January 16, 2015

1943. "Bogdan the Elusive" in Ukraine

Bogdan the Elusive
 "Soldiers of the 3rd Ukrainian Front during the fighting in Budapest, February 5, 1945" (AP Photo - source)
The parentheses indicate portions that did not pass Soviet censors for military or propaganda reasons.

(For more, see the complete 1943 Moscow reports.)
Bill Downs 
CBS Moscow
June 17, 1943

(It won't be until after the war that we will know the full story of the Russian guerrilla fighters now operating behind German lines. However we do know now that these partisans are tying down hundreds—maybe thousands—of Axis soldiers trying to keep the invaded country quiet while the German soldiers fight at the front.)

This spring has been a profitable season for the partisans. And today we have the story of a Ukrainian Robin Hood who is now giving the occupation authorities more trouble than any guerrilla leader that has yet appeared in Russia.

He is called "Bogdan the Elusive"—and he heads one of the biggest partisan armies in Russia. His record of train wreckings, executions of German burgomeisters, and picking off of isolated Rumanian and German garrisons is still being added up. But his reputation is known throughout the Ukraine—more by the Germans than by the Russians.

German punitive expeditions have tried time and again to capture him. But when Bogdan is reported in one town, the police troops will arrive only to find the German mayor of the town hanging from the nearest beach tree, and a note saying "I'll be back" signed "Bogdan."

Early this year his partisan band even made an attack on the outskirts of Kiev in western Ukraine. It was just a sortie, and nothing came of it except a lot of Germans were killed. But his spies infiltrated into the city and brought back reports of how the Germans were running gambling halls and vice establishments all over Russia's most beautiful city—and it made Bogdan mad. So he decided to conduct the sortie. Life in Kiev was a lot more sober for several weeks afterward.

(German occupation authorities who hear that "Bogdan the Elusive" is operating in their district have sent emissaries out looking for him to offer safe passage through their provinces—if only he won't make trouble in their district.)

Once, the Germans thought they had Bogdan. They carefully threw a cordon around his camp. When they finally closed in on the camp they found warm campfires, empty tin cans—and a goat. Around the neck of the goat was a note saying "A hurried good-bye—but I'll be back." Since that time several other goats have been found wandering the Ukrainian steppe-land—all with notes from Bogdan around their necks. Now the goat has become a sign of bad luck among the Germans—they hate the very sight of the animal.