26. The UNC and UNA Staff at Work
Numerous urgent tasks awaited the UNC, and it was also clear that some matters would have to be hurried. The greatest obstacle to all undertakings was the situation in Germany: communications and transportation were disrupted to such an extent that it was impossible to move even within Berlin, and more and more time had to be wasted waiting in air-raid shelters.
The most important task was the legalization of the UNC, i.e. drafting and adoption of its charter. I invited the members of the UNC Board to a meeting on March 17:
Prof. V. Kubiyovych, attorney O. Semenenko and Mr. P. Tereshchenko (engineer), just a handful of us. The order of the day was: discussion of a brief charter drafted by me, appointment of the Commander of the UNA, and drafting of a Declaration of the UNC and appeals to Ukrainian soldiers and civilians. I proposed a number of other matters, such as: discussion of making contacts with the Allies; the problem of evacuating Ukrainian civilians to the west to prevent their capture by the Bolsheviks; the problem of some kind of taxing Ukrainians to raise funds;
the problem of press and information; my visit to the 1st Ukrainian Division which, according to reports of the German Command of the Southern Front was supposed to be disarmed and interned as unreliable; the problem of control over the staff of Ukrainian Propaganda headed by Major K. Datsko, etc.
Mr. Semenenko stated that his health did not permit him to take part in the work of the UNC, and that he must leave for the west within a few days. He proposed that all duties of the Board of the UNC be transferred to me as President of the UNC, i.e. that I should make all decisions and be personally responsible for everything. Prof. Kubiyovych and Mr. Tereshchenko joined in this proposition, and the latter added that he was also going west and disappearing in the underground. I asked Prof. Kubiyovych how long he was going to stay in Berlin so that I could seek his advice if necessary. The professor replied: "this will depend on circumstances, but certainly not for long."
Decision No. 1 of the UNC Board gave me broad powers; actually full powers without any control, and decision No. 2 appointed me Commander of the UNA with all privileges of a Commander-in-Chief. The members refused to discuss all other problems referring to decision No. 1. After that I did not see either Mr. Semenenko or Tereshchenko, and I had occasion to seek Prof. Kubiyovych's advice only a few times.
Soon thereafter, or perhaps it was even before March 15, our political representative in the 1st Ukrainian Division Dr. L. Makarushka came to see me, arriving from Austria where the Division was then stationed at the front. He informed me of conditions there, and I promised to visit the Division soon.
The next problem to solve concerned the Ukrainian press and radio, so as to provide an opportunity to inform the Ukrainians, and our friends and allies, the Caucasians, Byelorussians, Cossacks, and others about the situation and work of the UNC. At that time a Ukrainian newspaper was published in Berlin whose chief editor was Mr. Bohdan Kravtsiv. Mr. Kravtsiv paid me a courtesy call and offered to put the newspaper "Holos" at the disposal of the UNC. I thanked him and asked him to continue publication and to keep in touch with the Army Staff which would supply him with material. Major K. Datsko,17 however, who was chief of "Ukrainian Propaganda" raised the question of taking over the newspaper "Holos" as chief of propaganda activities. Due to the then existing circumstances, the entire UNC existing in my person, I did not have any actual executive power and my whole authority rested on my personal prestige, I was therefore compelled to transfer "Holos" to the UNC Department of Propaganda, and Col. K. Datsko stayed as chief.
During a meeting with our well-known novelist Ulas Samchuk, I had offered him the position of chief of the propaganda department of the UNC, but he declined. Even the transfer of this department to the competence of the UNC cost me a lot of effort. We had agreed that Mr. B. Kravtsiv would continue as chief editor, and the name of the newspaper would remain "Holos" with the addition of the words "Ukrainian News, organ of the UNC," but for some unexplained reason there was a change of personnel, and the subtitle "organ of the UNC" was omitted. Editor Kravtsiv came to me complaining that I had "broken my promise," and I had no answer for him. Among the many difficulties the worst was that nearly all our intellectuals with whom I was dealing refused to understand my position. Everyone thought only of himself and had his own demands, they would not understand that this was no time for personal ambitions, but only one duty: to help me. To illustrate the point better, I wish to say that I had issued an order to my closest coworkers that they should come with all minor matters only to Col. Wolff (this was approved by Dr. Arlt). Col. Wolff made conscientious notes of all requests, but he could obviously do nothing – what could any German do at that time, on the eve of surrender, and with the whole country in ruins? Still, this did not help, and I was being bothered with all kinds of personal requests. Even Col. Wolff, catching a brief moment when we were alone would say to me: "General, don't your people understand anything?" One can imagine what position I was in.
While I was in Berlin, two issues of "Ukrainian News" came out in two weeks. The first contained the Declaration of the UNC and decision No. 2 on my appointment as Commander of the UNA, but I did not consider it advisable to publish decision No. 1 on transfer of all powers of the UNC to me. The second issue of "Ukrainian News" contained two appeals: "To the Ukrainian Community," and "To Ukrainian Soldiers."
The following is the text of the "Declaration of the UNC" which does not contain one word about relations of the UNC with Germany – it required no little courage to come out with it, and no less understanding on the part of the Germans to accept it with tolerance.
DECLARATION OF THE UKRAINIAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE
The Ukrainian National Committee has been established by the will of the Ukrainian Community living in Germany and in countries allied with Germany. The establishment of the Ukrainian National Committee is a new page in the community of Ukrainians who are deeply imbued with a love for their HOMELAND and would like to see it free from conquerors. The Ukrainian National Committee is the spokesman of these desires of the community and will hold steadfastly on that road which leads to the establishment of a sovereign national state.
Hence the Ukrainian National Committee has undertaken to organize the Ukrainian National Army which is to renew the fight for Ukrainian statehood. The Ukrainian National Army, in Ukrainian uniforms, under national banners consecrated in previous fights, and under our own Ukrainian command, will be under the ideological and political leadership of the UNC. It will be composed primarily of Ukrainians who are in the German Army, and in other military and police formations.
The future statehood should be built by Ukrainians strong in mind and body, and deeply aware nationally, therefore the UNC will take legal care of all Ukrainian citizens in Germany, of equalizing workers with citizens of other nations, and primarily of giving them the widest possible religious, moral, cultural, and material aid.
Long years of alien borders which divided Ukrainian lands have produced differences in ideas and actions. This must disappear in our common march to a common goal.
The Ukrainian National Committee wishes to accelerate this process of unification of Ukrainian souls not only by means of a wide educational campaign, but also by a unified Ukrainian approach to all matters. In its activities the Ukrainian National Committee will cooperate with National Committees of other nations enslaved by the Bolsheviks who are fighting for their freedom and independence just as the Ukrainians are. The Ukrainian National Committee is staunchly dedicated to carry out the duties imposed on it by the Ukrainian community, to the best of its ability. It will certainly carry them out if every Ukrainian individual will lend all his power to the common struggle for the common victory.
Headquarters, March 17, 1945.
(signed) PAVLO SHANDRUK, LIEUT.-GENERAL, GENERAL STAFF;
PROF. DR. VOLODYMYR KUBIYOVYCH;
ATTORNEY OLEKSANDER SEMENENKO;
ENGINEER PETRO TERESHCHENKO, ACTING SECRETARY OF THE UNC.
Many people had sent me drafts of the Declaration, but my associates could not agree on any of them in our discussions, I therefore drew my own draft, utilizing the ideas of the proponents to some extent.
I wish to emphasize that neither in the Declaration, nor in Appeals or numerous personal appearances, did I ever even attempt to garb the UNCommittee with any attributes of a Ukrainian government – the Committee was to be only "a spokesman of the wishes of the Ukrainian community," and, of course, an organ of technical aid.
The situation at the front was now threatening Berlin, and I began thinking about the need to move the 2nd Ukrainian Division away.
In order to make the Division purely Ukrainian, I decided to have it solemnly sworn in during an official review. I issued orders to Colonel P. Dyachenko, Commander of the Division that the oath would be administered on March 28, and asked the Very Rev. Biletsky to hold a divine service and swear the men in. I drafted the text of the oath and sent a copy to the Very Rev. Biletsky and to all Ukrainian units with which we were in contact. When I arrived in Nimek at 10 in the morning, the Division stood in full dress on the parade grounds, and the middle of the quadrangle stood a beautifully decorated altar (with flags and tridents) for the Divine Service. After taking Col. Dyachenko's report, I inspected the ranks of the Division (over 1,900 soldiers stood at attention), and in reply to my greetings, the companies answered "Hail Ukraine." Those words sounded like music in my ears, coming from those fine soldiers who had suffered so much. On command of Col. Dyachenko the banner was raised and carried to the altar by an honor guard. After the service I spoke to the soldiers, and then the Very Rev. Biletsky read the text of the oath, (subsequently the 1st Ukrainian Division took the same oath, too). Each soldier approached the altar, kissed the Cross and Holy Gospel, knelt, kissed the banner and said "I do." At that moment I felt that fate had rewarded me and all those soldiers for all our sufferings and misfortunes. It was an unforgettable sight when each soldier kissed the banner with tears in his eyes, and then saluted me with a position at attention. Neither I, nor any participants in this ceremony would have believed earlier that this could be taking place with Hitler still alive. The ceremony took several hours, and after it was over, Col. Dyachenko invited the Very Rev. Biletsky, Col. Wolff and me to a simple army dinner. At my request we ate together with the soldiers. I thanked Col. Dyachenko warmly for the fine attitude of the soldiers and for the beautiful songs they sang during our dinner. I ordered that the next day should be free of any duties, and I informed Col. Dyachenko that the division should be ready to march soon. Col. Dyachenko's aide and chief of his staff, Lieut. V. Hladych made a very good impression on me. He answered all my questions about the Division intelligently and from memory. Text of the oath for the Ukrainian National Army:
"I swear to Almighty God on His Holy Gospel and His Living Cross that without regard for life or health, I shall always and everywhere fight with arms in my hands under the Ukrainian National Banner for my people and for my homeland, Ukraine. Aware of my great responsibility as a soldier of the Ukrainian National Army, I swear that I will carry out all orders of my superiors obediently and without question, and that I will keep all service orders secret. So help me God and the Holy Virgin."
Address to the soldiers of the 2nd Ukrainian Division:
"My Soldiers: 28 years ago our fathers took up arms to defend the independence of the Ukrainian State, and to defend our sacred national idea. It was then not our fate to be victorious because not all were united in a single purpose, a single goal. Only for this reason we were overwhelmed by a hundredfold wave of enemy forces. But even in this apparently hopeless situation we did not renounce our Idea, and we did not bow our heads to the enemy. Many of us went into exile; we did not surrender to the hostile demagoguery about the Soviet paradise and about the brotherhood of nations within it. We continued the fight for liberation. Now you, my soldiers, taking an example from your glorious fathers, have left that paradise, and have here taken up arms in the name of liberating Ukraine from Bolshevik rule. You did not bow your heads to the enemy, either.
Today the enemy has again taken our land and wants to destroy the Ukrainian people to the root. He is sending your dear kinfolk to Siberia, to slave labor, or he drives them to the front lines under the eyes of NKVD detachments.
We have but one road and one goal: to renew the armed fight for Ukrainian freedom and to win. Yes, win – because just to die would be foolish. We want to win, and we shall win.
Representatives of the Ukrainian community have now been given the right to form a Ukrainian National Army. When we go into battle for the liberation of our HOMELAND, we shall not be alone because with us are hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian insurgents who are fighting heroically behind enemy lines, destroying enemy units, communications, and military objects.
The Ukrainian Insurgent Army is growing from day to day . We must help them because only the common effort of the entire Ukrainian people will assure our victory. No one will make a gift of freedom to us. In this struggle the German troops are on our side, and we will be joined by troops of our friendly allies of nations enslaved by the Bolsheviks: Byelorussians, Georgians, Armenians, Cossacks, and others. We always gave a good example of great sacrifice in the name of the fight for an independent Ukrainian State, and now we, descendants of glorious forefathers must show that we also know how to fight for the freedom of the Homeland.
You have been given the honor to manifest to our allied friendly nations that you are the FIRST UNIT OF THE UKRAINIAN NATIONAL ARMY SWEARING ALLEGIANCE TO ITS NATIONAL BATTLE FLAG.
You must never forget this, particularly when we shall go into battle for our HOMELAND under our Banner consecrated in blood. Remember that your mothers, fathers, and sisters are waiting for you. Our Homeland is waiting for us. And we shall return to it with victory.
Glory to the Ukrainian people, glory to our Homeland, and glory to you, my soldiers."
The correspondent of "Holos" reported. "The silent tension was broken with a powerful response of 'glory' three times after the General's speech, and reached the woods. There was unconquerable courage and sincere joy in the eyes of the soldiers. That is why the steps are sounding so hard in the parade march of. the columns, that is why the General is greeted with such a manly sound of the Ukrainian battle-song."
After my return to Berlin I starred to work on drafts of an appeal to the Ukrainian community, and an appeal to Ukrainian soldiers, the first to be issued by the UNC, and the second by the UNA Command. Unfortunately, there was no one in Berlin at that time to help me in drafting them. Only Professor Pavlo Zaytsiv, who visited me by chance, read the drafts at my request and found their contents meaningful.
The "Appeal to the Ukrainian Community" is fairly long, and its full text can be found in copies of "Holos – Ukrainski Visti" (Holos - Ukrainian News) No. 20/226, Sunday, April 8, 1945, if such copies can be found in Ukrainian libraries. Nevertheless it might be worthwhile to cite here at least the aims and purposes of the UNC. Both appeals had really nothing to do with then existing circumstances, I merely wished to record our inflexible desires and ideological connection between our desires, tasks, and tradition of our liberation struggles.
"To the Ukrainian Community"
"... the Committee believes that its basic purposes, to which all interests of the community and of the individual should be subject, are the creation of a Ukrainian National Army and cooperation with it of all national political forces which are already opposed to Bolshevism ... In addition, we must realize once and for all that we can gain national independence and safeguard it for the future only by force of arms, only by military power.
Realization of this single purpose under existing circumstances of war tension, will form a basis for the work of a legal Government of Ukraine along the solution of the following problems:
1. Safeguarding a state order and organization of state and social conditions in Ukraine;
2. Restoration to all classes of the nation of their right to property in land, freedom of work, and personal freedoms;
3. All-round development of national culture;
4. Assurance of absolute equality under the law for all inhabitants of Ukraine, regardless of origin or language differences;
5. Assurance of old-age pensions and disability compensation;
6. Freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, etc.;
7. Giving an opportunity to return to the homeland to those who are abroad against their will;
8. Abolition once and for all of any partition of Ukraine and her people among neighbors, and thus complete unification of all the inhabitants and citizens;
9. Establishment of good relations with neighbors who respect our national independence and who will show goodwill toward a common effort for lasting peace ...
(Signed by all members of the UNC)."
According to this appeal, the UNC was to create a basis for future activities of a legal Government of Ukraine.
"Appeal to Ukrainian Soldiers"
"You have already given up in the fight against the enemy what is dearest to man: home, family, property. But the dearest of all spiritual and material values is freedom. Freedom means free life in a free and independent homeland.
Our forefathers fought for this dearest of all treasures of man and nation: the State. But you did not cease in the fight since 1917, either. You are fighting with arms, deed, example, and word. You have not been broken by the Siberian tundra, nor by the tortures in Bolshevik jails. There is not, nor there shall ever be such power that could break a Ukrainian.
Here in an alien land, you Ukrainian citizen-soldiers have proved by your work, your will, and by your staunch attitude and unity that the Ukrainian nation will not lay down arms notwithstanding all adversities, until they gain the right to be free in their own sovereign state...
The Ukrainian National Committee and the Ukrainian Command appointed by it appeal to you, Ukrainian Soldiers, to seek all possible means to join the armed ranks of the Ukrainian National Army. The Ukrainian National Army, as you already know from the Declaration of the Ukrainian National Committee, has one purpose: struggle against Bolshevism for our own nation, for our own sovereign state...
Alongside our ranks in this struggle are ranks of soldiers of all nations who, like you, know but one sacred motto: for the nation, for the state...
Ukrainian Soldiers: the Red enemy brings death and destruction. He is looking primarily for those who have as yet nor bowed their heads to him because he is afraid of them, afraid of the power of their spirit, afraid of their faith in victory...
Let us remember, however, that the enemy is strong, and therefore complete victory requires: that all without exception join the organized ranks of the UNA, that they have full faith in their national leadership and command; that we prove to the whole world our national, political, and social discipline; and that we are ready at all times to make the greatest sacrifice of our lives, blood, and property.
This is the foundation of our victory.
This is the foundation of our nation and state.
(signed) Lieut.-General, General Staff, Pavlo Shandruk, Commander Of The Ukrainian National Army."
The most burning problem was getting ready to transfer the 2nd Ukrainian Division to the west. Dr. Arlt suggested that I should call on Field Marshal Schoerner, Commander of the Middle German Group of Armies whose headquarters was in Bohemia, and to ask him to include the Division in his Group. I consented, but decided to explain to the Field Marshal that he should not use the Division for combat because it was still organizationally raw, and that only in an extreme emergency could it be used in battle. In the company of Dr. Arlt I left for the Headquarters of Field Marshal Schoerner on April 2. We traveled by car equipped with a so-called "samovar" i.e. a wood-burning device. The speed was only 15-18 kilometers per hour, and we had to stop for a fresh supply of wood every 100-120 kilometers. The wood was not always dry and this made our trip much longer. We had to pass through Dresden which had been bombed the previous day and was now all in flames. In this instance it was hard to understand the purpose of bombing this center of museums and monuments of old Saxon and Germanic culture. Around noon the next day we came to a railroad station near Zittau, and there in railroad cars and without any camouflage was the Staff of the Army Groups of Field Marshal Schoerner. The Marshal was a neat, tall and square man with a large head, about 60 years old, who asked me rather brusquely what my business was. I introduced myself and explained in a few words that I wanted him to take the 2nd Division of Col. Dyachenko into his Army Group, and if possible not to send it into combat because the men had not as yet fully recovered from their hard life in camps. The Field Marshal's face brightened and he said directly: "And here I thought that you came to give me a political education; are you an officer of the tsarist army?" When I answered affirmatively, he asked me to have dinner with him. The point is that on the trip I had asked Dr. Arlt to characterize the Field Marshal, and I composed a plan of approach: everything was to be said briefly and clearly. During dinner we had an opportunity to talk more sociably and in more detail, the Field Marshal himself began asking about the UNC, the UNA, my plans, and particularly what was to be done with the "Halychyna" Division. I gave brief answers, but to the point, and was helped in this by Dr. Arlt. After dinner, the Field Marshal wished me luck and advised me to see the commander of the tank corps, General Count G. von Strachwitz right away, since the command of the 2nd Division would be transferred to him. In parting the Field Marshal presented me with a bottle of some supposedly very old and good liqueur which I, on the advice of Dr. Arlt, immediately gave to the officers of the Field Marshal's staff. We went to see General von Strachwitz who was just then convalescing from heavy wounds received in battle with Soviet tank units. The Count and Countess received me very nicely and he promised to satisfy my wishes in full. He ordered one of his aides to take me to a large neighboring village where the 2nd Division would be quartered in school-buildings. I must note here that during Col. Dyachenko's last report to me I gave him very confidential instructions to avoid having the Division drawn into battle at all cost, and to look for an appropriate moment to make contact with the Allies or else to march straight west. I knew that this order was difficult to carry out, but still, under the existing chaos, it might be possible.
When we returned to Berlin we had to face the problem of an immediate evacuation of the Staff and for me to leave Berlin because the Bolsheviks were already fighting in the suburbs. But due to circumstances the Staff was already compelled to carry out the functions of the UNC, i.e. to take care of the Ukrainian civilian population even from camps located far from Berlin, and particularly to take care of wives of soldiers who had joined the 2nd Division. At that time the Quartermaster of our Staff received a loan of 80,000 marks from the German State Bank which had been requested for us by Dr. Arlt and Prof. von Mende. We gave a receipt for it as a State loan to the UNC, and my deputy, General Alexander Vyshnivsky ordered the QM to pay the soldiers' wives 30 marks each. All officers of the Staff and of the 2nd Division were paid 250 marks each, and the men 50 marks. The Berlin office of the Ukrainian Central Committee had been formally dissolved and all its employees went west, mainly to Bavaria. We started an immediate evacuation of the so-called "heavy" department of the Staff and of some institutions under the UNC, such as newspapers, radio, etc. They were moving west toward Weimar, which it was alleged, would fall into Allied hands. I and the "light" part of the Staff were to go to the 1st Ukrainian Division which was holding the front against the Bolsheviks in Austria, on the Feldbach-Voelkermarkt sector near Graz. Col. Wolff was to evacuate the heavy Staff. Later we learned that there was a general dispersal, and some groups as well as individual Staff officers and employees of the UNC had each to "fend for himself."
Even before leaving Berlin I had a chance to visit a group of our youth who were serving in the anti-aircraft defense of Berlin and vicinity. In Berlin this was an old stone building with "flak" guns mounted on the roof. What is referred to as our youth, were actually children, the oldest boy being only 17, and there were also girls among them. Dr. Arlt accompanied me and I did not even have to ask him to evacuate this and other similar groups from Berlin as parts of the UNA – he promised to take of this himself. In my Staff headquarters I gave an order to gather information about such groups of children and to inform them immediately that they are part of our Army and will be evacuated with our Staff toward Weimar.
In the meantime many other Ukrainian military formations reported that they wanted to join the UNA: Free Cossacks under the command of Col. Tereshchenko (unfortunately they were scattered all over Germany in various detachments, there was a total of over 700 of them); the 281st Reserve Regiment in Denmark with over 5,000 men; the Brigade for special tasks under Commander T. Bulba-Borovets with over 400 men; two infantry regiments on guard duty in Belgium and Holland totaling about 2,000 men; 3 battalions of MP's; in other words the UNA together with the 1st Ukrainian Division and Reserve Regiment of the Division totaled between 35,000 and 38,000 soldiers. According to German estimates there was a total of over 220,000 soldiers of Ukrainian nationality in the "Ukrainske Vyzvolne Viysko" (Ukrainian Liberation Troops), but among them some may have been non-Ukrainians. In any case if the Germans had thought about it sooner, the UNA could have had over 250,000 soldiers.
The numbers cited included also units of anti-aircraft defense, the history of these children has been very well recorded by Prof. T. Bilostotsky who, together with Prof. Zeleny cared for them on behalf of the Ukrainian Central Committee. Both named gentlemen came to see me at one time and reported on the matter, and I immediately intervened to have all groups of anti-aircraft units transferred to my command, but there was no time to check whether my request had been complied with. Incidentally, there were similar units of children of other non-Russian nationalities whose representatives also asked me to take them under my care (the manuscript of Prof. Bilostotsky is in my possession; it would be desirable to find a publisher for it).
 Maj. Datsko presented Red Army credentials indicating that he had been proposed for promotion to the rank of Lt-Col. and Colonel respectively.
According to the regulations of the UNC I commissioned him a Colonel, with the provision that his rank would have to be confirmed by the Ukrainian Government.