Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The creation of the SS “Galicia” division began after the Soviet Union inflicted on the Germans a crushing defeat near Stalingrad, which changed the entire course of military operations on the Eastern front. On February 6th, 1943, with the blessing of Metropolitan A. Sheptitsky, Andrey Melnik sends a letter to the chief of staff of the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht – General field marshal W. Keitel: “… It seems the time came to include Ukraine (i.e. Ukrainian nationalists – ed) to the anti-Bolshevist front… It is necessary to create an efficient Ukrainian army… Unfortunately, for the last two years many opportunities were lost… It is necessary to transfer this question to the sphere of practical actions without red tape and wasting time. I hope that the problem of the formation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces in the form that is presented here, will find in you, Mr General field marshal, appropriate understanding and attention. Ukrainian loyal and, first of all, military circles are ready to resolve this issue to which we, for a victorious end to the war with Moscow, attach huge significance, we seek to take part in it and to give ourselves at the disposal of the main commandment of the Armed Forces”. This initiative was supported by the governor of the “Galicia” district SS-Gruppenführer Otto Wächter.
Taras Hunczak in the book “In the Uniforms of the enemy” writes that Wächter received permission from Himmler for the formation of a Ukrainian division that would be a part of the SS troops.
“During a conversation on March 4th, 1943, Wächter transferred to Himmler a letter with the proposition, if Himmler approves it, to discuss the creation of a voluntary SS ‘Galicia’ division with Ukrainian ‘leaders’. On March 28th, 1943, Wächter informed Himmler that he fully supports the creation of a division. In order to get support of influential SS ranks, Wächter spoke with Krüger, a SS General, and in two days — with the chief of staff the SS-Gruppenführer Berger. Inspired by the success of these negotiations, Wächter on April 12th, 1943, convened a meeting at which the heads of the party and highest functionaries from the SS police had to express their opinion on the formation of a division” (1993, page 142).
We learn one interesting detail from this book. The participants of the meeting, at which there were ten nazi leaders, agreed that “proceeding from psychological and political reasons” it is necessary to avoid the word “police” in the name of the formation. I.e. the question was about the creation of law enforcing, “protective”, namely punitive division in the troops of the SS, and it is precisely this that had to be hidden. Himmler also imposed a ban on any mention of the word “Ukrainian” in the context of the formation of a division.
Its creation was officially issued on April 28th, 1943, by the special act of the governor of Galicia Wächter. The text of the oath of Galician SS members said: “I serve you, Adolf Hitler, as the Fuhrer and chancellor of the German Reich, with fidelity and courage. I swear to you and will obey you to the death. Let God help me” (Journal “Ukrainian historian”, New York — Toronto — Munich, 1981, No. 1, page 163).
On the day of declaration about the creation of the SS “Galicia” division Wächter published a confidential directive concerning the implementation of the call, during which by all means there mustn’t be the impression that Germans count on the help of Ukrainians and that Ukrainians are German allies. The call-up commissions must focus attention on the fact that “Ukrainians are actively attracted to the fight against Bolshevism”.
For the formation of the division a military department was created, in the contents of which were representatives of the Ukrainian Central Committee (UCC). The Colonel Alfred Bizants headed it.
The press bureau of the Central Committee subordinated to the department of cultural affairs headed by Mikhail Kushnir was responsible for propaganda for recruitment. The press bureau had in its staff writers and journalists who wrote articles and reports that were published mainly in the “Krakivsky Visti” and “Lvivsky Visti” newspapers. The representatives of the military department drove around the cities and villages of Galicia with reports in which they were convincing listeners of the “need to cooperate with Germans” and “together with them to fight against Bolsheviks”.
According to T. Gunchak, by the beginning of June, 1943, 81,999 people registered for the SS “Galicia” division, 52,875 were accepted, and 29,124 were refused. However, recruiting didn’t stop at this. The draft organization headed by SS-Hauptsturmführer K. Schulz, which turned the military department into a subsidiary body, and continued mobilization until the end of the occupational period of Galicia, i.e. until August of 1944, but replenishment was arriving until the beginning of the spring of 1945 at the expense of refugees from Galicia.
M. Chartoryisky in his memoirs “Between a hammer and a sledgehammer” writes: “Mobilization in the SS-division took place as if on the basis of ‘voluntariness’, and when this ‘voluntariness’ was insufficient, then the violence began: the snatching, taking hostage, arrests, exportation, so security already didn’t exist, neither at home, outdoors, at school, the Germans even starting catching the youth from churches for ‘beautiful Germany’,” (New York, 1970).
Today Kulchitsky and Co lie to people that the SS is deciphered as “Sechevye Strelytsy”. The author of the most noticeable book about the SS “Galicia” division, the chief of its staff Major Heike wrote: “the official name of the division from July 30th, 1943: SS — Freiwilligen — Division — “Galizien” — SS — voluntary division “Galicia”, and from June 27th, 1944: 14 SS — Freiwilligen — Grenadier — Division (14 SS-volunteer grenadier division [1st Galicia])”. And immediately adds: “However Himmler clearly warned that in the division from any point of view it is impossible even to think of the independence of Ukraine. The words ‘Ukraine’, ‘Ukrainian’ were forbidden to use under the threat of punishment. The fighters of the division should be called not ‘Ukrainians’, but ‘Galicians’,” (Heike V. D. The Ukranian Division Galicia 1943-45. Toronto — Munich — Paris, 1970).
He notes that “they paid a high price in blood, about which the German people shouldn’t forget”, and “to have concerning Ukrainians the obligation of gratitude”. And if “German people”, against the army of which we fought during the Great Patriotic War, have an “obligation of gratitude” to fighters of the SS “Galicia” division, then maybe it’s not the Ukrainian people who have to call them heroes?
At first the main structure of the division was in “Heidelager”, and since the end of February, 1944 — in the stationary military camp in Neuhammer (Silesia, Germany).
And although on April 28th, 1943, since the declaration of the act of the creation of the SS “Galicia” division, the division was presented as a voluntary unit of SS troops, Hitler’s command, or more precisely the leadership of the SS troops, sent the first set of “volunteers” to police units (“protective” troops of SS). It is precisely this that modern researchers of history of this division try to hide.
“As soon as on July 18th, 1943, the departure of the first group of ‘volunteers’ from Lvov for ‘schooling’ took place,” testifies V. Heike, “they were placed at first in camp Heidelager (near Dębica), and then reformed them into the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th police regiments”.
At the beginning of February, 1944, the urgent order from the leadership of SS troops arrives at the division, about the formation on the basis of a division of a “fighting group” for the fight against Soviet and Polish partisans. The “fighting group” consisting of one battalion and the battery of light artillery was sent within a day to the region of Chesanov, Lyubachev, Tarnograd, Belogray, and Zamostye (Poland). One day later the second “fighting group” for the fight against Bolshevist partisans was sent northwest near Lvov. Heike noted that both groups “worked quite successfully”. The entire group conducted battles in Guta Penyatskaya, which is near Zolochev in the Lvov region, against the Polish population, and Soviet and Polish partisans.
In the archives of the SS “Galicia” division seized by Soviet troops, concerning this bloody event it is possible to read such a record: “The first battalion of the 4th regiment participated in the fight aganint partisans… From 8 to 12 of our SS were wounded. The villages of Guta Penyatskaya and Benyaki are burned and tamed. Barbarians in the villages of Guta Penyatskaya and Benyaki were wiped off the face of the earth. More than 800 Polish peasants and partisans were killed”.
Another record about the “feats” of the SS in Ternopol: “When the Germans and our SS fought off the Bolsheviks from the part of the city occupied by them, then ours drove all Poles into a church, and exterminated them there” (Maslovsky V. І. With who and against who Ukrainian nationalists were fighting. — M, Slavic dialogue, 1999, page 91).
Archives passionlessly also describe how special commanders of division members in June, 1944, in Lvov exterminated more than 1500 peaceful citizens, shot prisoners of war of the Red Army in Zolochev, razed to the ground the town of Olesko, having exterminated about 300 of his inhabitants, assisted in sending Soviet people for hard labor to Germany (Quote from the book “Without the Right for Rehabilitation”. Doroshenko K. Monument to fascists’ henchmen. — K., 2005, Volume 1, page 156).
Only from March to July, 1944, the 14th grenadier SS “Galicia” division was actually a field and infantry division. In July of the same year it was annihilated by Soviet troops in the Brody cauldron. Already in the autumn on the base of the reserve regiment the remnant of “Galicia” was again reformed into the SS police division. At the beginning of October, 1944, it was transferred in its entirety to Slovakia for the quelling of an anti-fascist uprising. After punitive actions against the Slovak insurgents, the division was sent not to the front, which promptly came nearer, but transferred to Shtiriya and Carinthia for the fight against the Yugoslavian partisans.
In the last days of the war, as Heike remembered, the division left fighting positions against the Soviet troops (at this time it located in the territory of Germany) and rushed towards English troops to surrender. In the little town Tamsweg where the column of the division passed, the British established a check point in which they detained all “foreign national” and SS units. Having learned about this, the commander of the division Fritz Freitag shot himself. The former Petliura’s General and the Polish Colonel Pavel Shandruk, who became at that time the chairman of the so-called Ukrainian National Committee (UNC), headed it.
Having refused the SS regalia, the division took the oath on “loyality to the Ukrainian people”. Having replaced the former name with the First Ukrainian division, it nevertheless didn’t fire a shot at the enemy of the United Nations, didn’t cancel its previous oath of allegiance to Hitler and the Third Reich.
In Nuremberg fascism was judged by mankind. The international tribunal condemned fascism as a misanthropic phenomenon, as a source of aggression, having classified the last one as a crime, and condemned the instruments of this aggression, having separately designated all SS units and Sicherheitsdienst as criminal organizations.
And today in Ukraine monuments to nazi henchmen, who were destroyed by our ancestors on July 22nd, 1944 near Brody, are being erected.
Parade in honor of Waffen der SS Galizien in 1943 in Stanislav
Vyatrovich says that the symbols of the SS Galicia division doesn’t fall under the law on the ban on Communism and Nazism propaganda? He lies! See for yourself – does everything connected with Waffen der SS Galizien fall under the ban on Nazi symbols or not…
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