[LITOPYS UPA: Chronicle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army]

Roman Petrenko ("Yurko", "Omelko"), For Ukraine, For Her Freedom: Memoirs. Ed. Halyna Petrenko. Toronto-L'viv, Litopys UPA, 1997. 279 + III pp., ISBN 0-920092-36-5, hardcover, illustrations.


We present here the memoirs of Roman Petrenko, a leading insurgent activist in Volyn' and Polissia during the period 1942 - 1944. The author participated int eh formation of the first UPA units, the earliest UPA staffs and the underground administration, so he is able to provide a first hand account of the origins and development of these organizations, their successes and failures. In the last part of the book, the author deals with such topics as Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of the UHVR, headed by Mykola Lebed, the departure of the General Secretariat from Ukraine, the wounding of Yaroslav Stats'ko and other interesting events. We consider these memoirs an important addition to UPA history in Volyn', UHVR history and the story of Ukrainians'' escape from Soviet "liberation".

The author began his activity in the area of the UPA's "birth", that is, in Polissia in Volyn', in the Rivne oblast. The author's memoirs begin with the outbreak of World War Two. At this time, he was a member of the Sarny region OUN leadership. Describing the periods of the first Soviet "liberation" and the German occupation, he shows how Ukrainian Polissia gradually became a dynamic and nationally conscious part of Ukraine. He describes the difficult conditions in which the first UPA units came into being. At the time, he was working with the commander of the first UPA combat company, Hryhoriy Perehiyniak ("Korobka") and such UPA organizers as Ivan Lytvynchuk ("Dubovyi"), Serhiy Kachynstkyj ("Ostap"), Vasyl Ivakhiv ("Som"), Vasyl Korinets' ("Borysten"), Dmytro Kliachkivsk'kyi ("Klym Savur") and others. In the spring of 1943, when the headquarters of the "Zahrava" UPA Military Region was established, with Ivan Lytvynchuk ("Kubovyi") as commander and Col. Leonid Stupnytskyj ("Honcharenko") as chief of staff, the author was named chief of the economic section of this military region headquarters. at this time, the underground administration was created on the basis of the OUN underground network. The author focuses his discussion on the organization of the underground economy.

In August, most of the staff of the "Zahrava" Military Region were called to the UPA General Headquarters, commanded by Dmytro Kliachkivs'kyi ("Klym Savur"). Col. L. Stupnytskyi was named General Headquarters chief of staff. Col. Oleksander Omeliusik, chief of the operational section, and the author, chief of the economic section and later, of the external liaison section. A number of other officers from the Ukrainian liberation struggle of 1917-1921 were also working at General Headquarters, as well as some younger officers from the Red Army and the Polish Army. The UPA Supreme Command proclaimed itself the highest authority on the territory controlled by the UPA and engaged in extensive activity. The UPA's operational territory was divided into four UPA Military Regions: "Zahrava", commanded by Ivan Lytvynchuk ("Dubovyi"), the I. Bohun Southern region, commanded by Petro Oliynyk ("Enei"), "Turiv", commanded by Juriy Stelmashchuk ("Rudyi") and the Eastern region, commanded by Fedir Vorobets' ("Vereshchaka"). The military region commanders were also commanders of an UPA group, that is, the UPA division on the territory of the military region. The underground administration was called UPA rear commands. The UPA General Headquarters issued a whole series of orders regulating the activities of UPA units and activities behind their lines, for example, schooling, land distribution to peasants and cultural and educational life. The author was right at the centre of this activity. Although he writes mainly about the UPA's economic affairs, he also mentions many other matters.

The memoirs are written in the first person, in a dry memorandum style. The author does not recreate the speeches of dialogues of the persons he writes about, nor provide any second-hand accounts of events. He firmly holds in the reins of his imagination and describes only events that he personally experienced, witnessed or verified. He is stingy with praise and does not exaggerate the importance of insignificant events: his evaluations of persons and events are careful and considered. His account makes no appeal to the emotions; rather, it inspires thought and confidence. His language is adorned with many colourful dialect words and phrases from Polissia, which add to the richness of the Ukrainian language but are not generally found in dictionaries.

These memoirs were prepared by the author and his wife, Halyna, active member of the Ukrainian Resistance (literary editing). The author also provided some photographs and checked the proofs. The editors added illustrations, indexes and other editorial materials and were responsible for the technical aspects of publication.

In the name of the author and the editors of the "Litopys UPA", I thank all the organizations and individuals who contributed to the publication of this volume. I also thank Petro Sodol for help in identifying underground activists, Stepan Shpak for assistance int he preparation of the index, Zonia Keywan for translation of the introductory articles and summaries into English, the administration and all persons who helped by providing photographs. In particular, we thank our colleagues in L'viv for taking care of typesetting, map preparation, printing and all associated tasks. Their names are mentioned at the end of the volume

Yevhen Shtendera


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