OUN expeditionary groups

OUN expeditionary groups (Похідні групи ОУН; Pokhidni hrupy OUN). Secret groups of organizers and propagandists formed by both the OUN (Bandera faction) (OUN[B]) and OUN (Melnyk faction) (OUN[M]) of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists from among their members in German-occupied Galicia, Romanian-occupied Bukovyna, and Central and Western Europe. They went into Soviet Ukraine after the outbreak of the Soviet-German War in June 1941 to organize local sovereign Ukrainian administrations that took power after the Bolshevik authorities had fled and before the Germans had established control. Plans to send in such groups were developed in early 1941, before the German invasion of the USSR, and were contingent upon a quick German victory.

The OUN(B) formed and trained three expeditionary groups in the Sian region and the Lemko region. Group North, commanded by Mykola Klymyshyn and then Dmytro Myron and P. Sak, penetrated into Right-Bank Ukraine toward Kyiv; Group South, commanded by Zynovii Matla and Tymish Semchyshyn, into Southern Ukraine toward Dnipropetrovsk and the Donbas; and Group East, commanded by Mykola Lemyk and O. Mashchak, into Left-Bank Ukraine toward Kharkiv. A month after the German invasion began, those groups had reached (mostly by bicycle and wagon) as far east as the cities of Vinnytsia, Berdychiv, Zhytomyr, and Kryvyi Rih and had avoided contacts with German units. By that time, however, only a third remained of the approx 1,500 men who had set out on the campaign. They organized Ukrainian national activity on the local level, recruited new members, and spread integral-nationalist propaganda and news of the Proclamation of Ukrainian statehood, 1941, made in Lviv on 30 June.

In early September 1941 the Gestapo conducted mass arrests of the groups' members active in Zhytomyr, Vasylkiv, Berdychiv, Vinnytsia, Mykolaiv, and Kherson. Some were executed, and the remainder were sent to concentration camps. In mid-September, at the same time that the Gestapo conducted mass arrests of OUN(B) members in Western Ukraine (including Stepan Bandera and other leaders), SS Einsatzgruppen smashed Group East in Myrhorod and part of Group North. Members of Group South in Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhia, Balta, Mykolaiv, Kherson, and Dzhankoi (in the Crimea) were arrested and executed. In response to the German repressions, terror, and deportation and extermination policies the OUN(B) leadership still at large (headed by Mykola Lebed) ordered the remaining members of the expeditionary groups to develop an anti-Nazi and anti-Soviet partisan underground. The resistance was co-ordinated from two centers: from Kyiv by Dmytro Myron, with the assistance of Dmytro Maivsky, Myroslav Prokop, P. Sak, and Ya. Khomov; and from Dnipropetrovsk by Zynovii Matla and, from May 1942, Vasyl Kuk, with the assistance of M. Richka, O. Logush, P. Duzhy, Tymish Semchyshyn, and Ye. Stakhiv. The resistance attracted many local recruits (it totaled some 5,000 men and women) and remained active in the Dnipropetrovsk, Kryvyi Rih, Zaporizhia, Mykolaiv, Vinnytsia, Odesa, Kirovohrad, Chernihiv, Poltava, Kharkiv, Donbas, Mariupol, and Crimea regions until the Germans' retreat. Most of its leaders and members did not survive, however.

The OUN(M) expeditionary groups were assembled in Hrubeshiv and Krystynopil (led by I. Nebolia), Jarosław and Radymno (led by I. Maly), and Sianik (led by T. Bak-Boichuk). From there 500 of their members penetrated in July 1941 into Volhynia, Subcarpathia, and, from there, Bukovyna, as far east as Kyiv, and as far south as Odesa and Mykolaiv. Their activity was concentrated in the Zhytomyr region and, from September 1941, Kyiv, where they openly organized municipal administrations, civic and community institutions, schools, and newspapers and initiated the creation of the Ukrainian National Council (Kyiv). During the first few weeks of the German occupation of Kyiv the 200 OUN(M) members there were joined by 1,000 more, who arrived with the Bukovynian Battalion of 1941. The supreme commanders of the OUN(M) groups were at first Omelian Senyk and Mykola Stsiborsky. After their assassination in Zhytomyr their duties were assumed in Kyiv by Oleh Olzhych, Yaroslav Haivas, Yakiv Shumelda, M. Antonovych, Osyp Boidunyk, and Mykola Kapustiansky. Other prominent members active in Kyiv were Petro Oliinyk, Ivan Rohach, Orest Chemerynsky, Bohdan Yakhno, R. Gordon-Bida, R. Zakhvalynsky, M. Kuzmyk, Orest Zybachynsky, Oleh Zhdanovych, and Z. Domazar. Units of the expeditionary groups were sent from Kyiv to Kharkiv (led there by B. Konyk), Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk (B. Mykytchak), Zaporizhia and Mykolaiv (O. Masikevych), the Donbas, and the Crimea (B. Sukhoversky).

The OUN(M) expeditionary groups also suffered German repressions. In the Zhytomyr region several dozen members were arrested by the Gestapo in late November 1941 together with 700 other Ukrainians who had gathered to commemorate the 1921 Second Winter Campaign of the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic and the massacre at Bazar. Many were subsequently shot. Further arrests took place in Kyiv in December 1941 and February 1942, and dozens of leading OUN(M) members (eg, Mykhailo Teliha, Olena Teliha, Ivan Rohach, Ivan Irliavsky, I. Koshyk, Orest Chemerynsky, D. Huzar-Chemerynska) were executed. Others were shot in Mykolaiv (eg, Bohdan Siretsky, V. Baranetsky, V. Antoniuk, V. Maliarchuk), Lubny, Kremenchuk, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Chernihiv, and Poltava. Part of the leadership and some members went underground, mostly in Western Ukraine and especially in Volhynia, where they joined the anti-German, anti-Soviet resistance headed by Taras Borovets.

S[ydor].-Chartoryis’kyi, M. Vid Sianu po Krym (Spomyny uchasnyka III Pokhidnoï Grupy-Pivden’ (New York 1951)
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Melnyk, K.; Lashchenko, O.; Veryha, V. (eds). Na zov Kyieva: Ukraïns’kyi natsionalizm u II svitovii viini: Zbirnyk stattei, spohadiv i dokumentiv (Toronto and New York 1985)

Oleh Shtul, Yevhen Stakhiv

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 3 (1993).]

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