Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army

Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army

Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army aka Polissian Sich (Poliska sich) - UPA. aka Ukrainian Insurgent Army

The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was paramilitary formation of Ukrainian nationalists, nominally proclaimed in Olevsk region in December 1941 by Taras Borovets by renaming existing military unit known from July 1941 as UPA-Polissian Sich (Poliska sich). It was a warlords type military formation without strict central command. From spring 1942 till autumn 1943 it acted against German rural civil administration and warehouses, from spring 1943 also against Soviet Partisans and some units against Poles; from July-August 1943 it clashed with Bandera’s UPA and SB units.

In order to distinct itself from Bandera UPA which conducted ethical cleaning of the Poles it was renamed July 20 (27) 1943 into Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army. But amongst local population and Soviet partisans members of Bulba’s formation always remains as “bulbivtsi”. October 5 1943 it was nominally dissolved but some units were acted against Soviet administration by end of 1944. [ Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Chapter 3 pp.104-154 ]

UPA-The Polissian Sich

By end of June 1941 Taras Borovets, by the support from German occupational forces officials, decide to create own military formation. At the beginning of July 1941 he was nominated by Germans to the post of Ukrainian militia commander at Sarny district. By beginning of August 1941 he obtained a German permission to create an armed military formation which he named as “The Polissian Sich”. Main tasks of newly created formation was “ by the order of German military command … establishing a self defense against Bolsheviks regular and partisan units”. Borovets military formation obtained a high assessment from Nazi’s – especially they noted a cruel massacre of retreated Soviet Army soldiers which this formation conducted earlier.

At the beginning of August Borovets made an attempts to obtain a military support from OUN fractions - Bandera’s OUN reject his proposal while OUN (Melnyk ) fraction agreed to provide some. Several related to OUN(M) military officials joined UPA-The Polissian Sich. The Sich's chief of staff was Petro Smorodsky, formerly a lieutenant colonel of the UNR Army. After defeating a Soviet force at Olevsk on 21 August, Borovets established his headquarters there. From this time till mid of November 1941 Bulba formation in fact controlled huge territory of northern-west Ukraine which lay away from central roads. By autumn of 1941 it has 2-3 thousands of armed personnel. It has published official newspaper “Haydamaka”. Arms and ammunitions were supplied by Germans with which Taras Borovets has a friendly relations. In November 1941 German administration began to disband nationalistic military formations, some of which were reformed into Ukrainian auxiliary police under direct German command. November 16 1941 UPA-The Polissian Sich was formally demobilized. [ Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Chapter 3 pp.104-154 ]

Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA)

In December 1941 Bulba removed “The Polissian Sich” from his formation name (numbered by the time 300 persons) and from this time called own formation as “Ukrainian Insurgent Army”.In February 1942 he made unsuccessful attempt to negotiate with Germans renewal of his formation.Winter 1941/42 Taras Bulba-Borovets spend at General Government, while his formation was inactive. At March 1942 Germans start an active program on brutal exploitation of Ukraine. As a reaction to such measures military units of Borovets rapidly expanded by volunteers (Soviet POW, local peasants, different type of nationalist from OUN, which not adopted official line) , but by this time as an anti-German force. However their activities limited to actions which hardened the economical exploitation of selective regions by local German administration. In general it activities limited to passive self defense of several rural areas and attacks on German food warehouses. On 19 August, 1942 Bulba’s detachments at Shepetivka captured 4 railway coaches with military equipment . During all summer and autumn Taras Bulba-Borovets tried to find a compromise with German administration and even SD and SIPO representatives met several time with UPA to negotiate a future cooperation but such meetings does not have any known results. At autumn - winter of 1942 Borovets also conducted a negotiation with Soviet partisans and reached tricky “non-aggression” agreement, which lasted by February 1943. By end of February 1943 Bandera wing of OUN (OUN-B) decided to create own military formation. While conducting negotiation with Borovets about cooperative actions (in fact laying under direct OUN-B control) in March 20 1943 OUN (Bandera wing) issued an order about own military formation creation “using bulba’s military personnel”. Such “formation” often involves forcible acquiring of Bulba units. Due the fact that Bulbas UPA was well known and popular amongst Polissya population commander of OUN-B military formation D.Klyachkivskyy issued an order about renaming OUN-B military detachments into UPA. From May 1943 two Ukrainian nationalistic forces shared a common name, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, without merging into one army. [ Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Chapter 3 pp.104-154 ]

The Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army

From the beginning of the OUN-B military formation it started ethnical cleaning of the Polish population. In order to distinct own military formation from such actions 20 (or 27) of July 1943 Bulba issued an order on renaming own UPA into Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army (name which OUN-B adopted in 1941 for future Ukrainian army in Bandera’s Ukraine) .

At the end of June 1943 OUN-B issued an order accordingly to which all Ukrainian nationalistic formation must follow under command of the OUN-B. That order lead to military actions of UPA/OUN-B against UPRA – in August – many of Bulba’s units were absorbed, disarmed or disbanded, many commanders were killed by UPA Security Service – SB.

On 18 August 1943 Borovets and UPRA headquarter was surrounded and ambushed by several UPA battalions. Some of UPRA command were captured, some killed – including Borovet’s wife. Borovets and few of his staff escaped.October 5 1943 Borovets issued order which claimed “new tactics of UPRA warfare” – move to a deep underground. But in fact it was an actual disband of Borovets peasants army. The steady loss of men to the rival UPA and the decline in peasant support prompted Borovets to rename his force the Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army. However some of UPRA detachments were active even later. In December 1943 they captured and released OUN-B senior officer. Later some soviet sources reported about clashes with UPRA units. In autumn 1944 soviet authorities reported what UPRA unit prevented wood-cutting activities in one Polissya county. [ Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army Chapter 3 pp.104-154 ]



* Організація українських націоналістів і Українська повстанська армія Chapter 3 p.104-154Borovets’, T. Armiia bez derzhavy: slava i trahediia ukraïns’koho povstans’koho rukhu (Winnipeg 1981)
* [ Son of Polissia]
* [ Army without country]
* [ Taras Borovetz History of the UIA]
* [ Taras Borovetz - Our opinion of Russia and General Vlasov]
* Володимир Дзьобак. [;jsessionid=27653130DBA2F6D57540DF0ABC9CEB02?art_id=43288&cat_id=42967 Тарас Боровець і “Поліська Січ”] , "З архівів ВУЧК-ГПУ-НКВД-КГБ", №1/2(2/3), 1995. LCC|JN6635.A55 I679

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