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Name: From youthful dreams into ranks of the UPA
Volume: 29
Editor in Chief: IE. Shtendera
Co-editor in Chief: P.J. Potichnyj
Author: I. Herasymiv ('Paliy')
Editor(s): S. Golash
I. Tymochko-Kaminska
Sponsors: Executive of the Society of Veterans of the UPA in Canada
Publication Year: 1999
ISBN (Canada): 0-920092-27-6
Pages Count: 336

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Description

FROM THE EDITORS

The editors of "Litopys UPA" are issuing a separate volume of memoirs by a single author, a noncommissioned officer of the UPA, lvan Harasymiv ("Paliy"). "Paliy' attended the noncommissioned officers' training program at the UPA's "Oleni" officers' school, located on Magura Mountain, deep in the central Carpathians, and later served as a paramedic and squadron leader in the "Udarnyky 1" company (U-1, code number 94) in the Lemko region. His memoir begins with autumn, 1943. In his account, he recreates the mood, and in particular, the wish cherished by him, as an 18-year-old youth, and his contemporaries, to join the ranks of the UPA (news about UPA actions in Volyn was arriving at this time) and fight together for Ukraine and her freedom. The memoir explains how the training of young people was conducted, the preparations for armed struggle, the functioning of the OUN underground organization with its various sections, communication and courier links, how food was supplied to the underground noncommissioned officers' and officers' schools, the courses taught, how weapons were procured and distributed and how food was prepared and stored.

The author provides an interesting account of his departure (on February 7, 1944) to the noncommissioned officers' school. "I did not feel any nostalgia for my family or my native village. "As though on wings, my dreams of military romanticism flew through the blowing snow into the Carpathian forests, where I was to become a fighter of the Ukrainian people."

The author gives an interesting account of how the UPA's "Oleni" school for noncommissioned officers and officers operated in the forest. "Paliy" was observant and he describes in detail the life led in the forest by the future officers and noncommissioned officers and their instructors. He speaks of regular days and holidays and of military training conducted in the forest in the cold and snow, in difficult living and sanitary conditions. But, as he puts it, "We were full of idealism, determination, hatred for the enemy and ardent love for and devotion to Ukraine."

The training and final examinations ended on June 17, 1944. The author then travelled to his new assignment, an UPA company in the Lemko region. He describes the brief, tense period of formation of new UPA units, various organizational changes, training of the battalion commanded by "Ren"in Bukove Berdo, incoming news about the approach of the front, the arrival and activity of Red partisans and the raid by the UPA units commanded by "Ren" over the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains eastward, behind the front, "into the Soviet reality". Later, in late autumn, "Ren's" battalion returned to the Lemko region, the Ukrainian territory which ended up within the borders of "People's" Poland. He graphicaiiy portrays the activities of the company in which he served as a soldier, "Udarnyky 1", changes in the company's commanders, the territory of their activity, their raids, encampments, contacts with the population, the forced deportation of Ukrainians to the USSR, action in the eastern and western parts of the Lemko region, the "Vistula Action" and his company's raid into western Europe.

The company had four successive company commanders: 1) Danylo Svistel ("Veselyi"), from August 1944 until April 1945, when he was killed near Vetlyna, Lisko county, in action against the NKVD. 2) Next, very briefly, the company was commanded by "Yarych". 3) On June 15, 1945, Sgt.Major"Didyk" was appointed company commander. 4) During the summer of 1946, "Didyk" was replaced by First Lt.Roman Hrobelskyi ("Brodych"). "Brodych" remained company commander until the company ceased to operate and its soldiers marched out in small groups to Western Europe (September 1947).

The company was part of the battalion commanded by Major Vasyl-Martyn Mizernyi ("Ren"), who, as of autumn 1945, also served as commander of the UPA 26 Military District ("Lemko"). As of autumn 1945, this UPA military district was part of the UPA Military Region-6 "Sian", which was commanded by Major Myroslav Onyshkevych ("Orest"). Lt. Danyto Svistel ("Veselyi") was killed in action against the NKVD on April 2, 1945 near Vetlyna.More complete information about this action, based on UPA documents, can be found in the book Povstanski mohyly, compiled and edited by Yevhen Misylo, Ukrainian archive & Litopys UPA, Warsaw-Toronto, 1995, vol. 1, p. 45.

The UPA companies in this military district had the name "Udarnyky" in honour of the first commander of the UPA 6 Military Region (then the Peremyshl region), Yakiv Chorniy ("Udarnyk"). "Udarnyk" was killed on December 23, 1944, in action against the Soviets.To honour him, all the companies of the 26 Military District "Lemko" took the name "Udarnyky", which was abbreviated as "U" plus a number from 1 to 8.

The companies in Major "Ren's' battalion were:

1. The company commanded by "Veselyi", Yarych", "Didyk" and "Brodych": U-1, code no. 94;

2. The company commanded by Vasyl Shyshkanynets ("Bir'): U-3, code no. 96;

3. The company commanded by Stepan Stebelskyi ("Khrin"): U-5, code no. 95a,.

4. The company commanded by "Stakh": U-B, code no. 95b.

The memoir also mentions companies of the Peremyshl battalion commanded by Major Petro Mykolenko ("Baida"), which was also, part of the UPA 26 Military District "Lemko". These companies were: the company commanded by "Hromenko" - U-2, code no. 95; the company commanded by "Burlaka" U-4, code no. 94a; the company commanded by "Krylach" U-6, code no. 96a; and the company commanded by "Lastivka" - U-7, code no. 94b. Extensive information about the Peremyshl battalion companies can be found in the books Peremyshchyna: Peremyskyi Kurin, books 1 and 2, Toronto, Litopys UPA, 1986-1987 (Litopys UPA, vols. 13 and 14).

The Lisko and Sianik counties in the eastern Lemko region were also the site of the winter quarters of units from the Drohobych oblast - the company commanded by "Myron" and the company commanded by "Karmeliuk". These companies also took part in action. Thus, the companies mentioned above, as well as well-armed nad-raion and raion SB combat groups, constituted the armed forces of the Lemko region. In addition, the members of the nad-raion, raion and local underground leaderships were armed. From the time when the border between the USSR and "People's" Poland was established along the Sian river, the name "Lemko region" was used by the UPA to designate all the mountain and foothill areas between the Poprad River on the west and the Sian River on the east, although this area also included the western part ofthe Boiko region. This "Lemko region" comprised the following counties, from east to west: Lisko, Sianik, and the southern parts of Krosno, Yaslo, Horlytsi and Novyi Sanch, which for long ages had been settled by Ukrainians who called themselves Lemkos. For organizational purposes, this entire territory was divided into eight raions.Until autumn 1946, the region comprised a single nad-raion, "Beskyd". In autumn 1946, a new nad-raion, "Verkhovyna", was created in the western part, extending from the Dukiia "belt" to the Poprad River.

"Paliy's" memoirs are a lively, direct and honest account by a young man who served in the UPA as a soldier, company paramedic and finally, squadron leader. It interweaves descriptions of the day-to-day life of soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers and their reactions in complex, often difficult situations as they faced deprivation and danger, with emotion, especially the author's exceptional sensitivity to the beauty of nature. There are detailed descriptions of camping in the forest, winter blockades by enemy troops, hunger, illness, in particular, spotted typhoid, and youthful love. At times, the descriptions are minutely detailed, but this gives the reader a full picture of the life led by the company. Extremely valuable are the descriptions the author provides of the tailoring workshop, which produced the soldiers' uniforms, leather tanning, shoemaking, food conservation and storage, construction of underground bunkers in the forest, and the methods by which food was supplied to UPA units. There are also descriptions of holidays: Christmas and Easter, which the insurgents tried every year to celebrate in a fitting and festive manner, as well as national holidays, which were marked ceremoniously.

The company included some singers and even had musical instruments. The use of songs and humour helped both in the insurgents' daily life and in their contacts with the populace, especially when performing propaganda assignments. This was particularly notable in the western Lemko region.From autumn 1946, the company, commanded by "Brodych", was the only one operating in the western Lemko region, the "Verkhovyna" nad-raion, where, by its signing and good behaviour it gained popularity and sympathy, especially among the youth. The soldiers were well prepared for these meetings with the public. During their political education classes, they were taught Ukrainian history and geography, in order to have this information when meeting the villagers. They also studied political literature, the UPA, UHVR and OUN programs, in order to be able to converse intelligently on political topics. They were also instructed how to behave amiably and correctly with the population. The peasants, for whom this was often the first meeting with Ukrainian insurgents, became their supporters and listened with confidence to their talk about the struggle for the independence of their great motherland - Ukraine.

The memoir also provides information about military actions.These accounts are presented from the position and viewpoint of the squad led by the author and the platoon, commanded by Petro Hnatiuk ("Dorosh"), of which the squad was part.Platoon leader "Dorosh" was not only the author's military superior, but also became his friend.

The author provides a fairly detailed account of heavy fighting that took place in the village of Strubovyska, near Tisna, Lisko county, with the so-called "Red broom", whose forces greatly outnumbered them. During this action, company commander "Veselyi" was killed. There are descriptions of combat with Polish special police forces, the Korpus Bezpieczenstwa Wewnentsznego (KBW), the Polish Army (WP), units of the Wojsko Ochrony Pogranicza (WOP) and large forces of the police. Generally, the outcomes of these actions were positive, although the enemy was always intent to destroy the company. The fighting in Smilnyk remained a painful memory because there the company experienced serious losses. This was the only time that they were attacked by surprise. On more than one occasion, the company was surrounded by larger enemy forces, but owing to their experience, skill and combativeness, they managed to escape. Particular attention is paid to the period of the "Vistula Action" (Akcja Wisla), when entire Polish divisions, Soviet NKVD special formations and Czechoslovak military units were directed against the UPA units. On the orders of the UPA command. the UPA units and, smaller groups raided over a thousand kilometers, engaging in combat all the way, frequently enduring hunger and exhaustion but stoically weathering hardships and difficulties, and reached the West, bringing the truth about the struggle for the freedom of Ukraine. The memoirs are written in a way that intrigues the reader, making him want to know what will happen next.

This volume of the "Litopys UPA" series, will be yet another source of information about the period of UPA struggle, from 1943 to 1948, in the part of Ukrainian territory outside the boundaries of Ukraine known as the "Zakerzonskyi krai". This struggle was very dramatic, characterized by devotion and heroism. What makes the author's account significant is that he depicts events "from below", through the eyes and heart of someone who was first a soldier, then a paramedic and finally a squad leader.

The memoir also provides descriptions of the company and of various officers, non commissioned officers and soldiers, using their pseudonyms. To these pseudonyms are added the real names which could be identified. The memoir identifies the composition of the retinue (usually 10 persons at a time), three platoon leaders and 9-12 squad leaders.

Stepan Goliash edited the manuscript and retyped it. Additional information was provided by members of the "Lemko Commission", composed of lryna Kaminska, Modest Ripetskyi and Stepan Goliash, as well as surviving soldiers of the company. Preparation of the manuscript was hampered by the death of the author. lvan Harasymiv ("Paliy"), who lived in Australia, became seriously ill in the late 1980s and died at a relatively young age. His wife, Diana Harasymiv, was able to provide only brief biographical data about him. He was born on March 6, 1925, in the village of Bortnyky, Tovmach raion, lvano-Frankivsk oblast, into a peasant family. After completing seven grades, he went to high school in Tovmach. Immediately after high school he began UPA training in the Carpathians. He died on July 12, 1991.

We thank everyone who helped bring these memoirs out in print.

Iryna Kaminska ("Khrystia")
Stepan Goliash ("Mar")


Summaries

lvan Harasymiv: From Youthful Dreams into the Ranks of the UPA

The memoir written by lvan Harasymiv ("Paliy") is an interesting, often passionate account by a Ukrainian youth, soldier and UPA squadron leader about his service in the UPA from autumn 1943 to September 1947. The account conveys not only the author's moods and experiences, but also his surrounding world, presented from his point of view. The author tries to describe the life of his comrades, platoon, company and other underground formations, capture the mood of the population, comment on the events taking place around him and in the larger world. His memoir contains many valuable descriptions of the daily life of UPA soldiers and peasants. For example, he speaks of such things as food supplies for the soldiers in the village, the forest and an isolated forest camp, order and discipline, hygiene, the collection and preservation of foodstuffs, leather tanning, shoemaking and tailoring workshops, etc.

The account is presented chronologically and covers several periods. The author begins by discussing the mood of the peasants and youth during the autumn of 1943 in the Stanyslaviv region. Grim news was arriving from the east about the approach of the front. Ukrainian young people discussed the situation and everyone was optimistic that this war would make possible the establishment of an independent Ukraine. Hundreds of youths joined the UPA to create a Ukrainian armed force.

Next, the author describes the UPA's noncommissioned officer training in the 'Ofeni' officers' school, located in the inaccessible Corpathian forests. The author speaks with humour about the instruction, military drills and day-to-day life of the participants, provides interesting characterizations of the officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers and notes various everyday events. His account provides much information about the organization of the noncommissioned officers' school, its program and its degree of success in producing officers for the UPA. This section ends with a description of the final examinations and the ceremony marking completion of the training on June 17, 1944. The author was assigned to the UPA in the underground Peremyshl oblast.

Shortly after he arrived at his new destination, the German-Soviet front moved westward from the Kovel-Brody-T'ernopil line. In the Peremyshi and Lisko counties, many volunteers were joining the UPA, both local residents and refugees from the east. New UPA companies were formed, including the "Lemkivshchyna" battalion commanded by Vasyl Mizernyi ("Ren"). The author become a squadron leaders in the UPA company commanded by Danylo Svistel (Veselyr), which was part of this battalion. The battalion was quartered on the Bukove Berdo plain and began intensive training in order to have the soldiers trained before the arrival of the Soviets. When the front approached at the end of September, the battalion travelled east along the spine of the Carpathion Mountains, intending to cross the front and go deeper into the Soviet rear. The battalion was joined by about six more companies and many insurgents, thus a detachment of over 1800 men took part in the operation. On the way, they engaged in a skirmish and formed an "agreement" with Hungarian front-line troops. On September 30, the detachment was behind the frontline in the Stanysloviv oblost. Here the UPA companies who had joined the 'Lemkivshchyna' battalion left them and for more than two months the battalion raided in the Stanysloviv and Drohobych oblosts. They conducted a night attack on the raion centre, Perehinsko, and had skirmishes with NKVD troops. The soldiers often went hungry and wore wornout clothing because the Red Army was everywhere and the underground food and clothing supply system did not function well. In December, the battalion returned to the Lemko region. The author describes in detail their raid through the Carpathlans.

In the Lemko region, the insurgents found the situation totally different from what they had left in September. The Lemko region was within the borders of the Polish People's Republic (PRL). The border between the PRL and the Ukrainian SSR, which ran along the upper Sion river and northward post Peremyshl to Rava Ruska, was closely guarded by Soviet NKVD border troop NKVD garrisons had also been established in PRL county centres. The NKVD organized the local administration and directed the fight against the UPA and units of the Polish underground. On their return from the Corpathion raid, Commander V. Mizernyi instructed the companies to act as independent units and delineated their territory of operations. As of this lime, the author's account focuses on his'own company. The company spent a difficult winter in 1944-45. An epidemic of spotted typhoid broke out in the villages and many soldiers were sick with typhoid. The company quartered in the forest in the eastern port of Lisko county. There was still a shortage of food and clothing. Pa~ of NKVD special units were raiding throughout. On April 2, NKVD troops attacked the company in their temporary stay in the vicinity of the. village of Vetlyna, Lisko county. Many members of the company were killed, among them, company commander Danyto Syistel (Veselyi), company physician "Hutsul" and political officer Oleksander Kotliariv ("Kryvulia"). After this incident, the author remained in the village for treatment of scabies. He writes discreetly about his youthly love for Marusio. In April, the author successfully completed paramedical training. The battalion physician, M. Ripe~i ("Horyslav"), appointed him medical assistant in his company, which was commanded by 'Yarych'. The author notes many observations regarding hygienic practices and medical treatment both in UPA units and among the population, given their primitive conditions and lock of doctors and commercially produced medication. The new company commander filled the company with new recruits whom he began to train intensively.

On June 15, 1945, V Mizerngi appointed "Didyk" company commander. "Didyk" was elder, a former officer of the Austrian army. He introduced formal discipline and for this reason, was not liked by the soldiers. However, at this time, the company members were divided up among Local Selfdefense Units (SKV) in order to organize and retrain the SKV soldiers. The author describes their work in the villages between Lisko and Sianik, which lasted for a brief period. At this time, Stepon Stebeiskyi (Khrin) was organizing a new company, to which the author, and later the entire "Hronia" platoon from "Didyk's" company, was assigned. Shortly after this, "Didyk" reassembled his company and they had to return. The company continued its operations from its encampments in deep forests. "Didyk" built a camp on Khreshchato Mountain and late in the autumn, in the forest near the village of Yavirnyk, where they stayed almost until spring 1946. As of the summer of 1945, the Poles had intensified their forced deportation of Ukrainians to the USSR. The UPA and Ukrainian underground resisted in various ways. Because the deportation effort did not meet with success, the government began to use bloody terror in the early spring of 1946. The army and armed bands organized in Polish villages attacked Ukrainian villages, robbed them, beat young and old inhabitants, killed many people and frequently burned farms. Fierce combat began with these formations and against deportation, which lasted until summer 1946. These events and actions are described in detail in the memoir. During the summer, company commander "Didyk" reorganized the company and suggested to the author that he become squadron leader, because there were many paramedics but not enough combat noncommissioned officers. The author gladly agreed, because he did not enjoy sitting in the "rear" but preferred to take part in the fighting and be in the centre of the action. His squadron was part of the platoon commanded by Petro Hnotluk ("Dorosh"), who become his friend.

In the summer of 1946, V. Mizerngi ("Ren") transferred Lt. "Didyk" to the "Lemko" Military District headquarters, and appointed Roman Hrobelskyi ("Brodycho") company commander. In September, the company was instructed to move to a new area, the western part of the Lemko region, where no UPA units had operated until this time. The company was instructed to avoid combat, but to visit as many villages as possible in order to win the support of the population by means of the insurgents' appearance, good behaviour, conversation and Ukrainian songs. For the winter, the company divided up platoons, which quartered in forest camps, and conducted visits to villages. The author described with enthusiasm the successes of this mission.

In June 1947, the lamentable 'Vistula Action' was extended into the western Lemko region. Many WP and Polish police troops arrived to. conduct raids in pursuit of the company and deport Ukrainians to West Poland 'rziemie Odzyskane') - former German lands. At this time, the company set out on a propaganda operation to Slovokic, in part, to avoid combat with the Polish forces, which outnumbered them. Local combat groups - armed underground members went along with the company. The company crossed the border into Czechoslovakia (CSR) during the night of June 18 to 19, where were many CSR troops at the border and skirmishes took place immediately. During one of them, the platoon led by "Korp" broke away from the others and returned home. The rest of the company continued its operation and visited Slovok villages. The Slovak-S were positively disposed towards the UPA. The author describes some interesting and even moving meetings with Slovoks.

Once there no longer remained any Ukrainian population, it became pointless for the UPA to continue fighting in the PRL. At the instructions of the UHVR, some UPA units set out on a raid into Western Europe, others, into Ukraine. Many UPA soldiers were demobilized and tried to attain legal status. Company commander R. Hrobelskyi set out with the platoon commanded by Petro Hnatiuk (Dorosh) to Western Europe in September 1947. "Dorosh's" and the author's groups reached Western Europe. Company commander R. Hrobelskyi was captured by the Czechs and was returned to the PRL for execution. The final chapters of the memoir are dedicated to this raid.

 
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