Ukraine War Day #393: Ukrainian Role In Khatyn

Dear Readers:

On March 22, 1943, exactly 80 years ago from yesterday, the German Nazis committed the infamous Khatyn massacre in Belorussia.

A rather odd sculpture by artist Sergei Selikhanov, commemorates the atrocity.

The Nazi Schutzmannschaft (Police) Battalion 118 destroyed most of the population of the village of Khatyn, as a retaliation for pro-Soviet partisan activities. The villagers were burned alive inside a shed.

This has all been known historically, but many details were concealed from the public for 80 years. Many secrets were kept, especially on the Soviet side. The overriding concern was to keep the peace and prevent internal-Soviet ethnic conflicts from destroying the harmony of the state. A lot of unpleasant facts were swept under the rug, under the pretense that “all good Ukrainians and Belorussians” fought side by side as Soviet heroes, and that all the bad things were done by the Germans. Khatyn was pigeon-holed as “Germans burning Belorussians alive.”

In my opinion, the Soviet government should have looked their own people in the face, told them the raw truth about the Ukrainian Banderites, especially during all those long years (post-war) of anti-guerrilla operations against the CIA-funded Ukrainian terrorists. Instead of all the happy talk about national unity in the face of foreign aggression.

Well, the gloves are off now, as are the rose-tinted glasses. Protocols that were classified as “top secret, never to be published”, have been published for the world to see.

Knap’s Story

The anti-hero of this story is a man named Ostap Fedorovich Knap, born 14 September 1922 in a town near Lvov when that city was still part of the Polish Republic. An ethnic Ukrainian, Knap was an ordinary worker without much education, who made a living as a welder. When war broke out he served in the German 118th and participated in punitive actions, including Khatyn. In June 1945 he ably switched sides and served in the Soviet army [most likely concealing his past and telling the officers some fairy tale about his whereabouts].

The wheels of justice grind slow, so many collaborators, so little time… On 19 October 1973 Karma finally reached Knap’s doorstep. On 15 March 1974 he was convicted of “betrayal of the Motherland” by the High Court of the Belorussian SSR. He was sentenced to death by firing squad; but, upon appeal, the Presidium of the Supreme Court of the Belorussian SSR, commuted his sentence (24 April 1975) to 15 years in prison.

Minsk, 1942. Commanders of the 102nd, 115th and 118th Punitive Battalions pose for a photo.

Knap served his term in a labor camp called Perm-36. On 18 June 1987, a general amnesty was declared as part of the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the October Revolution. As part of this amnesty, Knap had his sentence reduced to the point where he became a free man on 23 February 1988.

The Secret Protocol

The new information, just recently revealed, is that Knap was interviewed that same year, 1988, in the Belorussian Prosecutor’s Office. The interview is called an “interrogation”, even though Knap was either freed by then, or about to be freed. [Maybe the interview was a sort of allocution required for his release?]

Degenerate Nazi Oskar Dirlewanger

The transcript of this “interrogation” was classified as Top Secret with no statute of limitations. The (Soviet) public was never supposed to see this information. But the current Russian government decided to de-classify and release it. No doubt in the hopes of de-mystifying Ukrainian “heroes” in the eyes of the public. As if the Russian public isn’t already becoming ferociously anti-Ukrainian. The mini-bombshell in this particular protocol, is the news that most of the burning and shooting was performed by Ukrainians, not Germans. To people in the West, especially historians, this is not actually much of a bombshell. But people have to realize that a lot of this was hidden from people growing up in the Soviet Union. That’s why these kinds of archives were labelled Top Secret.

Knap recounted how the Ukrainian Politsai of the 118th Battalion herded the villages into the barn. They posted a Ukrainian named Leshchenko at the doors, with a machine gun, to shoot anybody who tried to flee. Knap and other Ukrainians also shot at people after the barn had been set on fire. They used stationary machine-guns, hand-held machine guns, and even just pistols and rifles to shoot the Belorussian peasants.

The 118th was in a fact a mainly ethnic Ukrainian Battalion, formed on the basis of the Bukovina cell of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). That was the same group that did the much more famous Babiy Yar atrocity. In Khatyn, the 118th operated jointly alongside the SS Special Battalion commanded by Oskar Dirlewanger. As reporter Anton Antonov notes, during Soviet times the role of the Hitlerites was emphasized, and the eager participation of the Ukrainian punishers was more or less swept under the rug. For reasons that we have mentioned.

One might also note, in passing, that the Ukrainian Banderites perfected the tactic of burning people alive, this was almost like their Signature tune. The same tactic that their physical and ideological descendants were to employ 71 years later, on May 2, 2014 in Odessa.

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31 Responses to Ukraine War Day #393: Ukrainian Role In Khatyn

  1. Liborio Guaso says:

    Worst of all is finding the modern white West ideologically sharing with the perpetrators of the Nazi crimes, which by the way, were equal to or worse than those carried out during the genocide of indigenous people and blacks during the conquests to steal their land and wealth. It’s like a kind of continuity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • yalensis says:

      It is a direct continuity: After the war, the U.S. coddled German Nazis and helped Ukrainian Nazis settle in the U.S. and Canada. The CIA also funded the underground Bandera movement in Soviet Ukraine in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. It was quite an effort for the Soviets to eventually stamp these people out; but meanwhile so many of them had formed the Ukrainian diaspora abroad and were just waiting for their chance to return. That opportunity finally came.


    • On a related note, I’m currently reading Dee Brown’s ‘Bury my heart at Wounded Knee’, a 700 page detailed historical account of how the U.S. government, U.S. army, and European settlers committed a mass genocide of millions of Native Americans, wiping numerous entire tribes off the north american continent. From 1860-1890 millions of Indians were murdered by the U.S. Army. They would hunt down where tribes were encamped, then attack at the break of day with cannons, rifles and bayonets: they made a point of deliberately killing women and children to eliminate reproduction of the tribe. Those that surrendered were then forced off their prime quality land where they had lived for thousands of years–and forcibly marched to Indian concentration camps. I use the world ‘concentration camp’ instead of ‘reservation’ because in fact these were open air prisons guarded by soldiers who had orders to shoot dead any Indians who tried to escape. What’s more, the U.S. government took great pains to choose the very worst land to build these ‘reservations’: land which was very bad or impossible to farm; had contaminated undrinkable water; and no wild game to hunt. Basically the Indian tribes forced at gunpoint into these reservations died by the thousands of malaria/other diseases, starvation, exposure, alcoholism and economic deprivation. Cut off from their traditional ways of hunting wild game such as bison, they were totally dependent on U.S. government rations: the government deliberately sent very bad quality food stuffs with the intent to kill off all the Indians on these horrible concentration camps. This Native American genocide and these techniques used to exterminate them was where Hitler got his inspiration for concentration camps for the elimination of Jews, Slavs, etc in his eastward push for Lebensraum. There are several books which detail how Hitler copied the U.S. government 1800s model for Native American genocide here is but one: Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law-

      Hitler was an avid reader of Karl May books, and was fascinated by Old West Indian wars which he read about voraciously. He even urged his generals during WWII to read Karl May books for inspiration in their drive eastwards.
      Hitler also found inspiration and an example and copied the U.S. Confederacy: its use of blacks as chattel slavery, and later the Jim Crowe laws which were implemented after the american civil war was copied by Hitler to use against Jews, Slavs, gypsies, communists and homosexuals.

      What is striking is how Hitler admiring and copying the USA in its genocide extermination of Native Americans and Jim Crowe laws to segregate and oppress targeted groups has been hidden, denied, and neatly airbrushed out of American history books. It’s an uncomfortable truth for Ronald Reagan’s “shining city upon a hill”.


      • yalensis says:

        It’s a horrible history. I knew some of this before, but I wasn’t aware of the Hitler connection.
        I have told this story before: I once went on a very nice tourist trip through American National Parks of the Southwest. On one stop our tour group visited a Navajo Reservation. The guides there told us an interesting story about the origins of the famous Navajo “fried bread”, which is considered a tasty treat now, especially for tourists.
        When the Navajos were forced off their land, they were force-marched to some fortress, which was to be their open-air concentration camp for many years. During the march, each Navajo family was allocated a very meager ration of corn flour and oil, that was all the food they got.
        The Navajo wives took these ingredients and invented fried bread. Which is filling and tasty, but not very nutritious.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Here’s a great quote from a reader’s review of ‘Bury my heart at Wounded Knee’ at amazon com website which touches upon the Navojo tribe you mention-

          “Anything not of the white way was considered barbaric. Instead of assimilating into their host country, the white people bullied and deceived Indians into meek submission to adopt their way and live on unwanted reservation lands or face death. When America had an interest in Indian land, they found ways, generally by brute force, to remove the Indians from their land. Unprovoked attacks, false arrests and killing and rounding-up survivors to take them to a worthless piece of land so settlers could stake land claims were part of the tactics used when the west was lost to white invaders. If land was not handed over promptly, entire villages were massacred, burned and destroyed, the survivors taken and labeled prisoners of war. Tribes of gentle, non-resistant Indians were conquered and exterminated. Cries of “Exterminate or banish!” were common among the settlers as was the seizure of land without pretense of payment. Gold seekers and settlers encroaching on land constantly provoked and stole from the Indians and then reversed the truth. The building of forts and the Union Pacific Railroad system in the middle of their hunting grounds and scaring the buffalo also heavily infringed upon terms of the treaties. Places that were sacred and holy to the Indian people, were mined by gold-crazed whites and trespassed upon although words of the treaties specifically said that no white man could pass over, settle upon or reside in the territory set forth. Those who fought too hard to keep their land or freedom were automatically marked for extinction. Any white who defended the rights of the Indian people were ridiculed, ostracized and worse.”

          You can see how the Ukrainians and German nazis who did the Khatyn massacre pretty much copied the techniques which the Americans used to exterminate Native Americans.


          • Ooops I didn’t paste in the Navajo part in above review, here it is-

            “The Long Walk of the Navajo – a people once very rich but left destitute and dying on a parceled out prison-land reservation of unimaginable, horrid conditions – is a familiar walk of the fates of other Nation tribes before and after themselves. Although different in their own ways, each tribe’s fate was related in their suffering the same resounding theme of systematic destruction due to the greed of the white settlers.”


            • yalensis says:

              ah such a depressing history…. Yes, the Long Walk, that’s what they call that forced march out of their own land and into their fortress prison.

              If there is even a glimmer of a happy ending here, it is that the Navajo people survived this genocidal ordeal. Their language is dying out, but there are persistent attempts to maintain it and teach it to the youth. And it’s written down at least, so it won’t be lost.

              Also, due to some unaccountable glitch in the Federal bureaucracy, the modern Navajo nation actually has more contiguous land today than they started with, believe it or not. Of all the indigenous peoples in the United States, they probably emerged the best off, at least in terms of land.


  2. S Brennan says:

    After the last sentence in the1st paragraph, I read through the piece thinking about the Trade Union building in Odessa 2014…and…an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Burning people alive is a thing with 3LA’s apparatchiks, it’s not just their Nazis in Ukrainia but…Syria AND Libya too!

    In that sense, Obama’s three wars were and are the most Nazi-like and yet, to his fan-boys Obama is an unsullied hero. Which is very unlike the former fan-boys of President Cheney’s side-kick, Bush jr, who long ago abandoned him. Today, only Obama/Biden/Hillary-D’s venerate the Cheneys and Bush jr…what’s up with that?

    Very strange bedfellows indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. tim rourke says:

    Hi Yalensis;

    If there is anything I find striking about the Ukraine war it is the reluctance of the Russians to believe that there are various people in the world who really do not like them and will go after them. 

    As for the “Ukrainians”, they have had this lingering idea that these are just some sort of long lost cousins whom they want back in the fold. Much of this idea comes from Soviet thought conditioning which tried to smooth over nationalist ideas. But a lot also comes from old “panslavic” ideas going back to the Czar’s times.

    What are called “Ukrainians” are really Galicians. While they have a common origin with Russians, they have developed in a very different way. They are one of these ethnicities who have developed a ‘toxic nationalism’, a hatred for everybody who is not them.

    It seems to run very deep in them. It seems to have been developed especially during their time under Austrian rule. The Austrians were a small German minority trying to rule over large numbers of mutually antagonistic ‘small peoples’.

    The Austrians encouraged this antagonism among their subject peoples to keep them from uniting against their empire. They also tried to foment dislike of Russians. The Austrians were very afraid of the Russian empire.

    This situation was apparent to us native Canadians when large numbers of Ukrainians immigrated into the prairie provinces in the years before the first world war. There were these two different groups; the Orthodox and the Uniates. The two did not fight, because Canadians do not tolerate immigrant groups bringing their quarrels from their old countries.

    However, they did not mix. In towns where they settled, there would be an Orthodox Church on one side of town and a Uniate church on the other. The two groups gradually assimilated into Canadian culture. The Uniates, believe it or not, had a reputation for being a bit ‘left’ and Bolshie’.

    There was some trouble after the second war, when large numbers of these new “Ukrainians” slipped into Canada with the wave of ‘displaced persons’. The old Galicians were very angry about this new wave, who began harassing them. Anglo-Canadians were concerned that a lot of these people had Nazi connections.

    However, once a group of refugees are in the country, it is hard to get rid of them. Where do you send them on to? The trouble was smoothed over, on the assumption that the new group would gradually be assimilated like other immigrants.

    These Nazi immigrants never assimilated well. They have had a bad influence on politics in Canada. You know what kind of person is now deputy Prime Minister of Canada.

    Attitudes about ‘Ukrainians’ are ambivalent in Canada, even among Ukrainian descendants. There is a nostalgia for the stolid and cheerful first generation of Ukrainian immigrants. Yet there is also a kind of embarrassment over the fanaticism of some migrants from Ukraine and other east Europeans.

    One old man I knew, who told me a lot about early settlement history on the prairies, was a descendant of Galicians, even spoke that language. When asked if he was of Ukrainian descent he would snap that his ancestors were “South Russian”.

    So what does this have to do with the Russians and ‘Ukrainians’ back in the old countries? I think the real Ukrainians, the Galicians, will be a problem for Russia for a long time. The Russian speaking parts of that country will be absorbed back into Russia but Galicia will be an ongoing threat.

    Having an openly Nazi state existing anywhere in the world is a hazard to the world. That kind of mentality always appeals to a certain type of personality. Because of the Ukraine war, there seems to be a surge of Naziism and Nazi wannabes all over the world, even in places they were never seen before.

    I do not recall if I sent Avalanchers a link to my own piece about this, If not, here it is again. here, among my odds and ends is an exchange I had with someone who, incredibly, claims I did not prove that Ukraine is run by Nazis.

    I think the upshot of all this is that Nazis are like any kind of contagion. Unless there is a persistent, systematic effort to eradicate them, they eventually take over. I hope the Russians take that as their clue about what to do when they eventually reach Galicia.

    I do not know what we will do about them in Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

    • peter moritz says:

      I lived in Fort St. John, BC for 35 years, and a lot of Ukrainians from Alberta, especially the areas around and North of Edmonton settled here, especially after the WW2 when farmland was available to veterans for free.

      Those Ukrainians are from the first wave of immigrants, after WW1, and are Catholics, and as such they of course join in the catholic parishes with the French Canadians having settled here and the same in Northern Alberta.

      There are still ideas being floated regularly of Northern BC joining with Northern Alberta, especially after the wookies…ah, I mean wokies, seem to be in charge of the BC capital and the lower mainland including Vancouver, as the population has in general more in common with our neighbours to the east than to the south.

      They have little to nothing in common with shysters like Freeland and those who emigrated to Canada after WW2, and they came because they were to a large extent wedded to Banderas nationalistic ideas, some, of course, came because of their experiences with the farm collectivizations and their anti-communism in general.

      Alberta however, especially in the bible belt, is somewhat of a hotbed of very rightwing ideas, including old and new Nazis, Christian fundamentalists and of course Ukrainians. After all, Edmon(t)chuck is a thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • James K says:

        Lol @ Nazism aka National Socialism being a “right-wing” idea. Good chuckle for the day. Especially even because the Bible Belt is (abortion aside) always advocating for more freedoms (more guns, less taxes, *zero* covid restrictions!), thus appearing like the opposite of any Nazism for that matter (unless Nazism is about expanding freedoms, which it clearly throughout history was not — just look at classical example Nazi Germany).

        But hey then again, there was probably a time when “libertarianism” or “classical liberalism” was considered a “left-wing” idea. Nowadays, those folks are considered to be even the “far-right” ones here in the US.

        So, funny enough, it’s more accurately a hotbed of pro-right-wing, yet simultaneously *anti-Nazi*, ideas then (being huge on increasing virtually all kinds of personal freedoms (save abortion) seems to go the opposite direction what Hitler did back in Nazi Germany — unless you seem think that was also a “free country” lol).


        • yalensis says:

          It seems like nowadays, “right” and “left”, “liberal” and “conservative” have lost all the meanings they used to have for prior generations. Even sometimes reversed the polarity of the neutron flow, as Dr. Who might say!


        • peter moritz says:

          The conservatives, the Right-wing in German politics, those who wanted to preserve the power of the industrialists, the ruling classes, the Junkers, were among the first to support Hitler, think Wannsee conference etc.

          You seem to be of the school that thinks that because the term Socialism appears in NSDAP that has anything to do with the idea of the same. Yes, there was actually a socialist wing within the NSDAP in the beginning, which soon was eliminated.

          Fascism’s general idea is creating a corporatist state, where the interests of the capital owners, be they financial or industrial, are directly linked to the political power in the form of a dictator, a capital-political nexus.

          However, this is not a one-way street either way, as the interests of capital are to be expressed and formed into action by the policies of the dictator, Duce, Führer etc., while in the other direction, the interest of the nationalist state as interpreted or formulated by the political leader instruct the action of the industrial and financial elites.

          So yes, conservatism and fascism go very well together, it is always meant to preserve the existing power of the leading financial and industrial elite. As the bible belt is deeply conservative. I see no problem with them supporting fascism.
          Nazism however is a special form of fascism, with an “absolutist” nationalism, based on a concept of a non-existent ethnic Volk, expansionism, and militarism and the claim of universal leadership.

          You are aware of course that there exists a right-wing libertarianism, which in essence defeats itself, as the unrestricted possibility to accumulate capital and control over the means of production, will lead logically to monopolies and this again to control over the politics that even in a libertarian state are needed at a rudimentary level.
          In contrast, left-wing libertarianism (socialism) tries to evade this trap, as the means of production are communally owned and controlled. This non private ownership opens their use to anyone who wants to engage in the production of goods and services, engaging the needed labor on a basis of free association of free producers.

          “being huge on increasing virtually all kinds of personal freedoms” with the exception of those they don’t like if they conflict with their particular religious or political beliefs.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Tim, very informative comment, especially as regards the sitrep in Canada.


  4. Daniel Rich says:

    Sometimes I wish history would be part of my mild memory loss, instead of that gigantic albatross hanging around my neck. Mankind does have its wicked ways, and most of it is something I can’t be really proud of.


    • yalensis says:

      “I fear thee, ancient Mariner!
      I fear thy skinny hand!
      And thou art long, and lank, and brown,
      As is the ribbed sea-sand.

      And what’s that thing around your neck?
      That presses to your brow?!”
      “What, this old bauble? Nothing, Sir,
      The latest fashion now.”

      [Daniel: That’s a ancient Mariner with a positive attitude, who takes a lemon and turns into lemonade!]


      • Daniel Rich says:

        @ yalensis,

        I’m a very positive man, but also realistic. Sometimes I dislike what I see [in the real world], very much so.

        Nevertheless, Putin and XI steer this planet toward a way more positive [all included] world. For that, I’m thankful :o]


  5. Samson says:

    Wikipedia writes about the Khatyn Memorial: “According to Norman Davies*, the Khatyn massacre was deliberately exploited by the Soviet authorities to cover up the Katyn massacre, and this was a major reason for erecting the memorial – it was done in order to cause confusion with Katyn among foreign visitors”

    *According to Wikipedia Davies is “a British and Polish historian, known for his publications on the history of Europe, Poland an the United Kingdom”. I never heard or read anthing from that guy. But ok, I’m no historian but as an ordinary man just little bit experienced in Marxian dialectic as method of thinking about real wolrd affairs.

    For this reason, I would recommend you to stop discussing “ethnicities”, otherwise you will make the same methodological mistake as Davies (with the difference that the latter, as a “professional” storyteller, knows what he is doing and why).

    You want to explain something, Davies wants to put a certain view of certain past events in a context that did not exist and has meaning only today, and that is as propaganda.

    If you say, Knap was an ordinary worker without much education, who made a living as a welder, than you discribe him in sociological way and if that is correct than it’s rubbish to say, he was that as an “Ethnic Ukrainian”, because this has nothing to do with the sociological describtion above.

    By the way, the Wikipedia article also mentions two former Soviet Army officers who served as commanders in the 118th Schutzmannschaft Battalion. Unlike Knap, they were tried, convicted and executed decades later. Not even Wikipedia dares to call these gangsters anything other than war criminals. In this respect, Knap was only a small light, and even as an “ethnic Ukrainian” apparently only one among many others.

    An article on the subject appeared on a communist German website a few years ago. I’m pretty sure you can read it. It rightly says: “The 118th Police Battalion was formed in Kiev at the end of 1942. It consisted of recruited Soviet prisoners of war, traitors and criminals who had agreed to cooperate with the occupiers. They had received training in special schools in Germany, donned German uniforms, and sworn allegiance to Hitler. Having taken this step, they betrayed their homeland.”

    But at that time the betrayed homeland was the USSR, and for everyone in the West, everyone who came from this “godless empire of evil” (copyright for this by Ronald Reagan) was a Russian, no matter which “ethnicity” one would assign him to today.

    There is no point in inventing “ethnic” characteristics after the fact. If someone, like the Chief of Staff of the 118th Police Battalion Grigory Vasyura, becomes a teacher in the USSR, later joins the army, is captured in the war, subsequently changes sides, commits war crimes, but is not discovered, and then can live a “normal” life for decades in the USSR, then “ethnic” origin does not explain this course of life.


    • yalensis says:

      Samson, I agree with some of your points and I think you misunderstand some of what I wrote, and the points I was trying to make. I know it gets confusing because of my typical format: I review an article written by someone else and attempt to convey their arguments, while not shying away from inserting my own POV. That’s my shtick.

      (1) This Norman Davies is obviously a Westie propagandist writing rubbish about Khatyn/Katyn, so anything he says can be disregarded with a simple raspbertty. wiki is Western propaganda as well and is only to be used for looking up dates, cities, spelling of names, etc.
      (2) You are correct that “ethnicities” meant little during Soviet times, and among Soviet citizens. However, Knap was not really Soviet at first, he was born in Poland basically (when Lvov was Polish). The Ukrainian vs Polish ethnic hatred was very real. While neither his ethnicity (as a Ukrainian), nor his sociological status (as a working-class guy) can account for his joining up with the Hitlerites, they are just mentioned as historical facts.
      (3) There is no point in inventing “ethnic” characteristics after the fact, , you write. Here I have to disagree. I am not inventing anything. Ethnicity, nationality, other identity stuff, always has to be discussed when dealing with Eastern European and Russian history. So kindly don’t lecture me on that.

      Ukrainian Nationalism was, is, and will be a great thorn in the side for the Soviet and subsequent Russian states. Ethnic Nationalism is one way to explain Knap’s joining up with the Hitlerites, which his sociological status cannot explain. Like I said in my article, after the war the Soviet police and army spent many years fighting against Bandera guerrillas in the Ukrainian SSR. Who were funded by the CIA and driven by the Ukrainian Nationalist ideology. How else can you explain Bandera and the OUN? These people did not stem from the upper bourgeoisie. Bandera’s base were Ukrainian peasants. As Trotsky wrote in one of his major works, fascism was a mass movement which cut across class lines.

      (3) Finally, the whole point of this piece in the Russian mainstream press, was to clue Russian readers onto the fact that ethnic Ukrainian units formed one of the backbones of the Hitlerite punitive brigades, and helped to do Khatyn, as well as Babiy Yar. This is actually news to many current-day Russians, since this information was suppressed during Soviet times. That’s the meta news behind the news. The reporter’s purpose in bringing this up may be trying to drum up more support for the war, or whatever his motive. Either way, it’s interesting news and meta-news.


      • Not to blow smoke up your arse, Yalensis, but what a patient and even-handed reply that was. You’re so nice with trolls and dissenters. Not that “Samson” is a troll; just someone with a different viewpoint who has a critique of yours. Good onya for calmly rebutting him and giving the rest of us some education on the ethnic cross-currents.

        One of the reasons I decided to make a point of reading your blog to get informed on the Ukraine situation came when I was investigating some of your way-old posts about a year ago, after this whole shemozzle kicked off, to see “What’s this blogger all about, and is he worth my time?” There was some disputatious character, I think his name was Richard, who apparently got into it with you regularly (I didn’t dig deep to find out why.) Instead of just banning him, you said that he could post ONE reply per day, then anything else by him that day would be squelched, but other commenters (as well as you) could make fun of him publicly. That was pretty fair and balanced. I can’t recall any other blogger doing anything similar with a gadfly. That helped convince me that AA was a worthy read. There’s not much mellowness on the Internet (including me as an unmellow fellow.) Congrats for hanging on to your inner Ghandi. (The Mahatma one, not the Indira/Rajiv ones. They were pretty savage warmongers, especially the mom.)


        • yalensis says:

          Thanks, Bukko, I appreciate that. I value Samson as a contributor, he’s definitely not a troll (unlike that other guy that you discovered in your research!) Samson just has a different point of view, as you say, he’s more hardcore. (I suspect that he is a hardcore Stalinist, I could be wrong, but that’s why I threw in the Trotsky reference, just to poke him.)

          I admit I get slightly irritated when readers start lecturing me, like “You shouldn’t ever mention ethnicities,” or something like that. My inner child comes out, and I’m, like, “Don’t tell me what to do! You’re not the boss of me!”

          Rather than telling me what I should or should not write about, it’s better if they just say, “I don’t agree with point X that you made, and this is the reason why, blah-de-blah-de-blah…”


          • Samson says:

            I suspect that he is a hardcore Stalinist, I could be wrong, but that’s why I threw in the Trotsky reference, just to poke him.

            You didn’t poke me really. Actually, I appreciate your work and I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything.

            On the other hand, I think you have misunderstood me. If you think I wanted to “lecture” you because of a recommendation, I apologize. Perhaps it is because English is not my native language and I sometimes use online translators (they are not perfect either).

            And not everyone who has read Marx (and imagines to have understood him) necessarily comes up with Stalin or Trotsky (as his supposed opposite). Excuse me for digressing briefly now: The premise of Marx’ view of history was that there would be a proletarian revolution. But that has not happened anywhere (not even in Russia or China or Cuba). Instead, governments have been overthrown and replaced by others, who were sometimes more sometimes less “friendly” or benevolent towards the real working part of their population. But the hierarchical structure of these societies, which can be characterized by private ownership of means of (social) production, did not change, including all the contradictions that inevitably result from this, which are expressed “socially” as differences between classes.

            If that explains my point of view to you, it’s ok, if not, call it hardcore, it doesn’t bother me.

            Ethnic nationalism is one way to explain Knap’s joining up with the Hitlerites, which his sociological status cannot explain”

            Maybe, maybe not, I didn’t claim that “sociological status” helps explain why someone temporarily becomes a gangster. My argument against yours is just there too: it was war, he was captured (like many of his compatriots too) by the Germans, and they certainly won’t have treated them correctly (according to, say, the Hague Land War Regulations) as prisoners of war.

            I don’t know, but I rather think that the Germans selected these guys according to their “origin”, gave them special training without telling them beforehand what kind of “assignment” they were destined for. That would fit more with the logic of the war from a German (fascist) perspective. After all, here and in numerous similar events, civilians were killed who were thought to be actively supporting partisans.

            Of course, even that doesn’t provide a plausible explanation as to why guys like Knap did what they did. But I don’t think that explanation exists at all. However, I see a significant difference with the Banderists, about whom you say: “after the war, the Soviet police and army fought Bandera guerrillas in the Ukrainian SSR for many years”.

            Characteristic for almost all of the surviving guys like Knap is that after the end of the war they tried to lead a normal life as “good citizens”. In my opinion, this is what distinguishes them from the Banderists, who were a special kind of “professional murderers”, no matter what social class they came from. Apart from that, again my opinion, the distinction between guerrillas and terrorists depends less on who is funding them than on the purpose.

            It is not necessary to develop any kind of “understanding” for the crimes committed by people like Knap, but, at least in my opinion, one should not generalize the matter either, at least not if one draws parallels to current events.


            • yalensis says:

              Thanks for your comment, Samson. I appreciate your explanation of your political beliefs, and I apologize for calling you “hard-core” and just assuming that you are a Stalinist. I shouldn’t have done that.

              Anyhow, I agree with you that Knap was probably different from the “hard-core” Banderites, which is maybe why the prosecutors treated him differently. Perhaps they saw actual remorse in him.

              Where I disagree with you is in the matter of the Bolshevik Revolution, which I think truly was a proletarian revolution, led by a vanguard party. I personally view Lenin as the true heir to Marx, which I reckon makes ME hard-core!


  6. DidierF says:

    In short, 2014 in Odessa, people were rounded in a closed building and burned alive. The perpetrators did it full of pride and hate for the victims the way Knapp and his men did. They all felt like heroes fighting for an ethnically pure Ukraine so it can become great.
    Now, in the West, they are heroes. I feel bad.


    • yalensis says:

      Yes, you can see the obvious continuity between Khatyn and Odessa. To this day, on the pro-Ukrainian social media, you see people taking delight in memories of “roasting beetles” and other disgusting memes from the Odessa atrocity. Ukrainian Nationalists are racists, like you say. They simply don’t regard Russians or pro-Russians (or anybody who thinks differently from them) as human beings.


  7. countrumford says:

    I saw a Russian war movie with the title in English “Come and See”. My recollection is that it shows many of the events you describe. It was quite a good movie.


    • yalensis says:

      Yes, I saw that movie too. It’s very good, although horrific. These true events, which occurred in the Belorussian countryside, as witnessed through the eyes of a young traumatized boy.
      The movie was based on real events and real characters.


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