Anti-Semitism charges don’t stick against Ukrainian nationalist group

21.12.2010, 13:00
OUN leader, Mykola Lebed, is the main target of the National Archives publication. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) connection here does not work since the CIA did not work with Bandera or Stetsko. In the subject study, Lebed is branded an anti-Semite many times, but specifically charged with only one accusation of a war crime unrelated to anti-Semitism. Lebed is quoted only once, saying it is necessary “to cleanse the entire revolutionary territory of the Polish population.” Still, the source is highly respected historian Timothy Snyder.
The United States National Archives has published a one hundred page study entitled “Hitler’s Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War.” The authors are Richard Breitman and Norman J. W. Goda, two leading Jewish American authorities on the Holocaust, and certainly, men on a mission.

The study is packed with footnotes, but the sources are often questionable and in all instances non-primary. The text is full of unsubstantiated innuendoes and ill-chosen sweeping characterizations.

I feel compelled to divulge my own personal agenda, which is to defend Ukrainian issues and the Ukrainian nationalist liberation movement, albeit without financial compensation. Therefore, I focus strictly on Chapter Five “Collaborators: Allied intelligence and the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists.”

I am not a historian, but an attorney who compiles expert testimony and evidence. My obligation to the truth is to impeach or offer as “credible” each according to an expert’s credentials and, when there is an issue of authenticity, to insist on document testing.

One need not delve very deeply into the subject matter to ascertain the level of scholarship and credibility of the evidence being presented. The very second paragraph begins, “The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), founded in 1929 by western Ukrainians from East Galicia, called for an independent and ethnically homogenous Ukraine.” It comes as no surprise that this statement is not footnoted.

Is it entirely incorrect? No, the OUN was in fact formed in 1929 and it did call for an independent Ukraine. However, where among the thousands of OUN documents available, would one find a reference to the OUN’s call for an “ethnically homogenous Ukraine?” This type of nonsense is not an aberration. On the next page the statement appears: “[Stepan] Bandera’s wing (OUN/B) was a militant fascist organization.” No support or reference is offered for the “fascist” label.

Evidence presented to support the thesis that the OUN and its leaders were anti-Semitic and at times guilty of war crimes ranges from OUN documents quoted out of context, quotes from non-primary sources (in which one needs to dig to learn whether their source are also second rate), to unauthenticated Soviet documents and hearsay.

For example, a “Banderist proclamation” from 1941, which is offered as evidence of anti-Semitism, and motivation for later pogroms and killings, states: “Jews in the USSR constitute the most faithful support of the ruling Bolshevik regime and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in the Ukraine.”

In fact, the above is a quote from the Second Congress of the OUN. However, the full quote reads: “The Muscovite-Bolshevik government exploits the anti-Jewish sentiments of the Ukrainian masses in order to divert their attention from the real perpetrator of evil and in order to channel them in time of uprising into pogroms against the Jews. The OUN combats Jews as the support of the Muscovite-Bolshevik regime [emphasis by author] but simultaneously gives notice to the popular masses that the principal foe is Moscow [emphasis by author].”
There were, in fact, other warnings by the OUN to the Ukrainian population, admonishing it from taking action against the Jews and losing their focus on the Soviets and Nazis as the enemy.

An example of evidence totaling lacking credibility is a statement manifesting anti-Semitism allegedly by an OUN leader, Yaroslav Stetsko, sourced from a publication written by a recognized Jewish Dutch historian of the Holocaust and a Ukrainian-Canadian translator (not historian).

Unfortunately, the footnoted reference turns out not to be the source, but is further footnoted to a document recently unearthed from Soviet archives. Not surprisingly, before the Soviet denouement, the subject document or a copy or the text had never been seen before by any student of the Holocaust in the West. The document is not authenticated and the issue of credibility is not addressed. The historian replicating it should at the very least have asked himself why, in all his previous studies, he had not come across this document, or at least a reference to it. In the case of Soviet evidence, authenticity was and remains an issue. In a best case scenario, he should have submitted the document, considering its importance, to a handwriting, paper and ink analysis.

Defenders of the document have come forward with a disingenuous and Machiavellian argument that while the Soviets misinformed in their press and popular publications, their archives should be considered authentic unless proven otherwise. Quite to the contrary, hundreds of Soviet archived documents presented at trials in the West have been discredited over the years. In fact, since the USSR’s demise some former Soviet officials have acknowledged the “fabrication” of material including documentation to “inflict moral and political damage against the enemies of the USSR and forge a “rift between anti-Soviet Zionists and Ukrainian bourgeois nationalists.” In this case, my response to the historian, translator, their supporters and the Russian government is to test the original document.

Furthermore, there is ubiquitous “hearsay” evidence, such as the following statement: “Moshe Maltz, a Jew living in hiding in Sokal, heard from a friendly Polish contact about 40 Jews who were hiding out in the woods near his home. … The Bandera gangs came and murdered them all.” Moshe did not witness the killings, and his testimony has no evidentiary value, no matter how hard he tries or how often he repeats it.

When charges of anti-Semitism do not stick, why not accuse “innocent” Polish civilians of the killings?

OUN leader, Mykola Lebed, is the main target of the National Archives publication. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) connection here does not work since the CIA did not work with Bandera or Stetsko. In the subject study, Lebed is branded an anti-Semite many times, but specifically charged with only one accusation of a war crime unrelated to anti-Semitism. Lebed is quoted only once, saying it is necessary “to cleanse the entire revolutionary territory of the Polish population.” Still, the source is highly respected historian Timothy Snyder.

But in this case, Professor Snyder was careless. He did not rely on primary sources but rather on the personal writings of a Ukrainian economist and publicist. Even then, Professor Snyder failed to read the entire quote. It reads, “To clear the insurgent’s (army) territory of that Polish population which persistently hinders the Ukrainian cause through the provocative activities of Polish officials who serve in German institutions as well as the support by the Polish masses of the Bolshevik partisans.”

That’s very different, isn’t it!

As an American, I regret that my tax dollars pay for this nonsense.

Askold LOZYNSKYJ

20 December 2010 KyivPost