`Despite the claims put forward by opponents of the UPA, Roman Shukhevych was no “SS-Obersturmführer” (as stated by opponents of the UPA), nor was he an “SS-Hauptmann” (as claimed by Joel Lion, Ambassador of Israel to Ukraine). The Nachtigall Battalion in which Shukhevych served was not an SS unit but part of the Abwehr, that is, the Wehrmacht. Neither Yad Vashem nor historians are in possession of any information indicating that Shukhevych took part in the Shoah.
In late February–early March 2008, a group of Ukrainian historians and staff members of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) visited Israel to examine documents about Shukhevych’s participation in the Shoah, specifically his involvement, while a member of the Nachtigall Battalion in the summer of 1941, in the killings of the Jewish civilian population in the city of Lviv. The reason behind this was the statement issued by Yosef Lapid, chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, about the existence of such materials in Yad Vashem, which was broadcast on Deutsche Welle. During the visit, the leaders of Yad Vashem initially said that the Israeli side was not prepared to hand over documents because they had not been collected in a separate file. Later, however, Haim Gertner, the head of the Yad Vashem Archives, admitted that no such dossier exists. He also added that Yosef Lapid is a politician, not a professional historian in this field; therefore his claim about the existence of a file on Shukhevych does not correspond to reality.
What is known, however, is that at Shukhevych’s request, a fake birth certificate was prepared for a Jewish girl named Irene Reichenberg, stating that she was the daughter of Roman and Nataliia Shukhevych.
Nataliia Shukhevych hid the little girl in her house from September 1942 to February 1943. When it became dangerous in Lviv, new documents were prepared for the girl in the name of a Ukrainian girl, Iryna Vasylivna Ryzhko. The year of birth was changed from 1936 to 1937. According to these documents, Iryna was the daughter of a fallen Soviet officer. After Nataliia Shukhevych was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, Roman Shukhevych managed to move the little girl to an orphanage based at the Ukrainian Greek Catholic convent of the Basilian order of nuns near the town of Kulykiv, thirty kilometers from Lviv. Iryna lived there until the end of the war, having survived the occupation and the Shoah. After the war she moved to Kyiv. In 1956 Iryna sent the abbess of the convent a letter along with a photograph of herself. Iryna died in Kyiv at the age of seventy-two. Shukhevych’s son, Yurii-Bohdan, met with her son after his mother’s death and also during Shukhevych Fest- 2017.
The Soviet campaign to defame Theodor Oberländer, the former commander of the Nachtigall Battalion, along with the Ukrainian commander of this unit, Roman Shukhevych, took place in the late 1950s. I have published declassified KGB documents and written about how the Soviet propaganda campaign against Oberländer unfolded. Below is a quotation from Herbert Romerstein’s paper “Divide and Conquer: The KGB Disinformation Campaign Against Ukrainians and Jews”:
“The Stasi reported, ‘There are near daily conversations with the member of the Politburo responsible for agitation in the West, Comrade [Albert] Norden, or Comrade [Werner] Lamberz, Secretary of the Central Committee and Chairman of the Agitation Commission of the Politburo.’ Albert Norden had been a German Communist Party activist since he was 16 years old, in 1920. During World War II he operated in the United States as a communist propagandist. In East Germany he served as the loudest and most vicious voice against the West in the communist dictatorship.
In 1959 he led the smear campaign against the West German Federal Minister of Refugees, Theodor Oberlander. Norden issued a book attacking Oberlander and at a press conference in East Berlin on October 22, 1959, Norden identified Oberlander as the political commander of the Ukrainian Nachtigall Unit, which together with the German Wehrmacht fought against the Soviet Union. That was the true part of Norden’s story.
The false part was the claim that the military unit was involved in a pogrom against the Jews of Lviv.”
This material can be supplemented with a document held in the German archives, which proves that, as of 31 May 1943, Roman Shukhevych was on a list of people being sought by the Gestapo and the SD on the territory of the Generalgouvernement. Named along with Shukhevych were Yaroslav Starukh, Vasyl Sydor, and Omelian Hrabets.
I bring to the reader’s attention recently declassified SBU documents from the archives of the KGB USSR. They concern a plan drafted by the MGB USSR to enlist the Jewish intelligentsia in the city of Lviv in the search for Roman Shukhevych and Vasyl Kuk, as well as their couriers. This plan is dated June 1949.
I would like to draw attention to several key points in this document:
1) Various incidents have been recorded in which Roman Shukhevych and other well-known OUN members consulted with physicians of the Jewish nationality; that is, while in the underground, R. Shukhevych (and other OUN members) turned to Jewish doctors for assistance MANY TIMES [author’s emphasis]. This attests to the fact that the ‘executioner of the Jewish people’ received medical assistance and medications from Jews. Roman Shukhevych was quite a well-known person in Lviv. He owned an advertising agency that organized special campaigns from time to time, which were later the talk of the town. Shukhevych was also a pianist and often accompanied his vocalist-brother during concerts. Another point: Some Jewish doctors returned to the UPA from the city (naturally, they did not talk about their service), and they knew Shukhevych from the underground. If Shukhevych had really killed Jews during the Second World War, as the victims of Soviet agitprop have sought to prove to this day, then among the Jews who had just survived the Shoah, eventually someone would be found who considered it his or her sacred duty to help the punitive organs of the USSR to destroy the executioner of the Jewish people, regardless of fears of revenge on the part of the UPA or even their hatred of the Soviet authorities.
2) The document reveals that Roman’s father, Yosyp-Zynovii, was a “distinguished lawyer” and, given his profession, he was “well known among the Lviv intelligentsia” (above all, of course, Jewish intellectuals). In fact, Yosyp-Zynovii was a judge, but this is beside the point. Thanks to the popularity of the Shukhevyches in the Jewish milieu, the family was acquainted with Irene Reichenberg’s family.
3) The cynical statement “the correct and skillful use of agents from among the Jewish intelligentsia also makes it possible to prevent double-dealing and treason on their part in the execution of our tasks,” translated from Soviet jargon into everyday speech, refers to a set of measures, an inventive blend of lies, bribery, the use of threats to intimidate a given individual and his or her family and friends (depending on the nature and living situation of the “object of processing”), with which the employees of the Soviet terror network planned to force members of the Jewish intelligentsia to work for the communists and with which they hoped to prevent the expected attempts of their dragooned agents to sabotage their demands. After all, they were great masters and specialists in this.
4) Ukrainians should not be outraged at the fact that Jews were recruited to betray Ukrainian leaders. And Jews should not be outraged at the fact that these “measures” were planned by MGB officers with Ukrainian surnames. The communists did not recognize nationality, conscience, faith, or nobility.
Several months later Roman Yosypovych [Shukhevych] was killed in combat with an MGB unit. Pavel Sudoplatov (the same one who assassinated the founder of the OUN, Yevhen Konovalets, in Rotterdam in 1938) was personally in charge of his capture. I very much hope that among my Jewish people there are not many traitors and “useful idiots” in the matter of Roman Shukhevych, regardless of the fact that the MGB and the KGB knew how to “persuade” people to encourage them to cooperate.
TAGS: Abwehr, Einsatzgruppe, Einsatzkommando, Wehrmacht, Second World War, Herbert Romerstein, Hitler, Jews, Yevhen Konovalets, Israel, Irene Reichenberg, KGB, Leiba-Itsik Dobrovsky, Lviv pogrom, Mandik Hasman, NKVD, Nuremberg trials, OGPU, OUN, political repressions, Pavel Sudoplatov, Righteous Among the Nations, Roman Shukhevych, USSR, Samuel Neuman, Theodor Oberländer, UPA, Holocaust, Shai Varm, Shoah, Yad Vashem, Yaroslav Stetsko, Yaroslava (Slava) Stetsko, agitprop, Agitprop USSR, Jews in the UPA, historical analysis, history, counterpropaganda, Nazis, relatives of Roman Shukhevych, USSR and Soviet propaganda.
The cause of the Lviv pogrom in early 1941 was the mass killings of inmates in the prisons of Lviv, which were carried out by the NKVD prior to the Red Army’s retreat from the city. Einsatzgruppe С opened the city jails to discover the consequences of NKVD brutality. The Nazis forced Lviv Jews to drag out the bodies of the executed prisoners. The victims’ bodies were laid out for inspection, so that relatives could identify and bury their loved ones. The Nazis accused the Jews of these crimes, and conducted masterful agitation amidst the masses, provoking them to commit violent actions against the city’s Jewish population. Nazi propaganda declared that the pogrom was an act of “sacred vengeance” on the part of Ukrainians for the crimes of the “Judeo-Bolsheviks.”
During the Nuremberg trials (1945–1946) it was determined that the reign of terror in Lviv was carried out by a German SD operative group that entered the city shortly after Nachtigall’s arrival (forward units of the battalion entered Lviv on the morning of 29 June 1941, and immediately took control of several targets, including the radio station). The trial established that subunits of Einsatzgruppe C, particularly Einsatzkommando 5 and 6 as well as Sonderkommando 4b, took part in the destruction of the Lviv Jews. It must be clarified that, contrary to popular belief, the composition of Einsatzgruppen was exclusively Aryan, in other words, there were no Ukrainians at all in them. The perpetrators of these crimes testified that the shootings of the Jews were carried out on the Führer’s orders and were presented to the public as an act of vengeance for the killings of Poles and Ukrainians in Lviv by the Soviet authorities between 1939 and 1941.
There are also two very important historical aspects that are ignored by some historians and propagandists. The first of these: According to declassified archives, there was a substantial number of Jewish political prisoners in NKVD prisons. When I perused the lists of political prisoners who were shot in Lviv Prison No. 1 (Lonsky Prison), out of 706 names I discovered 50 whose patronymics and surnames leave no doubt that their background was Jewish. There were also descendants of mixed families or those who were registered under Russified names or surnames.
The second aspect concerns the fact that the Nazis ordered the publication of the nationalities of the Poles and Ukrainians who were killed in such prisons but identified Jews under the category “nationality unknown.” This was done because the Nazis wanted to turn the population against the Jews, and they did not want it to become known that the communists were killing Jewish intellectuals as well as Ukrainians and Poles.
The attempt of some researchers to lay the blame for the Lviv pogrom on the OUN(B) is based on the accusations that this organization had a totalitarian ideology and was anti-Semitic. Efforts to uncover concrete proof of its guilt have encountered reasoned criticism.
The programmatic documents of the OUN(B) that were drawn up at the Second Grand Assembly of this organization in April 1941 reveal the following prediction: “The anti-Jewish moods of the Ukrainian masses will be exploited in order to distract their attention from the actual perpetrator of the troubles and so that, at the moment of disruption, Ukrainians will be aimed at instigating pogroms against the Jews.”
According to the testimony of Kost Pankivsky (a member of Yaroslav Stetsko’s government, formed on 30 June 1941) a mob of pogromists in Lviv, comprised of the urban riffraff, some of whom had donned blue-and-yellow armbands and tried to speak Ukrainian, attacked the members of the Ukrainian administration, including Jews and Poles. It is neither an exception nor make-believe that Jews supported the independence of Ukraine. As German archival documents attest, during the occupation the OUN(B) supplied false documents to Jews who were connected to the organization. The fact that Yad Vashem has officially recognized as Righteous Among the Nations at least two leading members of the OUN—Olena Viter (testimony 421.1 for 1976) and Fedir Vovk (testimony 8152 for 1998) is very revealing.
Alik Gomelsky, is a writer, member of the Canadian Authors Association, historical researcher, founder of Jewish-Ukrainian International Association, expert on Jewish-Ukrainian relations in the twentieth century, essayist, lecturer, blogger, and consultant.