"THE UKRAINIAN GENERAL VLASOV"

With the head of the Committee of the Righteous of Yad Vashem, Dr. Moshe Beysky, judge of the supreme court in Jerusalem, we led a two-hour discussion in his office in the Supreme Court building of Israel. He was hospitable, but he seemed immediately hostile towards Ukrainians. He spoke freely in English. Also present were Mr. Suslensky and Dr. Kleiner. He had already been informed of the purpose of my visit, as well as about myself. The context of my discussion with Rabbi Kahana had also been relayed to him by the Rabbi himself.

"The matter of Sheptytsky? I and all the other sixteen members of the Committee are quite familiar with it. It first came up around 1964. Since then it has been discussed in at least seven conferences, the last being in October 1981, when the Association of Hebrew-Ukrainian Cooperation intervened in this matter, adding many signatures of Jews in Israel and America".

"And the result?"

"After your intervention we will return to the subject at our next meeting. But Rabbi Kahana has explained to you exhaustively. In fact, he always mediates on this matter. I know what the results of the vote will be this time, but personally I agree with Dr. Kahana. For the acknowledgement of Count Andrej Sheptytsky as one of the 'Righteous', I vote with both hands raised; to acknowledge Metropolitan Sheptytsky, head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church, as 'Righteous' - never, never, never! And I'll never introduce such a motion myself!"

"Why?"

"First of all, from the legal aspect: we assign this honor only to individuals, never to establishments or organizations. We had a case where a faction of Polish partisans had saved a group of Jews and now want us to bestow this merit to the entire partisan division. We dismissed that and we recognized only the commander. In this instance, giving merit to Sheptytsky as a Metropolitan and head of the Ukrainian Church, we would be acknowledging that the entire Ukrainian Church rescued Jews - and this never occurred. On the contrary, the Ukrainian Church helped Germans against Jews. And even Sheptytsky himself greeted the German governor Frank with bread-and-salt, when the latter came to Lviv to commission the destruction of Jews".

"And you believe that Metropolitan Sheptytsky himself actually greeted Frank with bread-and-salt?"

"Yes, I do. Why should I have doubts, when there are witnesses who saw it?"

"Who are these witnesses - Frank, the Ukrainians, Germans?"

"No, Jews".

"I am amazed, Doctor, at your trust in Jewish witnesses. How could the Metropolitan have presented the governor with a plate of bread-and-salt, when he was paralyzed, and could not maneuver one hand at all? Didn't you put this question to the eyewitnesses? You are the Supreme Court Justice in Israel, and thus obligated to examine each witness very critically. Who were these eyewitnesses? How could a Jew have been present at the reception of the German governor? The Gestapo checked every little nook and cranny in the vicinity where General-Governor Frank was to be".

"I don't remember details. It was Dr. Kahana who researched everything".

"In his conversation with me two days ago he said that it was not 'Metropolitan Sheptytsky himself, but the then-rector Slipyj at his commission.' Dr. Beysky, I have to scream 'gewalt' in Jewish for this manner of retracing the truth about Ukrainians. Your Rabbi says that Metropolitan Sheptytsky had entrusted the rector of the Theological Academy to greet Frank, and you - Israeli Supreme Court Justice - on the basis of this are claimimg as an incontrovertible fact that it was the Metropolitan himself at the reception. Here you have proof how your 'truth' about Ukrainians is created".

Dr. Beysky became extremely confused.

"Well, however it may have been, but it's a fact that Ukrainians greeted the Germans with flowers, especially Governor Frank..."

"I didn't see that because at the time I wasn't receiving Germans, but the German sadists received me and my companions in Auschwitz with rubber sticks. And as for the greeting, aren't you aware that when the Russian-Bolshevik army occupied western Ukraine in September of 1939, a Jewish delegation greeted them in every town and village of western Ukraine? And not only greeted - it immediately announced to the NKVD command its willingness to actively help in the searching out and destruction of Ukrainian nationalists? The Jews also tried to greet the Germans with delegations, but they stopped that immediately when they saw that the Germans, having learned it was a Jewish delegation, herded these delegations into cars and trucks, drove them out of the city and shot them".

"What? The Jews greeted the Hitlerian criminals?!?"

"Yes, Dr. Beysky. More accurately - they wanted to, and attempted to greet them. If this discussion were not taking place today but twenty years earlier, I'd give you dozens of eyewitnesses who saw this tragicomedy occur. It's a shame that these witnesses, after forty years, are no longer alive".

"No! This is something inconceivable!"

"Today, yes. But then, as I myself recall from conversations with Jews in Lviv, Jews didn't believe in the possibility of that which later occurred. On the contrary, they believed that the Germans would need Jews now, as once the Polish aristocracy that occupied Ukraine had needed them because all Jews knew the Ukrainian and German, as well as the Polish, languages. In the first days, many Jews announced themselves to the Germans as translators. And in many cases when the Gestapo arrested Ukrainians, the Jews benefited from being translators. Not too long ago the Soviet Journal gave out - supposedly on the basis of discovered Gestapo documents - that such a collaborator of the Gestapo was Dr. Wiesenthal. You must have heard about that".

"I heard - it's Bolshevik provocation! The KGB falsifies documents! Nobody intellegent can believe them. They're specialists in falsifying documents and providing false witnesses!"

"In this I agree with you. Except why is it that where the anti-Jewish testimony of the KGB against Wiesenthal is concerned, no Jew has any doubt that it's all a KGB fabrication? But when Jews in America, on the basis of these same 'testimonies', blame Ukrainians for collaboration with the Nazis, then the Jewish investigators, as well as the judges, accept this as truth, while they accept the falsified KGB 'documents' as the original, true documents'? Why isn't Dr. Wiesenthal placed in the defendant's chair alongside Fedorenko, in the U.S.?"

"How can you say such things? Who isn't aware that all Jews were marked by the Germans for physical destruction? And Ukrainians are notorious anti-Semites. It was not only in Ukraine that they helped Germans destroy Jews. In May 1945, Hitler no longer was alive, Germany had capitulated - and the Ukrainian General Vlasov, with his Ukrainian henchmen, shot those Jews in Prague who had been saved from the Germans".

I froze. "Ukrainian General Vlasov? With his henchmen?"

"Yes, isn't that the truth? What will you say to that?"

"And what will you say, Dr. Beysky, when, as an example of Jewish hate toward Christians, I'll give you a 'fact': that today, in peaceful times, the Jewish General Arafat with his followers, whom he calls the PLO, mercilessly destroys Christians in Lebanon?"

Dr. Beysky stared at me in astonishment.

"I don't understand what you're trying to say".

"Very simple - General Vlasov was a Ukrainian as Arafat is Jewish. General Vlasov's henchmen were composed of Ukrainians in the same manner that Arafat's PLO is composed of Jews. Vlasov - Russian chauvinist and imperialist, loved Ukrainians like Arafat loves Jews. Is that clear?"

"Well, possibly I fell prey to false information. But everyone said that General Vlasov was a Ukrainian, that all his soldiers were Ukrainians, and that's why even in Czechoslovakia they murdered Jews".

"I'm surprised that as yet you haven't declared Eichmann a Ukrainian. Perhaps it's out of fear that, in reply, Ukrainians would start searching for documents to the effect that Adolf Hitler's father was a Jew converted to Christianity, as they said in Germany?"

"Yes, but the Ukrainian police nonetheless took part in the liquidation of the ghetto in Warsaw! Or will you deny that?"

"The Ukrainian police under the command of Colonel Kaminsky?"

"Yes".

"It's the same with General Vlasov and his Ukrainians. Col. Kaminsky was a Polish or a Russian 'Volksdeutsch'. But that particular police division was indeed called, for some reason, the 'Ukrainian police'. I mention it in my Auschwitz memoirs. At one point, it [that division] was in Babice near Auschwitz, and one day they were all brought in for taking their pictures for identity cards. The photo workshop was in the building where I was then working in the disinfecting sector. A Pole who worked with me told me: 'Pyotrush [Peter], look, they've brought the Ukrainian police in to be photographed.' They were all standing in a row in the corridor waiting for their turn. On the pretext of going with papers and paraphernalia from one end of the building to the other, I slowly passed by them and asked each one who he was. Out of three hundred, only three said that they were Ukrainian. The rest were 'Kavkaztsi' - the people of the Caucasus region, and Russians. They all spoke in Russian. This, then, was the 'Ukrainian police' that participated in the liquidation of Jewish ghetto in Warsaw".

I had deliberately quoted the words of the Polish prisoner in the Polish language. Dr. Beysky caught it up:

"Oh, so you speak Polish - then I'd prefer to speak it also".

The rest of the conversation took place in the Polish language.

"So you're undoubtedly saying that there was no Ukrainian police during the German regime, correct?"

"No, there was a Ukrainian police at the time. But not in Prague, or wherever, and not under the command of the Russian General Vlasov, nor in Warsaw under the Polish 'Volksdeutsch' Kaminsky's command - but in Ukraine. And not everywhere in Ukraine because Ukraine's territory was torn apart by the German occupiers: Halychyna was assigned to the Polish general-governor as the 'District of Galitsien'; Carpathian Ukraine was given to the Hungarians for their collaboration with Hitler's Germany; for the same reason, Rumania was given Bukovyna, Bessarabia and part of the territory along the eastern bank of the Dnistr River, which the Rumanians called 'Transdnistria' - and from the rest they created the 'Reichs-Kommisariat of Ukraine'. The Ukrainian police was organized in the Autumn of 1941, after the Germans' liquidation of the Ukrainian administration, when Ukraine had renewed its independence on June 30, 1941. Its members numbered six thousand. There was no central command. Its functions were administrative, such as those of the American police in the U.S. It worked among the Ukrainian population. The Poles had their own police. The Jews had their own Jewish police. Ask Rabbi Kahana as an eyewitness, and he will affirm - as a Jew to a Jew - that everything which is attributed to the Ukrainians in their treatment of Jews was in fact done by the Jewish police. But then again, you don't have to ask Dr. Kahana. It was here, in Israel that you tried many of those Judenrat members and, chiefly, the Jewish police. You know how ruthless they were in their relations with the Jew, and how persistent in carrying out the orders of the Gestapo. Is that not so?"

Dr. Beysky was silent.

"It was here that I also heard that many of them fled to America in the face of trials in Israel, because of their responsibility in collaborating with the Nazis in the Jews' destruction. Shouldn't they, in fact. be ferreted out and tried by the U. S. Office of Special Investigations in the U.S. as war criminals, instead of innocent Ukrainians such as Osidach and Koziy?"

Dr. Beysky shuddered.

"But in Babyn Yar near Kiev the Ukrainian police, along with the German, indeed shot down Jews?"

"No, in Babyn Yar the German police shot Ukrainians and Jews, but Ukrainians were shot first. Until the seizure of Kiev the Gestapo carefully tracked the 'Banderivtsi', who were preparing to proclaim the renewal of the Ukrainian independence in Kiev. As members of marching groups who entered Kiev, they were rounded up from the start by the Gestapo and shot in Babyn Yar, Later, the Jews' turn came, and other Ukrainians'... Not Jews but Ukrainians were the first victims of the German reign of terror in Lviv and Kiev. You are a judge, and responsible for testifying to the truth. As a judge, you demand from each witness that he speak the truth and nothing but the truth. Shouldn't you, before all others, be faithful to this vow in your sentencing of Ukrainians?"

"But in our archives I saw a photograph of the Ukrainian police with their machine guns, which they used by the Jewish graves".

"I'm not contradicting you; it's possible that you saw such a picture. But where did it come from? Did the accommodating KGB give it to you? When we talked about the KGB documents that related to Dr. Wiesenthal's collaboration with the Gestapo in the Jew's destruction, you affirmed decisively that the KGB is known for its falsification of various documents. Does this mean that the photo, in which supposedly the Ukrainian police is gunning down the Jews by order of the Germans - is also a KGB deception? If you like, the KGB will give you the 'original' photo of the Jews crucifying Christ, or the Jews holding a Christian boy's feet, his throat cut, and collecting his blood into an urn for 'matzoh'".

"How so? Are you excluding the possibility that the Ukrainian police, either by itself or under Gestapo command, gunned down Jews?"

"I'm not the only one who is excluding this possibility. Everyone who is familiar with the events in Ukraine under German occupation, and who has common sense will shrug off such an accusation as being absurd. The Ukrainian police couldn't even arrest Jews without the permission or command of the German police - let alone shoot them. There were German police divisions for this, which were assisted by the Jewish police. Even if it had happened that the Ukrainian police, at the command of the Germans, helped transport Jews to be shoot, the Germans would never have given machine guns into the hands of Ukrainians because the Germans didn't trust them. A Ukrainian policeman, having acquired a machine gun, would have been able to utilize it and before the Germans could realize it, he would have sprayed them with gunfire so that in a few moments not one German would have remained alive. The Gestapo knew that in each section of the Ukrainian police, there was a deliberately planted 'Banderivets', and almost all the rest sympathized with the 'Banderivtsi'. Therefore, considerable portions of the Ukrainian police went over to the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army), having seized weapons from the Germans and liquidated the Gestapo members. The execution of Jews by firing squads was a strictly guarded priviledge of the German police divisions. The Ukrainian policemen had one rifle for every two policemen and two bullets for each rifle".

"But if the Germans had given the Ukrainians machine guns and ordered them to shoot Jews, wouldn't they have carried out this command with pleasure?"

"I don't attempt to guess 'what would have been'. But I read the following account in the memoirs of one German, who was a member of the 'Einsatzkommando' police: The Germans brought a group of Jews and a division of the Ukrainian police to a pit. The German commander ordered the Jews to undress and line up before the pit. He gave the Ukrainians machine guns with blanks in them - which the Ukrainians were not aware of - and gave the order to shoot the Jews. All the Ukrainian policemen refused to obey this command. Then the Germans ordered the Jews to dress and gave them the guns. The Ukrainians were told to undress and queu up in front of the pit. The Jews were then given orders to 'fire', and the Ukrainians were promptly sprayed with a round of blanks. 'Did this teach you something?', the Germans asked the Ukrainians and sent them back to their stations. During the night all the Ukrainian police fled into the woods to the UPA - Ukrainian Insurgent Army".

"Incredible! Difficult to believe. I've heard so many heavy accusations from Jews that the Ukrainians helped Germans destroy Jews! Very often I heard that Ukrainians were worse, more terrible even, than the Germans. Why is that?"

"Because 'fear has wide eyes.' Jews in Ukraine knew the truth so well about themselves and their actions that they measured the Ukrainians' desire for revenge with their own, expecting the worst from them. Frightened to death, they set forth as factual that which they were frightened of and which was a terrible apparition in their imagination. But the reality was entirely different, because hunger for vengeance is repulsive to the Ukrainian soul. You yourself, when looking into the affair of Metropolitan Sheptytsky, heard the testimony of Jews themselves: how as 'repayment' for the Jews' helping the NKVD in annihilation of Ukrainian nationalists the Metropolitan, the entire Ukrainian clergy, as well as lay people, saved Jewish lives, risking their own and their families' lives. In your archives you probably have German documents as to how many Ukrainians died on the gallows for rescuing Jews. Jews were then expecting a terrible vengeance from the Ukrainians - who repaid them by saving them from death. And afterwards - the Ukrainians expected some sort of thanks from you, but you stubbornly and steadfastly brand them, before the world, as some sort of bloodthirsty 'traditional anti-Semites'. You don't even want to be grateful to Metropolitan Sheptytsky".

"Well, after your intervention we will take your plea into consideration, and we will look over the matter at our next committee conference".

"Excuse me, but I'm not putting forth a plea. I have already explained to Dr. Kahana, and to you, that this is not a question of granting favors. Metropolitan Sheptytsky has no need of your title of 'Righteous', nor of a tree in Yad Vashem. For in Ukraine, in the Carpathian mountains, there grow numerous trees 'planted' so to speak by God in honor of our great Metropolitan and watered by the blood of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, UPA, fighters. This is not a question of a formal request on our part, for neither I, nor any other Ukrainian will ever ask you to publicly thank the Metropolitan for saving the lives of hundreds, or thousands of Jews. We will never do that. Never, never, never! It is a question of you, of your own will, out of a sense of moral obligation doing this as an expression of your gratitude to one who saved your people by risking his own life and the lives of hundreds of Ukrainian priests, monks and nuns. This is the question of your culture and morality".

Dr. Beysky remained silent.

"Sir" - I started again. - "May I ask you a question: Did you learn of the 'collaboration' of the Metropolitan and other Ukrainian priests with the Nazis now, or did the Jews know of it earlier?"

"All Jews knew it even then".

"And all ten or so of those rabbis, including Rabbi Kahana, whose lives the Metropolitan saved also knew about this 'collaboration' ?"

"What do you mean - did they know? Of course they did. I just told you!"

"And yet, not one of them stopped and said: 'You, Metropolitan Sheptytsky, and all of your priests, monks and nuns are Nazi collaborators and I, the honest Jew, don't want your help. I don't want any of you rescuing me, a faithful and observant Jew'?"

"What are you getting at!" - exclaimed Dr. Beysky in surprise. - "They could not say that. They had to think of themselves and their wives and children!"

"But weren't they afraid that this 'collaborator' Metropolitan Sheptytsky would betray them to the Gestapo?"

"Such a suspicion would have never have crossed their mind. They all knew that Count Sheptytsky was one of the most noble people on earth, and that he would rather deliver himself over to imprisonment and death, than betray one Jew into the hands of the Nazis!"

"And yet, till this very day, you will not express publicly your gratitude to such a noble and humane person!"

Dr. Beysky had no answer, no remark.

"Doctor," I said, breaking the unpleasant silence. "May I ask you two more questions?"

"Of course. Go ahead".

"First of all, isn't it true that the Jews insist Ukrainians are traditionally the worst and most incorrigible of all anti-Semites?"

"Yes, that's the opinion of most Jews".

"Next, isn't it also true that, while 90% of all Jews living in Europe perished during the German occupation, that number was only 50% in Ukraine?"15

"Yes, that's true also".

"Well then, how do you explain this difference in figures? Please take into consideration that in June, 1941, large numbers of Jews from Ukraine were drafted into the Red Army; that casualties were very high during the war years between 1941-1945; and that this could account for another 10%. But still - how is it that in 'traditionally anti-Semitic Ukraine', only 50% of the Jews disappeared during the terrible years of Nazi occupation, while in the other European nations, where there was little or no anti-Semitism, 90% of the Jews were annihilated? In Poland, for instance, of the 3,000,000 Jews registered in 1939, only 10,000 were still alive in 1945, but in Ukraine, half of the two million pre-war Jews survived?"

"I readily admit it's a puzzle. I never tried to analyze it and I have no explanation for this. Do you?"

"I would like to propose two possibilities. The first is that, since the Jews in Ukraine served in large numbers in the administration of the NKVD and the Soviet regime, they and their families either fled or were evacuated by the Red Army into the Asian part of the U.S.S.R. There they survived and after the war, they returned to Ukraine".

"And what was wrong with saving their necks in that way? Do you disapprove?"

"No. But it does shed light on something else. The outbreak of war produced chaos in Soviet ranks. Everybody tried to flee, yet space on trains and other evacuation convoys was very limited, and reserved only for those who belonged to the ruling echelons of the Soviet administration or the Party. So, if in that chaos and shortage of transportation, hundreds of thousands of Jews from Ukraine were able to be evacuated and saved, then this is proof of their importance in the Soviet hierarchy and their cooperation with the Soviet regime - with everything that implies".

"Well And what is the other possible explanation?"

"The other possibility is that hundreds of thousands of Jews were saved by... Ukrainians. I was told by the director of archives at Yad Vashem, that you have copies of all the documents of the Nazi administration in Ukraine. Check them, and you will be astonished to see how many Ukrainians, both men and women, were publicly hanged by the Gestapo for trying to save Jewish lives. But at least ten times as many were successful in saving Jews. In every Ukrainian village, at least one Jewish family was saved by Ukrainian villagers. Thousands of them now live in Israel. The problem is that Jewish leaders are not interested in finding them and recording their cases. Rather, they are terrorized into never mentioning anything because 'it is not in their interests to admit that Ukrainians saved so many Jews.'"

"Hm, very interesting. And which of the two do you accept as true?"

"Both. Of the roughly one-million Jews in Ukraine who survived the Nazi holocaust, I think about half did so by fleeing to other parts of the U.S.S.R., which they were able to do because of the prominent positions they occupied in the Soviet administration; but I'm sure the other half were saved by your 'traditionally anti-Semitic' Ukrainians, who did this risking their own lives and the lives of their families".

Dr. Beysky said nothing.

"One more question; if I may".

"Certainly".

"Could you give me one instance when a Jew saved the life of a Ukrainian, at the risk of his own life? I'm sure the Ukrainians would accord him the highest honors and plant not one tree, but a whole park in the town where he performed this noble deed".

"A Jew who saved the life of a Ukrainian?" exclaimed Dr. Beysky in disbelief. "How could a Jew save the life of a Ukrainian, when the Jew was never in such a position, being always persecuted, oppressed, hunted, exterminated".

"Ah, but you forget the period of the latest Russian or Soviet, if you wish, occupation of Ukraine. During this period, the Jews in Ukraine constituted a privileged class, holding high and responsible positions both in the civil administration and the Secret Police, be it called the CheKa, GPU, NKVD, or KGB. And yet, did you ever hear of one of these Jews saving the life of a Ukrainian by warning him in advance of his arrest, by sparing him tortures, by releasing him from imprisonment, by giving him an opportunity to escape? During the period between 1941-1944, German Nazis destroyed one million Jews in Ukraine. In the period from 1920 till 1950, Russians annihilated more than ten million Ukrainians. Did at least one Jew raise his hand or at least his voice to help Ukrainians?"

"I never thought about this..."

"Well, it's high time you did. Do some research, some checking and then let me know about your findings, so that I can convey them to other Ukrainians".

 

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[15] "Encyclopedia Americana" (1981. v. 16, p. 129) informs that in Ukraine in 1941-45, perished 44.3% - i.e. survived 55.7% of all Jews. In Poland survived about 10,000, or less than one percent.