Nazi Symbolism in Ukraine

Here's a brief overview of various symbols adopted by Ukraine's many neo-Nazi movements. Most of these organizations are based in eastern Galicia: an old name for today's western-most parts of Ukraine around the town of Halych. The roots of Nazism in Ukraine date back to the Second World War, when western Ukraine was home to the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS formed from Ukrainian volunteers.

Soldiers of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Ukrainian) at a funeral ceremony
Soldiers of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Ukrainian) at a funeral ceremony

The divisional insignia was based on the flag and the coat of arms of the city of Lviv. The 14th SS Division was one of the largest all-volunteer military units formed by Nazi Germany on the occupied territories.

Members of Ukraine's neo-Nazi organization carrying the insignia of the  14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS during a commemoration ceremony in Lviv in 2010
Members of Ukraine's neo-Nazi organizations carrying the insignia of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS during a commemoration ceremony in Lviv in 2010

The most common neo-Nazi emblem you will find in Ukraine today is the inverted version of the Wolfsangel - an old German heraldic emblem. Both Wolfsangel and its mirror image have been used in insignia designs of various SS and Wehrmacht units. The inverted Wolfsangel forms letters "N" and "I", which in Nazi symbolism represented the term "Nationale Idee" - a concept frequently used by NSDAP ideologists.

The inverted Wolfsangel seen on a flag during a demonstration in Kiev
The inverted Wolfsangel seen on a flag during a demonstration in Kiev.

The exact reason for the popularity of the Wolfsangel among Ukrainian neo-Nazi is not known. The most likely explanation is that the symbol may be perceived as bearing similarity to Ukraine's coat of arms - the trident. Various versions of Wolfsangel were seen during the recent protests at the Independence Square (the Maidan) in Kiev.

The most prominent use of the inverted Wolfsangel was on the official logo of the Social-National Party of Ukraine formed in 1995, which later morphed into the "Svoboda" party headed by Oleh Tyahnybok.

Oleh Tyahnybok at the Svoboda party meeting.
Oleh Tyahnybok at a "Svoboda" party meeting.

Himself an admirer and proponent of the ideals of National-Socialism, Tyahnybok nevertheless took care to cleanup the party's image and replaced the Wolfsangel logo with something less obvious. However cosmetic were these changes, they allowed "Svoboda" to gain mainstream acceptance in western parts of Ukraine.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz (right) is meeting Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) and Oleh Tyahnybok (center) in Kiev, December 2013
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz (right) is meeting Arseniy Yatsenyuk (left) and Oleh Tyahnybok (center) in Kiev, December 2013

A different symbol widely used by Ukraine's neo-Nazi organizations is based on the Celtic cross - another ancient symbol put to use in Nazi Germany. The most common version of the design seen on flags, arm patches and other neo-Nazi paraphernalia in Ukraine is the simplified Celtic cross.

Here you can see the Celtic cross design on the shield of one of the protesters in Kiev attacking the riot police
Here you can see the Celtic cross design on the shield of one of the protesters in Kiev attacking the riot police

The eighth letter of the Latin alphabet is "H" and for neo-Nazis worldwide the number 88 represents "HH", or "Heil Hitler". Interpreting this symbol requires some education and so it has not been commonly used by Ukrainian neo-Nazis. However, in the past couple of years it appears to have gained in popularity.

Swastika, the Celtic cross and 88 are seen on the wall of the Kiev city administration building vandalized by the Euromaidan protesters
Swastika, the Celtic cross and 88 are seen on the wall of the Kiev city administration building vandalized by the Euromaidan protesters. The number 14 represents the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS.

Ukraine's rich history of collaborationism with the Axis powers during the Second World War left a deep scar in the fabric of the Ukrainian society to this day. Unfortunately for all of us, the threat of resurgent fascism in Ukraine is not a Kremlin fantasy. On the other side of the world political leaders claim that Russia is tarnishing its image by resorting to military intervention in Ukraine. What do they say about people who live in glass houses? By "standing shoulder-to-shoulder" (McCain, 2013) and "working hand-in-hand" (Kerry, 2014) with the unelected nationalist government in Kiev, Washington politicians would be well-advised to tone down the rhetoric and consider their own image.

Thank you
(Anonymous)
Great explanation, I hope the world leaders who supported the self proclaimed Ukrainian government will realize what assholes they have been. My only concern is what if they were aware of whom they were supporting in the first place... Nevermind. You might want to add into the description of Celtic cross insignias that the number 14 means the 14th SS Division came back from the oblivion, is functional and ready to conquer the world.
Re: Thank you
Good point about the 14. I was actually thinking about that, but didn't make the link. Must be tired today :-)
14
(Anonymous)
In fact, 14/88 has long been used globally in neo-nazi circles, originating from the '14 Words' phrase.

This is the phrase "we must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children."

The shared number with the 14th division of the Waffen SS is purely coincidental, though no doubt a happy one for Ukrainian neo-nazis.

(Anonymous)
The people who have hijacked the Ukrainian government, the US state department, knew what strings to pull to get the coup going. They are very aware western Ukrainians hate Russians and the former communists, while Eastern Ukrainian are more pro Russian. To create a civil war, you resurrect the NAZI ideology (adversary to communism). Hence the US took great care to cultivate, fund and arm the Ukrainian socalled NAZIs. What is really interesting and rather strange, is that all the new junta learders in Kiev are not pure Ukrainians but mixed, some being half Jewish. The other interesting thing is that Madame Nuland of the US state department who engineered the coup with the aid of Ukrainian NAZIs is Jewish herself. So here we have a cabal of Judaic people in bed with Ukrainian NAZIs and one has to wonder, for what purpose? It certainly is not because they love Ukrainians especially western Ukrainians as the Simon Weisenthal Center claims and holds western Ukrainians, Ukrainian NAZIs, for the killing of hundreds of thousands of Jews during the second world war. So why are these Jews managing, funding and prodding supposed Ukrainian NAZIs into a civil war, a war that thus has killed more than 6000 Ukrainians, mostly civilians. That is the question one has to ask.
Фасції на гербі Волинської України з часів її появи на мапах світу.