Sluzhba Bezbeky

Sluzhba Bezbeky

Sluzhba Bezpeky (SB) was division of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army responsible for security, anti-espionage, and punishment. It was responsible for committing acts of terror against civilians and non-civilians, and their families, alleged to have served either the German or the Soviet forces occupying western Ukraine during and after World War II. In this capacity it also played a significant role in the ethnic cleansing and killing of most of the Polish population of western Ukraine.



According to the plans adopted December 1942 “Military conference of OUN(B)” there will be expected to development of intelligence and counterintelligence service (SB) and military gendarmerie). However should be noted what OUN(B) already has SB which acted since 1941 under command of M.Arsenych. By the order of D.Klaychkivskyy in UPA established “revolutionary tribunals” and military courts, death sentences can be applied for persons since 17 years old. Military gendarmerie of UPA were established in June 1943. Main activities in 1943 – arrests (and in most case extermination) of suspected “agents of soviets” and OUN(M), disarming of “shuma”- policeman, clashes with Poles and OUN(M) units, etc.

By end of 1943 there was established a disciplinary companies and even disciplinary camp “Centaur” near willage V. Stydynya in Polissya. Since 1944 military gendarmerie was acted as more separate authority (before if was under directly command by SB), but still under SB order. Most activities in late 1944 targeted to handle a mass desertion from UPA and on mobilization to UPA. Measures which applied during such actions were very simple: hanging or other type of death sentence. As for instance, during November 1944 – May 1945 only in one area for “unwillingness to be in UPA” were executed up to 240 persons. Due the heavy losses, and significant shortage of UPA manpower military gendarmerie was liquidated in April 1945. [ Військово-польова жандармерія - спеціальний орган Української повстанської армії ] As regards to the UPA-SB here would be noted the words of one of the OUN(M) commander – “it’s hard to distinct were ended UPA and begins OUN under Bandera…”. Almost same situation with UPA and OUN SB. In 1941-42 main OUN SB activities were targeted “internal threat” – name of OUN (B) political opponents (mainly from Melnyk wing of OUN) and those “who act against party line” – for instance one of former OUN (B) military detachment commander which against general directives of Second OUN(B) Conference and began military action against Germans in late 1942 was executed by SB order. From the date of UPA establishing SB became a responsible authority for intelligence and counterintelligence actions – however numerous attempts to infiltrate agents into soviet partisans detachments has very limited success. On other hand, on the “Polish- thread” field they have a more success. For instance at one of the SB report for beginning of September 1943 mentioned ”during reporting period (1-10 Sept) 17 Poles families liquidated (58 persons) … Area in generally clean. There no pure-breed Poles. Issues of mixed families under resolving” ; Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, [ "Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army", Chapter 5] , p. 249-250] At same time actions against “internal threat” were not halted – all absorbed non OUN (B) military formation and especially their commanders has own “SB-Angels with hanging wire in hands.” Such terror also not excluded SB and UPA itself – only in one military area were liquidated several units of SB and almost 70 insurgents.


Soviet rule in western Ukraine was initially characterized by brutality and mass terror. NKVD units dressed as UPA fighterscite book| author=Wilson, A. | title=Virtual Politics: Faking Democracy in the Post-Soviet World| location= New Haven | publisher= Yale University Press | year = 2005 | pages = 15] and committed atrocities in order to demoralize the civilian population. [ [ Ukrainian Weekly, July 28, 2002, written by Dr. Taras Kuzio] ] ; among these NKVD units were those composed of former UPA fighters working for the NKVD. [ Ivan Bilas. Repressive-punishment system in Ukraine. 1917-1953 Vol.2 Kyiv Lybid-Viysko Ukrainy, 1994 ISBN 5-325-00599-5 P 460-464, 470-477] Areas of UPA activity were depopulated; the estimates of Ukrainians deported from 1944 to 1952 range from 182,543 in official Soviet archives [] [ The exact figures of deportees according to Soviet archives - deported (1944-47): families of OUN/UPA members–– 15,040 families (37,145) persons; OUN/UPA underground families – 26,332 (77,791 persons) taken from: Ivan Bilas. Repressive-punishment system in Ukraine. 1917-1953 Vol.2 Kyiv Lybid-Viysko Ukrainy, 1994 ISBN 5-325-00599-5 P.545-546 ] to 500,000 .Subtelny, p. 489] Mass arrests of suspected UPA informants or family members were conducted; between February 1944 and May 1946 over 250,000 people were arrested in Western Ukraine . [ [ Jeffrey Burds (1997). "Agentura: Soviet Informants' Networks & the Ukrainian Underground in Galicia, 1944-48", "East European Politics and Societies v.11" pg. 97] ] Those arrested typically experienced beatings or other violence. Those suspected of being UPA members underwent extensive torture; some prisoners were burned alive. The many arrested women believed to be affiliating with UPA were subjected to months of torture, deprivation, and rape at the hands of Soviet security in order to "break" them reveal UPA members' identities and locations or to turn them into Soviet double-agents. Mutilated corpses of captured rebels were frequently put on public display.

The SB played a critical role for UPA by responding to Soviet terror with their own terror. After the Soviet Army approach, the main target of SB activities became “Soviet agents and collaborators” as well as their families – as such they were exterminated (in many cases in a sadistic way). An identitcal fate awaited the families of those who didn’t want “to take an arms in hands and join the struggle”, as only for one instance 26 November 1944 in village Ispas (Chernivetska region) 15 families (41 persons) were killed due to one person's refusal to join UPA. ; Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, [ "Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army", Chapter 4] , p. 374]

Soviet investigative files are filled with references to follow-up investigations of brutal reprisals carried out by SB units against women suspected of “pro-Soviet sympathies”. “In village Diadkovichi SB unit murdered Sofia PAVLIUK, who heartily welcomed soldiers of the advancing Red Army.” “On the night of 19 September [1944] in the village Bolshaia-Osneshcha, Kolkovskyi raion, the STRESHA band, murdered four women, in whose apartments lived Red Army soldiers.” “On the night of 23 September [1944] in village Mikhlin, Senkovichi raion, a SB unit of four persons killed four women and injured one. [The women] had gotten together to write letters to their husbands and sons [serving] in the Red Army.” While targets of SB violence were certainly not exclusively women and girls, a close look at patterns of rebel violence against local citizens suggests that reprisals against “collaborators” was a euphemism for violence against ethnic Poles during World War II and the first two postwar years, when three quarters of the violence against “locals” was directed against ethnic Poles.

Following the forced deportation by the Soviets of over 800,000 ethnic Poles from Western Ukraine in 1945-1946, however, available evidence suggests that as many as four of five of victims of rebel violence against suspected “collaborators” were ethnic Ukrainian women, especially young women allegedly suspected of sexually fraternizing with men of the Soviet occupation. The rebel violence mirrored and was often provoked by the crimes of the Soviet authorities themselves. Typical Soviet counterinsurgency tactics were to arrest women suspected of belonging to UPA and imprisoning them, sometimes for months. These women were frequently beaten, raped, forced to sleep with corpses, and tortured until they were "broken" by their Soviet captors and forced to work against UPA. The large-scale use of such tactics provoked an atmosphere of mistrust and fear, leading to violent reprisals against women and others accused of being spies by UPA.] For example, from January 1, 1945 until spring 1945 only in one area of OUN/UPA activity from 938 people suspected of being Soviet spies, 889 were liquidated. Despite this infiltration the SB was able to conduct some counterintelligence actions against Soviet agents and even to infiltrate a few former UPA members which worked in the militia in 1945 [ Ivan Bilas. Repressive-punishment system in Ukraine. 1917-1953 Vol.2 Kyiv Lybid-Viysko Ukrainy, 1994 ISBN 5-325-00599-5 ] whose actions have “ compromise the Movement” (even in the eyes of the OUN/UPA). Institute of Ukrainian History, Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, [ "Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army", Chapter 4] , p. 375]

The repeated OUN/UPA SB violence against women was certainly noticed and feared by the local population. As peasant A. V. Vasilev wrote from Stryi raion to his cousin on 1 September 1946: “Bandits cut the throats of six women in one night! It’s horrifying here now — you go to sleep and don’t know if you’ll ever wake up again.”

Brutality action were not halted until full extermination of OUN/UPA SB units – even in 21 June 1948 at Lviv State University stable Soviet investigators uncovered eighteen naked and mutilated corpses — seventeen women and one adolescent boy which were killed since November 1947 by OUN/UPA SB unit. Nearly all of the corpses were so badly decomposed that only six could be identified by family members (mainly through personal objects or clothing). In each case, the victim had been beaten to death on the back of the skull with an ax, hammer, or pipe. As a reflection of the macabre ritual interrogation that usually preceded SB executions of “suspected collaborators”, one corpse still had more than a meter of noose around her neck. The SB assassination squad responsible for the crime had nine members, and acted on the direct instructions of the commander of an UPA regiment based in a nearby forest. All of the executions had been perpetrated under orders. One of the SB unit members had been recruited into the unit by an old friend, Zakharyi Lychko, an officer from the Ukrainian SS Galicia Division, who was arrested in 1946.


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