Janowa Dolina massacre
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The Janowa Dolina massacre took place in April 1943 in the village of Janowa Dolina, (now Bazaltove). Janowa Dolina was a model settlement for workers of the Polish State Basalt Quarry, located in the Volhynian Voivodeship, in the Kostopol County of the Second Polish Republic. The name comes from Polish king Jan Kazimierz Waza, who reportedly hunted in the Volhynian forests, and after hunting — rested on the shore of the Horyn river. The village was destroyed during World War II by Ukrainian nationalists, and its Polish population was brutally murdered.
The settlement was built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, during a period of Polish colonization of lands within the borders of Poland but having a Ukrainian majority population. It was built close to the newly created basalt quarry. Production of basalt in the quarry started in 1929, when the 18 km rail connection between Janowa Dolina and Kostopol was completed (Kostopol is located on the main rail route Wilno–Luniniec–Lwow). As the quarry employed in late 1930s some 3,000 workers (97% of them were Polish), lodgings were built for them and their families.
Thus, a town built from scratch was constructed, smack in the forests of central Volynia, by the Horyn River. The quarry and the town were brainchild of engineer Leonard Szutkowski (who kept his post until 1940) and his deputies, engineer J. Niwinski and engineer Urbanowicz. Most workers lived in the freshly built houses; some commuted from nearby villages.
Janowa Dolina was a very modern settlement: all houses had access to electricity and plumbing and its layout was based on a specially designed grid plan. Houses were placed in the beautiful pine forest. Streets bore no names; they were marked by letters — A, B, C, D… G (Glowna — main), until the last one, Z, placed closest to the Horyn River. Along them there were houses, each designed for 4 families. As inhabitants of Janowa Dolina later remembered, the settlement was full of flowers, plants and trees and neighbors competed with each other, trying to have the most beautiful flower garden. The settlement was separated from the nearby quarry by a strip of dense forest.
In the central part of the settlement there was a huge, U-shaped building, called BLOK. Inside there were several institutions — a movie theater, hotel, cafeteria, stores. Next to the building there was a sports field, with a soccer stadium. The quarry sponsored its own sports club — Strzelec Janowa Dolina, which had several departments — soccer, boxing, wrestling, swimming. A Roman Catholic church was planned, but it had never been built. Instead, the faithful used a large barn. Also, in Janowa Dolina there was a Polish police station, school, kindergarten and a health center.
As both the quarry and the settlement belonged to the Polish State, private businesses were not allowed. In Janowa Dolina all trade was controlled by the national “Społem” company, inhabitants were able to purchase all desired products but alcohol, which was not sold in the settlement.
World War II
In September 1939, Soviet troops, following the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, attacked the eastern part of Poland, which was not guarded by the Polish Army, as at the same time the Poles were fighting the Germans in the West. Eastern Poland (Kresy) was quickly occupied, together with Janowa Dolina, which, like the entire Volhynian Voivodeship, became part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Together with Soviet rule came mass deportations to Siberia and other areas of the empire; between September 1939 and June 1941 Janowa Dolina lost hundreds of inhabitants.
Destruction of the settlement
In June 1941, Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Janowa Dolina was added to the Reichskommissariat Ukraine. As Volhynia was the area of activity for various Ukrainian nationalist groups whose aim was to cleanse the land of Poles and Jews, the settlement’s fate was inevitable. On the night of April 22–23 (Good Friday), 1943, the Ukrainians from the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, together with local peasants, attacked Janowa Dolina. Some 600 people, including children and the elderly, were brutally murdered (see Massacres of Poles in Volhynia). Most homes were burned to the ground and the settlement deserted.
The perpetrators, commanded by Ivan Lytwynchuk (aka Dubowy) exercised horrific cruelty. Poles, unprepared and caught by surprise, were hacked to death with axes, burned alive, and impaled (including children). The murderers did not spare anyone, regardless of age and sex. German garrison, numbering around 100 soldiers, did not act and remained in its barracks. After first wave of murders, the Ukrainian nationalists started searching the hospital. They spared its Ukrainian patients, while Polish patients were burned alive. Dr Aleksander Bakinowski, together with his assistant Jan Borysowicz, were hacked to death on the square in front of the hospital. In several cases, Ukrainians were murdered for trying to hide their Polish neighbours. Petro Mirchuk, Ukrainian historian, counted several hundred massacred Poles, with only eight UPA members killed.
The present-day name of the settlement is Bazaltowe. In the place where buildings once stood, there is a monument, founded by Polish survivors. Its opening (18 April 1998) was marred by a demonstration of Ukrainian nationalists, and afterwards, the original inscription was changed. The date "April 23, 1943" was removed and now the inscription says only "In memory of Poles from Janowa Dolina", without giving further information of their fate. Nowadays in the village monument in memory of infamous action of Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) is situated. The inscription in Ukrainian says that on 21-22 of April 1943 "the base of Polish-German occupiers of Volhyn" was liquidated here.
- Memorial, promemoria.pl; accessed 13 December 2014.