Kyiv Planned to Name Street After Ukrainian Nazi Collaborator Until Israeli Ambassador Intervened

michael chapman | April 19, 2023
Font Size

The city council in Kyiv, Ukraine supported and planned to vote in favor of naming a street after a notorious Nazi collaborator last week, but the mayor, Vitali Klitschko, stopped the vote after an unscheduled meeting with Israel's ambassador to Ukraine, Michael Brodsky, reported The New York Sun.

Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine. It is the most populous city in the country and is the seat of government. The Kyiv City Council passed a motion on Apr. 11 to name a street after Volodymyr Kubiyovych, "who during the Holocaust was heavily involved in the formation of the Waffen-SS Galizien, a Nazi military force made up of Ukrainian volunteers," reported The Jerusalem Post.

Final voting on the measure was scheduled to end on April 16. There were several other names in the mix but none had a higher percentage than Kubiyovych, who was backed by 31% of the vote.

Volodymyr Kubiyovych, a ukrainian Nazi collaborator, who helped form the Waffen-SS Galizien. (Wikipedia) Volodymyr Kubiyovych, a ukrainian Nazi collaborator, who helped form the Waffen-SS Galizien. (Wikipedia) After the mayor met with the Israeli ambassador, though, the situation changed.

According to The New York Sun, "Mr. Brodsky had made it clear to Mr. Klitschko that the initiative to name the street in honor of the Nazi official Kubiyovich, who many in Ukraine still regard as a hero, was inappropriate. Kyiv’s relations with Israel since Russia invaded Ukraine last year have been testy at times."

In a statement, B’nai B’rith International said, “We welcome the decision by Kyiv Mayor Vitaly Klitschko to cancel the initiative to name a street after Volodymyr Kubiyovych. Mayor Klitschko has done the right thing. There should never be a place for venerating individuals who collaborated with and supported Nazis.”

In September 1939, the Nazis invaded Poland from the west and the Soviets invaded from the east. They had signed a deal in Moscow that summer to split Poland in half. One of the consequences of this arrangement was that many Ukrainians in western Ukraine essentially allied with the Nazis and, in 1941, helped Germany battle the USSR.

Along the way, many Ukrainians collaborated with Nazi and SS units in collecting and then executing Jews and others deemed as racial or political enemies of the Third Reich. Kubiyovych supported the Nazis and proclaimed his willingness to join the Waffen SS. 

"Kubiyovych was a strong supporter of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-M) and in April 1941 he requested the creation of an autonomous state within Ukraine in which Poles and Jews would not be allowed to live," reported The Jerusalem Post.

Later in the war in 1943, Kubiyovych took on a key role in the formation of the Waffen-SS Galizien, publicly announcing his willingness to take up arms and fight for the Nazi cause," said The Post. In Kyiv there is a large ravine called Babyn Yar, noted The Sun, "where more than 33,770 Jews were massacred by Nazi forces on September 29 and 30, 1941. By the end of the German occupation as many as 150,000 people may have been murdered at the infamous site." 

In 1944, as the Soviets moved west against the Nazis, Kubiyovych fled to Germany and ended up in the U.S. occupation zone after the war ended in 1945. He eventually settled in France, where he became well known as one of the top scholars on Ukraine. He died in Paris in 1985.

Although the vote on the street name has been halted, there already exists a plaque in Lviv that honors Kubiyovych. Also, in 2000, "a pre-stamped envelope was issued by the Ukrainian postal service in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth," reported The Post. SS men or German police officers on one of the sandy cliffs near the Babyn Yar killing site. Below them are unidentified men, perhaps Soviet prisoners of war or local Ukrainians, who sorted through the huge piles of clothing belonging to the more than 33,000 Jews from Kyiv (Kiev) who were murdered at Babyn Yar. Kyiv, German-occupied Soviet Union, after September 30, 1941. (US Holocaust Memorial Museum)