Ukraine: Neo-Nazi Insurgency (1945-1947)


‘True, for a short time after the invasion of 1941, the Germans behaved like “liberators” of of the Ukraine, and were far less brutal there than in Russia proper. But this did not last long. By the beginning of 1942 Eastern Ukraine became the chief German reservoir for slave labour in the East. At least 2 or 3 million people – men and women – were deported to Germany. Alfred Rosenberg’s “theory” that the Ukrainians were real Aryans, while the Russians were “Untermenschen“, and that the former should, therefore, be given preferential treatment was dismissed by other top Nazis and Hitler himself as unrealistic; to Erich Koch, the Nazi Reichskonnissar of the Ukraine, the Ukrainians had, indeed, been Untermenschen from the start.’

(Alexander Werth: Russia – the Post-War Years Page 27-28)

Alexander Werth (1901-1969) was a Russian-born, British citizen who worked for the BBC as a journalist, and who was fluent in reading, writing and speaking both the English and Russian languages. This made him the ideal choice for the post of BBC Correspondent to the Soviet Union during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945). As a consequence of his Russian ethnicity (his bourgeois parents had left Russia to avoid the Bolshevik Revolution), he gained access to front-line Soviet Red Army activity as it was unfolding, and was often the first correspondent of any nationality, on the scene of major achievements, defeats or unsettling discoveries (such as Nazi German Concentration Camps situated in Eastern Europe). In fact, so popular was Alexander Werth in Soviet Russia, that he was permitted to interview Joseph Stalin in 1946. Both during and in the years following the end of WWII, Werth wrote many books about the USSR premised upon his own experience in that country, and presenting hard facts that often contradicted or exposed the general line of the US-led Cold War as being false and misinformed. What is interesting, is that following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the subsequent development of the internet, much of what Werth wrote has been confirmed through declassified Soviet language documents.


Alexander Werth was writing about the neo-Nazi insurgency in the Ukraine in his books during the height of the Cold War, explaining that although the Soviet Red Army expelled the main Nazi German military forces from the Ukraine after bitter and brutal fighting from early January 1943 until October 1944, what is less known in Western narratives is that an equally brutal Nazi insurgency began in Western Ukraine that lasted in its strongest phase between 1945 – 1947, but which is reported to have flared-up occasionally in the area until as late as 1955. Nazi German officers (who had not surrendered), led former Nazi German soldiers and volunteer Western Ukrainians in a guerilla formation termed the ‘Ukrainian Insurgent Army’ (UPA), which was a bizarre mixture of defeated and disorganised former Abwehr military formations, together with Western Ukrainians motivated by racist attitudes and anti-Semitism, and Cossack cavalry antagonistic to the Soviet Union. As it operated within the immense forested areas of Western Ukraine (making extensive use of tunnels, hidden bunkers and hollowed-out trees and hills, etc), the estimate of its strength varies between 25 to 100 thousand men under arms. The UPA operated with an intense brutality reminiscent of the Nazi German occupation forces. Any Ukrainian citizen that was loyal to the USSR, and who opposed Ukrainian nationalism and neo-Nazism, were rounded-up and murdered – with the women and young girls being gang-raped prior to execution. UPA murdering methods were often very similar to the those seen in modern insurgency wars such as seen in parts of Mexico or the Middle East today. This is because the UPA pursued ‘terrorism’ as a means to frighten and control the Ukrainian populace, and to instil a racist nationalism in place of Scientific Socialism. As Western Ukraine had been considered part of Poland from 1918 onward, the UPA received material and moral support from the Polish neo-Nazi group known as  the ‘Armija Krajowa’, which operated either side of the Polish-Ukrainian border.


This neo-Nazi insurgency was limited to Western Ukraine primarily because these people had been part of the USSR for only a relatively short time, whereas Eastern Ukraine had been part of Russia for centuries. The Soviet Socialist education system had not yet been effective in Western Ukraine, as it had not been fully established, and been unable to re-educate the people there against racism, fascist nationalism and anti-Semitism. The Nazi German presence there had encouraged the most vicious expressions of the bourgeois class, which had congealed into the most vicious expression of murderous fascism amongst the people. As consequence, the Soviet Red Army that had entered the area in 1944, came under attack from the UPA after the Nazi German military forces had formally withdrawn from the area (retreating back to Germany). However, evidence was discovered that US and UK Intelligence Agencies were in communication with the UPA, encouraging resistance to the Soviet Authorities, and providing arms, ammunition, medicines, money, radios, transport, and even evacuation facilities. As the Soviet Red Army was still, at that time, an ally of both the UK and US, the Red Army Authorities were reluctant to directly clash with Western-backed insurgency forces before Hitler had finally been defeated in Berlin. This decision was influenced in part, by the death of Soviet Red Army General Nikolai Vatutin (of the 1st Ukrainian Front), who was killed during an attack launched by the UPA. As a consequence, as the Soviet Red Army moved further westward toward Germany, the specially trained infantry of the NKVD (or armed paramilitary police), were moved into the Western Ukrainian area, charged with putting an end to the neo-Nazi insurgency. The NKVD met UPA viciousness with viciousness, and in a two year bloody war of attrition, the UPA and its neo Nazi movement was eventually destroyed.


It is stated that in 1944 alone – when the Soviet Red Army and NKVD were jointly operating in the area, as many as 57,405 neo-Nazis were killed, with 50,387 detained. From 1945 to 1947 – the UPA started to fall apart as the NKVD targeted its leadership, and the Western powers abandoned the UPA to its own devices. Although the neo-Nazism in Western Ukraine was officially stamped-out in the military sense, the ideology of neo-Nazism has lived on, hidden deeply amongst certain aspects of the Western Ukrainian people. In recent years, particularly under President Obama of the US, this neo-Nazism has been re-activated in Western Ukraine, and a neo-Nazi government (that extols Adolf Hitler) has been installed in Kiev.

Russian Language Reference: (Accessed 29.1.2017)

English Language References: (Accessed 29.1.2016)

Werth, Alexander, Russia – the Post-War Year, Taplinger, (1971)

Werth, Alexander, Russia at War 1941-1945, Barrie and Rockliff, (1964)

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