The Nachtigall (Nightingale) Battalion (Ukrainian: Батальйон Соловей or Батальйон Нахтігаль) was a military union of nationalist Ukrainian volunteers in the Second World War, which was set up by the German Wehrmacht in the the war against the Soviet Union. In addition to the Nightingale Battalion there was the Roland Battalion (Russian: Батальон Роланд). The unit existed from February 25 until late October 1941. By 21 October 1941 the Roland Battalion was transferred to Neuhammer (now Świętoszów, Poland) where it was merged with the Nachtigall Battalion to form the 201st Schutzmannschaft Battalion.
On February 25, 1941, following negotiations with the leader of the German Abwehr Wilhelm Canaris, Stepan Bandera received on behalf of the OUN-B two and a half million marks to form the corps of the future independent army of Ukraine. In April 1941, this “Legion of Ukrainian Nationalists,” composed of 600 Banderites1 incorporated into the Roland and Nachtigall battalions, both equipped by the Abwehr, was created ad hoc with the aim of fighting the Soviets on behalf of the Third Reich.
In spring 1943, the OUN-B's UPA launched a campaign of murder and expulsion against the Polish population of Volhynia, and in early 1944 against the Poles in Eastern Galicia. This was done as a preemptive strike, in expectation of another Polish-Ukrainian conflict over the disputed territories, which were internationally recognized as part of Poland in 1923.
It is estimated that up to 100,000 Poles were killed by the Ukrainian nationalists during the conflict and another 300,000 made refugees as a result of the ethnic cleansing.2 According to Timothy Snyder, 40,000-60,000 Polish civilians were killed by the UPA in Volhynia in 1943, and some 25,000 in Eastern Galicia.3 Conversely, killings of Ukrainians by Poles resulted in between 10,000 and 12,000 deaths in Volhynia, Eastern Galicia and present-day Polish territory.4 University of Alberta historian Per Rudling has stated that Shukhevych commanded the UPA during the summer of 1943, when tens of thousands of Poles were massacred.5 A military leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), Roman Shukhevych, became one of the commanders of the Nachtigall Battalion, and later Hauptmann of the German Schutzmannschaft 201 auxiliary police battalion. However, the initiator of these massacres was Dmytro Klyachkivsky.6 They reached their height in July 1943,7 while Shukhevych did not assume command of the OUN until August 25 of that year and command over the UPA until November 1943.8
- 1Alexander Motyl (Ed.), "Encyclopedia of Nationalism", Two-Volume Set, Volume 2, p. 40. https://books.google.com/books?redir_esc=y&hl=nl&id=pvHRNNk9hHEC&q=bandera#v=snippet&q=bandera&f=false.
- 2Pertti Ahonen et al. Peoples on the Move: Population Transfers and Ethnic Cleansing Policies During World War II and Its Aftermath. Berg Publishers. 2008. p. 99.
- 3OUN-B was led by Mykola Lebed and later by Roman Shukhevych. Timothy Snyder, "The Reconstruction of Nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999," Yale University Press, 2003. pp. 164, 168, 170, 176.
- 4"The Effects of the Volhynian Massacres". Volhynia Massacre. http://volhyniamassacre.eu/zw2/history/179,The-Effects-of-the-Volhynian-Massacres.html.
- 5Per Anders Rudling University of Alberta (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) The Shukhevych Cult in Ukraine: Myth Making with Complications. World War II and the (Re)Creation of Historical Memory in Contemporary Ukraine An international conference September 23–26, 2009 Kyiv, Ukraine.
- 6Matthew J. Gibney, Randall Hansen, Immigration and Asylum. Page 205. June 20, 2013. https://web.archive.org/web/20130620145819/https://books.google.com/books?id=2c6ifbjx2wMC&pg=PA207&dq=UPA+Volhynia#PPA205,M1
- 7Grzegorz Motyka, Ukraińska Partyzantka 1942-1960, Warszawa 2006, p. 329.
- 8Encyclopedia Of Ukraine, hosted by the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies (University of Alberta/University of Toronto). Article title: Roman Shukhevych. http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages\S\H\ShukhevychRoman.htm.