Moysey Fishbeyn, Timothy Snyder, Yaroslav Hrytsak, Andriy Portnov, Andrzej Eliasz, Alexander Motyl, Mykola Riabchuk, Zenon Kohut, John-Paul Himka, Per Anders Rudling, Marko Levitsky, Volodymyr Viatrovych. Passions Over Bandera

March 2014
Вважаєте відгук корисним?

Edited by Tarik Cyril Amar, Ihor Balynskiy, Yaroslav Hrytsak
Kyiv: Grani-T, 2010.

Passion Over Bandera is best characterized as ‘postmodern’. It not only unites texts of very different genres (academic articles, essays and letters to the editor), but also contains the work of very different authors—from historians with varying degrees of intimacy with the issues, to public intellectuals, journalists and the OUN leader’s own grandson. The book brings together texts from discussions about Stepan Bandera, the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which took place in 2009-10 on the pages of Krytyka (see, for example, Volodymyr Kulyk’s “Neunykny Bandera” and Andriy Portnov’s “Kontekstualizatsiya Stepana Bandery,” No. 3-4, 2010), Edmonton Journal, the Western Analytical Group’s website, and the online publication

The impetus for the discussion was David Marples’ article, published in Edmonton Journal in February, 2010. It caused a stir among both Ukrainian diaspora historians—Zenon Kohut and John-Paul Himka (Krytyka introduced its readers to their dialogue in No. 3-4 and No. 7-8, 2010)—and Western scholars—Per Anders Rudling and Timothy Snyder. The latter’s piece “A Fascist Hero in Democratic Kiev” also appeared in Krytyka, No. 3-4. 

By following the exchange of arguments in the debate, one notes the reproaches that systematically remain unanswered. For example, one such problematic question is that of the voluntary participation of Jews in OUN’s structures and, consequently, the ‘ideology’ of Jewish pogroms. A serious drawback of the book’s postmodern approach is the lack of source references for the texts’ arguments, which must therefore be taken at face value. 

The book’s strength lies is in its broad spectrum of contemporary viewpoints on Bandera and the OUN-UPA—from the notion that Ukrainians must fully let go of these symbols, in acknowledging their fascist past (Himka, Snyder, Rudling); to more moderate positions, according to which Bandera, despite his crimes, is a symbol of anti-colonial struggle (Hrytsak, Riabchuk, Eliasz, Motyl, Portnov); to his glorification (Viatrovych, Kulyk, Levitsky). The issue of Jewish pogroms is at the centre of the debate, such that issues like the Volyn tragedy or the extermination of Ukrainians, by Ukrainians, are marginalized. It seems that such questions as the Ukrainian victims of the UPA or the voluntary nature of service in the Insurgent Army require further discussion and research. Remarkably, the emphases on the need to reckon with the inherent, contemporary political contexts are mostly from Ukrainian (and some Polish) intellectuals, who still clearly believe historians' work to be the protection of national interests.               

Book Review Sections: 

Help us with your wallet, and not just support words – subscribe e-mail access or print magazine today and enjoy the best analytics and essayists offered by Ukraine.


We are a not-for-profit organization and all earnings go entirely towards production of high-quality analysis on Ukraine and the region.

Join the conversation!

Guest's picture
Please login or register in order to post your comments or questions.

Please consult our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. We welcome a rational, respectful and matter-of-fact debate of all issues that this publication raises.

Similar reviews

Tomasz Hen-Konarski ・ April 2017
Johannes Remy’s new book is the most exhaustive study of nineteenth-century Ukrainian nation...
Oksana Forostyna ・ December 2014
Readers who simply enjoy Oksana Zabuzhko’s work will be grateful for tales about her childhood and...

Review sections