Event Date: 15 – 17 May 2019
Richmond University – The American University in London
Richmond TW10 6JP
A Century of Radical Right Extremism: New Approaches
David Swoboda (Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes) – The Ideology of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
The ideology of Ukrainian radical nationalism in the interwar period has become a hotly disputed issue. The post-Soviet times have brought a number of interesting academic contributions to the much politicized topic. In recent years the problem fell victim to Vladimir Putin’s information war serving Russia’s neo-imperialist course which, on the other hand, attracted attention to modern Ukrainian history and its dilemmas. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), founded in 1929, occupied the major position among Ukrainian illegal movements in interwar Poland. The OUN led a violent campaign against Polish authorities and took pains to define its ideology. Inspired by the teaching of Dmytro Dontsov, its worldview soon found itself in the vicinity of fascist Italy, soon followed by Hitler’s Germany. Besmirched as fascist by its opponents, the OUN however strove to define a unique ideological position with nationalism as its core idea while keeping distance from outright fascist regimes. The Italian fascists and German Nazis were even criticized for their imperialistic lust and racist loftiness which caused concerns as to Hitler’s real war aims in the East. The Ukrainian nationalists treated fascist regimes with caution while being at the same time attracted to their dynamics and voluntarism. In the late 1930s, the OUN moved politically closer to Nazi Germany, a turn which became more obvious after Hitler’s splendid victories. I would like to focus my attention to the ideological nature of the OUN. To what extent is it suitable to deem it fascist? If so, what were its specific traits and which characteristics did it share with other fascist movements? What was the nature of OUN’s critique of fascism? What, on the other hand, caused its acceptance of some Nazi principles in the late 1939? Did anti-Semitism play a key role in its worldview?