[LITOPYS UPA: Chronicle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army]

lvan Harasymiv: From Youthful Dreams into the Ranks of the UPA

The memoir written by lvan Harasymiv ("Paliy") is an interesting, often passionate account by a Ukrainian youth, soldier and UPA squadron leader about his service in the UPA from autumn 1943 to September 1947. The account conveys not only the author's moods and experiences, but also his surrounding world, presented from his point of view. The author tries to describe the life of his comrades, platoon, company and other underground formations, capture the mood of the population, comment on the events taking place around him and in the larger world. His memoir contains many valuable descriptions of the daily life of UPA soldiers and peasants. For example, he speaks of such things as food supplies for the soldiers in the village, the forest and an isolated forest camp, order and discipline, hygiene, the collection and preservation of foodstuffs, leather tanning, shoemaking and tailoring workshops, etc.

The account is presented chronologically and covers several periods. The author begins by discussing the mood of the peasants and youth during the autumn of 1943 in the Stanyslaviv region. Grim news was arriving from the east about the approach of the front. Ukrainian young people discussed the situation and everyone was optimistic that this war would make possible the establishment of an independent Ukraine. Hundreds of youths joined the UPA to create a Ukrainian armed force.

Next, the author describes the UPA's noncommissioned officer training in the 'Ofeni' officers' school, located in the inaccessible Corpathian forests. The author speaks with humour about the instruction, military drills and day-to-day life of the participants, provides interesting characterizations of the officers, noncommissioned officers and soldiers and notes various everyday events. His account provides much information about the organization of the noncommissioned officers' school, its program and its degree of success in producing officers for the UPA. This section ends with a description of the final examinations and the ceremony marking completion of the training on June 17, 1944. The author was assigned to the UPA in the underground Peremyshl oblast.

Shortly after he arrived at his new destination, the German-Soviet front moved westward from the Kovel-Brody-T'ernopil line. In the Peremyshi and Lisko counties, many volunteers were joining the UPA, both local residents and refugees from the east. New UPA companies were formed, including the "Lemkivshchyna" battalion commanded by Vasyl Mizernyi ("Ren"). The author become a squadron leaders in the UPA company commanded by Danylo Svistel (Veselyr), which was part of this battalion. The battalion was quartered on the Bukove Berdo plain and began intensive training in order to have the soldiers trained before the arrival of the Soviets. When the front approached at the end of September, the battalion travelled east along the spine of the Carpathion Mountains, intending to cross the front and go deeper into the Soviet rear. The battalion was joined by about six more companies and many insurgents, thus a detachment of over 1800 men took part in the operation. On the way, they engaged in a skirmish and formed an "agreement" with Hungarian front-line troops. On September 30, the detachment was behind the frontline in the Stanysloviv oblost. Here the UPA companies who had joined the 'Lemkivshchyna' battalion left them and for more than two months the battalion raided in the Stanysloviv and Drohobych oblosts. They conducted a night attack on the raion centre, Perehinsko, and had skirmishes with NKVD troops. The soldiers often went hungry and wore wornout clothing because the Red Army was everywhere and the underground food and clothing supply system did not function well. In December, the battalion returned to the Lemko region. The author describes in detail their raid through the Carpathlans.

In the Lemko region, the insurgents found the situation totally different from what they had left in September. The Lemko region was within the borders of the Polish People's Republic (PRL). The border between the PRL and the Ukrainian SSR, which ran along the upper Sion river and northward post Peremyshl to Rava Ruska, was closely guarded by Soviet NKVD border troop NKVD garrisons had also been established in PRL county centres. The NKVD organized the local administration and directed the fight against the UPA and units of the Polish underground. On their return from the Corpathion raid, Commander V. Mizernyi instructed the companies to act as independent units and delineated their territory of operations. As of this lime, the author's account focuses on his'own company. The company spent a difficult winter in 1944-45. An epidemic of spotted typhoid broke out in the villages and many soldiers were sick with typhoid. The company quartered in the forest in the eastern port of Lisko county. There was still a shortage of food and clothing. Pa~ of NKVD special units were raiding throughout. On April 2, NKVD troops attacked the company in their temporary stay in the vicinity of the. village of Vetlyna, Lisko county. Many members of the company were killed, among them, company commander Danyto Syistel (Veselyi), company physician "Hutsul" and political officer Oleksander Kotliariv ("Kryvulia"). After this incident, the author remained in the village for treatment of scabies. He writes discreetly about his youthly love for Marusio. In April, the author successfully completed paramedical training. The battalion physician, M. Ripe~i ("Horyslav"), appointed him medical assistant in his company, which was commanded by 'Yarych'. The author notes many observations regarding hygienic practices and medical treatment both in UPA units and among the population, given their primitive conditions and lock of doctors and commercially produced medication. The new company commander filled the company with new recruits whom he began to train intensively.

On June 15, 1945, V Mizerngi appointed "Didyk" company commander. "Didyk" was elder, a former officer of the Austrian army. He introduced formal discipline and for this reason, was not liked by the soldiers. However, at this time, the company members were divided up among Local Selfdefense Units (SKV) in order to organize and retrain the SKV soldiers. The author describes their work in the villages between Lisko and Sianik, which lasted for a brief period. At this time, Stepon Stebeiskyi (Khrin) was organizing a new company, to which the author, and later the entire "Hronia" platoon from "Didyk's" company, was assigned. Shortly after this, "Didyk" reassembled his company and they had to return. The company continued its operations from its encampments in deep forests. "Didyk" built a camp on Khreshchato Mountain and late in the autumn, in the forest near the village of Yavirnyk, where they stayed almost until spring 1946. As of the summer of 1945, the Poles had intensified their forced deportation of Ukrainians to the USSR. The UPA and Ukrainian underground resisted in various ways. Because the deportation effort did not meet with success, the government began to use bloody terror in the early spring of 1946. The army and armed bands organized in Polish villages attacked Ukrainian villages, robbed them, beat young and old inhabitants, killed many people and frequently burned farms. Fierce combat began with these formations and against deportation, which lasted until summer 1946. These events and actions are described in detail in the memoir. During the summer, company commander "Didyk" reorganized the company and suggested to the author that he become squadron leader, because there were many paramedics but not enough combat noncommissioned officers. The author gladly agreed, because he did not enjoy sitting in the "rear" but preferred to take part in the fighting and be in the centre of the action. His squadron was part of the platoon commanded by Petro Hnotluk ("Dorosh"), who become his friend.

In the summer of 1946, V. Mizerngi ("Ren") transferred Lt. "Didyk" to the "Lemko" Military District headquarters, and appointed Roman Hrobelskyi ("Brodycho") company commander. In September, the company was instructed to move to a new area, the western part of the Lemko region, where no UPA units had operated until this time. The company was instructed to avoid combat, but to visit as many villages as possible in order to win the support of the population by means of the insurgents' appearance, good behaviour, conversation and Ukrainian songs. For the winter, the company divided up platoons, which quartered in forest camps, and conducted visits to villages. The author described with enthusiasm the successes of this mission.

In June 1947, the lamentable 'Vistula Action' was extended into the western Lemko region. Many WP and Polish police troops arrived to. conduct raids in pursuit of the company and deport Ukrainians to West Poland 'rziemie Odzyskane') - former German lands. At this time, the company set out on a propaganda operation to Slovokic, in part, to avoid combat with the Polish forces, which outnumbered them. Local combat groups - armed underground members went along with the company. The company crossed the border into Czechoslovakia (CSR) during the night of June 18 to 19, where were many CSR troops at the border and skirmishes took place immediately. During one of them, the platoon led by "Korp" broke away from the others and returned home. The rest of the company continued its operation and visited Slovok villages. The Slovak-S were positively disposed towards the UPA. The author describes some interesting and even moving meetings with Slovoks.

Once there no longer remained any Ukrainian population, it became pointless for the UPA to continue fighting in the PRL. At the instructions of the UHVR, some UPA units set out on a raid into Western Europe, others, into Ukraine. Many UPA soldiers were demobilized and tried to attain legal status. Company commander R. Hrobelskyi set out with the platoon commanded by Petro Hnatiuk (Dorosh) to Western Europe in September 1947. "Dorosh's" and the author's groups reached Western Europe. Company commander R. Hrobelskyi was captured by the Czechs and was returned to the PRL for execution. The final chapters of the memoir are dedicated to this raid.


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