Huta Pieniacka massacre

Huta Pieniacka massacre was a punitive military operation against the inhabitants (estimates of victims range from 500 [ [ Ukrainian archives] ] to 1200 en icon [] ] ) of the ethnically Polish village Huta Pieniacka, which took place on February 28, 1944. After the operation the village was burnt to the ground, and the remaining property was looted by the local Ukrainian peasants.en icon [] ]

Polish and Ukrainian historians disagree over the responsibility for the Huta Pienacka massacre. According to Ukrainian sources, the responsibility for these atrocities lies exclusively with the German Police battalions,ref|Ilyushyn whereas according to the Polish Institute of National Remembrance, the action was committed by 14th sub-unit of the "Galizien" Division of Waffen-SS. Polish historians have gathered extensive documentation, including testimonies of 80 witnesses and IPN in its statement claimed that there is no doubt the massacre was commited by the Ukrainians.

The Warsaw division of the "Commission for the punishment of crimes against the Polish people" has since July 2001 been investigating this matter. The judicial case adheres to Polish law, attested by the fact that the crimes were perpetrated by ethnic Ukrainian citizens of Poland, residents of Eastern Galicia, which up to 1945 formally fell under Polish jurisdiction.


Huta Pieniacka was a village of about 1000 ethnically Polish inhabitants in 200 houses, located in the Tarnopol Voivodeship (now Ternopil oblast in Ukraine) of the Second Polish Republic. In 1939, following joint German and Soviet attack on Poland, the Voivodeship was annexed by the Soviet Union, becoming part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. After the 1941 German attack on the Soviet Union, it fell under German occupation.

Huta Pieniacka was called "Polish capital" by the Ukrainian pro-Nazi collaborators.Fact|date=April 2008 The village was a major Polish resistance centre fighting against German forces and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army.en icon [] ] As a result, the Ukrainians wanted to eliminate this Polish stronghold in an ethnically Ukrainian region. Polish inhabitants of the village co-operated with Soviet partisans, active in the area. In January and February 1944, Soviet troops were frequent visitors, and this was noticed by both the Ukrainians and the icon [] ]


On February 23, 1944, a small patrol of SS Galizien Division soldiers approached the village. The Poles, many of whom were members of the Home Army, killed two of the Galizien troops and wounded another.en icon [] ] This incident was described in the "Chronicle of the Halchyna Division" and documents found in uniforms of the killed soldiers stated that they were members of the SS Galizien Division, stationed in Brody.

The Ukrainians organized elaborate funerals for those killed,en icon [] ] en icon [] ] and prepared for revenge.


Polish account

Early in the morning of February 28, 1944, a mixed force of Ukrainian police and Ukrainian soldiers, together with Wehrmacht reserves, commanded by the Germansen icon [] ] and dressed in masking outfits, surrounded Huta Pieniacka. There were some 600-800 soldiers and it has been established that Kazimierz Wojciechowski (who was burnt alive that day), commandant of Polish forces in the village, had been informed of the approaching enemy around two hours before the attack. The Poles however, had too little time to prepare a defense or to escape.

The village was shelled by artillery. Then Ukrainian soldiers, led by a German SS captain, after firing and throwing grenades, entered Huta Pieniacka, and shot at civilians, who were assembled at a local church. The civilians, mostly women and children, were divided and locked in barns which were set on fire. Those trying to escape were brutally killed. According to Bogusława Marcinkowska, a historian from Kraków's office of the Institute of National Remembrance, the Ukrainians threw infants against walls and cut open the stomachs of pregnant women.

Some time around noon, the attackers set fire to the village, and it burnt all day. The murderers left at night,en icon [] ] many of them were drunk and singing songs. Only four houses remained and on the next day a mass funeral took place. Those who survived escaped to Zloczow and other towns, never to return.

Witnesses interrogated by the Polish prosecutors of the "The Head Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation" described the details of crimes committed against women, children and newborn babies. After murdering the inhabitants of Huta Pieniacka, the local Ukrainian population robbed the remaining property of the murdered, loading everything on horse-drawn carts that had been prepared before. According to those Poles who survived, the Germans did not participate in the massacre itself.

In the April 9, 2008 issue of the "Gazeta Polska" weekly, an article about the massacre appeared. According to those persons who survived (four of whom were cited), the murderers were Ukrainians of the SS Galizien Division. All those who recollected the massacre (Emilia Bernacka, then 10; Filomena Franczukowska, then 20; Jozefa Orlowska, then 16; and Regina Wroblewska, then 6) claimed that the village was attacked by the Ukrainian troops, who murdered all Poles they managed to catch, including infants. The mentioned persons survived because somebody managed to open rear door of a village church, in which the murderers were massacring the Polish civilians.

Filomena Franczukowska, who was 20 then and is the oldest still living survivor of the massacre (as for April 2008) stated in the "Gazeta Polska" article that the Ukrainians came to the village at 4am. They entered Huta Pieniacka from a nearby village of Zarkow and began shooting at everybody. Her father had been beaten before being executed, and one of the oppressors said loudly in Ukrainian: "Now you have your Poland and your England". Franczukowska lost in the massacre both parents and three younger siblings; only her brother survived. She said that the murderers deliberately did not kill two twin boys aged 4, and they were laughing at the children, who were trying to 'wake up' their dead mother. Franczukowska, together with her brother and a group of people, was ordered to go to a barn, which was locked and set on fire. She somehow managed to open the rear door and escape to a forest. "Now they say they do not know who did it, but it is enough to visit neighboring Ukrainian villages, one can still see remnants of the stolen property. The locals remember this event and this is why none of them has settled in Huta Pieniacka since then", she said. ["Opowiesc o zamordowanej wiosce" ("Story of a murdered village"), April 9, 2008, "Gazeta Polska"]

Ukrainian account

The actions at Huta Pienacka were researched by Ukrainian historian Vasyl Veryha. On the basis of Polish, German and Soviet documents he was able to show that Huta Pienacka was one of the main centres for Polish Home Army as well as Soviet partisan activities. The self-defense group of the village collaborated with the Communist "People's Guard"; the 9th Soviet partisan detachment named after Chkalov and the special group of Boris Krutikov were based in the village. According to Veryha, the village population (with women and children) at that time numbered approximately 500 persons, and the partisans made up another 500.

According to the chief of staff of the Galizien Division Sturmbannführer, Wolf Heike, the local police command demanded that the Galizien division take part in the operation, requesting a regiment. However because the division was still in the state of formation, the commander-in-chief Fritz Freitag refused to send a regiment. Only after the order was repeated was one company and some small detachments sent. These were attached to the group commanded by Colonel Bayersdorf.

Heike wrote that the untrained soldiers with inexperienced commanders were not suited to this task and that the "group from the division, as a non-German section, was blamed for things that the Germans had done themselves". "They (the division) in the final result could not take the responsibility for the pacification of the village. At that time a different German section was functioning". [ [ Waffen-SS] ]

Russian account

The Russian account regarding the massacre differs from those of the Ukrainians and the Poles. Russian historian Sergei Chuyev states that the village was indeed an outpost for Polish and Soviet partisans. The head of the village self-defense was lieutenant Kazimierz Wojciechowski who worked closely with the AK and the Soviet partisans led by Boris Krutikov and Dmitri Medvedyev.

On arriving at the village, intensive shooting commenced. The battle continued for some time before the village was taken. Chuyev states that in the punitive action Ukrainian police took part, and that one could assume that members of this police force included previous members of the UPA. [Чуев, С. Украинский легион, Москва 2006 с.370]

According to Heike, the group (sent from the SS Galizien) did not fulfill its goal. Upon arrival it came under the command of the police general from Przemyśl who had no idea how to command army divisions. After four weeks of fighting around the area the group was returned to the division in Neuhammer.

SS Oberfuhrer Freitag stated that he would never allow the use of a battle group for such a command as it became understandable what methods were used by local police commanders covering themselves in the name of the Reichsfuhrer, as no direct order had been given by Heinrich Himmler to send a detachment from the Division. [Чуев, С. Украинский легион, Москва 2006 с.371]


The Warsaw branch of the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (IPN) started an investigation into the massacre in November 1992. The investigation was subsequently suspended between 1997 and 2001 and as of 2008 is being conducted by Kraków branch of the Institute. According to the investigation, the people in the village were murdered by Ukrainian units.


In late 1940s, some 8,000 soldiers of the SS Galizien division were allowed to come to Britain including, allegedly, members of the unit that massacred inhabitants of Huta Pieniacka. Most of them were not questioned about their activities and successive British governments refused requests by lobby groups as well as American authorities to investigate their backgrounds.en icon [] ] However, a 2001 television documentary, "The SS in Britain", initiated a police investigation after uncovering evidence suggesting that former members of the SS Galizien division living in Britain had participated in massacres in Poland.

The documentary, however, made numerous factual mistakes. The statement that the 4th and 5th regiments of the SS Galizien Division took part in the massacre was inaccurate, as the Division had at that time been normalized to 3 regiments; there were no 4th or 5th regiments. The division also was at that time still in the process of formation which was completed two months later in May 1944 near the Polish town of Dębica. [ [ l Waffen-SS] ]

Recent events

On February 28, 1989 a memorial was built on the place of the previous village but was soon destroyed . A new monument commemorating the victims was erected in 2005.

A new monument was unveiled 21 October 2005. During the unveiling of the monument a diplomatic incident took place. The consul in his speech put the full blame of the massacre on Ukrainians stating "On 28 February 1944, when the "SS Galizien" together with other Ukrainian nationalists did horrible things as told by a contemporary, they shot mothers, children and murdered..." No mention was made of the Germans who had given the command and had executed it. The consul had restated the Soviet version that the village was destroyed by Ukrainian bourgeoise nationalists.

The Ukrainian side sent out a note of protest regarding the fact that the Polish side had ignored the Ukrainian government completely when opening the monument, that the new monument did not adhere to Ukrainian laws, and was erected without the necessary permits.

As a result parlamentarian Oleh Tiahnybok:a) a note of protest regarding the illegal erection of the monument was sent outb) the Polish Consul was announced a Persona non-grata for degrading the national dignity of the Ukrainian people [ [ Про оголошення персоною нон-грата консула Республіки Польща] ] .

On February 28, 2007 a new monument was unveiled to the Poles who had been killed in atrocities at Huta Peniacka. A delegation from Poland led tby the vice consul of Culture for the Polish consulate in Lviv Marcin Zieniewicz stated that the occasion marked one of the most tragic pages of not only the Polish people but also the Ukrainian [ [ В селі Гута Пеняцька вшанували загиблих у 1944 році поляків] ] .

The village of Huta Pieniacka does not exist any more. Most houses were burned during the massacre, what remained was a school and a Roman-Catholic church. Both these buildings were demolished after the war, in the area of the village there now is a pasture for cattle. What remains is a figure of Mary near the road, without head and hands, with the date "1867". Also, there is a post with Ukrainian inscription "Center of the former village", but it does not mention the name of the village.


ee also

*14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS Galizien (1st Ukrainian)
* Massacres of Poles in Volhynia


* [ Investigation of the Crime Committed at the Village of Huta Pieniacka] - Institute of National Remembrance
* [ List of 125 victims by Stanisław Kowalski]
* Bogusława Marcinkowska [ Ustalenia wynikające ze śledztwa w sprawie zbrodni ludobójstwa funkcjonariuszy SS "GALIZIEN" i nacjonalistów ukraińskich na Polakach w Hucie Pieniackiej 28 lutego 1944 roku.] - Institute of National Remembrance
* "Ihor Ilyushyn". Tragedy of Volynia 1943-1944. Kiev: Institute History of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, 2003. - 312 s. [ Available online in]
* [ Ihor Holog. Newspaper "Moloda Halychyna" 15 July 2004]
* [ Statement brotherhood warrior of OUN-UPA]
* [ Newspaper "Ukrayinske slovo"]
* "Opowiesc o zamordowanej wiosce" ("Story of a murdered village"), article by Wojciech Orlowski, published on April 9, 2008 in Gazeta Polska weekly
*en icon []

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