Ukrainian nationalists were preparing an armed uprising in Western Ukraine as a pretext for German invasion on the eve of WWII

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May 8, 2015

Miroslava Berdnik

Translated by Kristina Rus

May 8 is the day of reconciliation with German collaborators in Ukraine. More about them in this article from “2000” published in 2006.

On the eve of the war

In 1939 the population of Western Ukraine greeted the Red army with bread and salt. Over time, there began repressions of the NKVD. But literature is silent about their cause and about the role of OUN in provoking them (read more: Process 59, “poor kids” and German espionage in the Western territories of the USSR).

During the preparation of the German aggression against Poland, Hitler’s intelligence services flooded the country with their agents, mainly – the OUN. They had to paralyze the resistance of the poles to the Germans. Influential OUN member Kost Pankovsky, who during the Second World War was the Deputy head of the so-called Ukrainian Central Committee, headed by Vladimir Kubievich — one of the founders of the SS division “Galicia”, in his work “Years of German occupation” (1965, Toronto) writes that on the eve of the Nazis attacking Poland “OUN planned to raise an armed rebellion in the home front of the Polish forces and formed a military unit — the “Ukrainian Legion” under the command of Colonel Roman Sushko”. After occupation of Poland, the Nazis invited them to work in the “Ukrainian police”, destined to fight with the Polish resistance.

The activities of the “Ukrainian police” in Poland were highly appreciated by the German owners. So shortly before the attack on the Soviet Union, the Nazis launched a massive training of OUN members into police personnel for the future occupation regime in Ukraine. The leaders of the OUN created in Kholm and Przemysl schools of “Ukrainian police” for the money of Nazi intelligence. They were led by officers of Gestapo – Muller, Reader, Walter. The same school was established in Berlin. At the same time German military intelligence started preparations for espionage and subversive activities on the territory of the USSR. In the special camp on lake Chiemsee (Germany) saboteurs were prepared from Ukrainian nationalists, and spies at the military training center Kvintsgut (CGAOO of Ukraine, f. 1, op. 4, d. 338, l. 22).

After September 1939, the activities of the nationalist underground have become more clandestine. During the reunification of the Western regions of Ukraine with the Ukrainian SSR the leaders of Krakow OUN instructed the underground units not to show hostility towards the Soviet military personnel, save human resources, preparing them for future activities against the USSR. They also had to collect weapons, using the collapse of the Polish army, infiltrate the local party and government authorities. A former member of the Lviv government A. A. Lutsky, for example, managed to sneak into the office of one of the district committees of the Stanislav region and even to seek election as Deputy in the National Assembly. Fearing possible exposure, at the end of 1939 he escaped to Krakow. The Soviet authorities found only in Stanislav region 156 OUN members embedded in village committees.

OUN leadership organized acts of sabotage and terror in Western Ukraine. In the second half of 1940 they committed 30 terrorist attacks, on the eve of the German invasion of the USSR only in two months of 1941 there were 17 (archives of the KGB of the USSR.F.16, op.39, p 765). 

The instructor of Stusivsk district committee of CP(b)U of Ternopil region I. Rybolovko, the Prosecutor of the Monastyrsk district, Doroshenko, and other Soviet and party workers were liquidated (archives of the KGB Department of the Ternopil region., d. 72, vol. 1, L. 1).

 In July 1940 a grenade was thrown into a Lviv cinema during a show. The explosion wounded 28 people (the Archive of the KGB of the USSR.F.16, op.33, p. n. 23, l. 765). 

The same activities, as well as acts of sabotage were organized in many Western regions of Ukraine. In addition, the Germans demanded from the leaders of the OUN to enhance the organization of an armed uprising, which would serve as a pretext for war against the USSR. The preparation for it, as evidenced in Nuremberg by one of the leaders of the Abwehr, Colonel E. Stolze (Military-historical journal, 1990, No. 4), was directed by his subordinate officers Doering and Market. The communication between Stolze and Bandera was provided by Rico Yary. 

On March 10, 1940 the senior staff of the OUN gathered in Krakow, where the action plan was developed: 

1. To prepare and in the shortest possible time to transfer to the territory of the USSR the leading cadres of the OUN to create in Volyn and Lviv headquarters for the organization of an armed uprising. 

2. Within two months to explore the territory, to have a clear idea about the presence of rebel forces, the weapons, the supplies, the mood of the population, the presence and location of Soviet troops (Ternopil region party archive, f. 1, op. 1-a, D. 2, L. 125-127).

Trusted members of the organization visited the OUN underground on the Soviet territory. Among them was a member of the Central management, and the agent of  Abwehr A. Lutsky (“Bogun”). Detained in January 1945, he testified that “the main task was to prepare an uprising against the Soviet rule  before the end of summer 1940 throughout Western Ukraine. We held an urgent military training of members of the OUN, collected and concentrated weapons in one place. Planned for the capture of strategic military facilities: post offices, telegraph, etc. Created the so-called black book — a list of employees of party and Soviet bodies, local activists and workers of the NKVD, who immediately had to be destroyed, when the war starts” (Archive of the KGB of the USSR.F.16, op.33, p. n. 23, L. 297). 

Lutsky testified that “if an uprising provoked by us in Western Ukraine lasted for at least a few days, then Germany would come to our aid”. The same testimony was given by his deputy Mikhail Senkiw. Well, just like the “call for help” of the Sudeten Germans! However, in the summer of 1940, at the direction of Canaris preparation for an armed revolt was removed from the agenda, since Germany was not yet fully prepared to attack the Soviet Union.

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