Authors

Object ID

2015.2.35

Object Name

Postcard

Date

5845

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Description

Front: Message in black ink written at top of page. Red hand stamp on right side of page. Writing in large blue crayon across middle of page, and pencil writing beneath the blue.

Back: Red printed postcard text in Ukranian. Several hand stamps and writing in blue crayon.

Information Provided by Michael D. Bulmash:
This is the only known military postcard written by Metropolitan Archbishop Sheptytsky during WWI. At the time of this writing, he has been deported from Lviv, and is on the way to Balagnska in the province of Irkutsk. Sheptytsky had been head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church in Lviv from 1901-1944. At the outbreak of World War I, Sheptytsky was arrested by the Russians and imprisoned in both the Ukraine and Russia, but was ultimately released in 1918, whereupon he returned to Lviv. He became active in the struggle for Ukrainian national rights, supporting the Ukrainian Nationalist movement (OUN) and believing naively that the invading Nazis themselves would support Ukrainian indepndence against the loathed Russians. He endorsed the formation of a Ukrainian unit within the German army, believing perhaps that this unit would be a nucleus of a Ukrainian army that would ultimately serve to protect Ukraine from the Russians. To be sure, Sheptysky's bargain with the devil ironically eventuated in many massacres being carried out by Ukrainian collaboration with the dreaded Einsatzgruppen. Sheptytsky, however, did not approve of terrorist activites against the Jews. It is known that he respected Jews, had learned Hebrew in an effort to relate to the Jewish community, and, importantly, helped many Jews by providing sanctuary both in his own residence and in Greek Catholic monasteries. He had cordial relations with Lviv's chief Rabbi, Ezekiel Lewin. When the latter informed him of an impending pogrom, Sheptysky offered him sanctuary along with his family. Rabbi Lewin refused the offer for himself but accepted it on his children's behalf. While two of his children were saved, the Rabbi himself was murdered in front of his son Kurt. He provided forged baptismal certificates for the Jews that he saved, and instructed his priests to train the Jews in his charge to pray in Ukrainian so as not to be mistaken for Jews by the Nazis and their minions. Sheptysky protested Nazi atrocities committed against Jews, pleaded with the Ukrainian Nationalists to stop their attacks on Jews, and interceded on behalf of the Jews in 1942 with Himmler and other Nazi officials to forbid Ukrainian police from murdering Jews. He wrote Pious XII informing the latter of his own observations of the Nazis. He continued to inveigh against murdering of the Jews and wrote an epistle, somewhat coded and euphemized, but understandable nevertheless, forbidding members of his flock from taking part in murdering Jews. Sheptystsky remains a divisive and enigmatic figure. While his name has been brought before Yad Vashem on numerous occasions to honor Jews, Sheptytsky has not been accorded the honor of Righteous Among the Nations (an honor which his brother Klementiy has received), the support that he has recieved notwithstanding. The Committee it seems has felt that despite his noteworthy legacy in rescuing Jews from the clutches of the murderous anti-Semitic Nazis and Ukrainian Nationalists, (all of the children he saved were spared, and none were converted to Christianity), Sheptytsky didn't go far enough due to his encouragement of Ukrainian allegiance with Nazi Germany.

Dimensions

3 1/2 x 5 1/2"

Keywords

Ukraine, Metropolitan, Archbishop Sheptytsky Lviv, Balagnska, Greek Catholic Church, Russia, Ukrainian Nationalist movement, Einsatzgruppen, Catholic, Greek Catholic, Andrei Sheptysky, Ezekiel Lewin, Klementiv Sheptysky

Postcard from Andrei Sheptysky, Prisoner of War

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