Saturday, 24 March 2012

The Ukrainian "Socialist" Party

The Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party was formed early in the last century within the old Czarist Empire. Its policy up to, and shortly following, the Russian Revolution of 1917 was one of social reform and autonomy for Ukraine within a Federal Post-Czarist Russia. In the main, it was not fanatically nationalistic. However, a number of its members, and ex-members such as Simon Petlura, had moved more to the right and had become blatantly nationalistic after the occupation of Ukraine by the Red Army. By 1921, most of its leaders had gone into exile, in Poland, Czechoslovakia and France. The Party was banned in the Soviet Ukrainian Republic. It appears to have functioned as a democratic party in Polish occupied Western Ukraine for a number of years before 1939. With the occupation of Poland by both Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia, in 1939, the USDLP ceased to exist. Some of its former members managed to collaborate fairly amicably with the Germans; and a few assisted them in the formation of the Galician (Ukrainian) Waffen SS. With the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945, most of the "social democrats", like many other Ukrainian anti-communists made their way to the American and British zones of Germany. Most of the Ukrainain nationalists found their way to DP camps in and around Munich; and others seem to gravitate to Augsburg, both in the American zone. Some Ukrainian"socialists", who did not remain in Augsburg, found their way to London by about 1950. At some time, they reformed themselves into the Ukrainian Socialist Party.

The Ukrainian Socialist Party first came to my notice in 1951. Their leader was Dr Emile Wolynec,and i met him, together with a number of young men whom he described as Ukrainian Socialist Youth, at 19 Hereford Square, a large house in the "posh" are of Kensington - a most unlikely place for a Socialist Party HQ! Before I left, he gave me a book, "Ukraine:Her Struggle For Freedom", by Panas Fedenko, a member of the old Ukrainian Social Democrat Labour Party. The book was published by "Free Ukraine", situated in Augsburg where, I believe, Panas Fedenko was living. The USP did not appear to publish any literature, at least in English. Wolynec was polite, but not particularly friendly, despite the fact that the USP were (or would later be) associated with the "Socialist International". I never heard any more from them;and , in fact, lost interest in Ukraine until the early 80s, when i began to read about "dissidents" in Soviet Ukraine.

I decided to study the history of Ukraine in some depth; and on 23 May, 1986, I wrote to Dr Wolynec, hoping that he might assist me. On 25 May, my letter was returned by the Post Office "no longer living at this address". A few days later, I wrote to the "Socialist Union of Central-Eastern Europe", at 1 Norfolk Place, London W2. There was no reply;and on 20 June, I looked in a new edition of London Telephone Directory, where I found Dr. Wolynec's name under a different address.. I immediately sent my original letter to this address. Some what surprisingly, I received a letter, dated 24 June, from a Mr Mikhail Dobriansky, also of West London, who wrote that Dr Wolynec had sent my letter on to him. He said he would be happy to help me and send me any relevant literature. Even more surprisingly, he volunteered the information that although he had retired, he had been the Chief Editor of the Ukrainian Section of Radio Liberty for 16 years. (He did not mention the CIA!). Nevertheless, he did send me - on loan - a lot of interesting old pamphlets, published by the Ukrainian National Rada (Council) in Exile, and published (again) in Augsburg, mainly between 1948 and 1951. The Rada included many Ukrainian "social democrats", some of whom had worked for the Germans. One particular collaborator was "President" A. Livitsky, who received a retainer from the Germans.

I return now to the "Socialist Union of Central-Eastern Europe"

Some weeks after I wrote to them, I received a letter dated 14th July, 1986, from Vilem Bernard*, 44 Sheridan Avenue, Reading, apologising for the delay. He regretted to inform me that Dr Wolynec of the USP died in London three years previously (so I don't know how Wolynec managed to communicate with Dobriansky!), He then mentioned a M. Bohdan Fedenko, B.P.150 - 14 Paris 14e. I wrote to M. Fedenko. My letter was returned by the French PO stating that no such person was known to them. Another brick wall. However, there is an organisation Paris called "L'Est European", which is an (un)offical branch of the ABN/OUN [Anti-Bolshevik League/Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists] in France. It supposedly has nothing in common with the USP. However, when I ordered a book from them, I wrote rather cheekily;"Please forward me M. Fedenko's address". This, indeed, was a very wide shot, as a friend in Paris had tried to obtain his phone number and address from French Telecom, who informed her that it was on the "red list" (ie ex-directory). Anyway, L'Est European sent me his address without murmur. I again wrote to Fedenko in March, 1987. He replied to me 29 July(!), promising to send me information. He said that the other Fedenko was his father. I replied asking various questions of a general nature, but including one or two asking if he thought that Bandera had been an agent of the British and US intelligence services ( as a number of writers in Britain were claiming); but Bohdan Fedenko never replied. Another dead end.

This gives rise to a number of questions;

Were these Ukrainian "socialists" and East European Socialist Parties, whose members seemed to live in expensive houses (when many of their comrades were merely existing in DP camps) incompetent and highly secretive by nature;or were they - as some suspicious characters surmise - working for foreign agencies and, possibly, being well paid for it. The Soviets, who were naturally biased against them, claimed that not only the OUN but also the so-called Social Democrats were employed by , mainly the British SIS and the US CIC/CIA. They mentioned Livitsky in particular.

Perhaps, Fedenko, and others, had something to hide. Indeed, Roger Faligot and Pascal Kror in "La Piscine" claim that the Central Committee of Ukrainians in France, representing 17 Ukrainian associations, provided the best raw material for SDECE, that is the French intelligence. Maybe they were also Bohdan Fedenko's employer. Who knows?

* Dr Vilem Bernard worked, in co-operation with Denis Healey for the Foreign Office's Information Research Department (IRD), as well as the CIA. See, particularly, Denis Healey's autobiography, Time of my Life

See also Chapter 12, note 73, p822 of MI6 - Fifty Year of Special Operations by Stephen Dorril (Fourth Estate, London, 2000)

Peter E Newell

Ukrainian Social Democratic Party - re-established in Ukraine by 1990
Green Party of Ukraine formed at beginning of 1991

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