Mykola Lebed

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Mykola Lebed
Born (1909-01-11)January 11, 1909
Galicia, Austro-Hungarian Empire
Died July 18, 1998(1998-07-18) (aged 89)
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Nationality Ukrainian
Other names Maksym Ruban, Marko or Yevhen Skyrba
Occupation Politician

Mykola Lebed (Ukrainian: Микола Лебідь; January 11, 1909 – July 18, 1998), also known as Maksym Ruban, Marko or Yevhen Skyrba, was a Ukrainian political activist, Ukrainian nationalist, and guerrilla fighter. He was among those tried, convicted, and imprisoned for the murder of Polish Interior Minister Bronislaw Pieracki, in 1934. The court sentenced him to death, but the state commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. He escaped when the Germans invaded Poland in 1939.[1] As leader of OUN-B he is responsible for the genocide of Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia.[2][3][4]

In 1949 he emigrated to the United States and lived in New York. Through Prolog Research Corporation, his Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) funded organization, he gathered intelligence on the Soviet Union as late as into the late 1960s. The CIA project name for the operation was AERODYNAMIC.[1] In 1991, the CIA still considered him a valuable asset. Federal investigators would consider Lebed a possible war criminal but did not pursue prosecution. He died in 1998.[5]

Early life

Born in Novi Strilyscha, a small town in Galicia, nowadays western part of Ukraine (at the time, Austria–Hungary), Lebed completed his studies in Lviv which during the Interbellum was part of the Second Polish Republic. In 1930-32 he took an active part in setting up youth groups of Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in the area around Lviv. From 1932-34 he directed communications between the Ukrainian Executive and the Foreign Command of the OUN.

In 1934, he participated in the preparation of the assassination of the Polish Minister of Internal Affairs Bronisław Pieracki. After the assassination he attempted to flee through Gdansk-Szczecin to Germany, but by order of Himmler was arrested by the Gestapo and handed over to the Polish authorities.[6] During the Warsaw Process (1934–36) he was given the death penalty which was later commuted to life imprisonment. He escaped in September 1939 while being evacuated from the Bereza Kartuska prison due to the threatening Soviet invasion.

From November 1939 through March 1940 he served as the chief of the school of espionage and sabotage founded by the Abwehr in Zakopane.

World War II

In 1940, during the internal conflict that erupted within the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) he supported Stepan Bandera, and, in 1941, became his assistant. In June 1941, he was one of the functionaries in the short-lived Ukrainian government

Lebed assumed control of Bandera's faction of the OUN in western Ukraine, which would come to dominate the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) until 1943.[7]

In 1942, he was a participant in the 3rd Special Conference of the OUN, and headed the head council and the delegate for external contacts of the Direction of the OUN. In 1944 he became one of the founders of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR) and the general Secretary of International Policies of the UHVR. At the recommendation of the UHVR he traveled to the West where he contacted various Western governments. In 1948, he became a member of the OUN (Diaspora).

Alleged Collaboration with Nazi Germany

In a government reports publication, published by the National Archives,[1] Lebed is being suspected of having collaborated with Nazi Germany.

Lebed was described as a "Ukrainian fascist leader and suspected Nazi collaborator",[8] and later labeled as a "well-known sadist and collaborator of the Germans" by United States Army counterintelligence.[9]

On the other hand, it was also stated, that Lebed himself was persecuted by the Gestapo: "it (OUN/B) fought German rule, and the Gestapo put a price on Lebed’s head."[7]

Post-war activities

From 1949, Lebed lived in the United States. During 1952-1974, he headed the research center "Prologue" in New York; in 1982-85, he was Deputy Chairman and since 1974 he was a Member of the Board of Directors of the institution. In 1956-91 he was a member of the board of the Ukrainian Society of Foreign Studies in Munich and Toronto, publishing committee "Chronicle of the UPA (1975). Author memories "UPA" (1946, 1987).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Breitman, Richard; Norman J.W. Goda (2010). Hitler's Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, US Intelligence, and the Cold War (PDF). National Archives. p. 73. Retrieved 2010-12-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "report" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "report" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Lebed proposed in April to “cleanse the entire revolutionary territory of the Polish population,” so that a resurgent Polish state would not claim the region as in 1918. Richard Breitman, Norman J.W. Goda, Hitler's Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, U.S. Intelligence, and the Cold War page 75.
  3. Timothy Snyder. (2004) The reconstruction of nations: Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1999 . New Haven: Yale University Press pp. 164-165
  4. W świetle przedstawionych wyżej ustaleń nie ulega wątpliwości, że zbrodnie, których dopuszczono się wobec ludności narodowości polskiej, noszą charakter niepodlegających przedawnieniu zbrodni ludobójstwa. - Piotr Zając, Prześladowania ludności narodowości polskiej na terenie Wołynia w latach 1939–1945 – ocena karnoprawna zdarzeń w oparciu o ustalenia śledztwa OKŚZpNP w Lublinie, [in:] Zbrodnie przeszłości. Opracowania i materiały prokuratorów IPN, t. 2: Ludobójstwo, red. Radosław Ignatiew, Antoni Kura, Warszawa 2008, p.34-49
  5. Cristian Salazar and Randy Herschaft (12 December 2010). "Revealed: How the CIA protected Nazi murderers". The Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Żeleński W. (1973). Zabójstwo ministra Pierackiego.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was created in 1942 by a faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). The UPA fought mostly against the Armia Krajowa of Poland and the Red Army in Western Ukraine. The OUN-UPA men – who were also known as the “Bandera Men” – are accused of several crimes, including killing some 100,000 Poles, Czechs and Jews in the Western Volyn Region. Thousands of Ukrainians who refused to cooperate with them were also murdered. For those activities, Bandera is now considered to be a criminal and a terrorist in Poland. In 1941 UPA leader Bandera urged the Ukrainian people to help Nazis destroy Moscow and the Bolsheviks. In Western Ukraine, many people see Bandera as a hero. Streets in several cities have been named after him and a monument has also been recently been erected in his name in Lviv. But in eastern, southern and central parts of the country Bandera is seen as a traitor and Nazi sympathizer Breitman, Richard; Norman J.W. Goda (2010). Hitler's Shadow: Nazi War Criminals, US Intelligence, and the Cold War (PDF). National Archives. p. 74. Retrieved 2010-12-12.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Salazar, Christian and Herschaft, Randy (2010-12-11) Declassified CIA Files Detail Ties Between U.S. And Ex-Nazis, Associated Press
  9. Roberts, Sam (11 December 2010). "Declassified Papers Show U.S. Recruited Ex-Nazis". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 December 2010.

Further reading