[LITOPYS UPA: Chronicle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army]

Kost' Himmelraikh, Memoirs of the Commander of a Special Task Unit "UPA EAST". Ed., Yevhen Shtendera. Toronto, Litopys UPA, 1987. 266 pp., ISBN 0-920092-14-4, hard cover, illustrations.


The memoirs published in this volume were written by the author in the first half of the 1970s. They originate from two different sources: (1) unfinished longer memoirs (227 typewritten pages), which cover the period from the outbreak of the German-Soviet war on June 22, 1941, up to Christmas, 1945, when author was in the underground in the Zolochiv district (raion), attempting to make contact with the Supreme Command of the UPA; and (2) shorter memoirs about the author's time in the UPA (37 typewritten pages), which encompass the period from the author's entry into the UPA during the summer of 1944, to autumn 1945, when the author prepared to leave for the West. Unfortunately, the author did not complete his longer memoirs, for he fell ill - he suffered a stroke, as a result of which he lost his sight. It is worth while to mention that Mr. K. Himmel'raikh is also the author of a collection of short poems on Ukrainian patriotic and military topics which were published in the Ukrainian papers.

He wrote the shorter version of his memoirs in 1975, at the request of the editors of Litopys UPA, or, to be more exact, of the now-deceased Major Petro Mykolenko ("Baida"), who corresponded with him on this matter. It was intended that these memoirs would be included in a future volume of Litopys UPA centering on the UPA's activities in Central Ukraine. However, in August, 1985, the editors of Litopys UPA were given a copy of the longer version of the memoirs by Iroida Vynnytska, who had been in Australia at that time and had visited the author. She also brought back another version of the shorter memoirs (35 pages in length), which was a little different from the version received by the editors in 1975. Furthermore, she had done a lengthy interview with the author about his experiences during the Second World War; she gave a recording of this interview to the editors of Litopys UPA.

When they read the newly-received memoirs, the editors of Litopys UPA deemed them an important addition to the history of the UPA, worthy of publication as a separate volume. Unfortunately, because of the poor state of his health, the author was unable at this point to complete the longer version of the memoirs. For that reason, the editors, in consultation with the author, combined the longer and shorter versions into one whole. Thus, the longer memoirs are published here exactly as written; when they end, the narration continues with the second half of the shorter memoirs (pages 17 to 37). The first few pages of the shorter memoirs are placed right at the beginning, under the title "Prologue". As the remaining pages of the shorter memoirs, pages 5 to 17, echo the contents of the longer version, only a few individual paragraphs from these pages, those which provide additional information or shed new light on matters under discussion, have been incorporated into the longer memoirs.

The longer and shorter memoirs differ from each other with regard to the style in which they are written. The longer version is written rather like a novel, with extensive dialogues, detailed descriptions and other features of that genre. Although the recreated dialogues cannot be regarded as fully authentic, the author handles them well and they serve to liven up the narrative and paint a more vivid picture of the author's experiences. The shorter memoirs are written in a more businesslike style; they provide a concise and accurate description of the events under discussion.

The editors have corrected some errors contained in the memoirs and provided additional information about certain individuals, institutions or events. For example, we identified by their real names the following UPA officers: the commander of the UPA school for officers, "Pol" (Major Fedir Poliovyi), the chief of staff of the 3 Military Region, "Bondarenko" (Major Volodymyr Iakubovskyi), the commander of the UPA's 26 Military District, "Ren" (Major Vasyl Mizernyi) and others. We have also provided footnotes with additional information or explanations about persons or events mentioned in the text.

The map published in this volume, delineating the travels and raids carried out by the author, was prepared on the basis of his own markings on the Map of South-Western Ukrainian Territories, scale 1:1,400,000. We note that the author did not indicate in detail all the manoeuvres carried out by of his unit in the Berezhany and neighbouring counties during the summer of 1945, but only the major movements.

Unfortunately, the author is not capable at present of writing letters. For that reason, all correspondence relating to the materials in this volume was handled by his wife, Levantyna. She also supplied to us the author's autobiography, photographs, the map, and explanations of various matters.

On behalf of the editors of Litopys UPA, I thank all those who helped in the preparation of this volume for publication. First of all, I want to thank the author's wife, Levantyna, for all her efforts and assistance. I also extend my thanks to Iroida Vynnytska, who met with the author, encouraged him to publish his memoirs and passed on his manuscripts to us. Further, I thank Antin Ivakhniuk for editing the texts, Volodymyr Makar for help in proofreading, Nadia Shtendera for preparing the map, Zonia Keywan for doing translation into English, Stepan Shpak for assistance in compiling the index, Anna Mulyk for typing texts and everyone else who contributed in some way to the publication of this volume.

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