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You're reading: Volyn 1943: In remembrance

We
owe such young people gratitude at a time when politicians and others
with an ideological axe to grind aggressively foist their
interpretation of the events of that time.  Over recent months
Ukrainian media sites have been
full of articles talking of the “Polish side” and the
“Ukrainian
side”.

Where
children were axed to death because they were Polish, or Ukrainian,
there can be no “sides”.   Those who committed such
atrocities committed a foul crime whatever motives they used to
justify their actions.
It
is profoundly frustrating that 70
years after those events, the accounts in Ukrainian and Polish
textbooks
are
so different, and most Ukrainian history textbooks make it next to
impossible to understand what happened.
Arguments
about numbers of victims, Polish attempts to classify the massacre as
genocide are eagerly used to imply the existence of two separate
“memories”.  Many such attempts are made by Ukrainian
supporters
of
the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN] and Ukrainian
Insurgent Army [UPA] who reject Polish charges that there was a
policy of ethnic cleansing ordered by the Bandera supporting faction
of OUN.   Most arguments
are unfortunately at the level of rhetoric, whereas their position
would be better served by unemotional reference to facts and
documents, including proof that other documents are Soviet
forgeries.
They
have a valid right to defend their position.  What neither they,
nor Polish nationalists, are entitled to do, is to try to minimize or
distort historical facts in order to push their line.
The
facts are basically known, including the key perpetrators.  The
first massacre of an entire village – Parośla – was carried out
on Feb.
8 or 9, 1943 by a unit of UPA led by Hryhory Perehynyak which had
just carried out the first armed attack against the Nazi occupier.

 Ukrainian
publications mention the attack on the Germans, but most avoid
talking about the village.  According to historian Grzegorz
Motyka, at least 155 villagers were massacred.  Much is known
about the events thanks to the testimony of a survivor, Witold
Kołodyński, 12 years old at the time.  He can to this day show
the marks on his skull from the axe wound he sustained.

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