Trying to Understand my Polish / Ukrainian roots and a Massacre Beyond Belief.

I know very little about my Polish/Ukrainian family, who I descend from Paternally. My grandfather Jan Kuta was born on the 18th January 1924 in Katerynychi, Lviv Oblast, Poland, which is now a part of Ukraine, the area fell into the hands of Nazi Germany between 1941 to 1944.

This period was extremely volatile for anyone Polish, Jewish, Gay or anyone who were deemed less of a person by the dictators of that time.

My grandfather Jan or John (as he is known in England) was forced into a Nazi Labour camp and he lost contact with many of his family members, his parents Michal and Katarzyna Kuta and his siblings fled their homeland and ended up, possibly as refugees in Bethune, Pas-de-Calais, France where many of them remain today. They never returned to the area they once lived.

I am aware of the massacre of the Poles in Ukraine which began in 1941 and I am sure my family were victims of this in one way or another.

Below is a list of the Ukrainian massacres.

Massacres in Ukraine During World War Two Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_Ukraine

Massacres in Ukraine During World War Two
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_massacres_in_Ukraine

Every now and then I always search the internet for new information about my paternal family and today I stumbled upon something very interesting.

Below is a link to a website regarding one of the massacres.

http://en.voicesevas.ru/news/yugo-vostok/2578-europeans-seems-you-are-shameless.html

This massacre occurred in Kuta village (Kosovskiy region IvanoFrankivsk, West Ukraine.

Why haven’t I ever heard off Kuta village before?
Where exactly is it?

I searched the area on Google maps and could only find a small village called ‘Kuty’, could this be it?

Below is a screenshot of Google maps, showing the distance between Kuty and Katerynychi, Lviv Oblast, the distance is roughly 230 KM or 4hrs in a car.

Could there be a connection with this area and my family, the name certainly points to a connection, although the massacre that occurred in this area was too far from where my family were living at the time. It’s the name which interests me more.

(If anyone can help, please, please do)

Below is a sequence of images, I do warn you they are very shocking and at times so is the description. These massacres were committed not only by soldiers, but very often by local civilians, even their neighbours. Please do not read further if your easily offended, I have sourced these images from the website; Voice of Sevastopol, some images I have decided not to include.

All I can say, is that after seeing these images I can see why my family who were Polish born fled their homeland, what I don’t know is how this affected my family and were they victims too.

Shocking what some people are capable off.

The child in the photo – is a 2-year Czeslaw Chrzanowska from the Kuta village (Kosovskiy region IvanoFrankivsk, West. Ukraine). Baby angel is looking at the camera... This is her last photo. In April 1944 the Kuta village is attacked by Stepan Bandera. Sleeping in the night Cheslava is stabbed by a bayonet in a baby cot.

The child in the photo – is 2-year old, Czeslaw Chrzanowska from the Kuta village (Kosovskiy region IvanoFrankivsk, West Ukraine). This is her last photo. In April 1944 the Kuta village is attacked by Stepan Bandera. Sleeping in the night Cheslava is stabbed by a bayonet in a baby cot.

18-year-old Galina Hranovskaya is taken away by Bandera’s UPA nationalists, raped and hung on the edge of the forest. The shot shows - Galina Chrzanowska, a beatiful village Pollish girl in the national shirt, smiling broadly at the camera.

18-year-old Galina Hranovskaya is taken away by Bandera’s UPA nationalists, raped and hung on the edge of the forest. The shot shows – Galina Chrzanowska, a beatiful village Pollish girl in the national shirt, smiling broadly at the camera.

Blazev Gorna (Lviv) Maria Grabowska killed with her daughter 3 y.o. (photo from her sister archive).

Blazev Gorna (Lviv) Maria Grabowska killed with her daughter 3 y.o. (photo from her sister archive).

January 22, 1944, in the village Buse the Bandera’s UPA nationalists kille this woman with 2 her children (a Polish family Popiel).

January 22, 1944, in the village Buse the Bandera’s UPA nationalists kill this woman with 2 off her children (a Polish family named Popiel).

The photo shows Bandera’s UPA nationalists massacre victims in the Polish village of Hermanivka, R-n, Lutsk, on 28.11.1943:

The photo shows Bandera’s UPA nationalists massacre victims in the Polish village of Hermanivka, R-n, Lutsk, on 28.11.1943:

The girl at the center Stacya Stephanek is killed in a terrific way - her belly is cut by hoe because her father is a Pole. No regardless of her mother Mary Boyarchuk being a Ukrainian, that night she is killed too. Because she married a Pole.

The girl at the center Stacya Stephanek is killed in a horrific way – her belly is cut because her father is a Pole. Regardless of her mother Mary Boyarchuk being a Ukrainian, that night she is killed too. Because she married a Pole.

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12 thoughts on “Trying to Understand my Polish / Ukrainian roots and a Massacre Beyond Belief.

  1. Although I know the history, Stephen, seeing it up close like this is always shocking. Mind you, I burst out crying in school when they told us how the Nazis burned entire buildings crammed with people. My sister-in-law is Polish and a lawyer in Houston, but I doubt she’d know much about these incidents. You might want to write to the Head of the History Department at UCLA … University of California, Los Angeles … they have several professors who specialize in this area.

    • Thank you for the tip :-), I will certainly write to them. Any help I can get would be much appreciated.
      I am a keen genealogist, which you can tell, but I know next to nothing about my grandfather’s family and he never spoke about his early life in Poland, Ukraine or even his time in Germany. He spoke five languages, but only ever spoke English in front of his children.

      • Very common on this side of the pond … we’re a land of immigrants. Except for me. My family on both sides have been in this country since the mid 1700s .. so before it was a country ! And personally, I’m a fifth-generation Californian, whose family was given an enormous (and unfair) land grant by President Fremont. California was a Republic on its own, before it petitioned to join the Union.

  2. Stephen, here is a link to the page on JewishGen for Kuty. During World War II, this would have been part of what was then Poland, not yet Ukraine. http://data.jewishgen.org/wconnect/wc.dll?jg~jgsys~community~-1044301 I assume your family wasn’t Jewish, but this will at least give you some idea about Kuty.

    Since so many people in Poland cooperated with the Nazis, it is eye-opening to know that so many non-Jewish, non-gypsy, non-gay Poles were slaughtered and/or sent to camps. Does this mean that they refused to cooperate with the Nazis? If so, you should be proud of your grandfather.

    The pictures were too horrible for me to do anything more than scan through them.

    • Hi Amy,

      Thank you very, very much for the links. Knowing more about my paternal family is something that I yearn to know more about, I carry their surname and it’s such a shame that my family have lost contact with my French cousins, who descend from my great grandparents. It’s very likely that they hold the key to many of my questions. My grandfather only had sisters and they married, names changed and so on.

      My family belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church, and I do have a photograph of my great aunt at her confirmation.

      It always saddens me, when I read the stories of how so many people were murdered during WW2, I was in two minds about posting those images, but I thought it was important to show that the holocaust didn’t just happen in concentration camps but very often in peoples homes too.

      I know my family were connected to these massacres in someway, because of their polish blood and the area they lived, plus the fact they fled their homeland and arrived in France. My grandfather spent the entire war in a labour camp, but he never spoke about the atrocities he witnessed. He arrived in England searching for his cousin but he never found him.
      My father believes that some of our family arrived in America too, and the surname Kuta, certainly does appear there.

      I am very proud of my grandfather and I wish I had met him, he died a few months before I was born.

      Thank you again for the links, I will work through these today and see what information I can find.

  3. Hi Stephen,
    I’m sorry that I can’t shed any light on your family name “Kuta”. I understand the difficulty you face in trying to unearth information about your paternal family; I have a similar mission in tracing my Mother’s history.
    My Ukrainian mother fled her village (Pawlokoma, Poland- sometimes spelt Pavlokoma) during WW 2 on her parents advice after two of her brothers were forcibly taken to work in Germany. In March 1945 Polish partisans massacred 368 Ukrainians in her village. This appeared to be in retaliation for the murder of several Poles by Ukrainians sometime earlier. My mother, who was working (not voluntarily) in Germany, received this news via a network of friends/other Ukrainians in Germany at the time. She believes that her parents Maria and Andriej Kurys, as well as her younger sister Kasha, were killed at this time. My mother also had an older sister called Pasha who was married to a Polish shoemaker. They had a young daughter. It is not known if they were also in Pawlokoma at that time ,or whether they had fled earlier.
    It wasn’t until I was an adult that I began to look further into my mother’s life story and the time in which she lived and am deeply saddened by all the loss of life during that time.
    I am reminded that there are are no winners in war, only losers and regret that we continue as a species to repeat the mistakes of history.
    Best of luck in your search!
    Vera

    • Hi Vera, Thank you very much for your message. I agree that their are no winners in war and often say how we continue to make the same mistakes. it’s very sad, in every sense of the word.
      It sounds as though our family history experienced similar things as my grandfather was forced to work in Germany also and for some reason none of my family returned to their homeland after ww2.
      I think it will take me many more years before I fully understand what happened to them. I have thought about paying for genealogical work to be carried out and may do this at some stage. There is also a big chance that over the next ten years or so more European records will be released online.
      Good luck also with your research
      Stephen

  4. I do not say that all is wrong in that source or all is right, but keep something seriously important in mind:

    Be very very cautious trusting a website which features a soviet star as the favicon and uses all the tools of classic political propaganda already known for decades in Eastern Europe.

    I would be even more cautious when they call their propaganda “news” or “truth”.

    The reader should be able to find out the facts for himself – and not a journalist kombinat or kollektiv presenting him propaganda on a faux silver tablet.

  5. Hi, Thank you for the comment, I certainly appreciate the feed back. There is a lot I don’t know about the early life of my grandfather and his family. Your right about the website I viewed and sourced in this post. The facts behind the truth are still very unclear to me.
    I’m currently waiting on a search by an International Tracing Service for more information, which can take as long as 6 months to complete.
    I have my fingers crossed that I learn a lot more about this area of my family history.

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