Together with the Soviet occupation of Poland, repressions towards Poles started. They were either murdered or transported to the Soviet Union. Similarly as during the partitions, new national disagreements were raised. Moreover, soon the hostility of the Ukrainians towards the Poles grew, who were thought to be one of the main obstacles in gaining independence of Ukraine. There were first murders of Polish families. However, the main actions against Poles, the Ukrainian organizations OUN and UPA were begun during the German occupation of the polish Republic in the years 1941 - 45

According to estimated data of the historians of the Ukrainian genocide – Ewa and Władysław Seimiaszkowie, during the years 1939 – 47 the Ukrainians murdered over 200 thousand Poles and also hundreds of the Ukrainians hiding their Polish neighbours. Also thousands of Jews were murdered. The slaughter was committed in nearly 5 thousand of villages on the area of 4 provinces: of Lvov, Stanisławow, Tarnopol and Volyn. The murders also took place after the war (Władysław Siemaszko, Ewa Siemaszko ‘Genocide committed by the Ukrainian nationalists on the Polish people of Volyn: 1939 – 1945’).

A slaughter committed on the day of orthodox feasts

One of the first mass crimes registered by the historians, was a murder in Parośla in the beginning of February 1943. During a few hours 173 people were murdered. There were 12 survivors and among them there were a few injured children. At the end of April in the village Janowa Dolina, also during a few hours 600 people were murdered. Killing was started at night of the Holy Thursday and the Good Friday. At the end of May 170 people were killed in the village Niemodlin. Whereas in August in Wola Ostrowiecka over 500 people were murdered, including 200 children.

The biggest crimes were on 11 July 1943, on the day of orthodox feasts of Peter and Paul. At that time, the Ukrainians attacked the inhabitants of 99 villages. One day a several thousand people were killed. History calls this day ‘a Volyn bloody Sunday’. The Ukrainians chose Sunday and were attacking villages and towns, when most inhabitants were going to divine services. They were murdering in churches or near churches. And, among the others, in the town Porycko, the Ukrainians threw and detonated an artillery shell during a divine service. At that time over 100 people were killed. During an hour the Ukrainians killed nearly 300 people on the area of the very town. In Chrynów in a porch, there was a machine gun, killing over 100 people in the church. Besides over 50 people were murdered.

Adults and children were killed. Laymen and priests. They were burned alive. They were killed with spears, axes, hammered into stilts…..The historians estimate there were nearly 150 ways of bestial murdering.

Not only people were destroyed, but also the estates of their life. Poles were robbed of their estates, even clothes of the murdered were taken away. Houses and households were burnt. Also courts. Today there is no sign of a few hundred Polish villages. The Ukrainians razed them to the ground, wanting to blur signs of genocide. However, in fact – as today the supporters of OUN and UPA say – in order to blur the signs of the presence of Lachs on the Ukrainian land’.

Ukrainians neighbours

Nearly 90-year-old Zygmunt Maguza, during the invasion of USSR into Poland was 14 years old. He lived with parents and a sister younger than him by 3 years in the Volyn colony in Chrynów. His father was fighting against the Bolsheviks, for which he had been rewarded twice: he received a Cross of Valour and Virtuti MIlitari. In 1923 he received 12 hectares of land in Volyn from the Polish government and soon he became a rich and respected host. Not only Poles trusted him, but also the Ukrainians domineering in the whole area, thanks to whom he was also elected a councillor soon. They had a happy life among the Ukrainian people. They visited one another. They used to be at weddings, baptisms. – And my mum was even a godmother of one of children of mixed Polish-Ukrainian married couples. She also used to go to Ukrainian weddings, because she sang beautifully – Zygmunt Maguiza mentions today. – Also Ukrainian dumka. And legion songs, which were eagerly listened to in Ukrainian houses. After Christmas we took off decoration from the Christmas tree quickly, so that our Ukrainian neighbours could decorate it at their homes, because they celebrated their Christmas two weeks later… I was a little boy, so I said hello only to adults. I did not know the complexity of Polish-Ukrainian relations. So, when everything started, I did not understand why the Ukrainians had murdered 40 people of our family. From being a few-week-old baby until the age of 80 years. There were three attempts to kill me. Once I have even dug a grave for myself.

It is ordered to kill you

A few weeks after the attack of the Soviets, NKWD deported parents of Zygmunt, with their 11-year-old daughter, to the USSR. And, it probably saved their life. They returned to Poland after nearly 7 years. Zygmunt, being 15-year-old boy at that time, was saved from the deportation, because at that time he was at school in Sokal near Lvov. – Attacks against Polish settlers living in Chrynów started just during the Soviet occupation. The Ukrainians and Jews denounced masses of Poles – answers Zygmunt Maguza. – However aggression towards Poles grew nearly just after the invasion of the Germans. One day a brother of my friend came to me, two years older than me. He was wandering around and around, and went away. As, I found out from him later, he had got an order from UPA to shoot me. And it was in autumn 1941. At that time there were rumors about murders done on Poles by the Ukrainians. But, in fact, very few people believed it. And, surely, not what concerned the youth. Because, why? Maybe the elderlies had some scores to settle with the Ukrainians. But children, the youth?

On one’s skin

Murders on particular Polish families repeated. They were also in the home town Maguzów, Chrynów, where nearly a several dozen polish families lived but a few hundred of them used to come to the Sunday Holy Masses every week, also in order to listen to sermons, beautifully preached by Fr. Jan Kotwicki. The murder in Chrynów took place on 11 July, after the morning Holy Mass. Over 150 people, including a parish priest were murdered in the church and near the church. – On that day I could not be at the Holy Mass. I was hiding and dodging among villages. The injured at my age told me about the slaughter. Even today I do not understand why the Ukrainians chose such beautiful and their important feast of the martyrs Peter and Paul as a day of murders? – asks Zygmunt Maguza with great emotions. – But murders of the Polish families started 2 months earlier. I remember one of the Ukrainian neighbours say to me: ‘Zygmunt, run away from here because it has been ordered to kill you’. I did not believe it, like many Poles. But one day, there appeared a young Ukrainian on a field, and shot at me. He missed, and the horse leaped. Trying to take control over it, I fell down. The Ukrainian took me to a nearby household. A dozen Ukrainians were there, who, as it turned out two days later, were murdering in the church in Chrynów. They started consulting with one another what to do with me. I was sure that I was losing my life. I was terrified. But while they were conferring with one another for a few minutes, my horse came up to my window. I felt an impulse and, after a while, I jumped out through the window. I jumped onto the horse. It set off at once. I heard shots. I bent over. One of the bullets injured the horse. I galloped to friends of our family in the neighbouring village. Hardly had I tied the horse to a fence, when 2 Ukrainians arrived on bikes. They ran into the house: Leon Rybka and an Ukrainian man. And he directed a gun at me. And the host Michał Okulski grabbed his hand and shouted in Ukrainian not to kill me. Okulska, who was an Ukrainian woman, started lamenting terribly. It made a terrifying impression on me; Not the fact that they wanted to kill me, but her lamenting not to kill me in the cottage. I was standing as if paralyzed, and Okulski bent over me and said quietly: ‘Run away! run away!’. So, I ran away. When you are 18 and terrified, you are running away like a wildcat. I was in a forest. I survived till the evening. Later Okulski gave me food and made a hiding place for me. In the morning he told me to go to his parents. I did. It had already been safe in their village, because the Ukrainians had killed the Rudnicki family. But I slept there and in the early morning I went to grandparents in Witoldów. I made about 20 km through villages, forests. The grandpa used to say: ‘Listen, the Ukrainians were looking for you. They were also asking about our sons, Feluś and Julcia’. The grandpa also made me a hiding place on the field of cereal. That evening, the Ukrainians visited the grandpa again and asked about me, as well as about his sons.

And hens were pecking bread for guests…

Zygmunt Maguza decided to run away further. He went to his grandma’s brother, Ignacy Gryglewicz, a blacksmith who was in friendship with many Ukrainian families. He shoed their horses. He did many things for their households, often not taking any money. He asked the boy: ‘Zygmuś, and why are they chasing you? Have you done anything bad to them?’. He did not believe that the Ukrainians were killing Poles only because they were Poles. He was sure that the boy was in panic. He even suspected him of cowardice. Zygmunt felt insulted by it. He thought that aunts and uncles were in friendship with many Ukrainian families, so, therefore, they must have felt safe. However, next day he decided to go to his uncle’s brother in the morning, living in Smołowa village situated a few kilometres away. He did not know that at that night they had been killed with their three little children. Also their parents-in-laws had been murdered. – I got up in the early morning. And, suddenly, I heard a shout of a woman running through a village: ‘People, run away! They are murdering Poles!’ – Zygmunt Maguza mentions with tears. – My uncle Gryglewicz was doing a rite at that time. His wife hid herself in cereal. Suddenly, the Ukrainians appeared in the yard and killed him with an ax. His neighbor Trofim killed him. The aunt saved herself and next day she ran away to areas of Lublin through forests. I went to grandparents. However, on my way, Poles and one of the Ukrainian neighbours warned me against going there. So, not earlier than next day I visited my grandparents and their son Julian.

What I saw led me to nervous breakdown. Doors were opened and on the floor there were military shells. Here and there hens were walking and pecking bread. My grandma always baked an extra loaf of bread. ‘Maybe sons will come or Ukrainian neighbor will come’ – she said. I went into a room from the kitchen, and my grandpa was lying shot on the floor.

The final of the tragedy

The story of the Ukrainian neighbor said that the 11-year-old daughter of grandparents, Weronika, had jumped out through a window. They shot her into her leg. And they killed her. She fell down. She was drawn into home. And she was shot….In the room there was a lot of blood, which was flowing into the kitchen. Everybody was shot and cut with an ax. Whole walls were splattered with blood and brains of the grandpa. On the walls there were also pieces of his skull. When he was shot, his head was hammered into lungs… Their son took these pieces of the skull and put them into his pocket like relics. It was dangerous, so only after three days we buried them on the yard between a barn and a cow shed.

After years

When I visited our colony 17 years later, it was so razed to the ground, that I could not find a place where we had buried the grandparents and Weronika. Buildings were burnt. Orchards were cut out. When I was watching this all, some Ukrainians recognized me, but others did not want to. They felt ashamed….At that time the Ukrainians of the surname Kozibrodowie were still alive. They had been in friendship with grandparents. When I was talking with them, they confirmed the version of the murder which I had already known.

Grandpa was shot by Petro Horbaczewski, but at that time, I did not know about it yet, so, during my first stay I greeted him. I was there again in May 1990. I recognized Horbaczewski. And he recognized me. But he ran away from me. The murders were done also by Władysław Prociuk and Matwiej Romaniuk. Neighbours of grandparents, the Sochów family were murdered, too. Janina Sochowa was killed while kneeling. And she was buried so, because it was impossible to straighten her body….She had such a shrinkage. …Yes….a big part of our Poland was killed there.


"Niedziela" 26/2013

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl