May 1943 was not quiet for the inhabitants of Polish villages

May 1943 was not quiet for the inhabitants of Polish villages, OUN-UPA troops organized mass attacks on Polish villages and newly established self-defense centers throughout the Volyn region. The campaign against the Poles began in Volhyn, not in Galicia, for at least several reasons. As a result of Soviet and German crimes, deportations, sending to work in the Reich, the population of Volyn fell from the estimated 2.3 million in August 1939 to less than 2 million in January 1943. The Ukrainian police who earlier took part in the Holocaust, after that they had deserted to the forest, they appeared as experienced specialists in the genocide of nations, which the OUN authorities recognized as hostile and unnecessary on the territory they control. The extermination of the Polish population began in the sarnański, kostopolski, rówieński and zdołbunowski poviats and spread throughout Volyn. The researchers of the Volyn genocide managed to determine that in May 1943. Ukrainian nationalists in Volhyn killed about 2050 people, including 1224 known by their names

Helena Bielecka (née Szczurowska) lived with her parents and three siblings in Mały Siedliszcze in the Kostopol poviat in the Volhyn Voivodship. In 1943, she was only 14 years old: “about the tragic night of May 25-26, 1943, my mother told … […] Everyone slept when in the morning, maybe at 3.30 she heard that something was happening around the house. She woke everyone up, but they hit the door with axes and knocked out windows, the whole house was surrounded. […] When Julek woke up, the bandits were already at home. Horrible, with rifles and axes behind the belt. […] – Let’s pray – my mother said, lying with my father on the floor. She heard moans and never lost consciousness. She felt hot and thought “what they did to me” …. […] When they left and there was silence, my mother thought that maybe these little children survived in the quilts. She stood up and fell. Nine people lay in blood and without life, in a row. But what’s wrong with me, she thought, and crawled up, crawling into the kitchen and drinking water. Then she went to the bedroom door, opened it and on the threshold she fell as she saw that the pillows and quilts were taken away and the children (Marysia – 4 years and Jasio – 2.5 years) were murdered with axes. […] My mother’s first words were when she saw me and Zosia. – You live! The braid was cut and the shawl in shreds. […] I saw when my mother was carried from a wagon on a stretcher. Blood, shreds of braid and handkerchiefs, and a hanging, chopped body on the left shoulder. Mom was awake all the time … [1]

Józefa Felińska Marciniak: On 27 May 1943, innocent Polish blood was poured in the next mass murder of Niemilii near Bystrzyce (Ludwipol commune, Kostopol district). The village is only 3 km away from the Germans stationed in Bystrzyca. The Germans were armed, they also had telephone communication with the military unit in Berezne. They did not respond to the horrible scream of alive people who were burned and murdered in Mongolian ways. And we, Poles in neighboring villages, were hypnotized and listened to the cries of murdered people and burnt cattle. A horrible night and a terrible morning! Everyone with the Germans went on a vision for Niemilia … It turned out that the Bandera’s troops at night surrounded the village of Niemili, then they all spent in a large barn and burned alive. They also smoked cattle. Whoever ran was murdered with an ax. Pitch, knife … The survivors were dying in horrible torments, calling for help, rescue, for vengeance to heaven … A terrible sight indescribable. The Germans filmed and photographed. The boys from Janówka, who came here in the morning, lifted up the cut, stripped to a standing position and the Germans were shooting. Apparently they used these photos for their propaganda, that they were the consequences of the Soviet partisans. Moans, screams, pleas for the wounded were asking for hasty help that could not be organized. There were only carts without ladders lined with planks for transport … On the way, the mother lay clutching two small children with both hands, hugging each other, pressed against each other. She wore a puncture cross on her naked breast. Small children also had their cross punctures on their small breasts. Stach Bronowicki goes on to say:. Seven heavily injured wagons were collected, which, without help from the doctor on the boards of the laden cars, helped the Germans, transported them to the hospital in Berezne. Who survived them? … However, many witnesses remained. Large pits were dug at the grave of the inhabitants of Niemilia, which became the cemetery of the village. They put a cross in this cemetery … “After many years, Franciszek Żygadło reported. 116 people were murdered who were buried in a mass grave in the area of ​​the burned village. 48 people were injured. Among the victims, apart from the inhabitants of Niemilia, there were 6 people from Jakubówka Mała who escaped from their village after the first attack on May 3, 1943. List of victims murdered by the Ukrainians during the robbery against Niemylia, determined by Bolesław Żygadło a resident of Niemilia, in consultation with his father, mother and 10 former residents of this town, it can be found in the periodical “Na Rubieży” No. 47/2000. [2]

Henryk Lech: I witnessed the assault of the UPA gang on the village of Staryki [the Starka cluster, Kisorycze commune, Sarny district] on 29.05.1943 […] On that day died the partisan from the unit of the colonel Satanowski, Tadeusz Stański . On the following day, the Germans came to the village. At that time, Kazimierz Lech, son of Antoni, and the commander of the Satanowski branch, Aleksander Bobkow, died. […] In the village, there was self-defense supported by London and communist guerrillas under the command of Robert Satanowski, later a famous conductor and director of the Grand Theater in Warsaw. Residents expected assaults, they were prepared to escape at any moment. The grandmother of my grandmother, Antoni Garbowski, played a great role in defending the inhabitants, who had a weapon (probably a machine pistol) and stopped the attackers for the time needed to escape. However, many inhabitants (according to my grandparents, about 150 people) died in a fire, mainly the elderly and children […] The attackers ‘squad was called by my grandparents, bulbachy’, maybe from Taras Bulba. I also remember the pseudonym of one of the attackers’ leaders – Huk. [3]

The larger carnage that took place in May 1943 should be mentioned:

1.05.1943 – About 30 people died in Tajkury

3.05.1943 – Kąty (Krzemieniec District) – 53 people killed

5.05.1943 – Skrobotówka (Krzemieniec District) – about 70 people killed

12.05.1943 – Ugły (Kostopol county) – over 100 people killed,

24 / 25.05.1943 – burning of all mansions and estates in the area Vladimir.

27. 05 1943 – Niemilia (Kostopol county) – 126 people killed,

28/05/1943 – Staryki (Sarna area) – about 90 people killed,

May 31, 1943 – Drańcza Polska (Dubno District) – 52 people killed, including the Ukrainian clergy Fiłyp Borećkyj favoring the Poles.

The exact date of the destruction of the following cities could not be determined:

Broken (around Łuck) – about 60 dead.

Sochy (Sarny area) – 120 dead.

As in previous months, genocidal attacks were concentrated in the central-eastern part of Volyn. In total, over 200 different acts of violence were recorded, in which people, mainly Poles, were killed. Inhabitants of Polish villages began to form spontaneously self-defense units, poorly armed but determined. Unfortunately, it should be said that the representatives of the Polish Underground State and the Home Army Command still believed that the events in Volhyn could not be called a rebellion of the entire Ukrainian population against the Poles. Meanwhile, the German intelligence clearly stated that Ukrainian nationalists are carrying out the extermination of the Polish population in the area of ​​the pre-war Volhyn Voivodship. This was recorded in the Abwehr report for the period 17-30 June 1943, where the UPA attacks on the Polish population in Serne and Kostopol poviats are intensifying. The German reports show that while in March there were 8 attacks, in April there were already 57, while in May as many as 70, which indicates their significant increase. The increase of attacks was undoubtedly affected by the desertion of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police troops, which reinforced the UPA forest structures. The Ukrainians from this formation had extensive experience in murdering, earlier they participated, among others in the liquidation of Jewish ghettos. In the report of the head of the Gestapo Heinrich Muller there is information about the liquidation of 15,000 Poles in Volhyn. Report of the Army Group command “Northern Ukraine” of May 18, 1944. he speaks of having an order issued by the UPA headquarters, talking about shooting all Poles.

This order is quoted in the report of the plenipotentiary of the Army Group, “Northern Ukraine” of May 23, 1944. Similarly, it resulted from Soviet reports from individual partisan units operating in Volhyn. For example, in the reports of Ivan Shtov, it was stated that as a result of the attacks of Ukrainian nationalists on the Polish population in the first quarter of 1943. “several thousand Poles were” beaten up “and in an extremely cruel way, including by splitting eyes, twisting hands from joints. Aleksander Saburow in the report from June 1, 1943. he reported the destruction of the Polish population west of the Horyń river and south of the Sarny-Olewsk railway line. Vasyl Begma paid special attention to the scale of cruelty towards victims regardless of gender and age. In their reports, the Soviet commander notices that Ukrainian nationalists “are conducting a wild, bloody trial, completely destroying the Polish and Jewish population. They burn, kill, chop axes. ‘ Reports from German intelligence and Soviet commanders can be considered very credible sources, because they were written on an ongoing basis, ie during the genocide of the Polish population in Volhyn. [4]


1] Testimony of Helena Bielecka from the book by Lucyna Kulińska “Dzieci Kresów I”, ed. Jagiellonia, Cracow 2009

2] Excerpt from the book by Józefa Felińska Marciniak – “WOLYŃSKA EARTH MY”

3] Fragment of Memories of Henryk Lech born in Staryki.

4] Taken from the article: Dariusz Zawadzki – Genocide in Wołyń in the light of German and Soviet reports –

Bogusław Szarwiło

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