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    Poland Commemorates 81st Anniversary of Volhynia and Eastern Galicia Genocide

    Today, Poland observes the National Day of Remembrance for the Victims of the Genocide committed against citizens of the Second Polish Republic by Ukrainian nationalists during World War II.

    Established by a resolution of the Sejm on July 22, 2016, this day honours the victims of the Volhynian massacre, and other brutal attacks orchestrated by Ukrainian nationalists. The commemoration specifically recalls the tragic events of July 11 and 12, 1943, when the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) launched coordinated attacks on at least 99 Polish settlements in the Wołyń Voivodeship under German occupation.

    Among the atrocities were massacres in churches in Poryck (now Pawliwka) and Kisielin. Approximately 50 Catholic churches in Volhynia were destroyed, often with congregants still inside. The violence exhibited shocking cruelty, with victims burned alive, thrown into wells, and tortured with axes and pitchforks. Women were raped, and elaborate tortures preceded many deaths. On July 11 alone, an estimated 8,000 Poles—primarily women, children, and the elderly—lost their lives.

    The UPA’s actions were part of a broader campaign of violence and displacement that began in early 1943, ultimately resulting in the deaths of approximately 100,000 Poles in Volhynia and Eastern Galicia. The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) under Stepan Bandera, along with the UPA and segments of the Ukrainian population, carried out these “anti-Polish actions,” a euphemism concealing their genocidal intent.

    The term “Volhynian Massacre” encompasses not only the atrocities in the Volhynia region but also those in the Lviv, Tarnopol, and Stanislaw (Eastern Galicia) provinces, as well as parts of Lublin and Polesie. This remembrance day serves to honour the memory of the victims and acknowledge the brutal history that marked this dark period.

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