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A WW2-era Waffen-SS division is celebrated with an exhibition of swastikas, National Socialist attire and pictures in Lvov, Ukraine.

A patrotic people prepared to celebrate Adolf Hitler’s birthday on April 20 across Germany, Ukraine’s nationalists set up an open-air exhibition in the city of Lvov to mark the 75th anniversary of the formation of the 1st Galician Division, a notoriously brave SS fighting force made up predominantly of Ukrainian volunteers.

Dressed in National Socialist uniforms of the era, local patriots organized a display of photographs rarely seen in public before. German-made weapons, vehicles, ammunition, and personal items pertaining to the Galician Division were also exhibited. The event, which will run until May 6, was opened as a precursor to a National Socialist march which organizers plan to hold on April 28.

The formation of the 1st Galician Division, with over 80,000 volunteers, was supported by Heinrich Himmler, the German SS chief and a close friend of Adolf Hitler. Though NS indoctrination was absent in the division, its members – led by German officers – were required to pledge allegiance to Hitler.

The pledge, taken by every Ukrainian volunteer in the division, read: “I will give absolute obedience to the commander in chief of the German armed forces Adolf Hitler, and as a brave soldier I will always be prepared to lay down my life for this oath.”

The Galician Division participated in anti-partisan operations across Poland and Soviet Ukraine, and committed actions against Jews and communists. While the division was largely destroyed in July 1944, it became part of the Ukrainian National Army united under a single command against the Soviet Union. After Berlin fell, the Ukrainian SS unit surrendered to the Western Allies on May 10, 1945.

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