Poland's Home Army can never be equated with UPA - FM


2017-11-10 01:44 update: 2018-09-30, 15:12
 Fot. Radek Pietruszka
Fot. Radek Pietruszka
"We will never allow the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), a WWII nationalist military formation, to be equated with the Home Army, Poland's main resistance movement during the war, Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski has told the Nasz Dziennik daily.

Referring to his latest visit to Lviv, the official said it was something like "a site inspection".


"The Lviv mission showed there are unexplained matters and no will - for the time being - to solve them", the diplomat stressed.


"We will never allow the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)(see: NOTE 1) to be equated with the Home Army (see: NOTE 2) - despite the fact that such remarks can be heard in statements made by some of our Ukrainian interlocutors", Minister Waszczykowski underlined.


The minister admitted that "various things could happen during a war" but emphasised that "the Home Army never had a policy of exterminating civilians on the territory where it was fighting against an occupier". "The UPA conducted a policy of extermination that is documented", he went on to say.


The official added that these problems were difficult but could be solved. "We will not give up", he declared.


According to Minister Waszczykowski, Ukraine needs "an advocate standing up for it". "Poland can continue to play such a role", he said, stressing that he had gone to Lviv to remind the Ukrainian side of this, among other things. "And I was one of the first politicians to have clearly presented this to the Ukrainians", he pointed out.


"We now clearly state: Russian interference in your country cannot be an excuse for postponing the settlement of problems and delaying your reforms. My predecessors passively waited, hoping that all matters would resolve themselves", the Polish official emphasised.


"We are still patient but other European countries, like Hungary and Romania, have already started to openly act against Ukrainian interests. For example, there will be no December NATO-Ukraine Commission meeting at the level of foreign ministers because of a Hungarian veto. But there will be a similar meeting with Georgia", Minister Waszczykowski added.


"We want to make the Ukrainians aware of the fact that they can face real problems, not necessarily created by Poland. But Poland can help solve them. Let us wait for their reaction", he said.


The foreign minister announced that preparations were under way for the Polish president to visit Ukraine in December.


"We are waiting for a programme proposal from the Ukrainian side", he underlined, asking whether Ukraine was able to propose an agenda that could solve some of the problems.


"Of course, a final decision regarding the visit is taken by the president", the minister concluded.



NOTE 1: In 1943-44 the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) (co-founded by Ukrainian national hero Stepan Bandera with his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (UON) faction) mass-slaughtered 35,000–60,000 Polish people in the then eastern-Polish region of Volhynia, and 25,000–40,000 in nearby Eastern Galicia in a purge aimed to cleanse the areas of their Polish population, known as the Volhynia Massacre. The full victim count of the massacre is still debated.


On 22 January, 2010, Ukraine's outgoing President Viktor Yushchenko awarded Bandera the posthumous title of Hero of Ukraine, which was condemned by the European Parliament as well as Polish, Russian and Jewish organizations. The following state head, Viktor Yanukovych, declared the title illegal and in January 2011 it was officially annulled. In April 2015, the Supreme Council of Ukraine (Ukrainian parliament - PAP) passed a bill lauding, among others, UPA soldiers as "fighters for the freedom and independence of Ukraine" and forbidding the use of the word "genocide" in the UPA-UON context. The draft of the act was introduced by Yuriy Shukhevych, a son of a UPA commander.


Later in 2016, Ukraine blocked the launch and commercial screenings of Polish historical film "Volhynia" ("Wolyn" - PAP) telling the story of the massacre of the Polish people at the hands of Ukrainians.


On July 11-12, 1943, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) altogether attacked 150 Polish villages in Poland's former eastern region of Volhynia. About 100,000 Polish nationals were killed in this wave of mass murders.


The killing of 173 Polish citizens in the village of Paroslaw is considered to be the first act of the genocidal violence in Volhynia.


The Volhynia Massacre was carried out by the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) – Stepan Bandera's faction, UPA and the Ukrainian people, who murdered their Polish neighbours.


The killings intensified when in March and April 1943, many Ukrainian policemen ceased cooperating with the Germans and joined the UPA. Many of them had earlier participated in the extermination of Jews.


The crimes intensified again in July 1943, when the UPA murdered about 10,000-11,000 Polish people in the districts of Volodymyr-Volynskiy, Kovel, Horokhiv and Lutsk. The crimes were exceptionally cruel; the people were burnt alive, dropped into wells, attacked with hatchets and pierced with pitchforks, and women were raped. The Polish people were murdered in 1,865 sites in total.


"The Volhynia Slaughter" not only refers to mass murders committed in the Volhynia area, but also in the Lviv, Tarnopol and Stanislavov provinces, as well as in the Lublin and Polesie provinces.


The UPA, led by Roman Shukhevych, began its "anti-Polish" operation in Western Galicia in April 1944. It was not supposed to be as drastic as in Volhynia - the Ukrainians only wanted the Polish people to leave their houses under the threat of death. In case of denial they were only to kill the men, but the reality turned out to be different.


The nationalists also killed mixed Polish-Ukrainian families, Ukrainians who refused to participate in the killings and those who helped save the Polish people. "The Book of the Righteous of the Eastern Borderlands", published by Poland's Institute of National Remembrance (IPN), states that Ukrainians saved 2,527 Polish people.


NOTE 2: The Home Army (AK) was the main resistance movement in Poland when it was occupied by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union during World War II. It was formed from the Union of Armed Struggle (ZWZ), which in turn evolved from a clandestine organisation called the Polish Victory Service (SZP).


The SZP was launched on the night of Sept. 26, 1939, by a group of senior officers led by Gen. Michal Karaszewicz-Tokarzewski, with the participation of Warsaw Mayor Stefan Starzynski. It became the nucleus of a nationwide resistance movement known as the Polish Underground State.


The Home Army, whose allegiance was to the Polish government-in-exile, became of the largest and best organised resistance movements in Europe, with the total number of fighters put at anywhere from 200,000 to 600,000.


In his book God's Playground. A History of Poland, prominent historian Norman Davies said that, "the Home Army could fairly claim to be the largest of European resistance [organisations]".


Along with various combat activities, the AK was also widely involved in rescuing Jews, among others, by means of the famous 1942-founded Council to Aid Jews.


The culmination of the AK's armed struggle came with the 1944's Warsaw Uprising (see: NOTE 3).


The AK's wartime losses totalled about 100,000 soldiers killed in fighting or murdered, and about 50,000 taken to the Soviet Union and imprisoned.


In early 1942, the Home Army had about 100,000 soldiers; by the summer of 1944 the number had risen to 380,000. These included 10,800 officers. Poland’s famous Silent Unseen elite special-operations paratroops were also part of the Home Army.


The Home Army's activities did not end with the end of WW II. After 1945, the AK's so-called Enduring Soldiers fought the Soviet regime.


Under communism, AK soldiers were persecuted by Poland's authorities, especially during the Stalinist period. Many of them were handed death penalties; others spent many years in prison.


NOTE 3: The Home Army-organised Warsaw Uprising broke out on August 1, 1944, as the biggest resistance operation in German-occupied Europe. Initially intended to last several days, it continued for over two months before its suppression by the Germans. The uprising claimed the lives of 18,000 insurgents and around 200,000 civilians.


After the insurgents surrendered and the remaining 500,000 residents were expelled, the Germans methodically burned down and blew up Warsaw house by house. By January 1945, app. 90 percent of the buildings and city infrastructure was destroyed. (PAP)