History of Fascism in Ukraine Part 3: 1944-1963 UPA War, Ratlines, and the Assassination of Stepan Bandera
Dedicated to the memory of Luciana Bohne.
With special thanks to T.P. Wilkinson.
Just prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, stories began to appear in the Western press on American plans to set up a GLADIO style stay behind network in Ukraine that would resist the Russian invasion from behind enemy lines. It would be an underground army equipped with hidden arms caches. Unsurprisingly this meant that such a Gladio terror network had already been set up. However in the context of the bloody stalemate that the war has become it has been so far only a minor annoyance for the Russians, assassinating officials in Russian controlled areas and helping to target Ukrainian attacks. These plans were history repeating themselves for as the Nazis prepared to retreat from Ukraine back in 1944 they made a deal with the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) to act as a stay behind army to continue to wage war on the Soviets from behind enemy lines. The UPA had been created to ethnically cleanse eastern Poland of Poles and the few remaining Jews who had survived the mass killings throughout the occupied territories. It pretended to fight the Nazis while secretly working for German military intelligence. Yet the UPA and their OUN/B (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists/Bandera) masters knew that Germany was losing the war and in mid-1944 the head of OUN/B intelligence the SB Mykola Lebed made a secret deal with the British. Soon the Americans were also in on the act. In Ukraine World War 2 would go on for another eight years after the defeat of Nazi Germany. The campaign against the Soviet Union would continue to be waged by OPC, MI6, Gehlen Org, and the CIA who secretly backed the doomed UPA.
And Ukraine was merely the biggest of these Western backed covert wars that are usually completely ignored by mainstream accounts of the Cold War. The UPA war itself took place in Poland, Belarus, and Czechoslovakia as well as Western Ukraine. There were also covert wars in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Albania, Yugoslavia and other countries in the Eastern Bloc. In the Baltics remnants of the Waffen SS, known as “The Forest Brotherhood”, continued the war with the backing of combined Western intelligence services. The UPA campaign in Ukraine was fundamental in the start of the Cold War. OUN-UPA propaganda promised that World War 3 was just around the corner and that Britain and America would arrive to “liberate” Ukraine and deliver it to the OUN/B—a bunch of genocidal fascists. In exchange for Western arms, the UPA were spying for the West. Their information was being used to pick targets inside Ukraine for the planned U.S. atomic “Doomsday” strikes. Living in Western exile, future OUN/B head Yaroslav Stetsko was actively lobbying for atomic war at the expense of millions of Ukrainian dead. He considered this a small price to pay for the “liberation” of Ukraine from Communism.
This article will tell the story of these early Cold War years. It will cover the UPA war, the ratlines and the resettling of 120,000 Ukrainian fascists around the globe. It will discuss riots, torture and assassination the OUN/B conducted in displaced person camps and prisons. It will discuss the OUN/B in exile and its split into two factions: the MI6 and Gehlen backed Zch OUN led by Stepan Bandera and Stetsko and the CIA backed ZP UHVR led by Mykola Lebed. It will cover the OUN/B and MI6 creation of the largest fascist umbrella group of the postwar years the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations or ABN which united escaped fascist war criminals from across Eastern and Central Europe. The ABN would form close ties with the Asian People’s Anti-Communist League and the two would eventually launch the World Anti-Communist League. Finally it will discuss the assassination of Stepan Bandera.
You should read parts one and two for a detailed account of the origins of the OUN and its role in helping the Nazis murder masses of Slavs and Jews during World War 2. However I will attempt a recap along with a couple of new details discovered in my many months of research since last year. For much of its history Ukraine has been a battleground between East and West. In the nineteenth century, a Ukrainian national identity began to emerge in a small group of artists and intellectuals. The stereotypical early Ukrainian nationalist had a book of Ukrainian poetry in one pocket and a copy of Marx in the other. In the years leading up to World War 1 however Ukrainian nationalism increasingly became a form of proto-fascism inspired by scientific racism and social Darwinism. Its key figure would become Dmytro Dontsov who fled Russian Ukraine for Galicia, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. (It may be worth mentioning that the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire released the flood of reactionary intellectuals that also built the atomic bomb, the so-called Chicago School, neo-conservatism, and neo-liberalism.) Donstov would become a propagandist for Germany during World War 1. Ukraine would become a major battleground in World War 1, the Russian Civil War, the Polish-Soviet War, and the Polish-Ukrainian war. In the end most of Ukraine would be incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic while what is today Western Ukraine became part of Poland. Historians have come to realize that the German (and Czech) wartime experience fighting in Ukraine and the Baltic in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution played a key role in the birth of Nazi ideology and methodology. This is known as “Brutalization theory” anti-communism and anti-Semitism became linked and led to genocidal pogroms. German veterans of the wars in the Ukraine and the Baltic would join the Freikorps right wing mercenary and paramilitary bands. The Freikorps popularized the swastika, fought wars in Eastern Europe, were brought in to massacre German communists and joined the Nazi Party.
The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists or OUN had its origins in what was Eastern Poland after World War 1. During World War 1 the OUN’s founders had fought for the Austro-Hungarian Empire as the Sich Riflemen serving under a Habsburg prince Wilhelm von Habsburg. They became the core of the military for the short-lived Western Ukrainian People’s Republic, which was eventually crushed by the newly reborn Poland. They then went into exile and formed the terrorist group, the UVO, which stood for the Ukrainian Military Organization. The UVO carried out terror attacks in Poland and spied for German military intelligence. The UVO was headed by Levhen Konovalets who had commanded the Sich Riflemen and then fought for Western Ukraine against Poland. Defeated he and the other leaders ran the UVO from exile. In 1929 the UVO decided it needed a mass organization to carry out its goals and created the OUN. Konovalets was the first head of the OUN.
Meanwhile in Western Ukraine a new generation of Ukrainian nationalists had come of age inspired by the work of Dmitry Dontsov who popularized fascism. Dontsov was surrounded by a group of fascist avant-garde poets and intellectuals known as the Vistnykites. Donstov popularized a bastardized form of Nietzsche, which he combined with extreme Ukrainian nationalism. He inspired a ruthless young generation of Ukrainian fascists who worshipped violence and were ready to commit any crime for the sake of the cause. Historians call them the “Bandera Generation” which included Stepan Bandera, Yaroslav Stetsko, and Mykola Lebed. They grew up in nationalist youth groups and scouting organizations before joining the UVO and then the OUN. They managed to radicalize much of the Ukrainian population of Poland launching a movement of mass resistance, propaganda, fanatical indoctrination, terror and assassination. Eventually after plotting the assassination of the interior minister of Poland Bronislaw Pieracki the OUN leaders were tried and imprisoned. The actual assassin escaped to Argentina where the FBI later uncovered a German plot to have him assassinate President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Meanwhile Levhen Konovalets, the leader and founder of the OUN/B, was assassinated by Pavel Sudoplatov, a Soviet agent using an exploding box of chocolates. The OUN leadership in exile picked Andrii Melnyk to replace Konovalets. When Germany invaded Poland, sparking World War 2, Bandera and his friends escaped from prison. Bandera’s trial had made him a superstar among the Ukrainian nationalists and he felt he should be made OUN leader. The OUN was soon split into an old generation in exile the OUN/M loyal to Melnyk and the younger OUN/B living under Polish rule and loyal to Bandera. The OUN/M vs. OUN/B rivalry would turn murderous. Both competed for the Nazis favour and both would play their role in helping to carry out the Nazis genocidal policies. The OUN/B would create Ukrainian militias that would become the auxiliary police hunting, guarding, transporting to execution, Ukraine’s Jews and other enemies of the Nazis. The OUN/M would supply recruits for the 14th Waffen SS division “Galizia”. In 1943 the OUN/B ordered its members in the police to desert and form the UPA the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The UPA launched genocidal massacres of Polish villagers. They reportedly delighted in murdering their victims with horrifying sadism using axes, clubs and saws to save bullets, terrify the Poles, and amusing themselves. The UPA killed 80-100,000 poles in Galicia and Volhynia. The UPA also helped the Nazis battle the Soviet partisans. After the war the OUN/B in exile would popularize the myth that the UPA fought both the Nazis and the Soviets. In reality the UPA only attacked Germans when they needed arms and they were secretly working for the German Abwehr (military intelligence) the entire time. The Abwehr had been working with the UVO and the OUN throughout their history. MI6 had also been backing the OUN before the war. MI6 head Admiral Hugh “Quex” Sinclair began backing the OUN in the mid 1930s. The man in charge was MI6 officer Harry Carr stationed in Finland. Carr was also apparently working with the Abwehr. Carr would be the MI6 point man for Ukrainian operations after the war, meeting frequently with Stepan Bandera.
Early in 1944 the Red Army was on the verge of liberating Western Ukraine. The UPA and the Abwehr made a deal. Huge German arms caches were turned over to the UPA in exchange for providing intelligence on Soviet forces and fighting to tie down as many Red Army troops as they could. It was called Operation Sunflower. Shortly before the Red Army captured Lvov, the OUN/B held a major conference adopting a more democratic facade in hopes of winning Western support. This process of adopting a democratic facade had begun the year before in the OUN/B’s third Extraordinary Conference held 21-25 August 1943. After the spring 1944 conference, the OUN/B decided to send a delegation led by Mykola Lebed to the West to contact the Allies. Lebed would become a key Cold War figure leading the CIA backed branch of the OUN/B. The UHVR, the Supreme Ukrainian Liberation Council, was created to give a democratic facade to the OUN/B in July 1944. Lebed later admitted to historian Christopher Simpson that he had made contact with Western intelligence in the summer of 1944. Lebed was described by the American CIC (Counter-Intelligence Corps) as “A well known sadist and Nazi collaborator”.
In the 1930s Lebed masterminded a number of assassinations, he had gone on to the Gestapo school outside of Cracow, Poland where he trained his men in torture, by kidnapping Jews and torturing them until they made false confessions and then killing them (an approach for which USAID/ CIA contractor Dan Mitrione became infamous in Latin America). Lebed headed the OUN’s intelligence branch the Sluzhba Bezpeky (Security Service) or SB, which was also tasked with killing, suspected traitors within the OUN/B or the UPA. Lebed masterminded the assassinations of OUN/M members that got Bandera and Stetsko sent to the cosy section of the concentration camp for high value political prisoners. Unlike Bandera Lebed was thus able to participate directly in the OUN/B’s horrific war crimes during the war. Lebed ordered the ethnic cleansing campaign against Poles. After the Cold War Lebed and his CIA front Prolog would be credited with helping to destabilize and destroy the Soviet Union. Most historians claimed that Lebed’s initial mission to contact the Western allies in 1944 was a failure. However historian Jeffrey Burds discovered that according to German intelligence it was a success and by fall of 1944 Lebed had made a deal with the British. Lebed also found a willing ally in the Vatican through the Ukrainian-American archbishop Ivan Buchko, a prelate in the Greek Catholic church and a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Buchko would later intercede with Pope Pius XII to protect the Ukrainian 14th Waffen SS “Galizia” division. Another key Lebed ally in the clergy was Father Ivan Hryn’okh who had been the chaplain to the Galizia division.
Meanwhile the Soviets had succeeded in liberating Ukraine in May 1944 and the UPA war had begun. The Red Army still had to liberate the rest of Eastern Europe and eventually Germany. The bulk of Red Army forces left Ukraine after drafting 700,000 West Ukrainians. Still at one point the UPA managed to tie down about 200,000 Red Army troops. It even managed to kill General Nikolai Vatutin of the 1st Ukrainian Front in February 1944. Between February 1944 and December 1946 the UPA managed to kill 11,725 Soviet officers, agents, and collaborators. The UPA wounded 3,914 more and 2,401 were disappeared (kidnapped), probably tortured and then killed. Soviet officials were afraid to leave their offices. Meanwhile being elected to head a village soviet usually meant a death sentence for whoever won. The UPA ruled the countryside. The UPA foolishly tried to fight the Red Army and the NKVD head on in the first year of the war and suffered huge casualties. To avoid confusion I should mention that the Soviets changed the name of their security services three times in the period this article covers. The NKVD (People’s Commissariat For Internal Affairs), which was responsible for Internal security, became the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) in 1946, a name it kept until 1991. The NKGB (People’s Commissariat of State Security) responsible for external threats became the MGB (Ministry of State Security) in 1946 and the KGB in 1954. In 1947 the Soviets became concerned by the failure of the MVD to root out the UPA and transferred responsibility for the UPA war to the MGB. The MGB and the MVD were bitter rivals involved in a constant power struggle. Khrushchev was also removed from power for several months because of his brutality and incompetence.
The UPA had prepared for the arrival of the Soviets by launching a massive propaganda campaign to get the populace to resist the draft. Rumour and disinformation were among the UPA’s weapons of choice. They claimed that the Soviets were planning to kill the entire population or deport them to Siberia. They claimed that Stalin was dead. They claimed that the U.S. were rearming Germany and Japan to launch an attack on the Soviet Union (actually true) or that the United States and Britain were about to invade on their behalf (more than unlikely). They claimed that an army of Ukrainians from Canada or the US or made up of Ukrainians in displaced persons camps was about to come to the rescue. Some UPA rumours betrayed an inside knowledge of secret Western plans with a little exaggeration thrown in. The UPA plan to promote draft avoidance/ evasion was very successful and the forests were full of draft dodgers, potential UPA recruits. Some of these fugitives became bandits to survive.
The UPA had the peasants dig bunkers and hideouts. Some were only big enough to hide a single person while others were huge multi-room affairs. The bunkers were used to create a literal underground parallel government with hidden hospitals, printing presses and even police stations as well as hiding arms, weapons, and food. The NKVD was faced with a huge well-armed and trained UPA force that outnumbered them 6 to 1. The UPA would assassinate anyone that the Soviet government tried to put in charge of a local village and eventually anyone who obeyed the Soviets. The NKVD decided to create destruction battalions to battle the UPA. However since all the able bodied men were already serving in the Red Army or hiding out with the UPA in the forests the NKVD had to rely on the old, the disabled, women and children to serve in the destruction battalions. Many joined to avenge family members killed by the UPA. They were often poorly trained. The UPA also sent its own members to infiltrate the destruction battalions, setting them up for ambushes so the UPA could steal their arms, or trying to convince them to desert to the UPA. Eventually however in mid 1946 the MVD would purge the destruction battalions and give them better training. The NKVD/MVD also enjoyed an advantage in raw firepower against the UPA. The UPA strategy of forming large 600 man battalions made them easy to track down. The UPA staged reckless and suicidal attacks on the NKVD units and suffered heavy casualties. By 1945 the UPA was forced to completely change their strategy they formed small units that would carry out attacks and then disappear into bunkers or melt into the local population.
In November 1944 the Soviet-backed Polish government and Soviet Ukraine agreed on population transfers and a new border. Poles in what was once Eastern Poland and was now once again Western Ukraine were sent to Western Poland which had been carved out of Eastern Germany while Poland would send all of its Ukrainians to Ukraine. The UPA launched a war inside Poland to stop the deportation of Ukrainians. In March 1947 the UPA ambushed and killed Poland’s deputy Minister for Defence General Karol Swierczewski. In revenge Poland would launch a brutal Operation Vistula to kick the Ukrainians out and take revenge for the UPA’s wartime massacres of Poles. Poland was already involved in a civil war between Poles loyal to the London-controlled government in exile and Poles loyal to the Soviet-backed Polish government. It would evolve into one of the more humiliating chapters in the Cold War for the west when Soviet Intelligence gained control of the anti-Soviet Polish resistance group WIN and convinced Western intelligence to continue supplying WIN with money, arms and supplies. Eventually WIN announced on the radio that it had been Soviet-controlled the entire time. This was humiliating for both the CIA and MI6. Back in Ukraine the population transfers meant that that the NKVD lost most of their informants, who were often Poles, as well as many of their Polish recruits in the destruction battalion. The UPA was also freed from their war with the AK (Polish partisans loyal to the exile government) and could concentrate on fighting the Soviets. Ironically once again the Soviets had accomplished a major goal of the Ukrainian nationalists by creating a homogenous Ukraine. After the Russian Civil War the Soviets had promoted the Ukrainian language and culture through their Ukrainization program. The Soviets had also given Ukraine huge chunks of Russian territories. Khrushchev would even give Ukraine Crimea. Then they had finally re-united Russian Central and Eastern Ukraine with Polish Western Ukraine after their invasion of Poland in 1939. Now to end the war between the UPA and the Poles they had removed the Poles from western Ukraine. They were unknowingly creating the conditions that would later allow for the triumph of OUN ideology in the post-Cold War Ukraine.
The unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany on 9 May 1945 was a major blow to UPA morale. Many in Western Ukraine were sympathetic to the UPA after decades of OUN propaganda and agitation. However many civilians did not want to be doomed by a losing cause. The Soviets knew from experience during the Russian Civil War that the key to winning the war was forcing people to choose sides. UPA’s fanatical fascism actually helped defeat them because with the Poles gone the UPA’s main target became the Ukrainian people themselves. They considered anyone who complied with Soviet orders a traitor who should be killed along with their family. The Soviets launched a collectivization drive. They held town meetings and asked for a show of hands on who would agree to join the collectives. The UPA would arrive that night and slice off the hands of any peasant who had raised their hands at the meeting. The UPA announced that anyone who joined a collective farm or who met the grain requisition would be killed “like dogs” and their families butchered. Failure to comply with the Soviet government could mean imprisonment, deportation or death. The UPA brutally killed peasants for paying their taxes and burned down homes of peasants who joined collective farms. Soon the peasants who had formerly been UPA sympathizers were now informing the government on where the UPA were hiding to avoid retribution from the UPA. The UPA brutally killed suspected informants and their entire families further alienating the public. The Soviets also announced that anyone whose family was in the UPA or had family members in hiding would be deported unless their family members turned them in. They promised amnesty to those who surrendered and convinced thousands of UPA members and draft dodgers to surrender for the sake of their families. The Soviets deported 200,000 suspected OUN sympathizers and gave their lands to loyalists and veterans of the destruction battalions. The Soviets repeatedly offered amnesties to UPA members who were willing to surrender by July 1946 over 112,000 UPA members and draft dodgers surrendered. The SB founded by Mykola Lebed was responsible for killing hundreds of UPA members who surrendered, were suspected of being informants, or who were “defeatists” who doubted the war could be won. The SB had also managed to infiltrate Soviet intelligence most Soviet raids on the UPA came up empty handed the UPA simply disappeared into the forests and bunkers.
After it’s huge losses in the first year of the war and increasingly unpopular with the people of western Ukraine UPA morale was plummeting. Then came Winston Churchill’s 4 March 1946 “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri, reviving UPA’s hopes. Churchill claimed, “War was inevitable”. The UPA had been trying to convince people that the Americans and British would soon intervene. Churchill’s speech galvanized the UPA and the number of attacks they carried out increased by 300%. Initially the Soviet’s dismissed UPA claims of Western backing. After Churchill’s speech they began to pay attention to evidence of Western backing for the UPA.
The OUN/B had relocated to Munich, Germany, which the NSDAP had called the “Stadt der Bewegung” (city of the movement) because of the failed plot that had launched Hitler’s career there. Stepan Bandera was in hiding. Moving from place to place, he had multiple addresses and aliases. By fall of 1945 he was running a spy school near Munich for Western intelligence, where the Gehlen organisation (later the Bundesnachrichtendienst- BND) would be stationed until 1990. The US kept a safe house for Bandera in Munich. Bandera was constantly guarded by 10 ruthless bodyguards known as the “Black Hand” who killed an unknown number of people suspected of being Soviet agents. US intelligence kept Bandera informed in advance of Soviet attempts to arrest kidnap or assassinate him. In 1945 Munich was home not only to the Gehlen Org, but nascent operations of US anti-Soviet covert action agencies, e.g. OPC’s radio stations. The infamous mosque used to foment new Pan-Turkism and the al Qaeda operation were located in Munich, too. The city became the domicile of the ABN (Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations), the Ukrainian Red Cross, the Plast scouting organization, and the League of Political Prisoners all run out of the same OUN/B headquarters. Technically the OUN/B in Munich was called the ZCh OUN (Foreign Units of the OUN). It was run by Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko. Stetsko was the brains behind Bandera, according to researcher Moss Robeson. Stetsko had declared himself Prime Minister of Ukraine back on 30 June 1941 since Bandera had been barred from entering Ukraine. Stetsko would head the ABN, created in 1946, although the OUN/B preferred to date its origins to 1943 when Alfred Rosenberg had organized the Conference of the Enslaved Peoples of Asia and Europe. The conference was a disaster. The OUN/B burned the records and assassinated several attendees. The ABN still preferred the 1943 origin date. In 1983 Yaroslav Stetsko and his wife Slava were invited to the White House to shake hands with President Reagan, Vice President Bush and UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick for the 40th anniversary of the ABN’s founding. Slava Stetsko would take over the ABN and OUN/B after her husband’s death and was elected to the Ukrainian Rada. The ABN was the largest fascist umbrella group in the world. Both the OUN/B and the UHVR claimed to represent the UPA back in Ukraine.
In 1947, because of the failure of the MVD to crush the UPA, responsibility for the war was shifted to the MGB. The MVD turned over control of its 1,920 agents and 15,345 agents to MGB. The shift was also caused by Soviet discovery of Western backing as early as 1946 when it seized a huge cache of UPA documents. The UPA were a foreign-backed threat and therefore subject to foreign intelligence jurisdiction. 1947 was also the year in which the CIA was created. Prior to that there was a dizzying array of intelligence agencies. The OSS had met with Lebed in Berne. There was the highly secretive military DDU recruiting Nazis and scientists seizing rockets and nuclear materials. The CIC, officially tasked with hunting Nazi war criminals, were mainly engaged in recruiting and protecting them. It was the CIC that protected Bandera. The SSU, and finally the CIG were the two forerunners of the CIA. Alongside the CIA was Allen Dulles’s other brainchild the OPC or Office of Policy Coordination run by Frank Wisner, which using State Department cover performed the dirty work of the early CIA, before covert action was concentrated in the agency. Wisner’s OPC would play a major role in backing the UPA war and in utilizing Ukrainian exiles. The OPC would later be merged into the CIA. The role of MI6, CIA and OPC in backing the UPA war will be discussed later. Here it is important to note conventional wisdom holds that Western backing for the UPA came too late and continued after the situation had become totally hopeless. There can be little truth to this since even the scanty record available shows that the UPA enjoyed Western support from its very inception. Yet as with many aspects of covert action the record is distorted. OPC records are unavailable. MI6 does not release its records. Moreover the CIA deliberately conceals the exact point when its support began. Jeffrey Burds discovered, while in communication with Harry Rositzke (who ran the CIA station in Munich, the UPA war and was Lebed’s case officer), that the CIA uses a legal loophole, revealing when it began “running” the UPA war and infiltration missions into Ukraine in 1949, while covering up the fact that it began “assisting” the UPA in 1947. Interestingly in 1947 UPA head Roman Shukhevych sent a letter to the Ukrainians in exile endorsing the CIA controlled UHVR as the official representatives of the UPA while admitting that the OUN/B had founded the UPA and hoping they would reunite. Bandera was outraged and declared it to be a Soviet forgery.
So to return to Western Ukraine during the first phase of the UPA war: The UPA had operated in large bands of 600 men that recklessly fought the Red Army and the NKVD/MVD head on. However they suffered heavy losses and went underground. One in every four homes in Western Ukraine had hidden bunkers where the UPA could hide during Soviet raids. There were also hidden bunkers in the forests. The Soviets were forced to switch to a more surgical approach relying on networks of informants and all manner of trickery. For example they would publicly display the corpses of dead UPA members then spy on the reaction of the villagers to find out who was upset. The Soviets sowed division by releasing some early from questioning and others late to trick the UPA into believing loyal members were informants and informants were loyal members. To get the most stubborn UPA captives to talk they staged fake prison breaks by fake UPA units who would then trick the prisoner into revealing everything they knew. The UPA countered by infiltrating the Soviet agent networks feeding them misinformation. Eventually however the MGB would win this counter-intelligence game. Gradually through a mix of successfully capturing and forcing the UPA to turn on their comrades and by periodically offering amnesties to UPA members, who lived a miserable life hiding out in lice-infected bunkers; the UPA ranks began to shrink. Many UPA members committed suicide using hand grenades to destroy their faces to protect their families.
The Soviets struck a major blow in November 1948 when they killed 3 UPA Commanders and in a separate raid killed the head of the SB “Myron” who was responsible for the infiltration of Soviet intelligence. Finally on 5 March 1950 the MGB managed to kill UPA head Roman Shukhevych. According to one version he was killed or according to another version he was surrounded and committed suicide to avoid capture. Shukhevych had joined the UVO in the 1920s and attended an Abwehr school in 1925. He then joined the OUN/B and had been part of the Nachtigall Battalion that arrived with the German army in Lviv and took part in the massacres of Jews. Shukhevych then joined the notorious Battalion 201 responsible for destroying villages in Ukraine and Belarus massacring the inhabitants. Shukhevych went on to head the UPA until his death. Today Roman Shukhevych is idolized as one of the heroes of Ukraine along with Petliura, Konovalets, and Bandera.
By 1952 there were only 647 UPA members left in Ukraine. On 24 May 24 1954, Vasyl Kuk, the last UPA commander was arrested. In 1960 the last UPA unit, comprising only three people, was caught. The UPA war was a costly and pointless one for the people of Western Ukraine. Soviet Forces killed 153,000 “UPA or bandits”, including people who were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, arrested 134,000 people and deported 203,000 suspected UPA sympathizers or their family members. The UPA killed 20,000 Ukrainian civilians and 10,000 Soviet soldiers, security service members and destruction battalion members. The UPA killed 1,200 people in Belarus from 1944-47 and thousands more in Poland.
There were 2.5 million Ukrainian displaced persons or DP’s at the end of the war in Germany and in Austria. Most were forced labourers who had been tricked or press ganged by the Nazis, becoming slave labour back in Germany, where a system of apartheid was set up to keep them segregated from the Germans. Of these 1,850,000 returned to the Soviet Union from 1945-1947. During the Cold War it was claimed that they were all sent off to gulags in Siberia. In reality most returned to their homes. This left only 200,000 Ukrainians in Germany and 50,000 in Austria. Over 120,000 of them had retreated with the Nazi armies when they left Ukraine and were Nazi collaborators, OUN members, and escaped war criminals. They lived in huge displaced persons camps and the OUN/B quickly gained control of them with the backing of the British and the Americans. In the camps the OUN/B recreated their old front groups, youth groups, scouting groups that had been used to indoctrinate the Bandera generation and would now be used to help the OUN/B and OUN/M ideologies to survive their decades in exile. In 1948 the British quietly ordered a halt to all war crimes trials and investigations and began importing thousands of fascist émigrés. That same year the U.S. Congress passed the Displaced Persons Act which along with the later Refugee Relief Act allowed over 500,000 refugees from Eastern Europe to enter the U.S. Many were innocent victims of the war but others were fascist collaborators that the U.S. felt would be useful during the Cold War. Tens of thousands of OUN members, UPA vets, and Ukrainian SS veterans were brought into the U.S., Britain, Australia and Canada. The CIA also pushed through a secret agreement called the 100 Persons Act which allowed the CIA to bring in 100 people and their families every year and give them citizenship regardless of whatever crimes they had committed in the past that would bar their entry. It was a deal between the CIA, the Justice Department and the INS allowing the CIA to bring in 100 notorious Nazi war criminals every year “In the interests of National Security.” This was used to shield the worst of the worst like Mykola Lebed and Pavlo Shandruk the former leader of the Waffen SS division “Galizia”.
U.S. Intelligence recruited the OUN/B to wage a reign of terror in the displaced persons camps in what was called Operation Ohio. The OUN/B were used as torturers and assassins in an attempt to root out Soviet agents. Mykola Lebed was in charge. Although Lebed would head the rival faction UHVR, and the rivalry between Lebed and Bandera would turn murderous by 1947. Lebed was initially a member of both the Zch OUN (or OUN/B) and UHVR until 1948. The OUN/B gave a list of a 100 suspected Soviet spies to the U.S. and the U.S. military arrested them. Then the OUN/B dressed in American military uniforms tortured the prisoners. Also as part of Operation Ohio the OUN/B operated torture sites at each of the displaced persons camps. The OUN/B were given a license to kill anyone they suspected of being a spy and were used by the Americans as assassins and kidnappers in its battles with Soviet agents. (Rhee’s police and KMT agents were used in the POW camps for the same purpose during the war in Korea.) The OUN/B and the ABN created a huge anti-repatriation movement in the DP camps. They operated a massive forgery operation to create fake identities to avoid being deported as war criminals. The OUN/B also operated a huge counterfeiting ring that printed fake American money. The OUN/B and their allies in the ABN staged riots when Soviet officials attempted to visit the camps, pelting them with bricks. They even battled the German police and military when they tried to stop a mob from attacking a Soviet consulate. In the Soviet Union itself prisoners from the OUN/B and UPA were well organized and when they arrived in the gulags the murder rate began to skyrocket according to anti-Soviet novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. This OUN/B-UPA network in Soviet prisons survived well into the 1970s. When Ukrainian dissidents organizing around the Helsinki committee’s human rights platform were arrested during the 1970s, many became indoctrinated by the UPA veterans. Ukrainian liberalism became allied with Ukrainian fascism. The OUN-UPA are believed to have organized a number of riots and uprisings in Soviet prisons during the Cold war although the details are sketchy.
Perhaps the most shocking story of Ukrainian fascists in exile is the tale of the 14th Waffen SS Division “Galizia”, led by Pavlo Shandruk. In April 1945 they had been renamed the Ukrainian National Army. They “surrendered” to the British on 10 May 1945 yet were allowed to keep their weapons and officers and were even given more weapons by the British. They were resettled in Rimini and were not even classified as prisoners of war. They kept their guns and were allowed to leave whenever they wanted. The British had already made deals with Lebed and Bandera. Father Ivan Hryn’okh, their chaplain, had found a patron in Ukrainian American Archbishop Ivan Buchko, who lobbied Pope Pius XII on their behalf. Pope Pius XII was a Nazi sympathizer and a rabid anti-communist. Hryn’okh was also a key ally of Lebed in the UHVR and was on the CIC payroll. The UK and US saw the SS-Galizia division as a fit, well-trained, ideologically reliable force that could be used against the Soviets. They refused to turn them over to the Soviets because Galicia had been part of Poland in 1939. In Britain, Canada, and the U.S. the Ukrainian diaspora lobbied ceaselessly on their behalf. In 1947 Italy was about to be given back control of its government, including the POW camps, and the British feared the Galizia division might be sent back to the Soviet Union. They conducted a phony investigation run by Brigadier General Fitzroy Maclean to see if any of them were war criminals. Even those who proudly admitted their crimes were protected and given a clean record. Finally 8,000 of them were sent to Britain as part of the labour service program. From there many were sent to Canada and the U.S. joining the pro-OUN/B Ukrainian diaspora building monuments to the Waffen SS Galizia division in both Canada and the U.S. Most of the populace was shocked when the media even dared to report it. Pavlo Shandruk was allowed to live happily in exile in New Jersey publishing his memoirs under his own name. In New Jersey there is a cemetery where many notorious OUN, UPA, and Waffen SS veterans are buried and glorified as heroes by the OUN diaspora. In 1993 many Waffen SS veterans held a reunion in Lvov Ukraine where they were hailed as heroes. Thus it was no oversight when Ronald Reagan appeared beside Chancellor Helmut Kohl to honour Waffen SS dead at the war graves ceremony in Bitburg.
At the end of World War 2 Reinhard Gehlen had buried a huge trove of intelligence documents and then made a deal with the U.S.. Soon Gehlen was running a huge network of ex-Nazis in a spy network known as the Gehlen Org, which would form the basis for the West German intelligence agency known as the BND. Gehlen got a lot of his intelligence from the OUN/B and the UPA. The Gehlen Org men in charge of operations with émigré groups like the OUN/UPA were both ex-SS members deeply involved in planning and carrying out the mass murders under the so-called Gesamtplan Ost, Franz Six (Amt VII – Ideology and Research) and Emil Augsburg, who had served in AMT VI of the RSHA (the NSDAP’s equivalent of DHS in the US), the Interior Ministry’s parallel to Gehlen’s department (in the Abwehr, responsible for foreign intelligence operations. Augsburg had served directly under Adolf Eichmann. Franz Six was convicted later as a war criminal for ordering the death of hundreds of Jews at Smolensk. John J. McCloy, Standard Oil lawyer and War Department functionary, commuted his sentence while serving as US High Commissioner of Germany. Support for the UPA war was closely tied to the German Gladio element, the BDJ (League of German Youth). Despite its innocuous name (many post-war Nazi organisations in and out of government were given harmless sounding names) its membership comprised former SS and Wehrmacht veterans like Klaus Barbie, “the Butcher of Lyons”. Before Barbie was assigned to South America as a CIA asset he was deeply involved with managing the Ukrainians and helped recruit Mykola Lebed for the U.S. The BDJ included the Technical Services Unit (later the Technisches Hilfswerk), which caused a scandal when it was discovered that it had an assassination list of 40 German Social Democrats. The THW was founded with a paramilitary, civil defence function not unlike that of the Civil Air Patrol in the US. Units of the latter were found to have harboured anti-Castro agents as well as people allegedly complicit in US assassinations. The CIC helped the Technical Service Unit hide members from the Western German Police.
MI6 had also re-established its ties to the OUN/B and UPA supplying them with arms in exchange for intelligence. By 1946 the Americans Allen Dulles and George Kennan had already launched unofficially Operation Rollback, a plan to back anti-Soviet Resistance groups like the UPA in hopes of sparking counter-revolutionary uprisings or at least to disrupt and destabilize the Soviet bloc. By 1948 this had become official U.S. government policy with the NSC (National Security Council) authorizing the training and arming of underground resistance, guerrillas, and “refugee liberation groups” (fascist exiles) including the UPA. The UPA was in fact the largest and most successful anti-Soviet resistance group. Wisner’s right hand man for OPC operations in Eastern Europe was Frank Lindsay who had been OSS adviser to Tito’s partisans during the war. Doug Valentine told me that at the end of the Cold War Lindsay ran a program to send top Ukrainian intelligence officers to Harvard to be re-educated along pro-American lines.
NSC Directive 10/2 authorized all out psychological warfare against the Soviet bloc and led to the creation of the National Committee for a Free Europe, which set up Government’s in exile and gave birth to Radio Free Europe by 1950. On its board were Cold War psywarriors like Allen Dulles and Frank Wisner along with a who’s who of corporate America. NSC 20 led to the creation of the Wisner controlled AMCOMLIB (American Committee for Liberation from Bolshevism, which attempted to unite all the Soviet exiles. It was a doomed mission because not only did the exiles feud with their own countrymen as in the case of the Ukrainians but they also hated foreigners especially Russians. The Russian fascists of the NTS and Vlasov’s army would spend decades feuding with the OUN/B and UHVR. Soviet moles in both groups also constantly fuelled the various factional rivalries.
Still Wisner now had 100 million dollars a year in Marshall funds to bankroll the Soviet exiles. The Ukrainians were among his favourites. AMCOMLIB would lead to the creation of Radio Liberation from Bolshevism later renamed Radio Liberty which began broadcasting in 1953. It employed many Ukrainian fascists who were allowed to propagandize their countrymen. To cover up the CIA/OPC funding for the National Committee for a Free Europe they created the front group CFF (Crusade For Freedom) which would pretend to fundraise and while fundraising it would illegally propagandize the American people to support the Cold War and support “the brave freedom fighters” which included OUN/UPA veterans in the CIA backed UHVR as well as many other former fascist collaborators. The CFF received USD 5 million from the CIA but it also made a deal with the Ad Council allowing it thousands of hours of free airtime. The CIA is technically forbidden from operating domestically (a rule it breaks constantly). In this case its USD 5 million dollars for the CFF was more then was spent on the Dewey and Truman campaigns in 1948 and was the most expensive advertising campaign of its time. OSS veteran and future CIA director Bill Casey was deeply involved in CFF. One of its key spokesmen was future President Ronald Reagan, who would grant the OUN and ABN unprecedented influence in his administration especially over the content of Radio Liberty. Initially Radio Liberty would turn many Ukrainians against the U.S. because it sounded so much like Nazi wartime propaganda. However by the 1980s Radio Liberty would play a key role in popularizing the revival of OUN/B ideology in Ukraine.
In November of 1949 Wisner made a deal with the military to supply him with a huge stockpile of explosives. Two months later the U.S. military supplied him with enough weapons and ammunition to supply several small armies. The U.S. built armies of Soviet exiles using Labour Service Units as cover. Many were recruited from Waffen SS veterans including the Ukrainian SS Galizia division. At the same time late in 1949 the U.S. and Britain began airdropping Ukrainian agents into Ukraine. Over the next four years they would drop 75 agents by parachute in attempts to contact the UPA. Other agents were sent by submarine, in hot air balloons or on foot. Unfortunately for Wisner 1949 was also the year Soviet undercover agent Kim Philby arrived in the U.S. as MI6 liaison to the OPC and CIA. Nearly every airdropped Ukrainian agent was captured and the seeming exceptions were recruited as Soviet Moles. The rest were arrested, interrogated and shot if they refused to co-operate. Even if Philby had not been involved the OUN/B and UHVR were riddled with Soviet moles keeping them well informed on everything the UK and US were planning. Long-time OSS/ CIA operative and head of the Berlin station, Peter Sichel, resigned reportedly because he could not support the futility of the agency’s Ukraine operations.
The CIA/OPC armies of exiles worked neatly into U.S. military plans for fighting World War 3 against the Soviet Union. In 1947 General Hoyt Vandenberg drew up an atomic war plan that called for a massive atomic strike against the Soviet Union, followed by airlift of a Soviet exile army to conquer the radioactive ruins. Vandenberg had been the first Chief of Staff in the newly created U.S. Air Force. He told his men World War 3 had already begun. He was also the former head of the CIG (Central Intelligence Group), replaced by the CIA in 1947. Late in 1948 the Joint Chiefs of Staff approved a plan by the US military’s paramilitary expert General Robert B. McClure to create an army of exiles that would be sent to take control of the Soviet Union after the atomic attack the U.S. launched. The men were to be recruited from among Waffen SS veterans and veterans of Vlasov’s Army. This was a clear indication that the plan relied on expendable indoctrinated cadres. By 1949 the U.S. military strategic atomic war plan was to drop 70 atomic bombs on the Soviet Union over the course of a month. Then an army of exiles would be delivered with five B-29 bomber wings. By 1949 these plans and Wisner’s armies of exiles had merged. In 1950 Congress passed the Lodge Act, allowing the U.S. military to recruit and train exiles from Eastern Europe. They would be granted US citizenship after five years service. This provided cover for the recruitment of fascist war criminals into the U.S. military, especially into the U.S. Special Forces, although many also became translators and language instructors. Many Lodge Act Special Forces recruits were trained by Col. Aaron Bank, who had run operations with Mykola Lebed and Klaus Barbie in Munich, only months before transferring to Fort Bragg. The entire rationale for the creation of U.S. Special Forces was to create teams of advisers who would train an army behind Soviet lines after the U.S.S.R. had been bombed into submission. After the start of the Korean War there was a plan to drop 1,200 Special Forces advisers into Ukraine where they would train an army of 370,000 that would fight behind Soviet lines.
To return to the story of the OUN/B in Munich: Stepan Bandera had fled to Austria and then to Germany before the war ended. Lebed had headed west back in 1944 he had met with the OSS in Berne, Switzerland—with Allen Dulles or one of his subordinates. Lebed ended up in Croatia after contact with the Vatican. In April 1945 Bandera ordered Levhen Stakhiv to find Lebed and bring him back. Stakhiv asked Bandera to look after his family but Bandera refused. Stakhiv found another OUN/B member to watch his family and went to contact Lebed. Eventually late in 1945 Lebed and Bandera met and began to argue over whether the UHVR should be subordinate to the OUN/B or the other way around. Bandera had already denounced the UHVR’s attempt at a democratic makeover. In Bandera’s view democracy was the first step on the road to communism. Bandera had not given up his dream of becoming a fascist dictator and wanted total obedience from all Ukrainian exiles. Lebed was more flexible and knew how to please his patrons. Lebed had convinced the Nazis to give him a free hand and now he planned to seduce the Americans. In 1946 Lebed wrote a 126-page history of the UPA, which denied that they had committed any war crimes and perpetrated the myth that the UPA fought both the Nazis and the Soviets. It was translated into English and reprinted in the U.S.
Like Gehlen, Lebed had brought a huge trove of intelligence with him. It included the lists of Soviet and OUN/B-UPA agents and enough information to blackmail thousands of Ukrainian exiles. Lebed’s deal with the CIA would not be fully cemented until 1947. However he was already working for British and American intelligence. Operation Ohio, the program to capture, torture and kill Soviet moles for example, had started in 1945. Tensions between Bandera and Lebed continued to rise and by March 1947 things got so heated that Lebed fired a pistol at Bandera or at least pulled it out and threatened to kill him. Bandera ordered the SB to kill Lebed and Lebed fled to Rome. That fall Lebed finalized his deal with the U.S. and they decided to smuggle him back into Munich from Rome. In 1948 Lebed was finally forced out of the OUN/B but remained the head of the UHVR. The two groups would battle for decades. In the early Cold War, until 1954, the MI6 backed Bandera and the ZCh OUN. The U.S. would back Lebed and the UHVR. They both competed for the right to represent the UPA and so the British would parachute in OUN/B members while the U.S. would airdrop in UHVR members. However both factions had begun as part of the OUN/B. The CIA saw Bandera as a huge security risk since he refused to use codes and proper security and his group was riddled with Soviet undercover officers and double agents, including Bandera’s right hand man Myron Matviieko who had been turned by the KGB when Bandera sent him to infiltrate Ukraine. The British on the other hand pointed out the prestige of the Bandera name which had hundreds of thousands of followers while Lebed was hated by many Ukrainian exiles for his murders of rival politicians.
In October 1949 the CIA decided to smuggle Mykola Lebed into the U.S. illegally under a fake name. When the INS later discovered that the war criminal Mykola Lebed was publicly operating and that he was here illegally they decided to deport him. Allen Dulles at the CIA personally intervened telling the INS that Lebed was of “inestimable value” to the U.S. Frank Wisner of OPC also intervened bragging that the UPA had killed 35,000 Soviet officials, Red Army soldiers, and NKVD officers in the last year alone. The CIA decided to retroactively legalize Lebed’s presence using the secret 100 Persons Act. Decades later when the US Congress demanded information on Lebed the CIA refused to provide his file and denied he had committed any war crimes. After arriving in the U.S., Lebed went to work at the Pentagon, was featured in Newsweek magazine, and spoke at Yale University. The age of mainstream acceptance of Ukrainian fascism had begun almost 65 years before the 2014 Maidan coup. Lebed’s main role was running Prolog Research Corporation a CIA front. Prolog was home to Lebed’s UHVR, which also managed to recruit another breakaway group of Bandera’s followers. Initially they had sided with Bandera but finally rebelled against his stubborn refusal to make peace with the UHVR (or were eager to get on the CIA payroll). They formed the OUN-Z (OUN abroad) Bandera’s group was now also known as the OUN-R the R standing for Revolutionary.
Prolog Research Corporation was a massive psychological warfare project as well as a network for recruiting spies inside the Soviet Union. It published its own newspaper Ukraine Today and its own journal The Present. It operated a radio station that broadcast into Ukraine, and printed thousands of pamphlets. Prolog printed books and promoted Ukrainian culture. It used the inexpensive Soviet mail system to smuggle in pamphlets. It donated its publications to Ukrainian libraries. Many inside Ukraine were still secretly sympathetic to the OUN ideology and Ukrainian nationalism. The CIA was happy to discover that when it debriefed travellers to Ukraine they reported that many private homes and public libraries had Prolog publications. Prolog was also used to recruit spies. Anywhere in the world that Ukrainians travelled Prolog would send its agents to attempt to befriend them, pump them for information or possibly recruit them.
Back in Germany, Bandera and Stetsko remained in Munich with continued backing by MI6 and the Gehlen Org. Their followers managed to kill 20 OUN/M members in postwar Bavaria with impunity. In 1946 Stetsko, acting on MI6 orders, created the ABN. It recruited all the fascist collaborators into one organization bent on destroying the Soviet Union. The Croatian Ustashi, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Romanian Iron Guard, the Hlinka from Slovakia and many more. In 1947, MI6 also merged the other two huge exile umbrella groups into the ABN. First there was the Intermarium a brainchild of the Habsburg family, deprived of throne and titles in Austria after World War 1. Intermarium aimed to create a federation of states extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea. It was backed by the Vatican, Winston Churchill and MI6. Many OUN members were also Intermarium members. Second there was the Promethean League, a scheme backed by France and Poland prior to World War 2. It aimed to unite all the Soviet minorities against the Soviet Union. It also aimed to unite Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania in a federation. Ironically Pilsudski was backing his enemies the Ukrainian nationalists. In fact Polish intelligence had made a secret deal with Dmytro Dontsov, the man who had inspired the Bandera generation and then gone to work for the Nazis during the war. Pilsudski had also allied with the butcher Simon Petliura during the Polish Soviet war and promised to create an independent Ukraine. It was through the Promethean League that the OUN would form close ties with Pan Turkists and Islamists. Two of Bandera and the OUN/B’s German sponsors Theodore Oberlander and Gerhard von Mende had also had close ties to the Pan Turkists and Islamists. Thus the Promethean League is rather fascinating if little known. It helps explain why Ukrainian Nationalists went to fight in Chechnya during the 1990’s or why Chechen exiles are fighting for Ukraine today. The Promethean League is one of the threads tying the wars in Syria and Ukraine. In 1947 the Promethean League was merged with the ABN. Part four will give more attention to the ABN.
Now as to Stepan Bandera’s final years: In 1954, MI6 supposedly cut ties with the OUN/B for good. Canadian intelligence however continued to support the Bandera/Stetsko faction and the ABN. The German BND continued to back Bandera. Bandera’s BND case officer was Heinz-Danko Herre who had been chief of staff in Vlasov’s army during the war and Gehlen’s deputy in FHO (German military intelligence on the Eastern Front.) Bandera also had important sponsors Gerhard von Mende and Theodore Oberlander who was Minister for Displaced Persons in West Germany and had been in charge of the Nachtigall battalion during the war. In 1956 the Bavarian police opened an investigation into the OUN/B’s kidnappings, murder and counterfeiting operation but von Mende intervened and got the investigation dropped. Von Mende is infamous because of his role in setting up the infamous “Mosque in Munich” which played a key role in weaponizing radical Islam and Pan-Turkism during the Cold War. The OUN/B also had other key allies. The OUN/B worked briefly for SIFAR (Italian intelligence.) Fascist dictator of Spain Francisco Franco was another key ally. Bandera was invited to move there but he decided against it as the OUN/B were heavily entrenched in Munich. However Franco allowed many Waffen SS Galizia and UPA veterans to attend Spanish military academies. He also allowed the OUN/B to broadcast propaganda on Spanish radio stations and Bandera grew jealous of Stetsko’s warm relations with Franco who treated Stetsko as Premier of Ukraine. Bandera was also jealous of Stetsko’s close ties with the fascist drug-dealing dictator of Taiwan Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, who Stetsko often visited. Bandera took revenge by cutting the ABN budget in half but Stetsko remained loyal to Bandera. Bandera attempted to run his own intelligence network into Ukraine financing it with his counterfeit American dollars. Eventually the Taiwanese dominated APACL and the Ukrainian dominated ABN would join forces and form the World Anti-Communist League.
The OUN/B idealized Bandera as a loving father and family man. In reality he beat his wife and children and cheated on his wife. Bandera attempted to rape the wife of one of his SB bodyguards while she was babysitting his children. He beat his children for attending events where there were Jews, Poles or Russian children present. Intellectually Bandera changed little after the war. Although he dropped his pro-Nazi rhetoric, he still hoped to become fascist dictator of Ukraine. For Bandera the struggle had become a holy war pitting “the forces of light”, Ukrainian Nationalists, against the “forces of darkness”, the Soviet Union. Bandera spent his days dreaming that World War 3 was just around the corner. He hoped for an atomic war and thought that even if millions of Ukrainians were killed it would be worth it. Bandera completely denied any connection between the OUN/B and the Nazis during the war or any war crimes committed by the OUN/B. He went so far as to claim that the OUN/B opposed any form of racism or violence. Bandera was a wealthy man thanks to MI6 pay offs, donations from supporters and his counterfeiting scheme. Bandera travelled the world, visiting Austria, Belgium, Canada, Britain, Holland and Italy. In Canada, Bandera met with his old idol Dmytro Donstov who was given a job as a professor teaching Ukrainian literature at the University of Montreal. Apparently inspiring a group of genocidal fascists and going to work for the infamous Wannsee institute where NS race and colonization policy was planned, as Dontsov did, were not considered crimes in Canada. Bandera offered to put Dontsov in charge of the OUN/B paper but Dontsov turned him down. In 1950 Bandera may have made a secret visit to Washington, DC but he was otherwise barred from the U.S. for fear he would stir up trouble for the CIA-backed, Lebed-controlled UHVR. In 1950 Bandera was also given a new car by MI6 for St. Nicholas Day. Ironically Bandera’s German sponsors finally got the CIA to agree to let Bandera travel to the U.S. in October 1959, just before Bandera was assassinated.
The Soviets had made many attempts to kidnap, arrest or kill Bandera after the war. After the war the Americans promised to extradite Bandera as soon as they found him. Instead when the Soviet authorities arrived to arrest Bandera the Americans sent them on a wild goose chase, hiding Bandera in the old I.G. Farben building. In 1947 the MGB tried to use one of its OUN/B undercover agents, the OUN/B courier Iarsoslav Moroz to kill Bandera and frame a rival group of Ukrainian nationalists. Instead the SB, possibly warned by the CIC, learned of the plot and killed Moroz. In 1949 the SB killed a suspected MGB agent in the Polish AK. There were at least eight more failed plots to kill Bandera. In October 1957 one of Bandera’s rivals, Lev Rebet, the head of the OUN-Z, was assassinated by Bohdan Stashynskyi, a KGB agent. However since Rebet was sprayed with cyanide gas he appeared to die of natural causes. In January of 1959 Stashynskyi was assigned to surveil and then assassinate Bandera. Stashynskyi had been a student in Lvov in 1950 where he had been arrested for not having valid papers. The MGB recruited him by warning him that if he did not agree to work for them they might go after his family, which had UPA ties. Stashynskyi was assigned to hunt down the killer of anti-fascist intellectual Iaroslav Halan, who the UPA had axe murdered. The MGB even arranged a fake manhunt for Stashynskyi to convince the UPA to trust him. Successful in finding Halan’s killer, Stashynskyi was then trained by the KGB in Kiev for two years. In 1956 he was assigned to target the Ukrainian nationalists in the West and was given a false identity as an ethnic German from Poland. By 1959 Stashynskyi was in Munich. He was reluctant to carry out his assignment, claiming that Bandera was too well guarded. Once armed with a cyanide gun he had found Bandera alone but instead of killing him he threw his gun in the trash. Finally on 15 October 1959, under pressure from his superiors, Stashynskyi killed Bandera with his cyanide gun on the steps to his apartment and escaped. Bandera was found gasping for breath by a Jewish neighbour but died in the ambulance. It appeared to be natural causes but the OUN/B demanded an autopsy and traces of cyanide were discovered. Stashynskyi had screwed up by firing at Bandera twice leaving enough residue to be detected. Around the world the Ukrainian diaspora held memorial services for Stepan Bandera in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, West Germany, New Zealand, Britain and the US. The largest of course was Bandera’s funeral in Munich, which featured 10 priests, 1,500 mourners and a stirring speech by Yaroslav Stetsko claiming that Bandera represented not just the OUN/B but also all of Ukraine. Many of the mourners wore Plast or SUM uniforms reminiscent of the Hitler Youth. Every year the Ukrainian diaspora would commemorate Bandera’s death and every fifth and tenth anniversary they would stage especially huge events. Around the world they erected statues and monuments to Bandera renamed streets in his honour and even built a secret museum dedicated to him in England. Bandera’s grave in Munich became a pilgrimage site with Ukrainian nationalists traveling around the world to visit it and huge crowds gathering there on various OUN holidays.
Still the police were not sure if it had been suicide or murder. Stetsko and the OUN/b declared it a murder. The Soviets attempted to blame Theodore Oberlander and Reinhard Gehlen for the murder while secretly awarding Stashynskyi the Order of the Red Banner. Stashynskyi was also rewarded by being allowed to marry his East German girlfriend. This turned out to be a mistake, as she hated communism and the Soviet Union. Eventually Stashynskyi decided to defect because he was sick of the KGB meddling in his marriage. After escaping his KGB surveillance team Stashynskyi and his wife escaped from East Berlin and he turned himself over to the German police on 12 August 1961. Within 45 minutes Stashynskyi was being debriefed by the CIA. Stashynskyi confessed to killing Rebet and Bandera. After two weeks the CIA turned him over to the West German Police. President Kennedy requested that the Adenauer government reveal the details of Stashynskyi’s confession. When the details emerged the OUN/B diaspora held hundreds of demonstrations against the Soviet Union around the world. Stashynskyi was tried from 8-15 October 1962. Although convicted, he received only eight years. It was a political show trial. The judge accepted the defence argument that Stashynskyi had merely been a tool of the KGB and ultimately of the Soviet leader Khrushchev who probably ordered the assassination. Stashynskyi only served part of his sentence. He was released in December 1966. After Stepan Bandera’s death the new head of the OUN/B became Stepan Lenkavs’kyi, who had stated at the beginning of the war “Regarding the Jews, we will adopt any methods that lead to their destruction.” Stetsko remained head of the ABN and would eventually replace Lenkavs’kyi as OUN/B head. The OUN/B organized a fund to resettle Bandera’s family in Toronto, Canada. His grandson is currently running a pro-Ukrainian TV-show there.
The summer before the trial in Ellenville, New York a huge monument to the UPA was unveiled on 22 July 1962. It was located at the SUM camp (The Ukrainian Youth Association an OUN/B front) in Ellenville, which had been started in 1955. This camp, along with five more in North America, is where Ukrainian exiles sent their children and later grandchildren to be indoctrinated in the OUN/B ideology. Built by a company owned by two UPA veterans the monument features a Ukrainian Trident surrounded by the busts of Simon Petliura, Levhen Konovalets, Roman Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera. 5,000 people attended the unveiling. A drama group from Philadelphia put on a play glorifying the UPA. Religious services were held and a UPA flag was blessed. Lev Dobriansky, the Ukrainian American of the UCCA (The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America), the National Captive Nations Committee and a key ally of the ABN and UPA gave a speech at the event.
Dobriansky had been born in the U.S., the child of the pre-OUN Ukrainian diaspora, but had increasingly become the key ally of the OUN/B and the ABN in the U.S. during the Cold War. More will be said about him in part four of this series, which will cover the network of OUN/B fronts that would give birth to the powerful Ukraine lobby in the West. Dobriasnky’s daughter Paula would serve on Reagan’s National Security Council and later joined the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). As the Soviet Union was being destroyed by Gorbachev’s disastrous reforms, the OUN/B exiles would gain increasing influence in Ukraine. Nearly 25 years after the fall of the USSR the participants at the Maidan coup would gather under a huge portrait of Stephen Bandera. Crowds would carry Bandera’s portrait in torchlight marches. Museums would be created to whitewash the history of the OUN-UPA. Alive Stepan Bandera had often been his own worst enemy alienating his sponsors and allies. In death he became an immortal Icon treated as a martyr, worshipped by his followers. Bandera was dead but his cult would live on into our own times. For decades Ukrainian American children would gather at the UPA monument in Ellenville sing songs, hold banquets, and recite poems dedicated to the Ukrainian nationalist cause. Across Canada and the U.S. more such monuments to the UPA and Bandera would be built. Today Bandera’s legacy has brought the world to the brink of atomic war.
History of Fascism in Ukraine Part 1
History of Fascism in Ukraine Part 2
In my research this year I read nearly everything I could find that was relevant to the OUN even though much of it dealt with the time periods I covered in Parts one and two.
The definitive book on the OUN remains “Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist, Fascism, Genocide, and Cult.” by Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe. A huge highly detailed book that begins in the 19th century and ends in 2014.
A PDF of a long article by Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe on the OUN
Another must-read is “Blowback: America’s Recruitment of Nazis and Its Effects on the Cold War” By Christopher Simpson. All three of Simpson’s books are must-reads.
“MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service” by Stephen Dorril is a great book with valuable information on MI6 backing the OUN/B, the ABN, the Promethean League, and the Intermarium among many other topics.
The final chapter of “Hitler’s Shadow: Nazis War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War” by Richard Breitman and Norman J.W. Goda is an in depth article on the CIA career of Mykola Lebed although it is to some extent a “limited hangout.”
“Ukrainian Nationalism” by John A. Armstrong was considered the definitive book on the OUN for many decades. It completely whitewashes the history of the OUN omitting mention of their war crimes and convinced generations of scholars to call them “Integral Nationalists” instead of fascists. He wrote it for the CIA backed Russia Institute at Columbia University and interviewed hundreds of German and Ukrainian war criminals. Armstrong used code names for them in his notes to protect them. In the 90’s Armstrong bragged that the OUN leaders were his personal heroes. Still it may be worth reading if you are truly obsessed as it provides a great deal of info on the OUN/M.
“Ukrainian Nationalism in the Age of Extremes: An Intellectual Biography of Dmytro Dontsov” by Trevor Erlacher provides an in depth study of Dontsov the thinker that inspired Stepan Bandera and the OUN/B. The author bends over backwards to avoid calling the OUN fascists but the book is still pretty damning. It is a product of the sinister Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute.
The UPA war is covered in detail in “The Soviet Counterinsurgency in the Western Borderlands” By Alexander Statiev. Unfortunately it dismisses the involvement of Western intelligence and is also highly critical of the Soviet Union containing many horrifying scenes from the Soviet dirty war. On the other hand it debunks many anti-Soviet myths.
Old Nazis, the New Right and the Republican Party by Russ Bellant is a must-read classic on the Republican party’s long alliance with fascist émigrés. It covers the Ukrainians, The ABN, and the vast network of right wing NGOs in the 1980’s and early 90’s. The Ukraine lobby interlocked closely with the weapons-making lobby. It covers the brief scandal when George H.W. Bush was discovered to have a number of fascist war criminals working on his campaign. The future president made sure to pay homage to the fascist Ukrainian diaspora living in Michigan.
A free PDF of “Old, Nazis, New Right”
“Inside the League” by Scott Anderson and John Lee Anderson covers the World Anti-Communist League which by the 80’a united Nazi war criminals, The OUN/B, Latin American death squads, Gladio terrorists, the Moonies, the Yakuza, the drug dealing KMT, “respectable” conservative politicians, and American neo-Nazis. It was among the first books to publish a critical account of the OUN/B war crimes.
“Hitler’s Foreign Executioners: Europe’s Dirty Secret” by Christopher Hale is a great book on Himmler and the SS. It reveals that Himmler was a key backer of Ukrainian nationalism. It also provides a study of fascism in many Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. These fascist movements would join the Waffen SS and later with the OUN/B join the ABN during the cold war.
“Unholy Trinity: The Vatican the Nazis, and the Swiss Banks” by Mark Aarons and John Loftus covers the story of the ratlines and explains how 8,000 Ukrainian SS Galizia division veterans were sent to Britain after the war.
America’s Nazi Secret by John Loftus is the uncensored new version of his classic Belarus Secret. It focuses mainly on Belarus but also has information on Frank Wisner’s backing of the UPA, the purging of CIA files on fascist émigrés and Mykola Lebed.
“The Old Boys: The American Elite and the Origins of the CIA.” by Burton Hersh is a classic covering the early cold war history of American intelligence the OSS, CIA, and OPC Allen Dulles’ business ties to the Nazis and many other topics.
Jeffrey Burds must-read article “The Early Cold War in Western Ukraine”. Burds discovered that the west began backing the UPA far earlier then most sources claim.
Jeffrey Burds on the Soviet Agentura network and the UPA war
In the first episode of their long landmark series on WACL The Farm Podcast interviews Moss Robeson on the history of the OUN/B and the ABN. Moss Robeson is the leading American researcher on the OUN/B and the Ukraine lobby.
Another great interview with Moss Robeson on the history of the OUN/B and the Ukraine Lobby.
Moss Robeson blog on the OUN/B and the Ukraine Lobby
Moss Robeson Blog Ukes, Kooks, and Spooks
Moss Robeson blog on the Victims of Communism foundation the successor to the Captive Nations movement
The Village Voice did an expose on Mykola Lebed the OUN/B and the CIA in the 1980’s
The SS in Britain covers the story of how 8,000 Ukrainian Waffen SS Galicia members avoided punishment and ended up in Britain. This documentary was supposed to air on British television more then 20 years ago but was cancelled last minute. Notice the sinister way that Ukrainian scholars and activists like Michael Melnyk try to cover for the division.
A newer shorter video on the SS Galicia from the same director
Jesse Alexander of The Great War YouTube channel discusses “Brutalization theory” and the role of Ukraine in the origins of Nazi ideology.
My article Nazis and the CIA based on Christopher Simpson’s “Blowback”
My article on Russ Bellant’s “Old Nazis, the New Right.” and “The Coors Connection”
My article on the Nazi ratlines, the Vatican and the CIA