Massacre of Wola Ostrowiecka
Massacre of Wola Ostrowiecka was a 1943 mass murder of Polish inhabitants of a Volhynian village of Wola Ostrowiecka, located in the prewar gmina Huszcza, Luboml county, in the Volhynian Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic.
The perpetrators were nationalists of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s territorial command Piwnicz, supported by local Ukrainian peasants. On August 30, 1943, the Ukrainians surrounded the village, and began killing its inhabitants. Altogether, 79 families were murdered. From the known 37 families, only one person survived. It has been estimated that in total at least 469 persons were murdered on that day, amongst them 145 women and 179 children under the age of 16. Tadeusz Piotrowski puts the number of murdered Poles at 529, out of total village's population of 870. On the same day, Ukrainian nationalists murdered 438 Poles in the neighboring village of Ostrowki (see Massacre of Ostrowki).
Particulars of the massacre
According to the Polish survivors, the perpetrators had been preparing the attack for a few days in advance. The Poles noticed that their Ukrainian neighbors were drinking heavily, chanting anti-Polish slogans. On the morning of August 29, the Ukrainians surrounded the village. At first, they acted in a friendly way, talking to children, and asking men to gather in a square in front of the school. An Ukrainian Insurgent Army officer made a speech, in which he urged Poles to fight the Germans, alongside the Ukrainians. At the same time, in the outskirts of the village, holes for dead bodies had already been dug. After the speech, all Polish men were asked to come for “physical examination”, in a barn, one by one, they were killed by a blow to the head with a blunt object.
After all the men had been killed, the women and children were locked in the school building. One of the survivors, a young girl Marianna Soroka, later recounted that they began singing hymns, and their mother told them to prepare for death. Another survivor, Henryk Kloc, who was 13, stated that the Ukrainians set fire to the school, and then began firing at it and throwing grenades inside. Kloc, heavily wounded, lay among the dying in a school orchard, and watched the murderers kill a five-year old son of Maria Jesionek. The boy's mother had already been killed, and her son was sitting next to her, asking her to go home. “Suddenly an armed Ukrainian came to him, and shot the boy in the head”. Kloc himself only survived because he played dead. As soon as the massacre ended, local Ukrainian peasants began looting the village. After the massacre, the commander of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s unit reported: “On August 29, I carried out the action in villages of Wola Ostrowiecka and Ostrówki. I liquidated all Poles, from the youngest to the oldest ones. I burnt all buildings, and appropriated all goods”.
Between August 17–22, 1992, Polish scientists carried out exhumation in the area where the village once stood. During the exhumation, it was established that in most cases, the murderers used of the head of an axe or a bludgeon. Wola Ostrowiecka does not exist any more, local Ukrainians call the village “Field of Dead Bodies”. Every year, Polish survivors and their families organise a pilgrimage to what once was Wola Ostrowiecka. In 2003, the village was going to be the center of celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Massacres of Poles in Volhynia. However, at the last moment, plans were changed, and presidents Aleksander Kwasniewski, and Leonid Kuchma went to Poryck instead.
- Krzysztof Ogiolda, "Ostrówki: Zbrodnia i pojednanie", in: Nowa Trybuna Opolska NTO.pl, 26 listopada 2011, with Leon Popek. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
- Tadeusz Piotrowski, Genocide and Rescue in Wolyn, page 81
- Poland’s Holocaust by Tadeusz Piotrowski, page 247
- Genocide of Poles in Kresy. Wola Ostrowiecka i Ostrówki, 31.08.1943. Internet Archive
- Władysław Filar, Wolyn 1939–1944, Toruƒ 2003, pages 99–100
- Roman Mądro, Badania masowych grobów ludności polskiej zamordowanej przez nacjonalistów ukraińskich w roku 1943 w powiecie lubomelskim. Część I - Przebieg i wyniki ekshumacji w Woli Ostrowieckiej, (w:) Archiwum Medycyny Sądowej i Kryminologii, tom 43, nr 1, Kraków 1993, s. 47-63;
- Wołyński testament, (oprac.) Leon Popek, Tomasz Trusiuk, Paweł Wira, Zenon Wira, Lublin 1997, Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Krzemieńca i Ziemi Wołyńsko-Podolskiej, ISBN 83-908042-1-2;