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Bill Thayer

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Chapter 20

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Ukraine under the Soviets
by Clarence Manning

published by
Bookman Associates
New York,

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 22

 p175  Chapter Twenty‑One

The Return of the Communists

The struggle of the U. P. A. against the returning Communists was no less bitter than the struggle with the Nazis but it was under very different conditions and the forces involved were more unequal. In the first place, the bulk of the fighting came after the conclusion of the hostilities of World War II and at a time when the Sovietophilism of the Western democratic powers was at its height.

The Nazis were during the entire period engaged with the Soviet forces beyond the borders of Ukraine and while they attempted to maintain their position in Ukraine, they frequently counted upon their ability to hold the chief road junctions and communities and exerted less effort to keep their garrisons in every separate village. The Soviet policy was to master the entire country and subject every aspect of Ukrainian life to their own power and control. They could therefore the more easily rely upon the use of overwhelming forces and endeavor to maintain a steady and never-ending pressure, while at the same time they could invoke every weapon in their propaganda arsenal to blacken their opponents in the mind of the democratic world.

Then, too, with the ending of formal hostilities there was no longer the possibility that the U. P. A. by its attacks upon one of its enemies could secure the weapons that would serve it in good stead against the other. This had been a marked feature of the earlier campaigns, for the Soviets had reconquered Kharkiv in the late fall of 1942, only to lose it in early 1943 and to recover it again later in the year. The Red Army recovered Kiev on November 6. In the spring of 1944 the Germans were forced to evacuate Lviv but they recovered the city and held it until the end  p176 of July. Thus, during this period of German retreat, the U. P. A. had been able to acquire large stores of munitions, which they could not hope easily to replace, once the major hostilities were over.

It was very soon evident that the efforts of the U. P. A. against the Soviet forces would take quite a different shape from their attacks on the Nazis. In the last stages of the war Stalin had organized many of the mobilized Ukrainians into various Ukrainian armies, so as to give the Western powers the idea that the Ukrainians were loyal to the Soviet Union. This added elements of a civil war to the struggle and the members of the U. P. A. decided to reduce their efforts against these Ukrainian forces of the Red Army and to substitute propaganda for a free Ukraine. In this respect they met with considerable success and through their masses of printed material and through personal contact, they more or less neutralized the Ukrainian divisions of the Red Army.

Instead, they concentrated their efforts against the NKVD detachments which were brought in from remote parts of the Soviet Union and in which the Russians formed the predominant personnel. It was the NKVD and the staffs of the Motor Tractor Stations who were now the chief part of the Soviet bureaucratic apparatus in the country and so the U. P. A. devoted its chief interest to working against these and to encouraging discontent on the collective farms, for the war was scarcely over when it was made clear that conditions were to be even stiffer and harder than they had been in the past.

The war in Ukraine had reduced the population to still worse depths of poverty than had been the case after 1918. Nevertheless, almost at once the villages were expected to make liberal gifts of grain to their beloved Stalin and the elder brothers, the Great Russians, who had, in the words of Stalin, won the victory over the Nazis and who would still protect them from the capitalists and warmongers of the West.

The events of the last months of fighting had shifted many of the organized forces of the U. P. A. to the Carpathian areas and this section which had struggled for its freedom against Hungary  p177 in 1939, now received a new master. As soon as the Soviet forces entered the region in the autumn of 1944, they immediately began a campaign to liberate this area from Czecho-Slovakia and reunite it to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. It was the same old story carried on in the same way as in 1939. There was a mass of petitions apparently prepared by the native population asking for liberation, but these were in reality the work of a handful of carefully selected Communists.

They speedily reached their goal and on June 29, 1945, President Benes of Czechoslovakia recognized the justice of their claims and by an agreement handed over the entire province which was duly reunited with their brothers in Moscow. This brought together under the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic nearly all the Ukrainians, except a few who were still living in Poland and in a small stretch of territory which the UkSSR voluntarily ceded to Poland to satisfy the increasing claims of the Polish Communists and their needs in their efforts to cement power in that state.

At the same time the realization by the Soviet authorities of the seriousness of the situation offered by the U. P. A. and the unrest among the Ukrainians led them to act on both the foreign and the domestic front. On the former they mobilized all of their friends and dupes abroad to stress the connection of the U. P. A., the "Bandera bandits," and the Nazi criminals and they achieved considerable success in closing the eyes of the west until they had won considerable victories over the various U. P. A. groups, for too many Western leaders failed to see the inconsistency that they preached. At one and the same time the Soviet authorities boasted of their complete control of the territory of Western Ukraine, thanks to the love of the population for the Red Army and in almost the same breath they declaimed against these armed forces which were holding up the advance of the Red Army and the NKVD in the very areas where the people were thirsting for liberation.

On the domestic front in the autumn of 1945 they sent a large force of men into the Carpathian area under the command of Khrushchov as Premier of the UkSSR and General Ryasny, the  p178 Minister of War, to endeavor to suppress these bands. Despite unprecedented torture of the population, the Soviets found that their progress was not so great as they had expected, for few of the Ukrainian units in their forces were enthusiastic about the campaign, when they saw the measures that the government was taking against their own families.

In the spring of 1946, they made another attempt, this time using some fifteen divisions of NKVD troops from the Far East, Siberia and Leningrad under the direct control of General Colonel Moskalenko. The authorities had been goaded to this renewed demonstration of force by the fact that the town of Stanislav in the Carpathian area had been seized by five battalions of the U. P. A. on October 31, 1945 as a discouragement to the Ukrainians to participate in the Soviet elections called for February 10, 1946. Despite the efforts of the Soviet guards, a considerable portion of the population failed to vote and when the attacks upon them were pressed, a detachment of the U. P. A. succeeded on May 3, 1946, in ambushing Moskalenko and killing him and his chief aids. This ended another campaign and still left the U. P. A. in control of parts of the Carpathian area.

In addition to these operations on purely Ukrainian territory, the U. P. A. undertook several raids across the borders in order to encourage dissatisfaction with Soviet rule among some of the neighboring peoples. Thus they established contact with similar groups in Slovakia, Byelorussia and Lithuania, while others cut their way across Hungary into Yugoslavia to join forces with the opponents of Communism in that area.

The raids into Slovakia were especially success­ful throughout 1945 and 1946 and were continued on a smaller scale during the next years. They served as an encouragement for the anti-Communist elements of the population and, of far more importance in the long run, they attracted the attention of Western journalists who for the first time began to realize the extent of the discontent that prevailed in the Soviet Union. More than that, with every step to the West, they were brought closer to the Western Zones of Germany and Austria and several well-armed detachments have  p179 during the past years fought their way into the American Zone, laid down their arms and surrendered. These brought the first really definite information to the West and while they have not received the attention that they deserved, they have undoubtedly encouraged the almost frantic desires of the Great Russian emigrés to pretend that they have an efficient under­ground operating at home.

The result of these raids produced an impression even upon the Czechs. Before the Communist coup d'état which placed the Communists in control of that country, the Czech Minister of War under Dr. Benes was approached by the Soviet authorities and the Communist Poles to check the opposition to Soviet Rule and to project joint operations on a large scale.

On March 29, 1947, General W. Świerczewski, the Communist Polish Vice Minister of War, was killed near the town of Baligrod. This again was too startling a revelation of the discontent and on May 12th of the same year, the three governments of the USSR, Poland and Czecho-Slovakia concluded a treaty of mutual assistance against this movement.

Faced by the increasingly organized power of the Communist regimes, the U. P. A. has been obliged to proceed with more caution and it has largely replaced mass movements with operations on a smaller scale with the idea of keeping alive a spirit of resistance within the country. It is becoming increasingly difficult for it to publish and circulate pamphlets but it is still able, in case of necessity, to impede seriously the Soviet attempts at deportation of the Ukrainian population and again and again it is able to damage severely the Motor Tractor Stations.

On March 5, 1950, General Chuprynka,​a the commander of the U. P. A., was tracked down and killed in the village of Bilohorska in the very neighborhood of Lviv. He had proved himself a more than competent leader and had been the soul of the U. P. A. since its foundation in 1943. His parents, his wife and his children had all perished in the struggle but he had never wavered in his belief in a final victory and he had become an almost legendary figure.

 p180  His death did not end the fighting, for he was succeeded in command by Colonel Vasyl Koval. Even operations were not suspended, for it is known that late in September of the same year, a detachment of the forces seized the town of Mukachiv in the Carpathians and retired to the mountains with the records of the MVD office there and two prisoners who had made themselves particularly obnoxious by their cruelty and their abuse of the local population.

Thus under the present circumstances the primary task of the U. P. A. is to maintain itself in being as an armed under­ground, to encourage the population, both of Ukraine and the other groups oppressed by the Russian Communists, and to carry on certain types of propaganda and of terroristic work which will serve to keep on the anxious seat the masters of the Kremlin. At the moment it does not have the possibility of undertaking by itself those extensive operations that it has done in the past but it is not idle and in the well-hidden bunkers and the forests, it is fostering those traditions which can be again galvanized into activity, if the moment for action arrives.

Thayer's Note:

a Taras Chuprynka was the nom de guerre of General Roman Shukhevych.

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Page updated: 25 Apr 22