Stepan Bandera
Степан Бандера

Stepan Bandera

Born January 1, 1909
Uhryniv Staryi, Galiсia, Austria–Hungary
Died October 15, 1959 (aged 50)
Munich, Germany
Nationality Ukrainian
Occupation Politician

Stepan Andriyovych Bandera (Ukrainian: Степан Андрійович Бандера) (January 1, 1909 – October 15, 1959) was a Ukrainian politician and one of the leaders of Ukrainian national movement in (Galicia) Western Ukraine, who headed the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The son of a clerical family, Bandera was an activist, a scout, and eventually the leader of the Ukrainian Nationalist movement.

During his political career, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalist (OUN) split into two factions: the OUN-M and the OUN-B. Stepan Bandera was responsible for the proclamation of an Independent Ukrainian State in Lviv on June 30, 1941.

Soviet authorities accused him of numerous acts of murder and banditry and authorised his assassination in absentia by the KGB in Munich, Germany, on October 15, 1959.

Bandera is a controversial figure in contemporary Ukraine. His supporters consider him a hero, others see him as a Nazi collaborator.[1]


Early life

Born in the village of Uhryniv Staryi, in the Kalush District in Galiсia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, His father, Andriy Bandera, was the Greek-Catholic rite parish priest of Uhryniv Staryi. His mother, Myroslava, was also from an established clerical family, the daughter of a Greek-Catholic priest in Uhryniv Staryi.

Stepan spent his childhood in Uhryniv Staryi, in the house of his parents and grandparents.

In the spring of 1922, his mother died from tuberculosis of the throat.


Bandera attended the Fourth Form Grammar School in Stryy,[2], where he also participated with the Sokil sports Society.

In 1923, at the age of 14, Bandera joined the Ukrainian scout organization "Plast" (Ukrainian: Пласт). Later in his association with Plast, he became a member of the group Chornomortsi.
Bandera plast 1923

Stepan Bandera a member of Plast (1923)

Bandera received an unconfirmed 4 reprimands during his time as a yunak, and is still considered an ideal Plast member.

After graduation from high school in 1927, he planned to attend the Ukrainian College of Technology and Economics in Podebrady in Czechoslovakia, but was not granted a travel papers by the Polish authorities [3].

In 1928, Bandera enrolled in the agronomy program at the Lviv Polytechnical Institute[4]. This was one of the few programs open to Ukrainians at the time [2].

In both high school and University, Bandera learned of and later joined a nationalist group. One of the most active of these groups was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the OUN (Ukrainian: Організація Українських Націоналістів).

Nationalist activities

Early Activities

Stepan Bandera had met and associated with members of many Ukrainian nationalist organizations throughout his schooling - from Plast, to the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (Ukrainian: Українська Визвольна Організація) and also the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the OUN (Ukrainian: Організація Українських Націоналістів). The most active of these was the OUN, and the leader of the OUN was Andriy Melnyk[2].

Because of a very charismatic personality, Stefan Bandera quickly rose through the ranks of these organizations, becoming the chief propaganda officer of the OUN in 1931, the second in command of OUN in Galicia in 1932-33, and the head of the National Executive or the OUN in 1933 [4].

For Bandera, an inclusive policy of nation building was important - therefore, he focussed on growing support amongst all classes of Ukrainians in all parts of Ukraine. In the early 1930s, Bandera was very active in finding and developing groups of Ukrainian nationalists in both Western and Eastern Ukraine[2].


Stefan Bandera played key roles in the organization ordereing terrorist activities against the Polish government, including sabotage (arson, damaging communications), laying bombs, expropriation of property and political asassination. He was arrested in Lviv in 1934, and tried for two separate crimes: first, a plot to assassinate the minister of internal affairs, Bronisław Pieracki, and second at a general trial of OUN executives. He was found guilty on both counts and sentenced to death[4].

The death sentence was commuted and reduced to life imprisonment [4]. He was held in Wronki Prison; in 1938 some of his followers tried unsuccessfully to break him out of the jail.[5]

In 1939, after Nazi Germany attacked Poland and occupied its Western part, pursuant to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact Western Belarus and Western Ukraine fell under Soviet occupation. Stepan Bandera left the prison, according to OUN - by himself, according to other sources - freed by Germans.

Upon release from prison, Bandera moved to Krakow, the capital of the Germany's occupational General Government. There, he was in contact with the leader of the OUN, Andriy Melnyk. In 1940, the differences between the opinions of the two leaderswere strained and the OUN was split into two factions - the Melnyk faction led by Andriy Melnyk, which preached a more conservative approach to nation-building, (also known as the OUN-M), and the Bandera faction led by S. Bandera, which supported a revolutionary approach, (also known as the OUN-B) [6].

OUN(B) sought support in Germany's military circles, while the OUN(M) sought connections with its ruling clique. In November 1939 about 800 Ukrainian nationalists began training in Abwehr's military camps. In the first days of December Bandera, without co-ordination with Melnyk, sent a courier to Lviv with directives for preparation of an armed uprising. The courier was intercepted by the NKVD, which had captured some of the OUN's leaders. Another such attempt was prevented in Autumn.

Formation of Mobile Groups

After the independence proclamation of June 30, 1941, Bandera oversaw the formation of so-called "Mobile Groups" (Ukrainian: мобільні групи) which were small (5-15 members) groups of OUN members who would travel from Western Ukraine to Eastern Ukraine to encourage support for the state. This included handing out pamphlets and growing membership in OUN.

In total, approximately 7,000 people participated in these mobile groups, and they found followers among a wide circle of intellectuals, such as Ivan Bahriany, Vasyl Barka, Hryhorii Vashchenko, and many others [7].

Formation of the UPA

Relationship with Nazi Germany

According to some sources, Bandera had meetings with the heads of Germany's intelligence that resulted in formation of "Nachtigall" and "Roland" Battalions, in Spring the OUN received 2.5 million marks on demolition activities inside the USSR[8][9]. On June 30, 1941, OUN(B) announced a Ukrainian independent state in Lviv.

However, after the German troops crossed the Soviet border, Hitler decided there was no need in establishing a Ukrainian state. On July 5, Bandera was placed under house arrest in Krakow and on the next day transported to Berlin. He was ordered to stop his armed activities against the OUN(B) and recall the "Act of July the 30th, 1941", which he refused. Bandera with Stetsko, deputy chief of the OUN-B, who came to Berlin after Bandera's arrest and both arrested, and on September 15, 1941 placed to the central Berlin prison and, in January 1942, transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp's special barrack Zellenbau, where he still maintained contacts with the General Government.[10] Bandera's brothers were taken to Auschwitz concentration camp, where they were killed. In 1943, Bandera was asked by Nazi officers whether he would support Hitler or not. According to one source, "Bandera quickly replied that it was clear that the Nazis would lose the war, and there was nothing to be gained for Ukraine by siding with them" [11].

In 1941 relations between Nazi Germany and the OUN-B soured to the point where a Nazi document dated November 25, 1941 stated that "... the Bandera Movement is preparing a revolt in the Reichskommissariat which has as its ultimate aim the establishment of an independent Ukraine. All functionaries of the Bandera Movement must be arrested at once and, after thorough interrogation, are to be liquidated..." [12]. Military oppression of the population increased, and it soon became evident that military action against Nazi Germany was necessary. Meetings of the OUN leadership held between April and November 1942 the creation of the military wing of the OUN, which was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

A testimony of Colonel Stolze of the German Abwehr from 25 December, 1945 was given to the Nuremberg Tribunal as Exhibit USSR-231 with the request that it be accepted as evidence. In the testimony Stolze said that Stepan Bandera was an Abwehr's agent and that Bandera and OUN also actively collaborate with the Nazi's.[13]

Views towards other ethnicities

According to a secret guideline of the Bandera-faction of the UPA of May 1941 the "Polish leaders" had to be "destroyed" but the "so-called Polish peasants" "assimilated". But leaflets spread in the name of Bandera in the same year called for the "destruction" of Russians, Poles, Hungarians and "Jewry"[14].


On October 15, 1959, Stepan Bandera was found barely alive outside of Kreittmayrstrasse 7 in Munich. A medical examination established that the cause of his death was poison (cyanide gas[15]). On October 20, 1959 Stepan Bandera was buried in the Waldfriedhof Cemetery in Munich.

Two years later, on November 17, 1961, the German judicial bodies announced that Bandera's murderer had been KGB defector Bohdan Stashynsky who acted on the orders of Soviet KGB head Alexander Shelepin and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.[16] After a detailed investigation against Stashynskyi, a trial took place from October 8 to October 15, 1962. The sentence was handed down on October 19, in which Stashynskyi was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment. The Federal Court of Justice of Germany confirmed at Karlsruhe that in the Bandera murder, the Soviet secret service was the main guilty party.


Stepan's brother Bohdan died in the 1942 fighting the Nazis after they had entered Lviv. On July 5, 1941 Stepan Bandera was arrested in Krakow and taken to Berlin where he was initially kept in a jail before being transferred to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp where he remained interned until 1944. His brother Oleksandr, who had a PhD in Political Economy which he received in Rome and brother Vasyl (graduate of Philosophy, Lviv University) were arrested, interred and killed in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in 1942. Andriy Bandera, Stepan's father was killed by the Soviets during an interrogation. His sisters Oksana and Marta-Maria were arrested by the Soviets in 1941 and sent to Siberia without the right to return to Ukraine. Marta-Maria died in Siberia in 1982, and her sister Oksana returned to Ukraine in 1989 where she died in 2004. Another sister, Volodymyra - was sentenced to a term in Soviet labour correction camps from 1946-1956.


File:Stepan Bandera.JPG

The Soviet Union discredited Bandera and other Ukrainian nationalist partisans of World War II.[1][15][17]

In an interview with Russian newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda in 2005 former KGB Chief Vladimir Kryuchkov claimed that "the murder of Stepan Bandera was one of the last cases when the KGB disposed of undesired people by means of violence."[18]

In late 2006 the Lviv city administration announced the future transference of the tombs of Stepan Bandera, Andriy Melnyk, Yevhen Konovalets and other key leaders of OUN/UPA to a new area of Lychakivskiy Cemetery specifically dedicated to Ukrainian national liberation struggle.[19]

In October 2007, the city of Lviv erected a statue dedicated to the OUN and UPA leader Stepan Bandera[20]. The appearance of the statue has engendered a far-reaching debate about the role of Stepan Bandera and UPA in Ukrainian History. The two previously erected statues were blown up by unknown perpetrators, the current is guarded by a militia detachment 24/7. On October 18, 2007, the Lviv City Council adopted a resolution establishing the "Award of Stepan Bandera."[21][22]

On January 1, 2009 his 100th birthday was celebrated in several Ukrainian places[23][24][25][26][27] and an postal stamp with his portrait was issued the same day.[28]


There are monuments of Stepan Bandera in Staryi Uhryniv,Lviv, Ternopil, Ivano-Frankivsk, Drohobych, Terebovlya, Berezhany, Buchach, Dubliany, Mykytyntsi, Sambir, Stryi, Boryslav, Zalishchyky, Chervonohrad, Mostyska, and several villages.



  • Stepan Bandera street in Lviv
  • Stepan Bandera street in Lutsk (former Suvorovska street)
  • Stepan Bandera street in Rivne (former Moskovska street)
  • Stepan Bandera street in Kolomyia
  • Stepan Bandera prospect in Ternopil
  • Stepan Bandera street in Ivano-Frankivsk
  • Stepan Bandera street in Chervonohrad
  • Stepan Bandera street in Drohobych (former Slyusarska street)
  • Stepan Bandera street in Stryi
  • Stepan Bandera street in Kalush
  • Stepan Bandera street in Kovel
  • Stepan Bandera street in Volodymyr-Volynskyi


  1. 1.0 1.1 Stepan Bandera: Hero or Nazi sympathizer?, Kyiv Post (October 2, 2008)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3
  3. Ukrainian College of Technology and Economics in Podebrady
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3
  5. (Polish) Janusz Marciszewski, Uwolnić Banderę,
  8. Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія. Інститут історії НАН України.2004р Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія, Раздел 1 стр. 17-30
  9. ОУН в 1941 році: документи: В 2-х ч Ін-т історії України НАН України К. 2006 ISBN 966-02-2535-0
  10. Berkhoff, K.C. and M. Carynnyk 'The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Its Attitude toward Germans and Jews: Iaroslav Stets’ko’s 1941 Zhyttiepys' in: Harvard Ukrainian Studies, vol. 23 (1999), nr. 3/4, pp. 149—184 .
  14. Harvest of despair: life and death in Ukraine under Nazi rule by Karel Cornelis Berkhoff (2004)
  15. 15.0 15.1 The Partisan, Time (magazine) (November 2, 1959)
  16. The Poison Pistol, TIME Magazine, December 01, 1961
  17. Myths from U.S.S.R. still have strong pull today, Kyiv Post (February 25, 2009)
  19. Information website of the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group
  20. Events by themes: Monument to Stepan Bandera in Lvov, UNIAN photo service (October 13, 2007)
  21. Корреспондент » Украина » События » Львов основал журналистскую премию имени Бандеры
  22. Розпорядження №495
  23. Events by themes: Celebration of 100 birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera in Zaporozhye (Zaporozhye), UNIAN photo service (January 1, 2009)
  24. Events by themes: Mass meeting, devoted to 100 birth anniversary of Stepan Bandera, in Stariy Ugriniv village, UNIAN photo service (January 1, 2009)
  25. Events by themes: Monument to Stepan Bandere and memorial complex the heroes of UPA were opened in Ivano-Frankovsk (Ivano-Frankovsk), UNIAN photo service (January 1, 2009)
  26. Events by themes: Kharkov nationalists were disallowed to arrange a torchlight procession in honor of Bandera’s birthday (Kharkiv), UNIAN photo service (January 1, 2009)
  27. Events by themes: Action ”Stepan Bandera is a national hero” (Kiev), UNIAN photo service (January 1, 2009)
  28. 2009 Philatelic Issues - Stefan Bandera (1909-1959) The Ukrainian Electronic Stamp Album

External links

be-x-old:Сьцяпан Бандэра bs:Stepan Bandera cs:Stepan Banderaet:Stepan Banderaeo:Stepan Banderahr:Stepan Banderalv:Stepans Banderace:Степан Бандера nn:Stepan Banderapt:Stepan Bandera ru:Бандера, Степан Андреевич sr:Степан Бандера fi:Stepan Bandera sv:Stepan Bandera uk:Бандера Степан Андрійович

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