Page 29-48. Secret Repositories Have Revealed the Truth (partially)
It has come to pass that even after ten years of independence the majority of Ukrainian society still has not come to terms with its past, nor has it made any honest assessments of those political forces that in various periods were responsible for the fate of their own people. It is regrettable that to this day the history of the struggle for Ukraine’s freedom, which was waged by the nationalist underground during the years of the Second World War, is still not accepted in certain regions of our state. The reason for this is that during the postwar decades Communist propaganda succeeded in instilling in the masses a distorted stereotype of the fighter for an independent Ukrainian state and portraying the entire national-liberation movement in a thoroughly negative light. Given that these patriots, who remained committed until the bitter end to the idea of an independent Ukraine, had no opportunities for circulating their views, with the Iron Curtain blocking information from the West, all their efforts to help their people were interpreted as crimes, according to the ruling ideology. For many years Ukrainian society, petrified by the terror of Bolshevik rule, was forced to accept this view. Furthermore, the complex economic circumstances into which the politicians of yesteryear have led this young state and the haziness of their national priorities are still keeping the general masses in a state of timidity, afraid to acknowledge the glorious pages of their own history. The result of this is a lack of awareness of Ukraine’s role both at home and abroad.
But the truth has endured. It has proved completely impossible to destroy it, not only because there are still living witnesses of these events but also because testimony from that era was preserved in Banderite hiding places. After capturing them, the Communist authorities did not dare burn these papers or their own documents about the Ukrainian national-liberation movement.
The Soviet authorities thus knew the entire truth. But they feared it and therefore hid it in secret repositories [spetskhrany], access to which was forbidden to conscientious researchers. It was only once the independent Ukrainian state was re-established that researchers began familiarizing themselves with the documents stored in secret archives, which forced them to change their views of the Ukrainian national-liberation movement in the period of the Second World War. These are first and foremost dispatches sent by Bolshevik partisans and intelligence agents of the NKVD’s covert network that was based in the Germanoccupied territories of the Ukrainian SSR. These reports contain information on the activity of the OUN and the UPA, which until recently was unknown to the general public.
These documents are chiefly concentrated in the Central State Archive of Civic Associations of Ukraine [Tsentralnyi Derzhavnyi Arkhiv Hromads’kykh Ob’iednan Ukrainy: TsDAHOU] (formerly the archive of the Institute of Party History attached to the CC CP(b)U). Despite the ideological bent of these documents, conscientious researchers who make a diligent study of them will be able to draw many important conclusions that explode the various myths of Communist propaganda concerning the activity of the OUN and the UPA.
First of all, the documents presented here, despite their ideological commitment to Communism, consistently elucidate the main goal that the Ukrainian nationalists set for themselves during the Second World War. This was the rebirth of a Ukrainian Universal Independent State, and all the existing organizational forces and the broad support of the masses were directed towards its realization. In its name, the leaders of the revolutionary OUN, without the consent of the German occupiers, proclaimed a Ukrainian state in L’viv on 30 June 1941. In refusing to revoke this fateful document, they were fully aware that Hitler’s wrath at this disobedience could cost them their lives.
In early January 1943 the Soviet leaders were privy to much more information than this. They already knew that a group of leading OUN members, headed by Dmytro Myron (“Orlyk”) and Vasyl Kuk (“Iurko”), had arrived in Kyiv on the heels of the German armies, despite Nazi repressions against the leaders of the Revolutionary OUN, whom they had begun detaining in Berlin in early July 1941. There they planned eventually to confirm the Act of Proclamation to restore the Ukrainian state.
The dispatch containing the above information, and many other documents, confirm that after the Germans refused to recognize the restoration of the Ukrainian state, the Ukrainian nationalists, despite German terror and repression, continued to spread their influence throughout the territories of Ukraine that had been liberated from the Bolsheviks.
An NKVD dispatch to the CC CP(b)U dated September 1941 explicitly states: “With the goal of curbing the aggressive plans of the Ukrainian nationalists (the struggle for the restoration of the Ukrainian state–V.S.), German intelligence organs have applied to the army command with a request to permit them “to rein in these people. A special instruction of 9 November 1941 recommended that “in the future, Ukrainian political agents of Bandera’s movement (propagandistic material and evidence to be sent separately to the division of the main command, Armee Oberkommando–AO) are to be considered undesirables who must be followed and in the event that they carry out political activity, arrested.”
This is indeed how events played out. According to a notification from the acting People’s Commissar for Internal Affairs of the Ukrainian SSR Sergei Savchenko, “in January 1942 the Gestapo carried out mass arrests of Ukrainian nationalists. Some of the arrested were executed…”3 Among them, incidentally, were such prominent members of both OUN factions as Olena Teliha, Ivan Rohach, Ivan Irliavs’kyi, the Sukhovers’kyi sisters, and many others whom the fascists destroyed in Babyn Iar in Kyiv.
The first book of vol. 4 of the Ukrainian series Litopys UPA contains documents and materials of an informational nature, which were dispatched to the Central Committee apparatus of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine [CC CP(b)U] from organs of party and Soviet rule, the leadership of the partisan movement, the NKVD, and the NKGB. These documents illustrate the struggle against UPA units and the OUN underground in the period from 1943 until the end of 1945. The materials contained in this collection correspond to the documentation, including directives, of the CC CP(b)U, which was published in the preceding (third) volume of Litopys UPA. Nova seriia. They are actually informational reports forwarded by local ruling organs and other Soviet elements to the higher party leadership of the republic on the course of implementing the decisions and resolutions of the CC of the All-Union Communist Party (b) and the CC CP(b)U, as well as on the results of anti-nationalist measures adopted in the republic.
All the documents in this collection are listed in chronological order; the earliest is dated 7 January 1943.
The principal group of documents for 1943 is comprised of decoded radiograms from the leadership of the partisan movement in the German-occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as memoranda and special announcements of the Ukrainian Headquarters of the Partisan Movement (Ukrains’kyi shtab partyzans’koho rukhu: UShPR) about Ukrainian nationalist organizations, their activities, relations with Soviet partisans, the German occupation authorities, and the Polish population. One of the latter should be singled out: a memorandum of the UshPR to the CC CP(b)U of 7 January 1943 concerning the relations between the OUN(b) and the OUN(m), their activities and relations with the German authorities, the work of the Ukrainian Central Committee in Halychyna, and the Germans’ efforts to create Ukrainian military formations (document no. 1). Documents of the UShPR are also represented in the chapter by special announcements of 21 April 1943 about the formation by the OUN leadership of a Ukrainian national army in Volyn-Polissia and about armed clashes between Ukrainian nationalists and the Polish population (document no. 6).
Memoranda of the Ukrainian NKGB comprise another group of documents. Among them is a memorandum based on OUN documents and dated 22 July 1943 on the political-economic situation in the German-occupied Donbas region, the vigorous actions of Ukrainian nationalists with respect to the spread of their influence on the labouring masses and the creation of underground OUN organizations in this region (document no. 18).
This chapter also includes an excerpt from a memorandum of 8 April 1943, written by the military correspondent of Pravda V. Korobov. In it he describes the vigorous activity of Ukrainian nationalists in the western oblasts of Ukraine and the exacerbation of their relations with the German administration (document no 4).
The collection includes 68 documents dated 1944. They correspond thematically to the documents issued the previous year.
This chapter begins with the decoding of a radiogram dated 7 January 1944 and sent by the command of the O. Shchors partisan division in Zhytomyr. It provides information about a clash between Soviet partisans and UPA detachments (document no. 42). On the whole, just as in the preceding chapter, the radiograms, information, and memoranda that were dispatched to partisan formations or prepared by the UshPR for the CC CP(b)U occupy an important place in the body of documents pertaining to the history of the Bolsheviks’ struggle against the Ukrainian national-liberation movement throughout 1944. One of these documents is a memorandum dated 21 January 1944 and sent to the CC CP(b)U by the command of the Chernihiv-Volyn’ partisan formation, which reported on the social and national composition of the UPA, the politics and tactics of Ukrainian nationalist organizations, their relations with the Germans, and the struggle against the Poles and Soviet partisans (document no. 45).
At the same time, but from a different source, numerous announcements, various types of reports, and information on the activity of Ukrainian nationalists began filtering into the apparatus of the CC CP(b)U from the organizational structures of the Red Army—in particular from the Directorate of SMERSH counterintelligence of the 1st Ukrainian front, the political division of the staff of the 13th Army of the 1st Ukrainian front, and the political directorate of the 1st Ukrainian front. Thus, the collection includes several announcements of the Directorate of SMERSH counter-intelligence concerning the armed struggle against Ukrainian nationalists (documents nos. 50, 52, 65, 70, 77, 80, et al), and the arrests of OUN members and UPA fighters (documents nos. 64, 66). Noteworthy among these documents are a memorandum on the circumstances surrounding the attack by Ukrainian nationalists on the army group commander of the Ukrainian front M. Vatutin (document no. 75), and information on this subject, which was prepared by the SMERSH counter-intelligence division of the 13th Army (document no. 89). On 5 February 1944 the political directorate of the 1st Ukrainian front received an announcement about the activity of Ukrainian nationalists on the territory of Kyiv, Zhytomyr, and Rivne oblasts, the UPA structure in Volyn’-Polissia, and the efforts of OUN members to conduct subversive work among the personnel in Red Army units (document no. 57).
Another group of documents consists of dispatches from oblast party committees, which began filtering in to the CC CP(b)U in 1944 in connection with the situation in the western oblasts of Ukraine and the results of the work of local ruling organs. These documents include information of the Rivne oblast party committee of the CP(b)U (documents nos. 68, 72, 74, 82, 92, 99); the Volyn’ oblast party committee of the CP(b)U (document no. 85); the Ternopil’ oblast party committee of the CP(b)U (documents nos. 95, 101); the L’viv oblast committee of the CP(b)U (document no. 100); the Stanyslaviv oblast party committee of the CP(b)U (document no. 102); and the Drohobych oblast party committee of the CP(b)U (document no. 105).
The chapter includes a number of documents that contain announcements about the course of the mobilization of draftees in the western oblasts of Ukraine and the counteraction to this by the Ukrainian nationalists. Thus, on 3 February 1944 information was sent to the CC CP(b)U from the political division of the staff of the 13th Army about the course of the mobilization of draftees in the counties of Western Ukraine, the political-educational work among the draftees, and the political moods of the local population (document no. 54). This information contains, among other items, data on the number of people who had been mobilized into the ranks of the Red Army (including their categorization by nationality). Facts pertaining to the sabotage by Ukrainian nationalists of troop mobilization on the territory of Rivne oblast and the subversive activity of the OUN and the UPA are contained in a special announcement of the Ukrainian NKGB, which was sent on 18 March 1944 (document no. 83). Similar reports were also sent to the Central Committee apparatus from the Directorate of SMERSH counter-intelligence of the 1st Ukrainian front (document no. 88), oblast military commissars (document no. 103 pertains to Drohobych oblast), and the political directorate of the 1st Ukrainian front (document no. 107).
On 22 June 1944 the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR sent a memorandum about the stationing in populated areas of garrisons of Interior NKVD troops, the goal of which was the struggle against Ukrainian nationalists (document no. 97). In its document dated 12 August 1944 (document no. 98) the Directorate of the NKVD in Rivne oblast reported on the results of anti-nationalist operations carried out between May and July 1944. The Peoples’ Commissariat of Defence also provided information on the course of the struggle against organizations of Ukrainian nationalists (document no. 108).
In connection with the fact that Ukrainian nationalists were carrying out attacks on employees of Soviet communications services, announcements were sent to the Central Committee apparatus of the CP(b)U on the circumstances surrounding these clashes and the resulting losses (document no. 104). In response, the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR adopted measures to warn against similar attacks and accordingly informed the CC CP(b)U of these on 23 September 1944 (document no. 106).
For the year 1945 the largest number of documents in the collection consists of informational materials of the organizational-instructive division of the CC CP(b)U on the situation in the western oblasts of Ukraine and the course of the struggle against Ukrainian nationalists. In particular, this division prepared reports for the higher party leadership of the Ukrainian SSR on the course of implementing the decisions of the CC CP(b)U in the oblasts of Western Ukraine. The first such document is information dated 18 February 1945 and prepared by the chief organizer of the division concerning the course of implementing the Central Committee resolution of 10 January 1945, “On the Intensification of the Struggle against the Ukrainian-German Nationalists in the Western Oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR” in Ternopil’ oblast (document no. 115). The problem of implementing this resolution by party committees and NKVD and NKGB organs in Drohobych oblast was the subject of other information sent by the division to Nikita S. Khrushchev in early March 1945 (document no. 121). On the basis of collected information, on 26 February 1945 the CC CP(b)U approved a decision concerning implementation of the CC CP(b)U resolution of 10 January 1945. Information prepared by the division on 27 March 1945 (document no. 125) focuses on the results of a review of the implementation of this decision by the Stanyslaviv oblast party committee. The question of implementing the decision of the CC CP(b)U of 24 March 1945, entitled “Concerning the Verification of Rosters of Workers and Officials at Enterprises of Industry, Transport, and in Soviet Institutions in the Western Oblasts of Ukraine,” again pertaining to Stanyslaviv oblast, and the slow pace of actions undertaken by NKVD and NKGB organs concerning the unmasking of anti-Soviet elements among the population of this oblast during the process of implementing this Central Committee decision are discussed in other information that was sent in early May to O. I. Kyrychenko, the secretary of the CC CP(b)U (document no. 127).
The collection contains a number of the most interesting so-called “Informational Bulletins,” which were regularly sent by the organizationalinstructive division to the first secretary of the CC CP(b)U Nikita S. Khrushchev. They include an announcement about the course of the struggle against UPA formations and the OUN underground for the periods from 1 to 7 August 1945 (document no. 137), the month of August and the first week of September 1945 (document no. 140), and about the weakening of this struggle on the territory of Drohobych oblast (document no. 150); information about Ukrainian nationalists’ actions aimed at sabotaging state grain requisitions in the western oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR (document no. 138); announcements about the intensification of UPA formations’ combat activity on the territory of the western oblasts (documents nos.141, 148), attacks by UPA fighters on a group of Soviet soldiers in Stanyslaviv oblast (document no. 143) and on the quarters of the Budaniv county NKVD division for Ternopil’ oblast (document no. 146).
The organizational-instructive division of the L’viv oblast party committee reported on the course of implementing the decisions of the CC CP(b)U of 21 March and 19 May 1945 under the joint title “About the Facts of Gross Violations of Soviet Legality in the Western Oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR” to the organizational division (document no. 136).
Another large group of documents is comprised of reports, memoranda, explanatory notes, and announcements of the CC CP(b)U from oblast party committees in the western oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR. The first document is an explanatory note dated 22 February 1945 from the Stanyslaviv oblast party committee on the number of terrorist acts and the material losses incurred by enterprises and organizations of railway and air transport, railway routes, and communications in the oblast as a result of actions carried out by UPA formations during 1944-1945 (document no. 116).
Oblast party committees regularly sent informational reports to the CC CP(b)U on the course of the struggle against Ukrainian nationalists. The results of this struggle in Drohobych oblast as of 20 February 1945 are the subject of information prepared by the oblast committee and dated 27 February 1945 (document no. 119). Similar information was sent by the Stanyslaviv oblast party committee on 28 February 1945 (document no. 120). A rather extensive document containing much valuable information and several interesting addenda was sent on 25 February 1945 by the Rivne oblast party committee jointly with the NKVD Directorate of the Ukrainian SSR for the period from February 1944 to 20 February 1945 (document no. 117). On 14 May 1945 the Drohobych oblast party committee informed Nikita S. Khrushchev about the concrete case of an attack by UPA fighters on a large group of party and Soviet functionaries, together with a list of victims (document no. 128). The collection also contains information provided by the Stanyslaviv oblast party committee about the course of the struggle against UPA formations and the OUN underground on the territory of this oblast for the period from 15 to 25 December 1945 (document no. 155). The intensification of the struggle against Ukrainian nationalist formations in connection with their resistance to the Soviet grain requisition campaign is the subject of a memorandum of the Drohobych oblast party committee, dated 3 October 1945 (document no. 144).
The oblast party committees in the western oblasts of Ukraine also reported in an established order on the course of implementing the decisions of the CC CP(b)U and the CC of the All-Union CP(b). These documents include a 26 February 1945 report prepared jointly by the Ternopil oblast party committee and the Directorates of the NKVD and the NKGB of the Ukrainian SSR concerning Rivne oblast (document no. 118); a memorandum of the Stanyslaviv oblast party committee of the CP(b)U, dated 8 March 1945 about adopted measures and the progress shown in implementing the 26 February 1945 resolution of the CC CP(b)U (document no. 122); information of the L’viv oblast party committee on the course of implementing the resolutions of the CC CP(b)U of 10 January and 26 February 1945, which also includes information on measures that were adopted in order to bolster party and Komsomol organizations in villages and to establish collective farms (document no. 123).
A separate group of documents consists of announcements about violations of Soviet legality during the course of the struggle against the OUN and the UPA and about repressions against the civilian population in the western oblasts of Ukraine. These documents include, among others, information provided by the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR on 9 January 1945 (document no. 111). The implementation of the resolutions of the CC CP(b)U, which were focused on the struggle against this phenomenon, is also the subject of information reports of the Ternopil’ oblast party committee on the course of implementing the resolutions of the CC CP(b)U of 21 March and 19 May 1945 (document no. 135), and of information provided by the Drohobych oblast party committee on the implementation of the Central Committee decision of 21 March 1945 (document no. 139). Particularly noteworthy is a memorandum of 30 June 1945, which was written by a member of the Council of Aid to the Western Oblasts of Ukraine T. Strokach about the moral-political situation of the personnel and violations of military discipline and Soviet legality by individual commanders and fighters of the 32nd division of Interior NKVD troops (document no. 132). Violations of legality by NKGB organs are also the subject of a report to the CC CP(b)U by the military procurator of the L’viv military district (document no. 133). The collection also contains a fact-filled report prepared by the Directorate of cadres of the CC CP(b)U (document no. 147), which includes data on the numbers of violations of Soviet legality and those sentenced in Volyn’, L’viv, Drohobych, and Stanyslaviv oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR. A report of a similar nature was prepared by the investigative division of the procurator’s office of the Ukrainian SSR on violations of legality for the period from January to July 1945, and flaws in the investigation of criminal matters pertaining to this question (document no. 145).
The organs of the NKVD and the NKGB of the Ukrainian SSR also dispatched information about the activity of Ukrainian nationalists and the struggle against them.
In particular, on 12 February 1945 the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR sent an announcement to Nikita S. Khrushchev about the liquidation—resulting from a special operation—of the commander of the UPA-North D. Kliachkivs’kyi (Klym Savur) (document no. 114). Another item of information provided by the NKVD of the Ukrainian SSR includes a list of OUN activists killed and arrested and the leading members of the UPA for December 1945 (document no. 157).
The combat activity of UPA formations and the OUN underground in November-December 1945 and the measures that were adopted in connection with this are the subject of information sent to the CC CP(b)U by the political directorate of the Prykarpats’kyi military district (document no 156).
The chapter also contains information sent to the CC CP(b)U on the course of implementing the resolutions of 26 February 1945 and the measures undertaken to strengthen Komsomol organizations in the western oblasts of Ukraine and to staff them with leading cadres from the eastern region (document no. 124).
On 19 May 1945 a government address of the Soviet Ukrainian leadership, entitled “To the Workers, Peasants, and Intelligentsia of the Western Oblasts of Ukraine,” was adopted. Among other things it included appeals to wage a struggle against Ukrainian nationalists. Two items of information, dated 26 May 1945 (document no. 129) and 2 June 1945 (document no. 130) and prepared for the higher party leadership by the division of propaganda and agitation of the CC CP(b)U, are devoted to an analysis of the impact of this address and the reactions to it on the part of the population of the western oblasts of Ukraine.