24. Before The Recognition of U.N.C.

Approximately at the middle of January I had the unique pleasure of meeting the famed German cavalry General, E. von Koestring, a former Cavalry Guard General in the Tsarist Russian Army who was now administrative chief of all foreign legions in the German Army: Russian, Cossack, Caucasian, Turkestanian, Byelorussian, etc. The meeting was arranged by Dr. Arlt, and both he and Col. Wolff were present. Actually, this was a dinner, with the General's whole staff taking part. The most outstanding figure after the General was his aide, Captain Hans van Hoerwarth, the present Ambassador of West Germany to the Court of St. James. In brief words, but full of meaning and speaking Russian, the General told me the story of the origin of his legions, and of his part in the campaigns of 1941 and 1942 in Ukraine and in the Caucasus. He emphasized his great respect for those volunteer legionnaires who willingly or unwillingly found themselves incorporated in the German army to fight the Bolsheviks for liberation of their countries. In 1942 he had had nearly one million such men under his command in 1942, a large percentage, or over 180,000 being Ukrainians, the so-called UVV (Ukrainske Vyzvolne Viysko Ukrainian Liberation Troops). They carried the insignia of a golden trident on a blue shield on the sleeve.

I showed a good appetite at the dinner table because I had been going hungry for some time, and the General noticed this. After dinner the General took me aside, and when we were alone, he told me cautiously that he was a member of an anti-Hitler group and for his outspoken ideas he had been subjected to a lot of unpleasantness, particularly on the part of Himmler whom he considered not only ignorant in military affairs, but altogether a "fool." The General had only words of praise for Dr. Arlt and expressed his belief that I would succeed in organizing the UNC and lead it along the line which I had presented to the Germans so clearly and for which I had gained the respect of many "thinking" Germans. The General assured me of his own favorable attitude, but added that unfortunately, his voice now had only a theoretical meaning. While still at the table, the General had asked me to tell those present my appraisal of Germany's situation. This put me somewhat on the spot, but after a moment's hesitation I told them very clearly that I thought Germany was losing the war, and for this reason immediate possibilities should be explored of an honorable peace with the West so as to avoid a threat on the part of the Bolsheviks who will certainly not want to leave Germany. Naturally, I added, Germany can be expected to recuperate from this terrible catastrophe because the Germans are a hard-working nation, and I pointed to historical examples, and particularly to the consequences of World War I. I spoke Russian, and Dr. Arlt interpreted with some ad libbing of his own, either toning down or emphasizing certain parts of my talk. The General, who knew Russian well, smiled discreetly whenever he noticed differences. The pleasant and free social conversation went on far into the night. My impression of the get-together was one of sincerity, and I had a feeling that it was clandestine. I never had another chance to see the gentlemanly General, but this had given me another opportunity to have Dr. Arlt's sincere friendship toward me confirmed.

Col. Wolff came to see me on January 27, and said: "General, wouldn't you like to talk to General Vlassov? Perhaps you could reach some kind of agreement so that we could advance the matter of the Ukrainian National Committee." I answered: "If Gen. Vlassov still insists on the UNC being part of KONR then I have nothing to talk about with him." According to prior agreement I saw Col. Melnyk the same day, and he approved what I had done, and added quite frankly: "General, you are a soldier without sufficient political and dialectic experience, and Vlassov could take advantage of you." The next day I saw Mr. Bandera who took the opposite view and advised me to try and get to speak to Gen. Vlassov, and to dissuade him from interfering in Ukrainian matters. Mr. Bandera said: "We are not afraid that he might fool you, and we have a duty to speak even to our enemies in order to find out what they want." To tell the truth, my ambition was touched by this, and having been given carte blanche by President Livytsky, I felt that I was following the wishes of a majority and called up Col. Wolff to tell him that I consented to see Gen. Vlassov. This meeting was thus held not on my initiative, but either on the initiative of Dr. Arlt who wanted to get the matter of the Committee going, or else on the initiative of Gen. Vlassov himself, either on the advice of Hilger or Kroeger.

I saw Gen. Vlassov on January 30, in a very beautiful villa in Dobendorf near Berlin. Protocol was strictly observed a large room was simultaneously entered by myself and Dr. Arlt on one side, and by Gen. Vlassov and Kroeger on the other. After the introductions were made the German gentlemen left us two alone.

My first impression of Gen. Vlassov was good: a fine manly type, fairly tall, in a simple military tunic without any epaulettes or other distinctions. During the exchange of our first courtesies, I noticed that Gen. Vlassov had a very clear and very low voice. After a few minutes a German officer brought in a bottle of cognac and crystal service. Although I don't drink, I had to take one, while Gen. Vlassov kept refilling his own glass. We then proceeded to matters of mutual interest and I tried to talk as little as possible, to give Gen. Vlassov a chance to take the initiative. Finally he put a direct question: why was I opposed to the Ukrainian National Committee becoming part of KONR as an independent unit. He thought this quire feasible, especially since KONR already had a Ukrainian department which would naturally merge with the Ukrainian National Committee. He painted an optimistic picture of the power of KONR and of the Ukrainian Committee as part of it, and emphasized several times that I would be his first deputy not only in military, but also in political matters. After his lengthy excursion along these lines I answered that there was one "little" obstacle in the way of realization of his plans of "unification," viz.: "the Ukrainian people were not a people of Russia, but that Red Moscow conquered Ukraine by deceit, just like tsarist Moscow had done 260 years earlier." Vlassov interrupted me in a great hurry and said that he knew the history of Ukrainian-Russian relations quite well, but all this was a thing of the past, and now we must go along together because we only lose our strength in disunity and hostility, while we need all our strength to cope with Bolshevism, and that all the other national representations had followed the line taken by me. I immediately saw the trap being laid for me and replied that unfortunately Ukraine had been forced to fight not merely the Bolsheviks, but Moscow's imperialism in general, and this line will have to be followed by Ukraine in the future. Gen. Vlassov took a somewhat sharp squint at me from behind his glasses and changed the subject to "personal prospects" for me. I thought to myself "in spite of schooling in Marxist dialectics you are a very naive person to believe that matters of personal ambition could sway me." At that moment I saw that I clearly had the upper hand, and repeated to him what I had already told the Germans: he would go his separate way, and I would go my separate way, but in the interests of the struggle against a common enemy we could coordinate our military activities.16

Gen. Vlassov then seemed to be quite irritated and blurted out that I was wrecking the whole matter at a time of German difficulties, and that I may be made to suffer the consequences. "I see that you are a politician," said Gen. Vlassov. This was followed by a long silence because I had not felt any need to answer him. When Gen. Vlassov asked me how I imagined the development of military events, I again saw an attempt to trap me. I answered that he surely knew more about the situation than I, having a Committee and Staff, while I had nothing. My answer seemed to provoke him, or else he had had too much to drink, and he began to talk with enthusiasm that in 2-3 months he would have six divisions and would then march on Ukraine. Here, in spite of the fact that I had been keeping myself under control throughout the visit, I could not contain myself any longer, I jumped up from my chair and asked: "why on Ukraine?" Vlassov answered: "Because material resources are better there and the people are hostile to the Bolsheviks." I answered again that he was mistaken in believing Ukraine to be hostile only to the Bolsheviks. The Ukrainian nation was hostile to all Muscovites without exception, and that if he would attack Ukraine, they would fight him, too. Vlassov lost his poise and shouted: "I am going to beat you, and your people." My answer was calm and quiet: "Perhaps you will beat us all, that's what Denikin and Wrangel were trying to do." At that Vlassov seemed to be regaining his lost temper and said: "Well, if you don't want to go along, you don't have to. We are not going to argue, and anyway, we had a pleasant conversation." I did not think that the talk was all pleasure to him, but I did not say anything, sensing that this was evidence of his dialectics. Gen. Vlassov finished our talk with the words: "It's good that you at least consent to coordinate our action against the Reds." I emphasized once again that as far as cooperation went, it would be a political and military error to think about a march through Ukraine, and I reminded him that military history recorded all invasion marches on Moscow through the so-called Smolensk Gate, but even if they had all been unsuccessful, this was due to mistakes made by the invaders which General Vlassov would certainly not repeat!

We had been talking for two and a half hours. Vlassov rang, and Dr. Arlt and Col. Kroeger came in. Now I played a smart game: I did not let Gen. Vlassov say anything because I feared that he might try to give a false report about what was said between us, and then we would start arguing; so I was the first to start giving the Germans information on our talk and when I finished, I rose and took leave of Gen. Vlassov and Col. Kroeger. Gen. Vlassov had not objected to my version with one word, but merely added: "What obstinacy!" When we were outside Dr. Arlt smiled and said with irony that we had won, but the victory would be "Pyrrhic."

This was the last time I ever saw General Vlassov, and we never exchanged "envoys," either.

My hotel, the "Excelsior" burned down from incendiary bombs, and I moved to the "Esplanade," but not for long because this one burned down, too. I moved to the hotel "Kant" sharing a room with Otaman T. Bulba-Borovets, and later I was given a separate room. While at the "Esplanade" I spoke to the Ukrainian Metropolitan Polikarp (Sikorsky) who told me that the Germans had asked him to give them his opinion of me.

Several days later I learned that Dr. Arlt "had left on business," and I thought this was one of the results of our Pyrrhic victory. Food became hard to come by and my everyday needs were looked after by my aides Capt. V. Serdyuk, and Lieut. Stryisky.

One day in February Col. Wolff came to me and said that the chief of the SD (secret police) Col. Wolff (no relation) wanted to see me. Our Col. Wolff assured me that there was absolutely no danger to me. We went to see the other Wolff together. He looked an intelligent and well-educated person to me, and not dangerous at all. He expressed his regret for not coming to me, and also for the brutal treatment that I experienced from the Gestapo in 1940. The conversation finally led to the point that he wanted to hear from my own lips why I refused to cooperate "organically" with Gen. Vlassov. After my explanation in German, which was a hardship on me, Wolff took up the matter of organizing Ukrainian military units in the event of the establishment of a Ukrainian National Committee. I had to make the best of a bad situation and I told him what I thought.

Berlin was under heavy bombing all day February 3, and when the alert was sounded over the radio, I decided to get as far out of Berlin as the subway went Wansee Station. I met V.A. Dolenko at the station who, together with professors V.V. Dubrovsky and M.O. Vetukhiv was also going to Wansee, where Prof. Dubrovsky's family was staying. We spent the whole day at the station in Wansee, and had plenty of time to exchange ideas about the situation, and particularly about the Ukrainian National Committee. I was particularly struck by the fact that Mr. Dolenko was asking me all details about my plans to form an army. I noticed the same thing in my talks with Ukrainian and German civilian leaders.

On February 12 and 14, I had more talks with Professor Von Mende who asked me a series of questions about my plans of organization, work, and personnel of the Ukrainian National Committee, and he made notes of all my answers. I saw from this that some high placed person wanted to know the details. Von Mende also asked me what I thought of taking over under the command of the UNC of all soldiers and units of Ukrainians now within the German Army.

On February 19, I had a meeting with Dr. Foehl who impressed me as a specialist in psychology or intelligence, and that his job was to study my person.

Finally on February 21, I saw Dr. Arlt again and learned from him that the matter of recognition of the UNC had entered into a new stage. He told me that a number of official visits and talks were in store for me: with Minister Alfred Rosenberg, State Secretary Steengracht, Dr. Striber, and a number of important persons who would help me not only in the matter of recognition of the UNC, but also in its activities. The most important was that matters of nationalities were being transferred from Col. Sparmann to General Dr. Waechter. Incidentally, Col. Sparmann was a pleasant and very intelligent person. In the modest opinion of Dr. Arlt, all these were favorable omens, although there was no categorical clarity in his words. The very next day Col. Wolff offered me a private apartment near Berlin in the home of a retired general. I took advantage of the offer in order to breath easier than under constant bombardment of Berlin. The following day Dr. Arlt and Col. Wolff visited me in my new apartment, and Dr. Arlt said with a smile that "for preparatory work or organizing the UNC and the Army Staff" he was offering me two large rooms in a building on Fehrbelliner Platz where Gen. Waechter was already working, and he also had an office together with Col. WolfF. This would make it easier for me to keep in touch with Col. Wolff and himself. When I had a look at the rooms, they looked luxurious under the circumstances then prevailing in Berlin, although they seemed too well ventilated for winter since all the window panes were gone, and the windows were covered with paper!

Later I learned that Gen. Waechter and Dr. Arlt had deemed it necessary for me to meet Himmler's deputy Gen. Berger in order to push the matter of the UNC, and arranged for me meeting him. I don't know what Dr. Arlt had told Gen. Berger about me, but the latter was very cordial in greeting me and expressed his sympathy for my inability to find my wife. I was moved by this attitude. Our talk was brief, without any promises on his part and, so to say, without any finality, but during its course I had an opportunity to tell him that I had actively fought for Ukraine, and would never give up the fight regardless of there being a UNC or not. Soon thereafter Dr. Arlt brought me a very valuable present from Gen. Berger, a Walther automatic pistol with an inscription on a gold handle. I was very sorry to part with it later.

The next day after meeting Gen. Berger I met Gen. Waechter. We had a long talk right there in the presence of Dr. Arlt, Col. Wolff, and Col. Sparmann. During this talk I made a formal formulation of all concepts pertaining to the establishment of the UNC and a Ukrainian Army. I had them put down in writing and quoted them as follows:

1. The Ukrainian National Committee will be recognized by the German Government, the act of recognition to be officially announced by none other than the Foreign Ministry because I was appearing in the name of Ukraine, as the official representative of Ukrainian political organizations;

2. The UNC will issue its own political declaration, its representatives must have the right to make public appearances and political declarations, and hence the UNC should be treated as a contracting partner of Germany;

3. The UNC is to be the sole official representation of Ukraine in Germany (my purpose was to eliminate the Ukrainian Section of KONR);

4. The UNC should have extraterritorial rights in Germany as the representation of the Ukrainian nation;

5. All civil and military authorities in Germany should respect all aces and documents of the UNC, and they should be considered official documents;

6. The UNC should have the recognized right to enter into relations with political representations of other nations enslaved by Moscow;

7. The UNC demands the right to form a Ukrainian National Army on German territory, and all Ukrainian units and individual soldiers of Ukrainian nationality, voluntarily or involuntarily incorporated in the German Army, should be transferred to the Ukrainian National Army, with all civil and military authorities of Germany aiding the UNC in this;

8. The Ukrainian National Army will serve under the Ukrainian national banner and under its own command, and it will be under the ideological leadership of the UNC. The Army will swear allegiance to the Ukrainian nation;

9. The UNC will have the right to extend legal protection to all Ukrainian nationals residing in German territories as forced labor, and will demand that they be given equal rights with citizens of other nations.

Finally, I added as a point of information that the UNC would seek ways to make contact with the Allied Commands in order to inform them about the UNC and about the Ukrainian cause; the UNC would find a proper means to proclaim the readiness of the Ukrainian National Army to cooperate with Germany in the struggle against the common enemy Moscow.

I made a separate and emphatic demand that all soldiers of Ukrainian nationality who are forcibly kept on the Western front and are thus compelled to fight the Allies should be withdrawn from that front immediately and put under orders of the UNC.

I ended with the words: "I can accept the chairmanship of the UNC only on condition of compliance with the last and all other demands."

Perhaps in somewhat changed form, more as give and take, I had already made these demands known previously to Dr. Arlt and Prof. Von Mende, hence Gen. Waechter was prepared for them and showed no surprise, although they were indeed bold considering our position of emigres.

As will become apparent from the Declaration of the German Government, all my demands were accepted, including the right to dispatch a delegation to the Allied Command. More on this later.

After some thought Gen. Waechter replied that he understood my position, and that under existing circumstances that was the only way for me to act, and that he was personally very happy that I had so taken to heart the cause of the Ukrainian soldiers and hence also of the Ukrainian Division "Halychyna" which he had helped establish and for whose fate he felt fully responsible. Further he made a proposition that I should try to find an opportunity to declare at least military cooperation with Gen. Vlassov. I answered that this cooperation would be feasible if Gen. Vlassov would take a positive stand toward the UNC, and that formally this is already expressed in point 6 of my demands, since Gen. Vlassov was fighting for the liberation of the Russian people and had no reason to be hostile toward Ukraine (personally I thought otherwise then and now).

My interpreters were Dr. Arlt and partly Col. Wolff who spoke Polish very well, they did not omit anything, I noticed this since I had a sufficient command of German. The talk lasted upwards of three hours, and left me completely exhausted, but morally satisfied.

On February 25, Dr. Kubiyovych (who had come from Lueben, the seat of the Ukrainian Central Committee) and I were invited to dinner in the home of State Secretary Dr. Striber. Dr. Arlt was present, too. During the talk with Dr. Striber I had a feeling that the situation was already clear because in his opening remarks he mentioned the actual existence of the Ukrainian National Committee.

In spite of these apparent political successes, I went hungry most of the time since the Germans went hungry, too. At that time I consented to the plan of some of my officers, and sent Capt. Serdyuk and Lieut. Martyniuk to Lueben with authority to bring food supplies from there, which had allegedly been evacuated from Krakow. After several days of difficult travel they came back empty-handed. The food was there, but some "important officials" had been passing the buck and finally for lack of railroad cars the supplies fell into the hands of Soviet troops.

After consulting Dr. Arlt I spent time on talks with our own political representatives regarding the personnel of the Board of UNC and plans of its work.

For the period of transition until some kind of staff could be organized, I had to assemble a provisional working staff which was simultaneously the office of the Ukrainian National Committee and the Staff of the Army.

 

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[16] Cf. "Wen Sie Verderben Wollen" op. cit., "Was Bedeutet Schandruck?" p. 477.