Maria Savchyn's memoirs differ in many ways from other memoirs about the UPA struggle. The author spent more than nine years in the underground, from 1944, almost from the inception of the armed struggle, to the summer of 1953, when only the "last Mohicans" of the underground remained. During these years she lived in the Lviv area, Zakerzonnia (Ukrainian ethnic territory in Poland), Poland, the Carpathian Mountains, Podillia, Volyn and Polissia and in her memoirs she describes her experiences in all these regions. In addition, from 1945, she was married to Vasyl Halasa, who served first as the Deputy leader of the OUN in Zakerzonnia, then, from 1948, as the OUN leader for North-Western Ukraine (Volyn and Polissia). She was with her husband most of this time, met many leading personalities and typed up letters, reports, recommendations, instructions and other materials for them. She saw and knew a lot and this fact is reflected in her memoirs.
An important feature of her memoirs is that they are written by a woman and in a completely forthright manner. The author openly describes her personal experiences and those of her closest women friends. She lived in constant danger and frequently experienced dramatic and tragic situations, when not only her personal fate, but the fate of her closest friends were in danger. She experienced her greatest tragedy in Poland, when she was obliged to leave her son with the police. She provides a detailed description of women in the underground, their daily joys and troubles and their thoughts and feelings in the face of mortal danger. Her story is the life path of a whole generation of people who made a conscious choice to serve their nation regardless of the difficulties and dangers, who for many years had sacrificed their lives in almost a hopeless situation.
The memoirs were written not long after the author made her way to the west. Her memory was still fresh and the images clear, her consciousness not yet being burdened with new experiences and the positive and negative influences of life in the free world. She felt obliged to write her memoirs, she states in the introduction, because of her sense of duty towards her comrades who had recently been with her, burning with the idea of liberating their unhappy nation and bravely overcoming the greatest obstacles only to fall on the field of battle. Frequently, the enemy would take their corpses and bury them in secret, so that no trace would remain of these fighters for the freedom of Ukraine. The author felt that she had to write about them, to ensure that the memory of their achievements and sacrifices would not fade, to pass on to future generation the message of service and sacrifice for one's nation. The memoirs also straw us the attitude and philosophy of the author at the time of writing.
The memoirs are written in the first person in the style of a novel, with numerous dialogues and other features of that genre. Although the recreated dialogues cannot be regarded as completely authentic, the author uses them judiciously to liven up the account. In any case, as the memoirs are written from fresh memory, the dialogues can be assumed to recreate real conversations. In terms of exposition, style, terminology and vocabulary, the memoirs show the influence of the underground publications for which the author was accustomed to writing. We regard this as a positive feature, because it leads to an accurate recreation of the underground style, atmosphere and way of life.
The editorial role in preparing this memoirs for print has been minimal. The editors helped pinpoint or identify some events and underground activists, standardize underground names and arrange the technical aspects of book publication. However, the author herself read the proofs, prepared the index and checked the page make-up. For this purpose, she twice traveled to L'viv, where the book was being prepared for print. The pictures published in the book come from the author and the "Litopys UPA" archives, the Volyn oblast Security Service of Ukraine and others.
In the name of the author and the Litopys UPA editors I thank everyone who contributed to this volume. First of all, i thank the financial supporter of this volume, Dmytro Hayduk, who gave $25,000 for its publication. I also thank Antin Ivakhniuk for linguistic editing, Zonia Keywan for translation, Peter J. Potichnyj for his valuable advise, the Litopys UPA collaborators in Lviv, Volodymyr Chornovus, Ihor Hrynda and others, and the Litopys UPA workers in Toronto for their help in the publication of this volume.