Source: Academia by Per Anders Rudling
The OUN(b) and UPA’s campaign to cleanse Western Ukraine of its non-Ukrainian minorities in 1943 and 1944 was carried out in a brutal, systematic fashion. The UPA’s cleansing of the Volhynian and Galician Poles was the culmination of a campaign of violence, the understanding of which requires a study of the background of its leadership, and the establishment of the context within which it operated.
While several researchers emphasize the training of a substantial part of the UPA leadership by Nazi Germany, this is a relative recent field of study. Many questions remain to be answered.[i] What seems clear is that the brutalization of the war in the east came to influence the violent nature of the campaign, and the way it was carried out. Therefore, in order to understand the nature of the UPA’s anti-Polish campaign, particularly during its most violent phase in 1943-44, it is important to study the background of its leadership, particularly its activities and affiliations in 1941-42.
Roman Shukhevych, its commander, had distinguished himself in German service. Serving in German uniform since 1938, Shukhevych combined his political activism as a Ukrainian nationalist with a distinguished military record. In 1941, he was a commander of the Nachtigall battalion, a Wehrmacht formation consisting of Ukrainian nationalists. Soldiers under his command carried out mass shootings of Jews in the vicinity of Vinnytsia. The role of Shukhevych and the Nachtigall in the pogroms of the June 30, 1941 L’viv pogrom has been the topic of heated discussions.
A less known, and often overlooked aspect of Shukhevych’s service for Nazi Germany was his whereabouts in 1942, something often omitted in the nationalist historiography. During this year, Shukhevych served as Hauptmann (captain) of the Schutzmannschaften, and stood under the command of Höhere Polizei- und SS-Führer Heinrich Himmler. This paper is an attempt to document this white spot in the Shukhevych’s biography.
Background: Jews, partisans, and “bandits”
Given the huge size of the Soviet territories under German occupation, the German military personnel were spreading thinly. Aware of this shortage, Wilhelm Keitel, the head of the Oberkommano der Wehrmacht, argued “Since we cannot watch everybody, we need to rule by fear.” Hitler himself, when learning about Stalin’s call for a partisan movement in the summer of 1941, exclaimed “That’s only good, it gives us a possibility to the exterminate everybody who challenges our rule.”[iv] Hitler himself compared the fighting of partisans with that of the struggle against “red Indians.”[v] On September 16, 1941 Keitel issued an order that every German soldier, killed in a partisan attack in the occupied Soviet Union would be avenged by the killing of “50 – 100 Communists.”[vi] At a September, 1941 meeting for army officers, von dem Bach-Zelewski and SS-Brigadeführer Artur Nebe, the leader of Einsatzgruppe B linked the partisans to the Jews: “Where the partisan is, there also is the Jew, and where the Jew is, is the partisan.”[vii] In December, 1941, one month before the Wannsee conference, Himmler’s appointment book carried the cryptic note “Jewish question/to be exterminated as partisans.”[viii] As escaping Jews reinforced the partisans, the Nazis linked the expediency of exterminating Jews to their counterinsurgency activities. The view that “The Jews are without exception identical with the concept of partisan” was a key assumption of the architects of the German counter-insurgency campaigns.[ix]
Local Collaboration during World War II
The shortage of German military personnel necessitated an increased reliance on local collaborators. The Schutzmannschaften, auxiliary police forces, were designated as an instrument, operating under the Gendarmerie, intended to carry out the “dirty work” (Schmutzarbeit) of the occupying forces,[x] including the execution of Jews and Communists.[xi] Central assignments were “anti-partisan warfare, searching the ghettoes and sealing them off during Aktionen, to executions at the murder sites.”[xii]
While the Schutzmannschaften had constituted a fairly small force, they were drastically enlarged after the summer of 1942. From July 1942 to the end of that year, the overall strength of the Schutzmannschaft-Einzeldienst increased from about 30,000 to over 200,000 men.[xiii] While half of the men worked in fire brigades, the dramatic growth of the Schutzmannschaften mirrored the growth of the pro-Soviet partisan formations. By October, 1942 there were 55,562 local police in Ostland, (i.e. the Baltics and Western Belarus) but only 4,428 Germans, i.e. a ration of 1:13.[xiv] With the exception of the Soviet POWs, the Schutzmänner were recruited on a voluntary basis.[xv]
The activities of the very institution of the Schutzmannschaft are one of the lesser-known episodes of the Holocaust.[xvi] While there are considerable documentary evidence and witness accounts to establish the participation of the Schutzmannschaften in Nazi war crimes,[xvii] their direct participation in anti-Jewish actions is poorly documented in the surviving German records. The German occupation authorities left relatively little information about the local auxiliaries. Our knowledge of the anti-partisan activities is still limited. Only in exceptional cases are the names of individual soldiers, other than their commanders mentioned. After the war, the West German authorities paid limited attention to war-time killing of civilian Slavs. Unlike the murder of Jews, killing of local Slavs was generally not regarded as having been carried out on racist grounds. Anti-partisan activities were considered as conventional war crimes, and something to which the Federal German prosecutors in Ludwigsburg generally paid little interest.[xviii] The fact that many of the crimes on the local level were committed not by Germans, but by local collaborators was something that further diminished the interest in Germany for these crimes.[xix] Until the late 1960s, a large part of the evidence was kept in inaccessible Soviet archives.[xx] Soviet war crimes trial records of former Schutzmänner were long inaccessible, and much of the Belarusian and Russian archives remain off-limits to scholars. Historians are only beginning to use the materials from Soviet war crimes trials.[xxi] In addition, many documents were destroyed during, or immediately after the war.[xxii] At the end of the war, many members of the Schutzmannschaften retreated with the German army. A survey of about 200 Schutzmänner indicated that over 30 per cent of them remained in the west after the war.[xxiii] Few, if any, were held accountable for their actions. Western countries have yet to try a single Schutzmann for war crimes.[xxiv]
Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201
On June 30, 1941, in L’viv, the Bandera wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, (OUN(b)) issued a declaration of Ukrainian statehood, modeled on the Slovak and Croatian precedents. The OUN(b) had hoped for German recognition of their pro-Nazi state, which they intended as a totalitarian ally of Nazi Germany. To the disappointment of the OUN(b), the Nazi leadership refused to recognize their state, seriously complicating the OUN(b)’s relations with its major sponsor. The German refusal to accept the Ukrainian declaration of statehood led to a conflict with the leadership of the Nachtigall battalion, a collaborationist formation, consisting almost exclusively of members of the OUN(b). The Nachtigall battalion was dissolved. On August 13, 1941, it was ordered to return from Vinnytsia to Neuhammer, where it was disarmed at gunpoint. Its members were then transported to Frankfurt an der Oder. On October 21, 1941, the soldiers were reorganized as the 201st Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft Battalion, which consisted of four companies. The formal commander of the battalion was Sturmbannführer (major) Ieven Pobihushchyi, under the supervision of the German Hauptmann Wilhelm Mocha.[xxv] Roman Shukhevych’s title was that of Hauptmann (captain) of the first company and deputy commander of the legion.[xxvi] Even though enrollment was voluntary, of the some 300 remaining members of the Nachtigall division, only about 15 declined to sign up for service in the Schutzmannschaften.[xxvii] The members themselves named the battalion after Ievhen Konovalets, a co-founder and the first leader the OUN, an organization to which almost all of its members belonged.[xxviii] To the battalion were added 60 Soviet POWs from Poltava and Dnipropetrovs’k oblasti, selected by Shukhevych.[xxix] Several future UPA commanders served in Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201, besides Roman Shukhevych himself, there was also Oleksander Luts’kyi, the organizer and first Commander of the UPA-West, based primarily in Galicia, and his successor Vasyl Sydor, who commanded UPA-West in 1944-49.[xxx]
After training in Germany, Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 was assigned to Belarus on February 16, 1942. The soldiers signed a one-year contract with the Germans.[xxxi] The Schutzmänner themselves were disappointed with this assignment, having hoped to be stationed in Ukraine. Pobihushchyi wrote in his memoirs that
With bitterness in my heart and with serious thoughts I returned to Frankfurt [an der Oder], and there I received the order, that on March 19, 1942, we would be sent to a so-called Einsatz, i.e. military assignments. The location of our assignment was not given, since only the commander had the information. Even though I was the commander, I did not receive the order. Only Mocha had seen it. This was the way the Germans treated the commander of the legion….How disillusioned we were when we found out that we were not going to Ukraine, but Belarus…[xxxii]
The men of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 wore German police uniforms without national symbols. On March 16, 1942, the battalion was ordered eastwards and arrived in Belarus, it they replaced a Latvian Schutzmannschaft battalion. Under the command of General J. Jakob it was spread out over 12 different points in the triangle Mahiliou-Vitsebsk-Lepel’, guarding a territory of 2,400 square kilometers,[xxxiii] at the time of the implementation of the Holocaust of the Belarusian Jews.[xxxiv]
There is no consensus in the sources about the activities of the battalion. Andrii Bolianovs’kyi’s magisterial work on Ukrainian military formations in the service of Nazi Germany dedicates but a few pages to the division’s whereabouts in 1942.[xxxv] Frank Golczewski describes the activities of Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 as “fighting partisans and killing Jews,” but does not provide a source for this claim.[xxxvi] Several veterans of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 made it to the west after the war. Whereas 30-40 veterans of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 were alive in 1980, only 4 remained by 2004.[xxxvii]
The veterans were acutely aware of efforts to track down collaborators and perpetrators.[xxxviii] Most published veteran memoirs avoid any specific mention of the battalion’s geographic whereabouts. Pobihushchyi’s 1982 memoirs do not provide any details about where the division was stationed in Belarus. Many memoirs refer back to the accounts from Schutzmann Teodor Krochak’s diary, an edited version of which appeared in the 1953 collection, which Pobihushchyi helped to craft.[xxxix] Myroslav Kal’ba, a non-commissioned officer in Nachtigal and the Schutzmannschaft battalion 201,[xl] who has edited six books on the formation, which the nationalists prefer to refer to as DUN, Druzhuny Ukrains’kykh Nationalistiv generally either avoids listing the battalion’s specific geographic whereabouts in 1942 or uses abbreviations, referring to the cities “K.” “M.” “L”, the villages “Zh.” “V”, “P” “small city B” or “the locality H.”[xli] Unsurprisingly, the veterans’ own accounts of their whereabouts in Belarus make no mention of atrocities, but present the battalion’s tasks as being of a military nature. Ievhen Pobihushchyi describes the military assignment as
defending the major bridges across the rivers Biarezina and Dzvina and to prevent Bolshevik partisans from destroying them. That was the main assignment, and for that purpose, the legion was distributed over an area nearly 50 kilometers long, and approximately 50 kilometer wide, and the soldiers were quartered in the villages in groups of 40, since their task was to protect the local administration. In addition, to the assignments of the legion belonged a constant combing of the forests from Bolshevik partisans. Such combing operations (besides, being very dangerous) required no less than two formations (80 men), which, in turn, weakened our positions in the villages, the so-called Schützpunkte. Still – regardless of various difficulties, the entire time – that is from March 22 to December 31, 1942 – the Legion painstakingly and in an exemplary fashion had to carry out its military service in such a way that the Bolshevik partisans would not be able to destroy another large bridge.[xlii]
There were indeed pressing military matters, which also required attention. The so-called Vitsebsk or Surazh Gate was a forty-kilometer-long breach in the German front line between Velizh and Usviaty in the RSFSR between the German Army groups “North” and “Center.” It opened up as a result of a shock attack by the third and fourth Soviet Armies in the winter of 1941-1942, and remained open from February to September 28, 1942. Through this opening in the front, Soviet ammunition, weapons, sabotage groups and medical supplies were transported behind the enemy lines.[xliii] There were various partisan formations in the region. Partisan Detachment 406 carried out military operations on the Minsk-Vilnius, Maladzechna-Polatsk, and Minsk-Lepel’ railroad lines. Over the course of the war, they attacked 148 highway bridges and blew up three railroad bridges. One of their more spectacular attacks was carried out on October 14, 1942 when they destroyed “9 automobiles and 70 Nazis on [the] Pukhavichy-Omel’na road.”[xliv] It is quite possible that members of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 may have been a target. Schutzmannschaft battalion veterans reported several attacks on August 25 and October 2, in “U.” and “Zh.”[xlv] The accounts contain no information on reprisal actions by the Schutzmannschaften, even though this was a standard practice.
Yet, even the memoirs of the Schutzmänner themselves indicate that the battalion had alternative assignments beyond the safeguarding of the infrastructure. Pobihushchyi wrote that his soldiers “found out” that in the vicinity there was a camp for Soviet POWs. According to Pobihushchyi, Shukhevych attempted to have 45 Ukrainians POWs there released to join the Schutzmannschaft, but was prevented from doing so as a punishment for refusing to participate in an operation of forced grain requisitions from the local Belarusian population.[xlvi]
Interrogated by the MKGD by the very end of the war, Nachtigal and Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 veteran Oleksandr Luts’kyi[xlvii] gave the following account of the activities of the battalion:
In mid-April, 1942 we were brought from Minsk to the city of Lepel’, where we were divided into four groups. Each group was assigned particularly important military objects to be safeguarded, but the primary task was to fight the Soviet partisan movement in the Lepel’, Ushycha, and Beshankovichy raiony. Personally, I belonged to a group of the legion of approximately 90 people, brought to the south of the city of Lepel’, in the village Veleushchyna, where I took part in the safeguarding of roads, the protection of the representatives of the German command, which moved along the roads from place to place. Several times I was sent out on assignments to liquidate Soviet partisans. The information we received was passed on to the staff of the legion, located in the city of Lepel’.[xlviii]
Luts’kyi stated that “in October of 1941 the entire legion was put under the disposal of the SS, and the Germans used us to fight Soviet partisans. At that point our battalion was already named Schutzmannschaft battalion 201.”[xlix] The Soviet interrogators were more interested in the veterans’ role in Nachtigal in 1941 and in the UPA from 1943 than in their whereabouts in 1942. The reports therefore provide little information of the activities of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201. Schutzmann Volodymyr Pavlyk told his Soviet interrogators that “[i]n 1941 and 1942 he served in the German armed formations as a commander of a platoon and company. In that period I, as a platoon and company commander did not participate in the battles against partisans and the Red Army, but helped form them and sent them into battle against the Red partisans.”[l] The interrogation reports from that of other veterans, such as Schutzmann Omelian Pol’ovyi, make no mention of the activities of battalion 201.[li]
Some correspondence between the 201 battalion and their German superiors has survived. The last report from Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 was sent on November 3, 1942, at which point the unit was stationed 20 kilometers north of Lepel’.[lii] On December 1, 1942, the contracts of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 expired. Its volunteers had originally agreed to serve until December 31, 1942. Yet, in late 1942 the German authorities increased the recruitment of forced labor in the occupied territories extending the Schutzmannschaften’s term of service for an indefinite period.[liii] They therefore declined to renew their contracts. The Schutzmänner also had grievances with the leadership style of the Germans. Pobihushchyi himself complained that
[t[he last straw, which led to the dissolution of the entire legion [Schutzmannschaft battalion 201] was the terrible occurrence, unforgivable crimes that the German command allowed to be carried out against the riflemen of the legion. At the funeral of one fallen volunteer there wasn’t even a Ukrainian banner on his bier, only a German one. One of [our Ukrainian Schutzmänner] pushed the swastika bands in under the wreath. When a German policeman saw this, [the Ukrainian Schutzmann] was terribly abused. No appeals or pledges from the Ukrainian side helped. It was deemed an insult to the German state. The rifleman was jailed and…shot. From that moment on the attitude of the soldiers of the [Schutzmannschaft battalion 201] to the Germans changed.[liv]
This, according to Pobihushchyi, contributed to the battalion’s refusal to renew the contract
We decided to abstain from [further] service, since military honor required it. We did not receive answers to our inquiries about why our leaders were arrested, our dear ones were arbitrarily sent to work deep into Germany, why wounded Ukrainian soldiers were not allowed to be treated in the same hospitals as the Germans, but taken to hospitals for “aliens.” The Legion did not want to fight for such a “New Europe,” with different categories of citizens and soldiers. At the front we all faced death equally. Yet the wounded had different rights and received different treatment. [lv]
Around Christmas, 1942, Obergruppenführer von dem Bach-Zelewski informed Pobihushchyi that the battalion would be dissolved. On January 6, 1943, the battalion was sent to L’viv where most members arrived January 8. The officers left Belarus on January 5, the last soldiers January 14, 1943.[lvi] The 201st battalion was disbanded and taken to L’viv, where its officers were arrested and placed in the jail on Lontsky Street. Some, including Roman Shukhevych, managed to escape and went underground.[lvii] The officers were formally arrested for declining to continue their service, but appear to have been treated quite leniently by the Germans. “The forms under which we were arrested were quite delicate – we only had to surrender our weapons, and with an escorting officer from the German officer we traveled to L’viv,” wrote Pobihushchyi.[lviii]
The German authorities reported to Berlin that while the “better treatment of the Ukrainians by the local administration is not without effect,”[lix] the disbanding of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 caused “indignation” and “extensive disquiet” among Galician Ukrainians, also the intelligentsia.[lx] The German command suggested that the men of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 should gather in Lublin to form a new unit. This time its members declined to renew their contracts, even if several continued to volunteer their services to Nazi Germany until 1945. Evhen Pobihushchyi joined the ranks of the Waffen SS Galizien, progressing to the rank of major.[lxi]
Counterinsurgency or mass murder?
While the source material of the whereabouts of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 is incomplete, some of the correspondence between the battalion and its German commanders has been preserved. According to Myroslav Kal’ba, the DUN, that is Nachtigall and Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 “lost” 450 soldiers and officers, i.e. two thirds of it members over the entire period 1941-1945.[lxii] Many of these losses were due to desertions, most of which took place after 1943. However, during its ten-month tenure in Belarus, Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 lost only 49 men, while 40 were wounded. This should be contrasted with to the over 2,000 “partisans” it killed.[lxiii] Even if all the losses of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 were due to war deaths, this means a discrepancy in the casualty ratio between its members and enemy “bandits” of over 1:40. Such disproportional losses between German and collaborating forces and “bandits” is largely in line with what we know about the activities of other Schutzmannschaft battalions. The imbalance is also reflected in von dem Bach-Zelewski’s personal records, which he kept as Bevollmächtiger für Bandenbekämpfung. On October 30, 1942 von dem Bach-Zelewski noted 26 casualties from Schutzmannschaft battalion 201, 4 Germans and 22 “fallen members of the Schutzmannschaften.” Enemy losses were listed as 89 dead and 20 wounded.[lxiv] A routine report on the activities of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201, von dem Bach-Zelewski’s report appears in a folder of fifteen “Meldungen an den Führer über Bandenbekämpfung” to Reichsführer-SS Himmler, who passed them on to Adolf Hitler personally. It contains a series of information bulletins from German-led police forces in occupied Belarus and Ukraine.[lxv] The reports illustrate the nature of the “counterinsurgency” activities in which Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 was involved.
Meldung number 51 is a summary of anti-partisan warfare in Russia-South, Ukraine, and the Bezirk Białystok, which is a summary of the police activities in that region from September to November, 1942. Passed to Hitler on December 29, 1942, it shows the realities of the Bandenbekämpfung. The number of Jews outweighs all other groups executed, and the number of “bandits” executed after an Aktion far outweighs the number of people killed in action.
- Killed in combat 1,337
- Executed prisoners 737
- Executed later 7,827
- Arrested 16,553
- Executed 14,257
- Jews Executed 363,211
- Deserters 140
- Dead 174
- Wounded 132
- Missing 13
- Dead 285
- Wounded 127
- Missing 133
Meldungen 36, 40, 41, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 55, 56, 57, covering Russland-Mitte and Gebiet Weissruthenien for the fall of 1942, report 28, 360 enemy casualties and 381 “own losses;” a ratio of 1:74.[lxvii] Meldung 51a, which appears in the same folder, summarizing the entire region Russland-Süd, Ukraine, and Białystok, shows a ratio of killed Schutzmannschaft and Germans to killed “bandits” and “bandit helpers” (excluding the category of “Executed Jews”) of over 1:52. If we include the 363,211 executed Jews in the column of Bandenverdächtige, or ”suspected bandits,” the ratio is 1:843.
It may also useful to compare the ratio of dead Schutzmannschaften to “bandits” with the more infamous anti-partisan Aktionen, such as Operation Cottbus in 1943, during which 6,087 “bandits” were registered as “killed in action” while only 88 German officers and soldiers and 40 non-Germans Schutzmänner were killed and 152 wounded, a casualty ratio of 1:47. In operation Cottbus, 90 per cent of the people killed were unarmed. Christian Gerlach calculates that between 10 and 15 per cent of the victims of the partisan hunts in Belarus actually were partisans.[lxx] Regular warfare or counterinsurgency campaigns do not generate such staggering imbalances. Rather, they show the genocidal consequences of the war of annihilation, in line with Keitel, Himmler, and Hitler’s directives. German historian Manfred Messerschmidt makes the following assessment of the Schutzmannschaften
In evaluating the operations of the Schuma battalions one has to consider that … they were involved in a ruthless scenario of terror. This included the compulsory use of specific language. They had to speak of ‘gangs’ [‘Banden’]. Annihilation operations were called ‘pacification’ or ‘re-establishment of security and order’.”
Former Schutzmänner in UPA
In the spring of 1943, the men of the Schutzmannschaft battalion 201, who had crossed over from Belarus to Volhynia came to constitute the heart of the OUN(b) security service, the Sluzhba Bezpeki, or SB.[lxxii] As the result of a campaign of mass desertion from the German collaborating forces following Stalingrad, several thousand deserting Ukrainian policemen flocked to the ranks of the UPA, forming its backbone.[lxxiii] From March 15 to April 15, 1943, close to 4,000 Ukrainian former Schutzmänner joined the UPA.[lxxiv] Former Schutzmänner and other forms of auxiliary policemen, who had joined the UPA on OUN(b) orders constituted about half of the UPA and OUN(b) leaders in the fall of 1943: 23 per cent had a background in regional and local auxiliary police formations, 18 per cent had been trained in German intelligence and military schools at the beginning of the war, 11 per cent in the Nachtigall and Rolland Battalions, 8 per cent in the regional or local administration in Nazi-occupied Ukraine, and one per cent had a background in the Waffen-SS Division Galizien.[lxxv] The skills acquired in 1941-1942 became useful in the UPA’s ethnic cleansing of the Poles of Volhynia.[lxxvi] John-Paul Himka writes that
Of course, infiltrating the Ukrainian police formations meant taking part in anti-Jewish actions. Apparently, this did not constitute an obstacle of conscience for the radical nationalists. In fact, taking part in some actions was probably useful, since weapons could be confiscated during ghetto clearings and added to the stockpile.[lxxvii]
Singled out by his German superiors for his particular heroism in battle,[lxxviii] Pobihushchyi summarizes his own experiences of the Einsätze in Belarus in the following way:
The struggle against the partisans was extraordinarily good education for our officers and soldiers. It taught us a lot. Too bad, that my notes were lost at the time I was interned. Our education, battle experience was very useful to all of our soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers, who continued their military paths in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army or the I UD UNA [The first Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army][lxxix]
By 1943, as the German violence escalated, the OUN(b) appeared increasingly concerned with the image of the Schutzmannschaften. By now, Soviet Belarusian partisans habitually referred to the Schutzmannaschaft batallion 118 in ethnic terms as “Ukrainians” and “Ukrainian police.”[lxxx] The OUN(b) now began to disassociate itself from the Schutzmannschaften. “A Ukrainian police can exist only in a Ukrainian state,” OUN(b) propaganda stated.[lxxxi]
Researching the whereabouts of Schutzmannschaft battalion 201 in occupied Belarus in 1942 is in many ways a difficult piece of detective work. Not only are the sources scarce, a number of actors – Soviet authorities, Ukrainian nationalists and the veterans themselves – have all tried to distort the historical record.[lxxxii] Under the presidency of Viktor Yushchenko (2005-2010) it was government policy to glorify Shukhevych, who the president posthumously turned into a national hero in 2007. The government-orchestrated Shukhevych cult was accompanied by a campaign by official historians to produce a hagiographic representation of Shukchevych’s life. His activities in the Schutzmannschaften have been ignored and glossed over, and the presence of a handful of Jews in the UPA presented as evidence that the OUN could not have been involved in anti-Semitic activities.[lxxxiii] OUN involvement in pogroms, the fascist nature of the OUN and its collaboration with Nazi Germany was downplayed or denied. Nachtigall’s involvement in the murder of Jews in the summer of 1941 has been the subject of an emotional debate. The Polish Sejm has described UPA’s ethnic cleansing of the Volhynian Poles in 1943 in terms of “genocide.”[lxxxiv] By comparison, Shukhevych’s role as a Hauptmann of Schutzmannschaft Battalion in 1942 has generated marginal attention. Yet, a few conclusions can be made from this episode.
Shukhevych appears to have had a violent temper, and to have abused his soldiers physically.[lxxxv] Under his command, soldiers of the Nachtigall battalion carried out mass murder of Jewish civilians in the Vinnytsia area in 1941.[lxxxvi] Under Shukhevych’s leadership the UPA carried out a campaign of mass murder in Volhynia and Galicia in 1943-1944, in which 60,000-100,000 Poles and thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of Jews lost their lives.[lxxxvii] It is reasonable to assume that also Schutzmannschaft battalion 201, like other Schutzmannschaft battalions and Nachtigall, its previous incarnation was involved in a ruthless scenario of terror, aimed not only against “bandits” (partisans and Jews), but also passive bystanders.[lxxxviii] The leadership of the OUN(b) – Shukhevych, Bandera, Lenkavs’kyi, and Stets’ko shared the Nazi stereotypes of the żydokomuna, of Jews as the tools of Moscow and/or Bolshevism, and the latter two openly approved of the German extermination of the Jews.[lxxxix] Like the Nazis, the OUN(b) leadership equated the fight against communism with the struggle against Jews and Muscovites.[xc] To the Schutzmannschaften, the struggle against communism was linked to the killing of Jews. In Belarus, the exterminating of Jews and partisans were overlapping tasks. Anti-partisan operations were often carried out as extermination campaigns, or outright massacres.
Jewish civilian victims of these massacres were often murdered under the pretense that they were also partisans. The Schutzmannschaften and their German commanders tallied up massacred Jews as “partisans.” The ratio of 1:40 killed “bandits” to Schutzmänner in Battalion 201 indicates mass murder and executions, rather than conventional counter-insurgency campaigns. In line with Keitel’s instructions of mass retribution, the numbers also resemble those of other Schutzmannschaften in occupied Belarus. They were part of a greater scheme, that of Generalplan Ost, which foresaw the deportation and extermination of entire ethnic groups and communities.[xci] Given the training of much of the UPA and SB OUN leadership by Nazi Germany, it is no coincidence that the patterns and tactics of the OUN and UPA’s ethnic cleansing of the Volhynian Poles resemble the anti-partisan tactics of the Schutzmannschaften. Within their ranks, a significant part of the UPA leadership had been accustomed to the use of disproportionate violence, attacks on civilians, and the use of collective retribution. The ethnic cleansing of the Volhynian Poles, Jews, Armenians, and Czechs carries the hallmarks of the SS and Schutzmannschaftens’ tactics of “anti-partisan” warfare.