The Foreign Minister of Poland Grzegorz Schetyna, while explaining why the President of Russia Vladimir Putin wasn’t invited to the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, stated that the concentration camp was liberated not by Russians, but Ukrainians. Schetyna doesn’t even understand that the 1st and 4th Ukrainian Fronts weren’t created based on national criteria, and Auschwitz was liberated by Soviet (!) Ukrainians. And the current Ukrainian leadership, invited to the anniversary celebration, is not their successor, but is a successor to the Ukrainians helping the fascists to establish the concentration camp.
Right know it may seem bizarre, but only several years ago the memory of the Great Patriotic War was uniting Ukrainians even more than Russians. According to the poll conducted by the Research and Branding Group for the Eurasian Barometer project in 2010, 74% of Ukrainians were united in views on 1941-1945, considering them the Great Patriotic War against the Nazi and fascist invaders.
It was the highest percentage of the consolidation of society amongst all post-Soviet states. Even in Russia this indicator was lower – 73%.
The remaining quarter of alternatively-minded Ukrainians represented Galicia with its genuinely special military history. But with the exceptions of Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk the rest of Ukraine in the center, in the East and even in the West stood together in understanding that war as the Great Patriotic one, which the Ukrainians exited as a victorious nation of liberators and heroes.
More than a million of ethnic Ukrainians fought in the Red Army. Kiev and Odessa are Hero Cities. Ukrainian fighter pilot Ivan Kozhedub became the most effective fighter ace of the anti-Hitler coalition and a Hero of the Soviet Union three times. The Japanese Instrument of Surrender of 2 September 1945 was signed on behalf of the USSR by the Ukrainian Lieutenant General Kuzma Derevyanko. USSR Marshals Grigory Kulik, Semyon Timoshenko, Rodion Malinovsky, General of Army of the Army Ivan Chernyakhovsky and many-many others were Ukrainians. Ukraine also had a partisan movement, the “Young Guard” and the Battle of the Dnieper.
Under the Great Patriotic War logic, Ukrainians indeed have liberated Auschwitz from the Nazis. Just like all of Europe. They were Soviet Ukrainians, the Ukrainians of the Red Army.
Yet, the only country officially being USSR’s successor didn’t receive an invitation to the anniversary events commemorating the liberation of the concentration camp. Other post-Soviet republics, building their ideology on anti-Sovietism, de-Sovietization and refusal to view the World War II as a war against fascism, will be abundantly present instead. Among them is Ukraine, where during the so-called “leninopad” (toppling of the Lenin monuments), in Odessa, the bust of Marshal Zhukov got demolished.
Still, this is half of the problem.
The main tragic farce of the upcoming memorial events in Auschwitz is that Ukraine will be represented not by the successors of Soviet Ukrainians, who liberated the concentration camp, but of the Ukrainian Nazis, who helped the German Nazis to organize the camp.
Especially for the Polish Foreign Minister, with the goal to raise his education level, we will explain that the 1st and 4th Ukrainian Fronts, whose Soviet soldiers liberated the inmates of Auschwitz, weren’t organized on national criteria. They were called Ukrainian because they fought on the territory of Ukraine. Unlike Roman Shukhevych’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Stepan Bandera’s Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists that helped to shoot people at Babi Yar, instigated Jewish pogroms in Rivne and Lviv and slaughtered tens of thousands of Poles in Volhynia, which were actually formed on national criteria.
The current Ukrainian leadership are their political successors, not the 1st Ukrainian Front’s. The Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who resurrects banderist mythology, while saying that the Soviet Union attacked Germany and Ukraine. The President Petro Poroshenko, who installed the UPA Founding Day as the new Defender of the Fatherland Day and called banderists heroes of Ukraine. Everyone who turns a blind eye to torch marches across the Kiev center that already became traditional. Those who tried to shield John Demjanjuk, who worked at gas chambers and tortured inmates of Treblinka and Sobibór.
Not only do these people justify and glorify the Nazi criminals of the past, but they also commit Nazi crimes today.
The same President Poroshenko, explaining the continuation of the war on the East to the people, had promised to revive the “Ukrainianess” in Donbass. So the deal is not even that there has never been “Ukrainianess” in Donbass, or that the Ukrainian army is really reviving the Wild Field there. The deal is that, when conducting military actions against ethnically and culturally distinctive from the rest of the country region is justified by the reasons of ethnic purity – what’s that called, if not Nazism?
This political leader will be representing Ukraine in Auschwitz. And he has a “fitting” company assembling. Namely, Latvia, that uses its EU Presidency to ban the Holocaust exhibit, does annual SS veterans’ marches and staged a musical about war criminal Herberts Cukurs. Estonia, where SS veterans are buried with state honors and the tombs of Soviet soldiers are desecrated, digging out the remains and moving the military burial away from Tallinn’s centre. And Lithuania, where swastika got legalized as an “ancient Lithuanian folk symbol”, and the state’s president successfully lobbied the honorable reburial of the Lithuanian Activist Front leader, who sanctioned a Jewish pogrom in Kaunas, where over several days of June 1941 four thousand people got killed.
If the fascism would have been defeated definitively and irreversibly in the World War II, the leaders of these countries, the initiators of all that policy, could have gathered in Auschwitz on the day of the 70-year anniversary of the concentration camp’s liberation by the forces of the anti-Hitler collation, so they’d be put on trial there.
It is the most fitting place. And the time is selected very fortunately. But, apparently, something went wrong with world history…
Translated by Alexander Shamshiev