Hundreds of UPA documents found in Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast

Photo: Hal-info 

History, Ukraine

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

During an outing in the forest, three residents of Rohatyn, Ivano-Frankivsk Oblast – Volodymyr Dzera, Vasyl and Taras Verkalets – found an old Polish milk can with unique documents belonging to General Roman Shukhevych, Commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), dated about 1945.

Volodymyr Dzera, Vasyl and Taras Verkalets with milk can containing UPA documents

According to Ruslan Zabily, Director of the National Memorial Museum “Tiurma na Lontskoho” (Prison on Lonskoho) in Lviv, this is a unique find as about 90 percent of the materials originate from the Trans-Curzon* territories (Закерзоння, Zakerzonnia).

*Zakerzonnia (Trans-Curzonia, Polish: Zakerzonie) is an informal name for the territories of Poland to the west of the Curzon Line which used to have a sizeable Ukrainian population, including significant Lemko, Boyko and Ruthenian populations, before the invasion of Poland by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in 1939, and were claimed as ethnically Ukrainian territories by Ukrainian nationalists in the aftermath of WW2. About 700,000 Ukrainians speakers lived in Poland after World War II within the new borders. They were a demographic majority in many areas along a long border strip running from Chełm almost to Krakow.

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), at the height of their control of the territories, planned to create a Transcurzon Republic. The demography of Zakerzonnia was drastically changed by the forced resettlement of the Ukrainian population, with major expulsion of Ukrainians from Poland to the Soviet Union (1944-1946) and Operation Vistula (1947).

“This happened on Saturday, January 12. We decided to spend some time in the nearby forest, and fate led us to this incredible place on Old New Year’s Day!” says Vasyl Verkalets.

The milk can was buried 15-20 cm deep. As soon as the men saw the old shape of the lid, they realized they had stumbled on something from the distant past.

“We decided to dig it up and make sure that it wasn’t empty. We opened it, saw some old UPA documents, and decided to take everything back to town.” recalls Volodymyr Dzera.

The men then decided to hand the documents over to specialists in their town. They contacted Olha Blaha, director of the Rohatyn Museum of History “Opillya”, who informed Ruslan Zabily in Lviv.

On January 17, Ruslan Zabily, Director of the National Memorial Museum “Tiurma na Lontskoho” took possession of all the material, which will be treated, preserved and digitized by specialists. It will be available on the Electronic Archives of the Ukrainian Liberation Movement page.

Ruslan Zabily, Director of the National Memorial Museum “Tiurma na Lontskoho”, examines findings

Zabily noted that the documents include instructions on how the Ukrainian underground should react to the Polish authorities in 1945-46, reports on events in the Trans-Curzon territories, as well as military orders issued by UPA headquarters and tactical regiments that operated in that territory.

“Most of the documents are devoted to Ukrainian-Polish relations and, given today’s situation, to the historical discourse of Ukrainian-Polish relations, so, this finding is very, very important, because it can shed light on many unknown aspects of our history.” said Ruslan Zabily.

A brief review of the documents suggests that the materials contain information on UPA activities in Lviv and Ternopil Oblasts and in Zakerzonnia. It is assumed that they were delivered to Commander-in-chief Roman Shukhevych, who had spent some time near Rohatyn. A curious ink caricature of Shukhevych himself was found in the milk can. There are many Soviet-style documents, trophies, a Czech poster, as well as reports and protocols issued by the security service. Finally, financial statements and cash documentation were also found.

Ink caricature of UPA Commander-in-chief Roman Shukhvych. Photo: Hal-info

“We can’t say anything about the caricature yet as we don’t even know which partisan detachment these documents belong to. Seeing that Rohatyn was of great importance in UPA activities, because it was at the crossroads of three regions, it’s clear that these documents were transferred to Zakerzonnia so that the leaders of the Ukrainian liberation movement could study and work on them.” explained Ruslan Zabily.


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Translated by: Christine Chraibi

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