Heroizing UPA: Polish Government against Its Own People

Heroizing UPA: Polish Government against Its Own People

On October 14, Petro Poroshenko signed a decree proclaiming October 14 to be the day of celebrating Day of Defender of Ukraine instead of the post-Soviet analogous holiday celebrated on February 23. This day the Ukrainian neo-Nazi traditionally march with torches to mark the anniversary of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The decision sparked a wave of indignation in Poland. Protests hit the streets, the demonstrators picketed the Ukraine’s diplomatic offices demanding to stop heroization of OUN-UPA that is responsible for killing thousands of Poles during WWII. Protesters marched in Przemyśl, Krakow, Wroclaw and Warsaw under the slogan «Lasting Shame to OUN – UPA Murderers from SS Division Galicia». 

Note: The UPA is the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). In the days of the Second World War it collaborated with Hitler’s Germany, including the Wehrmacht, police and security services. It fought against the Red Army and was involved in killing Polish population in the western part of Ukraine. It organized the Volyn massacre when 200 thousand Poles and Jews in Volyn lost their lives. President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree proclaiming October 14 to be the day of celebrating Day of Defender of Ukraine, instead of the post-Soviet analogous holiday celebrated on February 23. Today the insignia and symbols of UPA became part of Ukraine’s state ideology. It was the main cause of the Donbass tragedy where Russian speaking population rejects fascism. 

They held posters «Stop Bandera’s fascism», «No to UPA Heroization»; there were also placards with the names of populated areas where the population was exterminated during the Volyn massacre. Professor Paez from the Wroclow University took part in the action. He said that he was worried because Ukrainian nationalists were represented not by groups of extremists but by political parties… He wondered what else was needed to make the Polish government react. There is no such thing as friendship at any price. The ball is on the Ukraine’s side. Ukraine has to admit the guilt and tell the truth. 

* * *

In the spring of 1943 the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists repressed Jews, and then the OUN-UPA started mass extermination of Poles in Volyn. 200 thousands Poles died those days. 

The genocide of the Polish population was planned. In October 1942, OUN-B adopted at a conference a program of military activities which envisioned the eviction of all Poles. Those who refused to leave were to be killed. In the spring of 1943 the head of OUN-B security service Nikolay Lebed ordered to cleanse the controlled territory from Polish people who stood in the way of implementing the missions set by Ukrainian cause. 

The Volyn tragedy still echoes in Poland. Some witnesses of Bandera’s terror are still alive. The Polish Society for the Remembrance of the Victims of Crimes Committed by Ukrainian Nationalists (SUOZUN) goes to any length to immortalize those who fell victim to the hatred of Ukrainian nationalists, especially those who suffered from genocide. The society collected over 20000 testimonies. On July 15, 2009 the Polish parliament (Sejm) approved the resolution «On the Tragic Destiny of Poles in the Eastern Frontiers» saying the Ukrainian Insurgent Army carried out an anti-Polish action in the eastern frontiers (Kresy of Rzeczpospolita) - mass-scale massacres that had the nature of an ethnic cleansing and the signs of genocide. A commission at the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) works to investigate the crimes against Polish people. 

The coup staged in Kiev in February 2014 brought to power the successors of Bandera’s ideas to open a new page in the history of war waged by Ukrainian nationalists against Polish people. 

On January 23, 2014 Ukrainian Nazi attacked a bus on the autobahn Krakowez-Lviv making passengers shout «Long Live Ukraine». They hit one of men inside the bus in the face. Trying to stop the spread of information about the OUN-UPA crimes Ukrainian nationalists broke the website of clergyman Isakovic-Zalesski who is well-known in Poland. He constantly fought against the rehabilitation of Ukrainian nationalism and its support by Polish government. The priest had to go around protected by guards because of the threat posed by Bandera followers. Some time ago there was an attempt to assassinate historian Lucina Kulinska, the author of studies on the Volyn massacre. 

According to Polish special services, the activities of Ukrainian neo-fascists have intensified near the Polish border. On October 14, Ukrainian students hoisted a UPA flag in Przemysl. The action raised a big row. The prosecutor’s office launched an investigation of the incident upon the demand of citizens. 

At the same time the Polish government does everything to make the successors of ideas propagated by those who staged the Volyn massacre feel at home in Poland. 

The Przemysl-based Association of Ukrainians in Poland annually receives 2 million zloty from the Polish government. It uses the money to hold regular ceremonies devoted to the memory of buried OUN-UPA militants and organize neo-Bandera marches on the streets of the city. 

* * *

Trying to take geopolitical revenge the government of Poland is ready to destroy the memory of Volyn tragedy victims and their successors. 

Donald Tusk, the former Prime Minister of Poland, wanted Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban to abstain from making statements calling Ukraine «a challenge to the European Union» because they distract from the mission of opposing the main adversary - Russia. Some time before the Kiev-staged coup Mr. Tusk had met the head of neo-Nazi Svoboda Party Oleh Tyahnybok notorious for his call to take an automatic rifle and kill Moskals (Russians), Yids and Lechs (Poles). Tyahnybok was decorated with Lech Walesa prize: «For restoration of political stability in Ukraine and willingness to bring social equality».

No way Polish officials may not see swastika, right hand Nazi salutes and OUN-UPA leaders’ posters on the city streets. They continue to support the political forces that organized the Volyn massacre. Wiki Leaks to trample on the sentiments of compatriots and the massacre victims. The website made public the report prepared by the US Embassy in Warsaw called Poland: a Natural US Ally on Eastern Policy. It says «Like us, Poland seeks to draw key countries on the eastern boundary of Europe, like Ukraine and Georgia, towards Western institution». According to Leszek Sykulski, famous Polish political analyst, director of the Czestochowa Institute of Geopolitics, «to large extent the policy is defined by Polish intelligence which operates in close conjunction with the UK and US special services».