Not all of the Bandera supporters were found and convicted after the war. However, those who were put on trial did not receive the longest terms of imprisonment. It is interesting that in the zones the Banderites continued their struggle, organizing mass uprisings.
To the history of the movement
In 1921, the UVO, the Ukrainian military organization, was created in Ukraine, designed to fight for the independence of the Ukrainian people after the defeat of the Ukrainian People's Republic, which existed from 1917 to 1920, and transformed thanks to the successful offensive of the Red Army in the Ukrainian SSR.
The UVO was supported by youth nationalist organizations and the later created Union of Ukrainian Nationalist Youth. Similar organizations were created among Ukrainian emigrants in Czechoslovakia - these were the Union of Ukrainian Fascists and the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine, which later united into one league. At the same time, Ukrainians in Germany also actively united in nationalist unions and soon the first conferences of Ukrainian nationalists were held in Prague and Berlin.
In 1929, the UVO and other unions of Ukrainian nationalists merged into one large Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), while the UVO actually became a military-terrorist organ of the OUN. One of the main goals of Ukrainian nationalists was the fight against Poland, one of the manifestations of which was the famous anti-Polish "Sabotage action" of 1930: during the action, representatives of the OUN attacked government institutions in Galicia and set fire to the houses of Polish landowners living there.
In 1931, the OUN includes Stepan Bandera, a man who is destined to soon become the head of the entire Ukrainian liberation movement and a symbol of Ukrainian nationalism to this day. Bandera studied at a German intelligence school and soon became a regional guide to Western Ukraine. Bandera is repeatedly detained by the authorities: for anti-Polish propaganda, illegal border crossing and for involvement in the assassination attempt. He organized protests against the famine in Ukraine and against the purchase of Polish products by Ukrainians, Bandera organized an action on the day of the execution of the OUN militants in Lviv, during which a synchronized bell rang throughout the city. The so-called "school action" became especially effective, during which Ukrainian schoolchildren who had been instructed in advance refused to study with Polish teachers and threw out Polish symbols from schools.
Stepan Bandera organized a series of assassination attempts on Polish and Soviet officials. After the assassination of Polish Interior Minister Bronislaw Peratsky. For the preparation of this and other murders, Bandera was sentenced to hanging in 1935, which, however, was soon replaced by life imprisonment. During the trial, Bandera and other organizers of the crime greeted each other with a Roman salute and shouts of “Glory to Ukraine!”, Refusing to answer the court in Polish. After this trial, which received a great public response, the structure of the OUN was disclosed by the Polish authorities, and the organization of nationalists actually ceased to exist. In 1938, during the intensification of Hitler's political activities, the OUN was resurrected and hoped for Germany's help in creating a Ukrainian state. OUN theorist Mikhail Kolodzinsky wrote at that time about plans to conquer Europe: “We want not only to possess Ukrainian cities, but also to trample enemy lands, capture enemy capitals, and salute the Ukrainian Empire on their ruins … We want to win the war - a great and cruel war that will make us the masters of Eastern Europe”. During the Polish campaign of the Wehrmacht, the OUN provided little support to the German troops, and during the German offensive in 1939 Bandera was released. After that, his activities were mainly related to the resolution of the differences that arose in the OUN between the supporters of Bandera - the Banderaites, and the Melnikovites, the supporters of the current leader of the organization.
The political struggle turned into a military one, and since the enmity of two essentially identical organizations was unprofitable for Germany, especially since both organizations fostered the idea of a national Ukrainian state, which Germany no longer suited, and was so successfully advancing to the east, mass arrests soon took place. Bandera and Melnikovites by the German authorities, and in 1941 Bandera was imprisoned and then transferred to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. In the fall of 1944, Bandera was liberated by the German authorities as a “Ukrainian freedom fighter”. Despite the fact that it was considered inexpedient to take Bandera to Ukraine, the OUN continues to fight the Soviet regime until about the mid-50s, cooperating with Western intelligence services during the Cold War. In 1959, Stepan Bandera was killed by KGB agent Bogdan Stashinsky in Munich.
Bandera members at trials
During the period of active struggle against the UPA and OUN in 1941-1949, according to the NKVD, thousands of military operations were carried out, during which tens of thousands of Ukrainian nationalists were killed. Many families of UPA members were expelled from the Ukrainian SSR, thousands of families were arrested and evicted to other regions. One of the well-known precedents of the trial of the Banderaites is the show trial of 1941 over 59 students and pupils of Lviv, suspected of having links with the OUN and anti-Soviet activities. The youngest was 15, the oldest was 30. The investigation lasted about four months, and during it it was found out that many of the young people were ordinary members of the OUN, but the students did not plead guilty and declared that they were enemies of the Soviet regime. Initially, 42 people were sentenced to death, and 17 wanted to give a prison term of 10 years. However, the Collegium of the Supreme Court ultimately mitigated the sentence, and 19 convicts were shot, while others were given sentences ranging from 4 to 10 years in prison. One of the students was deported abroad. You can also recall the mention of Ukrainian nationalists at the famous Nuremberg trials.
General Lachausen, acting as a witness, bluntly stated that Ukrainian nationalists collaborated with the German government: "These units were supposed to carry out acts of sabotage behind enemy lines and organize comprehensive sabotage." However, despite the obvious evidence of the participation of Bandera and other members of the split OUN in the fight against the Soviet Union, Ukrainian nationalists were not defendants at the Nuremberg court. In the USSR, a law was not even adopted condemning the OUN and the UPA, but the struggle against the nationalist underground continued until the mid-50s, and was, in fact, separate specific punitive acts. Those from the OUN and UPA who survived the bloody battles with Soviet troops and were not condemned to death, in the bulk were sent to the Gulag. A typical fate of a convicted Bandera soldier is 10 years of imprisonment in Irkutsk, Norilsk and other gulag camps. However, wages were paid for work in the camp and even the camp work was read out as for working days. The huge mass of collaborators, hundreds of thousands of people, constituted a serious force, and it is not surprising that after a trial and several years of exile in the camps, they organized a series of powerful uprisings. The main force was represented by the OUN members, but the Baltic partisans and Russian punishers also participated in organizing the riots.
The exiled Ukrainian nationalists had a well-built hierarchy, an analogue of the one that was in reality at large, and therefore they managed to first overcome the "thieves", and then, using the skills of organizing an underground and conspiracy that had already been tested in practice, try to free several prisoners and start riots. Prisoners in the camps recall: “We rejoiced when it was announced that Stalin’s death in March 1953. In May 1953, two months after Stalin’s death, an uprising broke out in the Norilsk Gorlag. I think that this uprising was the beginning of a long process of the withering away of Stalinism, which thirty years later led to the collapse of the Soviet regime and the Soviet Union. Max and I took an active part in this uprising, the main driving force of which were the Ukrainians of Western Ukraine, the supporters of Stepan Bandera."
Later, in the camps, it was the convicted OUN members who staged strikes and refused to give out coal without fulfilling the requirements necessary for them, for example, amnesties. After difficult negotiations, the Bandera people still managed to achieve some benefits: they were allowed a 9-hour working day, they were allowed to meet and correspond with their relatives, transfer earned money to families, increase salaries, etc. However, the prisoners wanted only one thing: release. Their strikes were brutally suppressed, at the cost of the lives of dozens of prisoners. However, these strikes were only the beginning. The continuing bold antics of Bandera in the camps led to the fact that in 1955 they were granted amnesty in honor of the 10th anniversary of the Victory. According to official documents, as of August 1, 1956, more than 20 thousand OUN members returned from exile and prisons to the western lands of the USSR, including 7 thousand to the Lviv region.