Between Moscow and Berlin (III)

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) - German foreign policy experts are calling for sanctions to be applied to Kiev's government circles after Ukrainian parliamentary elections at the end of October. According to a recent paper published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) measures should be undertaken against members of the Ukrainian elite, even if the leader of the opposition, Yulia Tymoshenko is released from prison. Berlin and the EU must intervene because of the "multiple ramifications of bad governance" in the Ukraine. Berlin's campaign against the Ukrainian government, which is becoming increasingly aggressive, is aimed primarily at preventing Kiev from enhancing its ties to Moscow, while pushing it closer toward German spheres of influence. Berlin is thereby continuing to pursue a strategy, already applied during World War I and thereafter, particularly with the support of nationalist Ukrainian exiles in Germany. A publicist from the entourage of the foreign ministry was initiator of the strategy. He had elaborated his concepts already during the reign of the German Kaiser and had played a political role in maintaining contacts to the Ukrainian exile nationalists even in the Federal Republic of Germany. Already in the 1920s, this cooperation had included terrorist activities in Poland, and it led to numerous exile Ukrainians collaborating with Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

Stiffer Measures

"Stiffer measures are needed" against the government of the Ukraine, according to a paper recently published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP). The parliamentary elections on October 28 are the "country's next political landmark," write the authors. They allege perceiving "signs" already "that these elections will be anything other than free and fair."[1] Therefore, "Germany and the EU" must immediately "develop ideas for the eventuality that the elections do not meet OSCE standards." For example, "members of the Ukrainian leadership being targeted for sanctions on their accounts and visas" should be considered. These measures would "remain necessary" even if Yulia Tymoshenko were to be released from prison, "because her case is only the tip of the iceberg." The paper claims that "the multiple ramifications of bad governance in the Ukraine," will "continue to have an impact," even after the Soccer Championships and independently of what happens with the former head of state. Therefore, German - European intervention is necessary.

Weaken Russia

Berlin's anti-Ukrainian government campaign, which is becoming increasingly aggressive, is primarily aimed at preventing Kiev from enhancing its ties to Moscow, a prospect that is currently not out of the question. Berlin would rather integrate the country into German spheres of influence at the periphery of the EU. ( reported.[2]) This corresponds to Berlin's traditional policy toward the Ukraine, which first came into effect during World War I. At the time, the German Kaiser's government attempted to separate the Ukraine from Czarist Russia - and later, from the Soviet Union - to weaken the enemy permanently. Just before the end of the war, by installing a collaborationist government, Berlin successfully took control over the entire Ukraine. ( reported.[3]) Subsequently, the Soviet Union was able to reintegrate the Ukraine. Neither this setback, nor the wartime defeat has hindered Germany from continuing to pursue its old plans of seriously weakening Russia by depriving it of the essential Ukrainian region's natural resources. The German Kaiser's strategists had elaborated this concept also using Ukrainian nationalists, living in exile in Germany, for its implementation.


One of the leading German strategists and activists was Paul Rohrbach, a prominent publicist, who, during World War I, had urged, in compliance with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that Russia be dismantled and that a new set of countries be created on its territory - for example the Ukraine.[4] Rohrbach founded the German-Ukrainian Society, which, in Germany, was intended to become a meeting point for Ukrainian exiles and bring the Ukraine as a theme into the focus of the public debate. In 1968, the German-Ukrainian Society wrote retrospectively that immediately following the downfall of the collaborationist regime in 1918, "the indispensible re-establishment of German/Ukrainian relations" had already been pointed out and "prospects" were discussed. Many of the "authors, who spoke up" during this discussion "of the Ukrainian question" (...) "had personally contributed to the German-Ukrainian cooperation, during the presence of German troops in the Ukraine."[5] The society's founder, Paul Rohrbach, who had developed his political concept for the German Kaiser, was still an influential contact for Ukrainian nationalists in West German exile after the 1950s.

Collaborationist Regime

During the Weimar Republic, Berlin used Ukrainians in various ways, including Pavlo Skoropadski and several of his followers. Skoropadski, a large landowner, had seized government power in April 1918 through a putsch in German occupied Ukraine. His collaborationist regime encountered resistance from the Ukrainian population and, at the end of the war, Skoropadski had to withdraw from Kiev alongside the German troops. He took up residence in the German capital, established a Ukrainian exile center, and maintained close contact to circles of the German Reichswehr and the foreign ministry. Skoropadski spent the rest of his life in Germany. He died in 1945 in the south of the Empire, to which he had fled ahead of the liberation by the Soviet Red Army. The former chancellor of his collaborationist regime had settled in Munich and made a pact with the NSDAP. During World War II, he commanded a German-allied Cossack unit in the war against the Soviet Union. Skoropadski's former foreign minister had become the founding director of the Ukrainian Scientific Institute (USI)[6], an institution which was to play an important role in relations between exiled Ukrainians and Germany.

Center of Ukrainian Nationalism

The USI was inaugurated in Berlin on November 10, 1926 and served as a focal point for the education-oriented sector of Ukrainian exiles. The Institute recruited its personnel mainly from right wing circles, because these exiles being rather democratic minded, had sympathy for France. In the 1920s, Berlin became Europe's "center of Ukrainian nationalism" par excellence, according to scholars.[7] Vyacheslav Lypynsky, one of the most famous exile Ukrainian ideologues, taught at USI. He promoted a "Hetman" type of hereditary autocratic rule, along the lines of the Cossack Hetman ranking, for a Ukraine seceding from the Soviet Union and combining his concept with aspects of fascism. With USI's support, Berlin united those forces, which were ready for anti-Soviet aggression and willing to establish an autonomous Ukraine similar to the one at the end of World War I - along the lines of Rohrbach's concept of sapping Moscow's strength. During the 1920s, however; the German Kaiser's government had to show a certain restraint, because it was also cooperating with the Soviet Union in the clandestine rearmament of the Reichswehr.[8]

Terrorist Activities

Already in the 1920s, Germany's cooperation with exile Ukrainians included terrorist activities. In the early 1920s, exile Ukrainian soldiers and militia formed a Ukrainian military organization, the Ukrainska Vijskova Orhanizacija (UVO), and established contact to circles of the Reichswehr. They organized terrorist attacks on Polish territory, because the nationalists considered areas in eastern Poland to belong to the Ukraine. It has been revealed that in 1923, the Reichswehr had organized secret training programs for Ukrainian militia in Munich, but also in Danzig and East Prussia.[9] In November 1927, UVO activists participated in the first comprehensive conference of Ukrainian nationalists. The aim of the conference was to also pave their way into politics. The conference was held in Berlin.


Less than 15 months later, at the follow-up conference of the Berlin meeting, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was founded. Today, the OUN is known for its later collaboration with Nazi Germany. Next week, will report on the OUN and other collaborationist activities of exile Ukrainians in the German Reich.

Further information on Germany's policy toward the Ukraine can be found here: Between Moscow and Berlin and The Boxer's Punch.

[1] Steffen Halling, Susan Stewart: Ukrainisches Eigentor vor dem EM. Demaskierung des Regimes statt Imagegewinn, SWP-Aktuell 29, Mai 2012
[2] see also Between Moscow and Berlin
[3], [4] see also Zwischen Moskau und Berlin (II)
[5] Gregor Prokoptschuk: Deutsch-Ukrainische Gesellschaft 1918-1968, München 1968
[6], [7] Frank Golczewski: Die ukrainische Emigration, in: Frank Golczewski (Hg.): Geschichte der Ukraine, Göttingen 1993, 224-240
[8] see also Großmachtpläne, Kooperation und Konfrontation und NATO im Osten? "Das gibt Krieg"
[9] Frank Golczewski: Die ukrainische Emigration, in: Frank Golczewski (Hg.): Geschichte der Ukraine, Göttingen 1993, 224-240