GENOCIDE COMMITTED BY UKRAINIAN NATIONALISTS ON THE POLISH POPULATION DURING WORLD WAR II
The monumental work of Wladyslaw Siemaszko and Ewa Siemaszko (father and daughter) on Ukrainian genocide in Volhynia during World War II is like the tome of some voluminous, as yet non-existent work on the totality of the genocide committed against the Polish population during those years. Poles were subjected to genocide - in all its forms and on varying scales by the Germans, the Soviets, and the Ukrainians. The German and Soviet genocide is relatively well known and documented. Genocide perpetrated by the Ukrainians, on the other hand, is much more of an unknown as yet. It was not limited to the territory of Volhynia (and a part of southern Polesie), but extended to the whole of Eastern Galicia and even part of south-eastern Poland, well into its present post-Yalta borders. But it must be remembered that the lands of Volhynia were the scene of the first onset of genocide by the Ukrainians against the Poles, resulting in a much higher number of murder victims than was the case in the territories of the individual former voicodships of Eastern Galicia (the voivodships of Tarnopol and Stanislawow and the eastern part of the voivodship of Lwow). For this reason the authors did right to concentrate on Volhynia.
The concept of genocide, and the term for it, were created in the early forties by the Polish lawyer Rafal (Raphael) Lemkin. Born in 1901, Lemkin spent the thirties as assistant public prosecutor of the District Court in Brzezany (Voivodship of Tarnopol), followed by delegation to an equivalent post in Warsaw, and later becoming a barrister, as well as lecturer of the Free Polish University there. Already before the war, he was interested in the issue of genocide, termed by him at that time as "acts of barbarity". He managed to reach the United States in 1941 and published his breakthrough work - Axis Rule in Occupied Europe - there in 1944. He was also instrumental in the adoption of the fundamental international treaty in the field of genocide - The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1948. Because of this, he was to be nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize. The provisions of the Convention, which has been ratified by the great majority of nation states, must be looked upon today as being ius cogens, in other words such as one that cannot be overturned (as opposed to ius dispositivum). At the same time, the crime of genocide is written into the majority of national penal codes.
In accordance with article II of the Convention: ... genocide means
any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a
national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such ..., using various methods:
the first being, of course, "killing members of the group" (art.II, item a/). This is
followed by items from b/ to e/:
It must be clearly said here, that Ukrainian genocide against the Poles is characterized by several aggravating circumstances.
Firstly, it encompassed, in principle, the most speedy possible physical extermination (murder) on the spot of all the Poles that could be reached, regardless of age or sex. In this respect it is comparable only to the German genocide against the Jews - not their genocide against the Poles. Concerning the Jews it must be added that in their extermination in the south-eastern border voivodships of the Polish Republic, the Ukrainians not only took a very big part in all the acts of genocide, either in conjunction with the Germans or independently under German supervision, but also perpetrated similar acts on their own. This already happened in the summer of 1941, as the German armies were entering the then Soviet-occupied territory. Later, after having liquidated the ghettoes together with the Germans, that is mainly after the second half of 1942, the Ukrainians continued to capture and murder individual Jews, who had been in hiding. All these "actions", it must be kept in mind, were connected with pillage on a huge scale of the victims' property.
Secondly, Ukrainian genocide was characterized as a rule by tortures of the utmost barbarity. These reached back to the Cossack traditions of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries (the Khmelnitsky Uprising, and the uprising of 1768 called "kolistchyzna"), with the methods in use at that time - hacking Poles and Jews with axes, throwing wounded victims into wells, sawing people alive, horse-dragging, eye-gouging, pulling out of tongues, and other atrocities. Such acts of barbarity were not as a rule employed by the Germans or even the Soviets. Of course, there were beatings and frequently bestial cruelty during interrogations or in concentration camps (where this was accompanied by starvation and backbreaking work, sometimes criminal medical experimentation in German camps, etc.), but it was not usual for the murder that took place there to be combined with the cutting off or pulling out of parts of the body, sawing, ripping open of the stomach, disembowelment, and so on.
Let us add that on a European scale, as far as dreadful tortures go, the genocide committed by the Ukrainians on the Poles is only comparable, to a certain extent, to the Croatian genocide (by the Ustashi of Ante Pavelic) against the Serbs during World War II from the spring of 1941. However, what was also practiced there on a big scale were mass expulsions, or "conversion" to Catholicism, which meant that a large majority of the Serbs, who were within the boundaries of the Croatian state formed in April of 1941 (with acceptance by Germany and Italy) could survive. But in the case of the genocide by Ukrainians, the practice was to murder absolutely all the Poles, who fell into their hands. The fact is that despite the fabrications of the Ukrainians, there were no "calls to leave" Volhynia directed at the Poles, or simple "deportations". This is totally debunked by the Siemaszkos' work. Quite the reverse, it was very often the case that Poles, who wanted to run away before the genocide already being committed in neighbouring districts reached them were encouraged to remain, with "guarantees" that they would be safe. Or they were subjected to threats that their running away would be considered as treason against the Ukrainians. All this was aimed at ensuring that they would all be killed right where they were. This aspect will be pursued later.
Thirdly, the German and Soviet perpetrators were different. German genocide was carried out entirely by "specialized" criminal formations in uniform, in particular the so-called Einsatzgruppen der Sicherheitspolizei or Sicherheitsdienst, and the Soviets used NKVD troops. This was not how it was with the Ukrainian genocide. The crimes there were committed by two major elements. Dominating the scene were the Ukrainian Insurgent Army of Stepan Bandera and, in Volhynia, the competing forces of Bulba and Melnik as well as the Ukrainian police set up by the Germans in the latter half of 1941 (which deserted in early 1943). But in major genocide operations, there participated thousands upon thousands of local Ukrainian peasants, including the so-called Kushchovy Self-Defence Units (Samooboronni Kushchovi Viddily), ostensibly peasant "self-defence" units, which were in fact used by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army to assist in genocide against the Poles. Added to this were bands armed with axes, pitchforks, etc., often composed of neighbours, who formed a kind of Ukrainian levy in mass. As if this were not enough, these bands were often accompanied by Ukrainian women, youths, and even children, who busied themselves with looting, on a massive scale, arson and finishing off of Poles, who had been wounded but survived. This took place despite, at times, years of supposed mutual friendship, or bonds of gratitude that had existed towards certain Poles.
It is for this reason that I would qualify the genocide in Volhynia during World War II as being clearly Ukrainian genocide, and not, for example, genocide committed by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, the Bandera bands, Ukrainian nationalists and so forth. Contrary to what is often claimed by Wiktor Poliszczuk in his publications (he is later quoted highly favourably in this Article), the genocide in Volhynia - as is documented by the Siemaszkos' work – was carried out by a broad spectrum of Ukrainians from that area and not only by the "fighters" of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. As was already mentioned, there took part in it thousands and thousands of ordinary peasants (often forced into it by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army), including unfortunately, hordes of greedy women, adolescents and even children at times.
However, it must be made clear that:
Fourthly, special mention must be made of the viciously criminal stance taken in cases of mixed Polish-Ukrainian marriages. In such cases the Ukrainian assassins often murdered, wherever possible, whole families, including the children, or, at least, the Polish partner. Not only this, but there were instances where the Ukrainian husband (or even the wife) was forced to kill the Polish partner with his own hands. Such barbarity was never applied in similar cases of mixed marriage, by the Soviets, or in the case of mixed German-Jewish marriages by the Germans. Among these latter, despite the almost total Ausrottung of the German Jews, most of these couples, though severely persecuted and forced into starvation, nevertheless managed to survive the war.
A characteristic example of this would be the well-known case of Prof. Karl Jaspers, who was married to a Jewess. The couple lived for the years of the war in a tragic state of Suizidbereitschaft (readiness to commit suicide), but nevertheless survived. Ordering a German man or woman to kill his or her Jewish partner was unthinkable.
Fifthly, in the case of German or Soviet genocide against the Poles, the crimes were committed by an occupying force - whereas the genocide by Ukrainians was conducted by Ukrainians, who were citizens of Poland, inhabitants of these lands during the II Polish Republic, who did not display even the slightest vestige of loyalty. But, let us add, when there was profit to be gained by it, these same Ukrainians continued to refer readily to their Polish citizenship. In many cases, using identification documents robbed from murdered Poles, and under their names, they "repatriated" to Poland, or went abroad to the West.
Sixthly, Ukrainian genocide was usually accompanied by a barbaric scorched earth policy. After their property and livestock were robbed, the houses and other buildings of the murdered Poles were usually burnt down (sometimes even their orchards were destroyed), and public buildings, eg. schools, were also often destroyed. As part of this, there was also total destruction of a large number of historical Polish country houses, with their farm buildings and gardens, as well as Catholic churches and chapels. This form of additional barbarism was not usually demonstrated by either the Germans or the Soviets.
Seventhly and finally, the Germans have long admitted to their crimes, and have apologised for them publicly. To take one example, the president of the Federal Republic of Germany, Roman Herzog, stated clearly in his speech in Warsaw on August 1, 1994 at the ceremonies to do with the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising: ... I bow before the fighters of the Warsaw Uprising, and before all the Polish war victims. I beg forgiveness for what the Germans did. .... Russian president Boris Yeltsin also had it in him to make a few gestures, as when he kissed monsignor Zdzislaw Peszkowski on the hand and whispered the words "I apologise" on the occasion of paying tribute to the victims of Katyn on August 25, 1993, at the Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw. That evening, the whole of Poland saw it on television. As well, the press and literature in Germany, and, for the last ten years, in Russia, openly discuss the genocide committed against the Poles. The behaviour of the Ukrainians, on the other hand, has been, as a rule, completely different - they have resorted to silence, denial and outright lies. This aspect will be further discussed below.
To sum up this part - Ukrainian genocide committed against the Poles during World War II surpassed German and Soviet genocide in certain respects; it was marked by the utmost ruthlessness and barbarity, and, upon its completion, up until the present day, it has been denied or, at best, presented with reminders that all is "relative" or other such evasions.
The former Voivodship of Volhynia, which was the scene of Ukrainian genocide focussed upon by the authors, was an area which was inhabited before 1940 by around 350 thousand Poles, who made up barely 17 percent of the population. That percentage was further reduced by mass deportations during 1940-1941 by the Soviets. Total loss of life among the Poles at the hands of the Ukrainians are estimated by the authors at between fifty and sixty thousand. But it must be stressed once again that independently of the genocide against the Poles, the Ukrainians participated absolutely everywhere, either with the Germans or alone, in the genocide committed against some 200 000 Volhynian Jews, citizens of Poland. This issue has also been raised in the present book, although this very broad subject is not strictly speaking its theme.
The work examines methodically the territories of all the eleven regions of the former Voivodship of Volhynia - from the Bug River as far as the Polish-Soviet border of 1939. Within the regions, note is made of rural communes, 103 in all, as well as the municipal communes, and then the fundamental base - the about 1720 individual villages, settlements, colonies, etc., where it was possible to establish, most often in an incomplete way, that genocide had been committed on the Poles. In addition to this, note is made with regard to the administrative units (villages, colonies, settlements, etc.), forming part of each commune, where Poles also lived, but about which it was not possible to obtain any information - about 1790. However, as the Ukrainian genocide against the Poles was perpetrated methodically and globally in 1943 throughout all the regions of Volhynia, from east to west, and was clearly guided by the top OUN-UPA leaders, there is not the slightest room for any illusions that the blank spots about which information could not be gathered were some kind of untouched areas. On the contrary, it must be taken as a given that in the majority of these places, the Poles, who had not managed to escape or to put up effective resistance were subjected to genocide just like their compatriots in places where the acts of genocide could be documented. And so the authors were correct in giving cautious estimates for those areas. Let us add that they do not avoid the delicate issue of the rare Polish reprisals against the Ukrainian perpetrators, when the devastated relatives of their brutally tortured kinsmen attacked Ukrainian villages. As Thaddeus (Tadeusz) Piotrowski rightly says on this subject: ... Indeed, it would be surprising if there had been no such retaliatory measures. ... And Wiktor Poliszczuk states: ... although there were acts of retaliation by the Poles ..., their reach was a drop in the ocean as compared with the mass murders of Poles that the OUN and UPA allowed themselves. ...
The authors have made use of an impressive range of sources. The list include accounts written by witnesses to the crimes (almost 1 700), the files of investigations of the crimes committed by the Ukrainian nationalists, court decisions in actions to declare their victims as deceased, and entries in the death registers of Roman Catholic parishes. It goes on to include the secret documents of the Polish Underground Government covering the period of German occupation during 1941-1944, Soviet and nationalist Ukrainian documents, and very numerous memoirs and written studies, including those by Ukrainians. There are also about eighty accounts by witnesses of the genocide, and other documents, which are included, mostly in extenso, in the Annexes and are of great historical importance. Taken as a whole, this work sets a standard which should be followed by further works on the genocide against the Poles in Eastern Galicia 34, which also urgently requires documentation.
It should be noted how this extremely barbaric Ukrainian genocide against the Poles has been treated in Ukrainian and Polish-Ukrainian official declarations, and in Ukrainian and Polish writings.
A. We have mentioned the declarations regarding the genocide their own countrymen were guilty of that were made by the presidents of Germany and Russia. The Ukrainians have not made any such gesture yet. The highly publicized "joint statement by the presidents of Poland and Ukraine on agreement and reconciliation", made in Kiev on May 21, 1997, declares in its preamble that ... the future of Polish-Ukrainian relations should be built upon truth and justice. ... It only mentions in half a sentence the events in Volhynia: ... we must not forget the Polish blood shed in Volhynia, especially during the years 1942-1943 ... . It makes no mention at all, as it goes on, of similar Polish loss of life in Eastern Galicia, while its reference to "Operation Vistula" of 1947 seems to juxtapose situations that are completely different. In that operation, dictated by a state of national exigency (the necessity of depriving the UPA of its logistical base, which was supported entirely in its day-to-day functioning by the local Ukrainian population, which could ensure that the UPA would be provided with quarters, food and manpower for years ahead), there were no elements of genocide. These Ukrainian peasants were resettled to farms which were available in the new ex-German territories that Poland obtained according to the 1945 Potsdam Agreement, incidentally much better than the ones they left behind. Summing up, the statement of 1997 does not solve the fundamental issue of acknowledgement on the part of the Ukrainians that genocide had been committed, and does not contain any expression of apology to the Poles.
As for the stance taken by the upper levels of the clergy of the Greek-Catholic Church, which has taken, in the present day, the rather pretentious and ethnocentric name of Byzantine-Ukrainian Church, suffice it to quote the pronouncement of the high-ranking clergyman Stefan Dziubina from Przemysl. In his homily at celebrations on May 11, 1997 in Jaworzno, he spoke of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army as "Ukrainian self-defence against the Poles", who, in his words, ... committed murder and burned down Ukrainian villages in Volhynia, giving in to Nazi agitation, in face of which the Ukrainians armed themselves and began to attack both the Germans and the Poles. .... This pronouncement, which could not have been made without the approbation of the head of the Greek-Catholic Church in Poland, was made in the presence of, among others, the presidents of Poland and the Ukraine. This same clergyman gave a sermon on July 7, 2000, on the occasion of the interment of members of the UPA in Pikulice (killed in action in 1946) in the outskirts of Przemysl, that was completely mendacious, calumnious, and inflammatory. Polish public opinion was aroused, but nothing was done. As we already wrote in this connection a few years ago: ... We consider that such public falsification of fundamental historical truths, steeped in moral implications, should be punishable in our country, just as so-called Auschwitzluege [Auschwitz Denial] is punishable according to the penal code of the Federal Republic of Germany. ...
From among the lay Polish Ukrainians, a certain Roman Drozd has come forth in recent years with a publication on the UPA, consisting mostly of "carefully selected" documents and brief introductions. The work is strikingly mendacious, with such passages as: ... The Polish-Ukrainian conflict in 1942/43 turned into a Polish-Ukrainian partisan war of its own [!], lasting until 1947, which took in its wake tens of thousands of victims on both sides. ... In my view the numbers of casualties suffered by each side will be very close. No other Ukrainian has come forward so far with such a supreme fabrication. It is an UPA-Luege (UPA-Denial) par excellence.
Further on, Drozd attempts to twist the facts as follows: ... It is of course difficult to indicate here which was the attacking side, and which was on the defence, as attack was countered by attack, murder by another murder, looting by more looting, arson by further arson, and all of it was justified on the grounds that it was a retaliatory operation. It can only be taken for granted that the attacking side were those forces which were stronger, in any individual area ... . The actual facts are different. As Drozd must well be aware, the Polish minority in the countryside in Volhynia was the weaker force almost everywhere - and so, even according to him, it must have been the Ukrainians who were attackers. But more than that, the Poles were totally unprepared for attack when the UPA launched its acts of genocide. This is very fully documented in the Siemaszko work. Only very limited acts of self-defence could be organized, and the Poles could retaliate only in a very few instances.
B. As for Ukrainian historical writings, these are, in the vast majority, steadfast in not admitting that any genocide was ever committed against the Poles by the Ukrainians in World War II. This is not the case with Germans and the Russians. The total falsification in this field was set in motion immediately after World War II by Mykola Lebed, who was himself the chief instigator of Ukrainian genocide against the Poles (as he carried out the responsibilities of Stepan Bandera, incarcerated at the time by the Germans under unusually good conditions in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp). He wrote a book on the UPA that was published as early as 1946. Lebed notes that it was a big blow for the Germans, when the whole Ukrainian police force, and the so-called Ukrainian Schutzmen, went over to the UPA forces at the beginning of 1943 in the whole of Volhynia and Polesie. Of course, he fails to mention that it was the same police that took such a big part in genocide against the Volhynian Jews, or that it had succeeded in killing off a great number of Poles earlier. He goes on to say that:
Let us review, as briefly as possible, these fabrications by Lebed.
To sum up this aspect - almost directly after the wide-scale Ukrainian genocide committed under the leadership of Lebed against the Poles in Volhynia, this same criminal prepared and published a highly mendacious publication, attempting to deny that the genocide had ever taken place. These lies, modified to some extent, are still being used, at least in some of their aspects, by the majority of Ukrainian historians, as well as the Greek-Catholic clergyman mentioned above, or recently, for instance, the Polish author, Ryszard Torzecki (see below). Let us add that Lebed, a former Gestapo trainee, who after the surrender of Germany in 1945 hid in Rome with the help of, among others, certain Greek-Catholic ecclesiastical dignitaries from the Vatican, established fairly quickly cooperation with the CIA. In 1949 he was admitted as a CIA "expert" on the basis of "no questions asked" to the United States, where he lived, absolutely undisturbed, until his death in 1998, whereas his deeds would classify him for a death sentence in the immediate post-war period.
Let us now have a look at the History of Ukraine by Yaroslav Hrytsak, Director of the Institute for Historical Research at the Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, newly published in a Polish translation. Hrytsak writes, among other things, about the ... Volhynian massacre ... the bloody mutual ethnic cleansing that thousands of peaceful inhabitants fell victim to on both sides... . We go on to read, among other things: ... This was the bloody clash of two nationalistic groups, each harbouring a long list of mutual wrongs and hatreds. Neither side in the conflict was either wholly innocent or wholly guilty. It is striking that Hrytsak, in writing about the numbers of Poles murdered, notes that ... professional Polish historians estimate the number of victims on the Polish side at sixty to a hundred thousand people (out of which around fifty thousand came from Volhynia), and on the Ukrainian side at roughly three times less. ... (which would make it around twenty to thirty thousand!). And so the Ukrainian genocide on the Poles was presented as a "bloody mutual ethnic cleansing", a kind of "fratricidal conflict", or, as it is called by certain other Ukrainians - "a civil war", or even a "Polish-Ukrainian war" (sic!). One could just as well, as Piotrowski aptly remarks, speak of the "undeclared German-Jewish War".
Similar attitudes are held, in higher or lesser degree, by various Ukrainian scholars taking part in the Polish-Ukrainian historical seminars that have been held since 1996 on the subject of "Polish-Ukrainian relations during the years of World War II". These Ukrainians (just like the above quoted Yaroslav Hrytsak, who does not participate in these seminars) usually speak in one voice of a two-sided Polish-Ukrainian massacre, claim to have their doubts as to who instigated it, operate in untruths, failing to support their theses with proof, etc. A systematic critique of the first four seminars in the series was given by WIktor Poliszczuk. Commenting on a statement by one of the Ukrainian discussants, he formulates the following general remarks:
In certain Ukrainian publications there appear, in addition, highly provocative demands for a revision of the present borders with Poland, gross and irresponsible accusations and insults against the Poles, and so on.
A valuable exception is to be found in the 270-page work of an Ukrainian historian Vitalyi Maslowskyi, published in Ukrainian, in Moscow, entitled With Whom and Against Whom the Ukrainian Nationalists Fought in the Years of World War II. The author bases himself partly on archival sources, and partly on other writings, mainly Ukrainian and Polish. In the last chapter of his work he cites Poliszczuk (further discussed below) many times with the greatest approbation, and this whole chapter is in fact given the title The OUN and UPA as seen through the eyes of the Ukrainian Wiktor Poliszczuk. He brings to light and condemns the genocide committed against the Polish population in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. At the same time, he condemns the dangerous activities of the post-UPA nationalists in present-day Ukraine, taking place not only in Lvov, but even in Kiev, "Galician Fundamentalism", and other such phenomena. Also criticized by him are the promoting of the totalitarian and genocidal doctrine of the Ukrainian Dmytro Dontsov, the erecting of monuments to the SS-men of the 14th Ukrainian SS Division "Galizien" ("Halychyna"), the OUN and UPA leaders: Yevhen Konovalets, Andryi Melnyk, Stepan Bandera, Roman Shukhevych and others, and the glorifying of the murderers of Poles, Jews, Russians and Ukrainians as national heroes of the Ukraine, after whom streets and squares are named, awaking the spirit of the Dontsov and Bandera era, so much hated by people.
It must be added here that Professor Maslowskyi was murdered in Lvov in November 1999 by supposedly unknown perpetrators, who were in reality clearly criminal post-UPA fanatics, a fact that is reminiscent of similar assassinations by the OUN in pre-war Poland, and by the UPA in later years.
Also truthful and valuable are certain articles published in two Ukrainian journals in Volhynia in the nineties – the Dialoh (in Rovno) and Spravedlyvist (in Luck). In the first of these, for example (No. 49, December 1993), there appeared an article under a title that speaks much - The Tragedy of Volhynia: Genocide against the Polish population. Documents bear witness.
The writings of Ukrainians published in the West, mainly North America, are similar, with minor exceptions, to those of authors in the Ukraine, like Hrycak. One example of such writings suffused with that spirit is the series Litopys UPA, published for many years now in Toronto. The Ukrainian historian Orest Subtelny, who works in the United States, writes, for example, as follows about the genocide in Volhynia:
From this, one could draw the conclusion that it was the Poles who started a mass murder of the Ukrainians, and that this led later to a form of civil war between armed units of both sides.
An exception worthy of the highest acknowledgement are the numerous
publications of Wiktor Poliszczuk, well known in Poland. He is himself a Ukrainian from
Volhynia who has lived for the last twenty years in Canada. He is a PhD in political science
of the University of Wroclaw, and often visits Poland. From among his works that interest us
in particular let us note the following:
Mention should also be made of the memoirs of Danylo Shumuk, who served as a "politruk" in the UPA and later spent many years in Soviet camps - Life Sentence. Memoirs of a Ukrainian Political Prisoner (Edmonton 1984), where he speaks critically about the murdering of Poles.
As far as Polish works of the nineties go, a few minor publications have appeared, dealing with the genocide against the Poles in Volhynia. These are mostly collections of documents (especially the accounts of witnesses, representing valuable documentation), or works related to Ukrainian genocide in specific districts or even communes in Volhynia. Not one of these, however, even approaches the scope of the Siemaszkos' work. None of them are as complex in character, or display the same depth of research or wealth of sources as this work, and none of them could be viewed as being definitive. This latter aspect is raised towards the end of this Summary. There is also a journal, Na Rubiezy, which appears in Wroclaw, that fulfills an important role in providing documentation. On the other hand, there are several professional historians who offer half-truths or outright lies, aimed at passing in silence over facts that unequivocally weigh on the Ukrainian side, or trying to provide it with some form of alibi. These works found their inspiration, it would seem, in the spirit of the monthly Kultura published in Paris by the late Jerzy Giedroyc. Another influence would be the so-called political correctness imported from the United States, totally absurd in this context, and resulting in falsifications of the truth. The idea trumpeted about in Warsaw after 1990 on Ukraine being Poland's "strategic partner" (a doubtful thesis that cannot be discussed here for lack of space) should not, however, prevent unmasking and condemning the Ukrainian genocide committed over half a century ago.
We should mention here, among other publications, those of Wladyslaw Serczyk and Tadeusz Olszanski, and, from among the more recent ones, those of Hanna Dylagowa, as well as the most recent brief article of Ryszard Torzecki, which is full of outright fabrications in the field that interests us. One is shocked, in that text, by the following passage:
Do we really "not have any proof", as is claimed by Torzecki, that the Ukrainians had carefully planned the genocide committed against the Poles? We can refer, in this context, to the collective work, edited by Wladyslaw Filar, in which he bases himself on a document from the archives of the Securyty Service of the Ukraine in the Volhynia region, which contains a secret directive from the territorial UPA-Piwnicz command, signed by Klym Savur (Roman Dmytro Klachkivskyi).
The eminently planned character of the crimes is definitively confirmed by the Siemaszkos' work. The course of the systematic genocide that took place in Volhynia in the summer of 1943 is documented in great detail, showing that it was carried out in accordance with one and the same plan of action, and embraced large areas at regular time intervals, with the result that the "cleansing" of the Poles in Volhynia was implemented month by month, in a westerly direction. Further, there remains the question, already raised in connection with the fabrications on the part of Lebed, as to the legal and moral basis under which the Ukrainians allegedly "took the decision [!] to remove the Poles" from land, where they had lived, for the most part, for generations, "by ousting them" (!). The questionable point is the alleged "ultimatum", which would have been totally counter to the law, around which lies are being spread by the Ukrainian side to this day (at the III Polish-Ukrainian historical seminar in Luck in 1998, for example, the Ukrainian historian Roman Strilka claimed that:
Well, no such "ultimatum" was ever given in Volhynia, as is documented in the Siemaszkos' work. Quite the reverse actually happened, as the Siemaszkos prove, with, in a great number of instances, the Ukrainians treacherously advising the Poles not to flee, under the theory that "nothing threatened them", and sometimes even giving them "guarantees" in writing (!). There were times, when they told them that flight would simply be treated as treason (!), or even lured the Poles who had fled, for example, to places like Krzemieniec, into returning to the countryside, where those who came back in good faith were murdered.
Finally, to look at Torzecki's claim that it was only when "the Poles did not want to leave the territories" that "force was restored to". Even this latter was formulated in such a way as to give the impression that it could mean only ousting by force! The question also arises, as to the reasons why they were supposed to set out on a path of poverty and maltreatment at the demand of bandits? Where concretely were they to go under the German occupation? It is in this shamefully twisted fashion that Torzecki wrote of and summed up the genocide of fifty to sixty thousands Poles of Volhynia.
Many authors from this group simply propound, to a greater or lesser degree, and with pretensions of scholarship, the "pragmatic' postulates of the former vice-president of the Seym of the Third Polish Republic, Aleksander Malachowski. At the Congress of Ukrainians in Poland in 1997, he declared: ... Uncovering the truth about history is like reopening of old wounds, and we must heal wounds .... All this is taking place at a time, when the Ukrainian genocide is still remembered to this day by many Poles from their own terrible personal experience.
To sum up - the Siemaszkos' work documents in an excellent way the entire course of the Ukrainian genocide against the Poles of Volhynia during the years of the Second World War. In its field, it constitutes what is often termed in the Anglo-Saxon world as a definitive work - a work that is fundamental in its complete, in-depth and objective treatment of the subject examined. Certain supplementary additions here and there will be of course, necessary in the future, as will be small corrections in places. But the subject has, in principle, undergone exhaustive investigation, and the correct conclusions have been drawn.
Henceforth, no one - with the exceptions of notorious spreaders of falsehood - will be able to have slightest doubt as to who was the instigator of the genocide discussed here. No one will be able to continue concocting the legends on how, in Volhynia, the Ukrainians allegedly first "only" demanded that the Poles "voluntarily" leave the territory, and no-one will be able to bypass the gross lawlessness that even such lower level of criminal action would have represented. There will be no room for further questioning of the facts behind the premeditated and strikingly barbaric Ukrainian genocide perpetrated on the Poles of Volhynia, who made up less than 17 percent of the population, and were, moreover, almost totally defenceless. And finally, no honest person will continue, even in carelessness, to term the events of Volhynia which interest us here as a "civil war', 'fratricidal conflict", "clash of two nationalism", "Polish-Ukrainian war", etc.
The Siemaszkos' work, which is the product of over ten years of research, is a comprehensive, fundamental study within the scope of the subject undertaken, realized on a scale hitherto unmet with in Poland in the given field. A considerable gap has been filled in the history of Poland at the time of World War II in general, and in the history of the genocide committed on the Poles in that period in particular.
There emerges a picture which, taken as a whole, is one of a particularly bestial form of genocide, to which the guilty side refuses, so far, to admit. The Ukrainians have not, so far, followed the example of the Germans or even the Russians, who officially admitted to the genocide they had perpetrated. The Ukrainians have adopted, rather, the "Turkish way", – for the Turks, as is known, do not want to admit, to this day, to genocide committed in the years of World War I against roughly one and a half million Armenians. Official sources in Turkey have kept their silence on the subject for whole decades. It was only when young Armenians began to assassinate Turkish diplomats in the seventies and eighties, (the victims were, among others, the ambassadors in Vienna, Paris, the Vatican and Belgrade, as well as consuls and others) that a significant Turkish "publicity counteroffensive" in the media and the press was launched. The assassinations had ostensibly been intended ... to remind the imperialistic Turkish government of the crimes committed against the Armenian people. The "publicity counteroffensive" has tried to present the events of the year 1915 and the years following as a tragic "civil war", instigated, moreover, by the Armenian minority (a strange similarity to the Ukrainian falsehoods regarding the events in Volhynia!). Use is also made of formulations such as: No violence, no terror in the world will make us beg forgiveness for a crime that was not committed (!).
Today, Armenia, newly free, does not hesitate to speak openly of the genocide committed at that time. It has brought it up, for example, in the United Nations. She also appeals to Turkey for direct talks to resolve the issue. What is more, the Armenian genocide has been publicly condemned by several foreign parliaments, on November 8, 2000 by the French Senate (in 1998 by the French National Assembly), and earlier by the Greek Parliament, the Belgian Senate and, on April 14, 1995, by the Russian Duma. But the consecutive governments of the III Polish Republic are simply afraid to touch upon the subject of the Ukrainian genocide - for reasons of the alleged "strategic partnership", indicated above.
Finally, one is struck by the absence of any manifestation of a principled, honest attitude towards the genocide we are discussing on the part of any of the Ukrainian intellectual elite, in particular the writers or the scholars. Let us recall that the pride of German literature, Nobel Prize-winner Thomas Mann, after mentioning in his novel Doktor Faustus that a certain "transatlantic" (i.e. North American) general had ordered, in 1945, that the inhabitants of Weimar file by the crematoria of the concentration camp there, wrote, among other things: ... Is the sense of guilt quite morbid which makes one ask oneself the question how Germany, whatever her future manifestations, can ever presume to open her mouth in human affairs?.
Or let us consider the future German Nobel Prize-winner Gunter Grass, who already as a young man, fell under the strong influence of the work published in 1951 by the distinguished philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno, and always strongly condemns the German genocide committed during World War II. It came to the point where, as the issue arose in 1990 of the unification of the German Democratic Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany, Grass came out against it. His arguments was that it was a united Germany (the Reich) that had organized genocide and conducted it. He spoke of the experience that ... we the criminals, with our victims, had as a unified Germany, and Auschwitz as ... a permanent stigma of our [i.e. German] history, etc. He alluded to these statements again in 2000. We often came across similar, more or less strongly articulated positions at universities in Germany. There is no trace of anything similar to this on the part of the Ukrainian intellectuals.
The Siemaszkos' work is therefore all the more needed and valuable. It is deserving of the widest dissemination not only in Poland, but also in the Ukraine and in Central Europe generally. It should, also, enjoy broad promotion in the West, including careful use being made of it in the emerging discipline of comparative genocide.
As far as the moral aspect is concerned, seen especially from the Polish perspective, there can be no forgiveness for this genocide either for those who committed the mass tortures and then perpetrated the murders, or for those Ukrainian "scholars" and even clergy, who lied on this subject during the decades following, right up until the present, and continue to do so, offered all kinds of half-truths, consciously confusing the facts, claiming that all is relative or making a demonstration of keeping silent.
But in the end the truth must out, on the part of the Ukrainians as well - DUCUNT FACTA VOLENTEM, NOLENTEM TRAHUNT. It will simply not be possible to falsify this genocide.
Copyright © 2000 Ryszard Szawlowski