Today, exactly 74 years ago, Nazi Germany turned and invaded the Soviet Union, recently its best buddy with whom they roughly divided Eastern Europe. If Crimea, as some Russian opposition figures say, is not a sandwich, then Poland was, most assuredly, not a pizza, but it didn’t stop the Nazis and the Soviets for eating it together.
Russian media are, predictably, in a patriotic ecstasy: look at us! they say, we were betrayed and invaded! we suffered, you ignorant thankless Gayropean pricks! It is a wonderfully myopic view: not only Russians conveniently forget to mention the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, they also conveniently fail to notice the knife they stuck in Ukraine’s back after professing to be friends and brothers; much like Nazi Germany did with the USSR, actually. What they also fail to notice is that, on June 22, it was not Russia that was first invaded: the invasion wouldn’t reach Russia proper until quite some time. Instead, it was Ukraine; more specifically, it was Western Ukraine, recently occupied by the Soviet Union in the partition of Poland. I’m sorry, but while Ukrainians in Poland were hardly treated fairly (which was what inspired Ukrainian nationalism to turn increasingly violent, the other reason being Bolsheviks’ destruction of Ukraine in 1920), the Red Army didn’t liberate them. Maybe the Red Army did, but the NKVD men who came after them surely didn’t.
Why am I writing this is because of my yesterday’s venture into the French Resistance, which caused me to experience a critical butthurt failure. The case is thus: it is a well-known fact thousands of Frenchmen welcomed the puppet Nazi Vichy regime with open arms, for one reason or another. Thousands of Frenchmen were active Nazi collaborators, either in the Vichy milice or having joined Waffen-SS. This automatically makes these Frenchmen perpetrators of the Holocaust. Yet, however, in the later years, many of the Vichy supporters grew dissatisfied and turned away from the regime. Quite a few of those joined the French Resistance; the most famous example was probably Francois Mitterand, France’s longest-serving president. C’est vrai! a man who supported and served Nazi collaborators (which thus makes him a Nazi collaborator by association, APPARENTLY) became not only a member of the Socialist (!) Party, but was also elected President, and did so twice. This is without taking Mitterand’s previous government career into account: right after WWII he was Minister of Veterans and War Victims, a somewhat ironic appointment. Mitterand is the most famous example; France’s far right Croix-de-Feu organization also initially supported Vichy before switching sides and joining the Resistance; Mitterand was a member of that, and unlike Action Francaise, which stayed loyal to Vichy, Croix-de-Feu’s Parti Social Francais joined the Resistance as early as 1940!
Sound familiar? Yeah, it probably should, because apparently Ukrainians are judged by different standards than the French. The French are apparently allowed to have had people first support Vichy (a Nazi collaborator regime!) and then switch sides and fight for the Resistance. Ukrainians, however, must either fight for the Soviets or be branded Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators.
One wonders why all Western Ukrainians aren’t branded Nazi collaborators; they welcomed German troops with open arms in 1941, thus aiding the German advance into USSR, much like many Frenchmen welcomed the Vichy regime. The only difference being that Ukrainians were never allowed that: Gestapo arrested Bandera and his men before they could finish saying ‘Slava Ukraini!’ after Bandera tried to proclaim an independent Ukraine. Yet somehow Bandera is apparently a Nazi collaborator, while, say, Francois de la Rocque was not. Maybe it’s time spent in concentration camps that determines how Nazi collaborator you are, I don’t know.
Actually, no, wait: Russians already claim that all Western Ukrainians were Nazi collaborators. This is where Western observers, AGAIN, play to the Russian tune; just as they do with Azov, or Right Sector, or Svoboda, listed here in order of increasing marginality, or just as they do with blaming Ukrainian government for austerity/shelling civilian targets/etc. The point is, while thousands of Ukrainians were indeed Nazi collaborators, and OUN initially (and later as OUN-m) collaborated with the Nazis, neither deserve the shit piled up on them in atrocious quantities, which the Soviet Union did and Russia does now. I’m not thinking NKVD and MGB were above the occasional smear campaign while fighting the UPA; they were intent on removing their support base, after all, and smear campaigns work as well as shipping everyone and their dog to Siberia.
Actually, no: I cannot blame OUN and Bandera for seizing on a chance. I cannot blame them for turning on both Poland and the Soviets, too: first the Poles abuse Ukrainians (denying them language, calling them Rusyns, etc; the Soviets at least had korenization in the 1920s, curtailed under Stalin), and then Bolsheviks come and continue abusing Ukrainians; it’s no wonder there was a lot of bad blood between OUN and those two. What I can blame OUN for, though, is throwing their lot with the losers while getting absolutely nothing in return; but throwing your lot with the losing party was practically Ukrainian national tradition. Mazepa (my glorious ancestor) did that by signing up for Sweden, who lost the Great Northern War; Skoropadsky did that by signing up for Central Powers, who lost WWI; and then Bandera did the same by signing up for Nazi Germany, who shipped him off to KZ for all his ‘good’ work. This is not how independence is won; you’d think they learned, but alas.
What I’m against, though, is saying that Ukrainians either fought for the Soviets or were Nazi collaborators. Yeah, Ukrainians fought for the Soviets, and fought admirably, and got precisely nothing in return. UPA men at least had an independent Ukraine to strive for, even if it was, all in all, not a decent Ukraine; Soviet Army Ukrainians fought for a regime which supported its legitimacy by reverting to Great Russian nationalistic propaganda, which allowed Ukraine to exist as a colony totally subservient to Moscow, where you could call yourself Ukrainian sometimes, once in a blue moon, and even then you had to be careful so that your brother Russians did not call you a ‘nationalist’ and a ‘Banderite’. USSR wasn’t as heavy-handed in Russification as the Russian Empire was, but that is not much of an improvement. Even the sacrifice of the millions of Ukrainians in the name of the USSR is all but forgotten now, thanks to Russia’s victory myth. Even Oleksiy Berest, a Ukrainian and one of the men who hoisted the Soviet flag over the Reichstag, was forgotten from the start: only Russians are allowed to accomplish historic deeds, apparently, oh, and a token Georgian, but no Ukrainians. Know your place, silly khokhols!
I concede that the Soviet Union was a smaller evil than Nazi Germany, but it was an evil nonetheless. I, however, also concede that while OUN and UPA did a lot of frankly questionable shit, they do not deserve shit piled up on them, shit like being branded ‘Nazi collaborators’. At least admit they massacred Poles out of their own free will, and Ukraine apologized for that back in 2003.
Yes, their idea of Ukrainian independence was wrong. So was Skoropadsky’s, and probably my glorious ancestor’s, too.
It was still Ukrainian independence, and it does not deserve the shit, shit and lies that Russia piled up on it for all these years. And, more specifically, it does not deserve that shit from you.
We get to decide this.
Not you, not Russia, not anyone else.
P.S. The similarities modern Ukrainian nationalism (as opposed to modern Ukrainian wartime nationalism) has with Russian nationalism still deserve close consideration.