There is a small industrial town between Krakow and Katowice, called Jaworzno (Yavozhno), which the average Pole would not consider as being different from any other town. Jaworzno gained its infamous reputation during the German occupation, as a branch of Auschwitz. Jaworzno was never mentioned in connection with the horrors of Auschwitz. After the war the Auschwitz death camp was converted into a museum in memory of the victims of this most savage regime. This is the way it should to be, so that in times of peace we never forget about the crimes committed against humanity and never allow them to happen again.
Naive people believed that the inhuman dictatorship had disappeared forever, and that nothing of it's kind would ever be repeated. But one type of authoritarian rule was followed by another, with no discernible differences. The communist dictatorship left this branch of the death factory in place for its own needs. At first, the newly established "peoples' government" confined war criminals to this camp, but soon the majority of prisoners consisted of Ukrainians, who were arrested under any pretext. The first post war years for Ukrainians in Poland were considerably harsher than during the German occupation, for the newly liberated Polish chauvinism directed all its savagery towards the annihilation of all that's Ukrainian. Armed bands of gangsters robbed villages, terrorized and beat unarmed civilians. During these days of lawlessness the government did not interfere, and the law remained silent. In April, 1947, at a market in Hrybiv a Pole by the name Mikolajczyk pointed out Yaroslav Trokhanovskyj and Volodymir Khomiak, both from the village of Biltsareva, to the interior ministry agents. They were immediately arrested and transported to Jaworzno. In July of the same year, when the peasants from Biltsareva had already been herded into the railroad cars in Hrybiv, Nestor Khomiak, Orest Kuzemchak, Yaroslav Kuzemchak, Dan'ko and Seman Halkovych, and Denizyj Daliak were arrested. All these innocent people rotted away in Jaworzno until January 1948. Only Orest Kuzemchak was released after a two month imprisonment. As a result, their health suffered and they died prematurely.
Long after WW II, Jaworzno was wrapped in a blanket of secrecy, and since many of the witnesses have passed away, they will never be able to testify against their executioners. Many years elapsed before Ukrainians began to speak openly not only about the camps of Mordova and Siberia, but also about the little known Jaworzno. It is here that the prisoners were treated savagely, where medieval methods of torture were applied. This can not be called revenge, for they were not guilty. There was only the savage , sadistic hatred of the Ukrainian people, who only wanted to be masters of their own land. Lemkos made up a high percentage of those incarcerated, and they shall remain in our memory forever.
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Copyright © 1997 Jon W. Madzelan
This Home Page was created on Saturday, July 26, 1997
Most recent revision Wednesday, January 14, 1998