Fight against the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army)

Fight against the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army)


41_cc-Tobie-Ojczyzno-grupa-250x139 Walka z UPATable of Contents


Tablica_obroncom_ludności_kresów-300x331 Walka z UPA

Obrońcom ludności polskiej Kresów – tablica w kościele św. Jacka w Warszawie

Poles who lived in the east faced a tragic situation. The  NKVD “Polish Operation” conducted between 11 August 1937 and 17 November 1938 led to repressive measures against 139.835 Poles. At least 111,091 were sentenced to death (killed) and 28,744 were sent to labour camps because of ethnic reasons. Other NKVD operations involved ca. 65 thousand Poles.

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NKWD’s Special order no. 00485

After the Soviet attack on Poland on September, 17th 1939 a new wave of repressive measures took place. In February 1940, 220 thousand Poles were sent to Siberia, in April 1940 – 320 thousand , from June to July 1940, 240 thousand Poles, and in June 1941 - 220 thousand Poles.

In between 1944-46 about 50 thousand Poles were sent to Siberia. 148 thousand Poles had to leave the Lithuanian Soviet Republic, 226,3 thousand the Byelorussian SR and 792,700 the Ukrainian SR.

5 mln Ukrainians were citizens of pre-war Poland and they constituted 16 % of the population. (90% lived in the countryside, 1% were the elites (inteligentsia). In thy Volhynia province among 2,085,000 citizens as much as 63,9% were Ukrainians. 340, 000 Poles constituted only 15,6% of the inhabitants of the area.

miejsca-zeslan-Polakow-300x172 Walka z UPA

GUŁ-ag – mapa zesłań, pracy i straceń Polaków

OUN-B Walka z UPAPolish-Ukrainian relations were terrible, also because of Poles (e.g. the government did not keep up its promises). Since 1929 the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) was operating, its fighters killed Bronisław Pieracki, who was the Minister of Internal Affairs in 1934. Right before the outburst of WWII, the German Abwehr trained and provided weapons for a 600 men unit of Military Nationalists, known as the Ukrainian Legion..


Ukrainian nationalist terror
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Zasięg zbrodni wołyńskiej
Źródło: „Zbrodnia wołyńska. Prawda i pamięć, IPN Warszawa

Once the war started and especially after Sept, 17 1939 the Ukrainian nationalist terror surged. After Sept, 17 1939 Poles were mostly afftected by the Soviet repressions and right after the German attack on the Soviet Union – the German ones. Ukrainian nationalists would collaborate with Germans. They joined “Roland” and “Nachtigall” Abwehr battalions and about 5 000 OUN fighters joined the Ukrainian Police to take an active part in repressive measures against Poles and Jews.

In July 1940 OUN-B fraction was founded, with B standing for the name of its leader Stepana Bandery Bandera fraction OUN-BAs early as in 1942 Dmytro Myron who was the OUN-B president for General Government called for “cleansing the Ukrainian race from Moscovites, Jews, Poles, Hungarians, Tatars and many other nations” in his publication “Ukraine: Idea and Action”.

The military fraction of OUN-B was the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). It was created in the end of 1942. Its main objective was to create a one-nation Ukrainian state. OUN-B and UPA decided that to achieve this aim the genocide of the Polish civilian population was inevitable – the Wolyn / Volhynia Massacre and the extermination of Poles in the Lower Eastern Poland.

The extermination of the inhabitants of Volhynia - Polish citizens of Jewish nationality - inspired the UPA to mass murder Poles in order to build the Ukrainian state.

The Slaughter of Poles - The Volhynian Masacre
Wolyn-solnierze-polskiej-samoobrony-300x176 Walka z UPA

Żołnierze polskiej samoobrony na Wołyniu

The first murders of Poles took place in Volhynia in the mid 1942 and in the end of 1942 first mass killings started. The Home Army Headquarters decided to separate out of the Lvov District the Volhynian District of the Home Army. Faced with the threat of seizures UPA troops on Poles, at the turn of 1942/1943 Polish ones were established Polish self-defense units in Volhynia, but few and poorly armed. Till the end of 1942 there was no conspiracy network there and till the middle of 1943 not a single HA unit. At the end of 1943 the UPA units had 35-40 thousand Ukrainians, the HA units only 1,3 thousand men…

In 1943 after the NKVD repressive measures Poles constituted only 10-12% of the inhabitants of Volhynia. Since February 1943 the UPA started the execution of the genocide of Poles, which was later known as the Wolyn / Volhynia Massacre..

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Polacy zamordowani przez UPA w Lipnikach, 1943

Poles (men, women, children, the elderly) were killed because of their nationality by Ukrainians who were fanatic followers of Bandera. They were murdered with barbarity (axes, pitchforks, saws, rails, maces, scythes, hammers, knives were used). People were burnt alive, infants stabbed on the rails or their heads crushed onto the walls. Victims had their eyes taken away and their property was stolen. The list of atrocities is long: Poles would have their heads nailed, bodies torn by horses, dismembered, often had their corpses profaned.

The banderian crimes were accompanied by indoctrination and terror as well as…the blessing and support offered by the Orthodox and Greek-Catholic priests. They would call up to commit crimes in their sermons and even…bless knives and other weapons used to kill Poles later on.

The Polish community was disorganised and defenseless as almost all Polish leaders fell victim to Soviet deportations or extermination.


In general, between 1942 till half of 1945: 76-106 thousand Poles in Volhynia and East Galicia were killed in the Wolyn Massacre, 485 thousand Poles were forced to escape to central Poland. In retaliation, 10-15 thousand Ukrainians were killed.
According to IPN data, out of 2,5 thousand locations inhabited by Poles in 1939, 1,5 thousand were razed to the ground as a result of OUN-UPA actions. The martyr death of murdered Poles is commemorated only with a cross in about 150 locations.


Polish self-defense

Wolyn_samoobrona-300x319 Walka z UPAFollowing an order issued by the Home Army Headquarters on July,10 1943 the Commander of the Peaseants’ Battalions of the Volhynia District Zygmunt Rumel ps. Mały oraz Krzysztof Markiewicz “Czort” (from District’s Headquarters of the HA) went to a meeting with the UPA commanders in order to decide on the joint fight against the Germans. Together with the coachman Witold Dobrowolski they were murdered with horrifying barbarity – torn apart by horses.

The July’s issue of the UPA gazette “Do zbroji” announced “infamous death” for all Poles who “should decide to remain” in Ukraine. On July, 11 1943 the Bloody Sunday – Ukraińcy: banderowcy z OUN-B, UPA, SKW's took place. Ukrainians, the Bandera followers of OUN-B, UPA, SKW and civilians attacked Poles gathered at the Sunday mass in 99 locations (mainly in Vlodzimierz and Horochov poviats). At the night of 11/12 July 1943 the attacks continued in 167 locations and did not cease in the following days. On the whole, in July 1943 Ukrainians attacked 520 Polish locations and killed 10-11 thousand Poles.

Dariusz Faszcza – Polskie państwo podziemne na Wołyniu
w: biuletyn IPN, tom 10, nr 7-8 (2010), s. 95-107


On July 20, 1943, the commander of the AK District of Volhynia, Colonel Kazimierz Bąbiński, ordered the creation of 9 units of the Home Army, operating in Volhynia, to defend the Polish population. They were assigned to the Volhynia District of the Home Army 11 Silent Unseen

Wolyn_ak-300x303 Walka z UPAThe biggest HA guerilla unit in Volhynia „Bomba” which counted ca. 500 soldiers, was under the command of a Silent and Unseen Władysław Kochański Kochański ps. Bomba, who became later the commander of the Polish self-defense in Wyrka (ca. 2,000 Poles) and Huta Stepańska (3,000 Poles).

On July, 16 1943 the UPA units and Ukrainian SKW's peasants attacked Poles in the area of Huta Stepańska with artillery. Temne, Użanie, Wyroki, Ziwka, Własowe, Soszniki, Kubło, Siedliska, Wyrka were put on fire. On the next day a few thousand UPA fighters attacked a few hundred defenders of Huta Stepańska.

The attackers were driven away three times from the centre of the village, they would fight in melee. A half a thousand Poles got killed. After 3 days of heroic fight, at the dawn on July, 18 Poles evacuated civilians in a column. Lt. Władysław Kochański „Bomba” organised an ambush which stopped the UPA pursuit.

Soon, his unit grew to 700 men. At the verge of a forest in the area of Stara Huta, Moczulanka and Głuszków he built a fortified camp with a butcher’s, gunsmith’s workshop, bakery and forge. For more information – see his biography..

Also, 2Lt. Michał Fijałka ps. Sokół – oddział „Sokół’ (ok. 120 żołnierzy) oraz por. Franciszek Pukacki „Gzyms” – „Gzyms” unit (ca.80 soldiers) became the commanders of the guerilla units operating in the territory of the Volhynia HA District.


27th Volhynian Infantry Division of the Home Army

odznaka27-WDP-250x253 Walka z UPAOn January 28 1944 the the 27th Home Army Infantry Divisionwas founded. It counted ca. 6-7 thousand soldiers. Its main task was to protect the Polish civilians against the UPA and since January 1944 to engage into Operation “Tempest”. It contained all the guerilla units operating in the area.

Around Kovel the GromadaGromada regiment was created which was comprised of the 50th regiment (3 Infantry Batalions: I – under the command of a Silent and Unseen Lt. Michał Fijałka Fijałka “Sokół”, II – Lt. Władysław Czermiński “Jastrząb”, III – a Silent and Unseen Lt. Zbigniew Twardy Twardy “Trzask”) and the 43rd Infantry Regiment (I – Kazimierz Filipowicz “Kord” and II - a Silent and Unseen Walery Krokay “Siwy”’). It had also a cavalry squadron. szwadron kawalerii.

In the region of Vlodimierz Volynsky the Osnowa regimentwas created (the 23rd Infantry regiment with 3 Infantry batallions: I – under the command of Lt. Sylwester Brokowski “Bogoria”, II – Lt. Jerzy Krasowski “Lech”, III – 2 Lt Jeremi Witkowski “Sokół II”. Also here a cavalry squadron was added. What is more, HQ, chief of staff, QM and two field hospitals for the division were formed and a separate inf. bn. under the command of a Silent and Unseen Lt. Franciszek Pukacki “Gzyms” was at the division’s disposal.

Damian Markowski – Wołyńskie powstanie
epopeja 27 Wołyńskiej Dywizji Piechoty AK (styczeń – kwiecień 1944)
w: Niepodległość i Pamięć 2013 nr 20/3-4 (43-44) s. 114-182


Album Fotograficzny 27. Wołyńskiej Dywizji Piechoty AK

Album 27. WDP AK udostępniony przez inicjatora jego digitalizacji
mgr inż Grzegorza Fijałkę – syna Cichociemnego Michał Fijałka



Silent Unseen (pol.Cichociemni) in the fight against the UPA
skan14001-263x400 Walka z UPA

skan: Fundacja dla Demokracji, źródło: JW GROM

Tylko oBetween January and March 1944 the 27th Infantry division units fought 10 times against Germans and 17 times against the UPA suffering severe losses.

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Rejony działań, trasa przemarszu na koncentrację
źródło: Piotrowski, Tradycje 27 WDP

At the night of January 29/30th 1944 a Silent Unseen Michał Fijałka Fijałka together with a Silent and Unseen Lt. Walery Krokay “Siwy” and Lt. Zbigniew Twardy “Trzask”, Władysław Czermiński “Jastrząb” and „Łuna” took part in a defense operation against the Ukrainians in Babie under Szczurzyn and then in an attack on Budyszcze against UPA units. For more information - see his biography..

At the night of January 29/30th 1944 a Silent Unseen Franciszek Pukacki organized sabotage centres in the area of the railway line Szepietówka – Berdyczów – Koziatyn – Kijów, among others in area of Sławuty, Szepietówka, Płoskirów, Połonne, Miropol, Borszczówka. He took the command of Szepietówka centre. He was a participant of many sabotage actions, e.g. at the beginning of March 1942 he blew up two train transports under Szepietówka and Berdyczów. Between May, 15th and June 1943 he led to the destruction of five Junkers Ju-87d dive bombers at an airport next Charkov using a mixture of carbonite, glass and metal grit. The bombers did not return from their missions against Russia. Since July, 29th 1943 he supported with his unit Polish self-defense units and protected Poles against the UPA attacks. For more information see his biography..

27-wolynska-dywizja-211x300 Walka z UPAThe Volhynian District of the HA was also an area where Lt. Zbigniew Twardy "Trzask" operated. Since July 1943 he was the officer of the HA Headquarters for the Volhynian District and Kovel’s Regional Inspectorate. Since January 1944 he was the commander of the “Błyskawica” guerillla batallion which was created out of a guerilla unit operating within Kovel area and the self-defense units of Zielona, Zasmyki and Dąbrowa that counted as much as 400 soldiers and was later known under the name of “Gromada” the 3rd batallion of the 50th Infantry Regiment of the 27th HA Infantry Division. He took part in the self-defense against Ukrainians in Babie near Szczurzyn and then on Feb, 2nd 1944 in an attack on Budyszcze against strong UPA units. For more information see his biography..

Silent Unseen, Cpt. Walery Krokay fought as the officer of KEDYW of the HA Volhynian Headquarter, officer of diversion of the Kovel’s Regional Inspectorate and Kovel’s District – The HA City as well as the operation and training officer in the guerilla unit under the command of Lt. Kazimierz Filipowicz “Korda”. Since January 15th, 1944 he was the commander of the 2nd Batallion of the 43rd Infantry Regiment of the 27th Infantry Division. He took part in the self-defense against Ukrainians in Babie near Szczurzyn and then on Feb, 2nd 1944 in an attack on Budyszcze against strong UPA units. For more information - see his biography..

27wdpak_2-300x245 Walka z UPASilent Unseen, Cpt. Tadeusz Klimowski “Klon” was the commander of the 2nd section of the Wachlarz since July 1942 and the commander of the Rivne Inspectorate since July 1943. Since July, 13th 1943 he was the head of the III Division (Operational) of the HA Regional Volhynia HQ, since January 15 1944 operational officer, between April,18th and May, 3rd 1944 the chief of staff of the 27th Inf. Div. For more information - see his biography..

Pomnik_27_Wołyńskiej_Dywizji_Piechoty_AK_Warszawa-224x350 Walka z UPA

Pomnik 27 WDP AK, Warszawa

At the night of January 29/30th 1944 a Silent Unseen Wacław Kopisto “Kra” was only six when the Soviet Revolution broke out and due to the increasing Ukrainian hostility towards Poles, he had to fled together with his family the Józin Manor of the count Józef Potocki where he was born. Since February 1943 he was the commander of KEDYW of the Regional Inspectorate for Luck. He trained and organized civilians in self-defense against UPA. The Poles constituted 20% of the population in the area of Luck, Vlodimierz Volhynsky, Horochów, Przebraż and Antonówka. He participated in combat actions on July, 11th and 27th against the UPA assaults and organized combat actions against Germans. He formed and trained sabotage units and guerilla units of “Drzazga”, Piotruś Mały”, Krwawa Łuna”. He assassinated the head of the Ukrainian Police in Luck and a Deputy Mayor of Skorobogatów. On January, 19th 1944 he engaged in a hard battle against Ukrainians in the area of Kraki, 10 km outside Bieliny. For more information - see his biography..

At the night of January 29/30th 1944 a Silent Unseen Ryszard Kowalski “Benga” was an instructor in The Volhynia District of the HA since October 1942. In mid 1943 he became the head of Zdołbynów Region (Rivne Regional Inspectorate). A Silent and Unseen Zdzisław Luszowicz Luszowicz “Szakal” fought in the 27th Inf. Div. A Silent and Unseen Lt. Kazimierz Fuhrman “Zaczep” was sent to the 5th Division of the HA Volhynia District as a radio communication officer, since January,16th he was the head of the tactic communication of the 27th Inf. Div. Since April 18th 1944 he was the head of 3rd bn of the 50th Inf. Reg. of the 27th inf. Div. A Silent and Unseen Tadeusz Seeman “Garbus” was a comm officer of the Luck Regional Inspectorate. On March, 29th 1944 he was arrested by NKVD (in Nowy Mosur, near Holoby) when he was on his way to meet other troops of the 27th Inf. Div. Imprisoned in Luck, brutally interrogated, life-sentenced and sent to labour camps of GULAG among others in Workuta.


Repression against over a million Poles

Just within the very first two years of the Soviet rule in the area stolen from Poland a wave of repressions such as death, imprisonment and forced labour in GULAG covered more than a million Poles.

Nazi Germans occupied Volhynia between 1942-44. Soviet, Ukrainian (most numerous OUN-B and UPA (35-40 thousand) and Polish HA units operated there fighting Germans and one another. There were also Hungarian units who offered selfless help to Poles. Later during the Tempest OperationPolish HA units who came across Hungarians would restrain from engaging in a battle.

In addition, there were diverse armed groups operating in the Volhynian area composed of German deserters, White Guard Russian units and “common” robbery gangs. All would assault civilians, including Poles.




Timeline of the most important events in Volhynia:


1 9 4 0

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Pierwsza deportacja Polaków

  • 10 February - the first deportation deep into Russia, to the north provinces and to Siberia (embraced Polish office workers, judges, prosecutors, policemen, foresters and settlers of Polish origin)
  • March – the detention of the independence activists (SZP – ZWZ)
  • 13 April – the second deportation deep into Russia of Poles who were affluent landlords and their officials, inhabitants of the borderlands border, families of military, police corps, clerks, social activists and local gentry
  • May – the split of SZP-ZWZ organisation in the Volhynia Province, 2 thousand soldiers arrested
  • June / July – the third deportation deep into Russia of those who fled from the western and central Poland after the German attack in 1939.


1 9 4 1

  • June – the fourth deportation deep into Russia of Polish elites, qualified workers, railwaymen and their families
  • 22 June – the beginning of the German- Soviet war


1 9 4 2

  • Summer – first actions against Poles
  • July - October – extermination of Jews in Volhynia, Ukrainian Police helping the Nazis
  • October – the first OUN-B units are founded
  • 13 November – 50 Poles murdered in Obórki, Luck poviat


1 9 4 3

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Ukraińcy witają Niemców, 1941

  • January - February  - Kovel, Dubno, Równe, Łuck and Sarny District Regional Inspectorates Home Army are created
  • 9 February  – 173 Poles are killed in Parośle, Sarny Poviat
  • February  – the first self-defense units created
  • The end of February – Poles executed by Ukrainians in Sarny, Kostopol, Rivne, Zdołbynov and Krzemieniec poviats
  • 3 March – German and Ukrainian military police pacification of the Polish villages of Borszczówka and Lidawka, 304 Poles murdered
  • 18 and 19 March - German and Ukrainian military police exterminate Polish villages in Hołoby commune, 206 Poles murdered
  • March – SS and Police Command report from June, 30th 1943 gives an account of increased attack on Polish localities and thousands of Poles fleeing province for the towns
  • 15 March – more than 4 000 armed Ukrainians left the Ukrainian Police to join UPA, along with weapons
  • 22 April  – The Commander of the HA Volhynian District issues order no.2 forbidding “using such methods as used by Ukrainian murderers"
  • 23 April – UPA attacks Janowa Dolina – a Polish hamlet, 600 Poles executed
  • Since May – mass attacks of the UPA units in villages, Poles flee to towns, many volunteer to go to Germany to work
    Wolyn-300x196 Walka z UPA

    Polacy zamordowani przez UPA

  • June – Ukrainian mass murders of Poles in Dubno and Luck poviats
  • June – classified order issued by a territorial UPA command to exterminate Poles (men aged 16-60)
  • July - Ukrainian mass murders on Poles in Horochov, Vlodzimierz and Kovel poviats
  • 11 July – UPA units aassault on 60 Polish villages, 1,8 thousand Poles murdered
  • 17-19 July – the UPA assault on the base of Polish self-defense in Huta Stepańska
  • August – Ukrainian mass murders on Poles in Lubomel poviat
  • 29 August – UPA assault on Wola Ostrowiecka and Ostrówki, ca. 1000 Poles killed
  • 30 August – UPA and Ukrainian assault on Polish hamlets: Nowy Gaj, Stary Gaj, Sucha Łoza (ca. 750 Poles murdered)
  • October – OUN’s announcement: „neither Ukrainian nation, nor our organization has anything to do with these mass executions”
  • December – UPA assaults on Polish communities in Rivne, Lusk, Kovel, Vlodzimierz poviats


1 9 4 4

  • January - March – Soviet disarm Polish units, self-defence groups. Detention and repressive measures imposed. Poles, Ukrainians, Czechs and Jews mobilized for the Red Army
    rzez-wolynska-lubycz-300x225 Walka z UPA

    Polacy zamordowani przez UPA

  • 8-20 February – „Osnowa” 27th inf. Div unit in fight against UPA in Puzów, Worczyn, Zabłoć and Stęzarzyce
  • 12 March – two 27th inf. Div units fight back UPA unit in Korytnica
  • 18 March - a winning battle against UPA unit in Zapole (I batallion of the 50th Infantry Regt. Of the 27th inf. Div under the command of Silent Unseen Michał Fijałka
  • 20 March – seize of the Turzysk Railway Station (along the Wlodzimierz Wolynski – Kovel railway line) by the III Batallion of the 50th Infantry Regt. of the 27th inf. Div under the command of Silent Unseen Zbigniew Twardy and II Batallion of the 43rd Infantry Regt. of the 27th inf. Div under the command of Silent Unseen Walery Krokay
  • 24 March March – ousting Germans outside Turopin, seizing bunkers along railway Turopin – bridge over Turia River, action led by a Silent and Unseen Franciszek Pukacki
  • 2-4 April – victory over Wehrmacht in Sztum and Zamłynie (I bat. 50th Inf. Regt. 27th inf. Div under the command of Silent Unseen Michał Fijałka
  • 5-11 April – heavy fighting of Gromada unit 27th inf. Div against Wehrmacht and 5th SS Div. “Viking”
  • 7-10 April – Luftwaffe attack Polish positions held by the “Osnowa” unit 27th inf. Div
  • 12 April heavy fighting of the “Osnowa” 27th inf. Div and Soviet units against Germans
  • 13-20 April heavy fighting of the 27th inf. Div against Germans in envelopment in the Mosur forests
  • 20-22 April – ca. 3,6 thousand soldiers of the 27th inf. Div manage to break through the envelopment
  • 5 May – a whole day winning battle of the III batallion 50th Inf. Regt. 27th inf. Div under the command of Silent Unseen Zbigniew Twardy and I bn. 43rd Inf. Regt. 27th inf. Div against a Hungarian unit supported by 5 German tanks
  • 19-22 May – heavy fighting in Szacki forests of the 27th inf. Div and a soviet guerilla unit, breaking through the envelopment
  • 9-10 June - cross the Bug River between Koden and Wlodava unit the 27th inf. Div
  • Since June – Soviets take over the Volhynian Province. NKVD dissolve UPA units as well as groups composed of captured UPA members

Kalendartium opracowane na podstawie:  Władysław Filar – Eksterminacja ludności polskiej na Wołyniu w drugiej wojnie światowej, Warszawa, 1999


Polish-Ukrainian fights 1943-1947

Jan Łukaszów –  Walki polsko – ukraińskie 1943-1947
w: Zeszyty Historyczne Instytut Literacki Paryż 1989, zeszyt 90, s. 159-199




Find of more:


  • Own sources
  • Wołyń 1943 – rozliczenie. Konferencja IPN, Warszawa 2010
  • Władysław Filar – Eksterminacja ludności polskiej na Wołyniu w drugiej wojnie światowej, Warszawa, 1999
  • Czesław Piotrowski – Wojskowe i historyczne tradycje 27 Wołyńskiej Dywizji Piechoty AK, ŚZŻAK, Warszawa 1993



Text translated from Polish to English by Aleksandra Duda.
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