HOLOCAUST ARCHIVES AND DOCUMENTS

Dr. Schmuel Krakovsky, the director of the archives and documents of Yad Vashem, was born in northern Poland. We met in his office in Yad Vashem. He was friendly, composed, with an attitude similar to the others', and full of accusations against Ukrainians as traditional anti-Semites and willing participants in the destruction of Jews. But a difference could be observed, immediately, between him and Rabbi Kahana and Dr. Beysky. The latter two stubbornly and passionately defended their accusations, while Dr. Krakovsky was willing to listen to the other side; he accepted all of my information with interest, as something new, and thought about it, comparing it with what he had been told about Ukrainians. The conversation with him, therefore, was freer and easier. We touched on almost all the questions which I had discussed earlier with Rabbi Kahana and Dr. Beysky. He carefully scrutinized each of my explanations and accepted them only with grave reservations.

"We have copies of documents here seized from the Germans by the Soviet and American government organs, which belie your arguments. The originals are now either in Soviet or American archives. For example, we have very detailed lists of the personnel of the Ukrainian administration of Halychyna. We also have reports of various actions against Jews, initiated or done by Ukrainians.

"And you believe everything that any given German stated in his report? You know that the Germans didn't have enough qualified people to rule Europe, since everyone was drafted into the army and set to the front. That's why they accepted into the police even semi-literates, who then became dedicated party members. And such as these wrote in their reports, not what was actually happening, but what they thought would appeal to their superiors".

"Yes, I'm aware of that. That's why I'm interested in hearing your explanation about Ukrainians. I'm comparing your statements with those which, until now, I have based entirely on Jewish and German testimonies, and now I have a completely different view".

He was especially interested in my explanation of the role played by the Jews in Polish occupied Ukraine, during the time of Poland's rule of the "aristocracy", the era of Chmelnytsky, the revolt of the "Hajdamaky" and the Soviet occupation.

"This is all a revelation to me. I had never heard about this before. Ukrainians were also held in German concentration camps? You're the first one I've seen with an Auschwitz number on his arm, and now I hear that there are thousands like you. I've heard about the OUN, UPA, Bandera - but always as the dedicated assistants of German Nazis, who helped destroy the Jews. You say Ukrainians rescued many Jews and for this they perished on the German gallows? You're the first one I've heard this from".

He rose and showed me his shelves, lined with sundry books.

"Look! Here are several shelves of Polish books about how the Poles fought against the Germans, how they rescued Jews. Books, documents, photographs, underground literature, wartime press items, post-war clippings on this theme. And here is the Ukrainian shelf - totally bare. I believe that everything you've said is true, at least from the Ukrainian point of view. But if I repeat this to other Jews, then I will immediately be asked for proof of my statements. This one conversation between us is insufficient. Where are your publications on these subjects, documents, war-time underground literature? You must have such materials. Let us have at least one copy of each for our archives, so that everyone who is interested in Ukrainian-Jewish affairs can immediately find not only sources with a Jewish perspective, but also Ukrainian materials with your own interpretations".

I explained that it is not as easy for Ukrainians to have all this as it is for Jews in their own country.

"You have funds for this," I told him, "and easy access to all archives: American, German, Soviet. Everyone is happy to give you photocopies of everything you need. Also, the six million Jews in America can easily collect several million dollars for this goal. Ukrainians, however, are in an immeseaurably worse situation. All the archives in Ukraine were thoroughly searched by the Russian NKVD and KGB, and cleared of everything that testified on our behalf. Worse, the special committees of the NKVD and KGB published many false documents against the Ukrainians, particularly against the Ukrainian nationalists, and not only filled the archives in the USSR with these 'originals', but also those in Germany, America and elsewhere".

"That's all clear to me, but, nevertheless, in America and West Germany you have scientific associations, academies, archives, libraries, Ukrainian Universities in Munich and Rome. These should yield much documentary material concerning Ukrainian-Jewish relations".

"They should; unfortunately, there is a lack of sufficient funds. Economically, the Ukrainians in America belong mainly to the middle and lower classes, and only a few to the upper. And the various causes needing their financial support are numerous: churches, schools, cultural centers, camps for the young, publications..."

"I understand all that. Nevertheless, you have something; send what you have. Fill the Ukrainian shelf, and I will add two more new shelves for Ukrainian materials".

"And in exchange?" I asked. "Will you give us something from your archives?"

"Gladly. Come back here not only for a few hours, but for several weeks; study and look through everything we have and choose what interests you; we will gladly give you copies of these documents. Don't be afraid that I want to make "business"and exploit you. Payment for the copies will be the equivalent to that in America. Then analyze all those documents and write your explanations. We have one document here which asserts that one Ukrainian leader consistently accepted payment from the Gestapo. You'll say that it's a falsefication, but we believe that it's the original document. Prove that it's a falsification. You are familiar with people, names, situations. You say that you were amazed that Dr. Beysky regarded General Vlasov as a Ukrainian general, and all the members of his army as Ukrainians. Dr. Beysky isn't the only one who believes this, for there are never any rebuttals of this view. In every Jew's conversation you will hear that he was persecuted, beaten, shot - and by whom else than the Ukrainians and the Ukrainian police, be it in Ukraine, Auschwitz, Majdanek, Warsaw, and even in Rumania and Hungary. Why are you silent? Where are your documented rebuttals, clarifications, expositions of this slander and criminal destortion of the truth? You're the first from whom I've heard something entirely different about the Ukrainian police, than what I've read and heard from the Jews".

We talked further with Dr. Krakovsky about the Ukrainian police, and the legions and divisions of the DUN.16

"You firmly deny," said Dr. Krakovsky, "that the Ukrainian police took part in the destruction of Jews? What is your evidence?"

"First of all, let us logically analyze the possibility of such a thing. You Jews boast about your Jewish 'kepele' (head, brain) and we Ukrainians of our 'healthy peasant logic'. So let's put the two to work: you with your 'kepele' and I with my 'sound peasant logic'. I mentioned my participation as a witness in the trial procedure of the Philadelphian W. Osidach, who was accused of murdering fourteen thousand Jews in Rava. The document presented by the accusers stated that Ukrainian police were operating in the little town of Rava, which had a total of 14,000 residents, half of whom were Jews, a third Ukrainians, and the rest Poles. There were eight members in the police in the period of 1941-1943. In 1944, when the Russian partisans appeared in the area, the number swelled to 16. In the second half of 1943 there were no more Jews. Therefore, during the time of the liquidation of the Jews there were eight policemen for 14,000 residents. Like everyone else, they worked in three shifts. Divide eight by three and you'll find that there were three policemen at work during the daytime shifts and two during the night shift. One should have always been in the office. And the duty of this police was to keep law and order in the city; guard the bank, wheat and food warehouses; check incidents of thefts, misunderstandings and fights; write reports, etc. All this was supposed to have been done within one shift by... no more than three policemen! Is it possible, then, that they also had a chance to check 14,000 Jews at work, search for them throughout the city, transport them to the concentration camps and shoot them? My peasant logic tells me that this is impossible. And what does your 'kepele' tell you?"

"I agree that anyone who claims something like that must be 'mishigene' (crazy). But - who did it, then? Who arrested the Jews, watched them at work, transported them to the concentration camps, shot them?"

"The German 'Einsatzkommando' - assisted by the Jewish 'Judenrat' and the Jewish police. There was ten times more of the Jewish police force than of the Ukrainian. They didn't guard the warehouses, keep order on the streets, but dealt exclusively with Jews. At work they were' Aufsehers', - that is, overseers, working under the command of one or two German policemen. They had rubber or wooden sticks and beat the Jews no less than the Germans did. They helped Germans herd Jews into ghettos and transport them out of ghettoes. They turned into special 'informants' who, for a special reward, feigned that they were hiding, and underhandedly searched out and handed over to the Gestapo those Jews, who were really hiding. Composed exclusively of Jews, the 'Sonderkommando' on orders from the Germans herded the Jews into the concentration camps, into the gas chambers and later transferred the corpses of the gassed to the crematoriums for burning. You're still searching world-wide for the leading German Nazi, Dr. Mengele, who conducted various medical experiments in Auschwitz. All twelve of his assistants and doctors were Jews and his secretary was a young Jewess".

Dr. Krakovsky thoughtfully listened to me, with a bemused gaze. It seemed to me that he and many other Jews were quite aware of all this but were faint-heartedly hiding the truth. Now it was unpleasant to hear this truth from me, a non-Jew.

"And the 'Nachtigal', which destroyed the Jews in Lviv?" he asked.

"The name 'Nachtigal' was given to one of the Ukrainian legion of the DUN, that is, of the Detachment of Ukrainian Nationalists. It was not a police, but army division under the command of Lieutenant Roman Shukhevych. Back in February of 1918, the government of Ukraine had signed a treaty with the Germans in Berest Litovsky (Brest-Litovsk) whereby Germany acknowledged Ukraine as an independent state. The officers of the 'Wehrmacht" (German army), like Gen. Brauchitsch, Adm. Canaris, et al. respected this treaty. On the basis of it, the OUN under the leadership of Stephan Bandera, organized secretly, without the knowledge of the Gestapo, two legions, which were to become the nucleus of the Ukrainian army in the future independent Ukrainian state. After the outbreak of war against the USSR, the 'Nachtigal' legion was in Lviv for only one day and immediately headed eastward, to be in liberated Kiev at the planned proclamation of an independent Ukrainian government. The Germans, however, learned of this; they disarmed and arrested it; and eventually turned it over to do battle against the Soviet partisans in Belorussia. So when could they possibly have taken part in the decimation of Jews? This matter was reviewed by the German courts, who acknowledged that the criminal accusations against Shukhevych's DUN legion, persistently spread by the NKVD, KGB and their agents, were unfounded".

"What about the SS-Halychyna division?"

"This was also a purely military division, even though it was organized in a different situation and form - it bore no relation to the Jews at all".

"For the sake of clarification - you say that the Ukrainian police never took part in anti-Jewish activities?"

"What do you mean by 'took part'? I've explained that the duty of the Ukrainian police was, among other things, the regulation of street activity. If the Jews were being transported somewhere, it was necessary to implement the so-called 'Absperung' - that is, to halt traffic in a given city for the necessary time. The Ukrainian police, chiefly at crossroads, halted traffic of non-Jews and steered them into other streets. Are you calling this 'participation in actions against the Jews'? Let us take, for example, the above mentioned town of Rava. If all eight of the Ukrainian policemen were mobilized in this case, what could possibly have been the extent of their 'participation in anti-Jewish actions'? Standing at eight different crossroads?"

"Your arguments are certainly logical and convincing".

"One more thing. During the trial procedures, the entire American press under Jewish pressure repeated constantly their accusations of the destruction of 14,000 Jews in Rava. But where did they all come from if the entire population of Rava was less than 14,000? Were they brought in from other cities? No - because nearby was the concentration camp 'Belsetz', and if the Jews were being taken anywhere it was to Beletz, and not to Rava. But for the 'Ukrainophobes', it was enough merely to see the number '14,000' listed alongside the name of Rava and utilize it as a basis for their accusations of the destruction of '14,000 Jews'. And it was self-understood that the Ukrainians did this, namely the eight Ukrainian policemen, who altogether had four rifles, each with two bullets".

"I say once again that everyone assaults the defenseless. Why don't you defend yourselves against these accusations?"

"Everyone fears that he/she will immediately be called an 'anti-Semite'".

"But you aren't afraid of that. I have not called you an anti-Semite - nor will I. I'm certain that we will meet again".

 

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[16] Drugyny Ukrainskykh Nationalistiw - the Ukrainian Military legion.