Ukraine commemorates Nazi collaborators

Activists of various nationalist parties carry torches during a rally in Kyiv, Ukraine, Saturday, Jan. 1, 2022. The rally was organized to mark the birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, founder of a rebel army that collaborated with Nazi Germany and murdered thousands of Jews, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

I have not seen anything yet about rallies in Ukraine commemorating the birth anniversary of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera. These usually occur on January 1. Maybe such demonstrations in Kiev are banned under existing martial law. But this certainly has not stopped the commemoration of this birthday – after all Stepan Bander and other Nazi collaborators (responsible for the murder of thousands of Jews, Poles, Russians and Ukrainians in World War II are treated as national heroes in Ukraine.

For example, I hear from Eduard Dolinsky, Director General of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee that:

“The Verhovna Rada [Parliament] of Ukraine’s official FB and Twitter pages are celebrating the 114th birthday of Stepan Bandera.”

You cannot get a higher political level than that!

From the Twitter account of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Ukrainian Parliament (NOTE):

🇺🇦1 січня виповнюється 114 років від дня народження Степана Бандери (1909-1959).

Степан Бандера:
📌Коли між хлібом і свободою народ обирає хліб, він зрештою втрачає все, в тому числі і хліб. Якщо народ обирає свободу, він матиме хліб, вирощений ним самим і ніким не відібраний.

— Верховна Рада України (@verkhovna_rada) January 1, 2023

Translated from Ukrainian:
 “January 1 marks the 114th anniversary of the birth of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959).
Stepan Bandera:  ‘When the people choose bread between bread and freedom, they ultimately lose everything, including bread. If the people choose freedom, they will have bread grown by themselves and not taken away by anyone.’
And from the Facebook account of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine – Ukrainian Parliament (NOTE):

NOTE: Both the Twitter and Facebook posts of the Verkhovna Rada were highly criticized by mainly Polish commentators. Both posts have subsequently been removed. A similar post by the Verkhovna Rada last year listing current Ukrainian “heroes” including Bandera and other Nazi collaborators was removed after complaints by Polish commentators and politicians.

Eduard Dolinsky has also commented on several other events in Ukraine marking this birthday.


Yet people try to tell me that Ukraine does not have a neo-Nazi problem. That the ultranationalists in the National Battalions formed after the 2014 coup have all been weeded out. Etc., etc. The examples above are only a small fraction of the commemorations held for Nazi collaborators in Ukraine. Then there are all the street names, statues, etc., commemorating these murderers.

Don’t tell me Ukraine doesn’t have a neo-Nazi problem!

20 responses to “Ukraine commemorates Nazi collaborators

  1. Ukraine has a problem with Russian imperialistic aggression and western tankies, which are supporting the Russian neofascist regime.
    p.s. 2. I am from Poland and do not have reasons to like Bandera, but I am not blinded by nationalistic discourse. The popularity of Bandera in contemporary Ukraine is connected with anti-Russian, anti-Stalinist stance. During Soviet Union, “banderowiec” or “Bandera sympathizer” was a term used by NKVD, KGB to prosecute any resistance in Ukraine. I know that Bandera is a problematic nationalistic figure, but it became just a simple way to counter-hegemonic soviet discourse. I would like to see different hero, for example Machno, but there no simple equation that Bandera=nazism.


  2. Fronesic, you claim you are “not blinded by nationalistic discourse” yet your first sense suggests otherwise. Your description of the current situation is simplest in the extreme and resorts to ultranationalist pictures.

    You have put the cart before the horse. The extreme racist anti-Russian mood has arisen because the ultranationalists in Ukraine have been developing even since before independence. After independence, there was a struggle between the political forces wanting to impose a monistic Ukrainian agenda on the country and those wishing to develop a democratic regime recognising the rights of all existing ethnicities. The fact that even this month demonstrations and commemorations are being held for Bandera in Ukrainian cities and that he and other Nazi collaborators have become official heroes (to the extent that the Rada can post such rubbish) is a serious matter.

    The current attempt to whitewash ultranationalist and neo-Nazi positions and propaganda in Ukraine is dangerous and needs to be eliminated.

    My arfticvle here is factual and yet you attmempot to discredit it with your comment. Why is this?


  3. “The extreme racist anti-Russian mood” – no this is normal mood if You are under attack of imperialist army, people are killed, woman are raped, civilian are tortured. It is a normal mechanism. To avoid one should get time machine and stopped Putin from starting this mindless war.
    “ultranationalists in Ukraine have been developing even since before independence” This is simply not true. Representatives of such extreme right in Ukrainian politics (and especially parlamient) was lower that in Western Europe or Poland. Ukraine is/was mosaic, patchwork country with very strange mixture of identities. Of course now during the course of war some nationalistic moods are rising – it is sadly quite usual mechanism of war.
    Bandera is a symbol, polish political nationalist right is a furious when see it, because it is a symbol of antipolish politics in Ukraine and cruel past. Bandera is not my hero. I to some extend adress myself to position to Petlura and his menshevik position or to Machno and his peasant-anarchist army.
    Going back to Bandera, a lot more hideous persons are still commemorating on the West (starting from belgian king Leopold the Second), France still have a blood on hands according to Algieria, Vatican is still hiding his Nazi collaboration etc. I do not see why we should judge Ukraine more harshly than other european countries. But I agree it will be better if Bandera be not praised in Ukraine.


  4. But still, a lot of Western Tankies is quite neutral according to stalinist symbolic, in Ukraine Stalin=genocide and Holodomor. Should we start to compare number of Bandera victims with Stalinist? BTW lets remeber that Stalin was also collaorating with Nazi regime.
    I am antistalinist socialist/leftist – just to be clear.


  5. Your rambling about “Western Tankies,” Stalin, “Holodomor,” “antistalinist socialist/leftist” beliefs, etc., really adds nothing to this discussion. In fact, it suggests that your naïve ideology is preventing you from learning about the history of Ukraine and the events leading up to this war.

    1: You talk of “attack of imperialist army,” etc., and “Putin from starting this mindless war,” indicating you have done absolutely nothing to understand why this war has happened. You completely ignore the events leading up to. Your bias or ignorance is shown by the fact that your description of war involving “people are killed, woman are raped, civilian are tortured” applies exactly to the civil war that has been going on in eastern Ukraine since 2014. Yet you ignore this, the plight of civilians there, and the huge number of refugees from that region (about one and a half million up until February 2022).
    There are a number of credible sources available to you to learn about why this has happened. I suggest Stephen Cohen’s book “War with Russia?: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate” as a start.

    2: You claim my assertion “ultranationalists in Ukraine have been developing even since before independence” “is simply not true.” I suggest you read something about the history of Ukraine. A very approachable book you should read is Richard Sakwa’s “Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands.” It was written in 2014 soon after the coup which overthrew the democratically elected government of Ukraine and which led to the formation of the National Guard units consisting of the ultranationalists who played a leading role in that coup. (The Azov battalion is probably the most well-known but there are quite a few others).

    3: Equating the Ukrainian “extreme right” with the “extreme right” in western Europe is simply ignorant. They are very different. It is more sensible to equate the Ukrainian ultranationalists with the terrorists who committed mass murders in Norway and Christchurch, New Zealand. In fact, the manifesto of the Christchurch terrorist is sold in Azov bookshops. Have a read of my article “Neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Comedians are often more truthful than politicians“Neo-Nazis in Ukraine. Comedians are often more truthful than politicians” and the very informative Bellingcrap article “The Russians and Ukrainians Translating the Christchurch Shooter’s Manifesto


  6. It is funny that Westplainers from New Zealand “knows” much better what was going on in my region than me. You are sitting safely in Your cozy island (stolen, BTW from Maori) and trying to learn me about war which is just in my border country. It is nice to comment about reality which is on the other side of globe? Isn’t? Are You even able to read Russian or Ukrainian? I am fluent in Russian and a little less in Ukrainian. Then forgive me but You know nothing, John Snow.


  7. How does using weird words like “Westplainers” and diversion to a lecture on the history of New Zealand/Aotearoa, contribute to a discussion of the neo-Nazi problem in Ukraine?


  8. Ken admit it, it is a fair critique from fronesis


  9. ali mentes – please explain! Repeat the critique so we know what you are talking about. I am happy to go into more detail if required.


  10. David Fierstien

    Interesting post. Relevance to Putin’s failed Blitzkrieg into Ukraine? None. (Did you see what I did there? The Blitzkrieg was invented by the Nazis. Putin is acting like a Nazi. This begs the question: Which is worse, behaving like a Nazi, or just being one? Do actions speak louder than words? Do we identify people by their actions, or by their labels? Sometimes these things need to be spelled out for you critical thinkers.)

    You know, New Zealand hasn’t been entirely forthcoming about its Nazi problem.

    Of course the Times of Israel article is in reference to those original Nazis. You know, the really bad ones. These were the guys who were responsible for the greatest man-made catastrophe the world has ever known. . . . But New Zealand also seems to have a bit of a Neo Nazi problem. These are the kind of people you’re talking about, correct?

    Do you think Putin should also illegally invade New Zealand, slaughter thousands and displace millions of you, to help liberate you from your Nazi problem?


  11. 1: Thanks for the article on our government’s failures regarding the settlement of German and eastern European nazis in NZ.

    I was aware growing up that many of the displaced persons resettled here were suspect. Rumours were rife and if ordinary citizens had knowledge the authorities should have too. We should understand, though, this was a common problem and many former allies of the USSR took in suspect displaced persons purely on ideological grounds. In fact, our security agencies, such as they were at the time, gave priority to investigating left-wing people and ignored the dangers from the right-wing.

    I am currently reading a book about a popular left-wing union leader. Much of the source material was received from the SIS. Declassified documents showed the secret police spying on people at union and political meetings – and their reports being quickly transferred to the US State Department. This illustrates that this was an international problem within the US-dominated allied countries. The US issued demands for how we should behave in our own country, and we slavishly followed up with their requests for such information.

    While these sources had been declassified by the SIS because of their age I am sure our relationship with the US has not changed significantly in these respects.


  12. 2: The question of “neo-Nazis” in NZ, as elsewhere, can be confusing these days because many political commentators use the term to label anyone that disagrees with them. That is one reason why I worry about use of the term – but I accept it is a useful short-hand for extremists driven by racism, ultranationalism, etc. The term is commonly used to describe such people in Ukraine. Although, of course, in this case, these people – at least organizationally have links with German Nazis with who they collaborated in the murder of thousands of Poles, Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians and Jews.

    The horrible background of these present-day Ukrainian neo-Nazis was driven home to me when I later reflected on the war memorial to the Khatyn Massacre in Belorussia, which I visited long ago. I have since learned that these and similar massacres were committed by Ukrainian ultranationalists who collaborated with the Germans (See my article “Don’t put all the blame on the Germans – a lesson from World War II”).

    I am fully aware that we do have a small number of “neo-Nazi” groups and individuals in New Zealand. Brenton Tarrant, responsible for the Mosque murders in Christchurch, is perhaps one of the best-known ones. I was disturbed at the time that our government promoted censorship of the event has effectively prevented people from learning about the links he had with similar individuals in Europe and particularly neo-Nazis in Ukraine (who published and distributed his manifesto).

    Our government’s approach to this problem has not been very effective. There should be more public identification of these links. And the SIS has over the years been far more preoccupied with left-wing unionists and communists than the extremists on the right who are the real perpetrators of terrorism in this country.

    It sickens me that our government supports the regime in Kiev and effectively, therefore, supports neo-Nazism in that country. It shows hove governments can be so cynical when they use words like “freedom,” and “democracy.”

    Mind you – this is one of the problems of being tied into alliances with countries like the USA. We have effectively lost our ability to be honest about some things.


  13. 3: You ask:

    “Do you think Putin should also illegally invade New Zealand, slaughter thousands and displace millions of you, to help liberate you from your Nazi problem?”

    Of course, the question is disingenuous, not only for its indulgence in current tropes about the war in Ukraine but because it is so fantastic.

    A: True, the USSR played the main role in defeating Nazism in Europe, and Russia has effectively inherited that image (for example, the mass “Immortal Regiment” demonstrations of Victory Day) we should not forget that similar sympathies still exist in many countries – notably Ukraine where a significant part of the country was aware of the revival of Nazism in their country. Despite the disgusting role of the ultranationalists during World War II most Ukrainians did fight against the Nazis.

    But surely it is up to individual countries to fight against the revival of neo-Nazism in their own countries. No other country has a right to intervene in such matters unless the issue represents a danger to the security of the intervening country. (NZ does not represent any danger to the Russian Federation).

    However, I understand that as a citizen of the USA, you may be under the illusion that countries do have that right seeing the USA has used arguments like this in their invasions of countries like Vietnam, Iraq, and Syria and their attacks on Libya.

    B: As far as I am aware the Russian Federation did not use the presence of neo-Nazis in Ukraine as a justification for its invasion. However, the task of eliminating neo-Nazism in Ukraine was given as one of the main tasks for the military operation. This was clearly tied in with the persecution and – in their terms partial genocide – of ethnic Russians in Donbass.

    C: Of course, the motivations for the invasion were the interests of the Russian Federation – in particular, the security concerns. Many informed academics had warned of this possibility over recent years (read for example Stephen Cohen’s book War with Russia?: From Putin & Ukraine to Trump & Russiagate

    Key elements in that concern were the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders – a broken promise there and a destruction of Gorbachev’s dreams of a united Europe – and the growing power of ultranationalists in Ukraine which, after the 2014 anti-democratic coup, destroyed Ukraine’s’ policy of neutralism and its opposition to joining NATO.

    These factors meant that war was inevitable. In many ways the Russian leadership has simply taken the invitation (and consequently earned the label of aggressor). Given the intransigence of NATO countries, the rejection of clear security proposals made by the Russian leadership, and the illusions of those in power in Kiev the war was inevitable at some time.

    Sadly, the biggest loser is Ukraine and its people. NATO and the neo-Nazis want to fight to the last Ukrainian. NATO cannot win this war, but Ukraine and Ukrainians will be the ones who suffer the most.


  14. David Fierstien

    So long story short, all this talk about Ukrainian Nazis is completely irrelevant to Putin’s terrorist attack upon his fellow human beings in another sovereign nation and it’s really nothing more than a red herring.

    Small problem with your recitation of U.S. history. My country didn’t illegally invade Vietnam. The United States took over for its ally, France. The people of Vieitnam lived under French imperial colonialism.

    After the U.S. took over for France, in one fleeting glimmer of honesty, Kennedy said one of the reasons for U.S. involvement came down to U.S. prestige in Southeast Asia. And when Daniel Ellsburg released the Pentagon Papers to the NYT & Washington Post the truth became obvious to the American people and ending the War became THE top priority in U.S. politics. . . It’s as simple as that.

    . . . Ironic that my country which celebrates its freedom from British colonialism supported it elsewhere in the world.

    But your citation of the illegal invasion of Iraq was justified.


  15. Your choice of words is emotional and betrays your political biases. 🙂

    Of course, words like “freedom” and “illegality” are easily used to describe the exact opposites. They mean different things to different people.

    Every country which invades another will argue their actions are legal. The Russian Federation did so last February – in fact, they gave a carefully considered and detailed legal argument which some experts claim are convincing.

    I have argued that their case is not warranted purely on the grounds that the claims of creeping ethnic genocide in the Donbass were exaggerated. Now I tend to think their case may be justified as I have heard more and more horror stories of what had been going on there.

    I never considered the USA’s case for invading Vietnam was justified. (While their invasion did occur several years after the French were defeated, I never heard them use the previous French occupation as legal justification for their own invasion).

    As for freedom – you claim your country supports freedom throughout the world. Many people will disagree. But just to take a current case. The USA supports the Kiev regime and their military action (and has done so since 2014). Their man in Kiev (Zelensky) also claims his country is democratic, and that they are fighting for freedom and the values of the rest of the world.

    But the last democratic election in Ukraine was in 2010. Since the coup in February 2014 many parties have been made illegal, and leaders have been imprisoned or hounded out of the country. The main opposition party was made illegal in May 2021. Its leader was arrested. His property was stolen. Opponents are commonly murdered and the country has carried out political assassinations abroad.

    Now all democratic parties have been removed. All the media is in the hands of the government and its supporters. Ethnic Hungarians and Russians are being persecuted.

    All this has happened because of the growing power of ultranationalists. If they had been dealt with in the early stages (including before independence) we would not have this current mess and Ukraine may have become a wealthy country with strong links in the west and east.

    But you and your mate Zelensky bandy around words like “freedom” and “values!”


  16. David Fierstien

    Since you seem to have ignored the point I was making which was actually relevant to your post, it bears repeating. All this talk about Ukrainian Nazis is completely irrelevant to Putin’s terrorist attack upon his fellow human beings in another sovereign nation and it’s really nothing more than a red herring. End of story.
    If Putin would like to argue for the legitimacy of his actions in Ukraine in front of the international community, the International Court at the Hague began putting a case together regarding Russian war crimes in Ukraine in July of 2022. I’m sure they would love to hear from him.
    On another subject, . . Ken, sometimes I think you like to argue just for the sake of argument. And when there’s nothing to argue about you’ll invent something. Case in point . . . .
    Your quote: “As for freedom – you claim your country supports freedom throughout the world.”
    Response: Please don’t put words in my mouth. I’ve never said that, nor would I.
    And again, for the second time, the United States didn’t illegally invade Vietnam. . . . Read very carefully and try to discern exactly what I have to say about the U.S.’ support for freedom throughout the world.
    Vietnam was a French colony. Vietnamese patriot Ho Chi Minh had been fighting an insurgency against the French for his country’s independence. The U.S. remained officially neutral until 1950 when president Truman approved a $23 million aid program for the French.
    When Mao Zedong began supporting the Viet Minh in its struggle for freedom, the U.S. sent advisors, jeeps & transport planes to support the French in July, 1950.
    Meanwhile the U.S. was at war with Chinese backed North Korea. That same year, Truman, in his effort to contain the Chinese increased French aid in Vietnam to $336 million. When Eisenhower, who ran on a platform of being tougher on Communism, was elected in 1952, the United States was already paying for 30% of France’s war. Within 2 years of his presidency, Eisenhower had increased that amount to nearly 80%.
    By 1953, the French had suffered over 100,000 casualties. As sentiment for French occupation began to wane in France, French leftists began calling the Indochina War, “la sale guerre,” The Dirty War, in part because of its use of napalm. In 1954 the French lost 0ver 8000 men at Dien Bien Phu and France agreed to a partition at the 17th Parallel with French led troops agreeing to take the South, and Ho Chi Minh and his freedom fighters, the Viet Minh, taking the North.
    In 1955, in what was probably a cheat election, former Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem became the President of the internationally recognized and legitimate government of the Republic of South Vietnam, and was supported by the United States.
    In April, 1956, the last French soldiers left Vietnam. Diem extended his invitation for U.S. presence in Vietnam. . .
    So you can see, the United States never illegally invaded Vietnam. The U.S. was welcomed by the legitimate, internationally recognized Diem regime. . . Whatever you have to say about about Diem, he was the internationally recognized president of an internationally recognized legitimate republic.
    If you would like to compare Apples to Apples . . an instance of the U.S. invading and annexing, or stealing, another country’s sovereign territory, perhaps the U.S.’ annexation of Texas from Mexico might closely fit Russia’s illegal invasion and theft of parts of Ukraine. Obviously it wasn’t as bloody and ruthless as the war crimes Russia is committing today. Moreover, Texas became an independent Republic and wasn’t initially part of the U.S.
    But we digress.
    Since all this talk about Ukranian Nazis is completely irrelevant to Russia’s illegal invasion and commission of war crimes in the independent, sovereign nation of Ukraine, and since you like to talk about Nazis, maybe you should discuss the little problem with Nazis you are having in New Zealand.


  17. 1: David, you claim I “seem to have ignored the point I was making which was actually relevant to your post, it bears repeating. All this talk about Ukrainian Nazis is completely irrelevant to Putin’s terrorist attack upon his fellow human beings in another sovereign nation and it’s really nothing more than a red herring.”

    Far from ignoring your rhetoric, I pointed out your “question is disingenuous, not only for its indulgence in current tropes about the war in Ukraine but because it is so fantastic.” It is easy to rave on about “terrorist attacks,” “war crimes” and resort to the demonization of a political leader without any evidence or justification. Without such justification it is simply not a serious contribution to this discussion.

    You refuse to discuss the very real problem of ultranationalism (neo-Nazis) in Ukraine. The fact that serious experts on the region have written about this problem over recent years and there have been lots of academic explorations of the problem shows the question is not a red herring. You have refused to engage with the substance of my article and the other articles I have written on this issue. To declare the question is a “red herring” and then declare “End of story” without engaging with the evidence is simply childish. Or worse as it demonstrates that you have sympathies with these neo-Nazis. In effect, you are (like your government) supporting this evil and are trying to cover up the problem.


  18. 2: David you say I am putting words in your mouth with my assertion: “As for freedom – you claim your country supports freedom throughout the world.” You say: “I’ve never said that, nor would I.”
    Well, what did you mean by this assertion of yours: “my country which celebrates its freedom from British colonialism supported it elsewhere in the world.?”

    And why refuse to engage with my point that the US support for the Kiev government is the very opposite of support for freedom. And that support is immense. The wages of pro-Kiev military are paid by the US. Huge amounts of money are, in theory, being transferred to Kiev but actually to the US military industrial companies., And meanwhile your county has huge problems. Your government is not looking after its own people.


  19. 3: David you suggest: “maybe you should discuss the little problem with Nazis you are having in New Zealand.”

    Your description of the shooting of 51 New Zealanders as a “little problem” is hardly empathetic.

    Yes, I know you are just attempting to divert attention from the huge problem of ultranationalists in Ukraine and their underlying cause of the current war. But surely you must have noticed that I responded to the New Zealand problem in my previous comments here and in fact showed how the terrorist involved has been connected to Ukrainian neo-Nazis.

    I also responded early to the Christchurch act of terrorism as I have been near the site of the shootings only a few days before – see my article Terrorism in Christchurch – some thoughts

    I had expressed concern about the introduction of censorship in my country in response to the act of terror. My concern was vindicated as the SciBlogs organisation effectively “cancelled” my long-standing syndication of scientific articles in response to my article on my separate blog.


  20. Richard Christie

    “maybe you should discuss the little problem with Nazis you are having in New Zealand.”

    Well, it has been noted. Most of the recent manifestations of such fanatic lunacy have been imported from the USA. People sure noticed when Steve Bannon’s advance guard and media shills crept out of their holes screaming Freedumb and asserting sovereign citizenship when the COVID protocols were in effect and saving the lives of thousands of New Zealanders.


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