Roman Shukhevych (Роман Шухевич; also known by his pseudonym Taras Chuprynka) (June 30, 1907 — March 5, 1950) was a Ukrainian politician and military leader, the leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. In 2007, he was posthumously awarded the title "Hero of Ukraine", the country's highest honor.
In October 1926, Shukhevych entered the Lviv Politechnic Institute to study civil engineering. In July 1934 he completed his studies with an engineering degree. At this time he was known for his athletic abilities for which he won numerous awards. He was also an accomplished musician and with his brother Yuri completed studies in piano and voice a the Lysenko Music Institute. He sang solo on occasions with his brother in the Lviv opera.
In 1930, he became one of the leaders of the social revolts that rocked all of western Ukraine. The Polish administration retaliated with a process of "pacification" which had the opposite effect and intensified anti-polish sentiment and increase in interest in Ukrainian nationalism.
Shukhevych continued to take part in numerous acts of protest against the anti-Ukrainian policies of the Polish administration. These included:
Shukhevych together with Stepan Bandera, Stepan Lenkavsky, Yaroslav Tetsko, Yaroslav Starukh and others developed the concept of "permanent revolution". According to their thesis the Ukrainian people being exploited by an occupier could only obtain freedom through continued pressure on the enemy. As a result the OUN took on the responsibility of preparing for an All-Ukrainian revolt. Shukhevych propagated the ideas that the revolution was an uncompromising conflict. The goal of this action was to educate the people to overcome the foe.
Shukhevych took an active part in developing a concept regarding the formation of a Ukrainian army. At that time two diametrically opposed arguments existed. The first was to form a Ukrainian army in the Ukrainian emigration, the second, a national army to be formed in Western Ukraine organized by Ukrainians.
During the Warsaw process against the OUN (November 18, 1935 - January 13, 1936) he was called as a witness. Shukhevych stood by his right to speak in Ukrainian for which he was fined 200 zloty. After greeting the court with the call "Glory to Ukraine" was once again interred. From January 19, 1935 Shukhevych was confined to the Bryhidka jail in Lviv. He was incriminated for his membership in the Regional executive of the OUN. The lawyer in the process was his uncle: Stepan Shukhevych. Shukhevych was sentenced to 3 years in jail, however, because of the 1935 amnesty he was released from jail after spending half a year in a concentration camp and two years in prison.
After being released in 1937, Shukhevych set up an advertising cooperative in March called "Fama" which became a front for the activities of the OUN. Soon outlets were set up throughout Galicia, Volyn and within Poland itself. The workers of the company were members of the OUN, often recently released political prisoners. The company was very successful and had sections working with the press and film, publishing booklets, printing posters, selling mineral water, compiling address listings and also opened its own transportation section.
After the occupation of Carpathian Ukraine in March 1939 by Hungary, Shukhevych traveled through Romania and Yugoslavia to Austria, where he consulted with OUN commanders and was given new orders and sent to Danzig to carry out subversive activities.
The new political realities required new forms of activity. The Command of the Ukrainian Nationalists could not come to a unified agreement regarding tactics. As a result on February 10, 1940 the organization in Krakow split into two factions - one lead by Stepan Bandera and the other by Andriy Melnyk. Shukhevych became a member the Revolutionary Command of the OUN headed by Bandera, taking charge of the section dealing with territories claimed by the Ukrainians, which after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact had been seized by Germany (Pidliashshia, Kholm, Nadsiania and Lemkivshchyna).
A powerful web was formed for the preparation of underground activities in Ukraine. Paramilitary training courses were set up. Military cadres were prepared which were to command a future Ukrainian army. Shukhevych prepared the II Great congress of the OUN which took place in April 1941.
In the spring of 1941 the Command of the OUN negotiated with the Germans to train Ukrainians to fight against Bolshevik occupation in Ukraine. Shukhevych agreed to command the DUN (Team of Ukrainian Nationalists) with the understanding that the Legion would become the basis for a future Ukrainian army. In April 1941 he collected 330 volunteers which were organized into 3 companies. One of the companies became known as Nachtigall Battalion, a second became the Roland Battalion, a third was involved in policing duties.
After intensive training the Ukrainian legion traveled to Riashiv on June 18, and entered Lviv on June 30, where the Act for the re-establishment of Ukrainian Statehood was proclaimed. The German administration however did not support this act. Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko after refusing to retract their proclamation were arrested. the division had stayed in Lviv for only 7 days before continuing its march to the East, however upon hearing of the arrests the Legion which was at that time in Vinnytsia refused to fight for the Germans. As a result, Shukhevych was interned and the Legion was transported to Germany.
In Germany, the Ukrainian combatants were reorganized into the 201 Defense Battalion and given individual contracts that required the combatants to serve for one additional year. On February 16, 1942 the Battalion was sent to Belarus where it served in the region around the town of Borovka for the defense of Military objects against Soviet Partisan attack. With the expiration of the one year contract all the Ukrainian soldiers refused to renew their services. On January 6, 1943 they were sent to Lviv where they arrived January 8. Roman Shukhevych escaped from arrest by the Gestapo.
In June-July 1941 it is estimated that over 4,000 Jews were murdered in pogroms in Lviv and other cities in Western Ukraine.
For a more detailed evaluation of these allegations see Controversy regarding the Nachtigall Battalion.
Massacre of Lviv professors see Massacre of Lviv professors.
The Insurgent Army was joined by various people from the Caucauses and Central Asia who had fought in German formations. The rise of non-Ukrainians in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army gave stimulus to the special conference for Captive Nations of Europe and Asia which took place November 21-22 1943 in Buderazh, not far from Rivne. The agenda included the formation of a unified plan for the attack against occupational forces.
During the period of German occupation Shukhevych spent most of his time fighting in the forests, and from August 1944 under the Soviet occupation living in various villages in Western Ukraine. In order to unite all Ukrainian national forces to fight for Ukrainian independence Shukhevych organized a meeting between all the Ukrainian political parties. As a result the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR) was formed.
According to NKVD officers' memoirs, Roman Shukhevych's body was transported out of Ukraine, burned, and the ashes scattered. This was done on the left bank of the Zbruch River. The unburned remains were thrown into the Zbruch. A commemorative stone cross was erected there in 2003.
According to Yuri Shukhevych, at the beginning of the WWII their family lived in Lviv on Queen Yadvyga Street, where their neighbour was a jewish family of Wolf and Ruzha Reichenberg who owned a fabrics shop. Nazis shoot their senior daughter Irma just down the street in 1942. Her junior sister Irene lived with Shukhevych family for a certain period of time while perparing for school. ,
Roman Shukhevych using his connections provided a girl with new documents at the name of Ukrainian - Iryna Vasylivna Ryzhko. Girl's actual birth year was changed from 1936 to 1937. In her new documents Iryna was indicated as a daughter of the lost in war Red Army officer.
After arrest of Natalia Shukhevych in 1943 by Gestapo, Roman Shukhevych succeeded to take a girl to the orphan shelter at the Ukrainian greek-catholic nunnery of Vasilianky in the village of Phylypove, near the township of Kulykiv in 30 kilometres from Lviv, where Irene remained till the end of the WWII surviving German occupation and Holocaust. In 1956 Irene sent a letter with her picture to the prioress of the monastery.
After the war Iryna lived in Ukraine and died in 2007 in Kiev at the age of 72 years. Her son Vladimir lives in Kiev today. Yuri Shukhevych met with him although after his mothers death.
Reichenberg family is mentioned in the list of nazi's victims at Yad Vashem memorial in Israel.
According to the German sources and Gestapo members of OUN and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) from time to time used to hide jews by providing them with proper documentation, in particular to those who co-operated or somehow assisted OUN and UPA.
Postage stamps and coins have been minted in his honour of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Posthumously, he was awarded the UPA's highest decorations: the Gold Cross of Combat Merit First Class and the Cross of Merit in gold.