The Great Patriotic War in the Soviet Union saw many tragedies. Among them are the events that took place at Babi Yar, a location near Kiev where the mass murder of civilians started on September 29, 1941. Many historians believe that the Babi Yar massacre marks the beginning of the Holocaust, a deliberate policy of genocide of European Jews pursued by Nazi Germany. Babi Yar is a site where Nazis conducted mass shootings.
On September 19, 1941, the German troops entered Kiev and 10 days later the entire Jewish population of the city was assembled at one spot, as part of a thoroughly planned operation. The Nazis told the Jews they wanted to relocate them. Very few refused to come and went into hiding. Whoever entered the fenced-off area where the Jews were summoned did not get back ever again…
The first mass shooting at Babi Yar, however, took place several days before that when over 700 patients of a local psychiatric facility were murdered there. On September 29, the Nazi plan of murdering Kiev’s Jews was set in motion. In two days, over 33,000 Jews were murdered in the ravine of Babi Yar. This is an approximation, as the children killed together with their parents were not counted separately.
However, the mass shootings at Babi Yar did not end on September 30 but continued throughout the October of 1941 when multiple Red Army POWs identified as propagandists and Communists were mass-executed in Kiev just like its Jewish population before them. According to some historians, the number of Jewish victims alone murdered at Babi Yar amounted to 150,000 people (including residents of Kiev and other Ukrainian cities).
Mass shootings were conducted there throughout the entire period of Nazi occupation. Apart from the Einsatzgruppen and Sonderkommandos of the German Security Service (Sicherheitsdienst), many locals collaborated with the Nazis playing an active part in the murders. According to the available sources, 1200 out of 1500 death squad members responsible for the mass shootings of Jews at Babi Yar were Ukrainian nationalists from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-UPA/ Ukrainian Insurgent Army, banned in Russia). Moreover, their criminal record extends far beyond the Babi Yar massacres. Let’s have a look at some documents.
In March 2014, Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs published a raft of NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) documents on its website casting light on Ukrainian nationalists’ extensive cooperation with Hitler’s Germany during World War II (called the Great Patriotic War in Russia).
We have preserved the original spelling and punctuation of the documents.
Excerpt from a report by Sudoplatov, Head of the NKVD’s 4th Directorate, to Ilyushin, Deputy Head of the 3rd Directorate of the NKVD:
December 5, 1942, No. 7/s/97
“The Ukrainian nationalist underground greeted the Germans with bread and salt /in Dnepropetrovsk, Pereshchepino, Kishenki, etc./ and provided them with all kinds of assistance.
The Nazi invaders relied heavily on the local nationalists when introducing the so-called ‘new order’ in the occupied regions of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR).
In an attempt to make it look like the Ukrainians were in charge, Nazis appointed consummate traitors of the Ukrainian people as heads of municipal governments organized in the occupied territories.
The post of mayor of Amurnizhnedneprovsk was given to CHERNETA-KALENIK.
Fyodor MANZHELEY was appointed regional judge of the Dnepropetrovsk region, and Ivan GAVRILENKO got the post of deputy head of the Dnepropetrovsk regional police. GAVRILENKO Ivan is the adviser to the Gestapo in Dnepropetrovsk; Nikita ZELENSKY, a native of the village of Manuilovka and a right social revolutionary in the past, then member of the Ukrainian Communist Party (UKP) who made his way into the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine (CP(b)U) was appointed head of the Amurnizhnedneprovsk police. Zelensky had worked as chief foreman at the K. Liebknecht plant in Nizhnedneprovsk, was expelled from the party, went to court and disappeared from Dnepropetrovsk in 1929 to only reappear under the Germans.
Savva PETRENKO was appointed headman of Znamenovka, a village in the Novomoskovsk district of the Dnepropetrovsk region.
Daniil REVOL, a native of the village of Manuilovka, was appointed secretary of the city police in Amurnizhnedneprovsk and adviser to the Gestapo.
Pyotr CHERNETA, the cousin of CHERNETA-KALENIK born in Manuilovka, a former right social revolutionary who was the chairman of Ukraine’s Prosvita society branch in Manuilovka, then a volost headman and organizer of Petliura units and after that a UKP member and was arrested by the NKVD, has now joined the Amurnizhnedneprovsk police force…
It should be noted that the Germans, familiar with the history of these villages and cities of the Dnepropetrovsk and Poltava regions, the territories between Kishenski and Orelka, put them in a privileged position compared to other villages.
Having turned the Kishenski-Orelka district into their stronghold, the Germans, assisted by Ukrainian nationalists, cleared the area of everything Soviet. Thus, in the spring of 1942, Nazis arrested 60 families of Soviet activists in the village of Stary Orlik and shot them in the forest near the Dnieper River. 45 families were shot in the village of Kitay Gorod, 35 families in the village of Zhdanovka, Kotovsk district, about 200 families in Nekhvoroshcha, about 100 families in Pereshchepino, and 2 people, an ex-assistant chief of the Workers’ and Farmers’ Police (RKM) and the head of a collective farm (kolkhoz)/ I don't know their names/, were hanged on the gates of the German commandant's office. Similar atrocities were committed in a number of other villages.
After that, the Germans launched a sweeping recruitment campaign among the local population to staff the police force in other areas mainly adjacent to the woodlands along the Samara River.
To combat the partisan movement, the Nazis set up death squads composed of Ukrainian nationalists: a unit of 150 people was sent to the village of Znamenovka, Novomoskovsk district, commanded by Savva PETRENKO, and 100 people were sent to the village of Vasilyevka, Pereshchepino district.
In February 1942, the Germans started forming a "Ukrainian national volunteer army."
To that end, they first updated the register of all the locals aged between 19 to 45 eligible for military duty.
The recruitment of ‘volunteers’ to the Ukrainian units was carried out by military offices operating in the district centers, and the units were formed in Kremenchug, Krivoy Rog, Dnepropetrovsk, Stalino and Mariupol.
The recruitment of ‘volunteers’ into the Ukrainian army proceeded like this: the reservists were summoned to the military office and asked to join the ‘Ukrainian national’ army ‘voluntarily’, which, as they were told, would only protect the interests of Ukraine. Those who for some reason refused to join the army ‘voluntarily’ were labeled as unreliable, arrested and sent to special concentration camps in Kremenchug and Dnepropetrovsk.
To train military commanders, officer schools were opened in Krivoy Rog and Dnepropetrovsk.
Cadets for these schools are mainly supplied from Ukrainian nationalists and former commanders of the Red Army. The instructors are chiefly German officers.
The enlisted soldiers of the ‘Ukrainian army’ are trained by the Ukrainian officers who have graduated from the mentioned schools under the supervision of German officers. Strict discipline is enforced.
From soldiers of the ‘Ukrainian army’ and their families I learnt that the Germans sent the newly formed Ukrainian units to Western Ukraine – primarily to the city of Lutsk – where a ‘Ukrainian army’ is allegedly being formed to be sent into combat against England.
The most reliable ‘Ukrainian units’, composed of Petliura’s supporters, are used by the Germans to fight the partisan movement...
The Ukrainian nationalists travelled from village to village urging the farmers to joint their army, claiming it would protect their own interests.
In early April 1942, CHERNETA-KALENIK went to Podgorodneye, a village in the Dnepropetrovsk region, where he tried to persuade the locals to join the ‘Ukrainian’ army ‘voluntarily’. The convention of around 5,000 locals assumed quite an unfriendly attitude towards the recruiter who was mocked at, booed and whistled. Such an unexpected reception forced CHERNETA-KALENIK to abort his speech and bolt out. When his car was leaving the village, local boys hurled rocks and sand at it.
Later, Nazis murdered 400 residents of that village for humiliating their envoy. The list of candidates for execution was compiled by the headman of Podgornoye /I don’t know his name/, a former ‘kulak’(wealthy peasant), supporter of Petliura and a UKP member who had been arrested several times by the NKVD, and by the chief of police Ivan DUB, a follower of Petliura and a ‘free-spirited Cossack”.
In Znamenovka near Novomoskovsk, the headman’s numerous attempts to call a farmers’ convention were to no avail and the Nazi recruiters had to leave empty-handed.” The Central Archive of the FSB (Federal Security Service) of Russia: collection 100, registry 11, case 7, pp. 60-66
A few other documents:
Excerpt from the interrogation protocol of Ivan Kutkovets, 1 February 1944.
“In the war between Germany and Poland, Ukrainian nationalists played an active part in organizing espionage and subversive activities in the rear of the Polish army.
To repay for these services, Nazis authorized the OUN members to slaughter the Polish population living in the Western Ukrainian provinces, especially Galicia. As a result of these villainous activities, thousands of Polish families were murdered and hundreds of bodies burned to ashes.
The bloodbath continued until the Red Army gained control of Western Ukraine.” The Central Archive of the FSB of the Russian Federation: collection 4, registry 3, case 818, pp. 177-186
Informant report from the Rovno region
August 4, 1943
Merkulov SPECIAL REPORT
Fedotov DEPUTY PEOPLE’S COMMISSAR
FOR STATE SECURITY OF THE UNON OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS
HEAD OF THE 4TH DIRECTORATE OF THE PEOPLE’S COMMISSARIAT FOR STATE SECURITY (NKGB) OF THE USSR KOBULOV
Received from Rovno on August 3, 1943
The Ukrainian SSR
“An agent from the NUD group who had just returned from Vladimir-Volynsky reported that, on July 18 this year, he was the eyewitness of a mass murder of Poles living in Vladimir-Volynsky by Banderites i.e. Ukrainian nationalists.
11 Roman Catholic priests were murdered by the Banderites in the churches while performing religious service and almost 2000 Poles were killed in the streets of the city.
The German garrison, police and Cossacks, a total of 600 people did nothing to stop the massacre. And only after the bloodbath was over, the German command put up a leaflet calling on the Poles to join the ranks of gendarmerie to fight the Banderites.
Many Poles got enlisted with the Germans to avoid reprisals.
HEAD OF THE 2ND DIVISION OF THE 3RD DEPARTMENT, 4TH DIRECTORATE OF NKGB USSR (signature)
Excerpt from the interrogation protocol of Ivan Kutkovets (1 February 1944)
“Having lived in the occupied territories in the midst of nationalists and UPA members and judging from first-hand experience, I can say that 60% of the UPA fighters were mobilized forcefully and will gladly leave the UPA at the earliest opportunity.
Mobilization into the UPA was carried out as follows:
A military recruitment officer picked several residents of the village to be enlisted with the UPA. He primarily chose those who had previously served in the Red Army or the Polish armed forces. They were subsequently called to an assembly point by a summons.
Those who did not show up at the assembly point were hunted down by the OUN’s Security Service and battered with ramrods. A conscript received 50 ramrod blows for not showing up at the assembly location.
Deserters from the UPA were beaten with ramrods and sent to concentration camps, and persistent violators were physically eliminated.
To save the bullets, deserters were strangled with a rope loop, i.e. a ‘noose.’
The farmers who refused to make their horses available or provide any other services to the UPA were punished with 25 strokes of the ramrod.
In the Goshcha region, you will not find a single village where the locals were spared the ramrod beatings. The number of residents battered with ramrods ranges between 15 and 20 in every village.
Maksim SHELODKO, a native of Chudnitsa, a village in the Goshcha district, was sentenced to 115 ramrod strokes for failing to cooperate on several occasions. The old man fled from the village. When I talked to him, SHELODKO said, “I don’t know where I can find their superiors. I would like to ask them to split the 115 strokes of the ramrod among the members of my family – some of them will go to my wife, some – to my son and daughter, and I’ll take 50 or so. I won’t survive all the 115.”
The Security Service (OUN) is responsible for all this violence and abuse against the local population.
The Security Service enjoys unlimited power – for any minor misstep or insubordination, pro-Soviet statements, ties to the partisan movement or any previous involvement with the Soviets, as well as for failing to show up at the villagers’ convention, these butchers battered, strangled and hanged people.
The Banderites slaughtered the Polish population, POWs and natives of Eastern Ukrainian provinces mercilessly.
In the villages of Zharov, Glubochek, Vitkovo, Chudnitsa etc. of the Goshcha district, the OUN Security Service thugs burned down all the houses owned by Poles and murdered many of the owners.
In Tudorov, a village of the Goshcha district, the Banderites burned down the state-owned farm (sovkhoz) just before it was liberated by the Red Army, and burned one of the famers with it – a man named SAVITSKY – together with his wife and children.
The bandits tied two of the kids to SAVITSKY’s wife with wire and threw them alive into the flames.
In the village of Rusivel near Goshcha one of my comrades, agriculturist Dmitry KOLISOV, was killed for saying something in favor of the Soviet government in front of his friends.
The terror campaign directed against rural intellectuals is equally intense. The slightest disobedience to an order or objection of any kind can bring reprisals upon a teacher or a doctor.
In August 1943, in the village of Podolyany of the Goshcha district, a teachers’ conference was held by the local OUN propagandist Nikolai PRISHCHEPA and one of the teachers from Maikov, Mrs. MARTYNYUK, voiced her disagreement with Prishchepa’s ideas on school curriculums.
After the conference, a group of OUN Security Service members beat up the teacher. She was struck with a ramrod 35 times.
As a result of the violence perpetrated by the Banderites, the local population is literally terror-stricken and filled with animosity towards the Banderites.
Following the Nazi occupation of Western Ukraine, the Banderites piled up small mounds in every village with a cross and flower decorations on top to commemorate the “liberation of Ukraine from the Red Army and pay respects to the fallen Banderites”.
The celebration of these grave mounds was accompanied by blatant nationalist propaganda from priests and OUN advocates.
Later, farmers’ conventions were held at these sites.
In the summer of 1943, public assemblies around the grave mounds became more frequent. Priests and propagandists from the OUN addressed those conventions delivering nationalist speeches and warning the population that should the Red Army gain control of the area, whoever dares to cooperate with the Soviets or rat out the Banderites, would be killed by the Security Service agents.
Secret Service groups consisting of 4 to 8 nationalists were active in every village and were well armed.” The Central Archive of the FSB of the Russian Federation: collection 4, registry 3, case 818, pp. 177-186
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