Antifascists gathered in London to counter the call by Ukrainian organisations to commemorate soldiers “fallen in all wars”, including Ukrainian volunteers in the SS Galicia Division, responsible for massacres of Jewish and Polish people in Western Ukraine.
The Association of Ukrainian Former Combatants in Great Britain was amongst a number of organisations calling for the march on the Cenotaph in London. This is the organisation of veterans of the SS Galicia Division, who were brought to Britain at the end of World War 2. The Division, made up of Ukrainian volunteers, carried out atrocities against the Polish population in the Galicia region of Western Ukraine.
The Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (the main organiser of the memorial service) made no secret of the fact that they were commemorating both the SS Galicia Division as well as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (which also collaborated for a period with the nazis and carried out atrocities).
In response to an enquiry from a Spanish journalist, Wolodymyr Pawluk, chair of the AUGB London branch said: “we remember the thousands who fought in the Waffen-SS Division Galicia” and then went on to try to downplay the nazi character of the Division: “Many who joined the Galician Divsion did so not because they supported Hitler. They enlisted to get military training. Many remembered the atrocities committed by Stalin ie, Holodomor (famine), murders and repressions. Many would have been conscripted into the Red Army which would have meant certain death. There are many issues which have to be explored regarding this matter. In war the instinct is to survive. The war on the Eastern front was brutal and Ukraine was the battleground.”
This is typical of the type of historical revisionism which is common in Ukrainian far right nationalist circles. The members of the SS Galicia Division were volunteers who took the following very clear oath: “I swear before God this holy oath, that in the battle against Bolshevism,I will give absolute obedience to the commander in chief of the German Armed Forces Adolf Hitler, and as a brave soldier I will always be prepared to lay down my life for this oath.” On top of this, the famine caused by forced collectivisation in Ukraine and other regions of the USSR in the 1930s did not actually affect Galicia, which at that time was part of Poland.
Despite minor scuffles when Ukrainian nationalists attempted to wrest away one of the protesters banners, the silent and dignified action went peacefully.
This is Ruptly’s report:
and another one in Russian: