In this absorbing new history, David McCormack debunks many of the myths surrounding the Galician Division and provides an objective appraisal of the volunteers and conscripts who, to this day, are both lauded as heroes and vilified as criminals in the media and academic circles.
Now, in the context of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine under the pretext of ‘denazification’, it is more critical than ever to uncover the truth of this country’s wartime relationship with Nazi Germany.
Ever since its disbandment in May 1945, the memory of the Galician Division, a Ukrainian Waffen SS formation, has been dogged by unsubstantiated claims of war crimes and spurious media attacks. But what were the circumstances in 1943 that led thousands of Ukrainians to volunteer to fight in Hitler’s crusade against Bolshevism?
Why, the following year, did coercion replace incentivisation as a means of recruitment? Did, as has been claimed, Ukrainian soldiers adopt the German doctrine of ‘absolute destruction’ in occupied zones? And why, in recent years, have Ukrainian nationalists chosen to fly the flag of the Galician Division at rallies and football matches?