Killing of Jews in Lviv, Babyn Yar
Disinformation: During World War II Ukrainian nationalists as so-called “Nazi collaborators” took part in the massive killing of Jews, particularly in Lviv and Babyn Yar in Kyiv.
The myth presenting the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) as the main actors in the killing of Jews was actively exploited by Soviet, and later Russian, disinformation to justify the campaign that Russia was waging against these organizations.
An attempt was made to create a logical sequence to deceive the public, suggesting that during WWII Ukrainians who stood for an independent Ukraine were also nationalists, and at the same time Ukrainian nationalists were killing Jews. This makes all those who stood for an independent Ukrainian state anti-semites and criminals.
In fact, the mass and systematic killing of Jews during World War II in Ukraine was conducted not by Ukrainian nationalists but by Nazi troops and their militarized units – the security service, the SS and the police.
Disinformation: Members of the OUN and the Nachtigall Battalion were the main organizers and executors of the pogrom against Jews in Lviv.
Representatives of the German security service and the SS arrived in Lviv on July 1, the next day after the German army took the city. During this time, a Jewish pogrom took place in the city.
In April 1941 the leadership of OUN(b) issued resolutions passed at their II Congress clearly stipulating that the main goal of the Organization is fighting for Ukraine’s independence, and that Jewish pogroms are the enemy’s attempts to distract the attention of Ukrainians from attaining this goal.
As a military unit, Nachtigall neither organized nor carried out the pogrom. Moreover, the documents from the archive of the Committee for State Security (KGB) demonstrate that KGB accusations against the battalion soldiers were part of a special disinformation operation against West German Minister Theodor Oberlander in 1959-1960 by the Soviet security service. The murders of Jews, Polish intelligentsia, and Soviet sympathizers in the first days of the occupation of Lviv, known as the “Slaughter of the Lviv Professors” (Lviv Civilian Massacre), were the work of the German security units (the SD, Einsatzgruppe B). In 1997 a special Ukrainian government commission on OUN/UPA activities during WWII also confirmed this fact.
We do know that in reaction to the proclamation of the “Act of Restoration of the Ukrainian State”, Nachtigallpersonnel were given a week off, and their German advising officer, Theodor Oberländer, was demoted and called back to Prague.
After the Red Army retreated from Lviv, no less than 2466 victims, Ukrainians, Poles and Jews, murdered by the Russians were found in the city’s prisons. Roman Shukhevych’s brother Yuriy was among those executed. Thousands more were killed in prisons in other western Ukrainian cities. They had been executed by the agents of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD) of the USSR between June 22 and June 28, prior to the Soviet retreat. Similar mass executions occurred in other western Ukrainian cities: Drohobych – 1,101; Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk) – 1,000; Ternopil – 674; Rivne – 230; and many others.
Disinformation: Members of the OUN took part in the mass killing of Jews in Babyn Yar.
In Kyiv a mass killing of Jews took place in Babyn Yar. After the German troops occupied the city, on September 29-30, 1941, the Sonderkommando headed by Paul Blobel and the German police killed over 33 thousand Jews. The Jews were also massively killed in the first half of October. Soviet and Russian propaganda often attributes one of the key roles in this killing to the “Banderites” from the “Bukovynsky” Battalion and from the supporting police units in Kyiv. Active use of this message in the mid-1980s coincided with the beginning of the large-scale propaganda campaign in the USSR on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Nuremberg trials. However, the “Bukovynsky” Battalion had nothing to do with the OUN(b). Moreover, the fighters of the unit came to Kyiv only in the first half of November, over a month after the killing of Jews in Babyn Yar, so they could not have been involved in the killing.
The total number of Ukraine’s citizens murdered at Babyn Yar during the German occupation was over 150,000 people – including many members of the Ukrainian resistance, among them a renown poetess and OUN (m) member Olena Teliha.
The commander of the Kyiv police was Anatoliy Konkel. The police itself was mostly composed of Soviet prisoners of war and did not take part in the atrocities. The German Sonderkommando and German police were responsible for killing the Jews. The Kyiv population and OUN members did not take part in the killing of Jews in Babyn Yar. German war-time documents mention that the Jewish pogroms and anti-Jewish actions did not have support among the population.
OUN (b) operatives in central and eastern Ukraine, including Kyiv, were providing false passports to Jews or hiding them from the Germans. Among those who saved Jews during World War II were members of OUN, including the wife of General Roman Shukhevych (UPA’s Commander-in-Chief), Natalia, the Ukrainian priest Omelyan Kovch (OUN member since the 1930s), who died a martyr in Auschwitz for helping Jews, and Fedir (Feodor) Vovk, the Nykopol (today Dnipro oblast) district OUN (b) leader and vice-president of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (In 2002, he was awarded posthumously by Yad Vashem the title of “Righteous Among the Nations”).