'The Shaping of “Historical Truth”: Construction and Reconstruction of the Memory and Narrative of the Waffen SS “Galicia” Division'

Olesya Khromeychuk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper looks at how the memory and, subsequently, narratives of the Waffen SS “Galicia,” later known as 1st Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army, are being (re)constructed and presented to a wider audience by scholars, politicians, and World War II veterans. The narratives and political framings of the “Galicia” Division tend to divide into two dichotomous approaches, each presenting itself as “historical truth.” On the one hand, the ex-members are often portrayed as traitors, opportunists, and war criminals. On the other, ex-“Galicians” are seen as those who arguably chose “the lesser of two evils” and joined the German Army in order to defend their motherland against the Soviet invasion and build a nucleus for the Ukrainian army. Rather than follow the well-trodden paths of attempting to justify or condemn the Division’s actions, this paper will analyze how the interpretations of the Division’s identity are presented in contemporary debates, addressing at the same time the concept of memory. It will offer a discussion of the political framing of history in contemporary Ukraine and of the challenges that Ukrainian historiography faces with regard to the question of World War II in general and the “Galicia” Division in particular. In this way the paper will seek to contribute to an understanding of the institutionalization of memory and the shaping of national identity through existing and newly emerged narratives about World War II in contemporary Ukraine.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)443 - 468
JournalCanadian Slavonic Papers
Volume54
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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