Roman Shukhevych (1907–1950) is a Ukrainian nationalist who served in German uniform during World War II as a captain in the Nachtigall batallion in 1941. In 1942 to 1943 Shukhevych served in Schutzmannschaft battalion 201, taking part in ‘anti-partisan operations’ in occupied Belarus.
Shukhevych became active in nationalist radicalism as an adolescent. As a teenager he was already involved in assassination plots against Polish officials in response to the assimilatory policies of the Polish government. He committed his first political murder at the age of nineteen, that of the school curator Stanisław Sobiński in Lvov, which was part of the Polish state in 1926. In 1934, Shukhevych was arrested for his involvement in the murder of Bronisław Pieracki, the Polish minister of the interior, and spent two and a half years in prison, where he was allegedly tortured by the Polish authorities. Throughout the 1930s, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) stepped up its campaign of political terrorism against the Polish state, assassinating Polish politicians and political opponents. At least sixty-three persons were murdered by the OUN in interwar Poland (1919-1939). The Polish authorities responded with a campaign of ‘pacification’ against the OUN, including raids in 494 villages in eastern Galicia.
In January, 1938, Shukhevych crossed the border from Poland to Carpathian Ukraine in Czechoslovakia, which, according to his son Yurii became his new political base. From there, he often traveled on missions to Prague, Vienna, Berlin, and illegally across the border to Lvov in Poland. In the spring and summer of that year, according to some sources, he was educated as an officer at a German Military Academy in Munich. From May to September, 1940, Shukhevych joined over 120 other Ukrainian nationalists for training at a secret military intelligence (Abwehr) espionage school in Zakopane, which by then was German-occupied Poland.
After the OUN split in 1940 between the OUNm led by Col. Andrii Melnyk, and the more radical nationalist OUNb led by Stepan Bandera, Shukhevych belonged to the inner circle of OUNb's leadership around Bandera, and played a key role in organizing the Velykyi Zbir [Second Congress] of the Bandera Wing held in Kracow in April 1941. He was one of the authors of the OUNb blueprint for action for 1941, Borot’ba i diialnist’ OUN(b) pid chas viiny [Struggle and Activities of the OUN(b) at Times of War], outlining the establishment of a totalitarian state through the indiscriminate use of violence, urging the removal of all ‘non-Ukrainians’ living on Ukrainian territory and the liquidation of ‘Polish, Muscovite, and Jewish activists.’
Prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, German military intelligence set up two small Ukrainian formations: Sonderformation Nachtigall, and Organisation Roland. Formed in Cracow on March 2 1941, the Nachtigall battalion consisted mostly of Ukrainian Nationalists. Established for the purpose of the immanent attack on the Soviet Union, its members received their training at Neuhammer, Silesia. Its volunteers bore German uniforms and weapons, and were attached to the 1st Battalion of the Regiment Brandenburg-800. Shukhevych not only became the highest-ranking Ukrainian officer in the Nachtigall battalion; he also enjoyed the greatest standing among its Ukrainian members.
Nachtigall participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, and took part in the capture of Lvov, Zolochiv, Ternopil’ and Vinnytsia.
Roman Shukhevych personally helped set up the Ukrainian nationalist militia, which played a key role in the Lvov pogrom. Soldiers of Nachtigall partook in the July 1, 1941 Lvov pogrom as well as massacres of Jews in the vicinity of Vinnytsia.
On October 21, 1941, the soldiers were reorganized as the 201st Ukrainian Schutzmannschaft Battalion, consisting of four companies. Shukhevych’s rank was that of Hauptmann (captain) of the first company and deputy commander of the Legion. Even though enrollment was voluntary, of the three hundred remaining members of the Nachtigall unit, only about fifteen declined to signup for service in the Schutzmannschaft. Almost all of its members belonged to the OUN. To the battalion were added sixty Soviet POWs from Poltava and Dnipropetrovsk districts, selected by Shukhevych. After training in Germany, Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 was assigned to Belarus on February 16, 1942. The soldiers signed a one-year contract with the Germans. The men of Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 wore German Order Police field uniforms without national symbols. On March 16, 1942, the battalion arrived in Belarus and was spread out over twelve different points in the triangle Mahiliou– Vitsebsk–Lepel’, guarding a territory of 2,400 km.
As the partisan war escalated in Belarus over the course of 1942, the occupiers responded with indiscriminate use of violence against the civilian population, with Baltic and Ukrainian Schutzmannschaften being central to implementation of the brutal pacifcation.
On Shukhevych's birthdays mass remembrance meetings take place in various Ukrainian cities.
In June 2017, the Kyiv city council renamed the city's General Vatutin Avenue into Roman Shukhevych Avenue. Nikolai Vatutin was a Soviet military commander during World War II who was killed by Shukhevych's Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
On 5 March 2021, the Ternopil city council named the largest stadium in the city of Ternopil after Roman Shukhevych as the Roman Shukhevych Ternopil city stadium. On 16 March 2021, the Lvov Oblast Council likewise approved the renaming of their largest stadium after Shukhevych and Stepan Bandera, the former leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).
- Events by themes: Solemn procession to Roman Shukhevich's birthday took place in Zaporozhye, UNIAN (1 July 2009)
- "Kyiv's General Vatutin Avenue renamed Roman Shukhevych Avenue", Kyiv Post, 1 June 2017.
- "Court leaves avenues named after Bandera, Shukhevych in Kyiv", Kyiv Post, 9 December 2019.
- Russian: Каманин, Н.П., "Летчики и космонавты", М, 1971, p.269. Some sources give the date of the attack as 29 February and the date of Vatutin's death as 15 April.
- "Local governments name stadiums after Bandera and Shukhevych, provoking protest from Israel and Poland", The Ukrainian Weekly, 19 March 2021.