Page 163. “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) – “Beskyd” nadraion
“Visti z terenu” ( News from the Field) is a series of systematic reports written by the nadraion OUN leader, “Mar” (Stepan Golash), to his superiors. The reports contain a great deal of information about events in the Lemkivshchyna region, in the Beskyd nadraion, during the period from August 1, 1945 to May 31, 1947.
Missing from this collection are reports for the months of December 1946 and January and February 1947. It should be noted that although the information contained in the reports is very comprehensive, it does not include all news, even from those areas where those providing information to the underground were very active.
The largest amount of information pertains to the issue of forced deportation of Ukrainians from the Lemkivshchyna region of Poland to the Ukrainian SSR and later, in 1947, to former German territories. As we see from the reports, by August 1945 deportations to the Ukrainian SSR were not voluntary, but were enforced by units of the regular Polish army (WP), Polish civilian bands and units of the AK and other underground Polish organizations.
The “News from the Field” cite numerous cases of intimidation, blackmail, extortion, theft, torture, robbery, terror and killings committed by the WP against Ukrainians, including women, old people, disabled people, children and even newborns. For example, in the village of Zavadka Morokhivska, many people were murdered on 25.1.1946; similar events occurred in the villages of Terka, Vyslok Velykyi, Karlykiv and others. All these cases are described in detail in the reports.
In the forced deportation of Ukrainians, the Polish army was assisted very actively by criminal elements from neighbouring Polish villages, and in some cases, entire Polish villages, whose inhabitants hoped to acquire the Ukrainians’ property. However, there were among the Poles some decent people who not only refrained from plundering their Ukrainian neighbours, but actively helped them and even defended their right to live on their own land. According to the reports, Poles also suffered from the criminal bands, but to a lesser extent than the Ukrainians.
Soviet military units, who frequently crossed the Polish-Soviet border for this purpose, also assisted the Polish army and criminal bands. Also participating, although to a lesser extent, were Czechoslovak troops, who promised to help Ukrainians hiding out in Slovakian forests, then betrayed them by handing them over to the Poles.
The “Visti z terenu” also frequently mention the activity on the fringes of “Beskyd” nadraion of the Polish underground organization, AK (Armija Krajowa), which was commanded by “Zubryd”. The AK’s attitude towards Ukrainians and the Ukrainian underground was ambivalent, but generally hostile. Very often, its members justified their acts of plunder by claiming that the victims were UPA collaborators.
The “Visti z terenu ” for 1947 speak of the concentration of Polish troops in mountainous territories and later, throughout the Lemko region, the different ways in which Ukrainians were being forcibly deported to former German territories as part of the “Akcja Wisla” (Wisla Action), and wide-scale plunder by the Polish public, criminal bands and army, of the property left behind by Ukrainians.
Page 280. “Informatyvni zvity” (Information Reports) – “Beskyd” nadraion.
The “Informatyvni zvity” (Information Report) from the “Beskyd” nadraion is an analytic, rather than chronological, monthly report on the local situation during the period 1945-1948.
The reports, especially those from the eastern Lemkivshchyna region, cover the period from December 1945 to the end of March 1948. There are no reports for February, June and December 1946, January and February 1947 and April to September 1947. The General Report covers the period from October 1 to April 30, 1948.
The “Informatyvni zvity” was prepared by nadraion OUN leader “Mar” (Stepan Golash) on the basis of news from the field received from raion leaders and his own observations. The reports systematically analyze events in the territory according to a clearly defined formula. Each report gives a general description of the territory, examines events in the eastern and western parts of the nadraion and discusses separately the situations in the Ukrainian and the Polish areas.
The general description looks at local conditions and the possibility of conducting underground work. Most of the reports discuss events in the eastern and western parts of the nadraion and the actions carried out by different enemy formations.
In the chapter “Ukrainian Sector”, “Mar” describes the Ukrainian inhabitants, their behavior in various circumstances and their attitude towards the UPA and members of the civilian underground network. He also discusses their attitude towards the Polish government, and in particular, the military and law enforcement bodies, such as the WP, MO, UBP and ORMO, as well as Polish civilian bands.
In his assessment, the Ukrainian population of the Lemkivshchyna region exhibited changing moods. When living conditions were goods and people’s spirits were high, they regarded the UPA very positively and helped the units in any way they could, although they themselves were poor. However, when hostile actions, raids, village burnings by the Polish army, robbery, murder, forced deportation from ancestral homes and lands and other misery became a permanent feature of every day life, their spirits sank and they lost their belief in the UPA’s liberation struggle.
In the chapter “Polish Sector”, the author reviews and assesses various aspects of the activities of the Polish government, territorial administration, railroad, post office, business, the Polish public and the Polish underground.
The Polish territorial administration recruited exclusively among the Poles. Ukrainians, who were suspected of collaborating with the UPA, were not accepted for work even in the volost’ [district]. In areas far from urban centers, out of fear of UPA reprisals, officials generally treated Ukrainians quite well, but closer to the cities, where they felt safer, their attitude was hostile. In general, Ukrainians distrusted and even hated the Polish administration.
During 1946, the volost’ administration was based in povit centers (Sianik and Lisko) or in localities where the WP was quartered (Balyhorod, Rymaniv) and executed its mandates and orders only with the help of the WP or through the heads of village councils. According to “Mar”, administration employees, and in particular povit authorities, engaged in corruption and extortion.
Because of UPA activity, the citizens’ militia in this territory was stationed in povit centers or towns where the Polish army was permanently quartered. The militiamen went out into the field only if accompanied by larger WP units. In general, the militiamen were uncultured, barely literate, poorly trained and entirely dependent on the UBP. Their attitude towards Ukrainians was generally positive; sometimes they even criticized the WP for their criminal actions.
By contrast, the WP behaved like barbarians. “Mar’s” reports are full of accounts of raids, attacks on peaceful civilians, robberies, thefts, rapes, physical abuse and torture committed against defenseless people with no concern for their age or gender.
One of the reasons for this was that the WP command was filled with Soviet officers, who overlooked criminal behavior and harnessed for their own purposes their subordinates’ low intellectual and moral standards, and in some cases, inclination towards sadism, chauvinism and Ukrainophobia. The shortage of appropriate military supplies was also a factor in the plunder of the population.
Until spring 1946, the Polish underground operating in the Sianik, Lisko and Rymaniv regions consisted basically of three AK units commanded by “Zubryd” (Zhubryd), Kossakowski and Kozak. Their official position towards the Ukrainian underground was positive, but in actual fact, they were hostile, and often tolerated or even helped civilian bands in robbing Ukrainians. The moral level of the Polish underground was also generally low. Later the AK moved its activity to the Krynytsia and Novyi Sanch regions. The secret NSZ (Narodowe Sily Zbrojne) network remained in the territory.
According to “Mar”, the post office, railroad and businesses served as covers for dishonest individuals, who very frequently practiced theft, extortion and illegal dealings on the black market.
Every report also discusses the behavior of various Soviet military units, in particular, the border patrols, who very often crossed the border and conducted manhunts on Polish territory. They also organized networks of informers and engaged in various provocations. Only in autumn 1946 did their activity decline, as they began to do their work through intermediaries: the UBP and Soviet officers holding positions of command in the Polish army.
The reports also speak of co-operation between Poles and Czech military units, who organized ambushes and hunted for Ukrainians who were hiding in Czechoslovakia from forced deportation and handed them over to the Polish authorities. Close to 5,000 people were returned in this way from Slovakia; almost all of them were later deported to the USSR.
Page 303. “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) – raions of the “Beskyd” nadraion.
Of the “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) of raions in the “Beskyd” nadraion published here, three reports (for August, September and December 1945) deal with the fifth raion, one with the sixth raion, and one is a report about the large manhunt conducted in the fourth raion on May 10-20, 1947.
The news from the fifth raion consist of two reports signed by the nadraion leader, “Mar”, and one that is unsigned. The reports from the sixth raion are signed by the raion leader, “Puhach”, and the report on the manhunt is signed by raion leader “Chornota”.
The “News” from the fifth raion include detailed accounts of events and short descriptions of various terrorist actions committed against Ukrainian civilians by the Polish army and law enforcement bodies, as well as Polish civilian bands.
There are also facts about the overt discrimination practiced against Ukrainians by Polish authorities in all areas of social, political and economic life. For example, Polish citizens of Ukrainian origin were not eligible to get land expropriated from landowners and were not permitted to work in the territorial administration or the educational system. Ukrainian priests were subject to persecution and there were often suggestions and even demands that Ukrainians change their rite and nationality. The Polish communist judicial system also practiced discrimination and frequently permitted plunder and abuse against Ukrainians by criminal bands.
The reports paint a clear picture of widespread Ukrainophobia and anti-Semitism on the part of the Polish public, not only in the government structure, but also within the nationalist underground. For example, the report tells us that on August 3, 1945, “Polish bands murdered two Jewish families in Sianik and on December 1, the slogans “Death to Jews returning to Poland” were disseminated throughout the town.
The sixth raion leader, “Puhach”, uses his brief reports to inform about WP raids and the generally unsuccessful manhunts conducted in June 1947. However, one UPA soldier was captured by the WP and was tortured to death. His body was left in the woods, with broken arms and a smashed face.
The fourth raion leader, “Chornota”, reports about the large manhunt conducted in his raion from May 10 to 20, 1947. During this operation, “Vii”, the raion materiel management officer, “Zenko”, the platoon leader of the company commanded by “Stakh” and several soldiers were killed. The raion propaganda officer, “Voron”, disappeared without a trace.
Page 319. “Informatsiini i Politychni zvity” (Informational and Political Reports) – raions of the “Beskyd” nadraion.
Of the two reports published here, one, a political report, pertains to the initial period of Ukrainian underground activity in the Sianik and Lisko regions, that is, from February 25 to March 30, 1945. The report, signed by “Lavro”, describes the unenviable economic conditions in the territory, the poverty of the population, their low morale and their lack of interest in political events.
In his report, the raion leader, “Levko”, provides precise data about the Polish government, including the administrative organization and the presence and number of troops in his territory. He also discusses various aspects of social, economic and political life in the difficult conditions of the Ukrainian underground struggle and the attempts by the Polish authorities to counter it.
The reports emphasize the difficult economic situation of the population. Farming, industry and construction were at a standstill. The only structures being built were bridges that had been destroyed by the UPA and bunkers. Commerce was in poor shape. Because of shortages of essential items, prices were constantly rising and contraband was thriving.
Health and medical services were lacking. There were serious shortages of drugs and qualified doctors. This greatly affected Ukrainian civilians, who were obliged to treat themselves in primitive ways, often with no medications and no help from doctors. Even in cases of greatest need, the peasants feared going to town, because they risked being arrested by the UBP, who would torture them and force them to become informers. In Polish hospitals, staff frequently refused to treat sick Ukrainians.
Education was also greatly neglected, especially in totally Ukrainian villages, where schools were non-existent. The level of cultural life was very low for the entire population. Among the Poles, concerts and dances usually ended in drunken disorder and fights.
The attitude of Ukrainians towards the UPA and the Ukrainian armed underground was positive, while towards Poles, and in particular, the Polish army, it was generally hostile. This was because of their plunder, killings of defenseless peasants and destruction of homes and property.
The Polish public, apart from some exceptions, was also hostile towards Ukrainians, and most particularly towards the UPA. For example, it is only out of fear of UPA reprisals that the Polish population of the village of Niebieszczany prevented 17 bandits from the village from robbing and destroying the neighboring Ukrainian village.
In this hopeless situation, both Ukrainians and Poles placed their hopes on a Third World War as a way to a brighter future. Among Poles, it was generally believed that in addition to improving their life, such a war would restore Poland’s pre-war eastern borders.
Page 324. “Zavvahy do zvitiv i vistok z Lemkivshchyny za misiatsi zhovten’ i lystopad 1946” (Observations on Letters and News from the Lemko Region for the Months of October and November 1946)
The document by the Zakerzon krai OUN leader, Iaroslav Starukh (“Stiah”), “Zavvahy do zvitiv i vistok z Lemkivshchyny za misiatsi zhopvten’ i lystopad 1946” (Observations on Letters and News from the Lemko Region for the Months of October and November 46), is extremely important as it reflects the policy of the underground leadership with regard to the Polish population. The document emphasizes that Ukrainians are fighting primarily against the Soviet system, rather than against the Poles.
The author’s observations came in response to reprisals committed against the Polish towns of Bukivs’ko, Prusik and Porazh by “Beskyd” nadraion UPA units and probably sanctioned by the nadraion leadership. The author was angered by the fact that in the reports sent to him there were no explanations of these actions and no indication of who permitted them. He points out that the reported actions could be interpreted as acts of pillage or terrorism, which were expressly forbidden by “numerous oral and written orders… instructions, articles and warnings.”
“Stiah” is obviously pained by the fact that in the Peremyshl and Lemkivshchyna regions, no agreement could be found between Ukrainians and Poles, and for this he blames not only the Poles, who were easily influenced by Soviet provocations, but also the okruha and nadraion leadership. He calls this state of affairs “highly compromising” and orders an immediate investigation and provision of all required reports in accordance with earlier instructions and observation; the organization for nadraion and local center personnel of seminars on liberation movement policy, in particular, with regard to the Polish population; and conduct within the okruha of a wide-scale political campaign aimed at improving relations with Poles and encouraging them to join the liberation struggle waged by the nations enslaved by Russian imperialism.
Page 362. “Pol’s’ki aktsii” (Polish Actions)
This chapter presents documents, referred to as reports, announcements, statements and accounts, pertaining to Polish actions directed against Ukrainian civilians. There is also a description of a WP action against an UPA underground hospital, and a copy of a leaflet entitled “Poles”, produced by the Ukrainian underground for the Polish public. All the documents presented in this chapter are taken from the private collection of the “Beskyd” nadraion leader, “Mar” (Stepan Golash). Of the 13 descriptions of Polish actions, eight are signed with pseudonyms or initials and five are unsigned.
These descriptions, which include dates and locations, recount actions by regular units of the Polish army that were terrorist in nature and directed against defenseless Ukrainian civilians. For example, according to information in “Mar’s” report, in the village of Terka, Lisko povit, 20 people in a house were shot and blown up with grenades, then, “the people who were still alive were burned, as the house was set on fire.” This was done in revenge for the killing of two informers by an SB combat group. Among the victims of this action were five children aged seven months to nine years and 15 women and girls. There were also cases of WOP soldiers throwing frail old people “alive into the fire” after torturing them and breaking their limbs. Among seven peasants burnt alive at this time was a deaf-mute 27-year-old man, and among another six, the youngest was a 65-year-old woman and the oldest, a 100-year-old widow. On the same day, in the village cemetery, three men were shot, of whom the youngest was 55.
The “Zvit z boiu ta masovoho mordu ukrains’koho naselennia v s. Zavadka Morokhivs’ka pov. Sianik” (Report on the Battle and Mass Murder of Ukrainians in the Village of Zavadka Morokhivska, pov. Sianik [should be Lisko Povit], dated 25.1.1946, declares that “this action was carried out by the 1st battalion of the 34th WP regiment from Sianik.” The report states that “babies’ stomachs were cut open and their eyes were poked out, women’s breasts and tongues were cut off, and people were thrown alive into the fire”. The village was burned, “all the horses and cows were taken away”, and 61 people were killed, including 13 children aged from six months to nine years. The report lists the names of the victims.
In another attack on the village of Zavadka Morokhivska, on 28.3.1946, WP soldiers shot 11 men aged 18-48 “in sight of everyone present (women, old people and children)”, and then burned the last seven cottages in which peasants were living and took away the last two cows and one horse.
In a third attack on the village, on 13.4.1946, six more people were “murdered”, among them, a three-year-old boy who was shot.
Finally, on April 30, 1946, the WP forced the remaining residents (78 people, only four of them men) out of Zavadka Morokhivska and to the railroad station in Zahiria.
In addition to these villages, the reports mention others which are also attacked by the WP and Polish militia, including: Volia Nyzhnia, Pashova, Poliany Surovychni, Rostoka and Chashyn, as well as Zboiska, which was plundered by an Armija Krajowa (AK) unit on November 26, 1945. Another document is a “Protokol zvirs’koho nasyllia popovnenoho VP nad zhinkamy i divchatamy z Iavirnyka povit Sianik v dni 20. 6. 1946” (Report on the Barbaric Rapes Committed by the WP against the Women and Girls of Iavirnyk, Sianik povit, on 20.6.1946). The victims were eight women, five of whom signed the report.
The former nadraion Security Service section head, “Horyslav”, provides a detailed description, based on testimony by Polish prisoners of war, of the destruction of the underground hospital on Khryshchata by a WOP assault group (Baltic IV) unit on January 22-23, 1947. As a result of this attack, 17 people were killed, including two doctors, the nadraion pharmacist, the nadraion typist, two paramedics, the nadraion Security Service section head and the commander of the Security Service combat group. According to “Horyslav”, in reprisal for this attack, the UPA ambushed and killed Gen. Karol Swierczewski, Polish Deputy Minister of Defense, on March 28, 1947, and a few days later (on April 1), in the same place, 33 soldiers of the WOP assault group (Baltic IV).
The chapter ends with a report by raion leader “Levko” on the burning by the UPA of the depopulated Ukrainian village of Novosiltsi, where only 5 or 6 houses were left, belonging to Ukrainian families who had not left for the USSR. At the same time, the Novosiltsi-Gniewosz railway station was blown up and two trains were stopped.
Page 423. “Informatyvni zvity” (Information Reports) – “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion
The “Informatyvni zvity” (Information Reports) from the Peremyshl region pertain to the OUN’s underground nadraion, “Kholodnyi Iar”, which encompassed the Peremyshl povit, and parts of the Lisko, Sianik and Bereziv povits. The period covered is from October 20, 1945 to the end of November 1946.
Of the seven monthly “Information Reports” published here, five are signed with the initials “R” or “T”, which identify the nadraion leader “Ruslan” – “Taras”; one is signed with the initial “V” (probably identifying the nadraion propaganda section head, “Vadym”) and one (for July 1946) has no signature because it is not complete.
Describing the situation in the territory, the writers mention the difficult conditions of social, community and political life for both Ukrainians and Poles in this part of the Zakerzon krai.
The reports focus mainly on the deportations conducted by Polish army units, in collaboration with the deportation commissions, to force Ukrainian residents to go to the USSR. The report for the period 20.10 to 20.11.1945 mentions incidents in the village of Kormanychi and neighboring localities, where the WP locked people in basements and starved them for several days to force them to sign declarations of voluntary relocation to the USSR. During this deportation action, WP soldiers treated Ukrainian civilians with extreme brutality, hurting them physically and materially, robbing their possessions, from cattle to kitchenware, burning farms, and beating, terrorizing and shooting people. The “Information Report” for 20.12.1945 to 20.1.1946 states that in the period of a single month, 49 Ukrainian peasants were killed, 12 wounded and 357 arrested. During this time, 153 horses and 428 head of cattle were stolen, 296 inhabited Ukrainian farms were burned and in one village (Manastyrets), in a single day, 15 Ukrainian girls were raped. In addition, Soviet border troops arrested 27 people, shot five and wounded three.
The reports emphasize in particular the tragic fate of Ukrainians in the Bircha region. There, in addition to Polish army attacks, the Ukrainians were subjected to terror by civilian armed bands. For example, in August 1946, all villages in a strip along the Sian River were partly or completely burned. Even old, historical churches were completely destroyed. The inhabitants of this region were left homeless and without food. Having nowhere to live, up to 15 families stayed together in the remaining houses, while others lived in the forest for the summer. According to the report, “the people yoked themselves, like oxen” and dragged wood from the forest to build dugouts, sheds and houses.
To defend the Ukrainian civilians, the UPA sometimes conducted revenge attacks on military defense posts (such as Bircha, Kuzmyna), burned Ukrainian villages after their depopulation and conducted reprisals against Polish villages harboring criminals, punishing the guilty parties if they managed to capture them. In one month, the UPA had 31 battles, skirmishes and shootouts with the WP, during which time 89 WP members were killed and 41 wounded, while the UPA had 47 killed and 25 wounded.
There is interesting information in the reports about attempts to garner support for the underground movement among the population. In spite of very difficult living conditions, the Ukrainian populace was generally “completely favorable” to the underground and always helped Ukrainian insurgents. However, as stated by “Ruslan” in the November 1946 report, the prolonged state of WP and civilian criminal terror and the forced depopulation brought about a partial psychological breakdown, and with time, hope for a new war, which would bring a better life for Ukrainians, began to fade.
Polish villagers, who had direct encounters with the Ukrainian underground, generally treated the insurgents well because they saw them behaving correctly, but also because they feared them. However, the urban population had a more negative view of the underground, because UPA actions were making their life more uncomfortable and difficult.
When it came to the Soviets, Poles were generally hostile; they regarded the Bierut government with suspicion and were waiting for a change. Most of them also hoped for a war with the Soviet Union and were counting on help from Great Britain. The majority of Poles, with some exceptions, were sympathetic to the Polish underground, but in the territory of the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion, the Polish underground was barely active, except for the Bereziv povit, and even there, its activity was limited.
According to “Ruslan”, Poles generally wanted peace and often gladly co-operated with UPA members and helped them. They did not condemn the UPA for its punitive actions against criminal Polish villages. In “Ruslan’s” view, their generally favorable rather than hostile attitude towards the Ukrainian underground was due to the movement’s political tactics and extensive propaganda work among the Poles. Another factor was that the Polish communist army did not better treat the Poles living alongside Ukrainians than were the Ukrainians.
The Polish territorial administration was staffed only by Poles, who were generally quite hostile to the Warsaw government and the Soviets. Most of them sympathized with the Polish underground. Out of fear of the UPA, they treated Ukrainians reasonably well. Sometimes volost’ [Gmina] administrations even helped Ukrainians obtain Polish documents to temporarily protect them against deportation.
Out of nine volost’ governments on this territory, four were inactive and the other five were barely active; they did not issue any directives, did nothing to improve the economic situation and failed to impose any order. As a result, speculation flourished and extortion and bribe taking were widespread.
The “Information Reports” depict the Polish army as little more than a criminal band, pitifully supplied with clothing, footwear and food. With time, however, their condition began to improve. From the level of battalion and upward, the WP command consisted of Russians or communized Poles, who pushed the soldiers to conduct constant searches for Ukrainian insurgents. In the summer and autumn of 1946, they used partisan tactics and were very active in the territory. But even at this time, there were some individual cases of WP soldiers helping Ukrainians and advising them how to hide out to avoid deportation.
During the period covered by the report, there were on “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion territory and average of over 5,000 WP soldiers in 20 defense posts, two WOP (Border Defense Force) bases and two KBW units (one battalion). The KBW, volunteers trained on the model of the NKVD internal force, were even more brutal towards Ukrainians than the WP and they were better armed and equipped.
The body initiating and leading the fight against the Ukrainian underground was the UBP (Public Security Service), which had its command center in Peremyshl, and posts in Bircha and Lisko. The UBP conducted arrests of Ukrainians, pressured them to become informers in exchange for their liberty and recruited relatives of Ukrainian underground members to work as double agents. The UBP special assault groups, organized and trained on the NKVD model, were very dangerous for the Ukrainian population, as they engaged in deceit and provocations.
The body helping the UBP was the MO (Citizens’ Milita), which, out of fear of UPA reprisals, treated Ukrainians’ with moderation, although, with minor exceptions, they were hostile to the Ukrainian underground. On “Kholodnyi Iar” territory, there were ten MO posts, each one with seven to 10 members, most of whom were AK sympathizers.
During this period, there were no armed Soviet units operating on “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion territory. Sometimes small groups of border patrols (up to 20 people) came across the border under the pretext of searching for peasants who had escaped from the USSR, to look for food, or to “defend” the Ukrainian population against Polish terror. In actual fact, their purpose was to establish a reconnaissance network and conduct military intelligence.
Page 593. “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) – “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion.
The Peremyshl region “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) consist of chronological information provided monthly by the nadraion leader to the okruha OUN leader. The reports include news and descriptions of events taking place in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion during 1945-1946. Eight months in 1946 are covered; there are no reports for February, March, June or December. For 1945, there are reports only for two months – January and December. The first is incomplete and unsigned. The second is signed with the initial “T”. Of the eight reports from 1946, two are signed with the initial “T”, four with the initial “R” and two are unsigned.
At the beginning of 1945, when the Ukrainian armed underground was just being organized in the Peremyshl region, the Polish militia (MO) ruthlessly terrorized the Ukrainian population with frequent raids, robberies, beatings and killings, some of which were conducted jointly with Soviets. For example, on January 4, in the village of Lishchava Horishnia, the militia tortured and murdered the teacher, Krenta, breaking his arms and legs, then burning him alive. Burnings and plundering of Ukrainian farms were everyday occurrences.
In the view of nadraion leader “Ruslan” – “Taras”, “material plunder and brutal terror” were applied by the WP and civilian Polish bands against Ukrainians as the chief method in the deportation action. Polish inhabitants also often suffered in result of these actions.
The greatest brutality was shown by the Polish civilian bands, who, when attacking Ukrainian villages, not only robbed them, but subjected the people to horrible tortures. Here is one example cited by “T”: on December 23, 1945, “…a Polish civilian band with 25 members attacked the village of Lodyna. They robbed the village, beat people, poured hot water on them and stabbed them with knives. They lay two girls down on the ground and poured hot tar on their heads, as a result of which the girls died after a few hours.”
The “News from the Field” also speak of WP provocations, in which soldiers put on different uniforms or civilian clothes and pretended to be “Banderites.” In most cases, these provocations were unsuccessful.
In some cases, harm was done to the underground and Ukrainian civilians by UPA soldiers or underground members who fell into Polish hands or, in rare cases, crossed over to the enemy side. They revealed the names of people with whom they had stayed in villages, and in forests, they revealed the locations of different hiding places, mostly used for grain storage, thus doing great harm to the underground.
Appended to the January 1946 “News from the Field” was an “Zvidomlennia z vidnaidennia zhertv pol’s’koho teroru v seli Lypa” (Account of the Discovery of Victims of Polish Terror in the village of Lypa). The account describes the discovery, by soldiers “Z” and “K” from another raion, of 15 bodies in the village of Lypa in the Bircha region. According to the account, before the victims were shot, they were tortured so badly that it was hard to identify them. However, on the basis of a “document found” on one of the victims, they were determined to be Ukrainian peasants.
Page 683. “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) – raions in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion.
These “Visti z terenu” (News from the field) by raion leaders in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion pertain to parts of the nadraion directly adjacent to the town of Sianik and a large part of the Lisko povit.
This chapter consists of 14 reports, eight of which are unsigned while six are signed, two by “H-n”, two by “I-r”, one by “Medvid” and one by “L-y”.
These reports provide detailed descriptions of news and events. They cover the period from September to December 1945, eight months of 1946 and two months of 1947 (February and March). Evidently, the raion leaders were obliged to provide detailed monthly reports from the field, which were used as the basis for the nadraion leader’s monthly reports. Unfortunately, we do not have the okruha leader’s reports for comparison, but we can assume that these reports were prepared on the basis of the nadraion reports.
The reports published here speak largely about the forced deportation of Ukrainians to the Ukrainian ÍSSR. The WP (Polish Army) conducted this action, sometimes with help from the militia or the UBP (Public Security Service). As conditions were relatively safe, the UBP used the opportunity to conduct arrests among the population. During the period under discussion, the WP’s treatment of Ukrainians was characterized by brutality, with physical terror, beatings, rapes, robberies, thefts, burnings of houses and farm buildings, searches and mass arrests. Even Poles living near Ukrainians or in mixed villages did not escape mistreatment, although it was less frequent and less brutal.
The Polish communist government was helped in the deportation action by civilian bands, who were driven by greed and criminal instinct. They were permitted to commit criminal actions against the Ukrainians, including robbery, physical torture and murder of defenseless people.
Also active in fighting the Ukrainian underground in the Zakerson region of Poland were the Soviet border patrols, who crossed the border frequently (especially in 1945) under various pretexts and conducted searches, supposedly for people who had escaped into Poland, while using the opportunity to arrest Ukrainians and establish an intelligence network. On December 20, 1945, in the vicinity of Lodyna-Dzvyniach, the Soviet border patrols pursued a family of three people from Lodyna who were fleeing to escape deportation to Russia. During the chase, the border patrols shot the woman; they caught the 13-year-old daughter and brought her back across the border, walking barefoot, tied to a horse.
The reports also inform about the limited activities of the Polish armed underground, some actions of UPA units and combat groups and railway movements.
Page 737. “Informatyvni zvity” (Information Reports) – raions in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion
The “Informatyvni zvity” (Information Reports) by raion leaders published here describe the social and political life of the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion, including parts of the Sianik and the Lisko povits, during the years 1945-1947. Unfortunately, these reports cover only eight months, that is, May 1945, February, March, October and December 1946 and January, February and March 1947.
The reports’ authors are not always identified. Two are signed by “Holyn” and two others are signed with the initials “H-n”, which are probably an abbreviation of “Holyn”. The other four are unsigned and of these, two are incomplete.
The descriptions of social, political and community life are presented systematically, in chapters with such headings as “General Situation in the Territory”, “Enemy Agents” and “Ukrainian Sector.”
In the chapter “General Situation in the Territory”, the reports describe the location, number and quality of Polish troops in their territory, their tactics in fighting UPA units, their manhunts, ambushes, raids and searches of Ukrainian farms, changes in the troops’ numbers and quarters, their activity in the territory and their treatment of the population, in particular, Ukrainians.
The reports also mention the Polish armed underground which, which, we are told, was “losing its influence” in late 1945 and early 1946.
Also mentioned are several skirmishes between UPA units and the WP.
The second chapter, “Enemy Agents”, speaks of the Soviets, that is, the NKVD, who were active in Poland for several months in 1945, Soviet border patrols and Polish military and law enforcement bodies, the Polish administration, Polish criminal civilian bands, and the Polish public, which was generally hostile towards Ukrainians, in particular, the Ukrainian underground.
The report authors analyze the activities of the military and law enforcement bodies of communist Poland, such as the Polish army (WP), the border defense force (WOP), the internal security corps (KBP), the citizens” militia (MO), the security service (UBP) and other paramilitary units, such as the voluntary militia reserve (ORMO), the railroad guard (SOK) and the mine guard.
The reports also discuss the activities of the territorial administration, agriculture, industry, education, business and other areas of day-to-day and social life.
The chapter entitled “Ukrainian Sector” examines and evaluates the state of the Ukrainian masses, who in spite of constant terror, hostile actions and plunder, supported the UPA’s underground movement and longed to live in their own independent Ukrainian state. However, “Hn” notes in his reports that the generosity of the Ukrainian population was insufficient for the needs and goals of the liberation struggle. He points out that the territory’s economic potential was limited, because people were generally poor; what is more, the WP had plundered them. “There is a great deal of activity by informers in the territory”, “Holyn” writes in his reports. The Ukrainians lived quite harmoniously with their Polish neighbors, but were rather suspicious of them.
Page 753. “Orhanizatsiini zvity” (Organizational Reports) – raions in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion
Presented here are two organizational reports by raion leaders in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion, one official account and a report from the A-1 sub-district. The first, an “Organizational Report” for the period 6.2.45 to 6.3.45, is from the “Luka” raion and is signed by the raion leader, “Ihor”. The second, an “Organizational Report” from the fifth raion (Lisko-Sianik), is dated 7.4.47 and signed “H-n”.
In his report, “Ihor” provides interesting information about the situation in his raion, which was part of the administrative organization in effect until the 1945 reorganization. The report mentions the lack of leading cadres in the areas of self-defense, communications and education, especially among the women.
For these reasons, and because of the people’s fear of Polish terror and the strong response by the enemy, underground work was limited to maintaining organizational contacts and disseminating underground leaflets to Red Army soldiers who were returning from the front.
In his report, “H-n” discusses similar matters and states that because of strong enemy activity, contacts with Poles were limited to individual personal meetings and dissemination of underground literature. He confirms the Poles’ negative attitude to the underground, especially after the killing of Gen. Swierczewski. The decrease in underground, and particularly, Security Service (SB), activity, facilitated work among the populace by enemy agents. As a countermeasure, the SB killed six informers in the raion. The report also mentions the raion’s limited economic potential and the poverty of the people, who were constantly taxed and robbed by the enemy. We are also told that venereal disease was widespread in the raion.
The “Protocol”, dated 30.12.45, reports about the shooting by platoon leader “Chumak” of a suspect trying to escape. In an incomplete report, kushch leader “Bihun” informs about the number of people in his group, briefly describes the individual members, quantifies the sympathizers of the underground movement and gives some information about the group’s activities in the territory.
Page 760. “Politychni zvity” (Political Reports) – raions in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion
This chapter presents two “Politychni zvity” (Political Reports) by raion leaders in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion.
The “Political Report” from the “Luka” raion for the period 25.4.45 to 25.5.45 speaks of the San Francisco Conference and Germany’s surrender. It states that Polish chauvinist elements in the raion have become more active and says that, during this time, there have been major search and destroy operations and strong repressions by the enemy in this territory.
The report for the period from 1.7.45 to 31.7.45 provides brief information about general conditions in the territory and points out that Poland’s “democratic” government is attempting to Polonize Ukrainians by threatening them with deportation, arrests and citizens’ militia (MO) terror. The report stresses that the Polish-Soviet intelligence network was being developed intensively. Nevertheless, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the enemy terror, the Ukrainians had begun to take a greater interest in the Ukrainian liberation movement and help the insurgents more actively.
Page 770. “Perehliad podii” (Review of Events)
“Perehliad podii” (Review of Events) is the title given to two brief information reports by “Ihor”, leader of the Lisko and Sianik regions (“Luka” and “Liskovshchyna”), covering the periods from 6.2.45 to 6.3.45 and from 6.3.45 to 1.4.45. The reports state that in this territory, the Ukrainian and Polish populations were very mixed and under the pressure of circumstances, some Ukrainians were transferring their baptismal certificates to Roman Catholic churches. According to the author, the Ukrainians, although lacking political consciousness, wanted a Ukrainian state.
Informing about enemy actions in the territory, the reports state that the MO and NKVD were conducting manhunts, massively arresting Ukrainians and killing people and destroying and burning farms.
Page 776. “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) – “Baturyn” okruha
As a supplement to the information from the Peremyshl region, some news is provided here from the March, May, June and September 1946 “News from the Field” of the northeastern and northern parts of the Peremyshl povit, which came under the “Baturyn” okruha of the underground territorial organization.
Included here is news about the arrests of two daughters of the priest in the village of Torky and of several WP officers in Peremyshl; requisitioning by WOP soldiers in the village of Pozdiach of barbed wire for fencing off their stations; house-to-house searches conducted by WP and WOP units in Ukrainian villages; searches for insurgents conducted by the WOP in villages and forests, and other less important information.
Page 791. “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) – SB nadraion Kholodnyi Iar
The last “Visti z terenu” (News from the Field) for June 1946 was written by the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion Security Service (SB) section head, “Potap”, and this is the only report to have survived. It helps fill the gap in information from the nadraion and raion leaders of the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion, from whom there are no “News” for June 1946.
In this document, “Potap” informs about actions against Ukrainians by the Polish communist military and law enforcement bodies: the WP, UBP and MO, as well as civilian criminal bands, particularly those from the villages of Vitryliv and Temeshiv, in the Bereziv povit. These bands constantly attacked Ukrainian villages, especially Uliuch and Hrushivka. The bands also fired for days at a time on Ukrainian civilians working in the fields on the other side of the Sian River. In one case, they wounded two older men and a 5-year old boy, who died within six hours.
“Potap” also states that on June 27, 1946, in Peremyshl, the Public Security Service (UPB) arrested the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Bishop Kotsylovskyi and several priests, then plundered and closed the main church.
On the same day, the 28th regiment of the 9th WP division attacked the UPA’s non-commissioned officers’ training company and commander “Lastivka’s” unit in the forest between Kormanychi and Rikshytsi. During the battle, which lasted one-and-a-half hours, the UPA had three men killed, while the Poles had 34 killed and 10 wounded. Among those killed were a Soviet captain and junior officer and two WP platoon leaders. The UPA captured 44 weapons and some ammunition.
The dates provided by “Potap” were confirmed by the death notices posted in Peremyshl, which listed the fallen Polish soldiers by name.
The “News” also report that Security Service combat groups burned a depopulated Ukrainian village, Viiske; 34 houses in the village of Dzvyniach Dolishnyi; six houses in the village of Monastyrets and five houses in the village of Zaluzhe.
Page 805. “Zvit z propahandyvnoi pratsi” (Report of the nadraion propaganda section head ) @ “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion
This two-month work report (for June and July 1946) by the nadraion propaganda section head in the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion, “Vadym”, is organized as follows:
1. Under the heading “Political Education,” “Vadym” writes about political education officers in UPA combat units and inside the territorial network. In July, because of the lack of personnel, the propaganda section of the “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion was disbanded.
2. In the section of the report dealing with political education and propaganda work, “Vadym” informs about work with UPA soldiers, unit commanders and in particular, the Ukrainian and sometimes the Polish public. He reports on the number of lectures and discussions held on such topics as the UPA’s liberation struggle, the UPA soldier’s discipline, the importance and principles of secrecy, the attitude of the Ukrainian liberation movement toward underground movements of other nations, in particular, the Polish underground, basic information about international events and other.
To improve the quality of propaganda materials, “Vadym” suggests establishing an editorial board for the “Vistky” (News), and to improve the quality of political education work, he suggests retraining political education officers, sending needed orders and instructions to unit commanders more frequently and introducing stricter controls.
Regarding propaganda work conducted with the population, “Vadym” states that during their raids, UPA units very often entered mixed Ukrainian-Polish and even purely Polish villages, where they conducted meetings and talks and gave the population appropriate advice. For example, they discussed the harvesting operation and storage of grain, emphasized the importance and necessity of cooperation between the Ukrainian and Polish undergrounds, countered enemy misinformation, etc. Over a period of two months, 35 such meetings were held on “Kholodnyi Iar” nadraion territory. Similar work was also done by the raion centers. The report focuses on resisting the practice of transferring baptismal certificates, Polonization, moves to western regions, etc.
The “Vistky” (News) also mention non-commissioned officers training, which ended on July 1, and the training initiated in July for newly mobilized soldiers.
3. In the chapter “The Worth of Units”, “Vadym” briefly describes the five units operating on “Kholodnyi Iar” territory and assesses the idealism, morale and combat worthiness of the soldiers. He suggests that in some units, the command needs reorganization and completion.
4. In the chapter “Incoming Materials,” “Vadym” reports having received various brochures, the journal “Shliakh peremohy” for January 1946 and some instructions and typewritten propaganda materials. The report ends with a list of attachments.
Page 820. Instruktsii i vidozvy (Instructions and Appeals)
The chapter entitled “Underground Instructions” presents six instructions related to various aspects directly or indirectly connected to underground life. There is also an OUN appeal to deportees and a pastoral letter from Siberia.
Five of the instructions are unsigned, while one is signed with the initial “h” (one of the codenames of the leader of the Zakerzon krai, Iaroslav Starukh). However, from the content it is clear that he wrote all.
The instruction signed “h” reminds about the obligation to avoid:
– disgraceful pseudonyms, such as cutthroat, slasher, etc.
– Soviet or German names (Stalin, Fritz, etc.)
– names of eminent Ukrainian leaders.
The reasons for this are explained.
The second instruction points out that during Easter celebration, a large amount of ammunition and explosives were wasted by the children. The author (or authors) of the instruction suggest that the “children’s zeal” should be directed to the collection of such items for UPA military needs.
The instruction “Regarding Battle Documents” reminds about the duty to collect and send to higher bodies of the underground all documentation of the Ukrainian underground’s struggle, such as, for example, letters, photographs documenting enemy terror and Polish and Soviet newspapers reports about the struggle. Examples are given of the types of writings in enemy newspapers that should be collected and how to provide accurate bibliographic information, to ensure that these materials stand as “certain, reliable, verified facts.” (This instruction is incomplete).
The next instruction draws attention to several important matters:
1) It orders that all organizational and military cadres be immediately informed about the WP’s increasing application of underhanded methods and surprise night attacks. For this reason, special caution must be used when moving through the territory, entering villages or staying in them.
2) It mentions the need for greater secrecy with regard to underground mail and courier contacts.
3) It draws attention to the publication of pamphlets by WP “operational groups” addressed to the Ukrainian and Polish publics, encouraging them to inform on the UPA. The instruction recommends increasing propaganda work among the people to explain the enemy’s tactics and demonstrate their negative effects.
4) It mentions a new publication “Vkazivky dlia tykh, iaki idut’ v reid na Slovachchynu” (Directives for Those Participating in the Raid into Slovakia), and specifies that “it is not intended only for those who are participating in the raid, but is essential reading for all units and the entire organizational network.” This material must be disseminated and studied.
5) It instructs UPA units on the tactics that should be applied for combating the WP and its terroristic deportation action.
6) It orders that, in addition to the monthly information reports and news, separate accounts be written about every important event, such as information about enemy terror, significant armed encounters and other. These accounts, along with photographs, should be prepared immediately and “sent, in several copies, to superiors, keeping a copy for one’s records.”
The Instruction dated 14.11.1946, reminds about the obligation to organize a celebration honouring Taras Shevchenko on March 9-11 for combat groups and organizational cells, as well as for the general public.
The last Instruction reminds about the obligation to conduct a seeding operation on Ukrainian lands (left by deportees and others) and provides some directives on how to do this successfully in co-operation with Polish peasants from non-criminal villages. The instruction states that points 3 and 4, which suggest signing agreements with Polish civilians, are strictly secret.
Also published here is an OUN appeal to deportees , “Braty Pereselentsi” (Brothers Deportees) from the Kholm, Hrubeshiv and Lemkivshchyna regions. The appeal begins with reference to the brutal period of Stalinist occupation, characterized by injustice, misery, poverty, suffering and countless deaths, as well as forced deportation of people from their own homes and their own lands. For these evils it blames “the great executioner of nations – Stalin,” whose decisions are carried out by the NKVD and “degenerate Polish bandits.”
It then speaks about the continuing battle being waged beyond the Sian and the Buh, where UPA units conduct reprisals against the Polish bandits terrorizing Ukrainians and are destroying their dens and their leaders.
The appeal concludes by expressing moral support for the deportees, now living in new locations in Soviet Ukraine, and calling on them to continue working for a free and happy life, which can be had only in an independent Ukrainian state.
The chapter ends with a “Pastyrs’kyi lyst” (Pastoral Letter) from the Metropolitan of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church and all the bishops incarcerated in Siberia. In this “Letter”, dated 1945, the Ukrainian clergy send “God’s blessing for the approaching Birth of Christ.” They call on the faithful to remain true to their “ancestral faith, ancestral native land, churches and houses, language and God’s truth, and to not fear persecution, torture, sacrifice and suffering, because it is all for the nation and for Christ. . .” They state that “the time will come when Truth shall prevail in the suffering land, and Satan’s kingdom shall pass away and God’s Will shall be done; may it be so.”