Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry

Honoring the Collaborators - the Ukrainian Case

by Irena Cantorovich

 

During World War II, collaborators with the Germans who participated in the deportation and murder of the Jews were motivated by various factors, such as antisemitism, material benefit and career advancement, among others. In Ukraine, there was an additional motive for collaboration: the ambition to regain independence, fueled by hatred of the Soviets who had deprived them of it. Those who held this view considered that all means were legitimate, even cooperating with the Germans in the murder of Jews. To this day those Ukrainians regard themselves as freedom fighters, while their supporters view them as heroes and patriots who risked their lives for the independence of their country. The Bandera and Shukhevich affairs, the focus of this paper, can be considered manifest examples of such an attitude toward the past in the post-Soviet region. The cooperation of those two men and the organizations they headed with Nazi Germany has never been perceived as a problem in the eyes of their supporters. Bandera and Shukhevich became symbols of the Ukrainian nationalists’ struggle against anyone whom they believed did not fit the perceived national character of the country.

 

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