“When the Bolsheviks came in 1939, me and one other boy who was older (his name was Hryts Pertsovych) went to Kolomyia to have a look at those folks. So we came to Kolomyia. That guy Vasyl told me that everyone is very rich there, that they are prosperous. We came to Kolomyia, where Shevchenko’s monument is now. There was a tank, on the top of that tank “politruk” was standing and talking to people. I looked at this “politruk” and at those soldiers around him. Not long before I saw Polish soldiers. It was beautiful: they were very clean, in nice military uniform. They were all alike. But the actual people didn’t look as nice. And I realized that what Vasyl was saying was a lie.”
- Museum "Territory of Terror" |
- Witnesses |
Myroslav Symchych (1923)
He was born on January 5th, 1923, in the village Vyzhnyi Bereziv, Stanislav province (now Kosiv district, Ivano-Frankivsk region). He finished seven forms of “Ridna shkola” in the village Nyzhniy Bereziv. In 1939-1942 he studied at a evening school in the village Seredniy Bereziv. In 1940 he joined the youth of the OUN. In 1942 he entered Kolomyia architecture college. In 1943, according to the order of the district conductor of the OUN network “Orel”, he left his studies and came to the 1st campus of the Ukrainian People’s Self-defense. On August 20th, 1944, he finished his training at a senior school “Gregit” and received the position of the head of a subdivision. In autumn 1944 he was sent to Bukovyna in a subdivision of “Kryha” to train new-comers. Later on he was transferred to Yabluniv region in a subdivision of “Moroz”. He came back to his native village in the end of 1944 and later became the head of Bereziv subdivision of the UPA. In the beginning of 1945 he led the UPA subdivision in a fight near Kosmach, where Ukrainian Insurgent soldiers defeated a battalion of Soviet troops headed by the General-mayor Mykola Derhachov.
Coming of the Bolsheviks to Kolomyia, 1939
Interrogation in the prison of the Ministry of State Security in Ivano-Frankivsk, 1948
“This is how I got there. – They put you in a car and..? – They put me in a car and took me to the town. From there they called Ivano-Frankivsk. A car came from there. They took me to Frankivsk, to the 4th floor of some building. They were persuading me to start working for them, saying “Don’t be stupid. We know you. You’re a good soldier. We need people like you. Come join us. You can choose a subdivision of the best soldiers. You can differentiate a bad soldier from a good soldier. You will help us destroy the underground forces. You already graduated from a senior school (they knew that I was a participant of a senior school). We can send you to an academy. After graduation from an academy you can become a big man here”. That whole idea was not too bad, but just not for me. I told them, “The deal is…we have one law: either to die or to achieve. I wouldn’t dare to do such meanness that you want me to do! Do you think a Ukrainian Insurgent soldier would ever do something like this?” Back then the head of the KGB was Sarayev. Sarayev hammered on the table and said: “Take him! And punish him!”. The whole bunch of Cheka agents attacked me. They tied me. They were beating me up until I was unconscious. They threw me in the lock-up room downstairs and I was laying there unconscious for 7 days… - What did they hit you with? – With whatever they could find. From rubber pipes to their own legs. But it was not too bad. Too bad was afterwards, when I, already exhausted from the beating, could hardly breathe, and they tied me and were hitting on my chin with ramrod… - “Now, will you talk? – they asked in Russian. I remained silent. And they hit me again. – “Now, did you make up your mind? Will you talk?” They were hitting me until I was unconscious again.”
Camps in Kolyma, beginning of the 1950s
“ – How did Magadan meet you? – We came there – winter already began. We came there in the end of August. In the mountains we could already see snow. The sea was not frozen yet. We were greeted the same as in any other prison. We were to go to barracks that were filled with fleas. From there I was deported to a town Myaundzha, Susuman region. A big power station was being built there. – So they used you there as a manpower? Did you work there, what exactly did you do? – At first I worked in the unit that was preparing gold for washing…I worked as a lathe operator, then I worked at a construction… - What were the conditions of your stay? – The same as everywhere: a little food, a little money, hard work outside when the temperature was minus 50 degrees Celsius. – Did many people that you worked with die? – Many. During the first winter 1200 people were brought to the prison. In 1950 I was brought back to Magadan. Only 700 people out of 1200 survived, 500 people died during the winter. Those who survived could be hardly called alive. I was among them. Only skin and bones, but I was still alive”.