SOVIET STATE SECURITY AND THE ASSASSINATION OF STEPAN BANDERA AND LEV REBET

Since the Ukrainan political leader Stepan Bandera was made a Hero of Ukraine in January 2010 there has been a campaign in the West against his memory supported by Russian organizations. It should therefore be of interest to present some material from the West German Federal High Court, which in 1962 sentenced the assassin, Bogdan Stashinsky, for aiding and abetting murder. In the view of the court the true murderers resided in Moscow.

The future assassin was born in a village near Lviv in western Ukraine. His family had supported the Ukrainian resistance (UPA) against the returning Soviets after World War II. In 1950 Stashinsky was caught on a train without a ticket. He was interrogated in Soviet occupied Lviv by MGB (later named KGB), the Soviet State Security. The interrogator said that Stashinsky could be valuable to MGB. He was at the time only 19 years old and signed a declaration binding him to work for Soviet security. In 1951 he joined a resistance group of the Ukrainian OUN as Soviet infiltrator. This was his first job for the MGB.

In January 1956 he was told to go to Munich in then West Germany. He was to cooperate with a Soviet infiltrator to abduct the editor, Lev Rebet, of a Ukrainian exile paper, “Ukrainski Samostinik” in Munich. Later, in 1957, Stashinsky had to report to MGB in the Soviet Zone of Germany. It was now made clear that he had been chosen by State Security to assassinate Rebet. The weapon was a metal tube around 7 inches long. It had a capsule with poison and a firing pin that would ignite a powder charge. The vapour produced would cause the death of Rebet when inhaled.

In October 1957 Stashinsky flew from Berlin to Munich and registered at the Stachus Hotel under a false name. He later stationed himself in the center of the city and waited for Rebet to appear which he did on the second day. Rebet got off a tram and walked to Karlsplatz 8. Stashinsky followed and in the staircase of the house he pointed the weapon to Rebet’s face and fired. The victim reeled forward and the assassin got away.

Returning to the Soviet Zone he was in 1959 ordered to go to Munich and assassinate Stepan Bandera. The Ukrainian exile leader lived at Kreittmayer Street but his office was at Zeppelinstrasse 67 in Munich. Stashinsky downed an anti-poison pill and waited. In the spring that year he spied out all circumstances around Bandera’s life. After that he returned to East Berlin. He travelled again to Munich in October. Stashinsky would this time use the same type of weapon:

Shortly before 1 o’clock, just as he was beginning to feel relieved, he saw Bandera arrive alone in his car and drive into the yard…he slipped off the safety- catch on the weapon, which was wrapped in a sheet of newspaper, opened the entrance-door and entered the house… [there he waited]…and soon heard the entrance door being opened. He thereupon went down the stairs and saw that Bandera, who had just come in and had a little basket with tomatoes…was trying with his left hand to pull out the door-key, which had apparently got stuck. In order to fill this delay Stashinsky bent down and pretended to be fiddling with his shoe-laces…He then went towards Bandera, who was still standing by the door, and saying something like ‘Won’t it work?” as he passed Bandera, took hold of the outside door-knob with his left hand and, pointing the weapon, which was concealed in a newspaper, at the head of his unsuspecting victim with his right hand, fired the contents of the double-barrelled pistol, which could be done without any effort, and hastily pulled the door from the outside.

Escaping to East Berlin Stashinsky was decorated with the Order of the ‘Red Banner’ by a KGB general, head of the local KGB. In December he was called to Moscow to report to the head of KGB, Shelepin, who wanted to hear a full account of the assassination. A few years later a Soviet disinformation campaign was started in an attempt to portray the Ukrainian emigrant Myskiw as murderer of Bandera on October 15, 1959, at the instructions of the German Federal intelligence service, and that the alleged assassin had been murdered shortly afterwards.

In 1961 Stashinsky defected in West Berlin and was brought to an official U.S. department. Later he was handed over to German authorities and placed in custody. At the trial in Karlsruhe Stashinsky was found guilty on two charges of aiding and abetting a murder to eight years penal servitude. The court concluded among other things that the real instigators could be found in Moscow:

The political leadership of the Soviet Union…a country that wants to be proud of its history and civilization…a member of the United Nations which entertains correct diplomatic relations with the German Federal Republic, considers it expedient to have a murder by poison, decided at least on a government level, committed on the sovereign territory of the German Federal Republic as a state order…On the strength of the evidence in this trial the guilt of those from which he received orders is far greater. Without their system of individual political terrorism these two murders would not have happened.

The material and the quotes for this contribution are from the verdict in the Stashynsky trial, Federal High Court, Karlsruhe, Germany, Verdict of October 19, 1962 – 9 StF 4/62.

Bandera was a victim of both Nazi and Soviet injustice. It is natural that he is honored by Ukraine for his struggle against both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

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