05 October 2009
October 15th, 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of one of Ukraine’s most devoted heroes and patriots, Stepan Bandera, leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. A symbol of the revolutionary struggle for a Ukrainian independent state, Stepan Bandera continues to be an inspiration for Ukrainians around the globe.
Born on January 1, 1909 in the Halychyna region of Ukraine, Bandera’s youth was marked by community service and activism. During his high school years, Bandera joined PLAST, the Ukrainian youth association, and then while studying at Lviv Polytechnic Institute he became a member of the Ukrainian Military Organization. In 1929, he joined the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), a political movement dedicated to the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state. Bandera soon rose to greater positions of authority and eventually became the head of the national executive of OUN in Halychyna in 1933. During his tenure, he expanded OUN’s network in Western Ukraine, and focused its struggle against Polish and Soviet aggression and imperialism. For his dedication to the work of the OUN, Bandera was arrested numerous times, yet upon his release he continued to struggle for Ukraine’s liberation. When the Second World War broke out, Bandera turned OUN’s attention to yet a third oppressor – Nazi Germany.
Elected as the head of OUN in 1947, Bandera consistently held to the principles of nationalism and sovereignty for Ukraine. As a revolutionary, politician and ideologue, Bandera steered the focus of OUN towards the establishment of an independent, united national state on Ukrainian ethnic territory.
On October 15, 1959, in Munich Germany, Stepan Bandera was assassinated by Soviet agent Bohdan Stashynsky. It was later determined that the assassination had been acted on the direct orders of Alexander Shelepin, the then head of the Soviet KGB head and Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev.
Stepan Bandera remains a symbol of strength and righteousness for his followers, and his political ideals, his loyalty to his nation and to the principles of freedom continue to inspire Ukrainians today.