“Right away I went to the city to take a look. I was told that “Brygidky” was on fire. “Brygidky” is a prison. The smell of smoke settled all over the town, houses were burned down, some of them were smoldering after bombarding. I went to Horodotska Street, near “Brygidky”. The place was on fire; it was burning together with prisoners. It was a horrible picture, terrifying. And this stink, the stink of a burned down place. After this I went straight to the prison “on Lontskoho Street”. What I saw there was even worse. I saw many tortured, bleeding prisoners, many people, everybody was screaming. It was a striking, horrible picture; a kind of picture that can not be described in words, it can only be seen. This situation should have been seen. Those who already recognized there loved ones – were kneeling and praying over them; the others were crying. Moaning, lament. This was my first impression, horrible. It was terrible. It was a horrid terror. It was a picture that was later published in newspapers. In the first newspapers that appeared, we read all about this horrible situation, about the victims. – Did you come into the courtyard of the prison “on Lontskoho Street”? – To the courtyard. – Did you come into any of the cells? – No. – How many people did you see outside? – It’s hard to tell. It has been many years. I know that I saw a lot. A hundred or a few hundreds… - Where were they lying? – In the courtyard. – Near the walls? – Near the walls. They were everywhere. But mainly they were lying along the walls. – Were they wearing clothes? – Yes. But the clothes were ripped and stained with blood, so I’m not sure whether this can be called clothes. – Did you notice any trees in the courtyard of the prison “on Lontskoho Street”? – I don’t remember. – Did you see any soldiers near those bodies? – I saw a few German soldiers, but they were just passing by. They were not standing there all the time. – What did people do with all those bodies? – Taking into consideration that it was summertime, bodies decayed. The smell of dead bodies was horrible. It was something unmerciful. People were coming and searching for their family members for another two or three days. But bodies had to be buried because otherwise the epidemic could have spread. The end of all this could have been very unpleasant. That is why all of them were buried and taken away”.
- Museum "Territory of Terror" |
- Witnesses |
Lyubomyr Polyuha (1925)
Lyubomyr was born on August 9th, 1925, in the city of Lviv. He received his primary education at the school named after Prince Lion. In 1937-1943 he studied at Lviv State Academic Gymnasium where the language of teaching was Ukrainian. Since 1942 he was a member of Youth branch the OUN. In 1943 he entered Lviv Medical Institute. In 1944, in his house on 40 Kurkova Street (now M. Lysenka Street), Lyubomyr organized one of the “headquarters” of the Commander-in-Chief of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, general-cornet Roman Shukhevych (Taras Chuprynka). On December 21st, 1946, Soviet punitive bodies took Lyubomyr from home, but he managed to escape. In the end of 1946, in the village of Dashava, Stryi district, he organized “headquarters” of the underground forces. In the beginning of 1947 he was transferred to a staff secret “headquarters” in the village of Knyahynychi. He was a personal guard of Roman Shukhevych. From 1947 Lyubomyr remained in the underground. On September 23rd, 1947, he was seriously injured, detained by the KGB. He remained under investigation for 18 months in the prisons of Rohatyn, Stanislaviv (now Ivano-Frankivsk), Kyiv and Lviv (in the prison “on Lontskoho Street”). He served his sentence in the GULAG camp in Inta (The Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). He was released on December 19th, 1955. Having been released from the camps in 1957, he received a degree in Medicine in Semypalatynsk Medical Institute (Kazakhstan). From 1961 he lived in Tsuryupinsk (Oleshky). Since 2001 he lives in Lviv.
Lviv NKVD prisons in the beginning of the war, 1941
Proclamation of the Act of renewal of the Ukrainian state, 1941.
“- You know, I was just there. I saw it all with my own eyes. I witnessed the proclamation. In the afternoon an address to people was announced, everyone was encouraged to come to the Market Square to hear a very important message. – How was it announced? – On the radio… Back then there were regular loudspeakers, they looked like a plate, very primitive. The message was heard in every building, because everybody had a radio. I went to the Market Square as well. There were many people there. The whole square was filled with people. There were about 1,500-2,000 people. I know that there were masses of people. On the building of Prosvita, it’s 10 Rynok Square, on the balcony I saw people. Then I started asking what the matter was. And then I found out that a new Government is being formed and that Ukrainian Independent State will be renewed. It was a very moving event, people were shouting, calling out ‘Glory!’. It was national enthusiasm. People were waiting for this… And right before that we saw planes. We were afraid that they can drop bombs, but everything was alright. In the afternoon, approximately at six o’clock, some people appeared on the balcony. At first I did not know who those people were. And then they introduced themselves, saying that it was a meeting of Ukrainian communities, representatives of Ukrainian intelligentsia, and representatives of all political and national parties. And they’ve decided to announce in front of people that ‘the renewal of the Ukrainian state is starting today’. People were shouting, ‘Glory!’ People were applauding, it was crazy. And then Yaroslav Stetsko started reading something out loud. It was said that Yaroslav Stetsko was elected as an acting head of the new Government. Immediately people started asking questions: why doesn’t proclamation take place in Kyiv? Because we would have to wait for a while for Kyiv, and we did not have time to wait, we had to make it on time before the Germans. I found out later that this meeting, that had started approximately two or three hours before I came, was conducted by Stetsko who was appointed by Bandera. All representatives of Ukrainian government, representatives of political parties, and representatives of clergy unanimously voted for renewal of the Ukrainian Independent State. Stetsko was elected as the Head, the government was also elected. This event was so astonishing; it’s even hard to describe it. You should have seen it”.
Interrogation in the prison “on Lontskoho Street”, 1947
“In the prison “on Lontskoho Street” people were taken to the second floor to an interrogator’s office. I was taken to a few interrogators. – What was an interrogation room like? – It was his office. There were a bookcase and a safe. On the bookcase there were a few of his folders – cases that were tied together. As soon as he had to go out somewhere, he locked the safe, took keys with him and only then walked out of the office. – Did he carry any weapon on him? – No. – Were you photographed when you were in prisons? – Yes, we were always photographed. – How exactly was it done? – As soon as we got there they’ve got everybody’s personal information. They made us take off our shoelaces, belt, and then took pictures. They took a picture of us from two sides – front view and side view. A wooden table was hung on our chest, with the last name and the number of the case written on it. – Was there a stool fastened to the floor in the interrogator’s office? – All of them had stools fastened to the floor. Usually they had one or two stools. – Were you sitting behind bars or at the table? – No, in this room I was sitting at the table. Near the door, usually. An interrogator usually sat across the door at the opposite side near the window. There were his bookcase, safe, and next to the door there was a stool, fastened to the floor. – Did an interrogator call for convoy when the interrogation was about to end? – He had an electric bell near the table. All interrogators always had signaling at their tables. We did not even see. He pressed the button and the convoy was there. In case there were some problems. – Were you beaten in the prison “on Lontskoho Street”? – I was beaten in the prison “on Lontkoho Street”, but it was already not as bad as in Kyiv. – What methods did they use while beating you up? – He was hitting me with his hands, with a stick, hitting me in the face, in the chest, strangled me… - You fell to the floor and he kept beating you up? – Yes, he kept hitting me. – What did he say? – He kept saying only one thing, ‘Answer my question: when did you see him? Where did you see him? How much did you see? Who else did you see?’ He wanted to find out everything concerning his case.”
Disinfection in the prison “on Lontskoho Street”, 1948
“They undressed me, checked everything. – What did they check? – Clothes that I had, I was supposed to turn them in. They checked my clothes and gave them back to me. Afterwards there was hot treatment. – Where did this treatment take place? – It’s hard to say. I know that I was taken a little further down the corridor… - Did you take off your clothes? – I took off all of my clothes. I was bathing and meanwhile they applied hot treatment for my clothes. – With what, water? – No, they steamed my cell. The clothes were treated with hot temperature. This was done to make sure that I did not bring in any lice or other insects.”
“Dry” hunger strike in the prison “on Lontskoho Street”, 1948
“Now concerning the hunger strike. I was on two “dry” hunger strikes. “Dry” means without water. It is a terrible hunger strike. It’s when people can endure for eight-nine days the most. I was demanding that they inform my family that I’m in the prison, and that I can receive a package. My parents were arrested, and my sister was not arrested as yet, but I didn’t know all this. I declared a “dry” hunger strike in order to fight for my rights. The news about my hunger strike was not received well. But I was talking about this hunger strike out loud in the corridor in order for everyone to hear me; I wanted other prisoners to support me, if I was to be terrorized. They accepted my hunger strike. I was already in the cell. A person who is on a hunger strike is allowed to lie down in the cell. On the first day I was terrorized and intimidated. I gave away my bread and water. They brought me my breakfast – I refused to eat it, they brought me lunch – I refused again. The bread was put on the table in the corridor. There was a table and they put everything on it. The head of the prison did not come on the first day. On the second day he came up to me, ‘What is the matter with you? Think about your parents, about your family, do you want to die at such a young age?’ I said that this is my right and my life. I endured the hunger strike for another day not eating anything. On the third day the same head of the prison came up to me and said in Russian, ‘Fine, we are allowing you to read books’. And also he told me to write down the address, they will send a letter to my family. I got books to read and wrote a letter to my parents. My sister got the letter. And after two weeks I received a package.”
Interrogation in the administration of the Ministry of State Security, 1948
“Horrible, terrible interrogations began in Kyiv. Physical interrogations are not as horrible as psychological. For example, what means were used against me during the first few days: I was always told, ‘Give us at least one man and we will believe you’. It was all understood; they wanted somebody from the OUN Administration. When they saw that I would not agree they started breaking me. They brought me into a special long room; it was dark, without windows. And I sat down under the light of huge spotlights. Those spotlights were aimed at me. The light was burning my eyes, it stupefied me. For a short period of time I was afraid that I would loose my mind. This lasted for three days. On the opposite side of the room the interrogator was sitting in the dark. Interrogators were rotating all the time, because they couldn’t endure. They were asking me the same thing over and over again. I was praying to God to help me control what I say. They were trying to break me down psychologically, but I did not give in. After this the second method is to try to torture with “sleep”. They were not letting me sleep for two weeks. How did it look like? Five minutes after the so called “lights out” I was taken to the interrogator’s office, there I was beaten up and we talked, and twenty minutes before the wake-up call I was taken to my cell. So as soon as I got in bed I was forced to get up. And during the day special prison workers were constantly keeping an eye on me so I wouldn’t fall asleep. Sometimes I leaned against the wall and was trying to take a nap in this way. Then he would open a feeder. A feeder is a special little window that was used to pass food. And he would knock on the door with all his strength. The door was covered with iron sheets. Midst all this silence the sound of this horrible boom was hitting the nerves. I was feeling very bad and they forced me to stand in the middle of the room. I was not allowed to sit down. I was supposed to stand like that. I kept standing for two weeks. My legs were swollen, I could hardly walk. I was afraid. The whole time I was praying to God that He would grant me strength to endure all this, not to give in, not to fall down”.