The following is an edited version of a recent news story, but with certain pieces of the usual, predictable propaganda and sensationalism redacted in order get to the heart of the story. I have then added some additional information below it to try and put all of this into proper context, which the mainstream media does not. Indeed, they typically do all that they can to muddy the waters, as was also the case with this item.
Article by Maria Danilova, AP, August 1, 2013 (via Yahoo News)
CHERVONE, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainians dressed in Waffen SS uniforms trudge through trenches and fire model rifles in a reconstruction of a key battle against the Soviets during World War II. An Orthodox priest leads a ceremony for fallen soldiers of the
Nazi German unit, sprinkling his blessing over several men sporting swastikas who lower a coffin in a ritual reburial.
The scenes were part of commemorations last week of soldiers many Ukrainian nationalists — along with a smattering of hardcore ultra-rightists — hail as heroes. The men they are honoring belonged to the SS Galician division, a
Nazi German military unit made up mostly of Ukrainians, which fought Soviet troops during World War II.
More than 20 years since gaining independence from the Soviet Union, Ukraine remains painfully divided over the legacy of World War II and the actions of Ukrainian nationalist fighters, who are honored as heroes by some and condemned as traitors by others. Some of those fighters served under or cooperated with the
Nazi Germans, seeing a chance to overthrow the Soviet regime, while others fought both the Red Army and the Nazi Germans.
“Ukraine is in our souls and hearts,” said SS Galician division veteran Mykhailo Yamulyk, a gray-haired man in his late 80s, before the remains of some of his fellow soldiers were reburied in coffins draped with the yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flag at a cemetery in this small village in western Ukraine. Those who say that we wore German uniform – “yes, we did, and our weapons were German, but our hearts were full of Ukrainian blood and we never betrayed it.”
Ukrainians sought independence during centuries of rule by the Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires as well as Poland, and seven decades as part of the Soviet Union. Subjugation under Poland lies at the heart of Ukraine’s historic resentment against Poles. When Soviet Ukraine was overrun by the
Nazi Germans during World War II, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists initially cooperated with Hitler’s forces, hoping to shake off the Soviet regime — which had collectivized farms, engineered a devastating famine that killed millions and imprisoned or executed regime opponents in droves.
When leaders of the group realized the
Nazis Germans had no plans for an independent Ukraine, the group and its military wing switched to fighting both Stalin’s and Hitler’s forces. [As if they could just leave in the middle of the war with the bloody Soviets. And is if the Ukraine was, at that point, capable of forming, maintaining and defending a viable independent state? – Ed.] Other Ukrainian military units, such as the SS Galician Division or the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, remained loyal to the Nazi Germans.
Veterans of the Galician see themselves as freedom fighters. Yevhen Kutsik, 86, was a 16-year-old boy when he took up arms and joined the SS Galician division after seeing “mountains of corpses of innocent tortured men, women and even children” left by the Soviets. “I fought for my motherland, for my people, for my country,” Kutsik, clad in the division veterans’ dark blue uniform and forage cap, told The Associated Press during the commemorations outside the western city of Lviv in late July. After the war, Kutsik served 12 years in a Soviet labor camp.
In April, a larger rally commemorating the SS Galician Division was held in Lviv. Men and women clad in traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts marched peacefully in the center of the city waving the SS unit’s blue and yellow banners ….
Rallies in honor of soldiers who fought in
Nazi German units during WWII have been held in Latvia and Estonia over the past years…
An open discussion of the legacy of the Ukrainian insurgents was taboo during the Soviet era, with school children taught that they were enemies of the people. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, secret archives opened up and witness accounts and documents became accessible, some portraying the nationalist fighters in a heroic light, others pointing to the atrocities they had committed. …
Rostislav Novozhenets, head of Ukraine-Rus, a group which studies Soviet repression against Ukrainians, said fighters like Karkoc cooperated with the
Nazi Germans for the sake of freeing their homeland from the totalitarian Soviet regime.
“Was it better to join the Soviet army, the army of a country infamous for repressions and the Holodmor (Stalin-era famine), which killed millions of its own citizens? The USSR was enemy No. 1,” Novozhenets said.
“That is why these boys, these Ukrainians, the representatives of an oppressed nation, cannot be condemned: They fought for an independent Ukraine and that is why they should be honored as fighters for independence.”
Here is video with some vintage film footage from that era:
The Waffen SS was the largest international, multi-ethnic, multi-racial fighting force ever assembled, with well over a million members comprised of some 30 different nationalities, including non-Europeans, but they never tell you that in the news reports, history books or Hollywood documentaries! (More to come on that in a separate post)
The following quotes are excerpted from a video interview with Ingrid Rimland recalling the situation in the Ukraine as an eye-witness survivor:
“They (the Russians) took every single male out of our village (in the Ukraine), aged 14 and over. They all went. They were all exiled…A few saved themselves and after the Germans arrived and they later returned, but most of the men were gone and never heard from again. They were gone.”
“We did not know that the Germans were coming. We didn’t have mass communication as we do now. There may have been newspapers but I don’t remember a radio in Russia. We knew there was a war on.
The Germans came and it was a very great surprise. By that time…in a great hurry, what was left us in the German villages was herded into the cattle trains and shipped to Siberia, and quite a few villages really disappeared that way. And it was really just a matter of, not hours but minutes, before our turn in Halbstadt came. Half of Halbstadt was exiled. And we were already sitting at the railroad station, this was September 1941, when the German Army overran the Ukraine, and stopped the exiling, stopped the trains. And it was for us as if the Lord had sent us the Angels.
Here were people who spoke German, High German, who stopped the terror that had been upon us for 25 years. Who came and opened the Churches for us and said you can have all of the services you want! My mother never stopped talking about the wonderful 2 years we had with the Germans, when the German Army came and took over the villages.
We were absolutely convinced that the Germans had come to save us from Communism. And never was there any reason for us to change our minds. Why should we?
The Germans were heroes in our eyes. Of course, in 1943 the story changed as the Germans were pushed back, and in that push-back, they moved us with them …what was left of us, and we went willingly. There was no moving at gun point. Had we stayed back, the Communists would have taken us and executed us, or shipped us to Siberia. So we very willingly retreated with the Germans.” http://justice4germans.com/2013/06/05/an-interview-with-ingrid-rimland-the-personal-testimony-of-a-survivor-of-genocide-against-the-gemrans/
The following is video is an excerpt from the July 9, 1941 “Deutsche Wochenschau” No. 566. (German, no subs)
WARNING: contains some disturbing images.
Description: German units advance upon Lemberg (L’vov). These are Soviet roads. Lemberg, the city shows the signs of heavy battle. Bavarian mountain troops, the same troops who in the fall of 1939 fought for this city, have captured it again this time. The Ukrainian population heartily greets the German troops as their liberators from the bloody terror of Bolshevism….
“Flight From Hell” testimony of a Russian (excerpt)
By Michael Kirilov
Much to the surprise of Hitler’s troops, they were greeted by the Russians as liberators. The Bolsheviks were naturally displeased, and in an effort to have the Russian people turn on the Germans they would kidnap German soldiers, slay them in a most gruesome way, and place the bodies for the
Nazis Germans to find. The purpose was to whip up Nazis German reprisals against the Russian people. This usually meant ten Russians were executed for one German. It was a sordid tactic that worked for the Bolsheviks. Our province of Bryansk became a sort of “German Vietnam.”
In October 1941 my father was heavily wounded on the Moscow front. Stalin’s policy was to leave the severely wounded soldiers for dead, and patch up the less wounded to go back to the front. Even though the Germans were the foe, more often than not, they treated us better than Stalin’s Reds. My dad was picked up by the Germans after being left for dead by Stalin’s troops, and was taken to one of their field hospitals. When he felt strong enough he left with the help of peasants and made his way home. Because this was during the Russian winter, it was a very hard and bitter trek.
For many in the West it may seem hard to believe, but
Nazis German occupation, despite reprisals, was better than being under Stalin. Because, for the first time, farmers could work the land free of the disastrous Bolshevik collective system, bumper crops were harvested. The Germans organized efficient food distribution. At last there was no starvation in the land. Some years earlier Ukraine had suffered a holocaust and systematic genocide, perhaps the greatest in this century inflicted upon a single people. Seven million lost their lives at the hands of the Bolsheviks for their refusal to join the collective farm system.
Nazi German defeat at Moscow, the German treatment of those of us in the areas they occupied softened. … As the German forces began to retreat, the people living in the German-held areas feared the worst. They faced two choices, but in either case life would never be the same. They could remain where they were and be assured of enduring the racial wrath of the Bolsheviks, joining so many of their kinsfolk in the “Red” concentration camps, or they could flee westward, leaving with the retreating Germans.
Note: they were later forcibly repatriated to Russia with the full agreement of the Americans and Brits, and they suffered brutally!
Finally, the following is again from my friend Ray, and the testimony of his grandfather, a German soldier Karl Matter, regarding what happened in the Ukraine, and particularly, the city of Kharkov:
My grandmother used to cook stuffed peppers in a tomato sauce with sour cream. One day I accidentally referred to the dish as being a German one to a Ukrainian girl here in NY who was adamant that it’s a Ukrainian dish. So I introduced her to my grandmother, who when she found out that my friend was a Ukrainian girl, gave her a big hug and a kiss.
“Your grandfather used to talk about the Ukrainian girls all the time about how nice they were and how they always helped cook and do laundry for your Grandfathers friends in Kharkov.” she explained that they couldn’t have survived without them.
I was hysterically amused by the story and by my grandmothers very care free and simplistic approach to describing her husband’s war time fondness for Ukrainian girls and their apparent fondness for German soldiers. She made it clear that he held the residents of the city in high regard and expressed to her that he cared a great deal for them. It was at that point that I realized that I’d lost my bet with my friend.
“Oh no” my grandmother said, “your grandfather taught me how to cook stuffed peppers with sour cream. He learned it from the Ukrainian girls! They taught him a lot of things.” So my grandmother shared the recipe with my friend who was perplexed as to how exacting it was to her families recipe back in the Ukraine.
My grandmother then went on to explain a story that my father also used to tell me, though in greater detail regarding his feelings for the population. She said that when Grandfather’s unit left Kharkov (presumably during Paul Hausser’s famous retreat maneuver), the Waffen SS left behind as many small arms and grenades (“bombs” she called them) as they possibly could. She explained how emotionally distraught my grandfather was, that they didn’t have permission to evacuate the civilian population during the Soviet encirclement of Kharkov, so their only solution was to quickly arm every able man and woman with as many spare weapons that they could afford, including their own personal side arms.
I remember my grandmother becoming very emotional as she went on about it and with my knowledge of the famous Third battle for Kharkov, I knew what was coming. She said that they were surrounded, were ordered to leave and later re-took the city.
“When they returned they found they were all killed!” She hollered. “The Russians Killed all the girls! Everybody! Your Grandfather was very upset and he never forgot it. My God …and what he told me I can never repeat it. I can never tell you!”
At this point I didn’t ask but I’ll never forget that, by her reaction, that he must have described the aftermath vividly to her. She had tears in her eyes telling me the story, feeling her husband’s pain.
The way that the battle was played out was that in January the Soviets committed about 6 million troops to that area alone in the Voronezh Kharkov Offensive. By the middle of February, Kharkov was completely encircled with only a small corridor left for any possibility of escape.
It was on February 14th that Paul “Pappa” Hausser was ordered by Hitler to stay and hold the city at all costs. As quickly as Hausser received that order, he ordered a tactical withdrawal of SS Panzerkorps from the city, being the first SS General to disobey an order from Hitler in the field. After a successful regrouping, within a few weeks and despite further orders from Manstein for SS Panzerkorps to encircle the city from the North, Papa Hausser took it upon himself to attack Kharkov head on and successfully retook the city on March 15th. It was that maneuver that created the conditions which made operation Citadel possible, arguably slowing the Soviet advance to Germany by another 6 month. Needless to say that Hausser was never punished for successfully acting independently.
The story of the battles of Kharkov are quite famous, but unfortunately, history has chosen to ignore the price paid by the civilian population of Kharkov in the hands of the Soviets!
There is more that I had wanted to include here, but hopefully now you have a better understanding as to WHY the Ukrainians today honour the members of the Waffen SS.