The Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 was a World War II Schutzmannschaft auxiliary police battalion (Schuma) formed by Nazi Germans on October 21, 1941, predominantly from the soldiers of Ukrainian Nachtigall Battalion dissolved two months prior. Nachtigall was a Security Police unit composed almost exclusively from members of the OUN(b), who were transported from Vinnytsia to Neuhammer on August 13, 1941 and disarmed at gunpoint due to political disagreement with the German leadership.
Battalion 201 numbered 650 persons, most of whom belonged to Stepan Bandera’s wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. It served for a year in Belarus before being disbanded. Roman Shukhevych, the supreme commander of the UPA from 1943 to 1950 was an officer of the battalion.
Many of its members, especially the commanding officers, would later be recruited into the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.
This formation was started October 21, 1941 with 4 companies. Their commanders were: 1st - Roman Shukevych (and deputy commander of the battalion), 2nd - M. Brigider, 3rd - Vasyl Sidor, 4th - Pavlyk. The formal commander of the Battalion became former Polish Army Major Evhen Pobyhushchy, however, the SD liaisons officer Wilhelm Mocha became the actual Commander of the Battalion. According to the writings of Major Evhen Pobyhushschiy, by the time of the battalion's formation most of the Ukrainian soldiers considered both Germany and the Soviet Union to be enemies of Ukraine, but considered the Soviets to be the greater enemies to be fought first. During the training period there were tensions between the German command and the Ukrainians. They departed for Belarus on March 19 and 22, 1942. The Battalion were given German Police Uniforms.
On March 16, 1942 the battalion traveled east and on March 19 its first subunits arrived in Belarus where it served in the triangle between Mahiliou-Vitsebsk-Lepel. The battalion wasn't concentrated in one place, but was spread out in order to guard various strategic areas. For example, one group guarded large ammunition and weapon warehouses while other groups were stationed in various Belarusian villages. They guarded bridges, protected the German administration, and hunted in the woods for Soviet partisan bases. The conflicts between Germans and Ukrainians, evident during the training, continued during these operations; relations between the German and Ukrainian officers were poor.
German-Polish historian Professor Frank Golczewski (University of Hamburg) describes the activities of the Schutzmannschaft Battalion 201 in Belarus as "fighting partisans and killing Jews". John Paul Himka, a specialist in Ukrainian history during World War II, and Ivan Katchanovski of the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies Harvard University both note that while no one has studied the specific activities of the 201st battalion from this perspective, it is known that Schuma battalions such as the 201 in Belarus were used to fight partisans and murder Jews, that (according to Katchanovsky) there was a strong likelihood that the 201 Battalion was involved in genocide of Jews and Belarusians, and that this topic is worthy of more investigation, although it hasn't been studied in depth.
David R. Marples notes that Wiktor Poliszczuk claimed that the 201 Schutzmannschaft Battalion in Belarus completed brutal pacification of Belarusian villages, and the men had experience with elimination of the Jewish population; however he also describes Poliszczuk's book as a polemic, written from the Soviet perspective, and one-sided.
According to OUN's own records, more than 2,000 Soviet partisans were killed by battalion personnel during its 9-month stay in Belarus. Historian Anders Rudling noted, that the so-called "partisans" were nearly synonymous with Jews. "The view that “The Jews are without exception identical with the concept of partisan” was a key assumption of the architects of the German counter-insurgency campaigns" (Arthur Nebe, the leader of Einsatzgruppe B). The stay in Belarus provided the Ukrainian soldiers not only with to opportunity to gain experience in partisan warfare but also provided insight into the German tactics of fighting against partisans.
On December 1, 1942 after the expiration of their contracts, the members of the Legion refused to promulgate it. As the result, the 201st Battalion was disbanded and taken to Lviv.
The German command suggested to all those who had been in the Battalion to gather in Lublin to form a new unit, however, none of the Ukrainians signed up, and very few reported to Lublin. Some were arrested and placed in the jail on Lonsky street, Roman Shukhevych escaped, and went into hiding.