Ukraine celebrates Nazi collaborator, bans book critical of pogroms leader

State agencies have declared January 1 a commemoration day for WWII nationalist Stepan Bandera

Cnaan Liphshiz is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

A statue of Stepan Bandera in Lviv, Ukraine, September 2014. (Courtesy Andrey Syasko/via JTA)
A statue of Stepan Bandera in Lviv, Ukraine, September 2014. (Courtesy Andrey Syasko/via JTA)

JTA — Ukraine designated as a national holiday the birthday of a Nazi collaborator and banned a book on the anti-Semitic actions of another national leader.

The Ukrainian parliament last week declared January 1 a national day of commemoration for Stepan Bandera, who briefly joined forces with the Nazi occupation of Ukraine. A nationalist, Bandera hoped the Germans would allow his country independence from the Soviet Union, though the Nazis later arrested him.

Some of his supporters at the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which he headed, committed countless war crimes against Jews.

The region of Lviv, Bandera’s native city, this month declared 2019 “Stepan Bandera Year,” sparking protests by Israel. Tarik Youssef Cyril Amar, the former academic director of Lviv’s Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, this week returned an award conferred on him by the city.

Separately, Ukraine’s State Committee on Television and Radio Broadcasting banned the “Book of Thieves” by Swedish historian Anders Rydell, the Regnum news agency reported Wednesday.

The December 10 decree cited the book’s “inciting ethnic, racial and religious hatred.” The ban is due to Rydell’s critical analysis of the actions of Symon Petliura, another nationalist whose troops murdered countless Jews in pogroms. A Russia-born Jew killed Petliura in Paris in 1929 as revenge for the pogrom.

“The whole book ban is very symbolic in itself,” said Ukrainian Jewish Committee Director Eduard Dolinsky. Both communist and Nazi authorities systematically banned books.

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