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"Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" The Portrayal of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in the Museums of Lviv Open Access


Other title
Liberation Struggle
Shukhevych Museum
World War II
Museum of Ukraine's Liberation Struggle
radical nationalism
The Struggle of the Ukrainians for Liberation and Independence
Ukrainian nationalism
Prison on Lonts'koho
myth making
ethnic cleansing
Stepan Bandera
independent Ukraine
Ukrainian Nationalist narrative
Liberation Movement
Lontsky Street Prison
Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists
Lviv Historical Museum
Ukrainian Insurgent Army
Prison on Lontsky Street
Lonts'kyi Street Prison
Prison Museum
Museum of General-Lieutenant of the UPA
Second World War
Ukrainian diaspora
Waffen SS Galician
Western Ukraine
wartime Ukraine
Ukrainian victimization narrative
auxiliary police
Roman Shukhevych
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Ostapchuk, Matthew R
Supervisor and department
Marples, David (History and Classics)
Examining committee member and department
Sywenky, Irene (Modern Languages and Cultural Studies)
Marples, David (History and Classics)
Coleman, Heather (History and Classics)
Department of History and Classics
Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
This thesis examines the portrayal of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in the museums of Lviv, Ukraine. Founded in 1929 by veterans of the Polish-West Ukrainian War and nationalistic student associations, the primary objective of the OUN was to attain a sovereign and united Ukrainian state. The OUN is an exceptionally controversial group. Though it is currently venerated within the Ukrainian Nationalist narrative – which predominates in Western Ukraine (more specifically, Galicia) and in the Ukrainian diaspora in North America – for allegedly paving the way for Ukrainian independence, the OUN has not always been afforded such adoration and its place in history remains contested. While many Galician Ukrainians lionize the OUN as heroic freedom fighters and martyrs, other ethnic groups and Eastern Ukrainians tend to remember the OUN for its collaboration with Nazi Germany and its atrocities committed against Poles and Jews. The OUN holds an exceedingly prominent place in the collective memory of the Western Ukrainian city of Lviv. The city’s numerous museums devoted to Ukraine’s so-called “Liberation Struggle” serve as mass disseminators of the valiant portrayal of the OUN to the general public. The problem is that the public has neither the comprehensive understanding of Ukraine’s complicated wartime history, nor the historical training necessary to effectively analyze the museums’ representation(s) of the OUN. This thesis attempts to answer two questions: First, how is the OUN portrayed in Lviv’s museums? Second, does this portrayal accurately represent the OUN? In order to address these questions, this thesis examines the city’s four most prominent museums related to Ukraine’s Liberation Struggle: the Lonts’kyi Street Prison Museum, the Museum of General-Lieutenant of the UPA [Ukrainian Insurgent Army] Roman Shukhevych, the Lviv Historical Museum’s Struggle of the Ukrainians for Liberation and Independence exhibit, and the Museum of Ukraine’s Liberation Struggle. This thesis argues that the OUN is consistently portrayed as a heroic organization in the museums of Lviv. The museums glorify the OUN for leading Ukraine’s Liberation Struggle against the oppressive occupation regimes and highlight the martyrdom of OUN members for an independent Ukraine. This valiant portrayal does not accurately represent the OUN. This thesis elucidates that Lviv’s museums, rather than providing nuanced accounts of the OUN, misrepresent the organization’s relationship with Nazi Germany and expunge acts of OUN perpetration.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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