virtual museum
Dissident movement in Ukraine



The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was a political party, created by Ukrainian émigrés at the First Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists from 28 January – 3 February 1929 in Vienna.  OUN’s goal was to gain independence for Ukraine, divided at that time between the USSR, Poland, Hungary and Rumania. In order to achieve this objective, the sole effective method was declared to be armed struggle against the occupiers. The highest body was in different years either the Congress of Ukrainian Nationalists of the Great Assembly, while direct control lad with the Provid, or Directorate of Ukrainian nationalists (PUN). OUN was the sole highly active movement in the 1930s and 40s in Western Ukraine, and the Organization had a whole range of its own publications in Austria, Czechoslovakia and France.

It tried to send its members to Soviet Ukraine. Both in the USSR, and in Poland, where the Organization was on a mass scale, it carried out a number of armed actions, and members of OUN were subjected to repression.
In 1940 the organization split into OUN (B for Bandera-supporters) – the more radical and aggressive wing and OUN (M for Melnyk-supporters) — the more moderate wing.

Before the beginning of World War II, the German regime made contact with OUN, planning to use the latter against Poland and the USSR, however after the occupation in the summer of 1941 of the major part of the territory of Ukraine, the Germans obstructed the proclamation of Ukrainian statehood. From that time both organizations went underground and waged war against both the Germans and the Bolsheviks, forming military units for this purpose.

In spring 1943 OUN (B) announced the formation of the UPA (Ukrainian Resistance Army) on the basis of military units which emerged in autumn 1942.  The UPA protected the population from being taken for forced labour to Germany, against expropriation of food, and was effectively in control in particular villages and on the territory of whole areas. The OUN’s activities spread over all of Ukraine. When Ukrainian territory was again occupied by the Soviet Army, the armed struggle continued (on Polish territory as well) and was only finally crushed in 1954-55.

After 1945 most of the leaders of the OUN again emigrated. The armed struggle continued to be led by OUN (B). A new split occurred in emigration in 1954 with the majority of OUN (B) supporting Stepan Bandera, but a minority at the end of 1956 creating the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (abroad).

Imprisoned members of OUN and UPA in the political labour camps were the main force behind the uprisings which took place from 1951-1954.

Even after the crushing of the armed resistance, the ideological influence of the OUN in Western Ukraine remained very strong, with the majority of underground organizations considering themselves to be the direct successors in their cause (the Ukrainian National Front, the Ukrainian National Front – 2 and the Union of Ukrainian Youth of Halychyna). Dissidents from other regions of Ukraine sent to the labour camps were also influenced by OUN ideas, mixing there with the Organization’s members.

In post-Soviet Ukraine the OUN was officially registered in 1993, and there are also some breakaway factions.


Recommend this post