In 1938 Carpatho-Ukraine proclaimed its independence. Shukhevych organized financial aid for the government of the fledgling republic and sent OUN members to set up the Carpathian Sich. In December 1938 he illegally crossed the border from Poland into Czechoslovakia, traveling to the Ukrainian city of Khust. There, with the aid of local OUN members, he set up the General headquarters for the defense of Carpathian Ukraine. He took an active part in the armed conflict with Hungarian forces and was almost killed in one of the actions.
After the occupation of Carpathian Ukraine in March 1939 by Hungary, Shukhevych traveled through Romania and Yugoslavia to Austria, where he consulted with OUN commanders and was given new orders and sent to Danzig to carry out subversive activities.
Activities during the Second World War
In the Fall of 1939 Shukhevych moved to Krakw with his family where he acted as the contact for the Ukrainian Nationalist Command directed by Andriy Melnyk. He organized the illegal transportation of documents and materials across the Soviet-German border and collected information about OUN activities in Ukraine.
The new political realities required new forms of activity. The Command of the Ukrainian Nationalists could not come to a unified agreement regarding tactics. As a result on February 10, 1940 the organization in Krakow split into two factions - one lead by Stepan Bandera and the other by Andriy Melnyk. Shukhevych became a member the Revolutionary Command of the OUN headed by Bandera, taking charge of the section dealing with Ukrainian territories which after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact had been seized by Germany. (Pidliashshia, Kholm, Nadsiania and Lemkivshchyna).
A powerful web was formed for the preparation of underground activities in Ukraine. Paramilitary training courses were set up. Military cadres were prepared which were to command a future Ukrainian army. Shukhevych prepared the II Great congress of the OUN which took place in April 1941.
In the spring of 1941 the Command of the OUN negotiated with the Germans to train Ukrainians to fight against Bolshevik occupation in Ukraine. Shukhevych agreed to command the DUN (Team of Ukrainian Nationalists) with the understanding that the Legion would become the basis for a future Ukrainian army. In April 1941 he collected 330 volunteers which were organized into 3 companies. One of the companies became known as Nachtigall Battalion, a second became the Roland Battalion, a third was involved in policing duties.
After intensive training the Ukrainian legion traveled to Riashiv on June 18, and entered Lviv on June 30, where the Act for the re-establishment of Ukrainian Statehood was proclaimed. The German administration however did not support this act. Stepan Bandera and Yaroslav Stetsko after refusing to retract their proclamation were arrested. the division had stayed in Lviv for only 7 days before continuing its march to the East, however upon hearing of the arrests the Legion which was at that time in Vinnytsia refused to fight for the Germans. As a result, Shukhevych was interned and the Legion was transported to Germany.
In Germany, the Ukrainian combatants were reorganized into the 201 Defense Battalion and given individual contracts that required the combatants to serve for one additional year. On February 16, 1942 the Battalion was sent to Belarus where it served in the region around the town of Borovka for the defense of Military objects against Soviet Partisan attack. With the expiration of the one year contract all the Ukrainian soldiers refused to renew their services. On January 6, 1943 they were sent to Lviv where they arrived January 8. Roman Shukhevych escaped from arrest by the Gestapo.
Controversy regarding the Nachtigall Battalion
See:Controversy regarding the Nachtigall Battalion
In June-July 1941 it is estimated that over 4,000 Jews were murdered in pogroms in Lviv and other cities in Western Ukraine.
There is some controversy regarding the participation of the Nachtigall Battalion and Roman Shukhevych in these atrocities.
For a more detailed evaluation of these allegations see Controversy regarding the Nachtigall Battalion.
The Ukrainian Insurgent Army
After escaping from German custody Shukhevych once again headed the Military section of the OUN. In May he became a member of the leadership of the OUN and in time the head. In August 1943 at the III Special Congress of the OUN he was elected head of the Direction of the OUN and Supreme Commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army known as UPA.
Under Shukhevych's leadership the evolution of the program for which the OUN fought was further refined. These were:
against all forms of totalitarian systems
for the construction of a democratic state system in Ukraine
the right for self determination against empire and imperialism.
The Insurgent Army was joined by various people from the Caucauses and Central Asia who had fought in German formations. The rise of non-Ukrainians in the Ukrainian Insurgent Army gave stimulus to the special conference for Captive Nations of Europe and Asia which took place November 21-22 1943 in Buderazh, not far from Rivne. The agenda included the formation of a unified plan for the attack against occupational forces.
During the period of German occupation Shukhevych spent most of his time fighting in the forests, and from August 1944 under the Soviet occupation living in various villages in Western Ukraine. In order to unite all Ukrainian national forces to fight for Ukrainian independence Shukhevych organized a meeting between all the Ukrainian political parties. As a result the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR) was formed.
Shukhеvych died in combat with special units of the MVD near Lviv on March 5, 1950. He was succeeded as leader of UPA by Vasyl Kuk.
Soviet authorities applied the rationale of collective guilt and persecuted all the members of the Shukhevych family. Roman's brother Yuri was murdered at Lviv's Bryhidka Prison just before the German occupation of Lviv. His mother Yevhenia and his wife, Nataliya Berezynska, were exiled to Siberia. His son Yuri Shukhevych and daughter Mariyka were placed in an orphanage.
According to NKVD officers' memoirs, Roman Shukhevych's body was transported out of Ukraine, burned, and the ashes scattered. This was done on the left bank of the Zbruch River. The unburned remains were thrown into the Zbruch. A commemorative stone cross was erected there in 2003.
Ukrainian postage stamp honoring Roman Shukhevych on 100th anniversary (2007) of his birth.
He was portrayed by Ukrainian-Canadian actor Grigori Hlady in the Ukrainian film Neskorenyj (The Undefeated) Here.
On October 23, 2001 the Lviv Historic Museum converted the house in which Shukhevych was killed into a memorial museum.
Postage stamps and coins have been minted in his honour of the 100th anniversary of his birth.
Posthumously, he was awarded the UPA's highest decorations: the Gold Cross of Combat Merit First Class and the Cross of Merit in gold.
Roman Shukhevych was posthumously conferred the title of Hero of Ukraine by President Yushchenko on October 12, 2007.