Pre-historic Period (to 981 AD)
When the migration of tribes ceased in the VI century, a Slavic tribe occupied the territory coveted by this book. Today we refer to this tribe as the White Croats, and the land they occupied is divided between present day Poland and the Ukrainian RSR. In those early days, other Eastern Slavic tribes such so Dulibians, Poljanians, and Derewljanians occupied the lands to the east, while Western Slavic tribes such as Lachs, Czechs, and Slovaks occupied lands to the west of the White Croats.
Kievan Rus and Galicia-Wolyn State
In the tenth century, the Kievan Rus, which was expanding, conquered the White Croats in 981 and Prince Volodymyr the Great incorporated them into the Kievan State. The Slavic tongue helped to integrate the White Croats into the leading Kievan Rus state.
Volodymyr the Great (980-1015) was a good ruler who helped to provide stability to the state by arranging marriages between his family and the dynastic families of his neighbors. His most notable deed is the adoption, in 988, of Christianity as the state religion. The adopted term of Christianity from Constantinople uses the Cyrillic alphabet; hence the services were conducted in the Old Slavic tongue.
In 1019, Yaroslav (1019-1054) defeated his brother, Swyatopolk, together with his father-in-law Boleslaw (from Poland), and became the Grand Prince of Kiev. Yaroslav the Wise, as he was called, recorded all the laws of the Kievan State into volumes called the "Ruska Pravda". He delegated the administration of the provinces of the Kievan State to his sons, Isyaslav, Swyatoslav, Vsevolod, Ihor, Vyacheslav. The youngest son, Vyacheslav, who obtained Galicia containing Peremyshl and the Eparchy of Peremyshl, ruled Galicia until 1066 when he was poisoned by the governor of Byzantium.
In 1084, with the consent of the Kievan Prince, Vsevolod (brother of Rostystav), Rostyslav's sons, Ryuryk, Volodar, and Vasylko became the rulers of Galicia (1084-1124). They ruled Galicia through three separate principalities: Peremyshl, Zvenyhorod, and Terebovla, which were later united by Volodymyrko (1124-1153), son of Volodar, into one Galician Principality.
The next ruler was Yaroslav Osmomysl (1153-1187), son of Volodymyrko. Yaroslav's son
Volodymyr (1187-1199) was the last ruler of the Rostyslav dynasty.
After Volodymyr's demise, Roman Mstyslavych (1199-1205), the grandson of the Kievan prince, Volodymyr Monomach, united the principalities of Galicia and Volyn into one state. The death of Roman in 1205 brought 40 years of internal struggle over the Galicia-Volyn State, and neighboring Poles and Magyars managed to capture portions of the territory during this period. In 1245, Danylo, a minor at the time of his father's death in 1205, defeated the united armies of Poland and Hungary and reunited with the principality the lands which had been captured by them.
Prince Danylo, after agreeing to a union with the Roman Church, was crowned king at Dorohychyn in 1253, using a crown donated by Pope Innocent VI. King Danylo's son, Lev (1264-1301), was the next ruler. It should be noted that both Danylo and Leo recognized the supremacy of the Golden Horde, which threatened to destroy the principality. Legends credit King Danylo with establishing Lviv, which became the capital of the Galicia-Volyn principality.
The next ruler was Juriy (1301-1315), Lev's son. He accepted the title of "King of Rus'" and persuaded the Patriarch in Constantinople to set up a separate Galician Metropolitan See in 1303. After Juriy I, his two sons, Andriy and Lev, ruled from 1315 to 1325.
The last ruler of the principality was Boleslav Troyden (1325-1340) who took the name Juriy II. He was not trusted and was poisoned by members of his court.
Under Polish Domination (1341-1764)
The Galician-Volyn principality ceased to function after the death of Juriy II. Within a few years, some of the western territory was conquered and annexed by Poland, while the southern portions were annexed by Hungary. Later on, the combined armies of Poland and Lithuania conquered the rest of the Galician-Volyn State and much of Kievan Rus'.
Thus began the life of Ukrainians in Galicia under Polish rule. Soon the conquered territories were invaded by Polish landowners with their courts, by German and Polish colonists, by German and Jewish traders, and Polish Roman Catholic clergy. It must be pointed out that all conquered lands became the property of the Polish king. He, in turn, gave or sold these to his family, friends, or members of his court, but most of the population were serfs who had to obey the land owner.
The situation worsened in 1569 due to the Lublin Union, by which Lithuania transferred the administration of all Ukrainian territories to Poland.
Under Austrian Administration (1765-1918)
Upon the disintegration of Poland in 1764, Galicia and Cholm became a part of Austria, while the rest of Ukraine was seized by Czarist Russia. Galicia became a separate province of Austria and was administered by a representative of the Austrian Emperor.
In contrast to Polish rule, Austria nurtured the development of acquired territories, and Ukrainians enjoyed a renaissance of their cultural, religious, and economic affairs. This happened in spite of many Polish administrators, remnants of the former Polish state.
In this period we see the establishment of the University of Lviv (1784), the printing of the first periodicals in Ukrainian (1837), and the abolishment of serfdom on May 16, 1848.
Unfortunately the Austrian constitution was suspended in 1860 through fear of a revolt, and many Ukrainian activists and leaders spent time in prison during those years. In 1867, the Austrian government delegated Polish Nationals to administer Galicia. This slowed the cultural development of Ukrainians and lasted until the outbreak of the First World War.
Between World Wars (1918-1939)
The war between Austria and Russia, started on August 1, 1914, resulted in horrible destruction over the next four years. Galician Ukrainians declared independence as the 'Western Ukrainian Republic on November 1, 1918. Poland countered by sending its troops across the borders of Galicia and capturing it within one year. The cease-fire resulted in the Council of Foreign Ministers in Paris awarding Galicia, Cholm, and other Ukrainian territories to Poland on March 15, 1923. This was done with the understanding that Poland would, in time, grant autonomy to these territories.
Thus, Poland's area was enlarged by 120,000 square kilometers and her population increased by 6.5 million.
The Ukrainians knew then, what the rest of the world learned later, that Poland never intended to allow these lands to become independent. On the contrary, Poland used repression and terror as a means of halting the economic and political development of these lands and of subjugating the Ukrainian population. When the pressures and protests of Ukrainian political parties brought no results, underground movements aimed at advancing the interests of the Ukrainian population began to grow. This, in turn, resulted in mass arrests of national and civic leaders, and in punitive raids on the population by Polish police and armed forces. It must be said that Poland was first to establish "Concentration Camps", and that Ukrainians were the first inmates of such a camp at Bereza Kartuska in 1933.
The school system also suffered because many of the Ukrainian schools were closed, some were changed to Polish instruction, and the rest were altered to bilingual instruction. Difficulties were encountered in institutions of higher education. For example, 90% of students admitted to University were Polish - this in a territory where the majority of the population was Ukrainian.
Realizing that much of the Ukrainian resistance to assimilation was due to their church and religion, the Polish government decided to check this effect. Statistics show that in the Cholm Eparchy, there were 383 parish churches. By the year 1939:
- 111 of them were closed;
- 59 others were destroyed;
- 150 were turned into kostely;
- 53 remained to serve the population.
A somewhat different situation existed in the western territories, the Lemkolands, which were added to the Krakiw administrative region. There, the Polish government, together with the Polish Roman Catholic Church, persuaded the Pope to separate the "Lemko Deaneries" from the Eparchy of Peremyshl and to create a "Lemko Apostolic Administration". By isolating the Lemkos from other Ukrainians, Poland hoped to promote their assimilation, and thus their inclusion, into the Polish Roman Catholic Church.
Second World War up to Present (1940-1986)
The German-Polish war that started on September 1, 1939, lasted only three weeks. The outcome was such that western Galicia (Lemkoland) was occupied by the Germans, while the rest of Ukraine was occupied by the Soviet Union. The Germans combined the captured territory into Generalgouvernement, ruled from Krakiw. Also in Krakiw there existed the Ukrainian Central Committee which represented the Ukrainian cause and point of view during the war years.
On June 22, 1944, the German-Soviet War began. The Germans advanced east rapidly, liberating the rest of Galicia and adding it to the Generalgouvernement. During this occupation, the Germans apprehended Jews and sent them to various concentration camps. The Germans also apprehended thousands of young Ukrainian men and women and sent them to work on German farms and in factories. These actions, as well as the belief that the German aggressor was no better than the Russian or Polish one, generated friction between the population and the occupying forces. There were numerous instances where the Germans publicly executed tens and even hundreds of persons in order to control the population by fear and terror.
In the fall of 1944, the front lines fell back west and most of Ukraine, including Galicia, came under the occupation of Soviet forces. The occupation of western Galicia by Polish and Soviet forces brought three separate disasters. These were:
1. Lawlessness during the change in position of the front lines.
2. The expulsion of the local Ukrainian population east to the Ukrainian RSR.
3. The deportation of the remainder of the Ukrainian population to the northern and western territories of Poland.
The lawlessness encountered during the movement of the front lines presented an opportunity for the criminal elements to flourish. The Polish criminal element, expecting the return of a Polish State, felt supreme and perpetrated vicious deeds on the Ukrainian population. To cite an example, as early as March 23, 1944, a Polish band murdered 120 inhabitants in the village of Lisky, north of Belz. Eighty-six of these are interred in a communal grave near the church while the rest are buried in family plots in the cemetery. Such happenings were typical in areas where Ukrainians were in the minority.
2. Immediately after the war, Polish and Soviet officials encouraged the Ukrainians to vacate territories that were to become part of Poland and to move east to the Ukrainian RSR. It is estimated that some 24,005 inhabitants abandoned their settlements and moved east voluntarily. The rest had to be expelled by force.
The forceful deportation of a village was carried out in the following manner. A company of Polish soldiers would enter the village, give the population two hours to pack and load their belongings on wagons. Then, they would escort them to the nearest railway station. Once the population became aware of this procedure, they would flee the village and hide in the forest for weeks to escape deportation. Sometimes they fled convoys enroute and then took up residence in villages from which the population had already been deported. After deportation, the village would be invaded by robbers and looters who would take anything of use or value. These were Polish villagers and townspeople, for they were the only ones who were allowed to remain.
In time the looters became bold enough to come to the villages during, or even prior to, deportations. In this way they could seize the more valuable goods that the deportees would otherwise have taken with them. One must not forget the soldiers themselves; they would also loot in order to have something to barter for alcohol.
There were numerous instances where the looters, with or without the aid of soldiers, would plunder villages and murder inhabitants in order to frighten the population into leaving voluntarily.
There were also instances where the Polish population from surrounding towns would systematically murder all the inhabitants of a predominantly Ukrainian village.
Here, one can cite the massacre in Pyskorovychi, near Lezaysk, where the Poles from neighboring villages murdered 355 Ukrainian peasants in one day. A total of 1344 persons lost their lives in this area over a period of a few months. The remainder fled or were deported east.
A similar situation occurred in the village of Pavlokoma, near Dyniv. Here the Polish neighbors locked most of the villagers in the church and later, systematically one by one, murdered all men, and boys above 4 years of age, and some women as well. A total of 324 people died here that day.
The remaining 40 women and children were driven out of the village the way they were. It is difficult to imagine the hatred that was present here, where Polish men murdered their own wives of Ukrainian ancestry.
Somewhat different happenings occurred in the village of Zavadka Morochivska. Here, hundreds of soldiers of the first brigade of the 34th battalion of the Polish Army staged numerous raids over the period from January 24 to April 30, 1946. In the end, they deported 78 persons out of a total of 325 inhabitants. The rest were murdered during the raids.
In summary, from the time the front lines moved west over western Galicia (fall of 1944) to the end of 1945, unbelievable events had taken place. The situation was worse than during the attacks of the Tartars centuries earlier. The Polish army had forcefully deported whole communities and murdered those who would not cooperate. To prevent the return of the inhabitants, the army burned whole villages. Some villages were burned by the departing population, to prevent their remaining belongings from falling into the hands of the looters.
It should also be stated that the Polish government issued an edict in 1946, whereby it became the owner of all possessions belonging to the Ukrainian community. This included all churches, parsonages, cooperatives, social and reading clubs, etc.
one must not forget the fate of all the workers returning home from occupied Germany. There were tens of thousands of them, and they were transported east by trains which never did stop in the western part of Galicia, but continued east across the border to the Ukrainian RSR. In this way, the Polish government saved itself much effort in deporting these victims.
By the time the crisis ended, about 65 percent of the Ukrainian population had been deported. An exact number is not available because those who do know will not reveal it. Polish sources confirm that they acquired 1,062,000 people of Ukrainian ancestry on the lands that made up postwar Poland. They also state that about 700,000 of these were deported to the Ukrainian RSR while 362,000 remained in Poland.
Soviet sources, on the other hand, claim that they accepted 482,000 deportees, while the Ukrainian Historical Journal (a Soviet Journal) claims that 385,700 persons arrived.
Also, Polish statistical publications state that only 180,000 Ukrainians remained - contrary to their previous admission to 362,000.
Regardless of how one looks at these figures, it is obvious that many thousands are unaccounted for on both sides of the Polish-Soviet border.
3. The last disaster for the remaining Ukrainian population commenced on April 17, 1947 when, under the code name "Wysla", all remaining Ukrainians were to be moved to the northern and western regions of Poland. This action was not as brutal as the earlier ones. Even the population, knowing that they were not being sent to the Soviet Union, did not resist as strongly as they had earlier. Again, the population was typically given 24 hours in which to pack before being escorted to the trains that moved them to the new territories. Once there, the farmers were usually given a plot of land with some buildings on it. The farm yards were always in very poor condition, the good ones having already been taken up by Poles returning from the Soviet Union. Even though "Operation Wysla" lasted for about one year, most of the population was moved within the first few months.
Traveling through the countryside once populated by Ukrainians, one cannot help but notice numerous monuments erected to the memory of soldiers who died during the deportation period. One might ask the whereabouts of monuments for all the deportees who were murdered. After all, there were many more deportees who lost their lives, and their acts were much more noble!
At the present time, there are a few hundred thousand people of Ukrainian ancestry living dispersed throughout Poland. Suspicions are continuously being cast upon them, and the government continuously monitors and controls their religious, political, and ethical development. They are written about in newspapers and books where usually they are referred to as bandits. I would like to ask you, the reader: who should be called the bandit here, the person who defended, and who died defending his piece of ancestral land, or the infamous person who came to drive him away and seize his property.
It is no wonder that after such atrocious behavior by the Polish population and government towards the Ukrainian population, most of the private and public property of Ukrainians was destroyed. This destruction took many forms and was carried out for varied reasons. Immediately after the war, many tserkvy and other properties were burned during deportation. Later on, many remaining tserkvy were taken apart and used as building material for collective farm buildings and the like. As the government wished to get rid of many tserkvy, they sold them to private interests, at low cost, with a rider that the purchaser was to take them apart and remove all material.
Then we have a large number of tserkvy that, after standing unattended for 40 years, rotted away and fell apart. We must also not forget the numerous tserkvy that were converted to warehouses for a variety of goods ranging from straw and hay, to fertilizer and coal.
A good number of tserkvy were given to the Polish Roman Catholic church. Some of these were renovated, while others became latinized whereby all Eastern Rite fittings and furniture were thrown out and burned, and the customary Latin Rite fittings provided.
A few tserkvy were given to the Orthodox church. All of these have been renovated and are maintained in their Eastern Rite decor. Only a few tserkvy are used by the original owners, the Ukrainian Catholic Church.