Yesterday, Poland commemorated the 70th anniversary of the 1943-44 Volhynia and Eastern Galicia massacres perpetrated by Ukrainian nationalists of the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army) led by Stepan Bandera and Roman Shukhevych. Bands of armed Ukrainians descended upon Polish villages in Galicia and Volhynia and massacred at least 40,000 people, mostly women and children. On July 11, 1943 alone, 100 Polish villages were attacked and the inhabitants murdered in the most brutal fashion: with knives and axes.
The areas through which Bandera's bands rampaged were previously part of Poland and were seized by Stalin in 1940, only to be lost to the Nazis a year later. With the Nazis' active encouragement, Ukrainian nationalist detachments, which previously helped the Nazis murder the Jews, swooped down on defenseless Polish villages, inhabited mainly by women, children, and the elderly.
An OUN order from 1944 stated with bloodthirsty vehemence:
Liquidate all Polish traces. Destroy all walls in the Catholic Church and other Polish prayer houses. Destroy orchards and trees in the courtyards so that there will be no trace that someone lived there... Pay attention to the fact that when something remains that is Polish, then the Poles will have pretensions to our land.
Unfortunately, the butchers of the OUN/UPA are considered national heroes in today's western Ukraine, long infamous for its hatred of Russians, Jews, and Poles. A third of the inhabitants of the city of Lviv (Lemberg) have declared themselves followers of Bandera and monuments to him and other butchers of Poles and Jews sprinkled up all over western Ukraine.
Former Ukrainian president Yushchenko, the darling of the eurocrats and the Western establishment showed his true colors when he awarded Bandera and his fellow genocide perpetrator Shukhevych the country's highest award - Hero of Ukraine. Like today's Croatia, where the Ustasha murderers are venerated and glorified, western Ukraine genuflects before the butchers of Volhynia.
Eugene Girin is a New York-based attorney and commentator.