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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Volyn honors victims of Honchy Brid massacre

Memorial to Ukrainian victims of 1943-44 ethnic conflict is unveiled
20 October, 2011 - 00:00

This is one of the first memorials to be built in Volyn to commemorate the Ukrainians who died at the hands of their former neighbors, relatives and their children’s godparents who were ethnic Poles. So far we have heard only about isolated graves of the Ukrainian victims of the ethnic massacres, mainly near Orthodox churches. Meanwhile, representatives of the other side of this unjust civil war, the Poles, managed to publicize their losses much louder. Amazingly, honoring almost thousand Ukrainians who were killed in the village of Sahryn on the Polish side of the Bug River borderline in the 1940s was discussed already in 2006, but the memorial in Sahryn is yet to be unveiled. Volyn regional administration has to send the builders there several times a year to repair the already-erected obelisk. The latest official date for the Sahryn memorial unveiling is late summer or early fall of this year. President Komorowski even proposed to Viktor Yanukovych to hold unveiling ceremonies for two memorials at the same time, one in Sahryn and another in Volyn where Polish settlement Ostrowek once stood. However, the obelisk in Ostrowek has already been unveiled and the local victims have been put to rest, while the Sahryn memorial matter is still ignored.

Recent event in the small and very picturesque Volynian village of Honchy Brid (Kovel district) was made possible by the head of the Volyn Regional State Administration Borys Klimchuk. His own grandfather perished there during the ethnic massacre. Of course, one can follow the official line and attribute erection of the memorial to the fallen Ukrainians in the village only to “the regional program of commemoration of the victims of wars, political repression and deportations.” But would not the tragedy seem closer if one knows about it from his infancy? A Honchy Brid native Lidia Harlinska recalls those terrible events: “The first group of Poles came out of the forest, from the direction of the village of Vivchytsk. Our village was captured by surprise. People fled, the attackers fired on them. Some were half-naked. Shouts, screams, and sobs filled the village. The Poles burst in the houses, robbed all that was to be seen, led horses out of the stables, harnessed them to the carts and loaded the loot on them. Old Marko Kulachok did not have time to escape and hid on the stove. They cut him in half and poured millet into his head. Bodies of the slain Savichuk pair lay near our house on the log. Their four children were left without any caregivers, and two of the children later starved to death. My father and I did not run through the village, we sneaked through gardens and kitchen gardens instead and made it to my grandmother’s house. Doors were open, and my grandmother’s relative lay in the pool of blood in the room. The grandmother herself would never flee her home. She was kneeling and praying to God when they came, and they shot her in the head while she was doing so.”

By the way, Honchy Brid never forgot the ethnic massacre on the third day of the Epiphany celebrations in 1944, and the local parish held memorial service annually on this great holiday, remembering by name the slain villagers. The obelisk has been installed near the church namely because the faith unites people. “In memory of the Ukrainians from Honchy Brid and surrounding villages who perished during the Polish-Ukrainian conflict of 1943-44. Good Lord, you know them all by name. Forgive the sins of those who caused their deaths, too. Grant them resurrection and eternal life. May the memory of you, fellow countrymen, live forever. Your descendants,” reads the inscription carved on the obelisk. Two stelas complement the obelisk, containing the names of nearly hundred villagers who died a horrible death in their native homes.

By Natalia MALIMON, The Day, Volyn region