No dossier on Shukhevych


The Security Service [SBU] has just reported on a visit to Yad Vashem in Israel undertaken by the Head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance Ihor Yuknovsky and his colleague and adviser on research issues Volodymyr Vyatrovych.

In reporting back on Tuesday, 4 March, Mr Vyatrovych explained that Ukraine had twice approached the heads of Yad Vashem asking to see the material of the dossier on Roman Shukhevych which was spoken of publicly on 6 December 2007 by the Head of the Memorial Council Josef Lapid. The first letter was sent on 18 December from the Ukrainian State Archive Committee. A second similar letter was a few days later written from the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance and passed on by the Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

No answer was received over a period of two months, so a government delegation was sent to Israel on 27 February, with Mr Yuknovsky and Mr Vyatrovych, in order to see the documents held in the Yad Vashem Archive on Roman Shukhevych. 

They had a meeting with the Director of Yad Vashem on 28 February in Jerusalem.

The Ukrainian delegation passed over copies of documents from SBU archives giving accounts of the situation in Lviv in summer 1941, and KGB material about how the legend of the “Nachtigal” division’s involvement in anti-Jewish actions was created.

The Israeli side responded that they were not ready to hand over material about Roman Shukhevych from their archives since this was not collected together into one file and might be spread over the entire archives and would require special and long research.

The Director of the Yad Vashem Archive Department Chaim Gertner confirmed that there was no dossier on Shukhevych in the archives. He said that Josef Lapid who had claimed there was such a file was not an employee of the archives.

As grounds for accusations of Shukhevych’s involvement in anti-Jewish actions, Mr Gertner handed the Ukrainian delegation two small folders with copies of documents on 7 and 18 pages respectively.

The first is the protocol of a KGB interrogation of an UPA [Ukrainian Resistance Army] sergeant Luka Pavlyshchyn from 13 May 1986.  This contains only general phrases regarding “Nactitigal”’s involvement in “killing Soviet people”. The same folder provides testimony of Yaroslav Shpytal (who like Luka Pavlyshchyn never served in Nachtigal). This gives a more detailed account of the “crimes” of Ukrainian nationalists. The document is known to historians since Shpytal’s testimony was published back in 1960 in the Soviet propagandist brochure “Oberlander’s bloody crimes”. Information about how this testimony is produced on the instructions of the KGB was published on 6 February 2008 at public history hearings at the SBU “The accusations against Nachtigal – historical truth and political technology”.

The second folder contains the testimony, translated into German, of another “hero” of the above-mentioned brochure – Hryhory Melnyk, former Nachtigal fighter who is in the list of those,  in accordance with KGB instructions from 13 November 1959, needed to be “properly prepared for interrogation”. Moreover, documents uncovered in the SBU archive show that Melnyk was recruited by the KGB to take part in the trial.  Soon afterwards his “testimony” and that of Yaroslav Shpytal, were used as the base for a trial in East Germany, aimed at discrediting one of the Germany commandants of Nachtigal, Teodor Oberlender.

Volodymyr Vyatrovych stated that “There is thus no dossier on Shukhevych in the Yad Vashem archives, the copies of documents received from them are fragments of material fabricated by the KGB and can in no way be the basis for accusations against Roman Shukhevych. The information campaign aimed at discrediting him has no historical foundation and is based solely on Soviet propaganda material and testimony fabricated by the Soviet Security Service”.

One of the largest sources of documentation on the life and activities of Roman Shukhevych, and the struggle of the OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists] and UPA, are actually in the State Archive of the SBU which are open to all researchers.

On 6 December 2007 the Head of the Council of the Yad Vashem Memorial Josef Lapid stated on the radio station Deutsche Welle that the Yad Vashem Archives contained a collection of documents gathered from German and Soviet sources which supposedly proved that the Nachtigal battalion under the command of Roman Shukhevych had been involved in repressive operations against the civilian population of Lviv during the summer of 1941.

“We have a whole dossier which shows that Shukhevych was one of those implicated in mass murder. Ukraine has not yet asked us to hand over these documents. If such a request is made, I think we will meet it”. The story received wide publicity in both the Ukrainian and foreign media.

It is this assertion that was the main argument against declaring the Chief Commander of UPA Roman Shukhevych a Hero of Ukraine. Some media outlets spoke of the “mysterious reluctance of the Ukrainian side to see the dossier and its silence on this subject”.

As can be seen, there was no silence.

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