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The Course of the Murders
Volhynia Spring‐Fall 1943
During its first period of activity, UPA overtly espoused hostility to Jews. This comes out in both UPA documents and eyewitness testimonies. A leaflet that OUN distributed to Ukrainians of the neighboring Chełm region and Podlachia in August 1943 states: "...The eternal enemy of Ukraine, Moscow, sends for the destruction of the Ukrainian nation bands of gypsies, Muscovites, Jews, and otherrabble, the so‐called 'red partisans.'" We also have the conspectus of a certain Mykhailo Smenchak, who was undergoing political training with UPA or, perhaps, the banderist OUN. Lesson twelve concerned “our relations towards national minorities.” About Jews he wrote: “We consider them agents of Muscovite imperialism, formerly tsarist but now proletarian. Still, we have to first beat the Muscovites and then the surviving Jews (zhydiv nedobytkiv).” A Polish testimony speaks about an order to kill all the Poles, Jews, and communists in the area and throughout Ukraine. The author of the testimony heard about this from a Ukrainian friend who fed them while he and his family hid in the forest. The friend warned the family not to return to their home.
Another Polish testimony said that UPA soldiers passing through the Polish colony of Głęboczyca, Volodymyr‐Volynskyi county were heard to be singing: Vyrizaly my zhydiv, vyrizhemo i liakhiv, i staroho, i maloho do iednoho; Poliakiv vyrezhem, Ukrainu zbuduiem.
Immediately below I summarize Jewish survivor testimonies and memoirs that describe the
activities of UPA in Volhynia in the period from spring through fall 1943.
Then about twelve years old, Seweryn Dobrszklanka, remembered the emergence of the
banderite UPA in Volhynia. He was Jewish and staying with a Polish family in a forested area of Berezne raion, Rivne oblast. His situation there was good, and the family would have let him stay beyond the spring of 1943 if UPA had not started killing Poles and Jews in the area. He fled to the forest, but one day the banderites surrounded the forest and searched it. They found three Jewish bunkers and killed over two hundred Jews with grenades and rifles. They also killed dozens of other Jews at different times. Later the boy went to work for a Ukrainian farmer. The banderites saw him and did not touch him. They said that they were no longer going to kill Jews, but it turned out this was a trap. Many Jews were deceived and came out of the forest, settling in the homes of Poles who had fled or been killed. His mother was in a house with both Jews and Poles. Ukrainians came to the door, and most of the house’s inhabitants did not expect that they were in danger, since the killing seemed to have stopped. His mother, however, and some others managed to escape. The banderites told those who remained in the house to lie on the floor. They proceeded to kill a dozen Jews and ten Poles using a machine gun. His mother went to another house in the predawn hours to check on her other son, Seweryn’s brother, and found his corpse and that of a little girl. The mother then took Seweryn away from the Ukrainian farmer, whom they no longer trusted. This could have been in mid‐October. His mother and he went deep into the forest where about a hundred Jews were living in bunkers. Some Polish partisans were also nearby. In late December UPA attacked the forest. They caught about twenty Jews and let them go, saying that this was now Ukrainian territory. But Seweryn and his mother did not trust them, sure that this was another trap.
At the age of twelve Mordechaj Kleinman fled from the ghetto in Ludwipol, Kostopil county (on
the site of Ludwipol is now Sosnove, Berezne raion, Rivne oblast). After working for a while for a Polish farmer, he eventually ended up in the forest with a group of about twenty Jews, partially armed and in touch with pro‐Soviet partisans. He remembered the woods as full of partisans of various types. He singled out the “Ukrainian‐nationalist partyzantka” for shooting at the Jews.
Jakub Grinsburg, a boy of fifteen who was hiding in and around Radyvyliv, Rivne oblast, in the
second half of 1943 and early 1944, had known two Jews whom the banderivtsi killed in the nearby
village of Sytne. He himself was caught by a “Ukrainian‐banderivets’.” The banderivets’ was taking him to a field in order to kill him, but he managed to escape.
Jewish testimonies state that UPA killed Jews at the same time it was killing Poles. The Poles who had been hiding Vera Shchetnikova and her brother in 1943 were killed by the banderivtsi, and the banderivtsi also killed Jews.
Polish testimonies corroborate that UPA killed Jews together with Poles. On 23 July 1943 UPA
soldiers tried to kill a Jew in the largely Ukrainian village of Ochnówka, Volodymyr‐Volynskyi county, but the man managed to escape. They killed his son and severely beat and wounded his wife, who was Polish. An UPA attack in July or August 1943 on the village of Medwedówka, Kostopil county, left fiftyseven dead, mainly Poles, but also four Jews who were hiding among them. In late August 1943 an UPA unit killed Jews who were hiding with Poles in Głęboczyca, Volodymyr‐Volynskyi county. On 30 August 1943 Ukrainian detachments headed by Fedor Hałuszko and recruited from local nationalists and communists burned the village of Myślina, Kovel county, and murdered the inhabitants, mainly Poles, but also four Jewish families, including three children.28 When UPA attacked the Polish village of Rudnia Potasznia, Kostopil county, in October 1943, they also killed a Jewish couple.
Polish testimonies also mention murders that seem to have been more directed at Jews alone.
UPA killed a Jew named Moszek in the village of Bubnów, Horokhiv county.30 In September 1943 UPA
soldiers killed two Jewish boys, Abram and Berko, who were hiding in the colony of Piłsudszczyzna, Horokhiv county.31 In fall 1943 Ukrainians killed a Jewish woman named Agapujew hiding in the colony of Zalesie, Kostopil district.32 Osada Osowa, Kostopil county, was a Jewish settlement with a prewar population of about 900. The Jews of Osowa engaged in agriculture as well as crafts and trade. By 1943 Jewish survivors of Osowa were hiding in the nearby woods, which were systematically searched by UPA.
When UPA found these survivors, they murdered them. In the Czech village of Nowiny Czeskie, Dubno
county, about twenty Jews were still alive at some point in 1943 when an UPA soldier pretending to be a Soviet partisan lured them to the forest, supposedly to the partisans. Instead, they were murdered there.
Polish testimonies also speak of UPA denouncing Polish settlements to the Germans for
harboring Jews. On 16 June 1943 a German battalion surrounded the Polish village of Huta Stepańska, Kostopil county, as a result of UPA denunciations that the villagers had organized a well armed partisan unit that received drops from aircraft, had a short‐wave radio and artillery, printed and distributed anti‐German leaflets, cooperated with Soviet partisans, and hid Jews. After investigating, the Germans left the village. In fact, though, young Jewish refugees, the brothers Waks, had come to Huta Stepańska precisely because it was a well armed camp. At first the Poles did not trust them, suspecting them of being Ukrainians or spies from the Ukrainians, and threatened to kill them. But a man on horseback told the Polish police to let them go. In late spring 1943 [probably, however, July 1943], “the Ukrainian bandit army” attacked the village to kill the Poles, and the Waks brothers fled together with the Poles to Rafałówka. 36 Battles with the banderivtsi and the Poles’ distrust of the Jewish partisans also figure in the account of Gitla Szwarcblatt.
The Polish colony of Ludwikówka, Dubno county, had been attacked unsuccessfully several times
by UPA. UPA denounced the colony to the SS for harboring Jews and Soviet partisans. On the night of 13 July 1943, a large unit of SS, Vlasovites, and Ukrainian police attacked the village and burned most of the colony’s inhabitants in a barn.
In confirmation of the eyewitness reports of UPA’s murders of the Jewish population in Volhynia
in 1943 we can adduce reports from the Mykhailo Kolodzinsky division (zahin) of UPA, whose Book of Reports (Knyha zvitiv) has been preserved. The division operated in the forests of Volhynia; it routinely killed any surviving Jews it encountered and reported on this to its superiors. “On 14 November  the platoon with the platoon’s Polish [word illegible], following up a denunciation, attacked Jews who had settled in the forest near Ostrivtsi. Having shot four Jews, two escaped, and they caught two alive.”
Ostrivtsi is a village about half way between Rafalivka and Volodymyrets in Rivne oblast. “On 15
December  the [unit’s] cavalry in the village of Selets caught ten Hungarian Jews who had left a work battalion. That very day they were dispatched to ‘the bosom of Abraham.’” Selets is in Dubrovytsia raion, Rivne oblast. The Kolodzinsky division was part of UPA Army‐North. Based near Dubrovytsia, it reported to the commander of the “Zahrava” military district.40 The German historian Franziska Bruder also found an OUN‐UPA report from 20 September 1943 that said: “[The Jews,] almost completely liquidated, in small groups or as individuals hide in the woods and wait for a change in the political situation. We ourselves liquidated in the Horyn [River] region seven Jewish men and a Jewish woman.”