On Thursday, July 14, “The New York Times” (NYT) carried a relatively even story about the recall of Ukraine’s Ambassador in Berlin, Andrij Melnyk for comments he had made concerning German lack of support for the Ukrainian war effort. The NYT went a little further, expounding on the current Ukrainian German political conundrum, lack of tangible support and German obsession about Nord Stream 2.
Within the discourse predicated on German guilt for World War 2, was the Ambassador’s presentation of history on German television, particularly Ukrainian activity during World War 2. Called upon, he specifically addressed Ukrainian nationalists, the Ukrainian partisan effort, the Poles, their partisans and the “Holocaust”. Ambassador Melnyk had laid flowers at the grave of Stepan Bandera. A German “journalist” noted that Bandera held antisemitic, fascist views. The NYT article then gratuitously included customary anti-Ukrainian nationalist calumny, uncorroborated by legitimate historians except the likes of the vitriolic anti-Ukrainian pseudo- expert of Polish ethnicity Grzegorz Rossolinski-Liebe.
Rossolinski’s credentials are very suspect and his bias and lack of scholarship are quite palpable in most of his work, largely dedicated to denigrating Ukrainians; but, apparently, he does have access to legitimate outlets such as the NYT without persuasive accreditation. Bandera’s grave in Munich has been defaced on several occasions with no accountability by the German police.
The NYT failed to quote any Ukrainian sources except for the beleaguered Ukrainian Ambassador, which was clearly a deficiency in objective journalism. Ukraine’s Ambassador Melnyk remained principled in his position, yet diplomatically recognized the need to accommodate Polish current support for Ukraine; so he needed to demur gently on the history of Ukrainian-Polish relations.
And rightly so, because Ukraine’s neighbors including Poland have been at the forefront of support for Ukraine. Tiny Estonia with the smallest population and military means has been most supportive per capita and GDP according to a recent poll. The world has stepped up and Ukraine has and should be grateful.
I wrote a rather benign letter simply to set the record straight, clearly without offending anyone. I know Ambassador Melnyk, the now former Ukrainian Ambassador in Berlin, and he will get most assuredly another position based on merit. Here are my remarks.
Re: “Envoy’s Remarks Renew Scrutiny of Dark History”
Historiography is rarely black and white. It’s usually biased in favor of the conqueror. Ukrainians have never been conquerors. Ukrainian-Russian relations are becoming better known only now as the entire world watches Russian war crimes and attempts at genocide of the Ukrainian nation. Russia as the aggressor is not an aberration.
Ukrainian-German relations have been written through a Russian prism dating back centuries. The notorious barbaric Czarina Catherine II of Russia was of German ethnicity. The Russian-German alliance under the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 was a major act of collaboration leading to World War 2. In two years many victims fell before the two aggressors. Russia would have pursued collaboration with no concern for the killing of Jews except that Hitler wanted Russia too. Raul Hilberg, the preeminent historian of the Holocaust, based his research on then recent eyewitness accounts and German documents. The German death squads known as Einsatzgruppen provided reports on their efforts. In his book “The Destruction of the European Jews” Hilberg specifically refers to documents where the Germans expressed their disappointment with the Ukrainian population in not supporting these killing efforts. The Ukrainian nationalists, including their leader Stepan Bandera and his two brothers, were interned in Nazi concentration camps. The two brothers were murdered in the Auschwitz camp by Polish guards.
Such was the nature of Ukrainian-Polish relations. There were many conflicts between Ukrainians and Poles during World War 2, all on Ukrainian territory. Where one to assess Ukrainian-Polish relations over the last 500 years, they can be summarized as follows: Ukrainians never invaded Poland; Poles invaded Ukrainian territory three times; all conflicts took place on Ukrainian territory; even today, Ukraine’s territory includes no Polish land; today’s Poland consists of Ukrainian territory on the east.
Irrespective of who writes the history, these are simply facts which no one can refute. Nevertheless, Ukraine looks to Poland, Germany and even Israel to be allies because Russia threatens the world.
July 20, 2022 Askold S. Lozynskyj