The Ukrainian Division in Soviet Literature

The existence of the Ukrainian Division "Galicia" as a military unit on the German side of the front in World War II was an embarrassing phenomenon for the Soviet government. In fact, by the time the Division was formed there were various units originating from the territories once dominated by the Soviet Union: the Russian Liberation Army (Russkaya Osvoboditel'naya Armiya or ROA) headed by General Andrey A. Vlasov; The Russian Liberation National Army (Russkaya Osvoboditel'naya Narodnaya Armiya or RONA); Ukrainian Liberation Army (Ukrains'ke Vyzvol'ne Viis'ko or UVV) and others. However none of these actually constituted an Army, that is a unit with a central command. On the contrary, the largest unit in the ROA, for instance, did not exceed a battalion and they were spread all over distant German fronts. By 1943 Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian divisions and a Belorussian brigade were in existence. In short over one million officers and soldiers of former Soviet citizenship (by birth or by annexation) rose against the tyranny of the Communist dictatorship.1

All this was living proof that the Soviet Union had not only not solved the nationalities problem, as Soviet Propaganda claimed, but did not satisfy even the Russian people No other nation participating in the second World War had encountered such a strong Opposition among its subjects and citizens as the Soviet government. Although the western allies had already captured many former Soviet citizens in German uniform, Soviet authorities, unwilling to admit it openly minimized their numbers and importance or simply ignored the problem as non-existent.3 Their propaganda continued to spread the view that all the nations of the Soviet Union are united in their efforts to defend the Soviet regime and Soviet system of life.

Although in the general stream of Propaganda designed for external consumption and internal use they never mention the existence of the Division "Galicia" they do their best to discredit it, as well as its former soldiers, in the eyes of the Ukrainian people. They have blamed the Division for a number of crimes which have never been specified as to the place or date or what individuals committed them.

In the collective work "Ukrainian SSR in the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, 1941-1944" written under the sponsorship of the Institute of History of the Communist Party in Kiev and the Kiev branch of the Institute of Marxism-Leninism, which was published in three volumes in 1968, there is a statement that "the core of the Division SS "Galicia" consisted of policemen, who had run away from the liberated territories of the USSR, members of the OUN (i.e. Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists - W.V.), sons of the Ukrainian bourgeois, Latvian, Lithuanian, Estonian and other nationalists".4 As far as the mobilization of the period in question is concerned, no principle of volunteering was ever mentioned. "The occupational authorities grabbed the village boys and under guard transported them to Lviv. The nationalist principals of some high schools, enrolled their students in the Division even without their consent".5 That is how, according to the Soviet sources, the Ukrainian Division "Galicia" was organized in 1943.

Further down there is another statement that "Already in the Summer of 1943 the fascist hirelings from the Division SS "Galicia", together with other punitive units, fought the Soviet partisan detachment commanded by S. A. Kovpak".6 The Soviet encyclopedia of the history of Ukraine says that this happened on July 25, 1943.7 In fact, however, the first call-ups to the Division "Galicia" were made only on July 17 and 19 for report to Lviv and only in the following days their transport left, the first one to Brno in Moravia and the other one to Heidelager Training Camp near Dembica in Poland. It is safe to say that by July 25 the several thousands of fresh recruits of the Ukrainian Division "Galicia" had not even received their rifles. By any Standards the Division as such did not yet exist and yet a Soviet "scholary" work already places some of its detachments in a battle against the Kovpak partisans in the Carpathian mountains. The Germans, it must be mentioned, unlike the Russians, did not send untrained soldiers to the front.

This is perhaps one of the facts which indicates that Soviet historians actually do not pay any attention to the real facts, do not take into consideration chronology, and twist the facts slanting them in a manner deemed most convenient at a particular moment in time. The same applies to numbers, which may be enlarged depending on the requirement. For instance, in the description of the battle of Brody in July 1944 in a book Das Sowjetland, volume 4 entitled "Der grosse vaterlandische Krieg der Sowjet Union" (Berlin, SWA-Verlag, 1947) there is a statement that "the Soviet Army took over 17,000 men prisoners, including two generals. On the battlefield remained over 30,000 German officers and soldiers killed".8 According to Major W.D. Heike, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian Division, the German XIII Army Corps, which defended the Brody section of the front, consisted of four German divisions which together amounted to not more than 32-35,000 men. "Together with the Ukrainian Division, there were as many men, as the Russians claim they took prisoners and killed on the battle field".9 But there were also soldiers who broke through the encirclement and returned to their units. Some 3,000 officers and men returned to the Ukrainian Division10 and quite a few disillusioned in the alliance with Germans, joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.11 Major Heike states that approximate percentage of officers and soldiers returned to the German divisions as to the Ukrainian one.12 How could the Soviet Army claim to have killed and taken prisoners exceeding the entire strength of the XIII Army Corps?

These figures, however, are not always the same. In the "History of the Great Patriotic War..." there is a statement that the "Soviet Army destroyed eight German Divisions, killed 38,000 officers and soldiers and took 17,175 prisoners".13 Another source states that ,"some 15,000 men were killed on the battlefield while 2,500 German soldiers were taken prisoners".14 As strange as it may sound, the participation of the Ukrainian Division at the battle of Brody is not mentioned at all. In a report from the battlefield in the Moscow daily IZVESTIYA on July 22, 1944, the Ukrainians are mentioned in a descriptive form as "soldiers in masking uniforms"15 (the Ukrainian Division was the only one out of the five divisions comprising the XIII Army Corps that had such masking uniforms) but not a word that they were Ukrainians from the division "Galicia". The huge six volume set "History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union, 1941-1945" in the Russian language gives a detailed description of the battle of Brody as well as of armaments used but does not even mention the Ukrainian Division "Galicia".16

All this ought to make the impression that the Ukrainian Division "Galicia" was so insignificant that the Soviet authorities did not consider it worthy of mention. In fact, this was not quite so. Although from the military standpoint one division more or less did not make much difference in the struggle of such powers as the Third Reich and Soviet Union, politically it had an impact. There are some sources which indicate that although the Division did not get any publicity in the Soviet Communication media, it was discussed in the closed sessions of political instructors.17 When some of the Ukrainian soldiers were captured prisoners, no Geneva convention provision was applied to them and in a number of instances they were shot on the spot by the Soviet security organs.18 When the Soviet attempt to annihilate the Division in the incirclement at Brody failed, and in spite of heavy losses, it was reorganized and continued to fight the Soviet Army until the end of the war.

After the war ended the Soviet government did its best to get all the refugees from the territories occupied by the Soviet Russian Army in 1939-1940 repatriated,if necessary, by force. This also applied to all the military units on the German side consisting of the nationals whose countries were occupied by the Soviet armies. Among them the Ukrainian Division "Galicia" seemed to be the most desired by the Soviet government. This can be proven by the fact that in the Potsdam Conference of the Big Three in the summer of 1945 of all the military units, only one - the Ukrainian Division "Galicia" was singled out by name by Stalin himself.19 A similar request was expressed in the United Nations before the Third Committee on Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Questions on February 1, 1946 by the representative of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, Mykola Bazhan, who "drew particular attention to the number of 'Germanized Ukrainian fascists' who were still at large in Western Germany, Austria and Italy and who would exist as a threat to the peace of the world until they had been brought to justice".20 This was repeated again in the same Committee on November 1946 by another Soviet Ukrainian representative, Dr. Lev Medved', who "referred to the former 'SS Galitchina' Division, which was in the United Kingdom zone of Italy" and requested that "war traitors were to be given up to the countries concerned for punishment".21

It is worthwhile mentioning that although the Russian and the above mentioned "Ukrainian" delegates to the United Nations accused the Division "Galicia" of treason and criminal behaviour, neither the Czechoslovak nor the Yugoslav delegates, where the Division was engaged in combatting the Communist underground, had ever raised any accusations against the Division.

Since these attempts failed, Soviet propaganda endeavoured to minimize the importance of the Division and its moral standards. According to this propaganda, the Division was organized by compulsory mobilization of the Ukrainian youth but it succeeded only by enticing every sort of criminal, traitor and other assorted riffraff. Furthermore, instead of a combat unit, Soviet historians depict it as one performing every nature of dirty police work such as pacification of civilian population or combatting partisans only.

While the Soviet historians remain silent about the Division "Galicia", there is a group of so-called political writers who produce works on KGB request and specification. As far as the "Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists" are concerned, and the Ukrainian Division "Galicia" being considered an integral part, Serhii Danylenko, Klym Dmytruk, Vitalii Maslovsky and Vitalii Cherednychenko should be mentioned. Danylenko published two books "On the Pathway of Disgrace and Treason" (Kiev, 1970) and "The Uniates" (Moscow, 1972). Klym Dmytruk, pseudonym of Klement Halski, KGB Major of Polish origin, wrote "The Swastika on the Robes" (Kiev, 1973) and "The Bastards" (Lviv, 1974). "The Uniates" and "The Swastika on the Robes" deal essentially with the Ukrainian churches in general and the first one with the Ukrainian Catholic Church now outlawed in Ukraine. Vitalii Maslovsky also published a libelous work entitled "The Yellow and Blue" (Ukrainian national colours - a symbol of Ukrainian nationalism - W.V., Lviv, 1975) and Vitalii Cherednychenko "The anatomy of treason" (Kiev, 1978). There are many other such writers who produce not only works but even "the facts" whenever the KGB wants them. Since there is a numerous Ukrainian community in Canada, the Soviet government was able to purchase the services of a quite prolific Ukrainian Canadian author Petro Krawchuk, who detests everyone who is against Soviet Russian domination of Ukraine. He wrote two libelous books under his pseudonym, Marko Terlytsia, which were published in Ukraine, all dealing with Ukrainian Canadians or Ukrainian Americans: "The Nasty Great-Grandsons" (Kiev, 1960), "The Nationalist Scorpions" (Kiev, 1963), and others published in Canada. Somebody might be inclined to believe that P. Krawchuk is a dedicated Communist and fights for a classless society. However, a former well-known Canadian Communist, John Kolasky, points out that Krawchuk is a craftsman, who writes to secure his profitable positions on several boards of directors of, and numerous dividends from, Soviet-Canadian corporations.22

In all works by these authors the soldiers of the Ukrainian Division are referred to with typical epithets of Soviet writing: "cutthroats", "killers", "murderers", "ruffians", etc. But no sources are indicated to substantiate their accusations. Moreover, they do not even attempt to feign objectivity. In some cases, however, Dmytruk would quote Danylenko, Danylenko some party resolutions, Maslovsky both of them and add quotations from Lenin's works and the "truth" is established. Thus the history of the Soviet Union is written.



[1] D. Littlejohn. The patriotic traitors, cop. 297-310.

[3] N. Bethell. The last secret, cop. 3-4.

[4] 1941-1945, 2, . 62.

[5] Ta .

[6] .

[7] . 2, . 315.

[8] W.-D. Heike. Sie wollten die Freiheit, p. 112.

[9] Heike, op.cit., p. 112-113.

[10] Heike, Ibid., cop. 129.

[11] . . " "" ". - ; . . , . . , 1951, . 49-51.

[12] Heike, op. cit., cop. 110.

[13] ..., 4, . 214.

[14] . , . , 1967 ( ), . 125.

[15] . " ". - () 13, 23 1944, . 3, . 4-7.

[16] ..., 4, . 213, 216.

[17] . . " ""..." ³ . , . 91, 1958, . 71, . 1.

[18] , . 71, . 3.

[19] N. Tolstoy. Victims of Yalta, cop. 258.

[20] United Nations. General Assembly. Social, Humanitarian and Cultural Committee. Summary record of meetings of the First session. Jan./Feb. and Oct./Dec. 1946, London-Lake Success, 1946, cop. 15.

[21] Ibid., p. 198.

[22] J. Kolasky. The shattered Illusion, cop. 214-216.