Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
A program on this topic was aired by the Czech “Radio Praha”, which contains the affirmation that in Volyn there was the genocide of not only Poles, but also Czechs, who were obliged to flee from Ukrainian nationalists.
“In the Czech Republic many, including the president of the country Milos Zeman, consider that the troops of UPA, or Banderists, are war criminals who are guilty of the ‘Volyn massacre’ of 1943-44,” it is said in the program.
“Stepan Bandera, by his convictions, was a radical nationalist. It is unlikely that Ukrainians who share European values can identify themselves with the ideals of such a personality,” claim the authors of the program.
A child survivor of the genocide of the Czech population of Volyn, a native of those places, Miloslava Zhakova, described to the radio station the attitude of Czechs to the events that took place during the “Volyn massacre” – at the time of these tragic events she was 10 years old.
Zhakova even wrote a book about the Czech victims of the “Volyn massacre” entitled “Kupičоv, jak nám o tom vyprávěli” (“Kupičоv, as we were told about it”). These were the memories of the author about life in the Czech village of Kupičоv on the territory of the Volyn region.
“We (Czechs) wished that they had an independent Ukraine, however we couldn’t either understand their cooperation with fascists and the methods of their fight nor agree with it,” shared Zhakova. “Czechs wanted to be neutral, not to interfere and not to allow themselves to get involved in a fight that had a nationalist background. Therefore the council of elders of Kupičоv could never accept the demand of Banderists – that a certain number of Czechs join their ranks. Volyn must be an example for all Czechs”.
Despite the fact that Czechs finally concluded an agreement with the Poles and organised “self-defense”, it didn’t mean yet that they saw every Ukrainian as the enemy. If this was so, in those difficult times filled with hostility 93 Ukrainians couldn’t have found shelter in the Czech Kupičоv.
“They waited there calmly under the protection of the Czechs”said Zhakova
“The Volyn Czechs then protected the Poles, and all Poles from the neighbouring villages came over to our Kupičоv. And three Polish families lodged at our place, with our family, everyone occupied one room. We were all cramped there, our house was just bursting at the seams, because staying overnight somewhere in a more remote place, among Ukrainians, for the most part meant not to live until the morning,” said the eyewitness of those events.
According to Zhakova, in 1943 the Volyn Czechs protected the Czech part of Kupičоv from the attacks of Banderists three times.
“You know, Kupičоv was quite a big settlement, but they surrounded it with barbed wire and dug out trenches where they established a continuous patrol. Groups of UPA tried to break in to Kupičоv three times, but they never captured it,” she remembers.
At the same time about 30 Czechs were killed, they were residents of farms. Therefore later nobody wanted to remain in such secluded places any more, everyone moved to Kupičоv. And it remained standing.
To the question “Was genocide the motive of Banderists?”, the author of the book answered in the affirmative.
“Yes, unambiguously genocide. They were guided by a known appeal – that ‘the Ukrainian land must be pure, like a glass of water or a tear’, and they won’t tolerate any foreigners on their land. One of our Czechs said: ‘In the beginning Banderists killed Jews, then they started to kill Poles, and now, clearly, our turn has come’. Then we decided that it was necessary to flee to Czechoslovakia.”
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