An excerpt of the book Sabotage! The Secret War Against America by Michael Sayers & Albert E. Kahn
Harper & Brothers, 1942 - hard cover, 1st edition
CHAPTER FIVE BOMBERS AND KILLERS I. The Fifth Column Without a Country
In 1938 a sensational series of kidnappings occurred in New York City. A number of well-to-do persons were seized by a mysterious gang which blindfolded them, gagged them, and took them by car to a secret hideout in the city. Ransoms ranging from $100,000 to $200,000 were demanded. In certain cases the kidnapped victims were tortured to make them write pleading notes to their relatives and friends. One of the victims, Norman Miller, who had been forced to pay $15,000 ransom, remembered that while he had been held captive he had heard church bells ringing and the sound of billiard balls clicking. He also recalled the number of steps down which he had been led, blindfolded, by his kidnappers. These clues helped the police to locate the Ukrainian National Home, "a mutual benefit society" at 217-19 East 6th Street, New York City, as the place that fitted Miller's description.
On November 2, 1938, the police raided the Ukrainian National Home. In the basement they found a torture chamber, its walls pitted with bullet holes. They also found a German-made machine gun and other weapons. The police dug up the basement floor and came upon human bones. One of the kidnapped men, Arthur Fried of White Plains, had died under the torture. His body had been stuffed in the heating furnace, and the bones later hidden under the basement floor.
The four gangsters who made up the kidnapping gang were arrested. Two of them were sentenced to life-imprisonment. The other two, Demetrius Gula and Joseph Sacoda, were convicted of murder and executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing.
One highly significant fact not mentioned at the trial was that Gula and Sacoda were both members of a Berlin-directed Ukrainian terrorist organization known as the ODWU. At the time no one thought of connecting these brutal kidnappers with the Nazi espionage-sabotage machine in the United States....
The Berlin-directed ODWU again hovered just behind the headlines when, early in 1941, a Ukrainian-American captain in the United States Army was courtmartialed and deprived of his commission for betraying confidential information to a foreign agent. This captain was the leader of an ODWU unit in Pennsylvania. The foreign agent in the case had been Omelian Senyk-Gribiwisky, a Ukrainian terrorist who had come from Berlin in 1931 to found the ODWU in the United States....
Another hint of the inner nature of the ODWU came on July 13, 1940, when the New York police arrested a Ukrainian-American named William Piznak on charges of violating the Sullivan Law. In a basement storeroom of Piznak's residence at 225 East 95th Street, detectives of the New York sabotage squad found a veritable arsenal which included two machine guns, tear gas grenades, rifles, sets of brass knuckles, a trench knife and 1,112 rifle cartridges of assorted calibers.
William Piznak's brother, Michael Piznak, is the attorney of the Ukrainian Nationalist Association, an old Ukrainian-American society which the ODWU has sought to infiltrate and dominate. Until shortly before the police raid, the two Piznak brothers lived together in the house which contained the basement arsenal. The usually cautious attorney, Michael Piznak, revealed his own political proclivities at a Ukrainian meeting in Belvedere Park, New York, on July 1, 1938, when he declared: "Now Hitler calls the youth to organize. Now, also, Mussolini calls the youth to organize. And now, we, the Ukrainian Nationalists, too, must call the youth to organize!"
In August 1940, the Hetman, another Berlin-directed Ukrainian organization, staged a public Storm Troop demonstration in Chicago. The "Order of the Day," issued by the Chicago Hetman "District Command," called upon "the uniformed Male Youth Hundreds" to appear "armed with rifles"...
There are close to one million Ukrainian-Americans in the United States. The overwhelming majority of them are pro-democratic; but a Naziphile minority make up the ODWU and the Hetman, two of the most dangerous espionage-sabotage organizations in the world.*
The ODWU operates under the supervision of Colonel Walther Nicolai's Section IIIB, German Military Intelligence.
The Hetman operates under the supervision of Alfred Rosenberg's Aussenpolitisches Amt, Foreign Political Office of the Nazi party.
The ODWU is more powerful than the Hetman and, if possible, more violent. Both organizations have built their cells in American industrial centers. Their agents work in munitions plants, mines, steel foundries, aircraft factories, shipyards, freightyards and docks. A number of them have gained access to the United States Army.
Both the ODWU and the Hetman are international organizations with branches throughout Europe, Asia and North and South America. Their activities include spying, sabotaging, spreading pro-Axis propaganda and, not infrequently, committing assassinations. The United States leaders of the ODWU and Hetman have been in regular communication with German, Japanese and Italian agents, and with spies in South and Central America. In the spring of 1941, one of the confidential ODWU bulletins emanating from Berlin triumphantly described the sinking of several British ships sabotaged by ODWU members in Argentina and Brazil....
It is remarkable that in all the literature dealing with the world-wide machinations of the Axis, practically no mention has been made of this most important auxiliary of the international Nazi espionage and sabotage machine: the fascist Ukrainian fifth column. Among fifth columns, it is unique in that the only land in which it cannot function is its native land. Its activities in the Ukraine were brought to an abrupt halt in 1938 when the Soviet authorities rounded up and executed its chief ring-leaders there. In almost every other country in the world, and particularly in the United States, this criminal and ruthless fifth column is still at work.
Just how Hitler got hold of these terrorists among the Ukrainians and converted a section of them into the Ukrainian-American fifth column makes a story of international treachery and violence unparalleled in all the weird annals of the underworld of political crime....
II. Theories and Practices
A familiar sight in Berlin in recent years was a little old man with a scrubby white beard who usually wandered about in oversize plus-fours. The Nazis called him "Professor of the Ukraine." His name was Dr. Paul Rohrbach. Like his closest friend, the Nazi philosopher Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, Rohrbach was a Baltic German who contributed some important "theories" to the Nazi Party.
Rohrbach was still a young scholar when he evolved the theory that the Ukrainians are a Germanic-type people and should therefore come under German rule. To win the support of the Ukrainians, then subjects of the Russian Czar, the young Germanophile scholar wrote innumerable propaganda works urging the establishment of an "Independent Ukraine." The idea appealed strongly to Kaiser Wilhelm who had his Imperial eye on Ukrainian wheat and oil.
In 1918, after the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, the Kaiser established an "Independent Ukraine" under German "protection." Rohrbach was dispatched to Kiev to act as personal adviser to Field Marshal Hermann von Eichhorn, commander of the German forces in the Ukraine. A Quisling Ukrainian government was set up, headed by a hitherto unrenowned Russian cavalryman named General Pavel Petrovitch Skoropadski. The General, who did not know one word of Ukrainian, received the title of The Hetman (Head Man) of the Ukraine, and a cabinet was formed around him composed of various Russian and Ukrainian adventurers chiefly distinguished for their murderous records as terrorists and anti-Semitic pogromists.
But Rohrbach's triumph was shortlived. The newly-formed Red Army, together with the forerunners of today's doughty guerrilla bands, decimated the Kaiser's armies of occupation and drove them out of the Ukraine. Rohrbach hastily packed his books and returned to Berlin along with General Skoropadski and his cutthroat cabinet. Field Marshal von Eichhorn, less fortunate, was buried in the Ukraine, after he had been shot by a Ukrainian guerrilla.
Back in Berlin, Rohrbach and his friends became the proteges of the German High Command which, by the early 1920's, was already plotting with the Nazi Party to overthrow the Weimar Republic and make a second bid for world conquest. Captain Franz von Papen joined the growing circle of Rohrbach's admirers, and the concept of an "Independent Ukraine" appealed as strongly to Adolf Hitler as it had formerly done to the Kaiser. The "Hetman Organization" was placed under the personal supervision of Dr. Alfred Rosenberg, the chief Nazi advocate of Eastward expansion. General Skoropadski, who could still barely stutter in Ukrainian, retained his title as The Hetman of the Ukraine and leader of the Hetman Organization....
At this point, Colonel Nicolai of the Intelligence Service of the High Command took a hand in the Ukrainian game. For various reasons, Nicolai felt that General Skoropadski was not the man to head the Ukrainian fifth column. While Nicolai did not interfere in any way with Alfred Rosenberg's organization of the Hetman apparatus, he went on to organize an international Ukrainian apparatus of his own. From the start, Nicolai had his eye on the large Ukrainian community in the United States.
The man chosen by Nicolai to head this international fifth column was Colonel Eugene Konovaletz, who had served with the Kaiser's armies of occupation in the Ukraine. Konovaletz was a tall, blondish man with gray, watery eyes, a military bearing, and a passion for jewels. He had earned himself considerable notoriety in the Ukraine as a rapist and killer. When he left with the Germans in 1919, he brought out with him two large trunks loaded with looted gold, silver and jewels. Hitler met him in 1922 and took an immediate liking to him.
By 1930, Konovaletz was known to the intelligence bureaus of the world's powers as one of Germany's leading espionage agents. He was also working for the Japanese General Staff. His various "missions" took him to every corner of the European continent, to Asia, and to North and South America.
The international organization of spies and saboteurs which Konovaletz set up under the supervision of the Intelligence Department of the German War Office went by the name of Ukrajinska Organizace Nacionalistov (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists), commonly referred to as the OUN.
Wherever there were Ukrainian communities--in Soviet Russia, France, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, South America, Canada, the United States--Colonel Konovaletz's emissaries traveled at the expense of the German Government and established OUN cells.
Special schools for OUN members were opened in Germany where the students were carefully trained in the arts of espionage, sabotage and assassination. The first of these schools was founded by the German War Office in Danzig around 1928. German Intelligence officers acted as instructors. The OUN students were taught the various methods of stealing military secrets, making bombs, blowing up factories and carrying out political murders. Courses in regular German army training were also part of the curriculum.
OUN graduates from this Danzig school destroyed scores of factories and farms by sabotage fires and explosions in Poland during the years 1928-31. They also assassinated a number of prominent Polish politicians before the Polish authorities finally arrested several OUN terrorists and imprisoned or executed them. The remaining OUN members were temporarily withdrawn from Poland and were put to work, with other of Konovaletz's followers, in the Nazi Party in Germany.
When Hitler came to power, a central academy for the OUN was founded in Berlin. The Nazis spared no expense in building this academy and supplying it with expert instructors and scientific equipment. The academy's address is 75 Mecklenburgische Strasse, Berlin. Its title is "School for Espionage, Sabotage and Terrorism."
The OUN received its first major setback in 1938 when the Soviet Government smashed its entire underground organization in the Ukraine. That same year, Adolf Hitler and Colonel Nicolai reached an agreement that Colonel Konovaletz, the head of the OUN, was rather too well acquainted with the secrets of the German Government, and that his international influence had reached a point where it might prove difficult to control. They therefore arranged for a special present to be delivered to Konovaletz in Rotterdam, where he was attending a convention of Ukrainian "nationalists." One of Konovaletz's own aides, who was a trusted Gestapo man, handed him the present outside the convention hall, telling him that it was a personal gift. When the Colonel opened the small package, the bomb exploded and tore him to bits. He became the martyr of the Ukrainian "nationalist" movement, and high Nazis have since remarked, not without sincerity, that Colonel Konovaletz has proved even more valuable to them dead than alive.
After the removal of Colonel Konovaletz, the work of organizing the OUN on an international scale went forward at an accelerated pace.
III. Salesman of Terror
For the important task of organizing the Nazi-Ukrainian network in the United States, Nicolai selected Colonel Konovaletz's right-hand man, the most talented saboteur and ruthless killer in the OUN. His name was Omelian Senyk-Gribiwisky. Feared by even his closest intimates, this slim, gentle-mannered, Russian priest's son had been linked, directly or indirectly, with almost every major assassination which had taken place in Poland during the early post-war years. The OUN later sent Senyk-Gribiwisky on special errands of murder, sabotage or intrigue as far afield as Canada, South Africa, South America, Italy and Japan. His compatriots gave him a nickname which, freely translated, means "Salesman of Terror."
This was the man who arrived in the United States in 1931 to organize the ODWU--the Organization for the Rebirth of the Ukraine--which was to serve as the American counterpart of Berlin's OUN.
Two years later, with the Nazis in power, and unlimited funds at his disposal, the "Salesman of Terror" returned to the United States to develop the ODWU and spread its sinister branches across the forty-eight states.
With German money, Senyk-Gribiwisky financed scores of ODWU "front" organizations which mushroomed under his expert guidance in the industrial cities where Ukrainian-Americans lived. The ODWU fronts appeared in all sorts of guises. Some were supposed to be doing "Ukrainian Red Cross" work. Others were "insurance companies," "sports clubs," "chemical firms" and "film companies." They all had one thing in common: they were headed by pro-Nazi Ukrainian-Americans, who were to serve as propagandists, spies, and, when the right time came, as saboteurs for the Third Reich. In many cases Ukrainian-American members of ODWU-controlled organizations were unaware that they were being used by the Nazis.
For those of his United States agents who were unable to attend the German espionage-sabotage schools, Senyk-Gribiwisky drew up a special memorandum of instructions which could be used by them as a textbook. A copy of this extraordinary document has come into the possession of the authors, and the portions of it quoted here are translated and published for the first time.
"Methods of espionage," begins the document, "depend on the domain in which the given agent of espionage is active...." Various methods of spying to be employed by ODWU agents in the United States are then listed. Senyk-Gribiwisky discusses "buying persons in the opposite camp who are in the possession of valuable information," "diplomatic espionage," "press espionage," and "espionage proper." He instructs his followers in the art of "worming into various circles of the community under observation" and in the "recruiting of informers." The document goes on:
The agent works underground and, every minute, he must be prepared to be unmasked. He must therefore know how to behave in order not to attract attention; he must know how to make notes and how to transmit the latter; how to meet and get in touch with other agents....
Most essential of all, according to Senyk-Gribiwisky's instructions, is the art of "camouflage":
...the agent must adopt some kind of profession or occupation and actually practice this profession or occupation. He must therefore be some kind of a specialist. Finally, an agent usually works in one given domain. If his work is to be useful, he is to be a specialist in that domain, too.
The "Salesman of Terror" instructed his ODWU agents in the United States to start building private arsenals. In Pittsburgh, Chicago, Detroit and other American cities, he organized armed detachments of ODWU "sharp-shooters" and established several camps where ODWU recruits received military training. He also arranged for the distribution among ODWU units of certain confidential booklets which had been prepared in Berlin. The titles of a few of these booklets were: Conspiracy Methods, The Ukrainian Military Organization, Chemical and Bacteriological Warfare, Guerrilla Warfare Technique, Aviation and The Technical and Auxiliary Troops.
In May 1934, Senyk-Gribiwisky contrived to found the "Ukrainian Aviation School" at Montgomery, New York. ODWU units throughout the country received this "SPECIAL NOTICE TO ALL UKRAINIANS":
All Ukrainians residing in the United States and Canada and who possess knowledge of, or experience in, aeronautics, engineering (any branch), military science, wireless and telegraph communication are requested to register their names and addresses with the Ukrainian Aviation School.
The "Aviation School" was an ideal front for the training of spies and saboteurs. After receiving instruction at this school, ODWU agents could then apply for special jobs in United States aircraft plants or aeronautical stations, where the opportunities for sabotage are plentiful.
A financial supporter of this ODWU Aviation School was Demetrius Gula, the New York murderer-kidnapper who was subsequently executed at Sing Sing for his crimes.
The chief "flying instructor" at the school was "an American engineer," Burton H. Gilligan, who was intimately associated with the German American Bund. Just before he joined the school, Gilligan had returned from a visit to Nazi Germany.
Another "prominent American" who took an active part in the Aviation School was the Ukrainian-American captain who in 1941 was to lose his United States Army commission for supplying the ODWU leader, Senyk-Gribiwisky, with confidential information concerning the United States armed forces.
By January 1935, Senyk-Gribiwisky reported to his superiors in Berlin that more than one hundred ODWU units were operating in the United States, and that there was not an important industrial center without its active cell of Nazi-Ukrainians. Posing as workers, insurance agents, salesmen, priests, journalists, the ODWU agents worked their way into key positions in the mass Ukrainian-American organizations.