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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Just a Minute

The Infamous Ukrainian Waffen SS Division

July 1944 saw the Battle of Brody (close to Lviv in Western Ukraine), a clash of arms that was to be the first serious test for the highly controversial SS Galicia division, a branch of the German war machine manned exclusively by Ukrainian volunteers. This SS group was one of a number of international battalions recruited during WWII by the Germans and was seen by nationalist forces at the time as the first step towards creating an independent Ukraine. The role played in the war by SS Galicia remains the subject of much controversy and continues to serve as a divisive element in Ukrainian society as the nation struggles to find an inclusive national identity that can heal the wounds of the past and unite the country. It is an often overlooked fact that when Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, thus provoking the outbreak of WWII, the Soviet UNI0N also invaded from the east weeks later, occupying land that is today located in Western Ukraine but was at that time part of Poland and had been the scene of Ukrainian nationalist terrorism throughout the inter war period. This underground Ukrainian nationalist movement that had existed under Polish rule was ruthlessly suppressed by the occupying Soviet forces and the communist leadership instituted a reign of terror including mass arrests, deportations and summary executions. At the time many West Ukrainians saw the Third Reich as a force that could help create an independent Ukraine, and when German forces invaded the Soviet UNI0N in 1941 nationalists put forward the idea of forming Ukrainian military units to help fight Bolshevism. In the beginning of 1943, growing losses inclined German leaders to overlook their racial hierarchy theories and accept this proposition, despite Hitlers well documented distaste for arming Slavs.


The German Governor of Galicia Dr. Otto von Waechter agreed to create a Galician Waffen SS division designed for regular combat on the Eastern Front, and its formation was announced on 28 April 1943. The Division was organised by a local Ukrainian Central Committee, headed by Volodymyr Kubiyovych with the active involvement of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Many nationalists opposed the idea of the division, in part because it was an organisation outside of its control, and claimed that the division would be used by the Germans as cannon fodder, but nevertheless there was no shortage of volunteers, with something in the region of eighty thousand offering to serve. The creation of foreign SS units had already been carried out elsewhere in occupied Europe, with recruiters championing such divisions as crusaders fighting to hold the Bolshevik hordes back in the East. French, Dutch, Scandinavian, Latvian, Estonian, Croatian, and Walloon units were formed, with many of these international brigades fighting to the bitter end amid the ruins of Berlin. The division was sent to the front in the beginning of 1944. Although it lacked combat experience it was well-equipped and most of its members had undergone more rigorous training than the average German drafted into the Wehrmacht in 1943 or 1944. The Division was sent to the area of Brody, where heavy combat was underway, and was attached to the 13th German Army Corps. Together with six under strength German infantry divisions, the Galician Division was responsible for holding a second front of approximately 80 kilometres. On 13 July Soviet forces under the command of Marshal Konev launched a massive attack.

The Galician Division bore the brunt of an unusually fierce assault and by July 19 the Ukrainian SS troops were surrounded and defeated by the Soviet Army. Many members were able to break out of the encirclement or survive by using local knowledge, often resurfacing after having hidden in the forests or in local villages. The Ukrainian division saw further combat in 1944 and was used in Yugoslavia against Titos communists before being employed to help put down an uprising in Slovakia. The division eventually surrendered to the Western allies and after spending time in internment camps in Italy in 1947 veterans were allowed to emigrate to Canada and the UK. Members of the Galician division were individually screened for security purposes before admission to Canada and the UK, but in recent years there has been some public disquiet over the presence of former Nazi SS troops in both countries. According to the British Home Office a total of 1,450 veterans of the SS Galicia division were registered as resident in the UK in 2003. Most see themselves as fighters for an independent Ukraine. Ukraines SS division was formed at a time when West Ukrainian nationalist guerrillas were fighting a brutal three-way partisan campaign against Polish irregulars, Red Army troops and the German army, and the moral issues facing young patriots during the period were necessarily complex and difficult to penetrate even given the benefit of historical hindsight.

In Soviet times members of SS Galicia were demonised as collaborators and fascists, but since independence there has been a shift towards a less condemnatory approach to this most difficult of national issues, although discussion on the subject of WWII collaboration and the role of Ukrainian nationalist forces remains hindered by the polarising effect of the subject. Attempts by President Yushchenko to have Ukrainian nationalist partisans recognised as veterans of equal status alongside Red Army veterans has provoked a storm of protest and led to accusations of disrespect to the Soviet war dead.

Anatoli Artemenko


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Slave | 20.12.2013 07:38

F*** you, all of those fashists relatives

HIHA from england. | 10.11.2012 23:30

I hope and pray that all that the members of SS Galica will recognised as veterans of Ukraine! Thier only intention was to have a free and Independent Ukraine the same as others fighting in many different armies.
As a young child many different people would gather at Hanna my Godmothers home, arguing about war time politics.
She would get so cross about the arguements, stand up then quietly say "We are all Ukraineans here !" She was so right, and wherever and whoever fought for a free independent Ukraine should all be recognised.
Sadly that recognition isn't in my Dads lifetime. Like many he was ostricised from the country he loved and was prepared to die for. Like many he was deemed to have no nationality but in his head and heart he was a proud Ukrainean, living for the day Ukraine would be recognised by the whole world as a country in it's own right.
Members of SS Galica were not deserters or traitors, but suffered heavy loss of lives, made outcasts by soviet rule, suffered the loss of never being able to return home, lived in fear of thier lives even after living in the west for many years, branded and then to add to the hearbreak officially abandoned.
Anyone who knows about Operation Keelhaul cannot fail to be sad for those who fought hard, only to be shot or hung as deserters.
It is so wrong not to recognise thier human suffering, all my life my Dad wanted to officially be given back his birhright, his Ukrainean nationality !

s6 blade | 19.11.2010 22:32

My Grandad was in this division ,I was looking at a picture of him in his uniform today when he was 18 the same age as me, the picture is him and to friends just after they finished training, they were in france going to collect there panzer tanks for the easton front !

He was awarded the iron cross when he was 19 and is still living in England to this day.
After the war he became a very successful hair dresser and was and still is a very popular character . I have only recently found this out and he has started talking about this to me !
I find it mind blowing what these men went though for people like me and others to be here to day !
it is a mad world !

SpecialAgent | 05.10.2010 01:06

My father was 14th Waffen SS, Galicia Devision, and also fought at Brody and later in Yugoslavia. My father surrendered to British forces in Rimini in Italy, and was sent to UK where he lived all his natural life. My father was born in 1926, and died 2006. In the 1960's he was working in a coal yard in UK, when he took his shirt off and his SS tattoo was spotted by some other men. He had to change jobs and never took off his shirt again.
Personally I am very proud of what my father did during WW2.
He did what any full blooded male would do, he fought for his family and country.
R.I.P. dad, sadly missed......

333 | 17.08.2010 01:26

It's a real shame Hitler didn't succeed...we would have had decent societies free from infection of idiots like the last comment

Guest | 20.05.2010 16:27

To SLIPPPPA: your dido has swarn to Hitler. If it's OK with you may be proud.

ician | 04.03.2010 21:23

I am second generation living in the UK. There has always been a roumer im my family that Dad appeared in a photograph wearing a german uniform he was also born in 1929. Does amybody have any information on the Galicia division youth movement.

SLIPPPPA | 18.12.2009 21:59

MY DIDO FOUGHT WITH THIS DIVISION , I AM VERY VERY PROUD OF HIS FIGHTING....

lili | 08.09.2009 20:54

Complicated stuff. I have just discovered that my father was a member of the military youth of 1st Ukranian Division from 1944-45. He was born in 1929 so he would have been between 15-16 yrs old. He was later sent to the US where he was given citizenship.


 
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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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