The tragic massacre in Volyn remembered | The Economist
- The tragic massacre in Volyn remembered
Jul 15th 2013, 16:19 by J.P. | KYIV
UKRAINIANS call it a tragedy, for Poles it was a massacre. Between
February 1943 and February 1944, units of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army killed up to 100,000 Poles in Volyn and eastern Galicia, former Polish territories now in western Ukraine. The butchery reached its apogee in July, with as many as 20,000, including women, children and the elderly, murdered. Around 20,000 Ukrainians also died at the hands of Poles or Ukrainians who saw them as too close to the hated occupiers.
It remains one of the darkest chapters in the two nations' histories,
and one of the most misunderstood. Many Poles have an idealistic view of their Kresy, the eastern borderlands to which Volyn belonged, as a
collection of quaint, provincial towns and villages where Poles, Jews
and Ukrainians lived in harmony, explains Andrzej Szeptycki, an expert
in bilateral relations from the Warsaw University. The axes and
pitchforks of Ukrainian nationalists, they believe, brought an end to
Reality was more complex. Throughout the interwar period, Poland
practiced a harsh policy of assimilation of its national minorities,
particularly Belarusian and Ukrainians, fearing they would become a
fifth column. In addition to trampling cultural and religious rights,
land was seized and redistributed to Polish military veterans, in hopes of reigning in the east.