Ukraine during World War Two and the aftermath.
Latest hand-picked WWII news.
Concerns about plans to open a museum at the ruins of Wehrwolf bunker in Vinnitsa, Ukraine
Plans in Ukraine to open a museum at the ruins of a bunker used by Hitler have provoked concerns it could become a shrine for neo-Nazis. The decision by local authorities in Vinnitsa to turn the site of the Wehrwolf bunker into a tourist attraction has caused so much controversy that President Viktor Yanukovych requested that the matter be settled in a local referendum. Originally, the museum had been due to open in May, but communist and socialist party activists opposed the idea, arguing that the creation of such a museum would be tantamount to spreading Nazi propaganda.
Movement to honor members of World War II underground sets off debate in Ukraine
In WWII the Ukrainian underground fought to make their vision of an independent nation real. They battled Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin until 1947. They lost, and didn't get their independence until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. Now many would like to recognize those early nationalists: the "brave defenders of the Motherland." New legislation would honour members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and give them with benefits as war veterans. But some say the underground collaborated with the Nazis and killed thousands of Jews (Ukraine has a long history in pogroms).
On display: Diaries of reporter who exposed Stalin's man-made famine that killed millions
The private diaries of a Welsh reporter who sacrificed his reputation and his life to reveal one of Josef Stalin's atrocities are to go on public display for the first time. Gareth Jones traveled across Soviet Ukraine (then off limits to Western journalists) to report on the "Holomodor", the man-made famine that killed millions 1932-1933. In March 1933 Jones returned describing how millions were starving to death while the Soviet regime exported grain to the West. But his work was dismissed as a "scare story" by Western journalists in Moscow, keen to maintain favour with Stalin. 2 years later Jones was killed by bandits on the eve of his 30th birthday in China.
Traitors to the fatherland - What did Ukrainian Waffen SS volunteers wanted?
The debate still rages over the SS Galicia, applauded as anti-Soviet nationalists. They are either war criminals or national heroes, depending on who is telling their history. The Nazi regiment was set up in 1943. By then, the tide had already turned in favor of the Allies after Soviet troops beat the Nazi war machine in the Battle of Stalingrad. The Ukrainians who joined the SS Galicia division consisted of 20,000 men selected from 70,000 volunteers. Uniformed and trained by the Nazis the SS unit won praise from Heinrich Himmler. But how could Ukrainians join the SS: Did they just want to get rid of Stalin's Red Army and reclaim independence after the war?
Ukraine: Posters show symbols of 14 Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS. Galizische
Street poster panels in Lvov, Ukraine, show symbols of SS Halychyna (14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Galicia -- 1st Ukrainian), which was formed of volunteers from Galicia in western Ukraine in 1943. Poster panels, which violate local legislation, do not mention imprint or customer. The SS division was for the most part wiped out in the battle of Brody in July 1944.
Ukrainian Secret Service holds hearings on World War II insurgent army
The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) has set up public hearings about the international contacts of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) during the Second World War. The history of the UPA is hotly debated topic in Ukraine, as Soviet propaganda depicted the UPA as traitors and Nazi collaborators. The UPA - seeking an independent and unified Ukrainian state - operated in Ukraine until 1953, when it was finally defeated by the Soviets.
Ukraine's complicated past: street market offers busts of Stalin and an Iron Cross
Ukraine is a country torn between east and west. Walking through a street market in Lviv one can spot a swastika emblazoned Iron Cross among the busts of Stalin and the hammer and sickle badges. There is something troubling about coming across a genuine piece of Nazi militaria, when you are not expecting it. And then you notice military medals, badges and belt buckles. Amazingly the typical 20th Century Lvivite, was born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, grew up in Poland, got married under the Nazis, had children in the Soviet Union, and retired in Ukraine... all having never left the city.
Soviets wanted a Ukrainian historian to conceal that Communist Party caused the famine
25 years ago, Ukrainian historian Stanislav Kulchytsky was told by his Soviet overlords to concoct a cover-up. His orders: to depict the famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s as a natural disaster. Absolve the Communist Party of blame, and preserve the legacy of Stalin. Kulchytsky, though, would not go along, he released his findings publicly. In the Soviet Union the authorities banned discussion of the famine, but by the 1980s other countries were pressing their own inquiries. In response, Communist officials started a propaganda campaign to downplay the famine and show that the deaths were caused by unforeseen food shortages or drought.
To counter Ukraine charges of genocide, Moscow admits to mass murder
To counter claims that Stalin carried out a genocide in Ukraine in the 1930s, Moscow has released new files revealing the Soviet dictator engaged in a criminal campaign of mass murder across the entire Soviet Union. Vladimir Kozlov, of Russia's Federal Archives Agency, told that the famines were "the result of Stalin's criminal policy" but that "no one planned any famine. The famine was the result of the errors and miscalculations... documents testify that the chief enemy of Soviet power at that time was an enemy defined not on the basis of ethnicity but on the basis of class," in this case the peasantry which Stalin wanted to force to join collective farms.
Holocaust By Bullets -exhibit offers insights into the genocide of Jews in Ukraine
Stockholm, Sweden: Piles of bullets and spent cartridges, old pistols and sub-machine guns, numerous maps and photos. These artefacts are part of an exhibition called 'Holocaust By Bullets,' that explores the genocide of Jews in Ukraine during the Nazi-occupation 1941-1944 (1.5 million Jews were killed in Ukraine). Father Patrick Desbois has dedicated himself to collecting accounts from people who saw mass executions during the World War Two in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. Along with a team of translators, cameramen, ballistic experts and mapmakers, Desbois has visited hundreds of villages in Ukraine to locate mass execution sites.
Ukraine honours Welsh reporter Gareth Jones who exposed Stalin's starvation of millions
A Welsh journalist who told the world about Stalin's starvation of millions of Ukrainians in the 1930s has been honoured by the Ukraine government. Gareth Jones exposed the 1932-1933 Ukrainian famine caused by the Soviet leader's infamous 5-year plans. Millions of Ukrainians starved to death but the tragedy was suppressed. However Jones wrote about it, and was given the nation's Order of Merit at Westminster in London. Fellow reporter Malcolm Muggeridge was the other reporter to reveal the truth behind the country's enforced starvation and both are now worshiped in Ukraine.
75th anniversary of the Great Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine
Ukraine had a number of artificial famines over the 20th century. The most notable of these were the 1921 famine (a result of WWI, the Russian Civil War, and the collapse of farming policies of the Soviet communist state) and the 1946-1947 famine (the aftermath of WWII). And yet the Famine of 1932-1933, called the Great Ukrainian Famine, or Holodomor, stands out due to the huge numbers of its casualties and because it did not happen spontaneously. It was caused by genocidal practices used by the Soviet government, as analysis of Soviet official documents issued in 1929-1933 reveals. Based on data of the 1937 census, population losses... were close to 7 million.
Documenting Josef Stalin`s genocide: Starvation of 10 million Ukrainians
A history professor at the Community College of Rhode Island, who has been honored for helping to document the Ukrainian genocide and to make it known to Western audiences, will be a key speaker at the 75th anniversary of the "unknown genocide." Cheryl Madden said people in the West know so little about the starvation of 10 million Ukrainians under the rule of Stalin that it shows how good he was in manipulating the flow of information. "Even today, I find older Ukrainians who are afraid to talk about it." Knowing that the people were desperate the Soviets set up a store where Ukranians could "buy" a loaf of bread in exchange for a painting or a wedding ring.
After Soviet soldiers seized all the food, man killed her 6-year-old daughter to eat her
Grigori Garaschenko remembers his classmates starving slowly to death in a famine that killed millions in Ukraine. A neighbour - driven mad by hunger - killed her 6-year-old daughter and began to eat her, after Soviet soldiers seized all the food. Garaschenko is one of the few living survivors of the famine of 1932-1933. Now Ukraine wants the world to recognise the Holodomor - a deliberate act of genocide by Stalin's Soviet Union. Moscow argues that there was no such crime, because Russians also suffered from lack of food under Joseph Stalin's policy of turning peasant farms into large state-run collectives.
Mass graves help Ukraine uncover legacy of World War II
Vyacheslav Grybailov, of the state-funded "Memory and Glory" group, picks up a skull from a trench filled with human remains and shows it to WW2 veteran Dmitry Aleksandrov. "Look, here, from this side the bullet came in." The search for soldiers' remains reflects belated efforts in Ukraine to come to terms with the war events, which still leave the country divided. During the war hundreds of thousands joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a group that battled against both the Soviet and German armies to create an independent state. Others signed up for a Nazi unit known as the SS Halychyna.
Ukrainian gas firm uses image of Adolf Hitler to get tough with non payers
A utility company in Donetsk is using the picture of Adolf Hitler in billboard ads to target their customers who fail to pay bills on time. The slogan "Those who don't pay for their heating will be punished!" with the image of the Nazi leader pierced on the bayonet of a Soviet soldier is being used to "encourage" people to clear their debts. "This image shows citizens that debtors are like an enemy... And the image of a defeated and crushed enemy reminds all non payers that the punishment for failing to pay their gas payments is inevitable," said Oleksandr Semchenko, of the utility company Donetskgorteploset.
Stalin is century's bloodiest figure
In 1932, Soviet leader Josef Stalin was determined to force Ukraine's farmers into collectivized Soviet agriculture, and to smash Ukraine's spirit of nationalism. Faced by resistance, Stalin sent 25,000 fanatical young party militants to force 10 million Ukrainian peasants into collective farms. When Stalin's red guards failed to make a scratch in this vast number, OGPU was ordered to begin mass executions. But there were simply not enough Chekists to kill so many people, so Stalin decided to replace bullets with mass starvation. While the world is fully aware of the Nazi horrors, the numerically larger holocaust in Ukraine has been smothered, or ignored.
Holocaust survivor will revisit the 77-mile-long cave that hid family (Article no longer available from the original source)
The depths of a Ukrainian cave shielded Yetta Katz from almost certain death during the Holocaust. She spent 344 days - from May 5, 1943, to April 12, 1944 - in the dank space cooking meager meals of potato soup. In May Katz is set to travel back to the Ukraine and Priest's Grotto, the 77-mile-long cave where her family and a few others lived out the war, as part of a film documentary. ... After killings began some families searched for a place to conceal them. A local hunter told a fox had run into a hole and there might be a spot to hide. They came upon a spot of earth and began to dig. It turned out to be Priest's Grotto, one of the largest caverns in the world.
Ukraine reburies 2,000 Stalin's victims killed by Soviet secret police
Ukrainian authorities have reburied the bodies of 2,000 people killed by the Soviet secret police over 60 years ago. Relatives watched as red coffins were lowered into graves. The bodies, including 474 Poles, were dug up in Bykovnya, where tens of thousands are thought to have been dumped during the 1930s and 1940s. Under Communist rule the existence of the mass graves was denied. It was only after the fall of the Soviet Union that the mass graves were acknowledged and memorials built. Maria Marzhetska said her father had been seized in 1937, and she only discovered his fate 60 years later.
The Lost - Hunt for family history (Article no longer available from the original source)
Daniel Mendelsohn wrote "The Lost" about his search for people from the Ukrainian town of Bolechov who knew his great uncle Shmiel, a victim of the Holocaust. When his grandfather died he found "letters written in German from Shmiel in 1939 begging for help" to escape from the threat from the advancing German army. He struck up a friendship with a man in Ukraine who specialized in finding genealogy documents - then one day a box arrived bearing "120 records of my family going back to 1724." "The Jewish population of Bolechov before WWII was 5,500-6,000. After the war there were 48. There were 12 Bolechovers still alive in various parts of the world."
Ukraine: Red Army vets protest first official celebration of partisans
For the first time since World War II, Ukrainian partisans celebrated their nationalist army's creation with the full governmental approval, despite efforts by angry communists to break up gathering. The Ukrainian Insurgent Army, UPA, battled both Soviet and Nazi forces, and for years after WW2 carried out raids against the Soviets. Since the 1991 Soviet collapse, the partisans have sought recognition similar to what Red Army veterans. President Yushchenko, whose father was a Red Army soldier who spent 4 years in a Nazi camp, called for study of the role of the 100,000 partisans. His efforts for the partisans have met resistance from Red Army veterans.
Scholars share info on Ukraine's Holocaust story in Paris conference
Who is to blame for the killing of 1.5 million Jews in Nazi-occupied Ukraine? And what can be done now to dispel anti-Semitism in Ukraine, honor dead and move on? Scholars from around the world shared documents about the Holocaust in Ukraine at a conference dedicated to this poorly understood passage in Adolf Hitler's torrent of terror. The talks were not easy, as resentment and frustration bubbled to the surface among the researchers. No major surprises emerged, but pieces of story came together: killings of Jews in western Ukraine before the Nazis arrived, botched Soviet orders to evacuate Jews, mass grave sites only now being discovered...
Elderly Ukrainians testify on World War II mass killings
Vera Filonok saw tens of thousands of Jews shot, thrown in a ravine and set on fire. The memories of what she saw in 1941 have seared her soul for 6 decades, but until recently she had talked about it with no one except neighbors. Then Patrick Desbois came to town. He and his small team have spent 6 years canvassing the villages of Ukraine to hear elderly people. He says his team has pinpointed more than 600 mass execution sites, 70% of them previously unknown. Vera Filonok: "We sensed the smell - of burning hair, clothes, bones - a very strong, acrid smell. People were being burned alive. For me that was the most terrifying thing."
Ukraine: World War II Mass Grave Found - Killed by Nazis
Pipeline diggers unearthed a mass grave in the village of Gvozdavka-1 believed to contain thousands of Jews slaughtered in Ukraine - a grim finding in a nation that one historian described as "an enormous killing field." In November 1941, Nazi officials set up a concentration camp near the village and killed 5,000 people. 240,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis in the Odessa region, which was occupied by the German-allied Romanians. "We must figure out their names. It is our debt to the victims." Ravine Babi Yar, where the Nazis slaughtered 34,000 persons over 2 days in Sept 1941, is a powerful symbol of the tragedy in Ukraine.
Ukraine leader seeks recognition for World War II guerrillas
Viktor Yushchenko urged Ukrainians to overcome their divisions to help fighters of a World War II guerrilla movement that fought both the Red army and Nazi invaders to win recognition as combatants. Post-Soviet attempts to extend recognition to the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which had 100,000 men in its ranks at its peak in 1943, have foundered on fierce resistance from Red Army veterans. "I believe the endeavour to settle the legal status of those who fought for Ukraine and its independence through the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, will at last be resolved and embodied as the truth, historical justice."
Ukraine row over ex-Soviet leader Joseph Stalin posters
Ukraine: The authorities in the city of Donetsk have removed Posters of ex-Soviet leader Joseph Stalin urging residents to pay their utility bills: "Those who do not pay for heating will be punished!" Historians say Joseph Stalin engineered the 1932-1933 famine in Ukraine, during which up to 10 million people died. A local energy company had come up with the idea of putting up the Stalin billboards. One of the billboards showed Stalin holding a piece of paper, saying: "Comrades! This is not a film! This is life!"
Legacy of famine divides Ukraine
A row of emaciated Ukrainian children stare out of a photograph - their bodies are little more than skeletons. It is one of many images being shown on Ukrainian tv in the run-up to Memorial Day. It was one of the bleakest moments in Ukraine's history. The famine which happened 1932-1933 killed up to 10 million people. The harvest was confiscated by the communist regime and people starved to death. It was part of a brutal campaign by the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to force Ukrainian peasants to join collective farms. Ukraine is now trying to get this mass starvation recognised as an act of genocide.
Anti-Soviet fighters rally for recognition as vets in Ukraine
Nationalist fighters who battled both Soviet and Nazi forces during World War II rallied in Kiev, demanding the same recognition as Red Army vets. The issue of how to recognize the nationalists — as freedom fighters or traitors — has split Ukraine. The divisions were apparent at rally, as some of the 2,000 nationalists battled with counter-rally socialists. The "best sons of Ukraine gave up their lives for our Motherland. Unfortunately we have not been recognized yet. It is a shame," said ex-partisan Orest Vaskul. Since Yushchenko, whose father was a Red Army soldier, came to power he has been striving to recognize 100,000 partisans.
Three die in attempt to disassemble WWII aircraft bomb (Article no longer available from the original source)
Three Ukrainians died after the aircraft bomb they were attempting to saw into pieces exploded in the southern Crimea. Persons are believed to have been using a welding torch in an effort to remove the bomb's firing fuse, when the device went off. Crimea peninsula was the site of heavy fighting between Soviet and German forces from 1941-1943. Unexploded bombs and artillery shells are uncovered regularly.
Ukrainian man find out his father was Wehrmacht soldier (Article no longer available from the original source)
In spite of what the records said, Ivan Leonenko was not yet 60 years old! He was, in fact, two years younger. He knew this because as his mother neared death, she confessed to him that his father was a young, blond German Wehrmacht soldier. That she, a very young girl, had fallen in love with him during the German occupation of Kyiv. She had even told him the soldier's name: Paul Schuster. As Ivan strolled along the Oleny Teligy Street, he noticed elderly man speaking Russian with a very pronounced German accent, he addressed questions to passers-by, and he soon discovered he was a few hundred meters from the Babiy Yar Memorial. It was the same Paul Schuster.
Waffen-SS Galizien division war crime suspects in Scotland (Article no longer available from the original source)
Two suspected Nazi war criminals living in Scotland are being investigated. Some 1500 members of the SS Galizien division, responsible for massacring civilians in Poland and Ukraine, were brought to Scotland in 1947 and held in prison camps. Another 4000 Category A German prisoners – including the most ardent of Afrika Korps and SS troops – were sent to Cultybraggan camp. After the war, many prisoners of war were allowed to settle. Gecas was wanted for his part in the execution of 34,000 persons while serving with the 12th Lithuanian Police Battalion. In 2001, suspected Konrad Kalejs died after fleeing the UK to escape prosecution.
Welsh journalist who exposed horrors of Stalin
A young Welsh journalist Gareth Richard Vaughan Jones who exposed the man made famines of the Stalinist Government and was later murdered by Japanese bandits was honoured with the the unveiling of a plaque. Traveling in Soviet Ukraine he wrote a number of articles about the man-made famine orchestrated by Stalin in what had been the "breadbasket of Europe." Many millions perished even as the Soviet authorities denied that a famine was raging, and continued to export grain. They were joined in their cover up by some Western journalists, including the now notorious Walter Duranty of The New York Times.
Holocaust took heavy toll in Ukraine
Soviet journalist Vasili Grossman documented German troops at Babi Yar digging up the corpses of 50,000 Jews so they could burn them to destroy evidence of a 1941 massacre. Wendy Lower, author of "Nazi Empire-Building and the Holocaust in Ukraine," cites Grossman to make her point: the Ukrainian genocide was key to Nazi German imperialism. "As many as 1.2 to 1.4 million Jews died in the Holocaust in Ukraine. Less than 2 percent survived the Holocaust ... many died at gunpoint."
Red Army Veterans Clash With Partisans in Kiev
Thousands of aging Red Army veterans and their supporters clashed Saturday in downtown Kiev with partisans who fought the Soviets and Nazis during World War II and now want pensions and official recognition as veterans. Hostility toward the partisans runs deep in Ukraine because they initially sought support from the Nazis, believing the Germans would grant Ukraine independence.