(WATCH) Nazis in Ukraine

As the Russia-Ukraine war drags on, Russia President Putin’s campaign has been built in part on the claim that he’s “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. It’s an allegation vehemently disputed by the other side. On our search for the facts, we learned one thing for certain: today, there are Nazis in Ukraine. For context, we head to Germany to consult an expert on extremism in Ukraine and beyond.

The following is a transcript of a report from “Full Measure with Sharyl Attkisson.” Watch the video by clicking the link at the end of the page.

Allegations of a Nazi element in Ukraine and supposed evidence of their heinous acts circulate on social media.

In Germany, I consulted an expert on right-wing extremism and a critic of anti-Jewish sentiment, Professor Hajo Funke.

Sharyl: Does extremism bloom when there is economic distress and a lot of chaos?

Hajo Funke: Yes. Extremism is blooming when there are crisis, as they are now, when there is war, as it is now.

Funke says Ukraine’s Nazi history dates back before World War II to a man named Stepan Bandera, who collaborated infamously with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party— or Nazis.

Funke: Stepan Bandera was the leader of the most radical Ukrainian nationalists during the second world war. And he decided, together with Nazi leaders, to fight against Jews, to fight against Polish people.

Bandera is said to be responsible for killing scores of Jews in Ukraine. After the war, he left Ukraine for West Germany, where, documents indicate, the U.S. considered him a valuable intelligence asset against a common enemy: the Soviet Union and the spread of Communism.

After Russian agents reportedly assassinated Bandera in 1959, some in Ukraine elevated his memory to martyrdom, despite his Nazi ties.

Funke: Those who applaud to this kind of remembrance of Bandera are still widespread in the west Ukraine. You have a lot of statues reminding, remembering, this person.

In 2010, Ukraine’s then-President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the title “Hero of Ukraine” — a decision condemned by Russia, Jewish groups, and Europe, and later overturned in court.

A more recent high-level Bandera admirer: Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk — removed from his post last July in a scandal after he defended Bandera’s memory.

Sharyl: So interestingly, it was Putin who said there were Nazis still in Ukraine. Was he right, though, that there are some Nazis in Ukraine?

Funke: Yes. But he wasn’t right because he generalized it, and that was totally wrong.

Sharyl: Can you be more specific — like, he made it sound like a bigger issue than it is?

Funke: Yes, of course. It’s totally wrong to say the Ukrainian society and the polity of the Ukraine is Nazistic. That’s full-scale wrong. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t nationalists even as extreme as Putin himself is, also in the Ukraine, but they’re not dominant.

Also in Berlin, I spoke with Dalia Grinfeld of the pro-Jewish Anti-Defamation League.

Sharyl: Are there Nazis or Nazi followers in Ukraine?

Dalia Grinfeld: In Ukraine, like in any other part of the world — in Russia, in Germany, or the U.S. — there are extremists and also neo-Nazis, but the important fact is that it’s a marginal small group that only got just over 2% in the 2019 elections and they don’t have any political power. They don’t have any influence. They’re not a big group.

She says today, Nazis have blended with the nationalist movement in Ukraine to fight Russia in the war, making for a complex formula.

She insists that Nazi imagery, like an apparent swastika on a bracelet worn by Ukraine’s Armed Forces Commander in Chief, symbolizes nationalism.

Sharyl: We’ve seen pictures on social media that appear to be groups of Ukrainians with a flag that would represent Nazi support, and they look like they’re all on board with that.

Grinfeld: In fact, yes, in Kiev in 2022, we saw in the marches, we saw black and red flags symbolizing the World War II forces that worked with the Germans. Why? Because it’s a symbol of independence for them. In Ukrainians’ mind, this is not a symbol of Nazism. However, for Ukrainian Jews, this is a no-go. Ukrainian Jewish communities and individuals have spoken out very loudly that this is not a symbol to use. Even the Jewish community recognized that there is Russian propaganda about Nazis in Ukraine, and the Ukrainian Jewish communities in the different cities. So for them, they align mostly with the general population of fighting for their country. And they don’t see the few extremists, the few neo-Nazis, as a threat to their democracy.

Sharyl (on-camera): A recent Foreign Policy analysis predicts an uptick this year in state-sponsored terrorism, from Russia-aligned groups to Neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

Watch story here.

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9 thoughts on “(WATCH) Nazis in Ukraine”

  1. There are Nazis here in the USA. Funde insinuated the Ukrainian government is not full of Nazis. I wonder if we in the USA can say the same?
    Failing to prosecute Antifa and BLM while incarcerating Jan 6 protestors for over a year without charging seems Nazi-like

    1. Antifa and BLM are the shock troops for the Democrat Party, That is why the police did not crack down on them, they were under orders. The rioters and police listened to the same politicians. In 2008, 0bmaa had SEIU and ACORN. In 2024, there will be someone else.
      Both are still active. ACORN’s 3 tax-exempt numbers are still active.
      Stalin and Hitler held absolute power over the masses, they were kept in power by the secret police and the military. There was no advantage to be interrogated by the KGB than the Gestapo. Is you survived the arrest and interrogation you either went to the Gulags or the Death Camps.
      The Jan 6 protesters were protesting against Democrats which is intolerable.

  2. Ukrainian nazi’s are nationalists? ask the people in Donetsk and where the Donetsk nationalist movement has been and still is violently targeted by Ukrainian forces. also beware of asking Germans about nazis (or Jews, for that matter), they can’t or wont answer your questions honestly (aka objectively) I’m sorry to say.

    1. Every country the Soviet Union pulled back from when the USSR collapsed had planted Russians in certain strategic locations, like Donetsk to do exactly what they did in the Ukraine. Agitate for re-unify with Mother Russia, then Mother Russia comes crashing in to assist their countrymen & woman, which happened in 2014. Now Putin tried to make it official.
      They had their chance when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, but they chose to stay with the Ukraine and await orders.

  3. Historically, Russia’s foreign policy has been based on the acquisition of a year around warm water seaport. They still do not have one.
    It is next to impossible to understand the situation in the Ukraine if one considers it beginning with Putin in 2014. 1917 is where I chose to begin because the world dynamic changed that year. The Communist Revolution overthrew the Democratically elected Kerensky govt in Russia. Kerensky had overthrown the Czar in March of that year.. Lenin & Stalin proclaimed they were going to take over the world and demonstrated this by staging coups in Europe, 2 or 3 in Germany. Hitler announced he would protect the Germans from the Communist death squads. Millions of Russians had fled Russia bring stories of Millions more being killed. The people in the west were glad to do that because they could set back and relax. That includes the US. The UK was the only European nation that did not attempt to play the neutrality game. Except Germany and the Soviets. Yes, the Ukraine leaned toward the Nazis because no one else would help them resist Stalin. That is not to condone or excuse killing Jews. Keep in mind, Stalin killed 15 million Ukrainians in the early 1930s before Hitler came to power. I believe Putin would attempt to kill more Ukrainians than Stalin did.

  4. Communism was alive and well by the time of the French Revolution in 1789. It was not called Communism, and Marx had not written his books, but it was thriving. The smallest governmental sub-unit was the commune and still is in many countries. By the latter 1800s, there was a movement to the right. Mussolini was a rising star in the Internationals when he decided he was proud to be an Italian and created Fascism based on the teachings of Marx. Hitler took Mussolini’s Fascism and created Nazism by adding a racial component or hating the Jews. Therein lies what I consider the major difference between the Socialists, International Socialism or National Socialism.
    The 2d difference between the political, socio-economic totalitarian systems is their control of the economy. Communists send in the party leaders to run the major industries and the Fascists/Nazis pass so many laws that the owners & managers have no discretion.
    The Communist and Nazis are bastard siblings joined at the hip and belong in Hell.

  5. Universities are controlled by Leftists, some Hard Leftists or Communists. Most textbooks are written by college professors. Naturally, Communism will be soft pedaled and Nazis condemned, as they should be. Most history books will not contain the killing of 15 million Ukrainians by Stalin. Most will not mention the Stalin Hitler treaty in August 1939 that allowed WWII to begin. It was only a matter of time until one or the other turned on their ally. I knew that and taught it even if it was not in the history textbook I was using.
    To the Russians WWII began when Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. By then the Soviets had invaded and conquered the other half of Poland, invaded and conquered part of Poland, both were neutral nations. I am not sure what else they had conquered.

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