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A Banderite or Banderovite[a] (Ukrainian: бандерівець, romanizedbanderivets; Polish: Banderowiec; Russian: бандеровец, romanizedbanderovets) was a member of OUN-B, a faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists,[1] nicknamed "Bandera's people".[2] The term, used from late 1940 onward,[3] derives from the name of Stepan Bandera (1909–1959), head of this faction of the OUN.[4][5][6] Because of the brutality utilized by OUN-B members, the colloquial term Banderites quickly earned a negative connotation, particularly among Poles and Jews.[3] By 1942, the expression was well-known and frequently used in western Ukraine to describe the Ukrainian Insurgent Army partisans, OUN-B members or any other Ukrainian perpetrators.[3] The OUN-B had been engaged in various atrocities, including murder of civilians, most of whom were ethnic Poles, Jews and Romani people.[7][8]

In propaganda the term has been used by Soviets after 1942 as a pejorative term for Ukrainians, especially western Ukrainians,[9][10] or Ukrainian speakers;[11] under Vladimir Putin-ruled Russia the term was used by state media as a pejorative for Euromaidan activists[12] and Ukrainians who support sovereignty from Russia.[9]


Stepan Bandera

The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was a Ukrainian nationalist organisation founded in 1929 in Vienna. Bandera joined it that year, and quickly climbed through the ranks, becoming the second in command of OUN in Galicia in 1932–1933,[13]: 18  and the head of the OUN national executive in Galicia in June 1933.[3]: 99 

The OUN carried out the June 1934 assassination of Bronisław Pieracki, Poland's Minister of the Interior. The then 25-year-old Bandera provided the assassin with the murder weapon, a 7.65 mm calibre pistol.[14] His subsequent arrest and conviction turned Bandera into an instant legend among the militant Ukrainian nationalists of the Second Polish Republic.[citation needed] During his five years in prison, Bandera was "to some extent detached from OUN discourses" but not completely isolated from the global political debates of the late 1930s thanks to Ukrainian and other newspaper subscriptions delivered to his cell.[15]: 112 

World War II[edit]

Bandera escaped from prison after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939,[1] and moved to Kraków, the capital of Germany's General Government in the German-occupied zone of Poland, where he established close connections with the German military.[15]

Since 1939, the OUN had been led by Andriy Atanasovych Melnyk, a founder member. He had been chosen for his more moderate and pragmatic stance; his supporters admired Mussolini's fascism but condemned Nazism. However, a younger and more radical Nazism-supporting faction of the OUN were dissatisfied.[citation needed]

On 10 February 1941, a conference for OUN leadership was held in Kraków, Poland. The radical contingent refused to accept Melnyk as head of the OUN and instead named Bandera. This led to the split of the OUN in the spring of 1941 into two groups: OUN-B (Banderites), who were more militant, younger and supported Bandera, and OUN-M (Melnykites), who were generally older and more ideological. In February 1941, Bandera became the leader (Providnyk) of the OUN-B faction or the Banderivtsi.[1]

After the start of the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 (Operation Barbarossa), the OUN-B in the person of Yaroslav Stetsko declared an independent Ukrainian state on 30 June 1941 in occupied Lviv, while the region was under the control of Nazi Germany,[16] pledging to work closely with Germany, which was presented as freeing Ukrainians from Russian oppression.[17] In response, the Nazi authorities suppressed the OUN leadership. In July 1941, Bandera himself was arrested and sent to a concentration camp in Germany. He was imprisoned there until 1944.

In October 1942, during Bandera's imprisonment, the OUN-B established the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA).[18][5][1] The OUN-B formed Ukrainian militias that carried out pogroms and massacres, both independently and with support from the Germans.[3][1] To ensure the maximum impact of the systematic ethnic cleansing campaign in the contested territory, the OUN-B faction spread antisemitic, racist, and fascist propaganda among the ordinary peasants and other Ukrainians.[3]: 235-236 [19] Aided by Stetsko, Shukhevych, and Lenkavskyi (OUN-B propaganda chief), Bandera wrote a manifesto[when?] entitled "Ukrainian National Revolution" that called for the annihilation of so-called ethnic enemies. The manifesto informed the locals how to behave and included specific instructions about the killing of Jews, Poles, and Ukrainian opponents of fascism.[3]: 237 [verify]

Bandera did not participate in pogroms; he remained in the area of occupied Kholmshchyna (Polish Chełm Land) further north-west.[3]: 237 

The vast majority of pogroms carried out by the Banderites occurred in Eastern Galicia and Volhynia, but also in Bukovina.[3]: 237  The most deadly of them was perpetrated in the city of Lviv by the people's militia formed by OUN at the moment of the German arrival in the Soviet-occupied eastern Poland.[20] There were two Lviv pogroms, carried out in a one-month span, both lasting for several days; the first one from 30 June to 2 July 1941, and the second one from 25 to 29 July 1941.[21] The first pogrom took the lives of at least 4,000 Jews.[22]

In late 1944, Bandera was released by the German authorities and allowed to return to Ukraine in the hope that his partisans would unite with OUN-M and harass the Soviet troops, which by that time had handed the Germans major defeats. Germany sought to cooperate with the OUN and other Ukrainian leaders. According to Richard Breitman and Norman Goda in Hitler's Shadow, Bandera and Stetsko refused to do this, and in December 1944 they fled Berlin, heading south.[9][nb 1]

In February 1945, at a conference of the OUN-B in Vienna, Bandera was made the representative of the leadership of the Foreign Units of the OUN (Zakordonni Chastyny OUN or ZCh OUN). At a February meeting of the OUN in Ukraine, Bandera was re-elected as leader of the whole OUN. It was decided by the leadership that Bandera would not come back to Ukraine, but remain abroad and make propaganda for the cause of the OUN. Roman Shukhevych resigned as the leader of the OUN, and became the leader of OUN in Ukraine.[23]: 288 

In Soviet and Russian propaganda[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

In Soviet secret records, the word "Banderites" for the first time emerged in late 1940 and began to be used in Soviet propaganda starting in late 1942.[3][9] The term became a crucial element of the Soviet propaganda discourse and was used as a pejorative description of Ukrainians, sometimes all western Ukrainians in the most negative way.[9][10] Historian Andrii Portnov noted that "The common noun "Banderivtsi" ("Banderites") emerged around the time of ethnic cleansing of the Polish population in Volhynia, and it was used to designate all Ukrainian nationalists, but also, on occasion, western Ukrainians or even any person who spoke Ukrainian."[11]

Post-Soviet Russia[edit]

The term has been used by Russian state media against Euromaidan activists to associate a separate Ukrainian national identity with the most radical nationalists.[12][24][11] Today, in Russian propaganda, the word is used to refer to all in Ukraine who back the idea of sovereignty from Russia; Ukrainian nationalist collaboration with Nazi Germany is also emphasized.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Also referred to as Banderivets, Banderovets, Banderovtsy, Benderovets, Banderite, Bandera, or Banderlog.


  1. ^ From page 76: Berlin hoped to form a Ukrainian National Committee with both OUN factions and other Ukrainian leaders. The Committee was formed in November, but Bandera and Stetsko refused to cooperate. They escaped from Berlin in December and fled south, emerging after the war in Munich.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d e Motyl, Alexander J (2000). Encyclopedia of Nationalism. Vol. Two-Volume Set. Elsevier, Academic Press. p. 40. ISBN 0080545246. With over one hundred contributors. On February 10, 1941, Bandera called a conference of radicals in Kraków, Poland. The conference refused to accept Melnyk as leader, and named Bandera head of the OUN. This led to the split of the OUN in the spring of 1941 into two groups: OUN-B (Banderites), who were more militant, younger and supported Bandera, and OUN-M (Melnykites), who were generally older, more ideological.
  2. ^ Rossoliński-Liebe, Grzegorz. "Celebrating Fascism and War Criminality in Edmonton. The Political Myth and Cult of Stepan Bandera in Multicultural Canada, in: in Kakanien Revisited 12 (2010): 1-16". The OUN-B activists and the UPA partisans who committed these atrocities were known as banderites: Bandera's people. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Rossolinski, Grzegorz (2014). Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist: Fascism, Genocide, and Cult. Columbia University Press. pp. 112, 234–235, 236. ISBN 978-3838266848. The OUN-B organized a militia, which both collaborated with the Germans and killed Jews independently....Because the term "Banderites" was colloquial rather than official, and because of the violence employed by OUN-B, the term soon acquired a negative connotation, especially among Jews and Poles. (page 159)...The survivors of these attacks frequently described the perpetrators as "Banderites" and considered them to be Ukrainian nationalists.(page 241)...Two years later however, the word "Banderites" was known to everyone in western Ukraine and was frequently used to describe the OUN-B activists, UPA partisans, and apparently, other Ukrainian perpetrators (page 248)...The term "Banderites" had appeared in Soviet secret documents for the first time in late 1940 ... (page 249)
  4. ^ Rudling, Per A (November 2011). "The OUN, the UPA, and the Holocaust: A Study in the Manufacturing of Historical Myths". The Carl Beck Papers in Russian and East European Studies. University of Pittsburgh (2107). p. 3 (6 of 76 in PDF). ISSN 0889-275X.
  5. ^ a b Cooke, Philip; Shepherd, Ben (2014). Hitler's Europe Ablaze: Occupation, Resistance, and Rebellion during World War II. Skyhorse Publishing. p. 336. ISBN 978-1632201591.
  6. ^ Rossoliński-Liebe, Grzegorz (2010). "Celebrating Fascism and War Criminality in Edmonton. The Political Myth and Cult of Stepan Bandera in Multicultural Canada" (PDF). Kakanien Revisited (12): 1–16. The OUN-B activists and the UPA partisans who committed these atrocities were known as banderites: Bandera's people. This term was not invented by Soviet propaganda but dates back to the split of the OUN in late 1940 and early 1941, distinguishing members of the OUN-B from members of the OUN-M faction
  7. ^ Lower, Wendy; Faulkner Rossi, Lauren (2017). Lessons and Legacies XII: New Directions in Holocaust Research and Education. Northwestern University Press. pp. 170–171, 174. ISBN 978-0810134508. The victims of the Holocaust had a difficult time identifying precisely who intended to murder them; the usual terminology was "Banderites," which indicated adherents of a particular political tendency, or "Bulbas," which indicated the insurgent force initiated by Taras Bulba-Borovets.[p. 174]
  8. ^ Risch, William Jay (2011). The Ukrainian West: Culture and the Fate of Empire in Soviet Lviv. Harvard University Press. pp. 55, 65, 69. ISBN 978-0674061262.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Wylegała, Anna; Głowacka-Grajper, Małgorzata (11 February 2020). The Burden of the Past: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Ukraine. Indiana University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-253-04673-4.
  10. ^ a b Fedor, Julie (5 January 2016). Journal of Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society: 2015/2: Double Special Issue: Back from Afghanistan: The Experiences of Soviet Afghan War Veterans and: Martyrdom & Memory in Post-Socialist Space. 449: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-3-8382-6806-4.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location (link)
  11. ^ a b c Portnov, Andrii (22 June 2016). "Bandera mythologies and their traps for Ukraine". openDemocracy. Retrieved 23 August 2022. The common noun "Banderivtsi" ("Banderites") emerged around this time, and it was used to designate all Ukrainian nationalists, but also, on occasion, western Ukrainians or even any person who spoke Ukrainian. Even today, the term "Banderivtsi" in public debate is never neutral — it can be used pejoratively or proudly.
  12. ^ a b Yekelchyk, Serhy (12 November 2020). "Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know": 48–49. doi:10.1093/wentk/9780197532102.001.0001. ISBN 978-0-19-753210-2. Much in the same way as the tsarist government in its day branded all patriotic Ukrainians as "Mazepists" after Hetman Ivan Mazepa, the Russian state-controlled media have labeled EuroMaidan activists as "Banderites" after the twentieth-century nationalist leader Stepan Bandera (1909-1959). This stigmatization is unjust because radical nationalists constituted only a small minority among EuroMaidan revolutionaries, and their political parties performed poorly in the parliamentary elections that followed the revolution. Yet, it was a clever propaganda trick to associate a separate Ukrainian national identity exclusively with the most radical branch of Ukrainian nationalism. To most Russians and many Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine, the term "Banderite" still carries negative historical connotations, established in Stalin's time. After World War II ended, the Soviet press denounced the Bandera-led insurgents, who resisted the Sovietization of eastern Galicia. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  13. ^ William Holzmann; Zolt Aradi [in Hungarian] (1946). The Ukrainian Nationalist Movement: an interim study (PDF) (Report).
  14. ^ Żeleński, Władysław (1973). The Assassination of Minister Pieracki [Zabòjstwo ministra Pierackiego]. Poland: Institut Literacki. pp. 20–22, 72. Biblioteka "Kultury" volume 233.
  15. ^ a b Rossolinski, Grzegorz (1 October 2014). Stepan Bandera: The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist: Fascism, Genocide, and Cult. Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-3-8382-6684-8.
  16. ^ Rudling, Per Anders (2013). "The Return of the Ukrainian Far Right: The Case of VO Svoboda" (PDF). In Wodak and Richardson (ed.). Analysing Fascist Discourse: European Fascism in Talk and Text. New York: Routledge. pp. 229–235.
  17. ^ "Державний архів Львівської області". Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 19 December 2016.
  18. ^ Timothy Snyder. (2004) The Reconstruction of Nations. New Haven: Yale University Press: pg. 168
  19. ^ Piotrowski, Tadeusz (1998). Poland's Holocaust: Ethnic Strife, Collaboration with Occupying Forces, and Genocide in the Second Republic, 1918–1947. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company. p. 209. ISBN 0-7864-0371-3. OCLC 37195289. OUN leaflets appeared on the city streets. They read: "Exterminate the Poles, Jews, and communists without mercy. Do not pity the enemies of the Ukrainian National Revolution!"
  20. ^ Prof. John-Paul Himka (25 February 2013). "A few more words about the Lviv pogrom" [Ще кілька слів про львівський погром]. Історична правда. With links to relevant articles. For the English original, see: John-Paul Himka (2011). "The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd". Canadian Slavonic Papers. 53 (2–4): 209–243. doi:10.1080/00085006.2011.11092673. ISSN 0008-5006. S2CID 159577084.. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  21. ^ Himka, John-Paul (2011). "The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd". Canadian Slavonic Papers. 53 (2–4): 209–243. ISSN 0008-5006.
  22. ^ USHMM. "Lwów". The Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Archived from the original (Internet Archive) on 7 March 2012.
  23. ^ Rossolinski, Grzegorz (2014). The Life and Afterlife of a Ukrainian Nationalist : Fascism, Genocide, and Cult. Columbia University Press. ISBN 9783838206844.
  24. ^ Esch, Christian (2015). "'Banderites' vs. 'New Russia'" (PDF). Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. Retrieved 22 August 2022. In Soviet Ukraine, the nationalist project was repressed or vilified in its entirety. Hundreds of thousands of civilians from Western Ukraine were deported to forced labour camps. "Banderovets" became a label that could be attached to any real or purported enemy of Soviet power in western Ukraine. It sounded as bad as "fascist". There was no effort to recognise the UPA as an independent actor with its own agenda, and to distinguish it from outright collaborationism, i.e. the Ukrainian "Waffen-SS Division 'Galizien'" which was under German command. There was also no effort to differentiate between different currents in and periods of OUN and UPA policy, and its more democratic rhetoric towards the end of the war. Even in the 1980s Ukrainian dissidents, no matter how democratic they were, could be labelled "Banderites" or "Fascists".

Further reading[edit]

  • Valeriy Smoliy (1997), "Small dictionary of Ukrainian history" — Lybid.
  • G Demyian — "Banderivtsi" — Ternopil dictionary encyclopedia – G Iavorskiy — "Zbruch", 2004-2010, 696p. ISBN 966-528-197-6.