Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ukraine: Massacres of Poles in Volhynia and Galicia

Ethnic cleansing of Poles in Volhynia and Galicia

Beginning in 1943, the UPA adopted a policy of massacring and expelling the Polish population of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. The ethnic cleansing operation against the ethnic Polish population began on a large scale in late February of that year and lasted until the end of 1944.

In Volhynia deadly acts of aggression, including the mass murder of Poles, occurred throughout 1943 before spreading to eastern Galicia in early 1944.

In June 1943, Dmytro Klyachkivsky head-commander of UPA-North made a general decision to exterminate all male Poles living in Volhynia. July 11, 1943, was one of the bloodiest days of the massacres, with UPA units marching from village to village, killing Polish civilians.

On that day UPA units surrounded and attacked 99 of Polish villages and settlements in three counties -- Kowel, Horochow, and Włodzimierz Wołyński. On the following day fifty additional villages were attacked.

Between August 21 and 25, 1943, during the Third Convention of the OUN, Roman Shukhevych accepted the "Volhynia stategy," an operation which aimed at Poles and had been conducted by Dmytro Klyachkivsky.

The methods used by the Ukrainian nationalists in both Galicia and Volhynia consisted of killing all Poles in the villages, then pillaging the villages and burning them to the ground. Victims, regardless of age or gender, were routinely tortured to death.

In late 1943 and early 1944, after most Poles of Volhynia had either been murdered or had fled, the killings moved to the neighboring province of Galicia. In March 1944, the main Command of the UPA ordered the ethnic cleansing of all Poles from Galicia. Unlike Volhynia, where Polish villages were destroyed and their inhabitants murdered without warning, Poles in eastern Galicia were sometimes given the choice of fleeing or being killed.

By the end of summer 1944, mass acts of terror aimed at Poles were taking place in Eastern Galicia to force them to resettle on the western bank of the San river. A popular slogan during the period was "Poles beyond the San". Ukrainian peasants sometimes joined the UPA in the violence, and large bands of armed marauders, unaffiliated with the UPA, brutalized civilians. In other cases however, Ukrainian civilians took significant steps to protect their Polish neighbors, either hiding them during UPA raids or vouching that the Poles were actually Ukrainians.

The total number of Poles murdered specifically by UPA is unknown. Estimates of the Polish deaths in Volhynia are over 50,000. The number of UPA victims in Volhynia, Galicia and current Poland combined ranges from 80,000 to 100,000

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