From WW II history of Ukraina
March 2, 2014
Following the Invasion of Poland in September 1939, German and Soviet troops divided the territory of Poland. Thus, Eastern Galicia and Volhynia with their Ukrainian population became reunited with the rest of Ukraine. The unification that Ukraine achieved for the first time in its history was a decisive event in the history of the nation.
In 1940, Romania ceded Bessarabia and northern Bukovina in response to Soviet demands. The Ukrainian SSR incorporated northern and southern districts of Bessarabia, northern Bukovina, and the Hertsa region. But it ceded the western part of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic to the newly created Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic. All these territorial gains were internationally recognised by the Paris peace treaties of 1947.
Soviet soldiers preparing rafts to cross the Dnieper (the sign reads “Give me Kiev!”) in the 1943 Battle of the Dnieper
German armies invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, thereby initiating four straight years of incessant total war. The Axis allies initially advanced against desperate but unsuccessful efforts of the Red Army. In the encirclement battle of Kiev, the city was acclaimed as a “Hero City”, because the resistance by the Red Army and by the local population was fierce. More than 600,000 Soviet soldiers (or one-quarter of the Soviet Western Front) were killed or taken captive there.
Although the majority of Ukrainians fought alongside the Red Army and Soviet resistance, some elements of the Ukrainian nationalist underground created an anti-Soviet nationalist formation in Galicia, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (1942). At times it allied with the Nazi forces, it also carried out the massacres of ethnic Poles, and, after the war, continued to fight the USSR. Using guerrilla war tactics, the insurgents targeted for assassination and terror those who they perceived as representing, or cooperating at any level with, the Soviet state.
At the same time, the Ukrainian Liberation Army, another nationalist movement, fought alongside the Nazis.
In total, the number of ethnic Ukrainians who fought in the ranks of the Soviet Army is estimated from 4.5 million to 7 million.
The pro-Soviet partisan guerrilla resistance in Ukraine is estimated to number at 47,800 from the start of occupation to 500,000 at its peak in 1944; with about 50% being ethnic Ukrainians.
Generally, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s figures are not very reliable, with figures ranging anywhere from 15,000 to as much as 100,000 fighters.
Most of the Ukrainian SSR was organised within the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, with the intention of exploiting its resources and eventual German settlement. Initially, some western Ukrainians, who had only joined the Soviet Union in 1939 under pressure, hailed the Germans as liberators. But brutal German rule in the occupied territories eventually turned its supporters against them. Nazi administrators of conquered Soviet territories made little attempt to exploit the dissatisfaction of Ukraine with Stalinist political and economic policies.Instead, the Nazis preserved the collective-farm system, systematically carried out genocidal policies against Jews, deported men to work in forced labour camps in Germany, and began a systematic depopulation of Ukraine (along with Poland) to prepare it for German colonisation. They blockaded the transport of food on the Kiev River.
The vast majority of the fighting in World War II took place on the Eastern Front. It has been estimated that 93% of all German casualties took place on the Eastern Front. The total losses inflicted upon the Ukrainian population during the war are estimated between five and eight million, including over half a million Jews killed by the Einsatzgruppen, sometimes with the help of local collaborators. Of the estimated 8.7 million Soviet troops who fell in battle against the Nazis, 1.4 million were ethnic Ukrainians Victory Day is celebrated as one of ten Ukrainian national holidays.