THE DEACONRY OF BUCZACZ. In 1939, this district was inhabited by 45,314 Poles. Among its 17 parishes, Barycz numbered 4,875, Buczacz 10,257, Koropiec 2,353, Kowalowka 3,009, Monasterzyska 7,175 . . . In Barycz, a couple of Polish families were murdered by Ukrainians in 1939 ... One of the Biernackis had a leg severed ... But the main attack took place on the night of 5-6 July 1944, when 126 Poles were killed. Men, women and children were shot, or hacked to death with axes. The "Mazury" ward of the town was burned down. The attackers were armed with machine guns and shouted "Rizaty, palyty" (kill, burn). The survivors fled to Buczacz, where they survived the winter in terrible conditions, in ex-Jewish houses without doors or windows ...
The [Catholic] parish of Nowostawce, though sparsely inhabited, contained three Greek-Catholic parishes within its bounds. The ratio of Poles to Ukrainians was 2:3. In 1939 co-existence was still possible. But conditions worsened after the German Occupation. In 1944, when the German-Soviet front line passed through, nothing but ruins remained ...
The vicar of Korosciatyn reported an attack on his village on 28 February 1944. 78 persons were shot, smothered or axed in the vicarage cellar ... Some ninety people had perished in an earlier attack in 1943. Then typhus carried off a further fifty. A curious thing occurred. The village had thirteen so-called "wild marriages". All of them died except one.
In Koropiec, no Poles were actually murdered. But it was reported that the Greek-Catholic pulpits resounded to calls regarding mixed Polish-Ukrainian marriages: "Mother, you're suckling an enemy -- strangle it."
Forty years after the event, the Roman Catholic Church in Poland was still trying to document the wartime 'ethnic cleansing' perpetrated in the former eastern provinces. Estimates of casualties range from 60,000 to 500,000.
Buczacz, or Buchach, was one of scores of districts which shared a similar fate. It lay in the Archdiocese of Lwow covering the former provinces of Volhynia and Red Ruthenia (East Galicia). Its pre-war population was made up of Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews. All three communities were scourged by Soviet repressions at the start of the war. Then the Jews were killed by the Nazis. After that, the Poles were attacked by Ukrainians, Finally, the returning Soviets destroyed anyone connected with independent organizations.
Ethnic cleansing in wartime Poland was started in 1939-41 both by the Nazis, who cleared several western regions for German resettlement, and by the Soviets, who deported millions from the East. After 1941, it was taken up by parts of the Polish underground, who sought to resettle displaced Poles by driving out Ukrainians from central Poland, and by the Ukrainian Insurrectionary Army (UPA), who terrorized Poles. In 1945, the" communists completed the cleansing of Poles from Ukraine and, through 'Operation Vistula', of Ukrainians from the 'Polish People's Republic'. At Potsdam, AlIied policy approved the expulsion of all Germans from east of the Oder (see p. 1047).
The UPA came into being in October 1942 to protect western Ukraine from growing bands of Soviet partisans infiltrated behind German lines. (Its commander, General Roman Shukevich, 'Chuprynka', fought on until captured in 1950.) However, when the rising communist tide had been stemmed neither by the Wehrmacht nor by the formation of the SS Galizien, the Ukrainian underground adopted desperate solutions. Western Ukraine was heading for the return either of Soviet or of Polish rule. The more radical elements then decided to wipe out their most vulnerable adversaries, namely Polish civilians. They had no compunction in killing anyone who opposed them:
11 March 1943. In the Ukrainian village
of Litogoszcz (Volhynia), Ukrainian nationalists murdered a Polish
school teacher whom they had abducted. Together with this Pole
they murdered several Ukrainian families who opposed the massacre.
In a conflict with strong religious undercurrents, the clergy were selected for bestial treatment: Revd Ludwik Wlodarczyk from Okopy was crucified; Revd Stanislaw Dobrzanski from Ostrowka was beheaded with an axe: Revd Karol Baran was sawn in half in Korytnica; Revd Zawadzki had his throat slit ...
In post-war Eastern Europe, all war crimes were officially ascribed to the Nazis. Victims from areas like Buczacz were lumped together in the 'Twenty Million Russian War Dead', or otherwise hidden by silence. The multinational dimensions of the tragedy were not appreciated. All nationalities have been guilty of publicizing their own losses, and of ignoring others, although one sometimes meets accounts of shared suffering:
Between May and December 1942, more than 140,000 Volhynian Jews were murdered. Some who had been given, refuge in Polish homes were murdered together with their Polish protectors in the spring of 1943, when, of 300,000 Poles living in Volhynia, 40,000 were murdered by Ukrainian 'bandits'. In many villages, Poles and Jews fought together against the common foe.
But no overall, even-handed survey of wartime genocide has been undertaken. Attempts to establish Polish or Catholic losses, for example, inevitably sideline Jewish and Ukrainian losses. They stress the role of Jewish and Ukrainian collaborators in the Soviet service, or of Ukrainian units under German command. They are not concerned with the activities of Silesian Poles in German Schupo units, nor with the Polish co-operation with the Soviet Army. It is not part of their brief to count the UPA's Jewish and Ukrainian victims. Any exercise which looks at one side alone is bound to generate distortions.
Buczacz, incidentally, was the home town of Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi-hunter extraordinary,
Copyright(c) 1993 by Norman Davies. Used by permission of Oxford University Press, Inc.