21. The German-Russian War
On my return to Skierniewice I felt completely exhausted in body and mind: this was the result of my latest experience with trust and its betrayal among men. Everyone was surprised to see me get out of the Gestapo clutches alive, not only my Ukrainian and Polish friends, but even the German Commandantura, and this was probably the reason for more decent treatment of me on the part of the German State Police in Skierniewice. Needless to say, I owed my life and my release primarily to the efforts of my wife and President Livytsky.
The City Mayor of Skierniewice helped me get a job as manager of the local motion picture theater which was run primarily for German soldiers, and only one day a week for civilians. Although this work did not provide enough income to live decently, at least it entitled me to ration cards. Before my arrest the authorities permitted me to occupy my old apartment, but two rooms were requisitioned for billeting German troops. In cold weather we were forced to live in the kitchen, however, since heat was provided only when German officers were in residence. Ration cards entitled us two only to 400 grammes of meat and 80 grammes of butter per month, and the rest had to be scrounged somehow. By far the worst problem was clothing and linen, rations were issued only once a year, and the quality was the poorest, so that they wore out in two months. Polish officials on the County Board helped us a little in this.
I used to go to Warsaw for films and there I learned from Ukrainian sources early in 1941 that the Germans were making ready to start war against the Soviet Union. There was plenty of evidence of this in Skierniewice: we could see the railroad tracks from our windows and I saw thousands of freight cars with men and supplies going east. Early in June the City Commandant asked me to come and see him, and he told me that he had orders to send me to the Government General in Krakow immediately where I would get further instructions. I thought: when are they finally going to leave me alone?
The next morning I was already in Krakow, met at the station by Col. Ivanovych. He told me that the Germans would be going to war against the Bolsheviks soon, and the German authorities asked him to name some Ukrainian political and military leaders who would be willing to establish a nucleus of a Ukrainian National Committee that would subsequently play a certain political role under German rule. Col. Ivanovych had been an Austrian officer and spoke German well; he worked as interpreter for the Gouvernement General in Krakow. It was the Germans who had mentioned my name to Col. Ivanovych along with the name of Dr. Yuriy Lypa. The latter had already gone to Vienna, and I was to follow with Ivanovych if I gave my consent. Ivanovych advised me not to refuse because this might put me in a dangerous spot, and besides, he thought that the Germans would reestablish a Ukrainian State. All this was a big and unpleasant surprise to me. I had witnessed German practices in Poland and I did not have any reason to expect any good German intentions toward Ukraine. I could see that not only would the Germans lose, but what would be the worst for Ukraine, Soviet victory on the side of the Allies; all this would have terrible repercussions upon Ukraine. It would first be a theatre of war, then of German extermination policy following the sincere and spontaneous welcome accorded them as expected liberators, and finally Communist vengeance for this, with awful consequences for Ukraine. I was very much shaken by the thoughtless recommendations of Col. Ivanovych, but having been taught a lesson by informers, I simply kept silent and listened. That same night we left for Vienna where a reservation had been made for me at the Roter Hahn Hotel. Many conferences were held with different German generals and colonels, and finally a special "guardian" was assigned to me in the person of Sonderfuehrer Baron Hochstaetter. I did not speak German well at that rime although I had taken German for eight years in school, and I saw some hope of extricating myself from this situation by virtue of language difficulties. We finally found out that Dr. Lypa and myself were to form some kind of a committee that would march into Ukraine accompanying the command of the German Armies Group of General Ritter von Schobert which were concentrated in Rumania, and then we were to "help the Germans occupy Ukraine." Several days later we went by cars from Vienna through Budapest to Rumania and arrived at Iasi. We were quartered in the suburb of Patra Neamri. It is difficult for me to describe my feelings at that time: in spite of my belief in German failure, I nevertheless wanted to see them win, hoping that perhaps some "New Bismarck" would emerge who would be able to take care of German eastern policy. I had wishful thoughts of seeing Moscow imperialism destroyed, but German imperialism did not bode well for Ukraine: I had read Hitler's "Mein Kampf."
About June 17, we were transferred to last and I was to be assigned to the operational department of the Group Staff. I was given reports on the situation in Ukraine to read with locations of Soviet troops, and I observed that the German officers had complete faith in victory. I was hurriedly put into a Rumanian uniform without insignia. At that time I received a call from a Rumanian Colonel Ioanescu, who introduced himself as chief of the Rumanian mission to the Group Staff and began conversation with me in pure Russian. I learned that he was a former Russian officer, Lt.-Col. Ivanov, originally from Kishinev, who had enlisted in Rumanian service. He asked me point blank: what was my job with the German command? I gave him a diplomatic answer, but actually I could not tell him anything positive even if I would because I did not know much myself, and I did not wish to sound critical.
At dawn on June 22nd the Germans started the offensive, and by night we had reports of their tremendous success. Probably the next day Captain Benes of the Topographic Department of the Staff brought me aerial photos of the city of Batum and asked me to translate them into maps, which I did. For several days I had nothing to do, and no one on the German Staff asked me to do anything. I saw thousands of prisoners and I would have gladly talked to them, but I had no authority for this.
Meanwhile I noticed an interesting phenomenon of intrigue among Ukrainians attached to the Staff. There was Captain Puluy who was an Austrian citizen and a former officer of the UHA. He seemed to have an ambition to fulfill in connection with the German conquest of Ukraine. His position was that of captain attached to the information department of the Staff. He brought Lt.-Col. K. Porokhivsky, formerly of the UNR Army into his department; the latter had been living in Bucharest as chief of one of our "school groups," and I knew him from the time of our war. There was thus a clash between two concepts as to Ukraine, Capt. Puluy's and Col. Ivanovych's, with that of the latter relying on Sonderfuehrer Hochstaetter. When I noticed this intrigue I decided to get out of this maze as soon as possible and I told Col. Ivanovych that I wanted to try and get back home. He was shocked by my proposition and said that matters require my presence in Ukraine, and that Capt. Puluy's intrigues are trifling. However, when I learned from reports that the Germans had already taken Vinnytsya and Vapnyarka, and I was still being ignored, I requested Major Riesen to give me travelling orders to Skierniewice, and to state that I was to return to my former job of theater manager. When Baron Hochstaetter learned of my request, he took me to the railroad station in his car, and on the way told me that there had been a change in the situation, and that now the Germans "don't need either Ukrainian generals or politicians," even as plain advisers. It was clear to me that Berlin must have issued some harsher orders on German policy in Ukraine in connection with their unexpectedly easy victory.
I returned to Skierniewice, and I must admit that I was very happy at such an ending of my adventure. And again, my mission had something to do with the attitude of the German authorities toward me now.
As is well known from the memoirs of numerous Ukrainian observers of the German occupation of Ukraine, the people of Ukraine welcomed the Germans as liberators, but hardly a year passed when the Ukrainians discovered the true face of the Germans and began fighting those "liberators" with armed uprisings and sabotage. My forebodings were, unfortunately, coming true. I had an opportunity to speak to Ukrainians from Eastern Ukraine who were serving in the German Army, and when they learned that I was a Ukrainian, they told me, very cautiously at first, about the brutality and terror of the Germans in Ukraine. But when the Germans began their retreat from Ukraine in 1943, Ukrainians fleeing from the advancing Communists painted a true picture of German behavior in Ukraine: they had kept intact the Communist system of collective farming, an institution most hateful to the Ukrainian farmers; the so-called state farms had merely come under German management and the workers remained on them as slave labor; the Germans took over all factories and plants and subsequently dismounted and shipped to Germany all the machinery and equipment; all Ukrainian educational and cultural institutions were closed down; over 3,000,000 young Ukrainians were shipped to Germany as slave labor; many young men were drafted into the German Army through the so-called UVV (Ukrains'ke Vyzvolne Viys'ko – Ukrainian Liberation Troops); and whole villages were razed and their inhabitants exterminated for late or insufficient deliveries of grain and food requisition quotas. Wherever sabotage took place, usually by Communist agents and provocateurs, it was charged to the local population, which bore the brunt of punishment. This was in accord with Hitler's plans for Ukraine: he destined Ukraine to be the area of settlement of his war veterans. Hitler's policy also pleased Stalin: the more Ukrainians liquidated by Hitler, the less remained for Stalin to liquidate (compare Khrushchev's de-Stalinization speech at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party in 1956 in which he said that Stalin would have gladly deported all Ukrainians to Siberia, but there were too many of them).
Days passed, however, bringing news about the complete rout and retreat of the Germans on all fronts. The Germans became very angry at the bad news from the fronts, and I experienced it on my person. Early in 1944 I was called to the Labor Bureau and the clerk ordered me to assign two employees of the theater to work in Germany, and I would have to employ a German "Volksdeutsch" woman in their place. The theater employed in addition to myself, two mechanics and two ushers, the latter doubling as porters, it was therefore absurd to demand that I release two employees and take an inexperienced woman in their place. This is the way I explained the matter to the clerk. Several days later a Polish policeman came to my house and handed me an order of the Labor Bureau signed by the same clerk according to which I was to be escorted to the assembly point for workers going to Germany. On the way to the Labor Bureau we encountered the County Commissioner and Chief of the Labor Bureau (this was a real bit of luck) with whom I was well acquainted. The Commissioner stopped us and asked the policeman where he was taking me, and he showed the order. After looking at the order the Commissioner handed it to the Chief of the Labor Bureau and asked him what all this meant. The Chief answered that he knew nothing about it, took the order and had me released.
On September 1, the uprising broke out in Warsaw and it had certain repercussions in Skierniewice. The local Gestapo chief was assassinated and the clerk of the Labor Bureau who wanted to send me to Germany, too. The Soviet troops were on the right bank of the Vistula near Warsaw, i.e. about 70 kilometers from Skierniewice. Since I had been informed by Polish officers released from German POW camps for poor health and living in Skierniewice that the High Command of the Warsaw Uprising was counting on Soviet help, my wife and I were in danger of being found by the Communists in Skierniewice and decided to flee. This was all the more necessary, since we had to close the theater for lack of films. We received a permit and moved to my brother's in Lodz. President Livytsky was living in Lascek near Lodz where he moved from Warsaw by permission of the Germans. I utilized this opportunity and called on President Livytsky. In a long talk we tried to clarify our Ukrainian emigre policy in connection with the growing possibility of Communist occupation of Poland. President Livytsky was of the opinion that the Polish Government-in-Exile in London would be able to exert sufficient pressure on the Allies to have the Soviets stay on the other side of the Vistula. The west part of Poland would be occupied by the Allies because, according to Pres. Livytsky, it was not in their interest to permit the Communists get that far into Europe, and they were bound by an agreement with Poland. This argument of President Livytsky was undoubtedly politically valid. But I was of different opinion: I took into consideration that the Allies would want to save their manpower, and hence would not assign the Soviets to a passive role that would free the Germans' hands in the east and cause more loss of life in the west. In addition I believed, in logical continuation of my former conclusions which had all turned out correct, that the Communists, saved from annihilation through the aid of American arms and material, would march on in pursuit of their doctrine of conquest of the world, and it would be odd if they did not seize such an exceptional opportunity. I was also convinced that guided by their materialistic dialectics, the Communists will not make much of possible protests on the part of the Allies, and there is a good chance that they might occupy all of Germany, beating the Allies to the punch. I said: "Doesn't all prior Bolshevik tactics prove that they make the world face accomplished facts?" Even in the first stage of this war they proved it by their attack on Poland with which they had a non-aggression pact, and furthermore, the Americans were well disposed toward the Communists, a fact of which we were apprised from newspaper reports. President Livytsky did not preclude the possibility, based on observations drawn from conversations with other Ukrainians that the Allies might also accept Germany's tacit proposal to cease operations in the west so that they could turn all their forces against the east. I, of course, did not believe in this, as contrary to my other conclusions, and being apprehensive for the President, I requested him to move west so as to be under the Allies when Germany collapses. President Livytsky had some justified reservations as to this, alleging that the Allies, "in their political knowledge of matters of eastern Europe" could very well turn him over to the Communists, and that keeping his residence in Allied occupied territory would be possible for only a short time. In any case he seemed to be quite preoccupied, without showing any signs of apprehension, and promised to get in closer contact with the Chairman of the Ukrainian Central Committee, Professor V. Kubiyovych who had the power to provide evacuation facilities for our people. Since Krakow was already threatened, Prof. Kubiyovych had moved with the U.C.C. to Lueben near Breslau.
President Livytsky also informed me that the UCC had given refuge to numerous Ukrainian leaders escaping from Soviet Ukraine, among them the prominent Kharkiv lawyer V. A. Dolenko and his close associates, professors V. V. Dubrovsky and M. O. Vetukhiv. Mr. Dolenko had already paid President Livytsky a visit and the latter thought very well of him as a political leader who stood firmly for Ukrainian statehood in the form of UNR. I was advised to meet him.
In Lascek there was also a certain detachment of the German Gestapo with a Ukrainian Lieut-Col. Kryzhanivsky working there. When he learned that I was in Lascek, he came to President Livytsky's home and said that he wished to see me on an urgent matter. He was wearing the German uniform of a Gestapo. Lieut-Col. Kryzhanivsky offered me the position of Commandant of a Ukrainian Officers' School with the rank of Colonel, and said that he had been given orders to organize such a school. This spelled new trouble for me, and I did not know how to get out of it. If I were to refuse, it would mean getting involved with the Gestapo through a Ukrainian because it was clear to me that the whole school project was Kryzhanivsky's scheme to get in good graces with his superiors; acceptance, on the other hand, was beneath my dignity and politically wrong. I replied that when he gets the school organized there will be time enough to talk about my position. This seemed to me the best way out because the Communists were already "at the gates." When I returned to Lodz, there was a message from the Skierniewice City Council waiting for me, requiring my immediate return to Skierniewice because in view of the stabilization of the military position around Warsaw, the City Commandant demanded that I reopen the theater. When I was waiting for a train to take me to Skierniewice from the Lodz station next morning, a Ukrainian messenger in German Gestapo uniform delivered an order from Kryzhanivsky to me which required my immediate appearance before Kryzhanivsky for the purpose of taking over the position of Commandant of an Officers' School with the rank of major. Fortunately, I had with me an old document from General Ritter von Schobert's Staff which I showed to this officer and playing a role of indignation I emphasized that I am at the sole disposal of the Staff and no Gestapo orders apply to me. My wife and I left for Skierniewice right away, a place where Kryzhanivsky's arms did not reach.
The neighborhood of Skierniewice was overflowing with German troops and with refugees from Warsaw, many Ukrainians among them. For the first time I saw among German soldiers men with insignia in yellow-blue colors and the letters UVV (Ukrainian Liberation Troops) on the sleeve. When I approached them and addressed them in Ukrainian, they did not conceal their apprehension of their future. They said that there were enough German troops with sufficient arms to offer resistance to the Reds, but that German soldiers lost all will to fight and left frontal positions at every opportunity. In order to halt this flight the German command was keeping SS troops in the rear. To my questions about the impression Soviet troops made on them, the soldiers answered that Soviet units go into battle in a disorderly mob which flees before any serious German resistance, but that the Reds never surrender, obviously because they know that the Germans shoot surrendering enemy soldiers. The appearance of Soviet troops, was according to them, horrible: exhausted, hungry, dressed in plundered civilian clothes, barefoot, they beg for a piece of bread, they carry their rifles on strings and the only sign of recognition as Soviet soldiers is a red star on the cap which distinguishes them from bandits. Discipline was lax, and the UVV soldiers thought that if the Germans were willing to fight they could push the Communists to the east with less effort than in 1941. The Soviet Air Force and tank detachments were the power chasing not only the Germans, but also the Red Infantry forward.
Although deep in my heart I felt the satisfaction of seeing my predictions come true, I was faced with the problem of what to do and where to go with my wife. We could easily get into Communist hands because the ability of the Germans to hold the front now seemed quite dubious, but even if we were lucky to evacuate, life in Germany would not be easy with the Germans showing so much hatred for foreigners. And then, even from inside Germany the Communists would either demand delivery of certain people, or go hunting for them. There was no certainty whether any safety could be found under Allied occupation.
Meanwhile the Germans were preparing to defend Skierniewice, and ordered the entire population to dig anti-tank trenches all around and within the city. My wife and I, because of the work in the theater, had to dig only for four hours every day. The local Polish population began to believe that "the Red Russians are not the same as during the reign of the tsar, and they will surely bring us freedom," which was probably caused more by their hatred for the Germans than their familiarity with the Russians. It was very dangerous to speak against this favorable opinion of the Russians because one would be subjected to denunciation as a "traitor-Ukrainian," who supports Hitler. By that time food had become so scarce that the cats and dogs in the city were consumed. We went hungry, too, and the commandantura gave us only ration bread (half saw-dust).
The Warsaw Uprising turned our apartment into a transfer point. Many Ukrainians and Poles whom we knew, and some whom we did not know, who escaped from Warsaw and vicinity during the fighting of the Polish Insurgent Army (Armia Krajowa) stayed in our home for several days. We shared our last piece of bread with them, and whatever we had from the garden: tomatoes, potatoes, onions, etc. These unfortunate people had not only lost all they had, but nearly everyone had left some relative in Warsaw and they spent whole days meeting trains arriving from Warsaw in the hope that they would see them or at least get some news from Warsaw. Among those refugees was also Colonel Sadovsky, for whom I was later able to get permission to return to Warsaw to look for a grandson.
One day about the middle of October, Col. Mykola Rybachuk came to us. He was working in the Ukrainian Central Committee in Krakow and Lueben and proposed that I take over the command of a Ukrainian Division within a Corps which will be formed and placed under General V. Petriv. I do not remember on whose authority the offer was made, and I never heard the proposal of forming a Corps mentioned again.
This was also the first time I ever heard about General Vlassov: the City Commandant came to the theater and gave me a copy of the newspaper "Volya Rossii" (Russian Freedom) which contained an appeal of KONR (Komitet Osvobozhdeniya Narodov Rossii – Committee for Liberation of Peoples of Russia), and other information about the Committee, its purpose and personnel. The Commandant had the naive to believe that the KONR and its activities could change the situation, and that Vlassov would defeat Bolshevism. I was tempted to ask: what with?
22. The Ukrainian National Committee
Late in November 1944 I received a telegram from Berlin signed by President A. Livytsky, asking me to come over immediately. Before I could pull my thoughts together and plan my trip to Berlin, a messenger came to me with a note from the County Commissioner asking to come and see him right away. When I came in, the City Commandant was sitting in the Commissioner's office, and they asked me if it were true that I was a Ukrainian general, and whether I knew anything about my trip to Berlin. I replied that I was indeed a Ukrainian general and that I had a telegram from my President which I could not quite understand. During the course of a lengthy talk I learned that the Commandant had received orders from his superiors to arrange for my trip to Berlin "with all available comfort" on the express train running between Lowicz and Berlin, which was only for German officials and officers. The Commandant tried to tie in the purpose of my trip with his prior conjectures about Vlassov. Within an hour I had travel orders in my hands and I was taken in the Commandant's car to Lowicz, a station on the route of the express train. By consent of the City Council and Commandant I transferred the management of the theater to my wife.
During my really comfortable trip, I had a whole compartment of a sleeping car, German inspection officers and police officers looked at my papers at least five times during the twelve-hour trip and they could not contain their obvious astonishment at seeing a general (that's what the papers said) who looked more like a beggar than a general.
I found President Livytsky at the Hotel Excelsior as per instruction. After breakfast and a long stay in the hotel bomb-shelter during an allied air raid, the President told me in a long conversation in his room why he had brought me to Berlin. Present during this talk was also Dr. T. H. Olesiyuk, one of the oldest members of BUD and a man of high prestige in Ukrainian politics who was well disposed towards me.
First of all President Livytsky told me that he had thought it advisable to send me a telegram so that I would understand that it was he who was summoning me to Berlin, and not the Germans. Then he told me that there were certain political and military German leaders who did not agree with Hitler's Eastern European policy, but were compelled to keep quiet about it; they were; Alfred Rosenberg. Grand Admiral Raeder, General Brauchitsch, Herr Leibrandt, Professor Arlt, and others. Admiral Raeder had even left active service for opposing Hitler's Ukrainian policy, and those men were now being given some consideration in view of the hopeless military situation, and they would like to tell the world as well as the Ukrainians and other nations of the USSR that not all Germans were on the side of Hitler. They had respect for the aspirations and power of these nations, and would like to make an attempt to save at least their political leaders and hundreds of thousands of soldiers who believed that they could, with German support, liberate their nations from the yoke of Moscow, and hence they would fight against the USSR on the German side.
President Livytsky obviously believed that the cause of this attitude on the part of those Germans was not so much the interests of the potential allies of Germany, as direct interests of the Germans. Being German patriots they wanted to gain a sympathetic ear among the Allies for all Germans, and personally they would be treated at intermediaries in a good cause and thus exonerate themselves from possible repressions. I thought that this was quite logical and correct reasoning on the part of the Germans of those circles. President Livytsky was of the opinion, however, that even in the midst of this critical situation the possibility should not be excluded that the Germans might come to terms with the Allies on a cease-fire, and turn all their forces against the Soviet Union. It had become common knowledge that the Germans had put out feelers on this subject through a certain neutral nation. If any of these plans were to materialize, said President Livytsky, it was of utmost importance to establish national political representations: news of this would cause favorable reaction among the masses of Red troops, and this might be the beginning of a renewed fight for our independence. President Livytsky knew from confidential talks with Dr. Arlt, Professor von Mende, and General Leibrandt that someone else might replace Hitler, a person more acceptable to the Allies, and in that case we should not pass this opportunity. Incidentally, in our exchange of thoughts President Livytsky did not really believe in this possibility, but as a politician he could not entirely discount it.
In our further conversation President Livytsky told me that all these matters were the subject of consultations among representatives of Ukrainian political groups invited by him to participate: OUN-B under S. Bandera, OUN-M under A. Melnyk, and the Organization of the Hetmanists. In the existing situation that looked hopeless but was as yet unresolved. President Livytsky did not think it advisable to engage himself or the UNR Government as a party, and hence he came out with a project of establishing a Ukrainian National Committee, something on the pattern of KONR. During talks with the Germans, however, some difficulties came up: the German spokesmen seemed to be tied to the concept of General Vlassov (KONR) which had the support of Himmler, and hence they wanted the Ukrainian National Committee to be part of KONR. In addition, they felt that the Ukrainian National Committee should be headed by a general because it was easier for generals to agree among themselves. The latter project was along the line of President Livytsky's reasoning, therefore when other candidacies were discounted, he proposed me. Such other candidates were at the beginning: S. Bandera, Col. A. Melnyk, Professor Isaac Mazepa, and General V. Petriv. Various objections and General Petriv's refusal caused the president to offer my candidacy, which was agreed to conditionally by S. Bandera and A. Melnyk, who were to express their final opinion after meeting me personally and learning of my personal views and abilities. Hetman P. Skoropadsky, however, did not consent to any candidates, believing that both for reasons of political expediency as well as his political and military contacts with the Germans, it would be best if he were to head the committee. The matter was thus becoming clear to me and less encouraging because I would be cast in the most unpopular role, and certainly in a dangerous one, to face Allied war considerations, engage in conversations and practical contacts with the Germans whom I did not trust and against whom I was prejudiced, and finally, I would be the object of political play of our own political parties. I was very candid about all this with President Livytsky, but he gave me instructions on how I was to face the various factors if I consented to his proposition. Regarding principal and practical purposes of the Ukrainian National Committee, President Livytsky believed that it should: 1) seek opportunities and ways of saving Ukrainian political emigres and numerous leaders who managed to flee from the Bolsheviks in Ukraine, and 2) take over from the Germans the care of hundreds of thousands of soldiers of various Ukrainian formations who found themselves within the German armed forces voluntarily or involuntarily, and special attention was to be paid to the Division "Halychyna" which in the event of German surrender could automatically be turned over to the Bolsheviks. President Livytsky said: "Can we permit our brave soldiers who are such a treasure in the Ukrainian cause to perish? As a soldier you must not only understand, but also feel it." He also considered it imperative to discuss with leaders from Ukraine and Galicia the problem of the several million Ukrainian laborers shipped to forced labor in Germany. It would be necessary to find out how many of them do not want to return home and take care of them so that they would not fall into Communist hands. In his opinion, it would be very beneficial to retain as many as possible in the West, at least those who are the most conscious patriots among youth because, in his opinion, events could unexpectedly create favorable conditions to employ them in the interests of Ukraine.
Finally President Livytsky said that he thought it necessary to warn me that even under the existing hopeless and dangerous conditions, there are plenty of irresponsible people who do not realize the burdens and responsibilities of heading the Ukrainian National Committee, and are vying for the position of its chairman; this would be excusable, but these people do not understand the situation, and what is even more sad, they do not realize their own lack of qualifications for the position. President Livytsky mentioned several names, one general among them, and added: "these people are looking for support among Germans for whom and with whom they worked in well-paid jobs as managers of collective or private Polish and Ukrainian enterprises, such as mills, estates, lumber yards, etc. President Livytsky finally asked me to head the Ukrainian National Committee and asked what I thought of it. Obviously, I was somewhat surprised by the proposition: on the one hand the great faith in me, and on the other, I was wondering that President Livytsky, knowing what I thought of the Germans and their situation, required me to volunteer for this dangerous job without any prospects of benefiting the cause. It took me quite a long while before I could say anything: all kinds of thoughts were fighting inside me; I felt apprehensive of making a mistake, I did not feel experienced enough in political matters, the instinct of self-preservation asserted itself casting doubt upon the need to engage in a hopeless cause, and finally I also felt somewhat slighted for being the last one to get the offer after others had refused. I finally offered the following answer: I did not feel politically experienced to take on such dudes; I did not see any hope of any successful results at this last and concluding stage of the war; and that the Ukrainian community which I know very well, will make me a scapegoat for all failures. I added that I fully understood President Livytsky's arguments that I would have to deal with German administrative and military officials, and like it or not, would become an object of their political moves, after all, even with the war lost, Germany was still a great power whose officials treat us as stateless refugees. In the eyes of the Allies my forced collaboration with the Germans will be deemed hostile and to say the least not understandable in the last stage of the war. Finally I told President Livytsky that I did not think I was so much less worthy than the other candidates that the offer should be made to me after all others had refused, and that I had ambitious feelings which were hurt in this instance. President Livytsky gave a brief answer: "I count you among the Ukrainian generals who will obey my orders without reservation and will carry out even the most onerous duty."
There was a long, hopelessly long, pause in our conversation. Finally President Livytsky proposed that I reserve decision until I talked to other political leaders, primarily to Col. Melnyk, S. Bandera, V. A. Dolenko, and Dr. T. Olesiyuk. He also thought it advisable for me to see representatives of emigres of other nations: Georgians, Byelorussians, Cossacks, and others. I knew well the diplomatic abilities of President Livytsky, he would certainly use his great prestige to get our leaders in a good frame of mind to meet me. In conclusion President Livytsky said: "General, I want you to recall my words of other confidential talks, I always told you that I knew my generals well, and that in case of an important decision they would seek support in my authority, but you alone I could always let go freely because you never deviate and never lose sight of our main purpose. This time I am convinced even more firmly that my opinion of you was well justified. Therefore right now, when I don't know what your decision is going to be, I give you, as the future chairman of the Ukrainian National Committee carte blanche: all your decisions will be approved by me." From the last words I saw that I had no means of backing out. President Livytsky added that he understood my disgust with "our own people" through whom I had suffered so much in prison, and that he sees why I have no confidence in the Germans, but I should remember that we are all living for Ukraine and not for ourselves. He assured me that in the event of a threat of my being surrendered by the Allies to the Communists through Allied ignorance of our cause, he and all his political associates would use everything within their power to explain things and help, but he hoped there would be no need for this.
I spent the night without sleep, weighing the needs, possibilities, and consequences.
During the next several days I had long talks with Col. A. Melnyk and his close aides O. Boydunyk and D. Andriyevsky. Col. Melnyk gave me his opinion of the situation without concealing my responsibilities and almost complete lack of opportunities, he stressed internal and external difficulties, but gave his approval of my candidacy conditional on my further attitude. Col. Melnyk was full of his old tact and personal charm and conducted the talk with me with all sincerity and understanding of the situation. This made a very good impression on me. D. Andriyevsky and O. Boydunyk had a somewhat closer look at me and watched what impression Col. Melnyk's explanations were making on me. I saw Col. Melnyk several more times and I always went away satisfied: he never persuaded me to accept President Livytsky's proposition, but always gave me a correct appraisal of the situation. No less interesting was my first, and all subsequent conversations with the nationalist leader S. Bandera. He and all his close aides, and particularly Dr. V. Stakhiv expressed their full confidence in me, and S. Bandera approved my candidacy without any reservation emphasizing that by reason of my prior military career he was certain that I would not depart from principles of national and political dignity, and would display a proper military skill.
Came another all-night talk with President Livytsky in the presence of Dr. Olesiyuk. After exchanging thoughts and my report on my impression of the talks with Col. Melnyk and S. Bandera, I gave my consent to begin talks with the Germans, first of all with Professor Fritz Ark and Colonel L. Wolff. There was no other Ukrainian present during my talk with those two gentlemen. Professor Ark was interested in my opinion of possible collaboration with Gen. Vlassov and asked me how I imagined the organization of the Ukrainian National Committee, i.e. its composition, purposes, and attitude toward Germany. He said that he was well acquainted with my experience in connection with my detention by the Gestapo, and added that in time of war different circumstances may arise which take the lives not only of individuals, but even of peoples and nations. I stated quite frankly that I don't trust Germans in general, and hence I did not see any need for a Ukrainian National Committee nor of its useful work. Dr. Arlt answered that under existing circumstances nothing stood in the way of trying to do something, and that on his part and on the part of those who shared his views he could assure me of full support. "Even in war, positions are conquered one by one" he said, and that I as a soldier should understand this. Dr. Arlt further emphasized that there was another matter that should concern me as a Ukrainian general: the Ukrainian Division. I had learned quite a few details about the Division since my arrival in Berlin, and I could answer Dr. Arlt. I said: "The Division is still called 'Halychyna Division' but nearly all officers are Germans; one can assume that the Germans did not oppose the establishment of the Division hoping to get their mercenaries to work for them, although the men in the Division look upon their ideological purposes from a different viewpoint. The equipment of the Division is so inferior as to be beyond any words of criticism, and what is most important, the Ukrainian community has no idea what further use the Germans wish to make of the Division which, in the sad story of its battle of Brody suffered tremendous losses through the fault of its commander and high command. You, Doctor Arlt, know well that the Division is the flower of the Ukrainian Galician intelligentsia. Is there any possibility of exerting such influence that what happened will not happen again?"
Dr. Arlt answered: "You are mistaken. General, neither in my opinion nor in my intentions, neither in those of the Governor of Lviv General Waechter and many others, was there any negative attitude toward this matter, and actually, we were the ones who contributed to the formation of the Division. I propose that you, General, have a say in matters of the Division, too. General Waechter and I had been insisting for a long time that the Ukrainians should have their Division, we also thought of a Corps and even of an Army; isn't that in the interest of Ukraine? If you accept our conditions, even if they are not in accord with your attitude, then gradually we shall be able to achieve much more, obviously if you show appropriate diplomatic skill."
I answered Dr. Arlt immediately that my diplomatic skill is only clarity of the position because I was a soldier who did not understand "civilian diplomacy." The Division should be under Ukrainian command, all soldiers of Ukrainian origin who voluntarily or not were dispersed throughout all formations of the German army should be taken out and put in purely Ukrainian national units. A Ukrainian National Army should be formed which would be organized under the Ukrainian national banner, and serve only the interests of the Ukrainian people and swear allegiance to Ukraine. This army should wear traditional Ukrainian uniforms and be under Ukrainian command. But in addition to the Division I had other demands: how could I consent to our leading people such as S. Bandera, Col. Melnyk, Professor R. Smal-Stocki and others being deprived of liberty. Or to thousands of Ukrainian patriots being confined to concentration camps? There should be freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, and the other basic human rights, but most essential, the German Government should issue a declaration renouncing any claims to Ukrainian territory. Only on these conditions could we, Ukrainians, and myself in particular, go along with the Germans against the common enemy . . . each fighting for his own national interests . . ." After a prolonged silence on both sides, I added: "If we could only turn the clock back to 1941".14
After some thought Dr. Arlt answered: "General, I cannot vouch that the German Government will accept all your terms, but here I can give you some advice: take a close look at the situation and you will see that you could accomplish everything that you desire. No matter how beneficial to Germany, I cannot imagine that Germany would avoid carrying out your demands if you had an armed force. Besides, for the duration of the war you can speak to the Germans on equal terms if you accept the rank of senior German General (Gruppenfuehrer)." I jumped on this, and said: "Me a Gruppenfuehrer? Never!" Dr. Arlt smiled in ironic grimace, and this was the end of our talk. Colonel Wolff proposed diplomatically that we should take all matters which we talked about under consideration.
I had an impression from the first talk that Dr. Arlt was sincere in his offer to help me, but again I doubted whether he would succeed. In any event we reached an agreement that I would submit memoranda outlining in detail my ideas about the purposes, immediate task, personnel, and practical work of the Ukrainian National Committee. Dr. Arlt was particularly emphatic about the need of a clear and even favorable attitude toward the KONR. I answered that this was out of the question because the Ukrainians were not a nation of Russia, but are engaged in struggle both against Red and White Russia, and that even if I recognized the supremacy of General Vlassov this would be meaningless, since no Ukrainian would support me, but on the contrary, declare that I was a traitor. I myself would consider it treason; therefore there is nothing more to talk about on this subject. I said: "I agree that General Vlassov is the chairman of the Russian National Committee, and I might be, after giving my final consent, the chairman of the Ukrainian National Committee. There cannot be even symbolic supremacy."
I reported the contents of this conversation to President Livytsky, Dr. Olesiyuk, Col. Melnyk and Mr. Bandera. Drafting of the memoranda was taken over by Dr. Stakhiv and Mr. Boydunyk, in the name of their respective organizations. The following day I received a number of other drafts. Both memoranda drafts were edited by me (I have copies of both to this day), and I deleted the name of Gen. Vlassov from them, substituting for it "Russian National Committee." Following advice offered to me, especially by Dr. Olesiyuk, I consented to include a paragraph to the effect that in the interest of the struggle against the Red aggressors I would coordinate action with the Russian National Committee by an exchange of liaison officers or even delegates. Such exchange was also planned with other national groups. The memorandum was handed to Dr. Arlt through Col. Wolff. I found out through roundabout sources that the last named paragraph constituted an obstacle to legal recognition of the Ukrainian National Committee by the Germans.
Meanwhile I had conversations with Georgian leaders: M. Kediya, A. Tsomaya, M. Alchybaya, Prince V. Andronikov, and others. I discussed my attitude toward KONR with them and they approved my position enthusiastically. The Georgians were the best informed about the German attitude to my proposition, and from information received from me they could weigh the matter from both sides. At that time Dr. Arlt and Colonel Kroeger (the German liaison officer attached to Gen. Vlassov) were making attempts to persuade the Georgians to make me change my attitude toward KONR, and arranged for M. Kediya to meet Gen. Vlassov. Kediya, however, told Gen. Vlassov to his face that he had no reason nor chance to even attempt to talk to me about this because this would be on the one hand, tactless, and on the other, he approves my stand both on principle and out of practical considerations. Kediya ended his talk with the words: "I would rather have Stalin in front of me, than General Vlassov behind me." I was very much impressed by this attitude of the Georgians. They offered me sincere and friendly support in my work, and I often sought their practical advice. Later I had the opportunity to meet another prominent Georgian patriot, Prince G. Magalov.
The relations with representatives of Byelorussian political groups were no less friendly. My meeting with President R. Astrausky was very instructive to me. He stated openly that he would go hand and hand with me, he would use all his prestige in my support, and that if we were able to form any Ukrainian national military units under the political sponsorship of the Ukrainian National Committee, the Byelorussian National Committee would have its forces join ours. He was also unequivocally opposed to German proposals of any subordination of national committees to the KONR.
At that time I also met the representative of the Don Cossack nation. General Krasnov, a relative of the renowned Don Cossack General P.N. Krasnov. Later, when a command of the Ukrainian National Army was established, our relations developed along strictly military lines. The well known leader of the Don nation's independence movement, the energetic opponent of the KONR, engineer V. Glaskov was enthusiastically happy at the prospect of political cooperation with "the Ukrainian brothers" from the very first meeting with me. He believed that the situation might become favorable to all of us because all nations conquered by Moscow now had considerable armed forces on the side of Moscow's enemy and they could play an important part in liberating their respective nations. There was only one fear he had: with an improvement of the Germans' military position, they might make another attempt to consider the area of Eastern Europe as German "Lebensraum."
It gave me much satisfaction that my attitude gained for me the political and moral support of all nationality groups which were friendly to us. True, I had known many of the leaders and their political ideology and work since before the war in Warsaw. There, the political organization "Prometheus" had been active whose president was Dr. Roman Smal-Stocki and both my friends and myself had been members. It was certainly due to their attitude as well as due to the noble efforts of those patriots that I was able to overcome all the difficulties placed in our way by the Germans. For their own national-political reasons they advised me against resigning my mission of heading the Ukrainian National Committee because in the German interpretation the matter stood thus: once they recognize the Ukrainian National Committee, all other national committees would be recognized automatically. They were in agreement with me about the early end of the war with a completely defeated Germany, but they still believed that it would serve a useful purpose to each establish their own political representation in the form of a national committee which would thus be able to negotiate with representatives of Allied occupation forces in the name of their respective national group of emigres. I believed that this would enable me to speak in the name of a large united multi-national assembly of groups opposed to Russian Communist imperialism. However, as I was to find out to my bitter disappointment later, these were idle dreams. None of us had ever imagined that Allied statesmen, including the Allied Military High Command, had complete ignorance of Eastern European political affairs. It came to light much later after the war that in addition to ignorance, common treason may have been another factor because in these matters the powers that be lent an ear to willing and unwilling Communist agents.
There was no answer to my memorandum from Dr. Arlt, and I did not know what to do next. There was no sense in remaining in Berlin because the food situation was acute, and in addition, I left my wife in Skierniewice in danger of getting under Soviet occupation, Soviet troops being stationed close to Warsaw on the right bank of the Vistula, seventy kilometers from Skierniewice which they could take in one day. President Livytsky had left for Lascek together with Dr. Olesiyuk. On December 14, I requested Col. Wolff to issue traveling orders to me to go to Skierniewice, and I went via Krakow, where I wanted to see the chairman of the Ukrainian Central Committee, Dr. V. M. Kubiyovych. My plans were to offer Dr. Kubiyovych a position in the Ukrainian National Committee in the event of its organization. I had never met Dr. Kubiyovych before. He was, of course, aware of my mission, and when I proposed that he take the position of my first deputy in charge of all civilian matters of the Ukrainian National Committee, he first made an intelligent request for some detailed information: the attitude of our political organizations toward my mission, the results of my talks with the Germans, the future composition and tasks of the Ukrainian National Committee, my attitude toward the KONR, and my plans on the organization of our armed forces. I explained every subject as best as I could, and he gave me his agreement in principle. I was impressed with Dr. Kubiyovych's fine manner and erudition, and mainly with his sober and serious approach. I was happy because I believed that his participation in the Ukrainian National Committee would raise its prestige and increase its chances of success. At the same time I did not conceal from the professor my appraisal of Germany's military situation, and the great responsibility which would fall on the Committee, that is on him, and on me. We agreed that if I would need him in Berlin, I could summon him by telegram. On this occasion Dr. Kubiyovych informed me about his initiative in the formation of the Division "Halychyna" based on ideological, political, and practical considerations. He was very apprehensive about the fate of the Division, and believed that there was a need to establish the Ukrainian National Committee, even if its only purpose were to be rescuing the Division.
I arrived in Skierniewice on December 17. There was much tension in the city, in connection with the crossing of the Vistula by Soviet troops in the north and south. It had also been reported that they had made attempts to cross the Vistula somewhere near Demblin. Red aircraft were already bombing Skierniewice and Lowicz. We had to prepare to leave Skierniewice.
I had left my aide Lieut. Stryisky in Berlin and told him to keep in touch with Col. Wolff, and to telegraph me if necessary. I received a telegram from him on December 25, saying that my presence in Berlin is immediately required. I left for Berlin the next day. Leaving my wife in an obviously dangerous situation, and unable to take her with me, I asked her to try and reach Lodz in case of danger, join my brother who lived there, and together proceed westward. I found out upon my arrival in Berlin that there had been no special need for me to come because the Germans had not reacted to my memorandum. In the course of several meetings with Dr. Arlt and Col. Wolff, I did, however, feel a tone of sincerity which had been lacking during my previous stay in Berlin. Dr. Arlt explained to me that the whole matter was being held up by Himmler's deputy. General Berger for the reason that I had refused to subordinate myself to Gen. Vlassov. Dr. Arlt did not give up, however, and continued in his very active efforts to gain recognition of the Ukrainian National Committee. This was clear evidence of Dr. Arlt's fine character and of his strong pro-Ukrainian convictions. I learned later that he had set in motion all influential German political leaders, and rook advantage of the prestige of our Caucasian friends to gain his goal. After my arrival he arranged for a number of meetings for me with important German leaders, so that I could personally convince them of the need of a Ukrainian National Committee and of other national committees. Thus, toward the end of December I came into my first contact with Professor H. von Mende, chief of a division in the Ost-Ministerium and the right hand of Alfred Rosenberg. Dr. von Mende was a very intelligent person and treated me with extraordinary courtesy. I met him a number of times in January and February, which I shall report in chronological order.
On December 31, I had a brief meeting with Counselor of the Foreign Ministry B. Hilger, a very important person in Ribbentrop's entourage, who asked me to attend a conference in the Ministry on January 3. Hilger was a Baltic German married to a Russian. He had been a high official in the Foreign Ministry of Tsarist Russia and spoke Russian fluently. He subscribed to the idea of a restoration of Russia, and hence he favored the KONR, and opposed the idea of partitioning Russia into national states. This made him automatically an opponent of the Ukrainian National Committee. Prof. Kubiyovych was in Berlin at that time, and I asked him to attend the conference in order to bolster my position. He refused, however, on the grounds that he did not as yet have any official relations with the Ukrainian National Committee because the Committee did not have official recognition.
The conference with Hilger took place in the Foreign Ministry in the presence of several officials of the Ministry. Among them, in addition to Dr. Arlt and Col. Wolff, were: Counselor Dr. H. Fischer who spoke several languages, including Ukrainian because he had lived in Ukraine for quite a long time before the war, and Col. Kroeger who was a liaison officer attached to Gen. Vlassov. I was alone and felt completely surrounded in this difficult situation.
Hilger started the talk with clarity and firmness: if I would agree to recognize the supremacy of Gen. Vlassov, the Ukrainian National Committee would be established. I had to explain in a fairly long reply to Hilger (Dr. Fischer was interpreting), what the Ukrainian political position was, that there was a tradition and continuity to our struggle against Moscow, and that Moscow (white or red) had never kept a promise; in this instance I referred to the very enigmatic political creed of Gen. Vlassov expounded in his Prague declaration on Ukrainian sovereignty. I stated that the idea of the Ukrainian National Committee pining the KONR was simply absurd under the given circumstances. I admit that I expressed myself quite undiplomatically. My concluding words were: "No, I will not go for this, and I don't believe any other Ukrainian will consent to recognize the KONR, none of us will even talk about this, no one is willing to go from the Red Moscow yoke under a white one; we are not a nation of Russia, but the Ukrainian nation." To this Hilger replied: "It will not be necessary. General Vlassov already has a Ukrainian section headed by professor Bohatyrchuk, Baydalakov, Forostivsky, Muzychenko, and others. No other Ukrainian National Committee is needed by anyone." This surprised even the Germans, and I observed a certain amount of consternation among them. The talks were discontinued, but Dr. Arlt came up with a diplomatic suggestion that he would continue his talks with me in private. I was very much tempted during this conference to deflate Herr Hilger's pride by referring to Germany's precarious condition, but I was able to contain myself.
The year 1945 did not augur well for me and my Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian friends.
Berlin was bombed so often and so heavily that we never had a moment of quiet. I was living in the Excelsior Hotel in the center of the city, and had to go down to the shelter every few hours and spend a long time in total darkness because all power lines were disrupted. I was even surprised that the Germans were able to repair them so often in spite of the heavy damage. It was probably New Year's Eve when I was sitting out a raid in the subway under Friedrich der Grosse Platz when a heavy bomb fell and I was hit on the head with an automatic ticket dispenser. I was knocked unconscious and carried out into the fresh air. During those moments of waiting thoughts were always entering my head on how easy it was to lose it ... but still, I wanted to have something to do and occupy me from such thoughts.
I had not as yet had an opportunity to make a call on Hetman P. Skoropadsky, although even before my trip home I had met the chairman of the Hetman's movement (The Association of the Hetman State), the aforementioned Col. B. Homzyn. I had received a letter from Col. Homzyn from Wansee near Berlin on December 8, in which my old friend wrote: "December 7, 1944. Esteemed and Dear Pavlo Theofanovych: Our former relations lead me to believe that I can address you sincerely and directly. So, having heard that you wish to venture into the dangerous sea of politics, or perhaps someone wants to urge you into that swim, I consider it proper to ask you to talk things over with me before making any decision. This might be beneficial to you. If you agree, come to my house because I am in bed and can not go out. I shake your hand. Glory to Ukraine, glory to the Hetman. PS. Please come without any company. I receive only invited guests in my house. Yours, B. Homzyn."
I called on Col. Homzyn on December 9, and although he was quite sick, we had a long talk about the organization of the Ukrainian National Committee, and about the difficult, dangerous, and thankless job of heading it. Col. Homzyn thought that it was detrimental both to the Committee and to myself to engage in such work without political experience. He was of the opinion that I should give up organizing the Ukrainian National Committee because under existing circumstances the only person who could head it was Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky, a person with great experience and prestige. I would be offered the command of the armed forces, with Col. Slyvynsky to be appointed my chief of staff (he had been chief of the General Staff in 1918 under the Hetman Government). We weighed all possibilities and I did not conceal my pessimism regarding the prospects for the Committee, even only on behalf of the Ukrainian emigres in Germany, i.e. out of Soviet reach. I therefore stated clearly that I would gladly give up my mission if my resignation would be accepted by President Livytsky, Col. Melnyk and Mr. Bandera. That was all we talked about. I do not know whether the late Hetman had any conversations with the above mentioned gentlemen about the Ukrainian National Committee, but in conversations with me they reaffirmed their previous position as to my candidacy.
On December 29, I requested Lieut.-Col. M. Kalynovych, a man who was close to the Hetman and who also worked in a German governmental agency, to ask the Hetman when I could pay him an official visit. This was agreed upon by President Livytsky, Col. Melnyk, and Mr. Bandera. The Hetman sent me an invitation to visit him at his home in Wansee on January 4, which was the day following my difficult conference in the German Foreign Ministry with Herr Hilger.
I was greeted by Col. Homzyn who took me to the Hetman and made the introduction. The Hetman asked me about my life under German occupation and then took up the matter of the Ukrainian National Committee expressing generally similar views to those expounded by Col. Homzyn, but he added: "I cannot consent to support the UNC headed by you because you have the backing of Andriy Mykolayevych (President Livytsky), and this will make the Committee soft, but if I were to head the Committee, you would get one of the highest positions in the Army." The only witness to this conversation was Col. Homzyn. Actually, I wished that I could have avoided the dangerous leadership of the Committee. But when it became known that the Ukrainian National Committee was actually established, I was informed in the name of the Hetman that he had issued orders through the leadership of the Hetman Movement that its members were free to take part in the UNC and its branches, and that they were permitted to join the ranks of the Ukrainian Army.
Much later, when the history of the Ukrainian National Committee was the subject of a discussion among emigre groups, a pro-Hetman newspaper in Canada, "Ukrainsky Robitnyk" of April 8, 1949 printed an article signed "M.K." which gave a completely false interpretation of my conversation with the Hetman. I immediately sent a letter to Col. Homzyn about this matter, and when the latter proclaimed his neutrality. I appealed to Professor W. Hryshko, a member of the Hetman organization to take a stand in the matter. Prof. Hryshko and the editor of the newspaper Dr. O. Rusov published a proper clarification. The purpose of the article by "M.K." was to minimize the Ukrainian National Committee and my role in it, and also to place the person of the Hetman in an awkward position as well as Col. Homzyn, who was present during our conversations.
I had another meeting with Col. Homzyn late in January when I informed him about the recognition and organization of the UNC.
 Compare Juergen Thorwald: "Wen Sie Verderben Wollen..." Steingrueben Verlag, Stuttgart 1952, pp. 341-343.