“The Second World War is usually seen as a confrontation between giant military alliances. However, in reality, many smaller separate conflicts unfolded within this epic war, and the struggle between peoples and countries was often conducted without compromise or mercy. One of the darkest and least-known pages of the Second World War is the Volyn massacre – an ethnic cleansing carried out by pro–Nazi Ukrainian nationalist groups in the Volyn region, which is now almost entirely part of Ukraine.
Volhynia has historically been a border zone. These swampy forests were part of Russia in the Middle Ages and later became part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – the Polish state in its heyday. The partitioning of Poland brought Volhynia into the Russian Empire. After the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the Russian Civil War, Volhynia was once again part of an independent Poland. In short, this region, although a bit of a backwater, has changed hands often.
By the beginning of the Second World War, it was a good agricultural region with a diverse population. Approximately 70% of the region’s inhabitants were Ukrainians, 16% were Poles, and another 10% were Jews. In the first two decades of Poland’s renewed independence, Ukrainian national organizations were banned in Volhynia, and, most importantly, poverty was a very acute problem. The level of urbanization was extremely low, and there was little good land for peasants in Volhynia. National tensions had already existed, but their roots stemmed from economic problems. The Polish minority was, on average, more prosperous, and the central authorities distributed Volhynia’s best plots of land among Polish veterans.
In 1939, Germany began World War II by attacking Poland. Within a couple of weeks, the Polish army’s main forces were defeated. Against this background, on September 17, 1939, Soviet troops entered the territory of western Ukraine and Belarus. Though the Poles considered this a treacherous blow, Poland itself had acquired its eastern provinces by forcibly capturing them at the end of the Russian Civil War. From Moscow’s point of view, it had protected the local population from the Nazis while creating a buffer for itself in case of a major war. From whatever angle you look at these events, the national republics within the USSR were formed from territories with their own native populations. The borders of the ruined Russian Empire had evolved not according to some national principle, but were the results of hostilities. Now populated mainly by Ukrainians, Volhynia became part of Soviet Ukraine.
Naturally, redrawing the borders did not make national tensions disappear. The Polish minority was not happy about this at all, and the Polish government sitting in exile in London was not prepared to give up even an inch of land. The Polish government continued to see the ‘Kresy’ – the disputed territories in western Belarus and Ukraine – as its own territory.
In 1941, the Nazis began a grandiose campaign of conquest against Russia. The beginning of the war was disastrous for the Soviet Union. The Red Army immediately suffered a series of heavy defeats, and the Germans occupied Volhynia within literally one or two weeks.
However, the Nazis’ grip on Volhynia was not that tight. It wasn’t very important to them from a strategic or economic standpoint, so only a few cities were actually held by German forces. Moreover, there were a number of different guerrilla-insurgent groups operating in the countryside. The Polish ‘Home Army’ saw its task as restoring Polish rule. Soviet partisans fought against the Nazis in the interests of their own country. Volhynia was also one of the key centers of activity for the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Although it tried to play an independent role, the OUN initially operated under the patronage of the Nazis and the organization itself was divided into factions.
However, all of the Ukrainian nationalist movements were united in their opposition to Volhynia’s non-Ukrainian populations. The OUN’s policy paper, ‘Instructions for the First Days of the Organization of State Life’, explicitly stated: “National minorities are divided into those friendly and hostile to us.”The latter included “Muscovites, Poles and Jews.” “Friendly” differed from “hostile” only in that “friends… can return to their homeland.”According to this document, “hostile” national minorities were subject to “destruction in the struggle.” This masterpiece of rhetoric was accompanied by the remark: “Our government should be terrible to its opponents. Terror for alien-enemies and their traitors.” In the text that follows, the ethnic cleansing program is described in detail. It is curious that this cannibalistic manifesto was actually compiled before the beginning of the Soviet-German war in May of 1941. Initially, there was a kind of segregation – the anti-Semitism of the Ukrainian nationalists brooked no exceptions, while the Poles planned to destroy “only” the intelligentsia and assimilate the ordinary peasants.
With the outbreak of the war, the nationalists followed the Wehrmacht with calls to destroy “Moscow, Poland, Magyars and Jews”, accompanied by demands that the population obey the OUN and its leader, Stepan Bandera. In fact, nationalist auxiliary units began killing Jews even before the Nazis did. The attitude of the nationalists towards national minorities was generally more vicious and uncompromising than the Germans’, and the range of people subject to unconditional murder was wider. The nationalists even tried to use the Gestapo to organize ethnic cleansing.
Things haven’t changed much: https://www.bitchute.com/video/EeOKP0kMPuKq/