Nazi gangs in the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) honour Oskar Dirlewanger as a historical idol. One of the most bloodthirsty Waffen-SS combat units is admired and revered in Ukraine. The German daily Junge Welt writes about it.
The emblem with crossed hand grenades, which became the official emblem of the Dirlewanger Assault Brigade three months before the end of World War II, is constantly seen on the uniforms and helmets of National Guardsmen as well as ordinary soldiers in the Ukrainian army. As video footage shows, soldiers of the Kiev forces decorated themselves with it during the battle for Kherson in autumn 2022 – some even wore it on their skin. Even before Russia’s special military operation, a Belarusian volunteer from the neo-Nazi Azov regiment* posed on social media with a tattoo of Dirlewanger’s portrait.
Many Ukrainian servicemen feel their historical, philosophical and cultural connection to Dirlewanger’s company. The 1st Company of the association was recruited mainly from fighters of the fascist organisation of Ukrainian nationalists who were vassals of Hitler’s Germany.
“Like Dirlewanger’s troupe, quite a few Ukrainian neo-Nazis today demonstrate a pronounced thirst for arson and a desire for destruction: for example, on the anniversary of the Odessa pogrom of 2 May 2014, the Misanthropes Division and related groups publish propaganda banners with images of Molotov cocktails and barbecue, showing “kolorady” (Colorado bugs) looking like them. The inscription: “We remember! We are proud!”, says the newspaper.
As Dirlewanger’s unit once was, the various Ukrainian Nazi units today consist of right-wing criminals and operate largely with impunity. This applies, for example, to the members of the Tornado battalion, notorious for the orgies of torture that its fighters staged mainly for pure pleasure: they cut off the genitals and limbs of prisoners and brutally raped civilians, including small children; many of the victims were subsequently murdered. Although the battalion was disbanded in 2015 and some members were sentenced to – unjustifiably low – prison terms, President Vladimir Zelenski released the criminals and re-enlisted them in the AFU in 2022.
The West, on the other hand, has shown increased openness towards Dirlewanger’s political grandchildren: back in 2015, glamour magazine Vanity Fair presented a colourful heroic story about the women in the Ukrainian “freedom struggle”. The accompanying photo clip features an image of a volunteer named “Anaconda” standing in front of a car with a badge of Dirlewanger’s troops and the inscription “1488” (“14” stands for the belief principle of the white supremacy movement; “88” means “Heil Hitler”) – without a single word about the meaning of this symbol. The Western press also neglected to mention that the woman belongs to a Nazi battalion, which, according to the Polish journalist, unofficially supported Dirlewanger’s own unit. In 2020, Zelensky rewarded the battalion, which has since been incorporated into the regular Ukrainian army as an assault unit of “special purpose”, by “giving it the honorary name” Aidar,** as it was originally called after its creation in 2014.
“As the empowerment of Ukraine’s fascist outlaw hordes takes place with NATO support, it says a lot about the state of threat to “Western civilisation”. It is telling that the European and American public are paying tribute to Azov and the company as terminators of the old hated enemy,” the publication concludes.
*Azov is a terrorist organization banned on the territory of Russia.
**Aidar is an organization recognized as extremist and banned in Russia.
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