Ukraine's ambassador to Germany touts Nazi war criminal as a hero
In Europe, the past never goes away, and that's certainly true in Central and Eastern Europe. We've already heard about the openly Nazi brigades in the modern Ukraine army. Now, to make it worse, the Ukrainian ambassador to Germany just touted as one of Ukraine's greatest freedom fighters Stephan Bandera, who helped murder 800,000 Ukrainian Jews and 40,000–100,000 Poles. That didn't surprise me at all. It's what I expected.
From the start of Russia's assault on Ukraine, I've been ambivalent. On the one hand, I was horrified as all people of conscience must be when they see a military power brutally attack an innocent civilian population. On the other hand, having some familiarity with both Ukrainian and Russian history, I knew that (a) this was a fight going back centuries, (b) we had no business getting involved in a regional war, and (c) I don't have particularly warm feelings for either combatant.
Both Ukraine and the USSR behaved horribly during WWII, including allying with the Nazis. Ukraine was especially gleeful as it joined the Nazis in slaughtering Jews within its territory. It did so with such vigor that even the Nazis were shocked.
Nor does it matter to me that the current president of Ukraine is nominally Jewish. So were the Kapos in the concentration camps and George Soros. The worst antisemites in the world have been Jews (see, e.g., Karl Marx, whose father had him convert as a small boy, and who went on to bake antisemitism into the socialist cake).
That's why I wasn't at all surprised to read David P. Goldman's article about Andrej Melnyk, who insisted during an interview with Germany's Die Welt that Bandera was nothing more than a freedom fighter:
Image: Andrej Melnyk. YouTube screen grab.
Germany's leading center-right newspaper Die Welt posted a banner headline at the top of its page last Friday evening just before Shabbat came in here in New York: "[Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrej] Melnyk's statement trivializes the Holocaust." In a radio interview last week, Melnyk compared Ukrainian Nazi leader Stephan Bandera to Robin Hood and vehemently denied—in the face of massive historical documentation—that Bandera had helped to murder 800,000 Ukrainian Jews during World War II. The Banderites also helped to murder between 40,000 and 100,000 Poles.
Melnyk said, "Not just for me, but for many, many Ukrainians, he personifies the freedom fighter… and of course a freedom fighter… There are now written laws for those who fight for freedom. Robin Hood is also respected by everyone, and he also did not work according to the law current at the time."
The astonished German interviewer said, "And you admit that he and his men were involved in the murder of 800,000 Jews?"
"No, he was not involved," said Melnyk
The interviewer protested, "But it was his army. That's what his men did. There is no doubt about that."
Melnyk retorted, "You say, 'No doubt,' but there is no evidence. He was not convicted."
"There is no evidence that he killed Jews with his own hands, but his men did!" the interviewer insisted. "He ordered the murder of 100,000 civilians."
"He did not give the order to exterminate Jews," Melnyk continued.
The interviewer quoted leaflets distributed by Bandera to Ukrainians as the Germans marched in 1941: "People! You must know this. Muscovites (Russians), Poles, Ukrainians, Hungarians and Jews are your enemies. Destroy them! You must know this. Your Führer Stepan Bandera."
Later, writes Goldman, the Ukrainian foreign ministry refused to repudiate Melnyk's statements, merely saying that they represented his "personal opinion."
The worst thing about all of this, adds Goldman, is how assiduously the Biden administration and the American media are ignoring this grotesque Holocaust denial. Even American Jewish organizations are refusing to address the subject.
Here's the bottom line: Ukraine is the "good guy" right now, and nobody dares reveal that it has not just feet of clay, but most of its lower torso made of clay. Russia is not our friend, but neither is Ukraine. Despite their Western gloss, their values are very different from ours, and we blindly alienate one and fawn over the other at our peril.