My father was a member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. On June 30, 1941, in the turmoil of the Nazi invasion of and Soviet withdrawal from Western Ukraine, the OUN declared Ukrainian independence in Lviv. This was a direct challenge to the Nazis, who would never accept Ukraine’s right to exist. My father and the brother of OUN leader Stepan Bandera were entrusted with the function of carrying out that proclamation in another area of Western Ukraine, then called Stanislaviv, now Ivano Frankivsk. As a result, Bandera’s two brothers, my father and other OUN members were arrested on September 22, 1941, in Stanislaviv and sent to Auschwitz, where my father remained interned until just before the Soviets arrived. The Nazis transferred him to another camp at Mauthausen, and then Ebensee. He remained interned until the end of the war, finally liberated by the Americans. Bandera’s brothers were not so lucky. They were brutally murdered in Auschwitz.
Ms. Rogatchi, how dare you call Stefan Bandera a “butcher?” He was a prisoner of the Nazis in Berlin and then at Sachsenhausen. Despite tremendous personal pressure he would not betray Ukrainian independence. He even issued pleas to the Ukrainian people and directives to his members to fight the Germans and the Soviets, but not participate in the German plans against the Jews. He did this in spite of the fact that Jews, in disproportion to the population, served as the bloody murdering agents of the Soviets in the two years of Soviet rule in Western Ukraine between 1939 and 1941. Bandera’s entire family was decimated by the Soviets. Besides his two brothers at Auschwitz, his father, Andrij Bandera, a Ukrainian Catholic priest, was arrested and shot by the Soviets in July 1941. His persecutors even forged an indictment against his family for Father Andrij’s signature. Stepan Bandera’sister Oksana spent twenty years in Siberia. Bandera himself was brutally murdered by the Soviets in October 1959, in Munich.
How can you accuse Roman Shukvevych? That same calumny of General Roman Shukhevych receiving the Iron Cross was originated in Moscow, repeated by communists and Jews in Ukraine, and even by Yad Vashem only a few years ago. Just last month, as a result of a legal court proceeding brought by the children of Roman Shukhevych, those slanderers in Ukraine were directed to apologize for their historical distortion. Last year, Yad Vashem was challenged to produce its dossier on Shukhevych and was able to submit only old Soviet fabrications. What about those children of Shukhevych? His son Yuriy spent almost forty years in Soviet prisons and concentration camps. His daughter Maria was taken away from her mother and forced to live in Soviet orphanages. Shukvevych’s sister Natalia was arrested by the Soviets in 1940 and sentenced to 10 years hard labor in the Urals and five years exile in Kazakhstan. Both Shukhevych’s parents were exiled and both died in Soviet exile. His brother Yuriy was murdered brutally by the Soviets in a Lviv prison in June 1941.General Roman Shukhevych himself was killed in battle against Soviet security forces in 1950.
I do not believe in your complicity. My heart tells me that you are vulnerable. You wish to keep alive the memory of the Holocaust victims. So you create new demons. But you have lent your name to disrespect and calumny heroes of the Ukrainian people, those same people with whom you lived as neighbors. You dishonored those people. Shame on you for being an accomplice to history’s distortions! You laud the Rabbi in Ukraine who discarded his Order of Merit in protest over the honoring of Bandera. You state that it is not easy to be a Rabbi in Ukraine, and challenging to the Jews who live there. To the contrary, that Rabbi lives in Ukraine because it is a good place for him to live. It is easy for Jews to live in Ukraine. Just look at the human rights reports of any legitimate international human rights’ group. Both the Rabbi and you dishonor the victims of the Holocaust by shamelessly slandering people who had nothing to do with the unfortunate fate of those Holocaust victims, and all because you are ignorant and vulnerable.
You say you received a telephone call from Moscow. It was Moscow that issued the orders that starved to death 7-10 million Ukrainians during the Great Famine of 1932-33. Here once again, disproportionately, Jews acted as agents of that murderous plan. They sided with the enemy in Moscow against their neighbors in Ukraine. We, Ukrainians, share great grief and much tragedy. Still, we are seeking to forgive. Instead, you distort and side with the enemy again, and make forgiveness that much more difficult. Isn’t it ironic that it always seems to originate with Moscow?
Askold S. Lozynskyj
February 22, 2010
Askold S. Lozynskyj, the son of an Auschwitz survivor, is an attorney from New York and former president of the Ukrainian World Congres