Soviet-German Occupation and Ukrainian Collaboration
At the outbreak of the Second World War the Germans and their neighbours, the Soviet Union, conspired to share the proceeds in the occupation of Poland: The MolotovRibbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, and the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop. This pact was an agreement officially titled The Treaty of Non-Aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union and signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23rd August 1939. It was a non-aggression pact under which the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany each pledged to remain neutral in the event that either nation were attacked by a third party. It remained in effect until 22nd June 1941, when Germany invaded the Soviet Union.
The demarcation line for the partition was along the River Bug. By the time some refugees reached the German-Soviet demarcation line they found the border closed and heavily guarded. Some refugees attempted to cross, often at great risk and if caught, were arrested and brutally treated. Those refugees who were accepted and agreed to accept Soviet citizenship were safe. The rest faced deportation. Between 1940 and 1941, the Soviet secret police arrested and deported as 'unreliable elements' hundreds of thousands of residents from Poland to Siberia, Central Asia and other locations in the hinterland of the Soviet Union. Lvov remained secure until Barbarossa, June 22 1941.
Emerging Conflict and Collusion
Once the Germans had established their presence in Poland (mid-1940), draconian measures were taken to reduce the country to a non-state, annexing
parts to the Reich, and the setting up of administrative regions under the auspices of a regional network of Generalgouvernement administration which closely paralleled the regional machinery in the Reich.
The principle means of carrying out this policy was the mass evacuation of all classes of people to the 'Generalgouvernement' and confiscation of all movable and immovable property. The repatriation of internees in Hungary and Rumania, near the frontiers of Poland, was encouraged by the Germans for the following reasons:
Administration in occupied Poland was solely in German hands and was carried out according to a German pattern. German laws and even Party N.S.D.A.P. decrees were introduced. All Poles were excluded from the Civil Service and also from leading positions in economic life; education was tightly controlled, and all universities were closed. The Poles, as a Slav race, had become second-class citizens and treated accordingly. The Germans had introduced a hierarchy of races: The Nordic peoples were at the apex, while the mixed Western Europeans, southern Europeans, the inferior Slavs, Asians, the Blacks, the mentally ill, and the Jews and Gypsies, were considered as non-human and beyond moral law (untermensch).
Ukrainian Auxiliaries and Helpers
The alliance of German-Ukrainian collaboration was now to be tested. In the 'Action Reinhardt' camps (from March 1941) and many others in the occupied territories, the reports made by survivors identify the auxiliaries as their most cruel tormentors. These auxiliaries were identifiable by a special identity card that was issued at the Ukrainian training establishments at Trawniki, Furstenberg, and Zakopane/Rabka. These Ukrainian cadres were more tolerated than welcomed and were never permitted to bear full arms as the general German military or Security personnel. They were rarely issued with field grey Waffen SS/Sipo-SD uniforms, but issued with obsolete pre-war, black Allgemeine-SS (General SS) service dress, altered by the addition of light-green or light-blue facings to the collar and cuffs. In its short and murderous history, the Third Reich did not enjoy the advantage of more devoted hirelings and henchmen than
it found within the Ukrainian Nationalist movement. Approximately 30,000 Ukrainian Nationals defected from the Western region of the Ukraine and collaborated with the Nazis. These collaborators were the recruits for the infamous 'Nachtgil' and 'Roland' battalions.
Ukrainian Nationalist 'patriots' served their Nazi masters long before the outbreak of World War II. In the 1930's (and earlier), The OUN had close connections with the Nazi Abwehr in Berlin (Sipo-SD). Espionage information provided by the OUN network in the Western Ukraine was utilised by the Third Reich to its best advantage when it invaded the Soviet Union. The Nazis made great use of the V-Agent network of Nazi Agents to establish and co-ordinate the Sipo-SD in the early 1930s. The activities of the Dutchman, Pieter Menten, are well recorded, acting as a 'V' agent for the German Abwehr.
The Nazi control of information was total and well rehearsed, and it arrived in Ukraine on many levels. The mainstay of propaganda decimation to the Ukrainians was of course the SD, Gestapo and Abwehr, which had been well rehearsed and filtered to the masses by radio, under the auspices of the Anti-Comintern Bureau.
The propaganda personnel within Ukraine were in the main Germans, Volksdeutsche (Polish/Ukrainian) and Ukrainians. The most insidious of the propagandists was a group of the so-called Sonderfuhrers (V-men as the Dutchman Pieter Menten), consisting partly of Ukrainian officers who, after the Soviet occupation, had sought refuge in Germany and occupied Poland. In May 1941 the Nazis assembled about 300 Ukrainian officers and Polish collaborators in the occupied territories and gave them various military units as 'Sonderfuhrers'. It was for this purpose that the Zakopane/Rabka Sipo-SD Schools were formed and used to train these men. They were issued with German military uniforms, and instructed by Ukrainian/Polish speaking Sipo-SD instructors. Certainly, National Socialist ideology was high on the agenda, but as already stated, the implementation of mass killings within the training establishments or elsewhere may have been inferred and not spoken about.
In Soviet occupied Ukraine proper, at the outbreak of Barbarossa, the indigenous Ukrainians experienced their first doses of anti-Semitism through the broadcasts from Berlin, which commenced with the deafening sounds of marching music.
The marching songs and cries of 'Sieg Heil' continued for 15 minutes or so, followed by a brief pause. Then an announcement came: 'Radio Berlin, here is Berlin. An important speech will follow soon.' Partnership with German Fascism
was their only means of achieving Ukrainian statehood. If Ukrainian statehood was to be at the expense of the annihilation of the Jews, then so be it. Both church and state administrators of the Ukraine looked to their own advantage at the expense of a select band of their population the Jews.
The butchery of Ukrainian and Polish Jewry, even as early as the 4th July, 1941, cannot have gone unnoticed. The annihilation of Ukrainian Jewry to the fall of Kiev (Babi Yar) in late August, 1941, can only confirm the complicity (by inaction) of both Church and State.
The Nazis had no intention of acquiescing to the aspirations of the Ukrainians, but at the same time, depended on their co-operation until the difficulties of invasion and security control had subsided.
Lvov was to become one the chief killing grounds as we shall see, which was taken on the 29/30th June, 1941: its first entrants after the Wehrmacht being the 'Nachtigal' battalion, commanded by Professor Dr Theodore Oberlaender (Wehrmacht) and included Stephen Bandera and numerous members of his Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). Amorality linked Bandera and the Nazis, in spite of Hitler's express intention to clear all Slavs from the Ukraine: OUN's members accepted a 'Decalogue' specifying (among other things) that 'none would hesitate to commit the greatest crimes'.
Dr Oberlaender, a veteran of Hitler's abortive 1923 putsch, was assigned to exploit nationalism inside conquered territory, and the 'Nachtigal' began at once a classic Ukrainian pogrom of Jews, Poles and political opponents.
The close collaboration between German and Ukrainian Nationalists in the Nazi-occupied territories during World War II was very extensive. In the entire region under Nazi rule the Ukrainians collaborated in the expectation of mutual respect and ideals or so they thought.
By the 6th July, 1941, when 'Nachtigal' marched on, some 7,000 of 160,000 Jewish men, women and children had been shot, beaten or tortured to death not, of course, without assistance.
As is now known, many Ukrainian Nationalists served as guards in slave labour camps, extermination camps, and Jewish Ghettos. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians also served as Hiwis (helpers) in the Wehrmacht, while others
accepted arms and fought alongside the Nazis in numerous special action and anti-partisan battalions, as well as in the larger formation, SS-Division Galicia.
Some of the eastern volunteers who fought in front-line combat units of the Waffen-SS and Wehrmacht did so with great gallantry and distinction, and would be justified in feeling proud of their military record. Unfortunately, the records of many were those who fought in the SS, who controlled auxiliary police units, and were distinguished not by gallantry but by atrocity. Indeed, after using them to assist in anti-Jewish atrocities, the Einsatzcommandos often also murdered their own auxiliaries, to ensure any witnesses did not survive.
If the Einsatzcommandos were happy to use the services of the auxiliary police units to carry out some of their 'dirty work,' the concentration camp guard units were even more willing to enlist such aid in the dirtiest work in guarding the camps. From special training camps, such as the one in Trawniki near Lublin, the SD School at Berlin Grunwald (German recruits), Berlin Furstenberg (for Latvian recruits) and the SD School in Zakopane/Rabka (Ukrainian, Polish and German), came some of the most brutal criminals in history, whose behaviour towards the inmates matched the worst excesses of their German counterparts. We must remind ourselves, contrary to popular belief, that it was the Sipo-SD and not the Allemeine-Schutzstaffeln (General SS) that were responsible for Jewish murder. In addition to the abovenamed training academies, many others sprang up all over the occupied territories. In the small villages of Vught in the south of Holland, the Sipo-SD operated a training establishment called Ellerkom where Jews were brought in for treatment. The premier Schooling for these tasks were the Sipo-SD, experts in torture training, training other Sipo-SD in the finer points of their trade within the compounds of the Rabka Sipo-SD School. Many hundreds of Jews suffered and were killed in this establishment. Those that survived treatment were sent to the Sobibor or Belzec extermination camps.
How and why did these Ukrainian, and to a lesser extent, Polish citizens, engage in this complicity of genocide, directed to the entire extermination of the Jews an entire ethnic-national group and at the same time despise their 'Masters'? Accepting German dominance over them was a fete a comple'e. Why did these 'assistants to murder and cruelty' vehemently and enthusiastically carry out, with hatred, their duties to such a sadistic excess and at the same time translate their racist, anti-Semitic aggression, ignorance and hate-filled ideology into the language of extermination? Did 'other nationalities' under German domination and control engage in a like manner? We know more about the German perpetrators, and yet still yield to incomprehensible understanding why this
phenomenon occurred. In the context of this paper, there is an overwhelming urge to give some explanation, particularly with regard to the Ukrainian and Polish Nationals engaged in pro-German activity during the Holocaust.
We have two interesting documents which expose the Nazi-Ukrainian collaboration in their oppressive conduct towards the enemy (Jews, communists, commissars, activists, anti Nazi partisans and others), and their overwhelming confidence that the war with Russia was all but won. It is tempting to review the whole aspect of 'anti-Semitism' throughout several decades in Russia and Eastern Europe. However, it is accepted by most scholars, that within the period of the Holocaust, the important groups that were engaged in the complicity of genocide against the Jews, were the Poles, Ukrainians, Latvians, and Lithuanians who were inherently anti-Semitic and to the present day, the Jews continue to be an anathema to the majority of these states.
As a further gesture of friendship and favour, the German military was ordered to show special preference to Ukrainians when releasing Soviet POWs. German military documents demonstrate that by the end of January, 1942, 280,108 Soviet POWs had been released. Of this number of discharges (Entlassungen), not a single soldier was Russian, but an astonishing total of 270,095 were Ukrainians. Of these a great majority (235,466) had been captured or surrendered in Ukraine itself. These ex-POWs were very much utilised to form the core of the auxiliary police (Hilfspolizie), although some were employed in a variety of jobs, such as farm work. Those Ukrainians who came from Galicia were very nationalistic, hated the Russians, and even more so the Jews. They had long memories of their treatment in the civil war of 1918-20, and more recently from the brutal occupation by Soviet troops in 1940, which followed the division of territory in Eastern Europe according to the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 23, 1939.
The ethnic Russian POW's were not so fortunate. The campaign against the U.S.S.R was not just war between states and armies but a contest of ideologies, namely between National Socialism and Bolshevism, and it was to be fought to the death with no quarter taken. The draconian steps taken against the Russians prisoners were instigated by Heydrich and his Security Service (Sipo-SD of the Einsatzgruppen). The measures taken were the introduction of a 'screening service' of all ethnic Russian prisoners, including Jews. The Jews in particular were segregated and used for mine clearing operations and army labour. The Sixth Army at Kiev ordered the Jews from the Dulag (transit camps) at Khorol, where there were no latrines, to pick up the dirt with their hands and drop it into
barrels. In Army District 10, the camp commander immediately shot all Jews and Communists.
From the Jewish collecting point of the 11th Army, Jewish soldiers were handed over to the Sipo-SD every month, around the clock. Einsatzgruppen report of group Sondercommando 4a reports the number of executions carried out had increased to 55,432, the larger part again being Jews, and a considerable part of these were again Jewish POW's who had been handed over to the Wehrmacht. At Borispol, at the request of the Commander of the Borispol POW camp, a platoon of Sondercommando 4a, shot 752 Jewish POWs on the 14th October, 1941, and 357 Jewish POWs on the 10th October, 1941. Executive activity continued: a sample monthly report shows 1,116 shot and 111 handed over to the Sipo-SD. The returning Ukrainians to their homeland also underwent screening, but for an entirely different purpose.
It was these Nationalist groups from which the Nazis selected the men to be indoctrinated and trained in the Sipo-SD School at Zakopane and Rabka. However, the Nazis were very careful not to entrust power and responsibility to them. According to the German view, the Ukrainians showed themselves to be unreliable as translators for the German Army as they violated secrecy rules. In the Belzec death camp two Ukrainian guards who were off duty drinking in a local bar were thrown into the gas chambers for bragging to other customers about the work.
The relationship between Ukrainian Nationalists and the Germans was starting to wear very thin. The hopes and dreams of the O.U.N. started to dissipate, and bed partners were falling out throughout the occupied areas. The Germans, who had had their hands full with the 'Jewish Question', were now confronted with increasing resentment from the Ukrainians who had new bedfellows in the Armia Krajowa (Polish resistance). The new centre of this Ukrainian opposition was in the Stanislawow region. By November-December, 1942, as we shall find out, SS Captain Hans Krueger had been very successful in dealing with the Jews and partially successful in the suppression of the main armed Polish underground. With the upsurge of Ukrainian opposition and now with the combined forces of the remnants of the largely dissipated Armia Krajowa in the Lvov-Stanislawow region, Krueger set about the brutal action to destroy all opposition, executing many communist sympathisers in the district
Again, Hans Kruger was successful and managed to contain this upsurge until the autumn of 1943, when the newly organised Ukrainian Army Rebellion
(UPA) mounted concerted offensives against the German occupational forces. During this phase, the initiative slipped from the Nazis, and from then on they never recovered.
By 1945, Jewish-Polish-Ukrainian relations had come full circle. Old accounts had been settled. The Ukrainians had risen from an under-class to a position of some consequence under their German patrons, only to be ditched when the tide of war turned. The Poles had side-stepped the indignity of a non-nation status and had survived and regained some measure of stability in their adjusted borders. The losers, of course, were the Jews who had been the subject of genocide, instigated by all three caretakers. Ukrainian-Polish anti-Semitism did not begin with Hitler's Third Reich, and it didn't end with it. It is there today as it has always been.
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