“Polish minister Pieracki, the minister of State Security, assigned a task to pacify local people from Galicia. How? By force. Pacification is a forced propitiation. Polish soldiers came to the village, put their horses in threshing barns, not asking for anyone’s permission. In Lyubin Velykyi there was a big community house. There was a list of peasants who were supposed to be tortured. How? I found a recording in church documents, made by a local deacon, how pacification was conducted in Velykyi Lyubin. It is very interesting. He wrote that “a subdivision of Polish soldiers came to Lyubin in 1930 and put their horses in threshing barns. And they were called out to the community house according to the list. My father was on that list as well. But he managed to escape. He escaped and on foot got to Lviv by night. According to the recording, everyone who was called out was put down on a bench. Two soldiers were holding that person’s arms, and another two soldiers were holding his/her legs, a wet cloth was put on his/her naked butt. And two soldiers stroke 25 times so hard that a poor victim was moaning as if from under the ground.”
Volodymyr Lyha (1927)
Volodymyr was born in 1927 in the village of Velykyi Lyubin, Lviv province (now Horodok district, Lviv region). In the beginning of the first Soviet occupation of Galicia in September of 1939 he studied in the 4th grade of an elementary school. On October 22, 1939, the NKVD subdivision arrested his father, Ivan Lyha, the head of the reading hall of the “Prosvita” society. On April 13, 1940, Volodymyr together with his mother was deported to Kazakhstan (Mendykara district, Kostanay region). In October of 1944 he received a permission to come back to Ukraine, thus, in December together with his family he came back to Lviv. After a year he was arrested in the town of Horodok for keeping a postcard with a trident (a national symbol of Ukraine) that was found by the official bodies during the search. Two weeks after he was arrested Volodymyr was released due to him being under aged. In 1944-1948 he studied at a Velykolyubin secondary school, and afterwards he continued his education at Lviv trade economic institute. In 1958 he got married to Stefaniya Barylyak. He held various positions in trade-administrative institutions of Ivano-Frankivsk and Lviv. In 1996 Volodymyr was selected as a deputy head of Lviv regional society of political prisoners and the repressed. Nowadays Volodymyr lives in Lviv.
Pacification in Velykyi Lyubin, 1930
Deportation to Kazakhstan, 1940, part 1
“On April 13th, at night, they knocked on the door, at three o’clock at night we opened the door, my mom opened the door. Soldiers broke in and said, ‘Ger ready. You have half an hour.’ My mom was terrified, my sister just came from Lviv, she was studying there at a gymnasium, she was also terrified. Me and my brother were very little. – How old was your brother? – My brother is two years older than me, my sister is five years older. All I heard was weeping and outcry. We did not know what we should take with us. They forced us, ‘Get ready!’ Our neighbors all woke up because everyone was screaming. They did not let anyone in. We took with us what we could: some sheets, pillows, blankets, some items of clothing; we did not take any food, because these were the first deportations. No one knew what it would be like and no one was ready. Because deportations that were later, after the war, people were getting ready for them, they dried some bread, while we did not have anything. We had to get ready very quickly. I remember that I was crying my heart out. I put my violin under my arm and was holding to the door frame and crying like crazy. A soldier came, took me and put me outside. There were carriages waiting. He threw me in the carriage. I was sitting there and crying. Then my mother, my sister, my brother all came out. We all sat in the carriage. My grandma, father’s mom, was screaming, ‘At least that little one, don’t take him away’. She would have been deported too, but our neighbors managed to hide her, so she was left behind.”
Deportation to Kazakhstan, 1940, part 2
“We were brought to Lviv to a freight yard. It was located along Horodotska Street. Later I studied the area. It was located where a station for suburban trains is now. There was a big fence made from boards, and later it was made of concrete blocks. We were brought there. I remember only that there was a horrible chaos: hundreds of people, among them were soldiers with German shepherds who forced people to get into wagons. People were put into cargo wagons: fifty, fifty-five, sixty people per one wagon. There were plank beds on the sides, and those who did not fit there had to sit and sleep on the floor. Everybody was forced to get into a wagon and afterwards they were locked. Everything was conducted under the eye of many soldiers. Windows had bars made of barbed wire. And later at night this train with people departed. We were transported mostly at night. I think that they did not want other people who were working in the fields to see how through barred windows people were crying, moaning, and cursing. There was weeping and moaning.”