translated from Polish by Walter Maksimovich

Excerpts from a book entitled:
Łemkowie--W Obronie Własnej
(Lemkos-In Their Self-Defense)
by Jaroslaw Zwolinski
Koszalin, 1996.
ISBN 83-9011770-1-3

Dymitr Łabyk

Pages 24 - 25

Dymitr Łabyk successfully undertook many missions to seize ammunition. He encouraged his friends to organize and arm a division to defend themselves and defend the people living in the village. In these uncertain and frightful times, while in hiding, Łabyk and Wodzik undertook attacks through the summer. The occupying force (German Army) felt very strong in this area. The German Army performed acts of terrorism on the Lemko villages. It became apparent that the Lemkos must defend themselves. In a great secrecy a group of the most active villagers met, this time with Wodzik and Łabyk among them, and created the Anti-Hitler Lemko Resistance Committee, with its own armed staff representatives in the field. This way on 27 August 1940 the first Lemko armed underground resistance unit came into being, among those who joined were:

1. Stefan Malcew Myscowa organizer of armed partisan actions
2. Grzegorz Wodzik Myscowa in charge of outside contacts
3. Dymitr Łabyk Myscowa in overall charge of the entire Lemko Resistance Movement
4. Jerzy Malcew Myscowa staff commander
5. Dymitr Szkwir Myscowa responsible for reconnaissance
6. Piotr Lukaszczyk Myscowa head of diversion
7. Jan Dochtor Myscowa in charge of munitions
8. Grzegorz Jawylak Zyndranowa in charge of actions in the territory
9. Andrzej Zawijski Korolyk Woloski vicinity of Rymanow
10. Seman Smereczynski Krosno in charge of work in the territory
11. Stefan Szkymba Banica gather intelligence in local area
12. Piotr Boryk Desznica gather intelligence in local area
13. Stefan Pihosz Hrab and Wyszowatka gather intelligence in local area
14. Seman Vasylec Perehrymka gather intelligence in local area
15. Lukasz Kityk Brezowa gather intelligence in local area
16. Michał Bankowski Mshana gather intelligence in local area
17. Michał Dral Tresciana gather intelligence in local area
18. Teodor Rusynko Myscowa committee member
19. Stefan Dochtor Myscowa committee member
20. Paraska Beskidniak Myscowa committee member
21. Vasyl Tymyk Myscowa committee member
22. Andrzej Hubyk Zyndranowa committee member

Strict discipline was maintained in the committee. All were told that any mistake could result in their death from the police or the gestapo. Their main objective was local sabotage. On their first assignment they managed to spill the diesel fuel from two railroad tanks standing on a spur in Rymanow. They succeeded in disarming one guard but failed to set it ablaze, because Zawijski, Łabyk and Stefan Malcew were spotted and had to flee. Shots were fired in their directions by the Germans.

All the members of Ruch Oporu (underground resistance group) were vigilant in observing local actions of the Germans. However, they were not able to protect themselves completely. The first incidents of arrests occurred in the spring of 1940, which were based on written records prepared before WW II by the Polish police and military security. Several men from Myscowa, thought to be pro-communists, were picked up but were later released because it was not demonstrated that these men associated with the communists. In the fall of 1940 a second wave of arrests took place. From Myscowa the gestapo arrested Stefan Malcew along with his sons-Leon and Mikolaj, Dymitr Slabczak and Grzegorz Wodzik. While driven to an iterrogation, Wodzik guessing what the outcome of a second arrest will be, managed to escape. The others were shipped to the concentration camp in Auschwitz from which they never returned.

The winter of 1940/1941 had passed quite peacefully along with the spring months, even though it was more difficult to move from village to village. The people were amazed by the enormous size of the German army. Finally the news spread. Germany invaded Russia. On 21 June 1941, the German divisions, which were overcrowded in the mountains, began their long march toward Russia. Dimitr Łabyk gathered his supporters along with the Ruch Oporu committee. A decision was made to put together a larger unit of armed partisans.

So it can be said that the first formation of armed partisan units, made up solely of Lemkos, came into existence in early June 1941. The members of this unit were: Grzegorz Wodzik -from that time using a nickname "Wyscig" (to race), (this nickname was used in many official publications dealing with PPR (Polish Workers' Party) and GL (Gwardia Ludowa/People's Guard) in the region of Podkarpacie), Jurko Malcew - the third son of Stefan Malcew, Teodor Tyrpak, Vasyl Tymyk, Dymitr Szkwir, Teodor Rusynko, Andrzej Zawijski – with a nickname "Jarecki", Grzegorz Jawylak from Zyndranowa and Dymitr Łabyk.
This unit took a name of "Borci za svobodu", which means "Fighters for Freedom". Dymitr Łabyk became the head of this unit and he was the one who administered an oath to others, which consisted of "faith to and defense of the Carpatho-Rusyn people". Within days this unit was joined by Stefan Pihosz from Hrab, Szkymba from Banytsia and Seman Smereczynski from Krosno. From this moment on all were subject to a military discipline, for treason - a bullet from one of your own, and if caught - a bullet from the occupying forces. Commander Dymitr Łabyk assumed a nickname "Bolshoi". Few days prior to the swearing in ceremony, a declaration aimed to the inhabitants of this Carpathian region was prepared, and was widely disseminated through the Lemko villages.
Publication and dissemination of these leaflets amounted automatically of being subject to a death sentence from the authorities. It was written in Russian, and its intent was to appear to the Germans, that it was generated by leaders of several locally stationed units of soviet partisans.

Page 28.

Among those who became arrested were Aleksandra and Jaroslaw Wislocki. Aleksandra died in 1943 in a gestapo prison in Jaslo, torn apart by gestapo dogs (her suffering and horrible death is documented by Nestor Zylycz in the publication Carpatho Rusyn, Number 21 and 27 in 1995 - J.Z.).

Our own partisans could not even sleep in peace. Grzegorz Wodzik also took action. In his own way or means he placed his own people inside the police–the Ukrainians in Krampna and Poles in Dukla. On many occasions important information was passed into "the forest" about conditions in the territory. With this advantage the couriers, as they were called, benefitted. These couriers were boys thirteen to fifteen years of age from the village of Myscowa. They were taught to distinguish their own people from the police or partisans. For example, the couriers would observe the behavior of the servicemen when the servicemen would visit (Mr.) Sardyga, the game warden in Myscowa who responsible for that stretch of River Wislok. At times when the servicemen walked in front of the house with their rifles on their right shoulder with the barrels pointing down, the couriers would approach them and obtain intelligence information which was passed to Wodzik or Łabyk. These two Ukranian police officers would not only bring a list of names of those who were to be arrested but would also report on the availability of ammunition. These two Ukranian police officers, Ilko Hryckowian from Bereska, and Stefan Romcio from Uscie Ruskie saved many Lemkos from death. Ilko Hryckowian was made an officer in the Ukranian Insurgent Army (UPA) where he continued to fight for his convictions. During one skirmish, when he learned that on the other side was the Polish army and not the UB (Security Agency responsible for monitoring and suppressing anti-government sentiments and activities), he witheld fire. He did not want to fight the Polish army. He died in the torture chambers of UB in Rzeszow, in November 1947. (J.Z.)
More and more volunteers would join the Lemko partisans. Some had to hide out to save their own lives, not themselves knowing for how much longer; others sought revenge for the murders of their close ones. They were taken in by our unit, even though we were not able to arm them. From Myscowa came:

1. Vasyl Chomiak
2. Michał Szkwir
3. Jan Chomiak
4. Dymitr Lazoryk
5. Pańko Beskidniak
6. Stefan Barna
7. Stefan Frycki
8. Jan Tymyk
9. Grzegorz Slabczak
10. Dymitr Repak
11. Józef Banycki
12. Stefan Brendzia
13. Teodor Posypanko
14. Stefan Sysak
15. Dymitr Kielo
16. Jan Slabczak
17. Michał Lukaczyk
18. Michał Marchut
19. Jan Haras
20. Teodor Tyrpak
21. Piotr Barna
22. Andrej Hubyk from Zyndranowa
23. Kanstanty Kostyk from Dosznycia

They were all sworn in. During the same time eight boys, seniors from a grammar school were taken in as couriers and for reconnaissance work, six of them died performing their missions. Two had survived, one of them was Jan Fudżak from Myscowa.

The partisans tried to gather as much intelligence information as possible. They also had to pass on the gathered information to others. The young boys were used to convey this information. They would travel through the most difficult police patrols. They would convey to these individuals very critical information; these people were informed that they were going to be arrested and that they must go into hiding; for if they were not informed in time, they would most likely die in a concentration camp. In the process of saving lives, several of these young people lost their own life. That is how fifteen year old Piotr Beskidniak died, crossing the border carring intelligence information. Three others: Dymitr Dyn, Stefan Jankowycz, and Piotr Chac, died in the village of Bodaki near Gorlice. Carrying information back and forth, they were always extremely exhausted and hungry. Tricked by the town mayor Fryncka (a Lemko) and his neighbor, Michał Chomkowycz, the young men were promised food and a place to rest but were subsequently locked up in the barn. The German field police was informed; the police tortured these boys for three days, then the boys were taken to the swamps at the entrance to the village and executed--this is also part of Lemko history.

As the winter of 1941/1942 approached, the entire unit went into deep hiding. Gregorz Wodzik was hiding out in the most secret places to avoid falling into the hands of the police. His hideouts were at the Pejko's house in the village of Klopitnycia, at the Zawijski's house in the village of Korolyk Volos'kyj and at the Drala's house in the village of Terstjana.

Page 66.

The End of the Partisan Epic

The Lemko partisan staff knew their activities have come to an end. On January 25
th, 1945 all of the group commanders gathered in Barvinok at the local Russian command post, where they handed over to the Russian major in command all of their documents, all their reports regarding the roles they took performing diversionary actions and during battles. They then gathered at the home of Ivan Szkwir, in the village of Myscowa with a loaf of captured but stale bread on the table. A decision was made to disband. Out of a large group of partisans from Lemkovyna, under the name of Borci za swobodu (Fighters For Freedom) who undertook many battles in five years, and at times numbered approximately 300 men, but now around the farewell table there were only few of them present. Some left earlier with Major "Leonid" and the rest went with the unit headed by Colonel Kwitynski heading for The Dukla Pass.

This is how this epic ends, about a group of people who fought for their freedom and survival. The group fought this terrible war hoping that someday it might live in peace and harmony in its own homes and land.

My reflections: The Lemko partisan unit under the name of Borci za swobodu, was an armed organization, and the one and only fighting unit which came into existence in the long history of the Lemko people. They were well organized, just like any other army with its own chain of command, own leader with rank of a captain and its own documentation. This single independent Lemko unit without any formal army uniforms has been documented for their actions and operations as an armed military unit during WWII. (J.Z.)

Jan Fudżak: -I can never forget about those who partook in this five-year struggle against our enemy for the liberation of the Lemko land and a free country in which they lived. They are:

Konstanty Malynowski He was a division leader; he relocated to the USSR; later he became a professor of botanical sciences in Lviv.
Piotr Lukaczyk He was one of the most courageous leaders in the field of reconnaissance; along with his brother Michael, they captured two German bunkers on the front line, along with a crew of seventeen men. He lives and works on a co-operative farm near Ternopil.

Page 67.

Dymitr Szkwir He was the chief of reconnaissance, maintained documentation about our unit. Participated in many armed actions. Jan Dochtor He was responsible for acquiring arms and ammunition. After deportations, he became a chairman of a co-operative farm in Chodaczkiv.
Stefan Pihosz He was born in Hrab died near the village of Krywa, which is located near Gorlice. Vasyl Tymyk, from Myscowa Very active in acquiring intelligence information. Quite often he would undertake reconnaissance missions disguising himself dressing up as a young lady from Lemkovyna. He was assigned to the "Gotwald" brigade which was under the leadership of Colonel Kwitynskiego in August 1944. He fought to the conclusion in the Slovak uprising where for his bravery he received several medals. He was also presented with a souvenir pistol to keep for the rest of his life. When he returned to Myscowa, his family was no longer there. He was immediately arrested by the new Polish regime for serving in the foreign (Slovak) army, his souvenir pistol was taken away from him and instead he was thrown into a jail. He was tortured at a jail in Sanok, but managed to escape barefoot in winter during extreme cold and snow. He succeeded in reaching Ukraine, where he located his family. After his escape from the prison, the UB and KBW (Polish internal security police which investigated crimes against the state) collected the remaining Lemkos living in Myscowa, undressed and beat them into unconsciousness, questioning them as to where Tymyk was hiding. Currently Tymyk is living in Sambor. His father, John Tymyk, who was also a partisan, was murdered by the Germans in Krampna.

Page 68.

Teodor Posypanko, He was the head responsible for the front line diversion and my immediate superior. He lived in Myscowa by himself in the hopes of bringing back his Myscowa family from their place of exile deep in the USSR. After the war, he was deprived of all his belongings by the activities of the Gorlice/Jaslo units of the UB. He died during the 1980's under strange circumstances.
Vasyl Czulyk from the village of Dowhe Commander of intelligence, lives in Lviv.
Dymitr Repak from Myscowa He was captured and taken to a work camp in Linz, in German occupied Austria. Upon his return to the village of Myscowa, Poles arrested him and he was jailed in the Jaworzno cocentration camp. Currently living in Myscowa.

Page 72.

Jan Fudżak. Jan Fudżak
One of few surviving partisans, members of partisan unit Borci za swobodu. His participation in the war started when he was thirteen years old, just a boy. In the beginning he was a courier and gathered intelligence. Later he became a full fledged partisan in Borci za swobodu. In 1945 he was deported to the USSR . He escaped from Donbas back to his native region. Stayed in hiding protected by the former members of the Polish AK (Armia Krajowa--Polish partisans working for the Polish government in exile in London , one of several groups of partisans whose objective was to reestablish the pre-WW II Poland). His biography deserves a separate book. Deported again, this time to western Poland, (10 years later) he returns to the area from which his family originated. There he struggles with what fate has dealt him. He has been awarded military medals by Czechoslovakia and the USSR.

Page 73.

To those already mentioned by name I would also like to recognize numerous, very familiar names of those days, heroes of those days, among them were: Colonel Wiaczeslaw Kwitynski, Gregory Wodzik, nicknamed "Wyscig", Andrzej Zawijski, nicknamed "Jarecki", Wojciech Kosiba, nicknamed "Piotr",–the one Pole who even in the most difficult times for the Lemkos, never abandoned them. Maybe somewhere out there on the cooperative farms are surviving Vasyl Chomiak, Jan and Olena, Michał Szkwir, Teodor Tyrpak, Jozef Banycki, Konstanty Kostyk, from Dosznycia, family Dralowie from Tersciana, Andrzej Hubyk from Zandranowa. Maybe these individuals and those that I can no longer recall will reminisce about the battles for our survival, here, on our soil. Let them remember that the land of the Lemkos awaits them, sometimes overgrown with vegetation and not cultivated, but this is their land, their mountains, their rivers and their roadside crosses and chapels, their wooden "tserkvas" and cemeteries, they all remain witnesses to their ancestral heritage – these people will continue to exist as long as memories of them continue to survive.

I would also like to give homage and recognize those who died from the enemy's bullets, those who were murdered in the concentration camps, those who were jailed, and those who died by other means.

Memory eternal!

Page 74-76. List of names of Lemkos who died during WW II from an area around Myscowa....

1. Aleksander Burdow Russian prisoner from Buchenwald, died on the hill named Dziurdz.
2. Piotr Barna Myscowa died in the uprising in Slovakia
3. Lukaz Baligrodzki Myscowa died in battle
4. Michał Baligrodzki Myscowa died in Germany
5. Oryna Baligrodzki Myscowa executed by the Russians in Krampna
6. Seman Baligrodzki Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
7. Piotr Baligrodzki Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
8. Jan Baligrodzki Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
9. Andrzej Barna Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
10. Stefan Brendzia Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
11. Mikolaj Brelo Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
12. Marta Bakan Myscowa executed by the Germans
13. Jozef Banycki Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
14. Piotr Beskidniak Myscowa died while crossing the front line
15. Paraska Beskidniak Myscowa Piotr's mother, died on the front
16. Terentij Cichon Myscowa died in a battle
17. Dymitr Cyha Myscowa died in the village of Romaniwka from a Ukrainian bullet, not too far from Ternopil
18. Anna Dochtor Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
19. Dymitr Decak Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
20. Aleksander Decak Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
21. Piotr Decak Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
22. Stefan Dobrowolsky Myscowa died in Germany for sabotage
23.Dymitr Dyn Myscowa died at the age of 14 in Bodaky
24. Seman Fudżak Myscowa murdered by the SS
25. Andrzej Fornal Myscowa died in a battle
26-29. Fornal with three children Myscowa died in Myscowa
30. Stefan Frycki Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
31. Piotr Fecina Myscowa former partisan, died during the war
as a soldier in the Red Army.
32. Pawel Fecina Myscowa died on the front line near Berlin
33. Vasyl Gres Myscowa disappeared within the USSR
34. Jan Haras, son of Pawel Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
35. Jan Haras,
son of Seman
Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
36. Pawlo Horodin Rostow POW, later partisan,
died in the uprising in Slovakia
37. Hryr Jawylak Zyndranowa died in the uprising in Slovakia
38. Stefan Jankowycz Myscowa at the age of 14, died in Bodaky
39. Ewa Jankowycz Myscowa executed by the Germans in Myscowa
40. Vasyl Kapral Myscowa executed by the Germans in Zmigrod
41. Seman Kityk Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
42. Andrzej Kityk Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
43. Vasyl Kuk Myscowa died in the battle at Myscowa
44. Josyf Kozyniowski Myscowa died in Myscowa
45-48. Kozyniowski fam. Myscowa Josyf's wife with three children,
from an exploding shell
49. Stefan Kielo Myscowa died from UPA bullets in Tarnopil
50. Dymitr Kielo Myscowa died in Germany
51-52. Fedor Łabyk
and daughter
Myscowa died in Myscowa
53. Jan Lazoryk Myscowa shot in Myscowa
by the Ukrainian/German policeman Rusynko
54. Dymitr Lazoryk Myscowa died outside of Berlin
55. Stefan Malcew Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
56. Leon Malcew Myscowa Stefan's son, murdered in Auschwitz
57. Mikolaj Malcew Myscowa Stefan's son, murdered in Auschwitz
58. Jurko Malcew Myscowa Stefan's son, died in the uprising in
Slovakia near Banska Bystryca
59. Pajza Makuch Myscowa died in Myscowa
60. Michał Makuch Myscowa died in Myscowa
61. Matrona Makuch Myscowa executed by the Germans in Krampna
62. Hryc Nestoriak Myscowa died in Myscowa
63. Maria Orszak Myscowa died in Myscowa
64. Konrad Orszak Myscowa died in Myscowa
65. Lyszczarska Myscowa murdered by the Germans
66. Maksym Posypanko Myscowa died in Myscowa
67. Vasyl Posypanko Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
68. Maria Posypanko Myscowa died, buried in an exploding bunker
69. Ewa Posypanko Myscowa died in Myscowa
70. Ewa Mikolajczyk Myscowa died in Myscowa
71. Michał Repak Myscowa died in Germany
72. Fedor Rusynko Myscowa shot by the Gestapo in Myscowa
73. Konrad Rewak Myscowa shot by the SS
74. Pawlo Borodin Russian partisan, member of Dymitr Łabyk unit,
died in the uprising of Slovakia
75. Hryc Sysak Myscowa shot by armed Polish thieves/bandits in Myscowa
76. Onufry Sysak Myscowa at the age of 14 died in Myscowa
77. Maria Sysak Myscowa died in Myscowa
78. Stefania Soroka Myscowa died in Myscowa
79. Stefan Sysak Myscowa died in Myscowa
80. Jan Solenko Myscowa died in Myscowa
81. Jan Sagan Myscowa died in Myscowa
82. Hryc Slabczak Myscowa died from an UPA bullet in Ukraine
83. Jan Slabczak Myscowa died from an UPA bullet in Ukraine
84. Dymitr Slabczak Myscowa murdered in Auschwitz
85. Stefan Szkymba Banica died in battle at Swierzowa Ruska
86. Teodor Tyrpak Myscowa murdered by the gestapo in Rzeszow
87. Jab Tymyk Myscowa executed in Krampna
88. Iwan Tiutiunow Russia partisan, member of Łabyk's unit;
died in the battle at Swierzowa Ruska
89. Maria Chomycz Myscowa died in Myscowa
90. Piotr Chac Myscowa died in Myscowa
91-92. Chac, Piotr's wife
and child
Myscowa shot by the Germans
93. Hryc Wodzik Myscowa murdered by [Polish] bandits
94. Andrzej Zawijski Korolyk Woloski murdered along with Wodzik near Folusz
95. Marta Zawada Myscowa died in Myscowa
96. Fedor Zdzieba Myscowa died in Germany
97. Michał Zdzieba Myscowa died in Germany

Many, many Lemko graves are scattered all over the world. Many graves and cemeteries are scattered over Lemkovyna - even though many of the people buried on this land have been forgotten. One such forgotten cemetery is in the village of Skalnik near Zmigrod, where in 1944/1945, the Germans buried a few hundred of their own soldiers. This cemetery was plowed right after the war and now there is no trace to indicate that it was there. The dead are silent. Perhaps the farmer simply needed the land to farm, rather than a cemetery?! Everyone, my friends and adversaries, were offerings to this cruel war.

Memory eternal!

With these words Jan Fudżak ended his remembrance of the war.

Comments by the author, Jaroslaw Zwolinski: Description of the partisan struggle is scarce. That is why the material dealing with the struggle by the members by the partisan unit Borci za swobodu as presented by a long-time resident of the village of Krampna - Michał Kobelak in Karpatska Rus, number 14/1995, dated July 7, 1995, page 5, published in the U.S.A, is so precious.

We are ending the memoirs of the Lemko partisans just so the reader may present the ongoing struggles of the Lemko people with the adversaries of their destiny. (J.Z.)

Jaroslaw Zwolinski [Mr. Zwolinski was burried in June 2002]
ul. Jaworowa 1
75-036 Koszalin


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Date Posted: December 18th, 2001
Last Revision: December 27th, 2001

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