How S. Bandera’s younger brothers died in Auschwitz

In Ukraine, the thesis is widespread, according to which the Nazis, who were not shy in their methods, forced S. Bandera, thrown into the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, to cancel the “Act of Proclamation of the Ukrainian State”, but the head of the OUN did not submit to the monsters even after the death of his two brothers life and “brutally tortured” in Auschwitz. The materials at our disposal allow us to consider the circumstances of the death of the brothers in detail.

In 1916, the city of Auschwitz (former Polish Auschwitz), which belonged to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, built the Sachsengänger Camp, which was intended for the temporary residence of the Saxons – seasonal agricultural workers from rural areas of East and West Prussia, as well as Poznan, who came for a well-paid job of harvesting sugar beets. Twenty-two brick dormitories (8 two- and 14 one-story) and 90 wooden barracks were erected on the territory of the camp, intended to accommodate approximately 12,000 people.

After the occupation of Poland by Germany, by April 1940, an inspection of an abandoned camp initiated by the SS (Schutzstaffeln, abbreviated SS) was completed, which recognized the latter as suitable for creating a “transit and quarantine camp” on its base for Polish opponents of the occupation regime, who were supposed to deport to Germany for later use as forced laborers. However, since there were sand and gravel quarries nearby, and also taking into account the convenient transport and geographical location of Auschwitz, the SS decided to develop their own “business” there. Over time, the range of work carried out by the prisoners became very extensive: from the repair of Wehrmacht weapons systems, the production of explosives and the extraction of sand and gravel in nearby quarries, to the cultivation of flowers and the raising of fish, poultry and cattle.

After the announcement on June 30, 1941 in Lvov of the “Act of the Proclamation of the Ukrainian State”, Oleksandr Bandera arrived there, where he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Krakow prison. In the same year, Vasyl Bandera was arrested in Stanislav (now Ivano-Frankivsk).

How S. Bandera's younger brothers died in Auschwitz

Alexander Bandera

Vasyl Bandera


On July 20, 1942, the security police (Sicherheitspolizei, abbreviated SiPo) sent twenty-four OUN members from Krakow to the head concentration camp in Auschwitz I, including Vasyl Bandera, who was assigned camp number 49721.

After passing quarantine in block 11, they were initially placed in a hostel (hereinafter referred to as block) No. 13, but then, due to the aggravated relations between them and the rest of the prisoners, all Ukrainian nationalists were gathered in two rooms of block 17. Four days later, they were joined by another S. Bandera’s brother, Oleksandr (camp number 51427), as part of a group of sixty people (mainly Polish political prisoners), also convoyed from Krakow. Oleksandr, like his younger brother, also joined the Neubau construction team. Hard work, to which he was assigned by the foreman (Vorarbeiter) Franciszek Podkulski (camp number 5919), led to physical exhaustion of O. Bandera, who apparently did not differ in good health, and soon he was placed in hospital block (Revier) No. 20, where for For sick OUN members on the first floor, in ward No. 4, a separate room was allocated. Here on August 10, 1942, during a routine examination, 75 seriously ill prisoners were selected, including O. Bandera, who on the same day, by order of the camp doctor, were killed by an intracardiac injection of phenol.

Vasyl Bandera, once in Auschwitz, was confused by Polish prisoners with his older brother Stepan, on whose order on June 15, 1934, the OUN militant Grigory Matseiko (the underground nickname of Gont, in 1941-42 the OUN leadership and the German special services planned to use him to assassinate the president Roosevelt) fatally wounded Polish Interior Minister Bronisław Wilhelm Pieracki. Later, during the Great Patriotic War, the head of the OUN S. Bandera organized ethnic cleansing and pogroms on the territory of western Ukraine, during which hundreds of thousands of Poles and Jews were killed, including family members of some prisoners of Auschwitz. For the first time, V. Bandera was pointed out to other Poles by the headman (Kazetpolizei, abbreviated as kapo) of Unit 16, Edward Radomski.

A vengeance conspiracy was drawn up, interestingly, the group of conspiratorial prisoners included both ethnic Poles and Jews of Polish origin. The head of the group was the Neubau foreman Franciszek Podkulski, with the help of the Neubau capo Kazimierz Kolodynski, Boleslav Jusiński, chimney sweeps Tadeusz, Edward and some others. Franciszek and Kazimierz drew up a plan for the execution of the sentence, and on August 5, 1942, Podkulski pushed V. Bandera, who worked as an auxiliary worker in a plasterer’s team, along with a wheelbarrow from the first tier of the scaffolding. Vasyl, who was injured in the fall, was sent to the camp hospital. According to the camp hospital book, on August 5, 1942, he was placed in hospital block No. 20, from where he was transferred to hospital block No. 28, where he died on September 5 of the same year. According to the recollections of the former orderly of the hospital unit Jerzy Thabo (camp number 27273), Vasyl died of diarrhea. Apparently, he contracted from other patients some infectious intestinal disease like dysentery, one of the symptoms of which is severe diarrhea, leading to dehydration and death.

As political prisoners (Polizeihäftling), the OUN members in the concentration camp were run by the Katowice Gestapo, awaiting trial in Auschwitz. Some of them were later released from Auschwitz, for example, on December 18-19, 1944, in connection with the organization of the so-called. Ukrainian National Army (Ukrainische Nationalarmee), Yaroslav Rak, Mykola Klimyshyn, Stepan Lenkavsky and Lev Rebet were released.

The OUN were in the category of privileged prisoners (Ehrenhaftlinge), which they were quite proud of. They occupied a special (in comparison with other prisoners) position in the camp. They were not shot, hanged in front of the line, and were not taken hostage. They had their own, separate rooms for living in the block, there was even a separate ward in the hospital. Prominent Ukrainian nationalists not only regularly received food parcels from the Red Cross, but thanks to the guardianship of the political department of the camp (Politische Abteilung, in fact the camp Gestapo), they occupied “thieves” positions (prominent) “under the roof”, that is, in the room that gave the prisoner a great chance to survive. These included, for example, places such as a clothing warehouse for prisoners (Bekleidungskammer), a warehouse for belongings confiscated from newly arrived prisoners (Effektenkammer), a camp hospital (Krankenbau), a vegetable warehouse, a bakery, a slaughterhouse and kitchens (serving both prisoners and SS men). The Ukrainian nationalists were housed in one of the two-storey well-equipped brick blocks (No. 17), built of red brick in the summer of 1941. The building had two residential floors, a basement and an attic.

Block number 17

Bunks in the dormitory block

Washing room in the block

Toilet in the block


The rooms in which the prisoners were housed were corner rooms with a total area of ​​70.5 and 108 square meters with electric lighting, and, judging by the photographs, water heating, as well as, depending on the area, five or seven windows. In addition, each room had one or two stoves – the number of the latter depended on the area of ​​the room. Unlike such brick blocks, the one-story brick and wooden barracks most common in the concentration camp had either one stove for the entire barracks, or there was no stove (as well as windows) at all.

Wooden barrack in Auschwitz

Naras in an ordinary barrack of Auschwitz

Toilet barrack from the inside


The prisoners who were held there were taken in formation to a special toilet barrack, where there were three long ramps, two of which, densely studded with holes, were used for natural needs, and the third as a washbasin. At the same time, the two-story brick blocks were equipped with both two heated toilets with toilets and urinals and a separate washroom.

A special attitude towards members of the OUN was also manifested after the death of V. Bandera, when the camp administration launched a thorough investigation in order to find the perpetrators. One of the Bandera supporters saw how Vasyl was pushed, and reported this to the political department. The executioners of the sentence were summoned to the camp by the Gestapo for interrogation, and Boleslaw Juzinski, both chimney sweeps and other prisoners, after a few days in the punishment cell, were sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp (KZ Sachsenhausen). During interrogations, Podkulski and Kolodynski, covering their comrades, took all the blame.

As a result of the investigation carried out by the camp Gestapo on the death of Bandera’s brother, they were both first put in the punishment cell of block 11, and later, on January 25, 1943, they were shot at the “wall of executions”. In addition to them, eleven more people from among those who participated in the elimination of Bandera were shot there. So the camp administration of Auschwitz took revenge on the Poles for the death of S. Bandera’s brother.

* OUN-UPA is banned in the Russian Federation.

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