How US state media re-qualifies Nazi collaborators as freedom fighters

In an effort to redefine the roots of the Ukrainian state, Stepan Bandera’s war crimes are whitewashed

The Ukrainian-language channel of the US public broadcaster RFERL is making a concerted effort to rehabilitate the life and legacy of WWII Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera, widely regarded by historians as a war criminal.

A video posted by the broadcaster, recorded as a “foreign agent” in Russia, argued earlier this month that Ukrainians are deeply divided over whether the warlord was a hero or a villain – while thinking strongly in favor of the hero’s story. RFE / RL is part of the United States Agency for World Media, a government-controlled organization with an annual budget of over $ 800 billion, whose charter is intended to promote “the foreign policy objectives of the United States. United States “.

Bandera was the leading figure of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which formed an alliance with Hitler’s Third Reich and played a role in the rallying of the Jewish people, the execution of civilians and the fight against the advance of the Red Army. Many of the OUN eventually fought as part of the Galician 1st All-Ukrainian Division of the Waffen SS, a locally formed unit under the control of Nazi commanders. The descendants of this virulent nationalist movement continue to wear Bandera as their anti-Russian ideological figurehead. Bandera has been linked to a series of wartime genocide incidents against Poles and ethnic Jews in some of the worst crimes Europe has ever known.


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Many of its supporters also play prominent roles in Ukrainian civil and political life and have enjoyed the support and indulgence of the West. The United States does not in itself have an ideological tendency towards neo-Nazism, at least in the mainstream, but its policies boil down to a question of power politics. Washington often pits rivals against each other, just as all previous empires followed the divide-and-rule strategy, and it has repeatedly had an interest in supporting the fascists as the Union’s leading adversaries. Soviet and Russia.

Current efforts to make Eastern Europe an anti-Russian frontline once again spur the glorification of the war criminals of WWII as leaders of the Ukrainian state.

Allies against the Soviet Union

When Nazi Germany invaded the USSR in 1941, the future American president Harry Truman argued this “If we see that Germany is winning the war, we must help Russia [sic], and if Russia [sic] is winning, we must help Germany and thus let them kill as many as possible ”.

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The United States allied itself with the Soviet Union against Germany during the war, although this subsequently changed when West Germany became an ally and the Soviet Union became the enemy. The partnership with Germany led to accession to the Himmerod memorandum, which called for an end to the “defamation” of the Wehrmacht and the transformation of public opinion. The laundering of the Wehrmacht as an adversary of Bolshevism was deemed necessary to adapt to the new realities of the Cold War, which involved legitimizing the creation and partnership with the Bundeswehr as a successor.

The old adversaries have become allies. Operation Paperclip, a secret American program, transferred approximately 1,600 German scientists to the United States after the war to work with the United States government.

Adolf Heusinger, Chief of Operations in the General Staff of the High Command of the Nazi German Army, became the first Inspector General of the Bundeswehr in 1957, then was appointed Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in 1961. Wernher von Braun, major in the Nazi SS and a rocket engineer, eventually became director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

Eastern European fascists

Right-wing nationalists collaborating with Hitler’s regime were a leading force among resistant anti-Soviet fighters in Eastern Europe during WWII, they were effective “Fifth columns” during the Cold War, and they remain loyal anti-Russian movements for a divided Europe after the Cold War. As an example, Latvia has always annual marches of the Waffen SS through its capital of Riga to honor Nazi veterans who fought against the Red Army.

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U.S. efforts to create divisions within the multinational Soviet Union resulted in support for “captive nations”, which created a common cause with the nationalist and fascist movements. The Ukrainian fascists of the OUN have resettled in the United States of the early 1950s and became an important movement to create divisions within the Soviet Union. As the OUNs were sponsored by US intelligence, they had growing influence on propaganda channels such as Radio Free Europe.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the main objective of US policy towards Ukraine was to prevent Ukraine-Russia alignment and to make the country a stronghold against Russia. This requires intervening in a deeply divided Ukraine: a pluralistic national identity is dominant in eastern Ukraine, which embraces the viewpoint of Ukraine as a bi-ethnic, bicultural and bilingual state. A monist view prevails in Western Ukraine, which defines national identity as an ethnicity, culture and language. Even former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko recently complained that despite seven years of conflict with Russia, about 40% of Ukrainians still consider Ukrainians and Russians to be one people.

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When former President Yanukovych was ousted in 2014, a portrait of Stepan Bandera was hung in the Kiev city council building. However, the fascists clearly did not monopolize power in Ukraine. The protests, riots and coup of 2014 had to a large extent reasonable goals such as fighting corruption and rapprochement with the EU. However, as in most revolutions, the more violent groups tend to seize power.

Radical nationalists are a minority, but an effective minority. They played a central role in the coup, as evidenced by the fascist badges used openly. They became an indispensable force in volunteer battalions, like the Azov Battalion, used against Eastern Ukrainians who opposed the coup. Their resolve continues to cement an anti-Russian stance as they march on Kiev if President Zelensky shows weakness towards Russia or respects the Minsk peace accord.

This influence is recognized by the United States. Since 2013, the United States has each year voted against a UN resolution devoted to “To fight the glorification of Nazism”. In November 2021, the United States and Ukraine were the only two countries in the world to have vote against the resolution.

Rename political extremists

States tend to act in accordance with their fundamental interests and then to cloak these policies in the language of values ​​and virtue. Just as the United States has recognized the value of jihadist allies in Syria and Yemen, the fascists have been a reliable ally against Russia. US support for extremist nationalists and fascists is sold as “Promotion of democracy”, and the suppression of political opposition and the media is sold as “Fight the Russian hybrid war”. RFERL’s bold new video shows Washington has no qualms about continuing the long tradition of renaming fascists as freedom fighters.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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