|Reminiscences of UPA Soldiers and Members of the Armed Underground from the L'viv and Liubachiv Region
This book contains the reminiscences of participants in the Ukrainian liberation movement of the 1940s and 1950s from the L'viv and Liubachiv regions. Unfortunately, these territories are rather poorly represented in the literature devoted to this topic, despite the fact that for several years the activity of Ukrainian insurgents there was quite intense. In order to fill in this unfortunate lacuna in the history of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army it was decided to publish this collection of memoirs in the series entitled Litopys UPA. Biblioteka [Chronicle of the UPA. Library].
The authors of these reminiscences are individuals who occupied a wide variety of positions in the structure of this movement — from colonel and commander of a military okruha to a private in an insurgent unit and female courier of the underground. However, all these people were united by the idea of a struggle for a Ukrainian state, to which they dedicated the best years of their turbulent lives. After more than a decade after the proclamation of Ukraine’s independence, they are once again united in their desire to reveal the truth about the OUN and UPA’s struggle to their descendants. With this in mind they wrote their reminiscences, which are all stylistically different owing to the distinct character of each author.
The collection begins with the recollections of Colonel Vasyl Levkovych (“Voronyi”), which are full of facts concerning the conditions in which the first insurgent units were formed in the Volyn region and the various facets of the activity of Military Okruha “Buh,” which was under his command. These reminiscences are somewhat dry and lacking in emotion. Written in a stern soldier’s style, they bear a greater resemblance to an insurgent report than a personal recollection. Perhaps these memoirs are actually the author’s report to history, considering that he concludes them with the lofty Latin expression: Feci quod potui, faciant meliora potentes! I did what I could, let him who can, do better!
The recollections of his wife Yaroslava Levkovych are a distinct departure from Col. Levkovych’s memoirs. Her reminiscences also contain much valuable information about the underground in the L’viv region. But her memoirs are imbued with emotion. In reading these memoirs, we not only learn about events taking place in the lives of Ukrainian underground members, but also begin to understand their feelings and moods. The emotional saturation of Yaroslava Levkovych’s reminiscences is conditioned by the fact that the author experienced all the events that were taking place around her in those turbulent years not only intellectually but emotionally. This woman, who spent eight years in the underground, served an eight-year prison sentence, and waited twelve years for her husband’s release, has much to say to her countrymen, and she has done this in an exemplary fashion.
The second part of the collection contains the reminiscences of UPA soldiers and members of the OUN underground from the Liubachiv and Yaroslav regions. The greatest amount of information is about the “Mesnyky” battalion. Among the authors who have provided an account of its activity are company commander Mykola Taraban (“Tucha”), the platoon political lecturer of this same unit Ivan Fil’ (“Sheremeta”), the former kushch leader and insurgent from “Shum’s” company of this battalion Ivan Vasylevs’kyi-Putko (“Vus”), the raion responsible military leader Kost’ Mikhalyk (“Duma”), and the underground courier Kateryna Kohut-Laluk (“Hrizna”). This group of memoirs paints quite a vivid and complete picture of the insurgent units that were formed in the Liubachiv and Yaroslav regions, their organization, training, and combat actions, which were carried out during 1944-1947. Particular attention is paid to insurgent activity, which was directed against the deportation of Ukrainians from these lands.
The reminiscences included in both sections of the book are an important complement to the corresponding volumes of documents contained in Chronicle of the UPA, in particular a volume of documents and materials about Military Okruha “Buh” and another, forthcoming volume about Tactical Sector “Bastion”, which will be published shortly in the book series of our publishing house.
The final section of the book is entitled “Letters to the Editor.” Several dozen volumes have appeared during the thirty-year publication history of the Chronicle of the UPA, providing scholars with thousands of new documents, unknown facts, and forgotten personalities. These published materials often strike a chord with our readers, who try to assist our publishing house by providing and specifying necessary information. Throughout the years we have received a large number of these materials, some of which have been included in this volume. Other materials await publication. One of these materials provides an account of Yakiv Chornii (“Udarnyk”), the first commander of Military Okruha “Sian.” Chornii, who contributed much to the development of the Ukrainian underground structure in the Peremyshl region, was somehow forgotten. For a long time historians had no precise information about him or even a photograph. Therefore, in the last section of this book we have published a biography of this military man, written by his countryman Fedir Lopadchak, even though this biographical sketch has no direct bearing on the subject matter.
We are convinced that readers will welcome this book and that it will become the next stepping-stone on the path toward disclosing the truth about the heroic struggle of the Ukrainian insurgents to their descendants.
Petro J. Potichnyj