Friday, February 05, 2010

Why Viktor Yushchenko should NOT have honoured this man

That's Stepan Bandera (pictured) who was posthumously honoured as a Hero of Ukraine, the country's highest award last month. Bandera (1909-1959) was a Ukrainian nationalist and leader of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

In many ways Stepan Bandera, who together with his organisation collaborated with the Nazis during World War II, reminds me of another key figure in Ukrainian history: Bohdan Chmielnicki. Like Chmielnicki, Bandera was hostile to Poles and Jews. During the war, his OUN faction adopted the program “Struggle and action for OUN during the war", in which the Policy Minority subsection read:

"Moskali (ie Russians) Poles, Jews are hostile for us and thus they must be exterminated in this struggle, especially those who would resist our regime: deport them to their own lands, importantly: destroy their intelligentsia that may be in the positions of power" … "so-called Polish peasants must be assimilated"… Jews must be isolated, removed from governmental positions, those who are deemed necessary may only work with an overseer... Jews' assimilation is not possible.”

This was despite the fact that a number of Jewish people took part in Bandera's movement including such prominent figures as Richard Yary and Valeri Dombrowski.

I suspect that Yushchenko's honouring of Bandera was partly due to personal reasons: like Yushchenko, Bandera was poisoned. Though unlike Yushchenko, Bandera didn't survive the ingestion of a toxic substance.

Nonetheless, the honouring of Bandera should cause outrage among people who care about Ukraine and its standing in the world. Ukrainian Jews were and are Ukrainian and their Ukrainianess should never be denied them.

Some 33,771 Kiev Jews were murdered in 1941 at Babi Yar as were many Ukrainian gentiles, including 621 members of the OUN. Honouring Bandera is an insult to those people and their families as well as being quite obviously an insult to those Ukrainians, there were over 2,000 of them, who risked their lives to save their Jewish neighbours during the Nazi occupation. In October, Yushchenko's wife, Katerina honoured them at Kiev's Halych Synagogue.

In her address Mrs Yushchenko said, "We, the Ukrainians and the Jews, for centuries lived together, fought together, achieved success together, cried for our losses together. It was a time of love and ordeal. And it was a time of true valor."

Speaking also of the Holodomor, the appalling famine Stalin unleashed on Ukraine in the 30s, at which time, incidentally, he was also busily smashing up the Communist Party in the Ukrainian SSR, she said: “I can relate to your striving to find, name, and celebrate people and preserve the memory about their deeds forever. We want to bring back the memory about every person executed by the hunger.”

Those fine words have been besmirched by her husband's actions in honouring Bandera.

Anti-semitism is a disease which has infected all Eastern European countries, it is not by any means a solely Ukrainian phenomenon. In Poland, thanks in large part to the inspirational example of our late and sorely-missed visionary Pope, John Paul the Great, there are increasingly determined efforts to root this canker out. In time we will see similar initiatives in Ukraine and hopefully, efforts to address anti-Roma racism in places like Romania and Hungary. This will necessarily involve free and frank discussions about Eastern European history - all of it, good, bad and ugly.

Those of us in the West who are the descendants of Eastern European emigres must support these efforts. And those of us who are believers should return to the jewels of our religions which enjoin us to welcome the stranger and love our God and our neighbours as we love ourselves. The rest is indeed commentary.

20 Comments:

Blogger Londiniensis said...

Bravo for posting this. The MSM have rather ignored it.

UPA-OUN units carried out the most unbelievable atrocities against Poles in 1943-47. Norman Davies writes: Villages were torched. Roman Catholic priests were axed or crucified. Churches were burned with all their parishioners. Isolated farms were attacked by gangs carrying pitchforks and kitchen knives. Throats were cut. Pregnant women were bayoneted. Children were cut in two. Men were ambushed in the field and led away. The perpetrators could not determine the province's future. But at least they could determine that it would be a future without Poles.

2/06/2010 4:53 AM  
Blogger neprimerimye said...

Yushchenko is an opportunist cur but the politics of your post are, at best, naive and at worst dangerously naive. Forget not that during the second chapter of the world war Polish groups carried out racist atrocities every bit as much as Ukrainian groups did.

2/07/2010 1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2/08/2010 9:22 AM  
Blogger Londiniensis said...

Could I respectfully ask neprimerimye to provide references as to instances, numbers and organisations responsible. I fear that it is he who is being either naive or deliberately obfuscatory.

2/09/2010 3:33 AM  
Blogger neprimerimye said...

It displays a grotesque failure to engage with the history of Poland to even think of challenging my assertion that Poles were as responsible for racist atrocities as any other 'ethnic' group during and after WW2.

Is it not a matter of record that Poles collaborated with the Nazis in the mass murders of Jews that sodisgraced humanity? Is it not a matter of record that the official exile Govt of Poland continued to adhere to the official anti-semitism that it had displayed prior to 1945?

Is it not also a matter of record that the Polish state had systematically discriminated against ethnic Ukrainians who found themselves citizens of Poland after that states borders had solidified? An attitude that cntinued during WW2 I note. Is it not a matter of record that Poles exhibited no more love for the Roma people than any other East European nationality in the period we are discussing?

Lastly the revolting ethnic cleansing of Germans in 1945-46 ought to be noted. A bestial act carried out by the Stalinist regime itself. A regime that would display its own anti-semitic proclivities in 1968 by the way.

Now as I suspect that your nationalism is of the romantic kind I note for your benefit that I am not arguing that all Poles were anti-semites. Simply that some were and some took part in racist atrocities. The same can be said of every nationality in Eastern Europe during and for some years after WW2.

Londinienis can of course choose a nationalism that sweeps everything nasty under the carpet. History however teaches that nationalism is always and everywhere a particularist doctrine that will bath in the blood of those 'different' in a moment.

2/09/2010 5:40 AM  
Blogger Londiniensis said...

I wrote not in any spirit of nationalism, romantic or otherwise, but setting out historical facts and citing a leading historian who specalises in eastern Europe and especially the modern period.

I asked neprimerimye to provide references as to instances, numbers and organisations of Poles' racist atrocities.

It is clear on the evidence that the OUN-UPA atrocities (estimates of between 100,000 to 300,000 Poles murdered) were carried out on the instructions of their leadership.

All neprimerimye's examples are not comparing like with like. Polish collaboration with Nazis in the extermination of Jews is a slander, as is the rather nonsensical notion that the Polish government in exile was anti-semitic.

I am intrigued by the sweeping ad-hominems, as neprimerimye can have no possible idea of my nationality, my adherence to any "isms", or my socio-political views.

Rather than producing outraged smokescreens, if he is indeed serious, could neprimerimye please answer my questions.

2/09/2010 11:57 AM  
Blogger neprimerimye said...

Afew brief points.

1/ Do your own research.

2/ The Polish Govt in exile did in fact continue to hold up the policies of the pre-1939 Govt. That makes them anti-semitic in my book. If you disagree then prove that the exile Govt broke with the anti-semitic history of Colonels regime.

3/ You have in the past suggested that you are of Polish background on this blog. From those same remarks I consider it fair to characterise your view of Poland as romantic nationalism. As are the equally barmy views of the owner of this blog.

4/ I'm astounded that you even question that Poles collaborated with the Nazis in anti-semitic outrages. Next you will be denying that pogroms took place in Poland.

5/ There is no suggestion that ethnic outrages by Poles were equal to those of the OUN-B. But that does not excuse the fact that they happened. Just as the outrages of the OUN-B cannot be glosed over by comparison tothe Shoah.

2/09/2010 3:13 PM  
Blogger neprimerimye said...

I note in passing that your 'leading historian' has been criticized by other historians for his treatment of the Shoah that can be characterised by his seeking "the most charitable interpretation possible concerning such subjects as the Polish government's policies toward Jews in the interwar period, and its ethnic cleansing of Germans and Ukrainians after the war."

2/09/2010 3:21 PM  
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3/13/2010 12:14 PM  
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8/01/2010 6:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are mistaken.

Stepan Bandera was, is, and forever shall be a true Hero of Ukraine and its people. He is the ultimate symbol of Ukraine's struggle for freedom, which was ultimately acheived in 1991.

Time and time again, investigations and research have cleared any notions of Bandera and the OUN being Nazi collaborators, fascists, or anti-Semites. These investigations include the Nuremburg Trials and the Canadian Government’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, who cleared Bandera of any of these notions in 1985.

The movement to discredit Bandera and the OUN as heroic was exposed many times as part of a propagandist Soviet campaign from decades ago. None of these accusations are rooted in truth; the facts are twisted and spun for the convenience of those who refuse to take the time to properly research all necessary sources, and all facts which demonstrate their cases to be untrue are conveniently omitted. The arguments, from decades ago to current times, used by so-called “academics” who oppose the idea of Bandera being a hero merely reference those with the same points of view. Proper reserach includes both sides of an issue, which you and all others who have agreed with you through their comments clearly ignored. If you truly believed your evidence to be true, then you would have also presented opposing facts and discredited them through academic means. Your lack of rebuttal to views and facts other than your own discredits any of the spurious allegations you make.

Of course the UPA and OUN battled against the Nazis, Poles and the Soviets. These were not arbitrary attacks—fighting for the sake of fighting—as you insinuate. The Ukrainian liberation movement was a response to defend its nation from those who held it captive: the Poles to the west who engaged in "pacification" of Ukraine in the 1930's (which included the killing of thousands of Ukrainians, burning of villages, schools, and churches, and arbitrary arrests of both Ukrainian leaders and peasants) and continued to try and assert their dominance over Western Ukraine; the Nazis, also to the west, who through their efforts to occupy Ukraine committed countless war crimes against thousands of innocent Ukrainians; and the Soviets to the east, who, among countless other atrocities, perpetrated a genocide against the Ukrainian people, killing upwards of ten million Ukrainian men, women, and children through starvation.

10/15/2010 12:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are mistaken.

Stepan Bandera was, is, and forever shall be a true Hero of Ukraine and its people. He is the ultimate symbol of Ukraine's struggle for freedom, which was ultimately acheived in 1991.

Time and time again, investigations and research have cleared any notions of Bandera and the OUN being Nazi collaborators, fascists, or anti-Semites. These investigations include the Nuremburg Trials and the Canadian Government’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, who cleared Bandera of any of these notions in 1985.

The movement to discredit Bandera and the OUN as heroic was exposed many times as part of a propagandist Soviet campaign from decades ago. None of these accusations are rooted in truth; the facts are twisted and spun for the convenience of those who refuse to take the time to properly research all necessary sources, and all facts which demonstrate their cases to be untrue are conveniently omitted.
The arguments, from decades ago to current times, used by so-called “academics” who oppose the idea of Bandera being a hero merely reference those with the same points of view. Proper reserach includes both sides of an issue, which you and all others who have agreed with you through their comments clearly ignored. If you truly believed your evidence to be true, then you would have also presented opposing facts and discredited them through academic means. Your lack of rebuttal to views and facts other than your own discredits any of the spurious allegations you make.

Of course the UPA and OUN battled against the Nazis, Poles and the Soviets. These were not arbitrary attacks—fighting for the sake of fighting—as you insinuate. The Ukrainian liberation movement was a response to defend its nation from those who held it captive: the Poles to the west who engaged in "pacification" of Ukraine in the 1930's (which included the killing of thousands of Ukrainians, burning of villages, schools, and churches, and arbitrary arrests of both Ukrainian leaders and peasants) and continued to try and assert their dominance over Western Ukraine; the Nazis, also to the west, who through their efforts to occupy Ukraine committed countless war crimes against thousands of innocent Ukrainians; and the Soviets to the east, who, among countless other atrocities, perpetrated a genocide against the Ukrainian people, killing upwards of ten million Ukrainian men, women, and children through starvation.

10/15/2010 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are mistaken.
Stepan Bandera was, is, and forever shall be a true Hero of Ukraine and its people. He is the ultimate symbol of Ukraine's struggle for freedom, which was ultimately acheived in 1991.
Time and time again, investigations and research have cleared any notions of Bandera and the OUN being Nazi collaborators, fascists, or anti-Semites. These investigations include the Nuremburg Trials and the Canadian Government’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, who cleared Bandera of any of these notions in 1985.
The movement to discredit Bandera and the OUN as heroic was exposed many times as part of a propagandist Soviet campaign from decades ago. None of these accusations are rooted in truth; the facts are twisted and spun for the convenience of those who refuse to take the time to properly research all necessary sources, and all facts which demonstrate their cases to be untrue are conveniently omitted. The arguments, from decades ago to current times, used by so-called “academics” who oppose the idea of Bandera being a hero merely reference those with the same points of view. Proper reserach includes both sides of an issue, which you and all others who have agreed with you through their comments clearly ignored. If you truly believed your evidence to be true, then you would have also presented opposing facts and discredited them through academic means. Your lack of rebuttal to views and facts other than your own discredits any of the spurious allegations you make.
Of course the UPA and OUN battled against the Nazis, Poles and the Soviets. These were not arbitrary attacks—fighting for the sake of fighting—as you insinuate. The Ukrainian liberation movement was a response to defend its nation from those who held it captive: the Poles to the west who engaged in "pacification" of Ukraine in the 1930's (which included the killing of thousands of Ukrainians, burning of villages, schools, and churches, and arbitrary arrests of both Ukrainian leaders and peasants) and continued to try and assert their dominance over Western Ukraine; the Nazis, also to the west, who through their efforts to occupy Ukraine committed countless war crimes against thousands of innocent Ukrainians; and the Soviets to the east, who, among countless other atrocities, perpetrated a genocide against the Ukrainian people, killing upwards of ten million Ukrainian men, women, and children through starvation.

10/15/2010 12:23 AM  
Anonymous Mike2567 said...

You are mistaken.
Stepan Bandera was, is, and forever shall be a true Hero of Ukraine and its people. He is the ultimate symbol of Ukraine's struggle for freedom, which was ultimately acheived in 1991.
Time and time again, investigations and research have cleared any notions of Bandera and the OUN being Nazi collaborators, fascists, or anti-Semites. These investigations include the Nuremburg Trials and the Canadian Government’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, who cleared Bandera of any of these notions in 1985.
The movement to discredit Bandera and the OUN as heroic was exposed many times as part of a propagandist Soviet campaign from decades ago. None of these accusations are rooted in truth; the facts are twisted and spun for the convenience of those who refuse to take the time to properly research all necessary sources, and all facts which demonstrate their cases to be untrue are conveniently omitted. The arguments, from decades ago to current times, used by so-called “academics” who oppose the idea of Bandera being a hero merely reference those with the same points of view. Proper reserach includes both sides of an issue, which you and all others who have agreed with you through their comments clearly ignored. If you truly believed your evidence to be true, then you would have also presented opposing facts and discredited them through academic means. Your lack of rebuttal to views and facts other than your own discredits any of the spurious allegations you make.
Of course the UPA and OUN battled against the Nazis, Poles and the Soviets. These were not arbitrary attacks—fighting for the sake of fighting—as you insinuate. The Ukrainian liberation movement was a response to defend its nation from those who held it captive: the Poles to the west who engaged in "pacification" of Ukraine in the 1930's (which included the killing of thousands of Ukrainians, burning of villages, schools, and churches, and arbitrary arrests of both Ukrainian leaders and peasants) and continued to try and assert their dominance over Western Ukraine; the Nazis, also to the west, who through their efforts to occupy Ukraine committed countless war crimes against thousands of innocent Ukrainians; and the Soviets to the east, who, among countless other atrocities, perpetrated a genocide against the Ukrainian people, killing upwards of ten million Ukrainian men, women, and children through starvation.

10/15/2010 12:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are mistaken.
Stepan Bandera was, is, and forever shall be a true Hero of Ukraine and its people. He is the ultimate symbol of Ukraine's struggle for freedom, which was ultimately acheived in 1991.

10/15/2010 12:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are mistaken.
Stepan Bandera was, is, and forever shall be a true Hero of Ukraine and its people. He is the ultimate symbol of Ukraine's struggle for freedom, which was ultimately acheived in 1991.
Time and time again, investigations and research have cleared any notions of Bandera and the OUN being Nazi collaborators, fascists, or anti-Semites. These investigations include the Nuremburg Trials and the Canadian Government’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, who cleared Bandera of any of these notions in 1985.
The movement to discredit Bandera and the OUN as heroic was exposed many times as part of a propagandist Soviet campaign from decades ago. None of these accusations are rooted in truth; the facts are twisted and spun for the convenience of those who refuse to take the time to properly research all necessary sources, and all facts which demonstrate their cases to be untrue are conveniently omitted. The arguments, from decades ago to current times, used by so-called “academics” who oppose the idea of Bandera being a hero merely reference those with the same points of view. Proper reserach includes both sides of an issue, which you and all others who have agreed with you through their comments clearly ignored. If you truly believed your evidence to be true, then you would have also presented opposing facts and discredited them through academic means. Your lack of rebuttal to views and facts other than your own discredits any of the spurious allegations you make.
Of course the UPA and OUN battled against the Nazis, Poles and the Soviets. These were not arbitrary attacks—fighting for the sake of fighting—as you insinuate. The Ukrainian liberation movement was a response to defend its nation from those who held it captive: the Poles to the west who engaged in "pacification" of Ukraine in the 1930's (which included the killing of thousands of Ukrainians, burning of villages, schools, and churches, and arbitrary arrests of both Ukrainian leaders and peasants) and continued to try and assert their dominance over Western Ukraine; the Nazis, also to the west, who through their efforts to occupy Ukraine committed countless war crimes against thousands of innocent Ukrainians; and the Soviets to the east, who, among countless other atrocities, perpetrated a genocide against the Ukrainian people, killing upwards of ten million Ukrainian men, women, and children through starvation.

10/15/2010 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(continued from previous)

Time and time again, investigations and research have cleared any notions of Bandera and the OUN being Nazi collaborators, fascists, or anti-Semites. These investigations include the Nuremburg Trials and the Canadian Government’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada, who cleared Bandera of any of these notions in 1985.

10/15/2010 12:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(continued from previous)

The movement to discredit Bandera and the OUN as heroic was exposed many times as part of a propagandist Soviet campaign from decades ago. None of these accusations are rooted in truth; the facts are twisted and spun for the convenience of those who refuse to take the time to properly research all necessary sources, and all facts which demonstrate their cases to be untrue are conveniently omitted. The arguments, from decades ago to current times, used by so-called “academics” who oppose the idea of Bandera being a hero merely reference those with the same points of view. Proper reserach includes both sides of an issue, which you and all others who have agreed with you through their comments clearly ignored. If you truly believed your evidence to be true, then you would have also presented opposing facts and discredited them through academic means. Your lack of rebuttal to views and facts other than your own discredits any of the spurious allegations you make.
Of course the UPA and OUN battled against the Nazis, Poles and the Soviets. These were not arbitrary attacks—fighting for the sake of fighting—as you insinuate. The Ukrainian liberation movement was a response to defend its nation from those who held it captive: the Poles to the west who engaged in "pacification" of Ukraine in the 1930's (which included the killing of thousands of Ukrainians, burning of villages, schools, and churches, and arbitrary arrests of both Ukrainian leaders and peasants) and continued to try and assert their dominance over Western Ukraine; the Nazis, also to the west, who through their efforts to occupy Ukraine committed countless war crimes against thousands of innocent Ukrainians; and the Soviets to the east, who, among countless other atrocities, perpetrated a genocide against the Ukrainian people, killing upwards of ten million Ukrainian men, women, and children through starvation.

10/15/2010 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(continued from previous)

In your post, you state:
“Some 33,771 Kiev Jews were murdered in 1941 at Babi Yar as were many Ukrainian gentiles, including 621 members of the OUN. Honouring Bandera is an insult to those people and their families.”
These pogroms of which you speak were organized and carried out by the Nazis while carrying out their attacks on the Soviet Union. How is honouring a man who did everything he possibly could to resist the aforementioned murderers an insult to that regime’s victims and families? If a war crime had been perpetrated against your family, surely you would consider the efforts of a person who defended their memory and opposed their killers, at the very least, heroic. Moreover, if, as you state, the OUN “collaborated with the Nazis,” then why would the Nazis also kill members of the OUN? Why would they murder those who were supposedly helping them? They wouldn’t. It’s quite simple really, even a child could recognize holes in your logic.
Further, your argument that President Yuschenko's actions "besmirched the fine words [of his wife]," is equally absurd. Yes, his wife's words were fine indeed, as she was honouring the memory of those who perished in the Holodomor—the aforementioned man-made Soviet genocide of Ukrainians. President Yuschenko's actions honour a man who was not content to sit idle and let an atrocity like that occur again, as it may have had it not been for the heroic efforts of not just Bandera, but all those involved in the Ukrainian liberation movement. Following your logic, a man such as Martin Luther King, Jr. (who, like Bandera, was also assassinated for his beliefs) should not be considered a hero for his efforts in trying to free his people from being subjected to any more horrific injustices.
Bandera, the OUN, and the UPA fought for Ukraine's independence. They made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation by giving up their lives for its greater good. Any notion or argument that their actions were anything less than heroic is an insult to the victims (and their families) of fascist regimes from any period throughout history.

10/15/2010 12:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the previous comment had to be sent in parts. it seems to be too long to publish in one comment, for that i do apologize. i await the posting of my comment to the blog. thankyou.

10/15/2010 12:32 AM  

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