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Borys Potapenko,   Ukrainian Congress Committee of America   International Council in Support of Ukraine


   As the 75th anniversary of the formation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army UIA (also known by its Ukrainian acronym UPA) is being observed in Ukraine and throughout the Ukrainian Diaspora, discredited allegations are again being dredged up to defame the UIA, its commander Roman Shukhevych, and the Ukrainian liberation struggle during WWII. One such allegation is that the Nachtigall Battalion, commanded by Roman Shukhevych, carried-out pogroms in Lviv in the summer of 1941.

        For the record:

        Stepan Bandera leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUNb) agreed to form a Ukrainian Legion in the German Army comprised of two battalions, Nachtigall and Roland. On behalf of the Ukrainian side, the commander of the Nachtigall Battalion was Roman Shukhevych and on behalf of the German side, Theodor Oberländer.

        OUN’s strategic objective was a secret plan to proclaim the restoration of Ukraine’s independence once the Ukrainian Legion was on Ukrainian soil. Nachtigall entered Lviv on June 29, 1941. The next day, June 30, 1941, OUN proclaimed Ukraine’s independence. In response, the German high command ordered the arrest and/or execution of many of the battalion’s officers and demobilized and reorganized the battalions.

        Subsequently, fighters from Nachtigall and its partner battalion Roland formed the basis for the formation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in 1942, commanded by Roman Shukhevych. The UIA fought the German and Soviet armies to the end of WWII and continued its armed struggle against the Soviets well into the 1950s.

        Five separate and exhaustive investigations established that neither the OUN nor its members in the Nachtigall Battalion, including Roman Shukhevych, participated in the heinous war crimes/pogroms in Lviv in July 1941.

        The investigation of the Extraordinary State Commission on German atrocities, created by the Soviet government in 1944, identified the specific individuals and the branches of the German security services, who perpetrated the killings. The findings contained no direct or indirect reference, much less accusations against members of the OUN or Nachtigall. Subsequently, the Nuremberg war crimes trials, again, exhaustively reviewed the evidence concerning the pogroms in Lviv and, again, made no mention of OUN or Nachtigall.

        The conspiracy was actually concocted in 1959, following the assassination of Stepan Bandera by a Soviet Russian KGB agent. The point was to discredit the OUN and Nachtigall. The KGB plot was an elaborate attempt to compromise Theodor Oberländer the then Minister for Displaced Persons for West Germany and to delegitimize the OUN as a national liberation movement. The allegation was that Oberländer, as the commanding German officer of the Nachtigall Battalion in Lviv in 1941, launched the pogroms against the Jews and Poles.

        However, after an extensive trial, the West German court concluded that there were no grounds for accusing Oberländer, Shukhevych or anyone else associated with Nachtigall, or OUN of any criminal acts against Jews or Poles in Lviv in July 1941. On the contrary, the court established that it was the German Security Service (SD), the Security Police, and the Einsatzkommando 5 that had perpetrated the mass murder of Jews and Poles.

        The fourth investigation was at the request of Oberländer, himself. An international commission of eminent and unimpeachable international jurists, none of whom were German, convened in the The Hague from November 1959 to March 1960. They unanimously concluded, “that the accusations against the Battalion Nachtigall and the then Lieutenant and currently Federal Minister Oberländer have no foundation in fact.” The commission further concluded that the KGB disinformation campaign was primarily designed to deflect attention away from itself for the assassination of Bandera by casting blame on Oberländer and the Germans.

        Finally, at the request of Stepan Bandera’s family in Canada, the Canadian Government’s Commission of Inquiry on War Criminals in Canada conducted its investigation and, in 1985, cleared Stepan Bandera of any direct or indirect involvement in war crimes.

        Let the record also show that recently uncovered and authenticated documents in the archives of the Ukrainian National Security Service confirm that the OUN leadership in Lviv in 1941 issued specific instructions to its members not to participate in any German actions against Jews and Poles.

        Notwithstanding the exhaustive investigations and overwhelming evidence to the contrary, the campaign to delegitimize the national struggle for the independence of Ukraine, by demonizing the OUN and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army continues. The Kremlin and its fellow travelers abroad still cannot come to terms with lost empire. Nor can they countenance a free, independent and democratic Ukraine, where its citizens of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, be they Ukrainians,  Jews, Poles or Russians, collectively live in greater harmony and individually enjoy more freedoms than in any other country of the former Soviet Russian empire. Ethnic and religious tolerance is the hallmark of Ukrainian society.

        Today, Ukraine is at war with Russia. Resistance has come at a high cost. Over ten thousand Ukrainian men, women, and children are dead, tens of thousands maimed, and nearly two million rendered internal refugees. No less costly are the consequences of Russia’s hybrid war tactics that penetrate deep into the country far from the battlefield that disrupts the economy, and includes cyber attacks on infrastructure, fomenting political turmoil, media manipulation, etc. There is no aspect of Ukrainian society that is not targetted by Russia. Every day,  Ukrainians of every ethnic and religious persuasion suffer directly and indirectly as a result of the Russian invaders. This is why irrespective of their backgrounds millions of Ukrainians honor Bandera and Shukhevych and OUN/UIA, as symbols of resistance to centuries long Russian aggression and colonial occupation of their land. They sacrificed their lives for the independence of Ukraine and the freedom of all of its citizens.


Warren, MI





Trial of Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal, Nu-remberg, 14 November 1945–1 October 1946, vol. XXXIX, pp. 268–69. Ironically, this document (USSR-014) was presented at the Nuremberg Trials by Soviet prosecutors as proof that the Germans were persecuting the Ukrainian liberation movement.

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