‘The Soviets came. They entered our land. They came with tanks and tankettes, those small armoured vehicles. (…). As they arrived, they were dirty, wearing greatcoats, puttees, and boots. One man had a boot on his one foot and a high boot on another one since he had lost an item somewhere. In addition, their ladies were extremely ugly. Scarecrows. They attacked our shops and grabbed everything out of there. The Soviets raped a half of Germany, and in Przemyśl, they behaved alike. Mothers chased their daughters; they didn’t let their children out. They didn’t let them out. Shall I tell you about my mum meeting those soldiers for the first time? Our people hid everything at their homes. And we had such a big room in our basement, a storage or so. Well, the rest were just small cellars. My mum brought all the food there, because Mummy was afraid. A lot of professors lived on our street, for instance, Professor Riarchyk and Professor Hoza. It was a professors’ street. We had our buildings, households, housewives. And a cow was slaughtered there. He said, ‘Mrs. Kryzhanivska, what’s going on? They’ve slaughtered a cow. But the slaughtered cow is good. We have to carve it because people have nothing to eat. Let us do it.’ She said, ‘We’ll pay you.’ He responded, ‘Pay after all that ends.’ They carved the cow, shared the meat between the people. My mum took a portion for the whole building. Do you know how she cooked it? The smell was all over the place while she was frying some cutlets. Suddenly two soldiers came. They were looking at her in a strange way, ‘What’s going on here?’ My Mum said, ‘Nothing is going on. We are cooking for ourselves. We need to have something to eat.’ However, she saw that they were really hungry. Women feel, you know. So, she told them, ‘Come here. I’ll give you some food.’ (…) He said, ‘No.’ And my sister was there. ‘Give it to her at first, and then we will eat, because you may poison us,’ he said. You see? How do you like it? They thought we were capable of poisoning them. That’s how we met them.’
- Museum "Territory of Terror" |
- Witnesses |
Yaroslava Hasyuk (Kryzhanivska) (1925)
She was born on December 28, 1925, in the town of Przemyśl, Lviv province (now Podkarpackie province, Poland). Yaroslava studied at a secondary school in Przemyśl. She continued her education at a private female gymnasium later on. In 1943, she joined the youth network of the OUN (her pseudonym was ‘Yarka’). She served as a Ukrainian Red Cross nurse in the ‘Burlaky’ subdivision. In 1946, Yaroslava was resettled to Lviv because of the agreement on mutual exchange of population between the USSR and Poland in the border territory. In the same year, she was arrested while performing a mission assigned by the OUN. She remained under investigation for two months. Yaroslava was kept in the basement of the building where the Lviv Regional Headquarters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine are situated nowadays (3 General Hryhorenko Square). She was released due to the lack of evidence. In 1947, Yaroslava entered the Lviv State Medical Institute. On February 21, 1948, she was arrested for the second time. Yaroslava was betrayed by an acquaintance of hers from the underground forces of the OUN of Przemyśl. She was kept in the Lviv NKVD prison #1 on Lontskoho Street until October 1948. Yaroslava was sentenced to 25 years of forced labour camps and 5 years of deprivation of rights according to the article 54-1 ‘a’ of the Criminal Codex of the Ukrainian SSR (‘treason’). In October 1948, she was transferred to the Lviv NKVD prison #2 on Zamarstynivska Street. In November 1948, Yaroslava was moved to the Lviv NKVD prison #4 (‘Brygidky’), from where she was deported to the town of Inta, the Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, the USSR (now the Republic of Komi, the Russian Federation). She served her sentence in one of the forced labour camps in Inta. Yaroslava was discharged in June 1956. She came back to Lviv and married Oleh Hasyuk, a former political prisoner. Now, Yaroslava lives in the city of Lviv.
The ‘first Soviets’ arriving in Przemyśl, 1939
Shift in cultural life during the ‘first Soviets’, 1939.
‘As they arrived in 1939, they brought their teachers, they brought their theatre. They brought them. They brought a lot of people. It was a great shock for them because they thought they had been coming to nowhere. You know, they used to say ‘decayed capitalism’. They thought that we were… I don’t know… walking around barefoot and naked. And that their home was far away. So, when they finally arrived, they were astonished. They saw that we had everything, for instance, the shops were full of goods and everybody was beautifully dressed. In the past, people didn’t wish to surpass one another, as it is now. Everybody looked equally nice. It was a shock for them. They had sent teacher to us. The teachers were ugly. I felt pity for them. Our people even said, ‘A rabbit jacket, a bag in her hand – I see she’s a Soviet.’ There were whole poems about them. However, I felt pity for them. And a serious incident happened with a teacher and my classmate, a Jewish boy (…). He was their boy; they brought him with them. He wouldn’t obey anyone; he was so disobedient; he was spitting at teachers. The teacher made him stand in the corner and punished him. Do you know what happened next? She nearly went on trial. How dared she offend a child? It was something terrible for us. Before, if a teacher put us into the corner, we stood quietly, and said to the teacher, ‘I am sorry. I will never do it again.’ And in this case, they accused the teacher!’
Questionings in the prison ‘on Lontskoho Street’, 1948
‘They ordered me to go out and led me to the investigator. They seated us near the wall. The first word was, ‘Confess!’ I asked him, ‘Confess to what?’ I didn’t know what I had to confess to because he told me nothing. We didn’t know anything well enough at that time. They tortured me. I’ll tell you how they did it. They were jamming my fingers in the door… Look at my hands; they’re so ugly (shows her hands) because of their work. They jammed my fingers in the door. Another torture involved my head and the wall. And later, they punched me under my chest. But what a pleasure was it for them! In addition, they did insane things. I remember them escorting me along the corridor. One cell had its door open. A man was lying on the floor with a plank here (points at her chest), and those two men were riding on him like on a seesaw! Would you believe me? I nearly died after coming to my cell. I said, ‘Girls, what they are doing to our boys! They do horrible things to us. They twist our arms and legs, but even more terrific things are going on there.’ I wept heavily; I pitied that boy so much. But why? Because although they had done it to him (points at her chest), no signs were left.’