Monday, November 16, 2020

They burned their friends alive. The Volhynian Massacre

 Wanda Grabowska (born in 1924) witnessed the Volhynian Massacre. In March 1943, a Ukrainian from a neighboring village warned the Poles that their village would be massacred. The residents of Wólka Kotowska and its surroundings started keeping watch. In May, they learned about murders committed in other villages. They started to hide their belongings in grain fields and stopped sleeping in their houses. The massacre of Wólka Kotowska began on 4 July. That very night, Wanda Grabowska happened to be sleeping at the house. A neighbor woke her up in the morning. The village was robbed and set on fire, there was a lot of noise. Wanda Grabowska and her fmaily escaped into the forest barefoot. Her father managed to grab only a chest with grain for the horse. Many residents were murdered. Some of them hid in a house near the Ołyka train station, hoping to escape in case of an attack. The Ukrainians, however, attacked from the direction of the station and killed them all. The Ukrainians grabbed one villager, Jan Wilk, a physician assistant who used to always help them, and gouged his eyes out. Wanda Grabowska escaped into the forest, where the Soviet partisans were active. They escorted the survivors of the massacre to the forest near Przebraże, where the Poles organized a defence unit. But the Ukrainians weren't the only threat: the Germans bombarded the camp in the forest and killed an entire Polish family who was in contact with the Soviet partisans. The survivors collected dishes and food in a nearby village abandoned by the Germans. They also received food from the Ukrainians from a nearby village that remained neutral. When the war ended, the Poles were told to register, as they had to be displaced. Wanda Grabowska's father was certain they would return home. The shock caused by the news that they would be sent elsewhere gave him a heart attack.

Volhynia Poland Ukraine OUN-B Bandera massacre genocide war crimes death squads

Pilecki Institute

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