“Having spent some time in a place like this I could not believe that hell or any other place can be worse than this. Not just the sight of hundreds of dead bodies laying their all swollen after torture. Those unearthed gaps… But what stroke me the most was all those close people who came to take those who… A mother comes and sees her mutilated son or daughter. The despair of those people. Some of them wept, some went mad at the side of this. People were looking for an outlet of their feelings. For example, a column of Jews was marching. They were led by the Germans. People would attack those Jews because they thought that it was all their fault. But of course it was not them. Just the sight of this was unbearable for me.
Halyna Dydyk (1912-1979)
In the end of 1942 she had to move to Zalishchyky, Ternopil’ region, due to the arrests of OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) members by Gestapo. There she worked as a teacher in an agricultural school. In 1944 she started working in underground OUN. She was the head of OUN regional women’s network in Ternopil’ region, from 1944 she was an organizer of Ukrainian Red Cross; later on she worked as a messenger of Ukrainian Insurgent Army commander-in-chief R. Shukhevych under a nickname “Anna”. In March 1944 she officially became a member of OUN. In 1945 she was awarded silver Merits Cross. She was arrested on March 5th, 1950, in a village Bilogorshcha nearby Lviv. She was on trial in Lviv and Kyiv. October 31st, 1951, she was sentenced by Moscow Special Council of NKVD to 25 years of imprisonment to be served in Volodymyr and Mordoviya. She was released on March 24th, 1971. She settled in village Khrystynivka, Cherkasy region. She died on December 24th, 1979. She is buried in Berezhany.
Prisoners tortured in Lviv, 1941.
“Bryhidky” prison, 1941.
“The war broke out in 1941. How Lviv looked like, and mainly how looked like prisons in Lviv I don’t think I will be able neither to tell, nor to describe. – You saw all that? – Yes, my sister was in prison at that time. I already was released from prison but my sister Kateryna was sentenced. She served her sentence in Lviv in “Bryhidky” prison together with Katrusya (Zarytska – editorial note). They served their sentence together and together were released. But it was war. Soviet troops backed off. The Germans were about to come. I used to get up very early. I stayed with the Holubtsi family. Mykola Holubets was a writer back in a day. I would get up very early and rush to “Bryhidky”, because my sister was there. I came and there were very few people around, very quiet in a city. There were shootings near Lychakiv when I was leaving, but the downtown was very quiet. I did not see any troops. I rushed to “Bryhidky”. One campus of “Bryhidky” was on fire. It was frightful. I came in. Remains, ruines… I did not see any dead bodies there. I saw…I wandered a little… I was about to go out. I’ve been wandering through campuses for some time. In the ground a saw a man’s arm in blue shirt. There were some bushes and grass. And the arm was visible from there. Later I showed this to Berezhanska and others. There I also saw how a man walked out. He was somewhere around, probably hid in a basement. He seemed to be half mad after what he saw. He couldn’t even talk. But he was taken care of”.
Prison “at Lontskoho”, 1941.
“After some time I want to look “at Lontskoho”, what they did there. I saw hundreds and hundreds of swollen dead bodies. I recognized Cholovskyy from Berezhany. He was a Mayor in Chervonoarmiysk district in Lviv at that time. He was shot in the back of his head, and beaten down. Probably they were hitting him in groin because he was badly bruised there. Very many people there had wounded faces. Many were shot in neck back. This means they were shooting from the back. But also there were signs of bruises and wounds.”
Interrogation in prison “at Lontskoho”, 1950, part 1.
“It was a kind of torture – beating. Later on horrible insomnia. They would never let you sleep. All the nights during inquests and the whole next day. Then for just a moment they would bring you to your cell, but still wouldn’t let you sleep. I started hallucinating. Afterwards I just could not fall asleep. They gave me luminal and I still couldn’t sleep. I had hallucinations. I was coming back from the inquest in the early morning. I was taken to my cell. I shared my cell with Hanusya Horbova. I come to the cell and hear: a voice very nice, tender, sweet, but very sad, coming from the cell next door: “A little birdy nightingale! A little birdy nightingale!” It was in the beginning of spring and nightingales were probably singing somewhere. So I tell Hanusya, “Did you hear that?” – “Hear what? I did not hear anything.” Hallucinations. Later on I had visual and auditory hallucinations. It happened a few times. My condition was very very bad. So they gave me a few days to rest. Maybe one, maybe two or three. I don’t know. They started medicated me. The doctor came and gave me some medicine. For a day or two…Later I was given some drugs. I had some water near my bed. But I couldn’t swallow. It was very hard for me to eat. I was given dome drinking water. After this water I either fall asleep or lose consciousness. It happened once after drinking that water. But I still would not tell them anything…they were asking me specific questions. I answered “yes” or “no”, I knew that I had to talk about art. So I started talking about theatre.” – Even not having clear consciousness you still… - Yes, still. There was something in my consciousness. For example I knew, that I was not supposed to talk about that, about that, about that. What I could say was in my subconsciousness. It happened once, that they gave me something like this to drink. I drank a little. A lot or not enough – I don’t know. I fell asleep. Slept a little. Investigator was sitting next to me. He was waiting, and fell asleep while waiting. I woke up after some time. It was very quiet. I was lying in my bed. It was always were quiet everywhere when drugs were given. No one came. I noticed that he woke up and looked at me. I was thinking that it would be better if I was taken to my cell, it’s not as scary there. I asked him: “We will be sitting like this until the morning, until the next inquest?” He stood up and still being sleepy came to the table, took a piece of rubber and answered me in Russian, “this is far from being an inquest”. Then he took a piece of rubber and started beating me up, and beating me up. I was screaming the whole time. This is how inquest looked like.”
Interrogation in prison “at Lontskoho”, 1950, part 2.
“The first few days it seemed like they would achieve their goal. They did not beat me up – just intimidated me. Later they would put me on stretchers and turn around, and start beating up like mad people. About 10 or 15 of them would come every night…what wild beasts they were! Some of them were laughing, some were grinning with their faced filled with anger – not a pretty sight. They would beat me up and beat me up and ask questions. – What were they beating you with? – It was a kind of yellow robe, made of thin wire with rubber inside. I’m not sure what it was made of, but I saw little yellow rubber pieced sticking out from it. Its diameter was about 2.5 cm. This kind of rubber was widely used by them. It was very convenient for them at first, because my stretchers were lying on two stools. They would just turn me around and start over. At first they hit me with a flat piece of rubber, its width being about 4cm. It was flat but under it was a layer of plaid made of wire, covered by brick red rubber. And when they were beating me up with it the pain was very strong but felt somehow only on the surface. These strokes left deep bruises on my skin. The pain was horrible but it was still not as bad as when they hit me with that big thick round rubber, because it caused even worse pain, which was coming it seemed all the way from the bones. The pain was horrible. But it was not so intimidating while they were beating me up. The worst is when they are about to beat you up. Fear is much worse than the actual physical abuse, than the actual pain. They would not stop beating me up. If I fainted they would give me a shot or pour some water on me. They would give me a few minutes to rest and would start everything over. Day after day, night after night. Back then a spent very little time in my cell, I was always under inquest. They would bring me for inquest, and I basically lived there, on my stretchers.