World War II in Ukraine

Ukraine's Population Losses in World War II: 7.5 million or 13,614,000?
Ukraine Lost 10,000,000 People


"Yet it was not till I went on a sobering journey into this twilight of war that I fully realized the price which 40,000,000 Ukrainians paid for Soviet--and Allied--victory. The whole titanic struggle, which some are apt to dismiss as "the Russian glory," was first of all a Ukrainian war. No fewer than 10,000,000 people had been 'lost' to... Ukraine since 1941, I was told by a high Ukrainian official. That excluded men and women mobilized for the armed forces.


A relatively small part of the Russian Soviet Republic itself was actually invaded, but the whole Ukraine, whose people were economically the most advanced and numerically the second largest in the Soviet Union, was devastated from the Carpathian frontier to the Donets and Don rivers, where Russia proper begins. No single European country suffered deeper wounds to its cities, its industry, its farmland and its humanity."



Edgar Snow
The Pattern of Soviet Power
New York: Random House, 1945. p. 73.
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Ukrainian-German collaboration during World War II

During World War II Ukraine was a battleground. While it is clear that Ukrainians played an important role in the victory over Nazism, during the military occupation of Ukriane by Nazi Germany some Ukrainians chose to collaborate with the Nazis for various reasons, including the hopes for self-rule and dissatisfaction with Soviet control. However, the lack of Ukrainian autonomy under the Nazis, mistreatment by the occupiers, and the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians as slave laborers, soon led to a rapid change in the attitude among Ukrainians. By the time the Red Army returned to Ukraine, most of the population welcomed the soldiers as liberators. Furthermore, more than 4.5 million Ukrainians fought Germany in the Red Army and more than 250,000 as part of the Soviet partisans.Ukraine also produced noted commanders such as Marshal Rodion Malinovsky and partisan leader Sydir Kovpak.

Many Ukrainians collaborated with the German occupiers, participating in the local administration, in German-supervised auxiliary police, Schutzmannschaft,in the German military, and serving as concentration camp guards. Nationalists in the west of Ukraine were among the most enthusiastic collaborators early on, hoping that their efforts would enable them to establish independent state later on. For example, on the eve of Barbarossa as many as four thousand Ukrainians, operating under Wehrmacht orders, sought to cause disruption behind Soviet lines. After the capture of Lviv, in important Ukrainian city, OUN leaders proclaimed a new Ukrainian State on June 30, 1941 and were simultaneously encouraging loyalty to the new regime, in hope that they would be supported by the Germans. Already in 1939, during the German-Polish war, the OUN had been “a faithful German auxiliary”, according to.

However, despite initially acting warmly to the idea of an independent Ukraine, the Nazi administration had other ideas, in particular the Lebensraum programme and the total 'Aryanisation' of the population. They preferred to play Slavic nations out one against the other. OUN initially carried out attacks on Polish villages, trying to destroy or expel Polish enclaves from what the OUN fighters perceived as Ukrainian territory. When OUN help was no longer needed, its leaders were imprisoned.

By April 28, 1943 the German Command had created the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Galizien (1st Ukrainian) manned by 14,000 Ukrainians. The history, composition, and function of the SS Galizien are the topic of contentious debate among scholars still today. Some have held that these men volunteered eagerly for war against the Soviets allied to Germany while others claim that at least some of them were victims of compulsory conscription as Germany suffered defeats and lost manpower on the eastern front. Sol Litman, a Jewish historian of the Simon Wiesenthal Center claims that there are many proven and documented incidents of atrocities and massacres committed by the SS Galizien against minorities, particularly Jews during the course of WWII, however other authors, including Michael Melnyk, whose father fought in the Division, and Michael O. Logusz maintain that members of the division fought almost entirely at the front against the Soviet Red Army and defend the unit against the accusations made by Litman and others since the war. Neither the division nor any of its members was never formally charged with any war crime.

The atrocities against the Jewish population during the Holocaust took place within a few days of the German occupation. The Ukrainian auxiliary police participated in the Babi Yar massacre. and in other Ukrainian cities and towns, such as Lviv, Lutsk, and Zhitomir. On September 1, 1941, Nazi-controlled Ukrainian newspaper Volhyn wrote "The element that settled our cities (Jews)... must disappear completely from our cities. The Jewish problem is already in the process of being solved."

In May 2006, a Ukrainian newspaper Ukraine Christian News commented: "Carrying out the massacre was the Einsatzgruppe C, supported by members of a Waffen-SS battalion and units of the Ukrainian auxiliary police, under the general command of Friedrich Jeckeln. The participation of Ukrainian collaborators in these events, now documented and proven, is a matter of painful public debate in Ukraine.". Among others, about 621 members of OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) were executed in Babi Yar, including the Ukrainian poet Olena Teliha.

The most notorious figures among the Ukrainian nationalists who were personally responsible for mass executions were Petro Voinovsky, head of the so-called Bukovyna batallion (later split into several Schutzmannschaft batallions) and his aide Petro Zakhvalynski, head of Kiev auxiliary police, later head of a Schutzmannschaft batallion.



Photo WW II Kharkiv

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