevitable’ ...

“The following circumstance should not be forgotten. The Germans made their invasion of the USSR through ... [neighbouring] countries because, at the time, governments hostile to the Soviet Union existed in these countries ... the Soviet Union’s loss of life has been several times greater than that of Britain and the United States put together ... in some quarters, an inclination is felt to forget about these colossal sacrifices of the Soviet people, which secured the liberation of Europe from the Hitlerite yoke.

“But the Soviet Union cannot forget about them. And so what can there be surprising about the fact that the Soviet Union, anxious for its future safety, is trying to see to it that governments loyal ... to the Soviet Union should exist in these countries? How can anyone, who has not taken leave of his wits, describe these peaceful aspirations of the Soviet Union as expansionist tendencies on the part of our state? ...

“Mr Churchill wants to assure us that ... gentlemen from the fascist backyard can ensure true democracy. Such is the ‘democracy’ of Mr Churchill ... I don’t know whether Mr Churchill and his friends will succeed in organising a new armed campaign against eastern Europe ... but if they do succeed ... it may be confidently be said that they will be thrashed, just as they were thrashed once before, 26 years ago.” (‘Interview to Pravda correspondent concerning Mr Winston Churchill’s speech at Fulton’ with JV Stalin, March 1946)

Ukrainian nationalist atrocities

The OUN-UPA exploited Churchill’s speech, in the same way that the current fascist junta in Kiev is exploiting the words and actions of US and British imperialism today. They used phrases like “If not today, then tomorrow, England will declare war on the USSR,” and “There will be a war and Ukraine will be made independent, under the protection of America.

On 27 May 1947, a monument to Lenin was blown up by the OUN. On the same day, the UPA killed 12 victims. Among them were members of the village council, their family members, the school principal and two women from eastern Ukraine. On 15 December 1948, an OUN-UPA member returned home and learned his parents had joined the collective farm, so he shot his 76-year-old father and badly injured his 63-year-old mother.

These are just a few examples of the numerous killings committed by the nazi criminals during the time that they were active. It took five years after the end of the war for the Soviet authorities to destroy the nationalist/fascist underground in western Ukraine. The number of anti-Soviet terrorist actions gradually dropped from 2,068 in 1947 to 1,387 in 1948, and by 1955 this had dropped to 35 terrorist attacks, which claimed 15 victims.

By 1950, the OUN-UPA was unable to wage war on the Red Army. Nevertheless, its remaining members continued to kill civilians. In 1955, the Soviet authorities were still searching for 475 OUN-UPA war criminals. Right up until 1990, a small number of surviving criminals still continued to hide in bunkers in the forests, supplied with food by their families.

Imperialism uses fascists in its fight against communism

In 1948, US imperialism adopted ‘Operation Rollback’, with the aim of “rolling back communism”. By strengthening fascist organisations like the OUN-UPA, British imperialism’s Secret Intelligence Service (SIS, also known as MI5), under the direction of an enthusiastic Labour government, joined with the CIA in looking for people and organisations who would be willing and able to provide imperialism with intelligence about the USSR.

On 13 July 1948, the Attlee government sent a secret telegram to all Commonwealth governments, which included a proposal to put a stop to Nazi war-crime trials in the British zone of Germany. This had the effect of recategorising all the war criminals of the Waffen-SS Galizien as ‘displaced persons’ (DPs), which was a synonym for anti-communist Ukrainian Nazis and collaborators.

The Waffen-SS Galizien, whose members had committed horrendous and sadistic war crimes in Ukraine, changed its name to the First Division of the Ukrainian National Army (UNA) on 17 March 1945, and, on 10 May 1945 its officers surrendered to the British in Austria. This enabled them to be classed as DPs. Yet, until the end of the war, Nazi Germany still listed this division as the Ukrainian 14th SS Grenadier Division. Nevertheless, with imperialism’s help and that of the Vatican, the unit’s members avoided repatriation to face war-crimes charges in the Soviet Union.

Between 1947 and 1955, around 90 percent of the 250,000 Ukrainian DPs settled in Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Britain, Canada, France, the US and Venezuela. Of the 11,000 who surrendered to the British, 8,570 settled in Britain; the rest returned to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Ukrainian nationalists in Britain

The fascists and war criminals who came to Britain organised themselves into the Association of Ukrainians (AUGB). This august association currently has 27 branches throughout the country, in Ashton, Bedford, Bolton, Bradford, Bury, Carlisle, Coventry, Derby, Doncaster, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Gloucester, Halifax, Huddersfield, Keighley, Leeds, Leicester, London, Luton, Manchester, Nottingham, Oldam, Reading, Rochdale, Stockport, Waltham Cross and Wolverhampton.

The Ukrainian fascists even have a cemetery on Cannock Chase, where these so-called ‘Displaced Persons’ lay wreaths and shout “Sieg heil”. They also have a website,, which claims that the current bloodshed in Ukraine has come about because “Russia invaded Ukraine and started a war”.

Strangely, the AUGB website makes no mention of its founders’ sadistic war crimes during the second world war. Nor does it mention their compatriots’ war crimes after the war. Or the present-day nazi conflict and their fellow fascists’ war crimes against Russian-speaking federalists in eastern Ukraine. And, of course, there is no mention of the nazi/CIA coup d’état that took place in Kiev in February 2014.

Also on the website are fascist lies about so-called “Stalin’s purges”. Grotesquely, these fascists educate their children to “commemorate Bandera at a symbolic coffin”. In Halifax, they even have a children’s choir that is taught to sing songs commemorating that war criminal’s death. (Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, op cit, pp418-9)

Horrific crimes revealed

Mentioned above were some of the war crimes committed by the Ukrainian fascists during the second world war. The book by Tadeusz Piotrowski, Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn, gives some idea of the horrendous atrocities the Waffen-SS Galizien got away with.

There were at least 40,000 Ukrainian victims (classed by their murderers as ‘traitors’) and more than 36,000 Poles, let alone the very many jews, whose savage butchery has been rather better documented. One of those classified as a ‘traitor’was a young girl. “The Ukrainian nationalists tied her feet to two saplings, bent to the ground for the occasion, and let her go – thus tearing the poor girl in half.” Her crime? Speaking to a Red Army soldier. (p22)

On 16 September 1943, in one village, “Thirty Poles were massacred ... During this vicious attack, one of the sadists hoisted a small child aloft on a pitchfork and sported the child about for a while in front of the mother.” The mother was later murdered as well. (Ibid, p54)

Bordering on Soviet Ukraine was Rowne County in south-eastern Poland. Many atrocities were committed by the so-called Self Defence Units (SKV) here, and thousands perished in this area alone.

Polish mothers being held by Ukrainian nationalists and forced to watch as their families were dismembered piece by piece; of pregnant women being eviscerated; pregnant women having cats sown into their bleeding abdomens; of Ukrainian husbands murdering their own Polish wives; of Ukrainian wives murdering their own Polish husbands; of Ukrainian fathers murdering their own sons in order to prevent them from murdering their own Polish mothers; of sons of Polish-Ukrainian heritage being sawn in half because, the nationalists said, they were half-Polish; of children being strung up on household fences; of helpless infants being dashed against buildings or hurled into burning houses ...” (Ibid, p111)

Caring nothing for the horrendous crimes they had committed, British imperialism, in its desperation to undermine Soviet Russia, not only protected them but trained them for further acts of barbarism. Between 1949 and 1954, MI6 trained Bandera’s agents in London and Munich and parachuted 75 Zch OUN (Foreign Units of the OUN) into Ukraine. Under MI6 orders, on the night of 14-15 May 1951 six members of the Zch OUN were dropped in Ukraine, and, four days later, a CIA plane dropped four members of the ‘Foreign Representation of the Ukraine Supreme Liberation Council’ ZP UHVR.

Fortunately, however, Kim Philby learnt about this danger and alerted Soviet intelligence. As a result, the Soviet Union was able to infiltrate the units and scupper their plans. British imperialism’s secret service operators eventually realised that the USSR had penetrated the Zch OUN, so in 1955 it ceased to cooperate with Bandera.

Nevertheless, imperialism’s secret services continued to support fascist anti-Soviet propaganda with newspapers and radio stations, and Bandera maintained contacts with Franco’s fascist regime in Spain.

Bandera also visited Ukrainian communities in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Holland, Italy and Britain. Surprisingly, the only country he did not visit was the US, as his organisation was disliked by the Ukrainian émigrés there. Shortly before his assassination, US imperialism granted him a visa, but he never made the trip. Nevertheless, his speeches were recorded and imperialism made sure these were listened to at Ukrainian gatherings.

In addition to all this, Bandera had protection from imperialism’s networks of so-called ‘former’ Nazis, several of whom held influential positions in Adenauer’s government in west Germany. As a result, police files on Bandera’s connection with kidnapping, murder, and the counterfeiting of money were closed.

Gorbachev’s Perestroika, and the counter-revolutions in the Soviet Union and former people’s republics of eastern Europe resulted in the collapse of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation – a process that was helped by Solidarnosc in Poland; by Charta 77 in Czechoslovakia; by the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF); by the Croation Revolutionary Organisation (Ustasa, a fascist, roman-catholic and nationalist organisation), and by the Iron Guard in Romania.

The Bandera cult

So when the OUN and UPA returned to the Ukraine in the late 1980s, they were welcomed by right-wing politicians and nationalists and presented to the masses as heroic post-war fighters of the ‘oppressive’ Soviet Union. Their total collaboration with Nazi Germany, and their anti-semitic, anti-Polish, anti-Russian and fascist ideology, along with their involvement in brutal forms of sadistic barbarism both during and after the second world war, was totally ignored.

The new Bandera cult, particularly in western Ukraine, was fermented by “politics, museums, novels, movies, monuments, street names, political events, music festivals, pubs, food, postage stamps, talk shows” ... and a false teaching of history in schools.(Ibid, p.459)

But it gets even worse. Today, these fascists have even got a picture of Hitler on Kiev’s City Hall, while the Azov battalion, which has committed horrendous war crimes, openly wears fascist regalia such as the Nazi swastika and the Wolfsangle or ‘Wolf-hook’ – a heraldic symbol used by the Nazi Waffen-SS during the Great Patriotic War. The fascist battalion even has swastikas on its tanks.

However, in reaction to this Bandera and Hitler cult in western Ukraine, Communist Party officials in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhya are planning to erect in May a monument to Stalin. Oleksandr Zubchevsky, the Communist Party deputy has stated that workers there “resent ... monuments to the criminals Bandera and Shukhevych in western Ukraine, and we do not have a monument to the person who saved the entire world from the brown plague of the 20th century – fascism – and who transformed Zaporizhzhya from a provincial town into a powerful industrial centre.” Unsurprisingly, the fascist Svoboda party have promised to try to destroy the monument once it is erected.

70th anniversary of the defeat of fascism

Attempts by the neo-Nazis in Ukraine, and by the hypocritical sycophantic parasites of US and British imperialism here at home, to whitewash history are morally abhorrent. We have recently celebrated the liberation of Auschwitz, and shortly we are going to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany by the Red Army and its leader Josef Stalin.

To invite Poroshenko to Auschwitz, when he has presided over neo-Nazi crimes in Ukraine that include the murder of thousands of civilians and the bombing of hospitals, schools and residential homes, while rejecting Russia’s President Putin, despite the fact that it was the Red Army which liberated the death camp there, is nothing less than criminal.

But the Red Army did not only liberate Auschwitz; it also liberated Majdanek, Stutthof, Saxhsanhausen and Ravensbrueck, and overran the former death camps of Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka. Not only did the Red Army liberate more extermination camps than US and British imperialism put together, it crushed Nazi Germany almost single-handed!

Some eighty percent of the German imperialist casualties in WW2 died or were wounded on the eastern front in the titanic clash with the USSR. Over 5 million fascist troops lost their lives on that immense battlefield, and more than 10 million Soviet troops and partisans gave their lives in the struggle. Another 15 million Soviet civilians are estimated to have died during the course of the war.

We must never allow imperialism to whitewash history. The sacrifice of the Soviet people in the fight against fascism was truly unparalleled in the annals of human history.

And today, when imperialist politicians and journalists speak of ‘democracy in Ukraine’, we must ask ourselves again: How can anyone from a ‘fascist backyard ... ensure true democracy?’

So, to paraphrase the great anti-fascist fighter and builder of socialism, Comrade JV Stalin, if US and British imperialism are organising a new armed campaign against Russia, it may confidently be said that they will be thrashed, just as they were thrashed before!

> Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe, Stepan Bandera - The Life and Afterlife of a Ukranian Nationalist, 2014
> Interview with Pravda correspondent concerning Mr Winston Churchills speech at Fulton, JV Stalin, March 1946
> Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain
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