[LITOPYS UPA: Chronicle of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army]

Ivan Harasymiv ("Paliy"). From Youthful Dreams Into Ranks of the UPA (Memoirs of an UPA Squad Leader). Edited by Iryna Tymochko-Kaminska and Stefan Golash. Toronto-Lviv, Litopys UPA, 1999.


The editors of "Litopys UPA" are issuing a separate volume of memoirs by a single author, a noncommissioned officer of the UPA, lvan Harasymiv ("Paliy"). "Paliy' attended the noncommissioned officers' training program at the UPA's "Oleni" officers' school, located on Magura Mountain, deep in the central Carpathians, and later served as a paramedic and squadron leader in the "Udarnyky 1" company (U-1, code number 94) in the Lemko region. His memoir begins with autumn, 1943. In his account, he recreates the mood, and in particular, the wish cherished by him, as an 18-year-old youth, and his contemporaries, to join the ranks of the UPA (news about UPA actions in Volyn was arriving at this time) and fight together for Ukraine and her freedom. The memoir explains how the training of young people was conducted, the preparations for armed struggle, the functioning of the OUN underground organization with its various sections, communication and courier links, how food was supplied to the underground noncommissioned officers' and officers' schools, the courses taught, how weapons were procured and distributed and how food was prepared and stored.

The author provides an interesting account of his departure (on February 7, 1944) to the noncommissioned officers' school. "I did not feel any nostalgia for my family or my native village. "As though on wings, my dreams of military romanticism flew through the blowing snow into the Carpathian forests, where I was to become a fighter of the Ukrainian people."

The author gives an interesting account of how the UPA's "Oleni" school for noncommissioned officers and officers operated in the forest. "Paliy" was observant and he describes in detail the life led in the forest by the future officers and noncommissioned officers and their instructors. He speaks of regular days and holidays and of military training conducted in the forest in the cold and snow, in difficult living and sanitary conditions. But, as he puts it, "We were full of idealism, determination, hatred for the enemy and ardent love for and devotion to Ukraine."

The training and final examinations ended on June 17, 1944. The author then travelled to his new assignment, an UPA company in the Lemko region. He describes the brief, tense period of formation of new UPA units, various organizational changes, training of the battalion commanded by "Ren"in Bukove Berdo, incoming news about the approach of the front, the arrival and activity of Red partisans and the raid by the UPA units commanded by "Ren" over the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains eastward, behind the front, "into the Soviet reality". Later, in late autumn, "Ren's" battalion returned to the Lemko region, the Ukrainian territory which ended up within the borders of "People's" Poland. He graphicaiiy portrays the activities of the company in which he served as a soldier, "Udarnyky 1", changes in the company's commanders, the territory of their activity, their raids, encampments, contacts with the population, the forced deportation of Ukrainians to the USSR, action in the eastern and western parts of the Lemko region, the "Vistula Action" and his company's raid into western Europe.

The company had four successive company commanders: 1) Danylo Svistel ("Veselyi"), from August 1944 until April 1945, when he was killed near Vetlyna, Lisko county, in action against the NKVD. 2) Next, very briefly, the company was commanded by "Yarych". 3) On June 15, 1945, Sgt.Major"Didyk" was appointed company commander. 4) During the summer of 1946, "Didyk" was replaced by First Lt.Roman Hrobelskyi ("Brodych"). "Brodych" remained company commander until the company ceased to operate and its soldiers marched out in small groups to Western Europe (September 1947).

The company was part of the battalion commanded by Major Vasyl-Martyn Mizernyi ("Ren"), who, as of autumn 1945, also served as commander of the UPA 26 Military District ("Lemko"). As of autumn 1945, this UPA military district was part of the UPA Military Region-6 "Sian", which was commanded by Major Myroslav Onyshkevych ("Orest"). Lt. Danyto Svistel ("Veselyi") was killed in action against the NKVD on April 2, 1945 near Vetlyna.More complete information about this action, based on UPA documents, can be found in the book Povstanski mohyly, compiled and edited by Yevhen Misylo, Ukrainian archive & Litopys UPA, Warsaw-Toronto, 1995, vol. 1, p. 45.

The UPA companies in this military district had the name "Udarnyky" in honour of the first commander of the UPA 6 Military Region (then the Peremyshl region), Yakiv Chorniy ("Udarnyk"). "Udarnyk" was killed on December 23, 1944, in action against the Soviets.To honour him, all the companies of the 26 Military District "Lemko" took the name "Udarnyky", which was abbreviated as "U" plus a number from 1 to 8.

The companies in Major "Ren's' battalion were:

  1. The company commanded by "Veselyi", Yarych", "Didyk" and "Brodych": U-1, code no. 94;
  2. The company commanded by Vasyl Shyshkanynets ("Bir'): U-3, code no. 96;
  3. The company commanded by Stepan Stebelskyi ("Khrin"): U-5, code no. 95a,.
  4. The company commanded by "Stakh": U-B, code no. 95b.

The memoir also mentions companies of the Peremyshl battalion commanded by Major Petro Mykolenko ("Baida"), which was also, part of the UPA 26 Military District "Lemko". These companies were: the company commanded by "Hromenko" - U-2, code no. 95; the company commanded by "Burlaka" U-4, code no. 94a; the company commanded by "Krylach" U-6, code no. 96a; and the company commanded by "Lastivka" - U-7, code no. 94b. Extensive information about the Peremyshl battalion companies can be found in the books Peremyshchyna: Peremyskyi Kurin, books 1 and 2, Toronto, Litopys UPA, 1986-1987 (Litopys UPA, vols. 13 and 14).

The Lisko and Sianik counties in the eastern Lemko region were also the site of the winter quarters of units from the Drohobych oblast - the company commanded by "Myron" and the company commanded by "Karmeliuk". These companies also took part in action. Thus, the companies mentioned above, as well as well-armed nad-raion and raion SB combat groups, constituted the armed forces of the Lemko region. In addition, the members of the nad-raion, raion and local underground leaderships were armed. From the time when the border between the USSR and "People's" Poland was established along the Sian river, the name "Lemko region" was used by the UPA to designate all the mountain and foothill areas between the Poprad River on the west and the Sian River on the east, although this area also included the western part ofthe Boiko region. This "Lemko region" comprised the following counties, from east to west: Lisko, Sianik, and the southern parts of Krosno, Yaslo, Horlytsi and Novyi Sanch, which for long ages had been settled by Ukrainians who called themselves Lemkos. For organizational purposes, this entire territory was divided into eight raions.Until autumn 1946, the region comprised a single nad-raion, "Beskyd". In autumn 1946, a new nad-raion, "Verkhovyna", was created in the western part, extending from the Dukiia "belt" to the Poprad River.

"Paliy's" memoirs are a lively, direct and honest account by a young man who served in the UPA as a soldier, company paramedic and finally, squadron leader. It interweaves descriptions of the day-to-day life of soldiers, non-commissioned officers and officers and their reactions in complex, often difficult situations as they faced deprivation and danger, with emotion, especially the author's exceptional sensitivity to the beauty of nature. There are detailed descriptions of camping in the forest, winter blockades by enemy troops, hunger, illness, in particular, spotted typhoid, and youthful love. At times, the descriptions are minutely detailed, but this gives the reader a full picture of the life led by the company. Extremely valuable are the descriptions the author provides of the tailoring workshop, which produced the soldiers' uniforms, leather tanning, shoemaking, food conservation and storage, construction of underground bunkers in the forest, and the methods by which food was supplied to UPA units. There are also descriptions of holidays: Christmas and Easter, which the insurgents tried every year to celebrate in a fitting and festive manner, as well as national holidays, which were marked ceremoniously.

The company included some singers and even had musical instruments. The use of songs and humour helped both in the insurgents' daily life and in their contacts with the populace, especially when performing propaganda assignments. This was particularly notable in the western Lemko region.From autumn 1946, the company, commanded by "Brodych", was the only one operating in the western Lemko region, the "Verkhovyna" nad-raion, where, by its signing and good behaviour it gained popularity and sympathy, especially among the youth. The soldiers were well prepared for these meetings with the public. During their political education classes, they were taught Ukrainian history and geography, in order to have this information when meeting the villagers. They also studied political literature, the UPA, UHVR and OUN programs, in order to be able to converse intelligently on political topics. They were also instructed how to behave amiably and correctly with the population. The peasants, for whom this was often the first meeting with Ukrainian insurgents, became their supporters and listened with confidence to their talk about the struggle for the independence of their great motherland - Ukraine.

The memoir also provides information about military actions.These accounts are presented from the position and viewpoint of the squad led by the author and the platoon, commanded by Petro Hnatiuk ("Dorosh"), of which the squad was part.Platoon leader "Dorosh" was not only the author's military superior, but also became his friend.

The author provides a fairly detailed account of heavy fighting that took place in the village of Strubovyska, near Tisna, Lisko county, with the so-called "Red broom", whose forces greatly outnumbered them. During this action, company commander "Veselyi" was killed. There are descriptions of combat with Polish special police forces, the Korpus Bezpieczenstwa Wewnentsznego (KBW), the Polish Army (WP), units of the Wojsko Ochrony Pogranicza (WOP) and large forces of the police. Generally, the outcomes of these actions were positive, although the enemy was always intent to destroy the company. The fighting in Smilnyk remained a painful memory because there the company experienced serious losses. This was the only time that they were attacked by surprise. On more than one occasion, the company was surrounded by larger enemy forces, but owing to their experience, skill and combativeness, they managed to escape. Particular attention is paid to the period of the "Vistula Action" (Akcja Wisla), when entire Polish divisions, Soviet NKVD special formations and Czechoslovak military units were directed against the UPA units. On the orders of the UPA command. the UPA units and, smaller groups raided over a thousand kilometers, engaging in combat all the way, frequently enduring hunger and exhaustion but stoically weathering hardships and difficulties, and reached the West, bringing the truth about the struggle for the freedom of Ukraine. The memoirs are written in a way that intrigues the reader, making him want to know what will happen next.

This volume of the "Litopys UPA" series, will be yet another source of information about the period of UPA struggle, from 1943 to 1948, in the part of Ukrainian territory outside the boundaries of Ukraine known as the "Zakerzonskyi krai". This struggle was very dramatic, characterized by devotion and heroism. What makes the author's account significant is that he depicts events "from below", through the eyes and heart of someone who was first a soldier, then a paramedic and finally a squad leader.

The memoir also provides descriptions of the company and of various officers, non commissioned officers and soldiers, using their pseudonyms. To these pseudonyms are added the real names which could be identified. The memoir identifies the composition of the retinue (usually 10 persons at a time), three platoon leaders and 9-12 squad leaders.

Stepan Goliash edited the manuscript and retyped it. Additional information was provided by members of the "Lemko Commission", composed of lryna Kaminska, Modest Ripetskyi and Stepan Goliash, as well as surviving soldiers of the company. Preparation of the manuscript was hampered by the death of the author. lvan Harasymiv ("Paliy"), who lived in Australia, became seriously ill in the late 1980s and died at a relatively young age. His wife, Diana Harasymiv, was able to provide only brief biographical data about him. He was born on March 6, 1925, in the village of Bortnyky, Tovmach raion, lvano-Frankivsk oblast, into a peasant family. After completing seven grades, he went to high school in Tovmach. Immediately after high school he began UPA training in the Carpathians. He died on July 12, 1991.

We thank everyone who helped bring these memoirs out in print.

Iryna Kaminska ("Khrystia")
Stepan Goliash ("Mar")


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