March 31, 2017

April 5, 1967


Fifty years ago, Archbishop Mstyslav, president of the Consistory of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the U.S.A., wrote an open letter that appeared in the April 5, 1967, issue of The New York Times.

The letter, addressed to the editor of Radianska Ukraina in Kyiv, accused the central government of the Soviet Union of complicity in the case of former Nazi Reichskommissar Erich Koch.

Archbishop Mstyslav said that he was publishing the article in English “to make certain that the message of my letter reaches” the editor of Radianska Ukraina. A Ukrainian-language version of the letter was sent directly to the newspaper’s office in Kyiv.

A story carried on February 26, 1967, by Radianska Ukraina prompted the letter by the archbishop. The story was carried by the Soviet TASS news service on the basis of an article in the Polish daily newspaper Trybuna Ludu, regarding treasure looted by the Nazis in the Soviet Union.

Mr. Koch, who was serving a life sentence in a Warsaw prison, told reporters that the treasure, mostly artistic objects, was valued at “50 million in gold” and was hidden in the bunkers of a church in Kaliningrad, at a place called the “amber room” in the city of Pushkin.

Mr. Koch’s crimes against Ukrainians, as cited by Archbishop Mstyslav, showed Moscow’s collaboration, including these facts: Moscow provided Mr. Koch with exclusive medical care and comfortable living quarters; Mr. Koch, prior to joining the Nazi party, was a German Communist Party member; he carried out brutal suppression of Ukrainian independence movements; and Mr. Koch avoided prosecution during the Nuremburg trials thanks to Moscow’s protection.

The archbishop said that the Kyiv newspaper’s failure to speak out in the Koch affair stemmed  “not so much from lack of courage, but from lack of independence in this and endless other cases.”

Mr. Koch, the archbishop stated, was responsible for mass executions of “thousands upon thousands” of Ukrainians.  “It is my feeling that, along with this report, you should have published either an additional or a special article which would have given the appropriate background of the Koch affair,” Archbishop Mstyslav wrote.

Source: “Archbishop Mstyslav accuses Moscow of complicity with Nazis, Open letter to ‘Radianska Ukraina’ published in N.Y. Times,” The Ukrainian Weekly, April 8, 1967.