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    Hunka's blog fyi Archived Message

    Posted by Ian M on September 26, 2023, 7:34 pm, in reply to "Here's Matt Taibbi's take..."

    via the Taibbi article, the only reference to atrocities committed by the OUN, an oblique 'There are rotten apples in a bag of healthy apples.' Some mention of Hitler's crimes, but the overall attitude is positive towards Germans, negative towards Poles and totally rage-filled towards the 'beasts in human form with a red star on their foreheads'. Unclear from this the extent to which he personally collaborated with the nazi military, but if the division was the same one that received honorary SS status, then he must have done.


    Monday, March 21, 2011

    Yaroslav HUNKA

    My generation was united by two great forces: faith in God and love for Ukraine. We grew up on the glorious, proud land of Berezhany. We trampled this land with our bare feet and breathed its magical aromas into our souls and hearts, and our eyes recorded the beauty of the cities, villages, and landscapes of our native land on memory tapes for centuries.

    My generation has become the heir to the glorious sons of this land, our predecessors. Its glorious sons and guests sowed the Berezhany land with their powerful words: Fr.

    Who among us hasn't sung the rifleman songs of Roman Kupchynsky, Lev and Bohdan Lepkyi since kindergarten? The song "How to go from Berezhany to the front line" was probably sung by our mothers over our cradles. The battlefields of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army near the villages of Koniukhy, Kuropatnyky, Possukhiv, Vilkhovets, and Potutory captured our young imaginations about the heroes of our nation. Mount Lysonia was a holy place for us teenagers-a place of pilgrimage. We not only walked to it "barefoot," but stepped on it with bare feet out of a sense of holiness and boundless pride. The spirit of this mountain, like some strange radiation, permeated my soul and all my senses. I also had a native hero whom I was very proud of - my father's older brother, Hryhorii Hunka, who fought in the ranks of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.

    My native village of Urman, it seemed to me at the time, was the most nationally conscious village in the area. The flame of national revival, in the years between the two wars, shone brightly over the village. The church and the Prosvita reading room became the central engine of the village's national life under the fatherly leadership of the priests, Fathers Omelian Havryshko and Stepan Horodetsky. The village had a consumer store, a "cooperative", a library, a choir, a youth association "Luh", a kindergarten, and a drama club. The latter was my favorite. This group performed 4-5 plays a year in the reading room.

    We all (growing up) knew that there was also an underground nationalist organization in the village, the OUN, but we did not know who belonged to it, but we imagined that all the older boys and some girls must have been members, because they often whispered to each other

    The OUN had a great influence on people's behavior and the general life of the village. When the OUN issued a directive not to buy either alcoholic beverages or tobacco, because it was a monopoly of the Polish state, none of the young people smoked or drank alcoholic beverages (would a Ukrainian citizen today achieve such a dedication?). Even my grandfather, who smoked all his life, stopped smoking.

    I have never seen alcoholic beverages in our house or in the house of my mother's relatives (the Yakyms), and I have never seen a drunk person in the village.

    September, 1939 - I am fourteen years old.

    Polish troops and civilians are fleeing in a continuous stream along the road towards Berezhany, with German planes occasionally catching up with them. Every day we looked impatiently toward the Pomeranians, hoping that those mystical German knights who were so kicking the hated Poles in the ass would appear any minute. Instead, one day a column of horsemen with red stars on their hats arrived from Berezhany.

    Science at the school in Berezhany became free, and my father sent me to school in Berezhany. I lived in a Polish bursa and started going to the fifth grade. The vast majority of young people in the school were like me, from the villages of the district. Ukrainian was the language of instruction at school. A Pole taught Russian language lectures. He was an elderly man, tall, of noble character, and carried himself proudly. He treated us like a kindly old man, and we soon fell in love with him. He did not stay with us long. One very winter day in January of 1940, he, one boy and one girl from the class were summoned and two NKVEDists took them "under escort" directly to the railway station, where their families, who had been brought from the villages at night, were already packed into the cars. I didn't know that my favorite aunt and uncle Kobryn from Koniukh and their children Stefa and Volodymyr were also on that train (Stefa, my age, died that winter near Irkutsk).

    It was the first demonstration of "Father" Stalin's care for us-the first echelons of "enemies of the people" to Siberia. Those were followed by more and more.

    The next school year, I moved to the Ukrainian bursa on Raiska Street, where Professor Mykhailo Rebryk was the headmaster. In my sixth grade class, out of forty students, there were six Ukrainians, two Poles, and the rest were Jews-children of refugees from Poland. We wondered why they fled before such a civilized Western nation as the Germans.

    Arrests continued in the city and villages, and people were deported to Siberia as "enemies of the people." Schools and bursas were not spared. One Saturday, school principal Tkachuk called three tenth-grade students out of the bursa and no one saw them again.Berezhany

    Fear of the unknown enveloped us and the whole nation. The terror of Moscow communism was reigning over the land of Berezhany. The NKVD had eyes and ears everywhere. Friend to friend and brother to brother could not speak sincerely for fear of betrayal. What was worse was that the scum who terrorized us spoke our native language. Each time, a larger part of the population became "enemies of the people".
    At school, we had to sing songs of praise to our executioners, and the monthly wall newspapers that each class had to publish praised Father Stalin and the Communist Party to the skies.

    In July 1941, the German army occupied Berezhany. We welcomed the German soldiers with joy. The people felt a thaw, knowing that there would no longer be that dreaded knocking on the door in the middle of the night and that they could sleep peacefully.

    Upon entering Berezhany, the Germans occupied the new gymnasium as an administrative building, and our classes were moved to the old traditional place, the second floor of the town hall.The new "liberator" of the Ukrainian people, Fuhrer Hitler, reigned over the land of Berezhany.Portraits of Hitler in a long overcoat with a cowl that was raised upwards, wrapping a formidable face with small, artificially attached mustaches under a sharp nose, and the inscription "Hitler the Liberator" hung in every classroom.The Führer immediately showed his intentions for Ukraine by liquidating the provisional Ukrainian government in Lviv and sending Ukrainian leaders to concentration camps.

    A new wave of arrests followed.It was easier to resist the new enemy because: a) he was easy to recognize, b) he spoke a language foreign to us, and c) he did not permeate our society with sex as the Muscovite did.

    At the gymnasium, science was taught in the national spirit with religious lectures.We could talk freely among ourselves on various topics, including politics, without any fear. Now Professor Mykhailo Rebryk became the strictest, and he decided to educate us all on the perfection of gentlemen, which was impossible to fulfill!

    The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) organized its cells in the gymnasium and embraced many young people.

    I had just turned 16, and the next two years were the happiest years of my life.I did not imagine that what I experienced in those two years would fill me with love for my hometown so much that it would last me for the rest of my life.I didn't know then that dreams of those two years, of the company of charming girls, of cheerful friends, of fragrant evenings in the magnificent castle park and walks through the city would help me get through the troubled times of the following years.That the memories of the Berezhany Gymnasium in the old town hall, with its professors and its ever cheerful and loud students, would sustain my heart and soul in a foreign land in the decades to come.The year forty-three came. The German armies were retreating westward in a "patchy" fashion.The thought of the return of those beasts in human form with a red star on their foreheads became real.Time and events told me that it was my generation's turn to follow in the footsteps of my predecessors. And it did so for the sake of the idea of a united Ukraine. Our paths were different because that was the fate of our stateless people. At the call of the OUN, many joined the UPA.Others, at the call of the Ukrainian Central Committee, volunteered for the Galicia Division.In two weeks, eighty thousand volunteers joined the division, including many students of the Berezhany gymnasium. None of us asked what our reward would be, what our support would be, or even what our tomorrow would be.We felt our duty to our native land, and we went!

    Many students of the Berezhany gymnasium died a heroic death in the ranks of the UPA, in the Galicia Division.I don't want the reader to understand that my entire generation was ideologically motivated and spiritually conscious."There are rotten apples in a bag of healthy apples."It will depend on the relationship between these two qualities of apples during a given generation.

    On the last day of the war, the Galicia Division, having broken contact with the Black Army in Styria (Austria), surrendered to the British Army.

    In a prisoner of war camp in Italy, I met many guys from different villages of the Berezhany region.I recall that Yaroslav Babuniak, Stepan Kukurudza, Yaroslav Lototskyi, Lev Bahlay, Volodymyr Bilyk, Ostap Sokolskyi, Lev Babii, and Yaroslav Ivakhiv were there from the Berezhany gymnasium.

    I think that it was God's will that we traveled around the world like the tribe of Israel, told the world about Ukraine, and forty-five years later came to help it. Our mission was difficult, because the world knew very little about us, and what it did know was falsely presented by our neighbors.For a person from the West, everything east of Warsaw up to Japan was a lonely "Russia". Slowly, through hard work, personal contacts, and cultural behavior, we attracted the general support of Western nations to "our side."

    I think that it was God's will that we traveled around the world like the tribe of Israel, told the world about Ukraine, and forty-five years later came to help it. Our mission was difficult, because the world knew very little about us, and what it did know was falsely presented by our neighbors. For a person from the West, everything east of Warsaw up to Japan was a lonely "Russia". Slowly, through hard work, personal contacts, and cultural behavior, we attracted the general support of Western nations to "our side."

    Being separated from your native land by an iron barrier for almost half a century is a very long time in a person's life.A foreign land, especially if it is friendly, rich, and humane, has a great attraction. One could even be forgiven for losing one's identity in such circumstances and becoming "lost."The Ukrainian emigration, the emigration of a stateless people, managed to preserve its identity: not only to preserve but also to develop its culture and history. It went through Western Europe, England and Canada.My first trip to Ukraine was in September 1989.Nothing and no one can prepare a person for the emotionally overwhelming experiences that one has to endure when coming face to face with one's native land after such a long time of separation. I would not recommend this pilgrimage to people of weak heart and old age."Berezhany - You are the best city in the world!"-for many who spent their youth there.- "For years you were their dream in distant foreign lands.Who brought you to such decline and ruin? Who destroyed our dreams?"

    The paths of our childhood have been overgrown with weeds and habuzia - the roads have become impassable.The castle, which was the pride of the city for many generations and a lure for lovers, lies in ruins.The glorious Berezhany Pond is now a large, stinking mess.My favorite Urmansky pond met the same fate.I wanted to go out in despair to Mount Storozhysko and sob at the top of my lungs over the dreams of many years and the ruins of Lepko's "Best City in the World."What evil spirits have been walking around here for the last half century?

    This obvious environmental ruin, however, pales in comparison to the spiritual decline of the people.The commanding, godless communist system had driven man into a hopeless situation, and it was evident in his sad eyes.The "Soviet" man succumbed to his fate, believing that he was powerless to have any influence on the course of his life.In such a helpless situation, this person indulged in extreme indifference. This indifference was evident at every step of life.The person became indifferent to his environment, to the needs and pains of his neighbor, "his neighbor."

    Both on my first visit to my native land in 1989 with my eldest son Martin and daughter-in-law Teresa, and on my second visit with my youngest son Petro in 1991, it was not easy for me to leave Ukraine.The profitable and prosperous life in Canada was not very attractive. My soul was drawn to my native nest, albeit impoverished, to my land.

    "I love you, my native land,
    I hug you like a mother,
    You cry and I cry,
    You laugh and I laugh."

    (Vasyl Hrendzha-Donsky)

    Translated with (free version)

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