Ukrainian Nationalist Genocide (1942-47)
Poland’s Eastern Borderlands of the 2nd Republic of Poland was highly multi-ethnic.
In Wolyn the Ukrainian population outnumbered the Polish population – of the 2 million or so inhabitants around 68% were Ukrainian.
The Ukrainian Nationalists desired a new Ukrainian state.
The OUN (Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists) in February 1943 created the Ukrainian Insurrectionist Army (Ukrains’ka Povstans’ka Armiia, UPA) which at its height numbered 40,000 men.
The principal aim of the UPA was to cleanse eastern Poland/western Ukraine of all Poles:
“We should undertake a great action of liquidation of the Polish element… to liquidate the entire Polish population… Forest villages… should disappear from the face of the earth”
In April 1943 the UPA began their terror campaign on the Polish population of Wolyn.
With most able-bodied men at the front, the majority of the victims were defenceless women, children and the elderly.
A feature of the UPA action was its sheer barbarity. The Poles were tortured and murdered with knives, scythes, axes, pitch forks, burnt alive, buried alive and thrown down wells to drown.
Many Ukrainians tried to shelter their Polish neighbours and ended up sharing the same horrific fates.
The only survivors were those who managed to flee to larger centres where the German occupying forces had garrisons. They were then deported by the Nazis to Germany as forced labour.
There is a general consensus among Western and Polish historians that Polish civilian casualties from the UPA in Wolyn range from 35,000 to 68,700 and neighbouring states 20,000-40,000.
Some extreme estimates place the total number of Polish victims as high as 300,000.
Lived in Wolyn through the German Occupation and survived the Ukrainian Nationalist Genocide