STEPAN BANDERA, HIS LIFE AND STRUGGLE
- Danylo Chaykovsky
When Stepan Bandera was born in Uhryniv Staryy (district of Kalush, West Ukraine) on January 1, 1909, as the son of a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priest, Andriy Bandera, Ukraine was under the rule of two empires. The eastern regions together with Volhvnia, Kholm and Pidlyasha belonged to Russia, whilst the western regions, Galicia, Transcarpathia and Bukovina were part of Austria-Hungary and were administered with the help of the Poles. In spite of this partition, however, the demands of the Ukrainians for national and social liberation in all their territories became more and more insistent.
|Stepna Bandera (b. 1.1.1909, d. 15.10.1959) — Leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) form 1940-43 and from 1945-59; 1941-44 interned in Nazi concentration camp; murdered by a KGB agent in Munich.|
Under the Polish Rule
But the joy of the Ukrainians at attaining their independence was only short-lived. During the early days of its existence the young state was already obliged to defend its independence against four enemies, the Russians, Poles, Rumanians and Czechs, by armed force. After a year of heavy combat against the Poles, the Ukrainian Galician Army, owing to lack of weapons and equipment, was obliged to retreat across the River Zbruch and abandon the West Ukrainian territories to the Poles. With the army, the army chaplain and deputy of the West Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Bandera, also left his native country, and thus Stepan Bandera at an early age came to know the tragic lot of the homeless after his family fled before the brutality of the Poles.
After the mandate granted by the Entente on June 25, 1919, Poland occupied the West Ukrainian territories and enforced a ruthless occupation regime there. By June 1919 more than 250,000 of the 3.5 million Ukrainians in Galicia were confined in Polish prisons and internment camps as prisoners, and this number also included 1,000 clergymen. The Warsaw paper "Robotnik" stated in its edition of October 16, 1919: "The conditions which prevail in the camps at Modlin and Brest-Litovsk are a disgrace to the Polish state..." Thousands of prisoners-of-war and civilians died, Ukrainian property to the value of milliards was pillaged and destroyed, Ukrainian cultural achievements were annihilated, and the Ukrainian population of Galicia was in danger of being exterminated, — such was the state of affairs at the beginning of Polish rule in the West Ukrainian territories. A year later East Ukraine suffered an even heavier blow under Russian Bolshevist occupation.
But the Ukrainian people did not submit resignedly to their fate. In the central and eastern regions of Ukraine countless insurrections continued to break out for years and the Russian occupants had hard work to crush them. In the West Ukrainian territories, which after the Polish-Russian Treaty in Riga were occupied by Poland, the Ukrainian Military Organization, the UVO, whose nucleus consisted of officers and men of the best detachment of the former Ukrainian army, the Ukrainian Sich infantry, was formed. This Military Organization, under the experienced leadership of the military expert and politician, Colonel Evhen Konovalets, developed a lively underground activity. By means of armed insurrections against representatives of Polish rule, assassinations, destruction of Polish landed property and estates, and the dissemination of propaganda literature, the UVO in an active and concrete manner gave the Ukrainian people moral support in their independence aims, brought about the restriction of Polish interference and atrocities, and, in addition, did its share in informing and warning the rest of the world that this disregard of human rights would lead to a dreadful catastrophe.
Because of its courageous action the UVO won the sympathy and support of Ukrainian youth, who deeply felt the subjugation and humiliation of the Ukrainian people. Young people at school began to organize secret groups and cells, which were based on the ideological principles of the UVO and whose members were trained in the national revolutionary spirit to become fighters and champions of the cause of freedom of Ukraine. At the same time, the purpose of these groups was to appeal to the Ukrainian population to give its active support to the revolutionary underground movement. This support included, amongst other measures, donations for the secret Ukrainian university in Lviv, the circulation of Ukrainian publications printed abroad, which were prohibited by the Poles, the boycotting of Polish societies, as well as the boycotting of the census and the elections for the first Polish Sejm or parliament.
Stepan Bandera, a pupil in the forth form of the grammar school in Stryy, also joined one of these secret youth groups. In addition to physically hardening himself in the Boy Scouts and in the Sokil Sports Society, he acquired in this secret nationalist group the moral and ideological principles which were later to have such a decisive influence on his course in life. Because of his exceptional intelligence and talent, his good qualities of character, his spirit of comradeship, sense of duty, and modesty, and his happy disposition, he was outstanding amongst his schoolmates of the same age.
After passing his school-leaving examination in 1927, Stepan Bandera intended to go to Czecho-Slovakia in order to study at the Ukrainian College of Technology and Economics in Podebrady, but the Polish authorities refused to give him a permit to leave the country. It is interesting to note that the Polish authorities in the West Ukrainian territories showed no political farsightedness at all in this respect, a fact which undoubtedly also explains the increasing strength of the Ukrainian revolutionary liberation movement.
In order to consolidate their rule in the Ukrainian territories and to assimilate the Ukrainian population, the Poles introduced their so-called "borderlands policy," — that is to say, the ruthless extermination of Ukrainian cultural creativeness. And the first victim of this "policy" was the Ukrainian educational system, a fact which is even corroborated by Polish sources.
In his book "The Educational System in Poland from 1929 to 1939," published in 1961, Bronislaw Lugowski states that in Galicia under Polish rule only 5 per cent of the Ukrainian schoolchildren were able to attend schools in which the language of instruction was Ukrainian, whilst in Volhynia, Polissia and Kholm region the percentage was only 0.02. In 1922 there were 2,426 elementary schools in which the language of instruction was Ukrainian in the Polish-occupied Western Ukraine; by 1935 this number had decreased to 457, and by 1938 there were only 214 such schools. Of the 2,205 new students who registered at the various colleges in Lviv in 1938, only 310 were Ukrainians.
Since the percentage of the Ukrainian population in the towns of West Ukraine steadily decreased owing to the constant alien (Polish) influx, the youth of the villages, that is the sons and daughters of village priests, teachers and wealthy farmers, constituted a large percentage of the pupils at the grammar schools, commercial schools and teachers' training colleges. Since these young people after completing their studies at these types of schools were not, however, admitted to the universities and colleges, they were obliged to return to their villages. As they were not used to agricultural work, they usually tried to find employment in other fields, as for instance in the co-operatives, libraries, savings banks, agricultural unions, and in other Ukrainian unions and societies. These young people brought a new revolutionary spirit into the villages and small towns. Hence it was not surprising that within a short time the ranks of the UVO not only included the children of intellectuals but also the children of farmers and workers.
Thus Stepan Bandera, too, withdrew for some time to the village where his father, who had meanwhile returned from East Ukraine, lived and here he took an active part in cultural and educational work. In 1928 he returned to Lviv and began studying in the only faculty of the Technical College open to Ukrainians, the department of agriculture. During his studies he devoted all his spare time and energy to the revolutionary activity, which captivated him more and more. After having become a member of the UVO in the same year, he met a number of former schoolmates and other leading representatives of the Ukrainian liberation movement in Lviv, whose names were later also to become known abroad, as for instance Stepan Okhrymovych, at that time chairman of the Home Executive Committee of the OUN, Ivan Gabrusevych (later perished in the concentration camp at Sachsenhausen), Stepan Lenkavskv, the present chairman of the Units Abroad of the OUN, Jaroslaw Stetzko, who became Prime Minister of the Ukrainian government of 1941 and now is President of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN), Roman Shukhevych, later Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army — UPA, and famous under the name of General Taras Chuprynka, Dmytro Hrytsay (General Perebyynis), Chief of Staff of the UPA, and numerous other persons who were later to become prominent. Together with them and other comrades, Stepan Bandera planned the activity of the revolutionary liberation movement.
In the Ranks of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
The Ukrainian Military Organization under the leadership of Colonel Evhen Konovalets did not limit its armed action merely to the West Ukrainian territories. Its liaison men also penetrated into the eastern territories of Ukraine, where they set up a network of resistance groups and even won supporters amongst the members of the officers' training school of the Red Army in Kyiv. It was the aim of the UVO to include a1l classes of the Ukrainian population in its activity in order to carry out a general armed insurrection, when the time was ripe. But the organizational structure of the UVO was not large enough to encompass the active participation of the masses. The Ukrainian youth followed the example of the older: generation of Ukrainian patriots, who had founded the "Union for the Liberation of Ukraine," the SVU, and now formed the "Union of Ukrainian Youth," the SUM. The discovery of these two underground organizations by the Russians led to mass-arrests and to the liquidation of the elite of the Ukrainian people.
In the meantime the numerous secret nationalist groups and organizations in West Ukraine united and in 1929, at the First Congress of the Ukrainian Nationalists which took place in Vienna, founded the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the OUN, and elected Colonel Evhen Konovalets, hitherto Head of the UVO, as chairman. The UVO was gradually assimilated in the military section of the OUN. The OUN owed its development and its strength to its founders, whose names 'uve have mentioned above, and in particular to Stepan Bandera, whose outstanding qualities as an organizer and a leader had a chance to develop to the full during the years 1928 to 1933. Since he was constantly in contact with Colonel Konovalets, who at that time was abroad, Stepan Bandera was able to realize the plan for the development and expansion of the national liberation movement which he and his closest co-workers had drawn up.
The OUN now began to extend its organization network and to increase its cadres in all the Ukrainian territories under Polish rule and abroad; particular importance was attached to the West Ukrainian territories, which were threatened by Communist subversion. In order to consolidate the power of the organization, it now included in its activity the masses of the farming and working classes, who saw in the OUN their protector and champion of the fight for freedom. In training its members the OUN attached especial importance to an ideological-political training, as well as to military training and training in underground tactics, conspiring and reconnaissance, etc. In addition to political propaganda attacks and campaigns within the scope of the organization, the OUN members also developed a new form of activity, namely mass-campaigns on the part of the Ukrainian population. At the initiative and instructions of the OUN the Ukrainian population carried out an anti-monopoly and a school campaign. In order to achieve a moral and political effect, the Ukrainian population, at the initiative of the OUN, boycotted the purchase of goods under the state monopoly. This campaign was a big success, and the Polish state suffered a considerable financial loss.
The school campaign was carried out by the OUN as a retaliation measure against the cultural Polonisation policy and in order to protect the Ukrainian school-system and the national education and training of Ukrainian youth. This campaign consisted in the Ukrainian pupils in all the elementary and secondary schools at an appointed time demanding instructions in the Ukrainian language. As an indication of their protest against the Polish school law, they destroyed the Polish textbooks, tore down the Polish coat-of-arms from the walls of the classrooms, sang Ukrainian songs in unison, and refused to answer questions put by the teachers in Polish and to pray in this language. All the efforts on the part of the Polish school, administrative and police authorities to crush this "children's mutiny" proved unsuccessful. In their counter-actions the Polish authorities made themselves ridiculous in tire eyes of the population, for in some cases (as for instance in Sokal district) the police received orders from the authorities to arrest the schoolchildren and bring them before a court. Unbelievable scenes were enacted: incapable of keeping guard over 30 schoolchildren who had been arrested, a Polish policeman, the "guardian of public law and order and safety," tied them together by means of a long chain and led them through the village, — turning his head away in shame and embarrassment before the gaze of passers-by.
Armed Campaign of the OUN in West Ukraine
In addition to its revolutionary activity against the Polish oppressors of West Ukraine, the OUN also began a fight for freedom on the second front, anti-Bolshevist fight in all the Ukrainian territories. In West Ukraine the OUN conducted its campaigns in two directions, — against the Communist Party of West Ukraine, its propaganda and agents from the USSR, as well as against the diplomatic representatives of Bolshevist Russia and the Sovietophil trend. In a relatively short time the OUN, with the assistance of the masses, succeeded in breaking down Bolshevist diversion manoeuvres in Ukraine. During World War II these territories became the base for the fight of the Ukrainian revolutionary liberation movement against Russian Bolshevist rule in the central and eastern territories of Ukraine.
By means of attacks on Soviet diplomats (as for instance the famous attack on Maylov in the Soviet consulate in Lviv) and leading Communist functionaries, the OUN demonstrated the unity of the Ukrainian liberation front and the solidarity of the West Ukrainians with the anti-Bolshevist fight in the central and eastern territories. At the same time, these measures were also a protest against the famine which had been artificially created by Moscow in order to force the Ukrainian farmers to accept the system of collectivism. About 6 million Ukrainians died during this artificially created famine. During his trial before the court in Warsaw in 1936, Stepan Bandera defined the fundamental motives of the anti-Bolshevist fight conducted by the OUN and said: "We are fighting Communism not only by means of propaganda but also with armed force, since Communism is fighting Ukrainian nationalism with the aid of a hitherto unheard-of ruthless physical mass-terrorism, namely by mass-executions in the Cheka and GPU prisons, by starving millions of people, and by ceaseless deportations to Siberia. By means of the system of Bolshevism, Moscow has destroyed the Ukrainian state and has subjugated the Ukrainian people" ("Dilo," No. 124, Lviv, June 6, 1936).
In 1933 Stepan Bandera was appointed Chairman of the Executive of the OUN in Ukraine. It was during this period that the OUN reached the height of its development. On December 30, 1933, the Polish journal "Bunt młodych" published an article entitled "At the Eleventh Hour," which contained the following comments on the OUN:
"...The secret OUN — Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists — is today stronger than all the Ukrainian legal parties together. It rules the youth, it governs public opinion, it is unceasingly active in order to draw the masses into the eddy of a revolution... It is now perfectly obvious that time is against us. Every starosta (Polish district officer) in Little Poland (Galicia) and in Volhynia can enumerate the villages which until a short time ago were passive and now, stirred up by anti-state campaigns, are ready and eager to fight. The enemy is becoming stronger and stronger, and the Polish state weaker and weaker."
Poland was playing a losing game in spite of the ruthless measures of oppression to which she resorted in dealing with members of the Ukrainian underground. Other Ukrainians, too, who were not members of the OUN were sentenced to 8 to 12 years' imprisonment by the Polish courts if any illegal literature was found in their possession. But all these measures did not deter the Ukrainian youth from taking part in the fight for freedom. In order to prevent the continuation of Polish colonization in the West Ukrainian territories, the OUN carried out a sabotage campaign against the Po1ish landowners and settlers and set fire to their estates, farms and granaries. By way of retaliation the Polish government resorted to ruthless measures, which became known as "pacification," against the Ukrainian farmers.
The dreadful terrorism of the punitive expeditions of the Polish army and police at that time occupied the headlines in the world press. The "Manchester Guardian" of November 22, 1935, commented at some length on the "pacification" measures and on Pieracki, who under the Skladkowski government (1930) was the police chief responsible for these measures and who later became Minister of the Interior. The same paper pointed out that the Ukrainians bad endured the Polish pressure with admirable passivity until extremist groups had finally begun to set fire to the estates of the Polish landowners. By way of retaliation, units of the Polish army and police had then raided Ukrainian villages and had arrested the farmers there at random and beaten them. The "Manchester Guardian" added that these operations had been carried out in secret but that there could now be no doubt whatever that these were the most drastic measures of oppression ever heard of in the history of the civilized world. The said paper emphasized that there was no exact information as to how many farmers had been beaten, but careful estimates assessed the number at about 10,000, all of whom had been innocent. As a result of the ill-treatment they had received, many of the farmers were ill in bed for weeks afterwards and some of them died of the injuries they had received.
On December 3, 1935, the same paper stated that Minister Pieracki had been responsible for the "pacification" carried out in East Galicia in 1930, and that he had likewise been responsible for the "pacification" in the region of Lisko in 1931 and for that in Volhynia and Polissia in 1932, about which the Polish press, at the "Manchester Guardian" pointed out, had not mentioned a word. The paper added that his pacifying speeches were merely intended to conceal the atrocities, for which he and his government were responsible, from the rest of the world.
In reply to the Polish measures of oppression Stepan Bandera organized a counter-campaign including an attempt on the life of the Minister of the Interior Pieracki. This was carried out successfullyby Matseyko*), a member of the OUN, who subsequently fled abroad. The Polish police thereupon carried out mass-arrests amongst the Ukrainian population and in the course of investigations discovered the headquarters of the OUN in the West Ukrainian territories. In 1934 Stepan Bandera was arrested and at the beginning of 1936 he was sentenced to death in Warsaw as being responsible for the entire activity of the UVO and OUN; this sentence was later commuted to imprisonment for life. In the autumn of the same year he was once more sentenced to imprisonment for life in Lviv.
The Ukrainian people and the OUN suffered a number of heavy blows during the years that followed. The OUN chairman for all Ukraine was imprisoned in solitary confinement in the most securely guarded prison in Poland and was completely isolated from the outside world. In 1938 the founder and leader of the OUN, colonel Evhen Konovalets, was murdered in Rotterdam by a Bolshevist bomb. One might have assumed that the revolutionary movement, whose ranks had been decimated by the Polish mass-arrests, would now cease to exist, or would, at least for a time, limit its activity. But it very soon became obvious that this movement was so deeply rooted in the hearts of the Ukrainian population that it could only be eradicated by exterminating the entire Ukrainian people. In spite of the fact that all the members of the OUN leadership had been arrested, there were still enough other leading members of the OUN who were prepared to continue the uncompromising fight against the enemy. This was only too apparent when the state of Czecho-Slovakia, which had been artificially created in Versailles, under German pressure disintegrated into its natural parts, that is to say, when an independent Carpatho-Ukraine was formed. From the underground fight the Ukrainian people, under the leadership of the OUN, passed to creative state activity.
Contrary to Hitler's plans, Carpatho-Ukraine did not bow to German pressure and refused to submit to the Hungarians without a fight. Fighting on two fronts, namely against the Hungarians and Poles, Carpatho-Ukraine on March 15, 1939, proclaimed its independence. In the foremost ranks of the fighters for the freedom of Carpatho-Ukraine there were OUN members from every district of Ukraine.
The German-Polish war which broke out some months later also brought considerable changes for the Ukrainian people. Russia had occupied Volhynia, Polissia and Galicia, whilst the regions of Lemky, Kholm and Pidlyasha under German occupation became part of the so-called General-Gouvernement. With the change in political conditions, the form of the Ukrainian fight for freedom also changed. The ranks of the OUN swelled anew when countless members were released from Polish prisons and from the concentration camp in Bereza Kartuzka. The reinforced OUN now began to set up combat groups again, which took over the task of protecting the Ukrainian population and setting up ammunition depots for the future fight against Bolshevist Russia. As regards Germany the OUN adopted an attitude of temporization. It was convinced that sooner or iater a conflict would ensue between Nazi Germany and Bolshevist Russia. The OUN was of the opinion that such a conflict might provide a chance to re-establish the Ukrainian independent state. Forewarned on the strength of their experience with Hitler with regard to Carpatho-Ukraine, the Ukrainian nationalists refused to believe any tempting promises.
Stepan Bandera Becomes Head of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
After his liberation from the Polish prison Stepan Bandera managed to get through to Lviv, where, together with members of the Home Executive Committee of the OUN and other leading OUN members, he now elaborated plans for the further activity of the OUN in the Ukrainian territories. In addition, it was also decided to extend the organization network of the OUN in all the Ukrainian territories under Russian rule, to make the necessary preparations for the revolutionary fight in the event of the outbreak of a war, and to take the necessary defense measures against the annihilation of the national forces in West Ukraine which was planned by the Russians. Stepan Bandera wanted to remain in West Ukraine in order to take part in the realization of these plans. But at the express demand of the leading OUN members and at the recommendation of the leadership of the OUN abroad, he in 1939 went to Cracow. From here he then went to Italy to meet the then head of the OUN. After the death of Colonel E. Konovalets, Colonel Andriy Melnyk had assumed the leadership of the OUN. Various differences of opinion now arose between certain influential members of the OUN leadership and the members of the Home Executive Committee of the OUN in Ukraine with regard to fundamental questions pertaining to the liberation movement and internal difficulties.
In 1941 the 2nd Congress of the Ukrainian Nationalists elected Stepan Bandera as the new leader of the entire OUN. The revolutionary OUN under Stepan Bandera now assumed the leadership of the national fight for freedom of the Ukrainian people. A resolution was also passed by the same Congress to the effect that the OUN should continue the fight for freedom of the Ukrainian people with all the means at its disposal and regardless of any political or territorial changes. The OUN now began to enlarge and strengthen the organization network in all the Ukrainian territories under Russian occupation; at the outbreak of the German-Russian war it had at its disposal in these territories over 20,000 organized members who bad had a thorough military and ideological training. Since conditions were more favourable in the Ukrainian territories which belonged to the "General-Gouvernement," the OUN occupied itself there with preparations for an armed fight in the event of war. Within a relatively short time military training courses were organized there for OUN members and, in addition, ideological and propaganda material was prepared for the marching units of the OUN, who were already standing by in readiness. All the members of the OUN in the "General-Gouvernement" (about 6,000) received orders to advance in three separate groups into the Ukrainian territories beyond the San and the Bug immediately after the outbreak of the German-Russian war and to intensify their revolutionary activity there and revive the independent state existence of the Ukrainian people.
In the event of war the OUN planned to re-establish the independent Ukrainian state in the Ukrainian territories once they were liberated of the Russian occupant. For this reason a Ukrainian National Committee, which consisted of leading representatives of Ukrainian political and cultural life, was set np in Cracow in 1941, shortly before the outbreak of the war, at the initiative of the OUN. The task of this committee was to take charge of certain sectors of state life in Ukraine. In this way the OUN was determined to uphold democratic principles when establishing the Ukrainian state again.
A few days before the outbreak of war well equipped marching troops already advanced towards the appointed destinations in Ukraine. Under considerable difficulties (many of the members of the marching units which were overtaken by German troops fell into the hands of the Gestapo) they managed to advance into Ukraine as far as the Don and the Crimea. Amongst these marching units there were numerous leading members of the OUN. At the same time, the Ukrainian Legion, consisting of volunteers, under the command of
|Stepan Bandera with his son Andriy
and his younger daughter Lesia
But the independent policy of the OUN and its proclamation had crossed Hitler's plans with regard to Ukraine. Consequently mass-arrests were carried out. To begin with, certain circles of the German High Command were in favour of the idea of an independent Ukrainian state, which they thought would be an ally. They were, however, powerless to influence Hitler's policy. Stepan Bandera was at first interned by the Gestapo, but when he refused to deny his participation in the proclamation, he was immediately arrested. The Gestapo took him to Berlin, where they put him into prison; he was later transferred to the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen. In Lviv the Gestapo arrested Jaroslaw Stetzko and various members of his government when they refused to resign and to revoke the proclamation. On September 15, 1941, the Gestapo arrested over 2,000 Ukrainian nationalists in Ukraine, who had participated in some way or other in setting up the Ukrainian state. The present leader of the Units Abroad of the OUN, Stepan Lenkavsky, and a hundred leading members of the OUN (including Bandera's two brothers) were taken to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, or else put into prison, or shot. Bandera's two brothers were murdered in Auschwitz and his brother-in-law was tortured to death in the prison in Lviv.
The Ukrainian Legion under the command of Roman Shukhevych protested against the terrorism of the Gestapo. It was thereupon withdrawn from the front, and measures were taken to arrest its commanding officers. Roman Shukhevych and many of his comrades, however, managed to escape in time and went into hiding in the underground movement.
And once more it seemed as if the Ukrainian people, wedged in between two power blocks, would have to submit to their fate. With the assistance of the Gestapo, Hitler's governor in the "Reichs Commissariat of Ukraine," Erich Koch, began to depopulate Ukraine by means of mass-deportations of the Ukrainian population to Germany for the purpose of forced labour. Mass-arrests and also a famine ensued.
The members of the OUN once more resorted to underground activity. They already possessed completely worked out plans for the revolutionary fight for freedom and for defense measures. Within a short time they started their counter-action. At the end of 1941 and beginning of 1942 the first defense units were set up and in the course of time they developed into a truly Insurgent Army. Roman Shukhevych, who became famous under the name of General Taras Chuprynka, became the commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The latter eventually numbered 200,000 well-equipped and trained soldiers, who occupied large areas of Ukraine. The UPA enjoyed the wholehearted support of the Ukrainian people, who regarded it as their protector and defender not only against Nazi terrorism but also against the onslaughts of Bolshevist partisan units. In 1943 a secret conference of the representatives of the peoples who were subjuqated by Germany and Russia was held in Ukraine. This conference laid the foundation for the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN). A year later (1944) the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council, UHVR, the revolutionary government of Ukraine, was founded. It consisted of leading representatives of various political trends and played a decisive part in determining the course of the fight for freedom.
At the end of 1944, when there was no longer any doubt about the fact that Germany would lose the war, the Gestapo released Stepan Bandera, Jaroslaw Stetzko, Stepan Lenkavsky, and many other members of the OUN from the concentration camps. In this hopeless situation the German politicians made a last attempt to remedy the errors which they committed at the beginning of the war. They tried to convince the Ukrainian nationalists of the necessity of a collaboration with Germany. But the OUN refused to allow itself to be taken by the German wishes and promises and, together with the UPA, continued its fight against Bolshevist Russia.
With the help of friends, the members of the OUN who had been liberated from the "protection" of the Gestapo managed to get through to the West and waited there for the war to end.
The Unabated Fight against Russia
For Ukraine, which once more fell under Bolshevist rule, the fight did not, however, end with Germany's capitulation. The Ukrainian people and the UPA soldiers continued their fight, which is indeed unparalleled in history, against the Bolshevist oppressors. Without allies, without reinforcements, and without any support at all from the free world, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army for years continued its heroic fight (until 1952) against a Major power which had seized half Europe and Asia. The proportions which this fight assumed can be seen from the fact that in 1947 Russia was forced to make a pact with Poland and Czecho-Slovakia regarding joint measures to combat the UPA. In the course of this relentless fight, the OUN and the UPA suffered heavy losses. Even after the heroic death of the Commander-in-Chief of the UPA, Roman Shukhevych, on March 5, 1950, the Ukrainian people and the UPA continued their fight for freedom. The UPA was obliged to alter its fighting tactics, however, and had to resort to underground activity once more instead of open fighting.
As a result of the renewed Russian occupation of Ukraine, countless Ukrainians of all social classes were forced to leave their native country and emigrate. As exiles abroad they met many members of the OUN once more, who had been released from concentration camps and prisons. Under the leadership of Stepan Bandera, they united to form the Units Abroad of the OUN (Z. Ch. OUN). The main task of the Units Abroad of the OUN became the general support in every way of fighting Ukraine. The Units Abroad extended their organization network to cover all the countries of the free world in
|Stepan Bandera's Grave — in the Waldfriedhof, Munich|
In the course of time the Units Abroad of the OUN began to inform and enlighten the peoples of the free world on the Ukrainian fight for freedom and on the threat to the whole free world by Bolshevist Russia.
At the initiative of the Units Abroad of the OUN the activity of the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations (ABN) was resumed, and 16 peoples of East Europe and Asia, subjugated by Moscow and on friendly terms with Ukraine, joined this organization as members. Jaroslaw Stetzko, the former Prime Minister of the Ukrainian government of 1941, was elected President of the Central Committee of the ABN. In 15 years' untiring activity he has succeeded in gaining many new friends and supporters for the Ukrainian liberation movement.
In the internal Ukrainian sector of the Ukrainian emigration, the OUN strengthened the anti-Russian and anti-Bolshevist front, exposed the activity of enemy agents and warded off dangerous alien de-nationalization influences. Regardless of social and political differences amongst the Ukrainian emigrants, countless groups have supported the OUN and in this way also the fight for freedom of the Ukrainian people at home. Proof of this support is the liberation fund, which has enabled the OUN to conduct a liberation policy free of all foreign influence during the past 17 years.
The lively activity of the OUN amongst the emigrants and the name of Stepan Bandera, who became the symbol of the fight for freedom. eventually come to be regarded by Moscow as a danger and a threat. In addition to its ruthless extermination of the Ukrainian people, Moscow for 15 years endeavoured to exterminate the spokesman and champion of the Ukrainian independence aspirations, Stepan Bandera, since his name had become the symbol of freedom in every region of the Russian "peoples' prison" from the San to Sakhalin and Kamchatka amongst all classes of the population, in the Red Army and amongst the millions of prisoners in the Russian concentration camps. At the instructions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the KGB (Committee for State Security) tried by every possible means to discredit and destroy the moral greatness of Stepan Bandera, state enemy No. 1, amongst the population. By every means available the NKVD, later the MVD, that is to say the KGB, for years endeavoured to liquidate Stepan Bandera, who lived in Munich under the name of Popel, physically, until finally on October 15, 1959, it succeeded in doing so.
But even with this vile murder Moscow did not succeed in breaking the will to freedom of the Ukrainian people. And the following fact is proof enough: two years after the murder of Stepan Bandera the Bolshevist paper "Lvovskaya Pravda," No. 18, 1961, wrote: "a trial took place recently in which the accused were anti-state criminals and members of the secret organization of the Ukrainian nationalists." The paper reported that one of the accused had been arrested just as he was in the act of affixing Ukrainian nationalist watchwords in the municipal park. The other two accused had been standing nearby, keeping a look-out. The tribunal of the Subcarpathian Mititary command sentenced the first mentioned of the accused to death and the other two accused to 15 years' imprisonment.