[LITOPYS UPA: Chronicle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army]

The UPA's Group "Hoverlia". Book One: Reports and Official Publications. Ed., Petro Sodol. Toronto, Litopys UPA, 1990. 328 pp., ISBN 0-920092-22-5, hard cover, illustrations, diagrams.


In volumes 18 and 19 of Litopys UPA, we are publishing archival materials and memoirs relating to the UPA's Carpathian Group "Hoverlia", that is, the fighting force of the IV Military District of UPA-West (which included the Stanyslaviv region, Drohobych region, Bukovyna and Transcarpathia). Volume 18 includes reports of operations and two issues of the newspaper "Shliakh peremoby", and Volume 19 consists of memoirs and excerpts from underground publications. These materials present only some of the broad scope of the "Hoverlia" Group's activities, but, along with already published and not-yet-published information, they make it possible to paint at least a partial picture of the history of that UPA military district.

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The origins of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrainska Povstancha Armia - UPA) in Halychyna (Galicia) go back to July, 1943, when the first units of the Ukrainian People's Self defense (Ukrayinska Narodna Samooborona - UNS) began training in the Carpathian Mountains and the Subcarpathian region.

At that time the UPA, commanded by Dmytro Kliachkivskyi - "Klym Savar" - was already active in Volyn and Polissia, which formed part of the "Reichskommissariat Ukraine." In those north-western Ukrainian territories, combat units of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Independentists (OUN-SD) existed as early as 1942, and they entered into open combat with the Germans in February, 1943. Halychyna, which formed part of the "General Government", was looked upon as a support area, which could supply the UPA with personnel, weapons and food.

However, two events occurred which caused the situation to change. On April 28, 1943, the Germans announced the creation of the "SS Division Galizien". May and June were spent in feverish recruitment of Galician youth to the division. The OUN-SD denounced the formation, and forbade its members to join it. However, with the support of the Ukrainian Central Committee (Ukrayinskyi Tsentralnyi Komitet - UTsK) and the veterans of the Ukrainian Galician Army (Ukrayinska Halytska Armiya - UHA) (which saw in the division a repetition of the history of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (Ukrayinski Sichovi Striltsi - USS)), tens of thousands of Ukrainian young men joined the division. The first transport of recruits left for training from Lviv on July 18.

The second decisive event was the raid by Major-General Sydor Kovpak's Red partisans. In June, 1943, Kovpak's brigade raided through Volyn and Polissia, and on July 7, crossed through to Halychyna, heading for the Carpathian Mountains, which offered a particularly suitable terrain for partisan activity. So it was in these complex conditions, with the threat that most village men fit for combat would leave to join the SS Division "Galicia", and the Carpathian Mountains would be occupied by Red partisans, that the OUN-SD leadership decided to create combat units in Halychyna. Although no specific document relating to this decision has been preserved, the decision may well have been made in June, but implemented only in July, when Kovpak was already in the Carpathians. These first UPA units were sent for training to the Carpathians, but under the name UNS, in order to deceive the Germans, at least temporarily.

The organization of the UNS units was carried out by military advisors from various levels within the OUN-SD network. For that reason, in the early stages, the units were largely dependent on the attitude towards the idea of active combat of the local OUN-SD leadership. This partly explains why in some counties (povity) of Halychyna, no UNS units at all were formed, while in Stanyslaviv province (oblast), a particularly large number of OUN members entered the UNS. The basic training camps of the UNS units were established in the mountainous areas of Stanyslaviv province because of the strong support of the local OUN leadership, and because the region offered a suitable terrain for partisan activity.

During the summer of 1943, three UNS training camps were established in the Carpathian Mountains. These were the camps of the "Ie. Konovalets First Battalion 'Chorni Chorty: " commanded by Lieutenant "Lypey", in Kolomyia county; the "First Batallion 'Haydamaky', " commanded by Lieutenant "Khmer", in Dolyna county; and the "Kryvonis Battalion", commanded by "Omelian", in Turka county. The battalions conducted basic and non-commissioned officers' training, had battles with the Germans, and later contributed cadre personnel to form other UPA detachments in Halychyna. The most important actions of the UNS units against the Germans took place in the Carpathian Mountains in 1943: involving the "Haydamaky" battalion on September 26-29, the "Chorni Chorty" battalion on November 27, and the "Kryvonis" battalion on November 30.

The Supreme Commander of the UNS and regional (krai) military chief of staff of the OUN-SD in Halychyna in 1943 was Lieutenant Olexander Lutskyi - "Andriyenko", and the provincial commanders, or military advisors, in the Carpathian region during the period of UNS activity were Ivan Beleylovych - "Dzvinchak", in Stanyslaviv province, and Bohdan Vilshynskyi - "Orel" in Drohobych province.

In addition to the training camps, special task combat units were also organized. One such unit, commanded by Sergeant Vasyl Andrusiak - "Rizan", had begun as a squadron in Sniatyn county in July 1943. It then moved to the Chornyi Lis area, gradually taking control of the area and building up an operational base. By the end of November, 1943, the unit had grown to a company, and "Rizun" was named commander of the area.

In November, 1943, the UPA and UNS were placed under the authority of a central military leadership, headed by Lieutenant Colonel Roman Shakhevych "Taras Chuprynka", who took over the post of Supreme Commander of the UPA and reorganized the military structure. Volyn and Polissia UPA units were grouped into the UPA-North; the combat units of Central Ukraine were brought together to form UPA-South; and the Halychyna UNS was renamed UPA-West. The region of UPA-West was divided into military districts (VO), which corresponded to the OUN-SD's organizational divisions. The Carpathian Mountain region included the IV Military District (Stanyslaviv province and Bukovyna) and V Military District (Drohobych province).

At the beginning of 1944, when Vasyl Sydor-"Vyshytyl", "Shelest", became regional commander of UPA-West, changes took place in the command of the military regions: Lieutenant Ivan Beleylovych-"Dzvinchuk" was named commander of the V Military District, and Lieutenant Ivan Butkovskyi-"Hutsul", commander of the IV Military District. During 1944, the UPA saw rapid growth. At that time, the front moved through Western Ukraine and the UPA had many skirmishes with retreating German units; combat actions were also beginning with internal NKVD troops. On the territory of the IV and V Military Districts in the Carpathian Mountains, two sessions of the officers' school "Oleni" were held (April-October), the largest encounter with the Germans took place (Lopata Mountain - July 9) and the Supreme Ukrainian LiberaUon Council (UHVR) was established (11-15 July). On August 5, the first oath-taking, the text of which had been approved by the UHVR congress, was held ceremoniously near the village of Svydnyk in the Drohobych province. Taking the oath were the companies "Bulava' "Levy" and "Zmiyi".

By the fall of 1944, which saw the start of long-term warfare between the UPA and NKVD troops and special units, the Carpathian UPA companies had grown into battalions and were engaging in battles and raids. At the end of 1944 in Stanyslaviv province there were ten UPA battalions; in Bukovyna, there was one; and in the Carpathian area of the Drohobych region, also one. During the winter of 1944-45, Stanyslaviv province, or the IV Military District, was the part of UPA-West that showed the greatest resistance to the Soviets. The whole Hutsul region and some other rural districts were almost totally controlled by the UPA. In these territories, Soviet authority was able to manifest itself only with the aid of large numbers of NKVD toops. Major encounters with the Soviets, in which severel UPA battalions were involved, took place on December 30, 1944, and February 3, 1945, for the famous Hutsul village of Kosmach.

At the beginning of 1945, UPA-West was again reorganized, with four military districts taking the place of the previous six. Added to the IV Military District was the whole Carpathian territory south-west of the Dnister River which was within the Ukrainian SSR, so that the IV Military District included, in addition to Stanyslaviv province (minus Rohatyn county) and Bukovyna, also most of Drohobych province (the territory of the former V Military District, including parts of Khyriv and Dobromyl counties) and Transcarpathia. Within the OUN structure, this territory was given the name "Carpathian krai", - and the terms "Hoverlia" Group and "Group 4" began to be used to designate the UPA combat units that were active on the territory of the enlarged IV Military District Captain Mykola Tverdokhlib-"Hrim ", commander since the summer of 1944 of the previous IV Military District, was named commander of the "Hoverlia" Group.

When the military districts were reorganized, each one was divided into "Taktychni Vidtynky", or Tactical Sectors (TS), which were given code names, and later also code numbers. In the IV Military District- "Hoverlia" Group, the following tactical sectors were formed: 20 - Bukovyna or Chernivtsi province; 21 - "Hutsulshchyna": counties of Horodenka, Sniatyn, Kolomyia and Kosiv; 22 - "Chornyi Lis": counties of Nadvirna, Stanyslaviv and Tovmach; 23 - "Magura ": counties of Dolyna, Kalush, Zhydachiv; 24 - "Makivka": counties of Stryi, Drohobych, Sambir, Turka; 25 - Transcarpathia.

In 1945, UPA battalions carried out a series of raids. The "Pidkarpatskyi" battalion from TS 22 from May to November, raided through the Drohobych region took part in the raid into Slovakia and the attack on Bircha, engaged in combat in the Lemko region and resumed through Transcarpathia. During the spring, the Lviv battalion "Kholodnoyartsi" raided through the Drohobych area to Transcarpathia, and during the summer, UPA companies from the Drohobych TS raided into Transcarpathia.

At the end of 1945, UPA companies began being identified in reports with two-digit numbers, and platoons, with three-digit numbers. On the territory of the "Hoverlia" Group, UPA companies (sotni), which now began to be termed "detachments", were given numbers from 58 to 93 inclusive. These were companies operating in Tactical Sectors 21-24, for in Bukovyna there were no active UPA detachments at this time, and in Transcarpathia, there had probably never been any local UPA companies. Thus, in the autumn of 1945, there were at least thirty-six UPA companies active in the "Hoverlia" Group. Given that in 1945 UPA companies were usually composed of about 120 men, we can estimate that at the end of 1945, the "Hoverlia" Group (including headquarters of battalions and tactical sectors) included about 4,500 soldiers and officers.

The "great blockade", of January to April, 1946, during which large formations of NKVD troops seized control of the western provinces of the Ukrainian SSR, resulted in major UPA losses; the strength of the Carpathian "Hoverlia" Group decreased to about 60% of what it had been. In these conditions, some companies had to be disbanded, while others were merged. A report from Kalush TS 23 for the summer of 1946 mentions only five of the former eight companies; only three out of five former companies still remained in Drohobych TS. In Kolomyia TS 21, things were even worse; the report for September 1946 - April 1947 speaks of only four active companies, whereas in the autumn of 1945, at least eleven companies had been active in the area. Perhaps most critical for the combat readiness of the "Hoverlia" Group were the losses of key commanders, particularly the commanders of tactical sectors. On January 29,1946, Lieutenant (posthumously Major) "Kozak", commander of TS 21, was killed, and February 24, 1946, saw the death of the legendary commander of "Chornyi Lis", Major (posthumously Colonel) Vasyl Andrusiak-"Rizun", "Hrehit", - commander of Stanyslaviv TS 22. Andrusiak's replacement, the commander of the "Pidkarpatskyi" battalion, Lieutenant (posthumously Major) Pavlo Vatsyk-"Prut", did not serve for long as commander of TS 22, for on March 1 he was also killed in the Chornyi Forest. Lt. Oleh Vitovskyi-"Zmiyuk- Andriyenko", commander of TS 24, was gassed in his hiding place and taken alive by the NKVD. This meant that only in Kalush TS 23 did an experienced commander remain alive - Captain Yaroslav Kosarchyn -"Bayrak", who continued as TS commander, probably until 1949.

Thus, the order of July, 1946, by the UPA Supreme Commander about changing from active combat to other forms of resistance came after study of the events of the previous six months and reflected the necessity to adapt to existing conditions. A gradual demobilization of UPA units and transfer of soldiers and officers to the armed underground was begun. Thus, in the lists of fallen soldiers for 1948, we find the former long-time commander of the "Smertonostsi" battalion, Captain Danylo Rudak-"Chornyi", who at the time of his death was carrying out the duties of nad-rayon organizational officer. And in the 1949 list of the fallen, we see the former long-time commander of the "Siri" company from the "Dzvony" battalion, Lieutenant Mykhailo Korzhak-"Saper", who during 1947-1949 was carrying out the duties of rayon underground leader for Yezupil (Zhovten).

In 1948, individual UPA detachments were still active only within the Carpathian "Hoverlia" Group, but by this time they were only skeletons of the former companies. The companies were now generally composed of two platoons, with two squadrons in each, and most of the soldiers were experienced noncommissioned officers. During the summer and autumn, these companies, too, were demobilized, and in 1949, there remained only two hnown active detachments, which were of the size of platoons, but had the status of companies. One was Company 91-"Baseyn", commanded by Lieutenant Vasyl Gudzyk-"Orikh", and active in the Drohobych TS, and the other (probably company 59), was active in the Kolomyia TS. In June, 1949, the Kolomyia company, led by the TS commander Captain Petro Meloyk-"Khmara 1", carried out the last known UPA raid beyond the borders of Ukraine, into Romania.

In accordance with the September 3, 1949, order of the UPA Supreme Commander, the last combat units and headquarters were inactivated. We know that part of the demobilized company "Baseyn" went as a courier group, led by the commander of the Drohobych TS, Stepan Stebelskyi- "Khrin", on a raid to the West in September, 1949. The rest of the soldiers and officers transferred to the armed underground. And although the commander of the "Hoverlia" Group signed the "Appeal of Fighting Ukraine to all Ukrainians Abroad", this was probably his last act in that post, for he subsequently became leader of the Security Service for the Carpathian (krai) territory.

Thus, from the end of 1949, combat actions were carried out only within the framework of the armed underground, for no regular UPA units remained in existence. UPA soldiers who entered the armed underground regarded this as a temporary state of affairs and dreamed of the return of the UPA. One of those soldiers remarked in his memoirs (1950): "The demobilization caused me great unhappiness. It appeared that the world was collapsing[...] I am constantly tormented by a longing for the army, for the comradely existence in our squadron, platoon and company. If only the moment would come when we gather again into our famous companies... "

* * *

The materials published in Volume 18 of Litopys UPA are divided into three sections: the first section contains the newspaper "Shliakh peremohy"; the second gives reports from tactical sectors 21-23 and the third, reports of the commander of Tactical Sector 24.

In the first part, we are reproducing two issues - No. 3, dated June 1, 1945, and No. 6-7, dated August 1, 1945 - of the newspaper "Shliakh peremohy" which was published by the UPA "Hoverlia" Group from about May 1, 1945. The editor of the newspaper was "Marko Boieslav". Issue No. 3 of "Shliakh peremohy" consists of twenty pages of close typescript reproduced by mimeograph. It includes eight articles, most of which are written in a sharp, polemical style, three patriotic poems, cartoons, appeals to readers of the underground press and a partial summary of the operations of some UPA detachments from November, 1944, to April, 1945. The double issue (No. 6-7) of the newspaper consists of twenty-eight typescript pages. It includes three brief reports of UPA operations and enemy actions, appeals to readers of the underground press and nine articles. The leading and longest article is a reprint of the manifesto "From the OUN to the Ukrainian People", dated June, 1945. In addition to the two issues of "Shliakh peremohy" is one article from No 5, 1945, which appeared as a separate leaflet. It is known that other issues were published to include No 17 in 1947, but they are not available in the West.

The reports from TS include one from 1945, three from 1946 and one from 1947. These reports give information about the following three TS: Stanyslaviv, Kalush and Kolomyia. Only those from the Kalush TS are done in the proper form, providing sections on operations, intelligence, logistics, personnel, training and political education. The other reports generally give brief accounts of combat actions and other activities. In the reports from 1946 and 1947, all companies are identified by code numbers.

The last section of this volume provides a series of company reports written by Captain Stepan Stebelskyi-"Khrin", commander of TS 24. The reports describe the activities of five companies from the Drohobych TS during 1947 and 1948, and, to some extent, during other periods. We have here descriptions of the last combat operations of "Khmelnytsky" Company 90, "Baseyn" Company 91, "Bulava" Company 92, "Lemky" Company 95a and "Surma" Company 96. Also published in this section are recommendations for decoration of seventy six soldiers from these companies and three women. Almost every recommendation includes a detailed description of heroic action in combat.

All the materials published in this volume were obtained from the ZP UHVR Archives. We are reprinting them with no changes, except for corrections of printing and spelling errors.

We wish to thank all the institutions and individuals who contributed to the preparation of these volumes. In particular, we thank Antin Ivakhniuk for Ukrainian language editing, Zonia Keywan for doing translations into English, Stepan Shpak for compiling the index, Chrystyna Sodol for preparing photographs and word processing, Hryhoriy Kolodiy for assistance in preparing organizational charts, Volodymyr Makar for assistance in proofreading, Iryna Bilevych for word processing, Yevhen Shtendera for advice, proofreading and preparing some of the resumes, and all the members of the Editorial Committee for their patience.

Petro Sodol


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