25. The Ukrainian National Committee and the Command of the Ukrainian National Army
In my negotiations with Col. Melnyk, Mr. Bandera and Mr. Dolenko I stated that I was giving them a completely free hand as far as the personal composition of the UNC Board was concerned because I believed that organizations should send delegates of their own choice. I made it a point, however, that Professor V. Kubiyovych would be my deputy. I thought that the Board of the Committee should consist of five members and a secretary: myself as chairman, Prof. Kubiyovych as deputy chairman, one member from among new emigres from eastern Ukraine, one representative of OUN(m) and one of OUN(b). Mr. V.A. Dolenko wanted either Prof. Dubrovsky or Prof. Vetukhiv to represent eastern Ukraine, but when both refused, he asked O.P. Semenenko, an attorney from Kharkiv who gave his consent.
Both fractions of OUN declared that Prof. Kubiyovych should be considered as representing western Ukraine, and that their organizations had no candidates for office in the UNC. Their attitude was quite understandable to me. The situation at the front was quite obvious by that time: why take a chance? Moreover, during my last meeting with Col. Melnyk in the presence of Mr. D. Andriyevsky and Mr. O. Boydunyk, the latter asked me: "General, what are you doing at Fehrhelliner Platz?" Obviously, I could just as well have asked him what he was doing there because if he had seen me there, he must have been there, too. That last talk was quite dramatic, all those present believing that there was no longer any sense in engaging in the activities of UNC: the reds were at the gates of Berlin, and the Allies had crossed the Rhine. The best way out for me would have been to take advantage of the chaos, go west and hide until the Allies came. There was a great "but" to all this, however. They forgot that I was a soldier with my honor and courage at stake, and that I would not flee or hide. They probably wanted to forget that they had taken part in entangling me in this situation, and that I could not very well, following all the prior talks and attempts, resign and tell Dr. Arlt that Col. Melnyk was withdrawing the mandate given me by the OUN. We could not cut off Dr. Arlt who had done so much for the cause of the UNC even if it were true that politics knows no sentiments ... I doubt whether these gentlemen gave serious thought to the fact that through its "Himmler's" Germany still had enough power to fight it out and finish all of us, even including Dr. Arlt and General Waechter. I thought it odd that such apparently serious people would lose sight of the fact that we were looked up to and counted on by our friends and allies: the Caucasians, Byelorussians, Cossacks, Turkestanians and others; I don't know how they could forget about the pressing need to save the soldiers of the "Halychyna" Division which was in a precarious position of being threatened with delivery to the Bolsheviks by a capitulating Germany. Our talk ended with Col. Melnyk reserving the right to recall his OUN from participating in the UNC.
A directly opposite stand was taken by S. Bandera of the other OUN group: "full support to the end, whatever it may be." The OUN(b) organization and its members were always full of good will and respect for the cause entrusted in my hands, and gave me their support as long as the UNC existed.
This made me change my plans as to the composition of the governing body of UNC. It would consist of territorial representatives of Ukraine with consideration for a so-called "emigre key," i.e. O. Semenenko would represent eastern Ukraine and new emigres, V. Kubiyovych western Ukraine and its emigres, and I the old emigres. This plan was readily approved by V.A. Dolenko and Prof. Kubiyovych who gave me all possible moral support in this difficult moment. V.A. Dolenko proposed Mr. P. Tereshchenko, an old emigre to be Secretary.
In spite of everything I felt very badly about being unable to get the advice of President Livytsky because I knew that he was the only person who could give me good advice and needed support. I decided to visit him at the first opportunity. The opportunity came on February 26. President Livytsky greeted me very warmly, heard my detailed report on the situation and finally told me that Mr. Boydunyk had already been to see him and asked that I should be made to change my mind about the UNC. Mr. Boydunyk's main argument was that this might expose Ukrainian political leaders to the danger of being charged with collaboration with the Germans. I replied that two months ago Mr. Boydunyk had not brought the argument of alleged collaboration, although the situation was then just as muddled as today. President Livytsky was in full agreement with me and said: "My soul is always with the soldiers, I also understand their logic and that is why I am now with you; continue doing what you believe to be necessary, but for the sake of tranquility find some way to cut yourself off from dependence on political organizations; I was always of the opinion that politicians should take their lessons in politics from soldiers, you probably remember what Clemenceau said, 'politics is too difficult to entrust it to generals,' but I think that it depends on the individual". I asked President Livytsky to let me take from his personnel General O. Vyshnivsky (the Commander of the 7th Blue Regiment of 1919 mentioned before) and Major Ya. Fartushny. The President consented and told me to ask them. I found them with ease because they lived in the same village; they consented and came to join me in Berlin soon thereafter.
It should be noted that neither I, nor the UNC had any funds for living expenses or for current disbursements. I had been quietly hoping that the leaders of our political organizations would take care of these matters, and I personally never considered making any requests. Professor Kubiyovych, however, gentlemen and realist, had not forgotten about financial matters: one day he came to me with his cashier, Mr. A. Mylanych, and handed me 5,000 German marks.
At that time many military men of various ranks began visiting me, and every one of them insisted on seeing me personally. Among them was General M. Omelanovych-Pavlenko, who came from Augsburg and offered his services. I was able to offer this deserving general the chairmanship of the UNC Military Advisory Board, a position that I created just for him, and the General accepted. The General, however, had no money for his fare back to Augsburg, and I had to borrow 500 marks for him from Lieut. Martyniuk.
Dr. Arlt, of course, remembered my financial needs, too, and offered me 20,000 marks through Prof. von Mende. I directed Lieut. Martyniuk to accept the money and to issue a receipt for the amount as a loan for UNC.
After my return from the visit to President Livytsky to Berlin, I talked about the UNC with Dr. Arlt from the angle of new difficulties on the part of Ukrainians, but instead of giving me a direct answer, he said that all formalities leading toward recognition of the UNC by the German Government had been completed, that all my demands had been met, and that a formal declaration of the act of recognition would take place in the Foreign Ministry according to my request, but it would take a few days to overcome technical difficulties. Dr. Arlt advised me not to wait for completion of formalities, but to finish my organizational work as soon as possible because the situation on the eastern front was perilous. I had an urge to tell Dr. Arlt "too late," but bit my lip in time because he was not responsible for the situation.
I asked Dr. Arlt to help me find Col. P. Samutyn whom I wanted to appoint as the Army Chief of Staff, but without success. In the meantime Col. A. Valiysky came to Berlin, and I gave the position to him. I appointed Major D. Bakun, an experienced officer, to be Chief of the Chancery and Inspection Department. I entrusted supplies to my brother, Col. O. Shandruk-Shandrushkevych, and at his request I made Lt. Martyniuk cashier and quartermaster. Capt. V. Serdyuk and Lt. Stryisky were my liaison officers, and when Major Ya. Fartushny arrived; I made him my personal aide. Gen. O. Vyshnivsky also arrived at that time, and took over military affairs in the UNC as my deputy. I requested Metropolitan Polikarp, then in Berlin, to appoint a military Bishop to the Ukrainian National Army, but since there was no bishop available, he appointed the Very Reverend Protoierey Biletsky as Army Protopresbyter. Attorney Colonel Ruzhytsky, mentioned earlier, became Attorney-General of the UNA.
Many of the officers who now reported to the Staff of our Army had been Ukrainian officers during the 1917-1920 period. Most were now in civilian clothes, but quite a few were in German uniforms and with reduced rank. They simply deserted from their German units feeling sure of protection of the UNC. Those whose rank had been reduced, e.g. former colonels now serving as majors, I ordered restored to their full rank and I had documents issued to them certifying that they were under the command of the UNC. I myself started to work immediately on establishing insignia for UNA soldiers, and I referred to my work on this subject on the Ukrainian Staff between 1928 and 1936. But here I was faced with insurmountable difficulties: It was impossible to get even our traditional stars, not to mention Ukrainian tridents and ribbons. In determining insignia for ranks I had to face reality: to put them on collars, sleeves, or shoulders. As the Soviet insignia were worn on collars and sleeves, I ordered ours to be worn on shoulders.
I had a lot of trouble in assembling a uniform for myself and finally I had to wear an overcoat of German design because there was no cloth or time to make a new one for me, or even to make all the necessary alterations to a German coat. On the left sleeve of my coat I had a trident made of yellow cloth. It was also impossible to buy or order a cap, so I wore a simple German military cap decorated with a trident badge which one of my soldiers gave me. Our uniforms, as can be seen from pictures, were traditional, and epaulettes were according to my design drawn when I was still on the Staff of the Ukrainian Ministry of Military Affairs. In addition, I also wore the S. Petlura Cross.
At that time a great number of officers began to report to our Staff, from generals on down; one of them, long retired and inactive, began to talk such nonsense about our attitude toward the Germans and about the need to establish two divisions immediately that I thought he was either a provocateur, or crazy. Delegations began arriving from military and labor camps requesting that camp inmates be drafted into the Army or transferred into purely Ukrainian camps because the Russians were furiously agitating that all should join the ranks of Gen. Vlassov's army, and on the other hand secret Communist agents were telling people not to join anyone because the Red Army would soon liberate them all. Ukrainians in the camps were in favor of pining the Ukrainian forces and this led to fights within camps and Ukrainians were not sure of their lives. I talked the matter over with Dr. Arlt, and within a few days a fine military camp in Nimek near Berlin was put at my disposal which could hold 3,000 men. There I immediately establish a collection point for the 2nd Ukrainian Division which was at first called the "Ukrainian Anti-Tank Brigade." My plans were to rename the "Halychyna" Division as the First Ukrainian Division when circumstances would permit. All who wished to join the Ukrainian National Army were directed to the Nimek camp, and we had 2,000 men assembled there shortly. Dr. Arlt helped us procure uniforms (unfortunately German), food and arms. I gave orders for Ukrainian national yellow-blue colors to be worn on caps and sleeves, but many soldiers were ready for this and put yellow tridents on a blue background on their sleeves. Colonel of the General Staff P. Dyachenko whom I had appointed commander of the Brigade ordered all soldiers to wear tridents and this was accomplished within a few days. Col. Dyachenko went to work with real vigor and in two weeks the Brigade became a real unit. When I inspected the Brigade I found the soldiers in fair physical condition in spite of their intensive training, and the percentage of sick men declined to an unbelievably low figure.
In a talk with Prof. Kubiyovych on March 8, we tried to find a way to legalize the UNC on the Ukrainian part on a wider basis. He proposed that the matter be discussed at a meeting of prominent Ukrainian representatives which he called to Weimar for March 12-14 for the purpose of determining aid to the Ukrainian civilian emigres by the Ukrainian Central Committee, and possible liquidation of the latter, since its functions were being taken over by the UNC. In addition to Dr. Kubiyovych, the following took part in the conference: his deputy in the UCC Dr. Kost Pankivsky, a well-known leader and attorney from Galicia, attorney V. Dolenko, Prof. V. Dubrovsky, Prof. M. Vetukhiv, Dr. M. Shlemkevych, Mr. A. Mylanych, Mr. A. Figol, Dr. Kotyk Stefanovych, Lt.-Col. Bisanz, and others whose names I did not, unfortunately, note. There was probably a total of 16 persons. The meeting first heard my full report on the military situation, and then on organizational matters of the UNC. I put particular emphasis on difficulties arising out of the new attitude of OUN(M), and pointed out that this attitude of the OUN was the result of their best intentions for the good of the Ukrainian cause. I ended my report with the question: "what are we to do?" I think that Dr. K. Pankivsky was the first to speak after me, and he was very emphatic in his demand that all Ukrainian emigres (in Germany and German-occupied areas) give their full report to the UNC. Mr. V. Dolenko, Dr. Shlemkevych and all others who spoke clearly demanded continuation of the work of the UNC, and Prof. Kubiyovych spoke of the need of the existence of the UNC to save our soldiers. There were no dissenting votes, or even doubts. The conference approved my candidacy as President of the UNC unanimously.
At that moment a new conception occurred to me: to eliminate the formal participation of our political parties in the UNC, and to establish the UNC on an anonymous factor, "the Ukrainian community." My new idea had the approval of the UNR government in the person of President A. Livytsky, and of the OUN(B) in the person of its leader Stepan Bandera.
After the conference I went to see President Livytsky who, as I mentioned, was living near Weimar. I gave him my report and presented my new idea to him with which he was very pleased and said: "I knew that you would find a way out." I then presented the problem of the High Command of the UNA: the UNC was to issue a resolution that I was being appointed Commander of the UNA, but I personally, and many of our older soldiers were legalists, and we would like to get an order of my appointment from the Supreme Command of the UNR Army. President Livytsky promised to do this, and within a few days I received the following order:
"ORDER. To the Army and Navy of the Ukrainian National Republic. No. 8. March 15, 1945.
Re: General Staff: Lieutenant-General of (he General Staff Pavlo Shandruk is hereby appointed Commander of the Ukrainian National Army as of March 15, 1945.
(Signed): A. Livytsky, Commander-in-Chief;
(signed) M. Sadovsky, Major General, for the Ministry of Military Affairs; Certified copy of the original:
(signed) A. Nosachenko, Lt.-Col. Seal."
After my return to Berlin Dr. Arlt informed me that on March 15, an official reception would be held in the Foreign Office and State Secretary G. Steengracht was to proclaim and deliver to me the Declaration of the German Government recognizing the UNC headed by me. I wanted Dr. Kubiyovych to be present at the ceremony, but he had not returned from Weimar.
I wore a borrowed black suit, and Dr. Arlt and Col. Wolff took me to the Foreign Office. There were a number of high military and civilian German dignitaries present, among them State-Secretary of the Propaganda Bureau, G. D'Alken. Dr. Arlt, who wore the uniform of a Lieutenant Colonel, introduced me. Soon State Secretary Minister Steengracht entered the audience hall in full uniform and regalia, and all rose. He approached me and apologized that Minister Ribbentrop could not attend because of illness, greeted me, and standing in front of me read the Declaration and handed it to me. The following is the text of the Declaration:
"Reichsminister Alfred Rosenberg. Berlin, March 12, 1945.
To: General Pavlo Shandruk, Berlin-Charlottenburg.
In order to make possible the full participation in the decisive phase of the war against Bolshevism, and to introduce the proper order into national relations in Europe, in the name of the German Government I recognize the acting organ of the national representation of Ukraine formed by you as the Ukrainian National Committee. I declare:
(1) The Ukrainian National Committee is the sole representation of the Ukrainian People recognized by the German Government;
(2) The Ukrainian National Committee has the right to represent the interests of the future Ukraine, and to manifest same in Declarations and Manifestoes. After final clarification of the matter of assembling those Ukrainians who are serving in the German Army, I shall make a demand that all Ukrainian units be joined together for the formation of a Ukrainian Liberation Army.
(signed) – ROSENBERG."
Minister Steengracht then added orally, since my demand had been oral, that the German Government consents to my taking immediate steps, with the aid of Dr. Arlt, toward withdrawing Ukrainian soldiers from units on the Western front. He noted with a smile that he was aware of the fact that although such an order had been already issued by the Wehrmacht Command, it was belated because the Ukrainians had already deserted from there.
Without my asking, Minister Steengracht explained that the Declaration of the German Government was signed by Minister Rosenberg because of the division of internal competences in the government.
Wine and canapés were served. I counted the number of people present and found a total of "thirteen," including myself. All offered me congratulations, and the Dr. Fischer mentioned before paid me the highest compliment when he said in Ukrainian: "You are one of the few who knew how to conquer the Germans without a fight, and your name is mentioned by all Germans." State Secretary D'Alken informed me that the German Radio had already broadcast the news about the UNC, and that questions were coming from all over: "who is General Shandruk?" Minister Steengracht talked with me for a few more minutes and did not hesitate to note that the Germans should rue the fact that they did not have the courage to perform this act in 1941. He did not mention any names, but I understood whom he meant.
After we left, Dr. Arlt said to me: "The Allies have conquered us, but you helped us conquer Hitler."
During the reading of the Declaration I thought again "too late." All the Germans present probably thought the same because now there was no power that could save them, certainly not the UNC, nor all the Committees put together. The only explanation is that Dr. Arlt and Gen. Waechter wanted to exonerate themselves and probably all Germans "before Ukrainian history," and most certainly wanted to save Ukrainian intellectuals, which is true when we consider the personal characteristics of the two men and their part in Ukrainian life. They could accomplish this only thanks to their power within the German nation and because under the existing circumstances there was no one to oppose them.
And so it happened. No one can imagine what went on inside me. I could only say one sentence to Dr. Arlt: "The Bolsheviks are near Kuestrin" – sixty kilometers east of Berlin. Nevertheless this was an event: right after I came to the Staff office I received numerous congratulations from friends and allies, Caucasians, Cossacks, Byelorussians, Turkestanians and others who had also formed their national committees.