понеділок, 2 січня 2012 р.

Symbol of the modern Ukrainian Nationalism

The path of the hero is to force his own faith abyss
between what a person wants, and what is real…
Yaroslav Stetsko
   After WWI, Western Ukraine were incorporated in the newly restored Poland. With the outbreak of war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941, many nationalists in Ukraine thought that they would have an opportunity to create an independent country once again. Some even collaborated with Nazi administration and military units. However, the German treatment of the local population quickly put an end to this. Many of the fighters who had originally looked to the Nazis as liberators, quickly became disillusioned and formed the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) from members of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which waged military campaign against Germans and later Soviet forces. The primary goal of OUN was «the rebirth, of setting everything in order, the defense and the expansion of the Independent Council of Ukrainian National State». OUN also revived the sentiment that «Ukraine is for Ukrainians!». The leader of OUN was Stepan Bandera.
   Stepan Bandera has been gone for nearly half a century, but people continue quarreling over him even more than over living political activists. The difference in approach is huge: some people consider him a hero, while others claim he was a Nazi servant and traitor of Ukraine. Stepan Bandera to be a weighty personality from recent history, a person who could generate heated discussions among historians only. In the times of the Soviet Union, Stepan Bandera and his brothers-in-arms were scarecrows for the country’s citizens. The Communist Party, which declared itself internationalist, was fiercely fighting against the so-called Ukrainian ''bourgeois'' nationalists. A Moscow that could not tolerate the very thought of Ukraine becoming an independent state painted all those who fought for it in the the blackest colors. So Stepan Bandera became the symbol of Ukrainian ''bourgeois'' nationalism.
   When Stepan Bandera was born in Uhryniv Staryy on January 1, 1909, as the son of a Ukrainian Greek-Catholic priest, Andriy Bandera, Ukraine was under the rule of two empires – Russian and Austria-Hungarian. The "Springtide of the Peoples" of 1848 had also spread to Ukraine and the seeds that it had sown germinated and throve, nurtured in every sphere of life of the Ukrainian people by prominent Ukrainian personalities, politicians, scientists, artists and clergymen. This seed ripened fully in the stormy years of the WWI, when the independent Ukrainian People’s Republic was established in Kyiv (1917—1918) and the West Ukrainian People’s Republic, which three months later became part of the All-Ukrainian state, was founded in the West Ukrainian territories in November 1918. These important events in the history of the Ukrainian people had a decisive influence of the awakening of the national political consciousness of ten-year old Stepan Bandera.
   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.
   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 (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 Yevhen 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.
Stepan Bendera — the Ukrainian hero
   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 the meantime the numerous secret nationalist groups and organizations in West Ukraine united and in 1929, at the 1st Congress of the Ukrainian Nationalists which took place in Vienna, founded the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the OUN, and elected colonel Yevhen 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 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 Yevhen 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. 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.
  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 maneuvers 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 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».
Don't agree with Moscow!
   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. In reply to the "borderlands policy"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 on June 15th, 1934, in Warsaw. 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.
   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. The restoration of the independent Ukrainian State was proclaimed on June 30, 1941, and a provisional government was set up. It consisted of representatives of various political trends and was headed by Yaroslav Stetsko, a leading member of the OUN. The proclamation of the restoration of the Ukrainian state was an event of national rejoicing; moreover, the two highest dignitaries of the Ukrainian Orthodox and Ukrainian Catholic Church, Bishop Polikarp and Metropolitan Count Andriy Sheptytsky, gave the proclamation their blessing.
   But the independent policy of the OUN and its proclamation had crossed Adolf 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 Adolf 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.
  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, Yaroslav Stetsko, 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.
  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. The main task of the Units Abroad of the OUN became the general support in every way of fighting Ukraine. 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.
  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 endeavored 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 Syan 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 NKVD (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, for years endeavored to liquidate Stepan Bandera, who lived in Munich under the name of Stefan Popel, physically, until finally on October 15, 1959, it succeeded in doing so.
The new symbol of the Ukrainian Nationalist
   But even with this vile murder Moscow did not succeed in breaking the will to freedom of the Ukrainian people. But despite this fact, the spirit of Stepan Bandera lives in hearts of modern Ukrainian Nationalists. In October 2007, the city of Lviv erected a statue dedicated to the OUN and UPA leader Stepan Bandera. The appearance of the statue has engendered a far-reaching debate about the role of Stepan Bandera and UPA in Ukrainian History. On October 18, 2007, the Lviv City Council adopted a resolution establishing the Award of Stepan Bandera.
   For example, OUN’s policy in modern Ukraine continues All-Ukrainian Union ''Svoboda'' (VO ''Svoboda''). This political party is a Ukrainian nationalist party, in favour of a purely presidential regime, and has anti-Western stances. VO ''Svoboda'' is known for its anti-Communist stance, and several party activists over the years have been accused of trying to destroy Communist-era statues. According to party leader Oleh Tyahnybok, VO ''Svoboda'' is not an extremist party, he said that «depicting nationalism as extremism is a cliché rooted in Soviet and modern globalist propaganda». Besides the ideology of the party is based on Stepan Bandera, Dmytro Dontsov and Yevhen Konovalets nationalists thesis. That is why the spirit of Stepan Bandera lives in hearts of modern Ukrainian Nationalists and Patriots.
Writer – Kalev Korpinen

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