EconomyUSSR crimes in western Ukraine 1939-1941: imprisonment, torture and...

USSR crimes in western Ukraine 1939-1941: imprisonment, torture and deportation


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(“Opinion” rubric)

On September 17, 1939, the Red Army crossed the Soviet-Polish eastern border and occupied Western Ukraine. Joseph Stalin entrusted the occupation of the territories of Western Ukraine to the commander of the Ukrainian Front, Marshal Semyon Tymoshenko, who in his manifesto to the Ukrainian population spoke of “the liberation of the Ukrainian people of Western Ukraine from the yoke of the Polish masters” and ” the protection of life and property of its population”. “A new life begins in it without owners, without oppression and violence,” – these were the words of the manifesto.

“The first thing that struck us was the “proletarian” appearance of the Bolshevik army and the very simple clothes, even of the “commanders”, further, inconceivable, uncultured faces and simple movements…” – recalled a Ukrainian church and public face. Gavriil Kostelnyk for a meeting with Red Army soldiers on the streets of Lviv.

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According to , from the first minute, when the Bolsheviks entered the territories of western Ukraine, two signs of the Soviet man stood out to them: his poverty and lack of education. they rushed to new furniture and household items like children to toys. A week later, the search for manufacturing, finished goods and shoes began in Lviv. When the shops of Lviv began to empty and the locals had nothing to live on and had to sell their possessions, the so-called “Paris” became the market place for the Soviet people, a large square where commerce flourished under the open sky .

In September-October 1939, former leaders of political, cultural and educational, economic and other organizations of Western Ukraine were repressed

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Immediately after the entry of Soviet troops into Lviv, the leading figures of the legitimate Ukrainian parties formed a delegation led by the 80-year-old elder of Galician Ukrainian politicians Costem Levitskywho on September 24, 1939 met with the First Commander of the Soviet Guard in Lviv, General Ivanov and political representative of the Soviet government Mishchenko. The latter assured that the Soviet government would bring the Ukrainian people not only liberation, but also prosperity, while paying no attention to the activities of citizens so far and demanding only full loyalty from everyone.

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However, already on September 30, it was Kost Levytskyi.

In his memoirs he wrote: “The journey was long and tiring. I had neither a pillow nor a kotcha (blanket) nor any medicine with me. After a few days, we arrived in Moscow. There I was put in a prison car without windows, with separate cabins for each prisoner… So I went to the “Internal Prison” (Lubyanka) in Moscow, which was reserved for the most serious criminals. Here I was to spend more than a year and a half, from October 29, 1939 to May 14, 1941.”

In September-October 1939, former leaders of political, cultural and educational, economic and other organizations of Western Ukraine, including: Ivan Nimchuk, Green Tersakovets, Dmytro Levitsky, Volodymyr Tselevich, Ostap Lutsky, Volodymyr Starosolskyi, Ivan Novodvorsky and many others.

To legitimize Soviet power in the territories of Western Ukraine, on October 22, 1939, elections of deputies to the People’s Assembly of Western Ukraine were held. The electoral process was the same as in all elections in the USSR: there was only one candidate in each constituency.

On October 26–28, 1939, the People’s Assembly of Western Ukraine was held on the premises of the Lviv Opera House, which on October 27 adopted the Declaration “On the Entry of Western Ukraine into the U.S.S.R. and Reunification with the Ukrainian SSR.”

After the completion of the People’s Assembly, a Red Army parade was held in Lviv.

According to the Verkhovna Rada of the USSR dated November 1, 1939 and the Verkhovna Rada of the Ukrainian SSR dated November 15, 1939, Western Ukraine became part of the USSR.

During the period of the first Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine in 1940–1941, there were four waves of population deportation

The establishment of Soviet power in Western Ukraine was carried out in the usual way for the Stalinist regime: by the use of repression. The activity of the NKVD organs to establish absolute control over the population of the region became a necessary condition against the nationally conscious part of the population of Western Ukraine. To this end, on December 30, 1939, the Supreme Council of the USSR adopted a resolution on the issuance of passports in the western regions of Ukraine. This campaign ended on May 15, 1940.

During the period of the first Soviet occupation of Western Ukraine in 1940-1941, there were four waves of population deportation. The first mass deportations took place in Lviv on the night of April 13-14, 1940.

Ukrainian journalist and public figure Maria Strutinskawhose husband is a Ukrainian social and political figure Mykhailo Strutynskyi, muttered the Bolsheviks: “The fear of deportation was the end of all tortures. For two years, namely from the fateful 13 April 1940, when thousands of people were dragged from their beds in one night, the whole region lived with the impression that every minute every citizen could be uprooted from his birthplace and thrown somewhere. in the limitless Asian lands. Much more so for us, members of the families of those arrested, this impression grew into a terrible certainty. We all gathered the necessary things already then, in April, and we all waited for the day and the time.”

In April 1940 swept the second wave of displacements, which included the families of the oppressed. The premises of the deported families were handed over to the local authorities.

The mass arrests of the Ouniv undergrounds began as early as March 1940.

In September there was a new wave of arrests. On January 15–18, 1941, 59 young Ukrainians (37 boys and 22 girls), mostly Lviv university students, were put on trial in Lviv at the premises of the NKVD regional office of the second branch of the OUN).

42 participants in the trial were sentenced to be shot, 17 to 10 years of forced labor in concentration camps and 5 years of exile as an additional punishment. After the case was reviewed, the sentence of the 21st sentenced to be shot was commuted to 10 years in the camps, and many others had their sentences reduced. One of the defendants, Iryna Pik, as a US citizen, fled the USSR.

On February 18, 1941, over members of the OUN in Ternopil. 21 young people appeared before Soviet “justice”. On the fourth day the verdict came out, 10 people were sentenced to death.

On May 7, 1941, 62 citizens of Ouniv were put on trial in the town of Drohobych (“Trial of the 62s”), and on May 12-13, 1941, the trial of 39 citizens of Ouniv (“Trial of the 39s”) took place in the same town.

Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches were attacked

There were also Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic churches. The theological faculty of Lviv University, the Roman Catholic seminary were closed, hundreds of priests were oppressed.

“In every interrogation they tortured me. They beat me sometimes with a rubber stick, sometimes with an iron stick, pulled my hair from my head, hung me on a hook with a string, twisted my hands. Once, during the beatings, blood gushed from my mouth. The insurgent grabbed a dirty rag that was near the spittoon and put it in my mouth,” – the abbess of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic monastery of the Studitok brothers in Lviv Elena Witter.

With the start of the German-Soviet war on June 22, 1941, the retreating Bolsheviks hastily destroyed the traces of their crimes.

From June 22 to 28, 1941, mass executions of political prisoners continued in the prisons of Western Ukraine.

Ukrainian writer Bohdan Kazanievsky this is how he described the executions in the Lviv prison “Brygidka”, in which he was alone and escaped when the NKVD left the prison:

“When there was no more room in the pub to hide the bodies, they dug a pit in the prison yard and dumped the bodies there. The prisoners were placed over the bank of the pit, shot, and their bodies fell into the pit…”

Before the retreat, the Chekists set fire to “Bryhydki”.

Olena Viter was lucky enough to escape from the Lontsky Street prison in Lviv, in the outer courtyard of which bodies were found buried. Chekists also left corpses in the prison cells. Before the execution, each prisoner was subjected to terrible torture, which was indicated by broken arms, legs and ribs, cut off ears, gouged out eyes.

In Shabir prison on June 26, 1941, under the women’s section of the prison, he was taken from two cells and thrown into the air. About 30 women were there. The bodies were found in a pit in front of Zolochiv prison, doused in gasoline and burned.

On June 22, 1941, the Egavedists transferred the participants of the “Process of 59” who were sentenced to be shot, but received a pardon, from the Lviv prison “Brygidka” to the prison in Berdychiv. In early July, when the front approached Berdichev, the Egavedists threw grenades at her. The boys broke down the cell doors and the prisoners were released.

After the end of the Second World War, humanity presented these atrocities of the Moscow Bolsheviks to the international court, because the motto was: “Victors are not judged.”

Anna Belorussia – history teacher

The views expressed in the “Point of view” column convey the views of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of Radio Liberty

source: radio svoboda

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I am a news writer at 24 Happenings. I have worked as a copywriter, storyteller, and content creator for several companies. In my spare time, I like to read and play video games.


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