Ukrainian Liberation Army

Ukrainian Liberation Army (Українське визвольне Військо; Ukrainske vyzvolne Viisko). The common name for various German auxiliary military units formed from among Ukrainian prisoners of war interned by the Germans on the eastern front in 1941–3. The first units of this kind were created in the fall of 1941 by the Wehrmacht front commands and were used in the rear, in the Kharkiv region and the Donbas. They were usually organized as companies and were called Hilfswillige. Adolph Hitler ordered the Ukrainian units disbanded (but allowed units made up of Caucasian and Central Asian nationals). But as the Wehrmacht’s manpower shortage became more acute, the army expanded its recruitment program, and by the end of 1942 it had about 300 so-called eastern battalions, 74 of which consisted mostly of Ukrainians. In 1944 there was an attempt to regroup these units into the Ukrainian Liberation Army, but they were never brought under a central command, and the name was used by the Wehrmacht largely for propaganda purposes. The total strength of all these units in 1945 was estimated at 75,000.

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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