The Era of Revisionism (I)

KIEV/BERLIN | | ukraine

KIEV/BERLIN (Own report) - On the 71st Anniversary of Europe's liberation from the Nazi's reign of terror, currently pro-western Ukraine's leading historian - responsible for the official narrative on history - denies that principal Ukrainian nationalist organizations were collaborating with the Nazis and participated in the Holocaust. In a recent commentary, Volodymyr Viatrovych, Director of the "Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance" calls accusations of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) having collaborated with the Nazi-aggressors, "xenophobia," and the allegation that they had participated in the Holocaust and committed mass murder among the Polish population, "characteristic of Soviet propaganda." The Ukrainian historian wrote his commentary in response to an article published in the US magazine "Foreign Policy." The article sharply criticized Ukraine's growing revisionism - a revisionism that had already been promoted during pro-western President Viktor Yushchenko's term of office and further accentuated in the aftermath of the pro-western coup in 2014. "Foreign Policy," which has always been loyal to Kiev's putschist regime, now warns that Ukraine "could be headed for a new, and frightening, era of censorship."

Kiev's Commemoration

On the 71st Anniversary of Europe's liberation from the Nazi reign of terror, Kiev's top government officials have ignited a new round of sharp controversy over their whitewashing and glorification of Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. A current article in the US magazine "Foreign Policy" started the dispute with its strong criticism of the Director of the "Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance," Volodymyr Viatrovych. The historian is considered a central figure in Kiev's official policy on history. For years, his standpoints have been provoking indignant protests by prominent historians.


Viatrovych (born in 1977) first made a name for himself as the co-founder and director of the "Center for Research of Liberation Movement" in Lviv, western Ukraine. The Center is considered to serve as a front for the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in exile. The center is funded and run by the émigré OUN, as the historian Per Anders Rudling confirmed in an interview with[1] The OUN was the most important organization of the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators. Along with the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), the OUN participated in the mass murder of Jews on Soviet territory and the massacre of more than 90,000 Poles - with the objective of creating an "ethnically pure" Ukraine.[2] Following the war, many OUN members fled into exile to the Federal Repubilc of Germany, the USA or Canada, where they continued their political activities - until 1991, against the Soviet Union.[3] As director of the OUN "Center for Research", Viatrovych published the book "The OUN's position towards the Jews" (in Lviv, 2006), wherein he seeks to whitewash - using blatant forgeries, according to renowned historians - the Ukrainian Nazi-collaboration of its Anti-Semitism stigma.[4] In 2011, he amplified his revisionism with a second book, relativizing the Ukrainian Nazi collaborators' mass murder of Poles as "the second Polish-Ukrainian war."[5]


Already during the incumbency of pro-western President Viktor Yushchenko, Viatrovych had played a prominent role in Kiev's historical policies. In 2008, he was appointed to head Ukraine's Intelligence Services Archives, which had contained a large number of documents concerning the OUN and the UPA. Back then, he and his colleagues had committed serious forgeries, according to the US journal "Foreign Policy." In the archive's publications words, sentences, entire paragraphs implicating the OUN and UPA had been removed. Along with other historians, Jeffrey Burds, professor for Russian, Ukrainian and Soviet History at the Northeastern University in Boston, could confirm these forgeries using copies of the original documents.[6] "Foreign Policy" attributes Viatrovych with also having exercised influence in the re-writing of history books for Ukraine's schools, which have recently come to the attention of German historians. According to one analysis, three schoolbooks, published soon after Viatrovych stepped down as head of the Intelligence Service Archives (2010), favorably depicted the OUN, its leader Stepan Bandera and the UPA "as combatants for Ukrainian independence."[7] Not only the German Reich, but also the Soviet Union are presented as Ukraine's "enemies" during World War Two. This corresponds to the commemoration of the OUN and the UPA, who were particularly fighting Moscow.


In this context, both Viktor Yanukovych's dismissal of Viatrovych from the Intelligence Service Archives - Yanukovych was elected in 2010 - and Viatrovych's appointment as head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, March 25, 2014 - just weeks after the pro-western coup in Kiev - can be seen as programmatic decisions. In fact, since 2014, Viatrovych has had considerable influence on the Ukrainian government's historical policy. For example, October 14 has been declared the "Day of the Defenders of Ukraine." This is the same day that Ukrainian fascists traditionally celebrate the founding of the UPA. Alongside the traditional holiday on May 9, in memory of the liberation from Nazi terror, May 8 has been named the "Day of Remembrance and Reconciliation," to also "include the UPA's liberation struggle, during and since the German-Soviet War, into the war narrative," according to an analysis of Ukraine's commemoration policies.[8] In April 2015, the parliament officially designated the OUN and UPA to be "combatants for Ukrainian independence." Since then, it is prohibited to dispute the "legitimacy" of their "struggle for the independence of Ukraine." In June 2015, the Ministry of Education handed down a directive calling upon teachers to accentuate "the patriotism and morality of the activists of the liberation movement," including honoring the UPA as a "symbol of patriotism and sacrificial spirit" and revere the OUN Leader, Stepan Bandera as an "outstanding representative" of the Ukrainian people.[9] There are numerous other examples.

"Russian Intelligence Services"

The renowned US journal "Foreign Policy" has sharply criticized this development. Viatrovych attempts "to redraft the country’s modern history to whitewash Ukrainian nationalist groups’ involvement in the Holocaust and mass ethnic cleansing of Poles during World War II" - and right now, he’s winning, writes the author.[10] Even worse, scholars are beginning to fear "reprisals," should they not uphold the official line on OUN and UPA. Under Viatrovych’s reign, "the country could be headed for a new, and frightening, era of censorship," predicts the author, pointing out that an open letter protesting the April 2015 declaration of the OUN-UPA militias to "combatants for Ukraine's independence," signed by seventy prominent historians fizzled out without effect after it was immediately defamed as a product of "Russian intelligence services." Criticism of "Foreign Policy" is all the more remarkable in that this journal unequivocally supports the pro-western putsch in Kiev.

"Soviet Propaganda"

In a furious response, Viatrovych has now responded to the criticisms - and explicitly confirmed the accusations. He alleges, for example, the OUN and UPA "did not collaborate with the Germans." The "accusations" that they had, is "xenophobia," the assessment that they had participated in the Holocaust and "ethnic cleansing" - referring to the murder of more than 90,000 Poles is "characteristic of Soviet propaganda." Viatrovych continues, "there are no OUN documents" to suggest an active participation in the 1941 Jewish pogrom in Lvov following the late June 1941 German invasion. Besides, "the exact number" of the Jews, Ukrainians killed during the Holocaust "is still unidentified and is certainly no greater" than the number "other nationalities" had killed, who also collaborated in the Holocaust with the Germans.[11]

Ukraine is not the only country in a Germany-dominated Europe, where Nazi collaborators are today being honored officially. will soon report on other cases.

[1] See "Scientific Nationalists".
[2] See Between Moscow and Berlin (IV) and Honoring Collaborators.
[3] See "Ein Sammelpunkt der OUN".
[4] Per Anders Rudling: The OUN, the UPA and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths. The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies No. 2107. Pittsburgh, November 2011.
[5] John-Paul Himka: Legislating Historical Truth: Ukraine's Laws of 9 April 2015. 21.04.2015.
[6] Josh Cohen: The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine's Past. 02.05.2016.
[7] Lina Klymenko: Historische Narrative und nationale Identität: Der Zweite Weltkrieg in russischen und ukrainischen Geschichtslehrbüchern. In: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 162, 27.01.2016. S. 13-16.
[8] Dmytro Myeshkov: Die Geschichtspolitik in der Ukraine seit dem Machtwechsel im Frühjahr 2014. In: Ukraine-Analysen Nr. 149, 15.04.2015. S. 17-21.
[9], [10] Josh Cohen: The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine's Past. 02.05.2016.
[11] Volodymyr Viatrovych: Real and fictional history in Ukraine's archives. 09.05.2016.