Stepan Bandera

XX pagePolandPolitical figure

Stepan Bandera was born into the family of a Greek Catholic priest in the village of Stary Uhryniv, not far away from Kalush in Galicia. Upon graduation from the Ukrainian Gymnasium in the town of Stryi, Bandera entered the department of agronomy of Lviv Polytechnic School. When a student, he joined the underground Ukrainian Military Organisation (UMO), and in 1929 became a member of the newly born Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), the primary objective of which was the struggle for the independent unitary Ukrainian state.

S. Bandera was one of the participants and leaders of a number of civil disobedience actions that took place in Galicia in the early 1930 s. The Polish government responded with violent suppression of the Ukrainian movement – “pacifiation,” which never brought peace to this land and only stirred up the OUN activities and added to their radicalism. In 1934, a battle group headed indeed by S. Bandera, the OUN regional leader in Galicia, made an attempt on the life of General Peratsky, the then Minister of Internal Affairs of

Poland. All accomplices of this attempt were arrested and sentenced to different terms in prison. As for Bandera, they commuted his death penalty to life imprisonment.

After disintegration of Poland in 1939, Stepan Bandera was set at liberty. A radically minded opposition group of the OUN members rallied round him. Upon failing to reach understanding with the OUN

board with A. Melnyk at the head of it, he became the leader of the newly formed Revolutionary Board of OUN, which in 1940, at their congress in Krakow, established the Revolutionary OUN (OUN-r) often called “Bandera’s.”

At the beginning of World War II S. Bandera, as a leader of OUN-r, started to create mobile groups, which had to form the bodies of authority and organise local administration on the territories liberated from the Bolsheviks. On 30 June 1941, without asking the Germans’ approval for that, the OUN-r representatives in Lviv proclaimed the Act of Revival of the Ukrainian State. For the refusal to cancel the Act, Stepan Bandera and his immediate associates were arrested and put in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp where they stayed till 1944. Later S. Bandera became the head of the council of the Foreign Formations of OUN.

He focused most of his attention on consolidation of the nationalist forces in emigration and formation of underground structures in Ukraine. He became a symbol of the Ukrainian underground struggle.