UPA underground bunker found in forest near Mykolayiv, Lviv Oblast

Members of Urban Explorer Lviv. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv  

Civil Society, History

Several members of Urban Explorer Lviv – Sviatoslav Denysiuk, Andriy Ryshtun, Oleksandr Ivanov, Ihor Ivashkiv and Andriy Royuk – recently discovered and explored a “kryyivka” (underground bunker/safe house) in a forest near Mykolayiv, Lviv Oblast.

The entrance hole viewed from above. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Getting down into the bunker only by means of mountain equipment. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

This is a unique find as the entire underground area has remained intact and unchanged since the days of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), which operated in the area and across Ukraine from 1942 to 1949. Local historians claim that a UPA printing house functioned here, while others believe that it could have been used as an underground hospital.

View from the entrance. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

The bunker has several chambers where you can stand upright. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Urban Explorer has posted many photos on their FB page and writes the following:

“We have posted many great photos taken by some members of this expedition. In the comments, well-known scholars write that the “kryyivka” chambers could have been hewn out of the rocks several centuries before the UPA actually found them. Moreover, others say that it may have housed not only a printing press, but also a UPA hospital. In one word, there’s a lot of room for additional research and exploration. The main thing is that there’s a real desire to do something…”

Many artifacts were found in the bunker. Shovel with long handle probably used for excavation work. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Remnants of broken crockery. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

It was not easy to find this underground safe house. Access through the dense forest with similar-looking trees and vegetation was difficult. The explorers had to use mountain-climbing equipment to get down the entrance hole. But, it is probably this remoteness that saved the “kryyivka” from complete ruin. Most “kryyivkas” were built underground and fortified with wooden beams that rotted and disintegrated over the years. But, the Mykolayiv bunker was hewn out of rock, and the entrance hole, although covered with debris and dead branches, was virtually intact.

Part of a cabinet drawer. The wood has rotted, but the original shape is still visible. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Half-rotted barrel. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Photo film and other objects. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

The underground bunker has five chambers, corridors, ventilation holes, a well for drinking water and, of course, several exits to the outside world. The explorers also discovered remnants of wooden barrels, wooden drawers, a radio station battery, and different tools used for cutting stone. There were no inscriptions or rubbish.

Hollowed-out well, into which water flowed from channels in the ceiling. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Radio station battery. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

This “kryyivka” deserves to be explored and open to the public. It is a good example of how Ukrainians fought against occupation forces back in the forties. In fact, not many authentic underground safe houses have been preserved in Ukraine, and most of the ones that we can visit have been reconstructed.

Local historians have promised to study the area and the actual bunker. A volunteer organization plans to clean the area, make the entrance hole more accessible, and create a bike route to the location.

One of the chambers. You can see niches that held wooden beams, either to protect from the cold or used as supports for bunk beds. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Ventilation holes bringing air into the chambers. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

20 of these little creatures were sleeping in one of the chambers. Photo: Urban Explorer Lviv

Explorer Andriy Ryshtun notes that there are at least three smaller underground bunkers nearby. Therefore, in those days, the NKVD was probably too afraid to travel through or past this forest.

More photos here

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