A Ukrainian nationalist leader who received the country’s top honor took part in pogroms, a top Yad Vashem official said.
The Nachtigal battalion under the command of Gen. Roman Shukhevych participated in pogroms in the summer of 1941, Josef “Tommy” Lapid, the chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, told the Ukrainian daily newspaper Segodnya. Lapid cited Yad Vashem documents received from Germany and Russia after World War II.
During his state visit to Israel, Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko said Shukhevych was posthumously named a Hero of Ukraine in October for his role in fighting for his country’s independence.
At Yad Vashem Lapid confronted Yuschenko, saying he had reliable documents implicating Shukhevych as the leader of squads who massacred thousands of Jews.
“I’m sure that historically this person fought for his country’s independence as a Ukrainian nationalist,” said Lapid, a former Israeli justice minister and a Holocaust survivor from Yugoslavia. “At the same time he took part in pogroms. That is why we are protesting.”
Yuschenko awarding Shukhevych his country’s top honor spurred protests from the Ukrainian and European Jewish communities.