Ukrainians in the United Kingdom
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Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Banderivtsi), OUN(B) [Організація Українських Націоналістів (бандерівців)] – a political organisation whose goal was the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state; one of the two organisations, led by Stepan Bandera and Andrii Melnyk, into which the pre-war OUN split in 1940-1941.

After the split the organisation continued to use the name OUN, but became known as the OUN(B) to distinguish it from the OUN (Melnykivtsi), or OUN(M). For a time in 1941-1943 the OUN(B) also used the name OUN Samostiinykiv Derzhavnykiv (literally – Independist Statists) and, later, OUN Revolutionaries (OUNr).

In the second half of 1944 the OUN(B) leadership in Ukraine dispatched a delegation to establish contact with members of the organisation in the West. Towards the end of that year several leading OUN(B) members, including Bandera, who had been detained in German concentration camps since 1941, were released. In February 1945 in Vienna these two groups established the OUN(B) Foreign Centre.

As the basis for a longer term presence of the organisation outside Ukraine, the Foreign Centre proposed the establishment of a structure named the OUN(B) Foreign Units which, with the agreement of the leadership in Ukraine, came into being in 1946 in Germany. A separate Foreign Units leadership, headed by Bandera, was formed, and branches of the organisation in other countries began to be established. In 1954-1956, as a result of differences of views between leading members of the organisation, a separate Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists Abroad was formed. In 1968 the distinction between the OUN(B) in Ukraine and the OUN(B) Foreign Units was abandoned, and the organisation subsequently continued under a single OUN(B) leadership based in Germany.

The first members of the OUN(B) in the UK, including Ivan Bulka, Peter Pihichyn and Volodymyr Sovinskyi, were among the Ukrainians in the Polish Armed Forces under British command who arrived before 1944. A further dozen or so members were among the Ukrainians who were transferred from France in late 1944 and early 1945 and joined the Polish forces after arriving in the UK. These early members organised themselves under the leadership of Hryhorii Drabat and subsequently established contact with the OUN(B) Foreign Units centre in Germany. In 1945-1946 they interacted with Stanley Frolick, who was based in the UK at that time and was the UK representative of the General Secretariat for Foreign Affairs of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council. In 1947 the UK OUN(B) branch grew significantly, after new members arrived from the European continent with the European Volunteer Workers and former soldiers of the Galicia Division.

The OUN(B) became the largest and most influential of the Ukrainian political organisations in the UK. In addition to those who already belonged to the organisation on arrival in the UK, new members were recruited from among other post-war immigrants. Local sub-branches of the organisation were formed in towns and cities around the country. In later years the organisation also attracted members from among the descendants of the immigrants. As was the case with the post-war OUN(B) overall, the UK branch continued to operate as a closed organisation in the manner of the pre-war OUN.

The OUN(B) in the UK published the Ukrainskyi Klych weekly newspaper in 1947-1948 and, from January 1948, the Vyzvolnyi Shliakh monthly journal. In 1949 it established the Ukrainian Information Service (UIS), which is still active, and also Ukrainian Publishers Limited, which merged with the UIS in 1993. The OUN(B) also initiated the founding of, or gained a major influence in, various community organisations in the UK, such as the Association of Ukrainians in Great Britain (after the 1949 annual general meeting), the Association of Ukrainian Women in Great Britain, the Ukrainian Youth Association, the Association of Ukrainian Former Combatants, and the Nova Fortuna co-operative society.

After the establishment of independent Ukraine in 1991 the OUN(B) continued to exist, focusing its activities on the strengthening of Ukrainian statehood, and formed various organisations in Ukraine to pursue this aim. Although its activities outside Ukraine weakened, they did not cease completely, and for a time the UK branch continued to be active to some extent.

Former leaders of the OUN(B) UK branch include Hryhorij Drabat, Wolodymyr Wasylenko, Wasyl Oleskiw, Illia Dmytriw and Mykola Scuplak.

Roman Krawec

Bibliography

‘Nashi pidsumky’, Vyzvolnyi Shliakh, 1949, no. 1, pp. 24-26

Oleskiw, V., ‘Korotkyi narys rozvytku “Vyzvolnoho Shliakhu” i “Vydavnychoi Spilky”’, Vyzvolnyi Shliakh (London), 1962, no. 4-5, pp. 516-526

Bandera, S., Perspektyvy ukrainskoi revoliutsii (Munich, 1978)

Yurkevich, M. ‘Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists’, in Encyclopedia of Ukraine, volume III (L-Pf), ed. by D. Husar Struk (Toronto, 1993), pp. 708-710

Luciuk L.Y. Searching for Place: Ukrainian Displaced Persons, Canada, and the Migration of Memory (Toronto-Buffalo-London, 2000), pp. 378-379, note 125

Sych, O., ‘Zakordonnyi Tsentr OUN (liutyi 1945 – liutyi 1946 rr.)’, Ukrainskyi vyzvolnyi rukh: naukovyi zbirnyk no. 7 (Lviv, 2006), pp. 243-266

Patryliak, I.K., ‘Orhanizatsiia ukrainskykh natsionalistiv’, in Entsyklopediia istorii Ukrainy, vol. 7, Ml-O (Kyiv, 2010), pp. 610-618