Russian officials and media have painted Ukraine’s new leaders as the heirs of the ultranationalist, crypto-fascist Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, a group remembered today mostly for its campaigns of violence during World War II against Poles, Jews, Russians, and eventually even the Germans, whom the OUN had at one point partnered with—all in the name of an extremist vision of Ukrainian nationhood. That depiction is cynical and mostly unfounded. But right-wing Ukrainian political parties continue to celebrate the OUN, which lends relevance to this detailed study of the group, its interwar origins in Polish Galicia, and its program and actions during and after the war. Shkandrij dispassionately examines the group’s hyperauthoritarian, antihumanist strain of Ukrainian nationalism, detailing its evolution and tracing the complex ideas and values of the figures who served as the OUN’s intellectual guides. Although the movement spun off democratic variants, its tactics and core ideology reflected a troubling view of violence “as redemptive, as a way of galvanizing a debased mass.”
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