Alina Czerniakowska

Whenever there are round anniversaries, the government and various mass media are 'forced' to celebrate or at least register a particular event. Sometimes they would like to forget, overlook it but the memory of the nation is an obstacle. It is impossible to kill it. It is so with the 70th anniversary of the crime called the Volhynia crime. It concerns genocide on a big area of southern-eastern Poland.

When the anniversary of July was forthcoming, in media there appeared interviews, evaluations, discussions of various experts. All arguments led to divagations on how the Ukrainians had fought with Poles, considered as invaders, oppressors, lords ('Lachomsmiert!'). And there would not by anything astonishing in it that a nation starts a fight for right ideals. It has been so for ages that nations were fighting with one another, armies were attacking one another, some of them won, some of them lost. It astonishes me that nobody of wise commentators or debaters says that it was not any fight! It was a horrible murder, so bestial that it was impossible to explain reasonably! After all, it took place in XX century, in the middle of Europe, in Poland, which was heroically fighting at that time in all fronts of the world 'for our and your freedom!' It took place 'among fields carefully grown and tidy houses, full of God and work, faithful to the holy tradition of our ancestors' - as was written by Franciszek Stefczyk in his notes, a pre-war creator of rural cooperatives, traversing the path from Lvov to Cracow.

My father told me about it similarly in 1939, as a young cavalryman, with his 11th Cavalry Regiment he got onto areas of southern-eastern Poland. He was from the gentry family and could evaluate those hosts in a suitable way. 'The real Poland was on the Borderlands - he reminisced - Carefully grown lands, well-kept houses and household buildings, friendly, warm-hearted, clean people, who are also faithful to tradition, God and Homeland. Everybody, very hard-working, went out to a field in the early morning, housewives at home and home help were preparing meals, were looking after children and the elderly, unable to work in household. Everybody was respected and nobody asked whether it was an Ukrainian man or a Polish man, when a neighbour was in need'. My father could not believe later that everything was destroyed there, flooded with blood of Poles living on their primeval lands for ages! When men went to fight with the invader, Ukrainian murderers were sneaking unexpectedly with axes, knives, saws and were killing children, mothers, pregnant women, fathers, grandfathers in a terrible way, as well as whole families living on their land for generations!

One can only look at one of the books by Lucyna Kulińska 'Children of Borderlands' - pure facts, reports of those who saved their lives miraculously , escaped and hid in the rye, in a forest….These were still children but they remember exactly because it is impossible to stifle this trauma, or remove it from one's memory. The pictures come back at night and during a day, and squeeze out the rest of tears and it is so till the end.

'In the morning I got out of a hide. On the threshing floor there were burnt debris of about 40 victims. I recognised my mum by her cuddling two little children. I recognised aunt Justyna by a piece of her not completely burnt red sweater. I did not go further. My father as one of the first, was killed with an axe. At home of Łukasz Wereszczyński everybody was burnt. Outside the house of the Krajewscy family, victims were murdered with knives and axes. Marysia Różycka had her belly cut through with an axe and her guts taken out….Our house was wealthy, but bandits took everything. I hid in a forest, and ate grains of spikes. I was wounded in my hand which got swollen and ached a lot. I was nearly 7 years old and was alone in the forest, I was crying and praying for death, in the way my mum had taught me to'.

Another remembrance: 'I was running away with my mum, my dad was asking the Ukrainians not to kill us, because they were our good acquaintances and we lived in a friendship….They cut off head of my grandmother with an axe, who was not able to run away. My dad was attacked with a knife and killed with a bayonet, he was moaning terribly. I and my two younger sisters started shouting terribly. A member of the Ukrainian nationalists caught the girls and cut them with a knife, another one killed my mum with an axe, and I was running away and shouting, and I fell into a pool behind the house. The bandit thought that I had drowned, and cursing, he returned to the area outside the house to murder others'.

These are all pages of the books being direct reports of those who survived in order to give a testimony. Can it be called a fight of the Ukrainian nation for independence? It is time to tell the truth for the sake of the good of the future generations. Today we must ask two basic questions: where are the boundaries of the human cruelty? Where are boundaries of the human suffering? We must try to answer the questions which will help us to prevent perversions, destructions of the human race.

Today the man has much more dangerous devices of crime. These are not just simple devices of household - axes, knives, hammers, saws, etc. but whole machines of destruction and killing, concealed under the mottos of the propaganda of the good, tolerance and modernity.


"Niedziela" 29/2013

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