Exclusive: While most civilized people view the Swastika and other Nazi symbols as abhorrent reminders of unspeakable evil, the Washington Post trotted out a new way of seeing them as “romantic” a sign that apologists for Ukraine’s coup regime know no limits, reports Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry
The U.S. mainstream media’s deeply biased coverage of the Ukraine crisis endlessly portraying the U.S.-backed coup regime in Kiev as “the good guys” reached a new level of absurdity over the weekend as the Washington Post excused the appearance of Swastikas and other Nazi symbols among a Ukrainian government militia as “romantic.”
This curious description of these symbols for unspeakable evil — the human devastation of the Holocaust and World War II — can be found in the last three paragraphs of the lead story in the Post’s Saturday editions, an article about Ukraine’s Azov battalion which has become best known for waging brutal warfare under Nazi and neo-Nazi insignia.
However, if you didn’t know that reputation, you would have learned little about that grim feature of the Azov paramilitaries as you wound your way through the long story which began on Page One and covered half an inside page.
Post correspondent Anthony Faiola portrayed the Azov fighters as “battle-scarred patriots” who were nobly resisting “Russian aggression,” so determined to fight for Ukraine’s freedom that they threatened to resort to “guerrilla war.”
The article finds nothing objectionable about Azov’s plans for “sabotage, targeted assassinations and other insurgent tactics” against Russians, although such actions are often regarded as terrorism. Similar threats are directed even at the government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko if he agrees to a peace deal with the ethnic Russian east that is not to the militia’s liking.
“If Kiev reaches a deal with rebels that they don’t support, paramilitary fighters say they could potentially strike pro-Russian targets on their own, or even turn on the government itself,” the article states.
Incorruptible Freedom Fighters
The Post, which has avidly supported a Cold War-style confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, portrays Kiev’s so-called “voluntary battalions” as the true heroes of this international morality play, incorruptible freedom fighters angry about a potential sell-out by Poroshenko and other politicians far from the front lines.
So, you might have been a little unsettled to reach the inside jump of the story and see a photograph of a Swastika festooning one barracks of the Azov brigade. According to a variety of other news accounts, the Azov brigade also marches under the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel banner, a slight variant of a symbol used by the Nazi SS.
But the Post offers an excuse for the Swastika in the barracks. In the last three paragraphs, Faiola reported: “One platoon leader, who called himself Kirt, conceded that the group’s far right views had attracted about two dozen foreign fighters from around Europe.
“In one room, a recruit had emblazoned a swastika above his bed. But Kirt, a former hospitality worker, dismissed questions of ideology, saying that the volunteers, many of them still teenagers, embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of ‘romantic’ idea.
“He insisted the group’s primary goal is defending its country against Russian aggression.”
Yet, whatever excuses the Post and other Western media offer or how much they try to downplay the key role played by neo-Nazi militias in the U.S.-backed Kiev regime the ugly reality is that Nazism, deeply rooted in western Ukraine since World War II, has been an integral part of the story since the crisis erupted last winter.
The putsch that ousted elected President Viktor Yanukovych was spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias trained in western Ukraine, organized in 100-man brigades and dispatched to Kiev where they became the muscle behind the increasingly violent Maidan protests. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “NYT Discovers Ukraine’s Neo-Nazis at War.”]
Empowering the Nazis
On Feb. 21, Yanukovych agreed to set early elections (in a deal brokered by three European nations) and pulled back the police (at the request of U.S. officials). The next day, the neo-Nazi bands seized government offices and forced Yanukovych’s loyalists to flee for their lives. Far-right parties were then rewarded with four or more ministries in the new regime, including national security.
Neo-Nazi leader Andriy Parubiy, who was commander of the Maidan “self-defense forces,” was elevated to national security chief and soon announced that the Maidan militia forces would be incorporated into the National Guard and sent to eastern Ukraine to attack ethnic Russians who had refused to accept the coup regime that replaced Yanukovych.
As the U.S. government and media cheered this “anti-terrorist operation,” the neo-Nazi and other right-wing battalions waged brutal street fighting as territory was gradually reclaimed from the Russian ethnic rebels.
Only occasionally did the nasty reality slip into the major U.S. news media, often as with the Post on Saturday relegated to the last few paragraphs of long stories. For instance, an Aug. 10 article in the New York Times mentioned the neo-Nazi paramilitaries at the end of a lengthy story on another topic.
“The fighting for Donetsk has taken on a lethal pattern: The regular army bombards separatist positions from afar, followed by chaotic, violent assaults by some of the half-dozen or so paramilitary groups surrounding Donetsk who are willing to plunge into urban combat,” the Times reported.
“Officials in Kiev say the militias and the army coordinate their actions, but the militias, which count about 7,000 fighters, are angry and, at times, uncontrollable. One known as Azov, which took over the village of Marinka, flies a neo-Nazi symbol resembling a Swastika as its flag.”
The conservative London Telegraph offered more details about the Azov battalion in an article by correspondent Tom Parfitt, who wrote: “Kiev’s use of volunteer paramilitaries to stamp out the Russian-backed Donetsk and Luhansk ‘people’s republics’ should send a shiver down Europe’s spine.
“Recently formed battalions such as Donbas, Dnipro and Azov, with several thousand men under their command, are officially under the control of the interior ministry but their financing is murky, their training inadequate and their ideology often alarming. The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”
Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.
Andriy Biletsky, the Azov commander, “is also head of an extremist Ukrainian group called the Social National Assembly,” according to the Telegraph article which quoted a recent commentary by Biletsky as declaring: “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.”
Nazis Knowingly Dispatched
In other words, for the first time since World War II, a government had dispatched Nazi storm troopers to attack a European population and officials in Kiev knew what they were doing.
The Telegraph questioned Ukrainian authorities in Kiev who acknowledged that they were aware of the extremist ideologies of some militias but insisted that the higher priority was having troops who were strongly motivated to fight. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Ignoring Ukraine’s Neo-Nazi Storm Troopers.”]
But a rebel counteroffensive by ethnic Russians last month reversed many of Kiev’s gains and drove the Azov and other government forces back to the port city of Mariupol, where Foreign Policy’s reporter Alec Luhn also encountered these neo-Nazis. He wrote:
“Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags fly over Mariupol’s burned-out city administration building and at military checkpoints around the city, but at a sport school near a huge metallurgical plant, another symbol is just as prominent: the wolfsangel (‘wolf trap’) symbol that was widely used in the Third Reich and has been adopted by neo-Nazi groups.
“Pro-Russian forces have said they are fighting against Ukrainian nationalists and ‘fascists’ in the conflict, and in the case of Azov and other battalions, these claims are essentially true.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine.”]
Over the past several days, more evidence emerged about the presence of Nazis in the ranks of Ukrainian government fighters. Germans were shocked to see video of Azov militia soldiers decorating their gear with the Swastika and the “SS rune.”
NBC News reported last week: “Germans were confronted with images of their country’s dark past on Monday night, when German public broadcaster ZDF showed video of Ukrainian soldiers with Nazi symbols on their helmets in its evening newscast.
“The video was shot in Ukraine by a camera team from Norwegian broadcaster TV2. ‘We were filming a report about Ukraine’s AZOV battalion in the eastern city of Urzuf, when we came across these soldiers,’ Oysten Bogen, a correspondent for the private television station, told NBC News.
“Minutes before the images were taped, Bogen said he had asked a spokesperson whether the battalion had fascist tendencies. ‘The reply was: absolutely not, we are just Ukrainian nationalists,’ Bogen said.”
You might think it’s an extraordinary fact that a U.S.-backed government in 2014 has dispatched neo-Nazi storm troopers to lead street fighting in Ukrainian cities where seven decades ago the Nazi SS and its Ukrainian adjunct, the Galician SS, slaughtered Poles, Jews and Russians.
But it’s an unpleasant fact that the U.S. media would prefer to ignore. When it does get mentioned it is typically buried deep in an article or surrounded by excuses, such as the Post’s novel idea that the Nazi Swastika is “romantic.”
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.
Absolute evidence on Nazis in Ukrainian army. These are militants of nationalistic battalion “Azov”. “Heroes of Ukraine” are on short vacation. Please note tattooed symbolics of Third Reich all over the bodies.
P. S. Washington Post treats these people as “romantic”. Is it really good word? May be “nostalgic” is better one? Nostalgic Nazis, think about that, guys.
Easy to mock the naive Ukrainians. However, it is the fascists clever enough to abstain from wearing symbols, in London, Washington, and Jerusalem, who seem intent on another world war.
German television presents a less â€˜romanticâ€™ and more historically accurate image of the Nazis and Ukrainians during World War II.
This short scene from the German 2013 TV miniseries Generation War (German: Unsere MÃ¼tter, unsere VÃ¤ter, literally â€œOur mothers, our fathersâ€) shows an SS round up of Jewish civilians with the help of Ukrainian auxiliaries (note the blue and yellow armband)
CAUTION: graphic violence. Viewer discretion advised.
Total civilian losses during the war and Nazi occupation in Ukraine are estimated at four million. This figure includes up to a million Jews who were murdered by the SS Einsatzgruppen (German for â€œtask forcesâ€) death squads.
Local Ukrainian officials and the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police (Hilfspolizei) helped the Einsatzgruppen quickly identify, round up and massacre Jewish civilians. Initially the targets were adult Jewish men, but by August the net had been widened to include women, children, and the elderlyâ€”the entire Jewish population.
Most Ukrainian Jews were killed by fellow Ukrainians commanded by German officers rather than by Germans. The Germans could not have killed so many Jews so quickly without local help.
As word of the massacres in western Ukraine got out, many Jews fled to eastern Ukraine and Russia. The further east the Einsatzgruppen travelled, the less likely the residents were to be prompted into killing their Jewish neighbours.
German historian Dieter Pohl says that around 100,000 Ukrainians joined police units that provided key assistance to the Nazis. Many others staffed the local bureaucracies or lent a helping hand during mass shootings of Jews. According to some historians, the majority of Auxiliary Police came from the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-B.
Local collaborators provided the extra manpower needed to perform all the shootings. The ratio of Germans to Ukrainian auxiliaries was 1 to 10. In rural areas the proportion was 1 to 20.
The largest mass shooting perpetrated by the Einsatzgruppen took place at Babi Yar, a ravine northwest of Kiev, on 29 and 30 September 1941. The perpetrators included a company of Waffen-SS troops from the 2nd SS division Das Reich (famous for its Wolfsangel symbol), and Ukrainian auxiliary police. The murders claimed a total of 33,771 victims.
As the Nazis recognized that the total elimination of Jewry would have a negative impact on the economy and the food supply, they began to round their victims up into concentration camps and urban ghettos. Rural districts were for the most part rendered Judenfrei (free of Jews). Jewish councils were set up in major cities and forced labour gangs were established to make use of the Jews as slave labour until they were totally eliminated, a goal that was postponed until 1942.
The Trawniki concentration camp about 25 miles southeast of Lublin in occupied Poland served as an SS training facility for Ukrainian (as well as Latvian and Lithuanian) auxiliary police. In 1942, it became the forced-labor camp for thousands of Jews. Trawniki men (German: TrawnikimÃ¤nner) were deployed from Trawniki to all major killing sites of the â€œFinal Solutionâ€ â€“ it was their primary purpose of training.
From 1942 to 1944, Trawnikis were dispatched to the Jewish ghettos and killing sites in occupied eastern Poland. They conducted large-scale massacres in Warsaw (three times), CzÄ™stochowa, Lublin, Lvov, Radom, KrakÃ³w, BiaÅ‚ystok (twice), Majdanek as well as Auschwitz, not to mention Trawniki itself. As guards, Trawnikis took an active role in the extermination of Jews at Belzec, Sobibor and Treblinka II death camps.
In 2011, the The Simon Wiesenthal Center reported that â€œUkraine has, to the best of our knowledge, never conducted a single investigation of a local Nazi war criminal, let alone prosecuted a Holocaust perpetrator.â€
Abe that’s some pretty raw statics. Thanks for the education. Joe Tedesky
Ukraineâ€™s Punitive Battalions
This is the title of a article I found on slavyangrad.org. It may help us to understand who’s who in the Ukrainian National Guard.
You know we’ll be going….
You bet we’ll be going…
You know we’ll be going to war!!
Springtime for Hitler
Western audiences are accustomed to trivialized, comedic and even ‘romantic’ depictions of the Nazi era. German and Russian viewers are not so easily distracted or amused.
Germans are sensitive about trivialising that era but there was a 2009 version in Berlin.
FrÃ¼hling fÃ¼r Hitler und Vaterland:
The swastika was flown over New York long before the Producers.
The Hindenburg airship over Broadway in 1936:
A year and twenty flights later, and only hours before it crashed in 1937:
“The Producers – FrÃ¼hling fÃ¼r Hitler” at the Admiralspalast Theater on Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, 2009
More SpawnWar Barack DonbAss “degradation and destruction”.
The ‘romantic’ view of Naziism is reminiscent of the impressions of a young American student who was touring Germany In 1937:
“Very beautiful, because there are many castles along the route. The towns are all charming which shows that the Nordic races appear to be definitely superior to their Latin counterparts.â€
He also wrote â€œI have come to the conclusion that fascism is right for Germany and Italy. What are the evils of fascism compared to communism?â€
But even after Germanyâ€™s defeat in 1945 when the Holocaust was common knowledge, the young American, by then a naval officer, appears to have retained an extraordinary fascination for Hitler. On a tour of Germany that August after visiting Hitlerâ€™s bomb-damaged Bavarian Berghof residence and his Eagleâ€™s Nest mountain retreat, he noted in his diary:
â€œAnyone who has visited these places can imagine how in a few years, Hitler will emerge from the hate that now surrounds him and come to be regarded as one of the most significant figures ever to have lived.â€ He adds: â€œThere was something mysterious about the way he lived and died which will outlive him and continue to flourish. He was made of the stuff of legends.â€
The young American who wrote that was John F Kennedy. This was revealed in 2013 in the book “John F. Kennedy – Among the Germans. Travel diaries and letters 1937-1945”.
I wonder if some future American president is now visiting Ukraine and holds a similar romantic view of the fascists there defending themselves against Russian aggression. That wouldn’t be surprising since that view is becoming mainstream thanks to the media. Nazi is the new normal.
Now Fatherland, Fatherland, show us the sign
Your children have waited to see
The morning will come
When the world is mine
Tomorrow belongs to me
“and officials in Kiev knew what they were doing”
And who are those officials, by the way?
“Ukrainian patriots” would be a hasty answer…
Robert Parry has done an excellent job of summarizing the way the bourgeois press has put a positive spin on the reliance of United States government’s puppet regime in Kiev on open Nazi paramilitary goons, as the press did during the Maidan protests. One would expect a loud public outcry against the presence of these Nazi paramilitary forces not only from German workers and workers throughout Europe but from the masses of workers in Ukraine as well, particularly from the Jewish Ukrainians. Although some commentators have promoted the concept that Ukrainian nationalism equals fascism, this distorts what happened. There certainly were and are Ukrainian fascists, just as there were and are fascists and right-wing lunatics of virtually every nationality. However, the Ukrainians are vigorous opponents of the Nazis. The Nazis ravaged Ukraine. One could make the case that the Ukrainians bore the brunt of Nazi barbarity as the Germans launched the invasion of the USSR through Ukraine. What is odd, though, is that the masses of Ukrainians do not appear to be a social or political force of any kind in Ukraine today, neither showing support for nor opposition to Kiev’s brutal aggression against its own people. The hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians being killed, injured and displaced–some displaced permanently–by the Kiev government’s aggression have many relatives and friends in western and northern Ukraine. Why the apparent silence? Kiev’s reliance on these extremist, fascist paramilitary formations demonstrates that the post-coup government cannot really rely on a regular army, which in itself testifies that the masses of workers are at least ambivalent, “unreliable” as a fighting force against their relatives and friends. But why aren’t there protests against the way the Poroshenko government is sending Ukrainians to kill and destroy other Ukrainians?? Or is this perhaps happening but not being reported by the bourgeois, lap-dog media?
There is intimidation and hunting down those who expresses diagreement with the Junta. People were killed, their businesses destroyed, houses burned, etc. People afraid for their lives and life of there loved ones.
The Graham family leaves and a month later…
Wonder if the WaPo ignored the neo Nazi protestors in Germany in 1989?
Would probably be best if we had to sign in for this, to avoid the dumb “spam check”.
â€œIn one room, a recruit had emblazoned a swastika above his bed. But Kirt, a former hospitality worker, dismissed questions of ideology, saying that the volunteers â€” many of them still teenagers â€” embrace symbols and espouse extremist notions as part of some kind of â€˜romanticâ€™ idea.
â€œHe insisted the groupâ€™s primary goal is defending its country against Russian aggression.â€
When I read this I couldn’t help but laugh visualizing this as a ‘South Park’ episode.
The lack of honesty in the American press is disgusting. I am not sure that the average US citizen realizes just who we are supporting. Recently, Americans got a little sense of it when they saw how horrible the bombing was in Gaza. Now, these be-headings are whipping up enough fear that I am concerned at the growing conversations which will push Americans towards urging DC to go to all out war…this development is the real deal! Ukraine is just evil. Scheduled for September is NATO exercises. Let’s just hope they keep it ‘Just A Drill’!
Are those N-nazis?
I thought we were past this, Am-merica.
Thanks Abe enjoyed the video. Funny thing is earlier when I read your post I surfed on youtube for a video of a wolf being capture. I though the Bourne movie with Jeremy Renner, but in the sequence the wolf is caught by its legs and hoisted up into the air. No the same….so you are good at surfing youtube…again thanks really appreciate the thought. Joe Tedesky
German television shows Nazi swastika and SS runes
on Ukrainian soldiers’ helmets
The Wolfsangel (wolf-hook) symbol is a form of Hakenkreuz (angled cross), like the Nazi swastika.
A Wolfsangel is a wolf-hunting device, used in a similar way as a fishing hook. It is attached on a chain which is anchored to a tree or similar stout object, and a bait is put on the hook. When the wolf eats the bait, it swallows the hook. The chain prevents the wolf from escaping, and it can be killed at will.
The Wolfsangel was the symbol of the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, an elite German division fighting primarily on the Eastern Front during World War II. During Operation Barbarossa in 1941, Das Reich fought in the battles of the Dnieper River crossings, Smolensk, Kiev and Vyasma. It was in the spearhead of the failed attempt to capture Moscow.
In 1943, after the catastrophic defeat of German forces at Stalingrad, Das Reich helped recapture Kharkov and was thrown into the titanic battle of Kursk. Along with the 3rd SS division Totenkopf, Das Reich launched a counterattack against two Soviet tank armies, which had achieved a significant breakthrough. During the following battles the two SS divisions destroyed much of the Soviet armor, up to 800 tanks. After Kursk, most of the division was transferred to the West to refit, and while doing so, took part in anti-partisan operations. In June 1944, after the Allied D-Day invasion, Das Reich committed atrocities at Tulle and Oradour-sur-Glane in France.
Also in 1943, after the failure at Stalingrad, the Germans belatedly recruited manpower from the former Soviet states they still occupied. Thousands of Ukranians volunteered to join the 14th Waffen-Grenadier Division of the SS, Halychyna (Galicia) No. 1. A special commando unit from the Division was alleged to have committed various atrocities, including killing 1,500 civilians in Lâ€™viv and burning the settlement of Olesâ€™ko, causing the deaths of 300 inhabitants. The Division was encircled and routed by Soviet forces in the summer of 1944. It was reformed and transferred to Slovakia for anti-partisan duties. In March 1945, the Germans authorized the formation of a Ukrainian National Army to which the Division was attached.
Thus the Wolfsangel symbol and the SS runes recall the most violent and bloody battles against Red Army forces variously demonized in Nazi propaganda as â€œJewish Bolshevik subhumansâ€, the â€œMongol hordesâ€, the â€œAsiatic floodâ€ and the â€œred beastâ€. The post-coup regime in Kiev invoked the same vicious Nazi propaganda lines in its â€œanti-terrorist operationâ€ in eastern Ukraine.
After World War II, the Wolfsangel symbol has been used by some Neo-Nazi organizations, including the Ukrainian Svoboda party (formerly known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine in a deliberate inversion of National-Socialism). Svoboda and Right Sector armed neo-Nazi militants exploited the largely peaceful Maidan anti-government protests, and violently seized power in Kiev. Neo-Nazis leaders were given key positions in the post-coup government.
The Wolfangel banner is flying over Ukraine thanks to the US/NATO sponsors who helped instigate the February coup in Kiev, and continue to supply aid an political cover to the neo-Nazi forces. Not only the notorious Azov and Aidar battalions, but regular Ukrainian Army and National Guard forces display the Wolfsangel and other Nazi symbols.
Under German Strafgesetzbuch (Criminal Code) Â§ 86a, the swastika in all its Nazi variants, the SS-runes, the Wolfsangel and the “White Power” Celtic Cross are banned as â€œsymbols of unconstitutional organizations.â€
It’s probably time to demand that the caretakers of Sir Winston Churchill’s personal correspondence release the contents of the letter he received from Heinrich Bruning. Bruning, who was the last chancellor of Germany before the Nazis took over, fled the country and ended up in the United States. Bruning fancied himself an economic expert, and having been intimately involved with Germany’s affairs during the decline of the Weimar Republic, he was in a position to know a thing or two. He wrote a personal letter to Churchill explaining exactly who had financed the rise of the Nazis and how they had done it. When Churchill wrote his six volume history of World War Two, he wrote back to Bruning requesting permission to quote the letter. Bruning declined, obviously motivated by the explosive nature of the contents. The contents are known, but have never been officially acknowledged. Today, a similar paradox is occurring in Ukraine, where some of the most vicious “Punisher” brigades are apparently financed by billionaire oligarchs such as Ihor Kolomoisky, the dual citizenship Ukrainian Israeli. If you ask me, that’s even more hypocritical than calling Nazis “romantic”, but like my grandaddy used to say, “There’s no accounting for peoples’ taste”. Bruning, having fled Germany as a failed politician and leaving a legacy of political decisions based on suspicious motives, got a job at Harvard University teaching – what else – Political Science! Is it any wonder that our Ivy League Diplomats and Think Tank Denizens consistently make lousy decisions? Stories are beginning to leak out of Eastern Ukraine about the atrocities committed by these beastie-boys. They include sending the severed heads of Russian separatist fighters killed by our Nazi allies to their families in the east. Even Caliph Ibrahim would be shocked!
There is a logical solution to all of this. Academi, or Xi, or Blackwater, or whatever they call themselves now, should send recruiters to Ukraine right away. Piggo Porkoshanko hasn’t paid most of these animals for months. They’d be willing to work cheap. We could load them on a KC 10 and fly them to Baghdad, where the CIA could put them right to work killing ISIS terrorists. If there’s one thing that scares the shit out of a jihadi wannabe, it’s a Nazi with a bad attitude!
Eye for eye and soon the whole world will be blind. Everything has a cause, etc. be careful before you judge someone!
Right you are. And often the cause is some historical ‘slight’ real or imagined like a mass execution, or a military ‘stab in the back’ or merely the application of somebody’s money to stir the pot and pay for the ammo and explosives.
We don’t want to start with Ukraine which, internally, could bee the equivalent of a Yugoslavia. There were a lot of ‘dirty deeds’, done in Ukraine, still crying out for justice, or ‘justis’ as the case might be. Lately it’s been ‘justis’ turn, but that worm could, and should, change.
There has been nothing “romantic” about Ukraine’s ‘drang nach osten’. It certainly has demeaned them as a people.