Domarad’s testimony: Conscripted by Germans, Russians, Poles and the UPA

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

By Olga Kaczmar
Santa Clarita resident

My sister and I have been sending packages and money to our relatives in Ukraine for about 20 years. We send food, clothing, household utensils, bedding and other goods that in the United States we take for granted. 

Stalin’s Soviet Union empire devastated Ukraine. When Ukraine declared independence in 1991, it gave up its nuclear power because the U.S. promised to protect it. However, Russia still continues to wage war on Ukraine and many of the youth have fled the country to Poland, Greece and surrounding countries. The very old senior citizens remain and are very poor. 

God blessed Dmitro Domarad for a long life while eradicating all his enemies. He and my mother were childhood friends. My sister sends him money to keep him in medicine. In exchange, he continues to pray for her health. 

In October 2020, Domarad is 99 1/2 years old, outliving all his enemies. His wife is 94. The following is his story:

Dec. 13, 2003: Once I was forbidden to write this history. This is the truth.

I, Dmitro Domarad, was born in the village of Javirnik on Aug. 26, 1921, son of Wasyl and Mary. Mother was born in the village of Tyreshko. I had four brothers and eight sisters. We lived poorly; we needed a good store for this many people. The house was cold and dusty. We had 12 hectares of land (29.64 acres) but my dad was not a good master of the soil so we lacked bread. We had wood for the church, covered in tin plate. 

Our mother loved us with all her heart. When we children started to grow up, school had not yet come to Javirnik. We had to go to master’s school and then a new school was built where I ended 4th grade. It was Komancza Commerce in Bykivsko (Bukowsko), 10 kilometers (67.21 miles) away.

My mother had twelve children; a lot to feed. So she hired us out to work for people. I was only 16 years old and in service with a Ukrainian master (a farmer) in Javirnik. Polish soldiers came and took me and the master to school – where the school was superior. I had to be with soldiers and care for the horses; not allowed to go home. I was near the Wachalowski’s house No. 1. From there the Polish army started to flee to Rymynio and I traveled with them on my own horse, day and night. Unknown to me, the Poles also took my oldest brother. My brother was taken from home and I from service with the master. We each did not know. Along the way, there started to be a lot of shooting at us. We ran until the army called a rest period. My brother and I found each other, fled from the soldiers, leaving behind the horses and went home by foot. It was already autumn when we returned: my brother and I to the master’s house where I served.

In Autumn 1939 Hitler invaded Poland. When the Germans seized us, they gathered together and exported the young to Germany for slave labor or army. They took my sisters, Tekla and Paraska, and brother Fechio. I was too young to fight [18 years old].

Around 1940, Fechio returned home and later was conscripted by the Russians. He was wounded by the Germans on the front lines. The Russians turned him into a Bolshevik and he no longer believed in God. 

I fled from home and hid for a long time. I slept in the fields. But I got papers to travel anyway. The Germans already knew how many people lived in the house. I was the fourth one from our family forced to go. Mother cried because I had to go. She later also was made to go work in Germany.

Our mother cried for us when Germans took us for labor. Our mother was poor and poorly dressed. When the Germans turned us around for examination, they took the young boys to their army. They promised us a free Ukraine. And when Germans ascended on Russia, so the Ukrainian army helped them. When Ukraine voiced for Ukrainian independence, then Germany arrested the oldest Ukrainians and shot them. Because of this, the Ukrainian partisans formed the UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army).

I worked with the Germans in Germany from 1942 to 1945. When I arrived in Germany in 1942, I was assigned to work on manor where I picked potatoes and beets, but I tried to flee home from there. I was arrested and beaten. They brought me back to where I was assigned and then gave me to the baron. This baron was not good. The entire village was not good. I had to flee him. A few boys had already fled to Arbaychan. The baron paid me 15 marks a month. I had to be in my rags a long time because the baron didn’t have better rags for me.

I had good sleep there. Food, I needed to extort, for the baron was very tight-fisted. He told me I would have to work for him until the end of the war. When the Russian front came closer, it started to be a little better for me but not for long. 

For when I said I was Ukraininan, the Russian army took me and wouldn’t release me for home. So I said that I was Polish, then they let me go. The Russians released me from the army prison and I set out for home. It was hard travel by foot. I only had one bread to feed me for five days. I divided it into five pieces so that it would last. Thank God I arrived at my mother’s side in time. She laid in bed ill. My mother hugged, held me and cried, “My little bird came to his nest.” I stayed by my mother from March 25 to Sept 28, 1945. 

At 24 years old, I began raking, sowing grain so that we would have something to eat. My sisters, Tekla and Paraska, were still in Germany and brother Fechio returned before them but the Russians took him to the German front. Already the Ukrainian forest was filled with partisans, guerilla fighters, fighting for a free Ukraine, who waged war on the Russian Bolsheviks and the Polish who came to our homelands after the Germans. So I waged war with them until Sept 28, 1945.

The Russians and Poles (chovbanu) captured us and made us slaves. Sept 28, 1945, they captured 24 shooters of the Ukrainian UPA Insurgent Army. I was among them. They had killed three UPA marksmen, wounded four. I took a series of shots in the right leg, four toes were shot off, and a round hit me in the forehead. It wasn’t deep, so I lived. My toes were hanging and I was bleeding profusely. 

They took all of us by wagon, then we walked the rest of 10 kilometers to the Komancza to the commissioner, who was our exchange. There they packed us in an underground tunnel. I walked with my boot in hand because my leg swelled, through the muddy tunnel with my foot bleeding into the mud. The mud had sealed my wound. In the morning on Sunday they took us by train to Sanok, to this government called Besneku or Besreku.

There I was truly in hell. I was beaten and itching for three weeks. Bugs and lice bit me while the Bolsheviks beat us. But our master was stronger and gave us resistance. This government took us to court and on Christmas Eve 1946 judged us. 

In the Polish court, they had me on the third floor, nose to the wall. Through the window I saw my own mother for the last time. She came to see me and wanted to give me bread. She had not seen me and asked servant (guard) that to allow her to see me, at least to give me a bread, hat or shirt. I was given this bread. Do you know how this bread had meaning for me? When my mother found out that I fell upon devil believers, she received inflammation in the head and had to die. So on Christmas Eve 1946, I was judged in Sanok and my mother was buried in the cemetery in Javirnik.

Our leader received a death sentence and the rest of us four to five years; the boys got three years. We would have all gotten 15 years in prison had it not been for the amnesty granted, i.e., forgiveness for all who waged war against Bolsheviks. 

In Sanok we sat for a year’s time. From Sanok they took us to Rashova – but only on mining. From Rashova they took us to Olsztyna (northeast part of Poland) in cattle wagons. For our transport, we were given bread for the road but could not eat it because our enemy trampled on the bread. They thrashed us with rifle butts and clubs. When they brought us to Olsztyna Barchevo (Barczewo) prison for war criminals, two boys were beaten and the rest were put in prison.

The Polish caught me when they were shooting Ukrainians. For a half year I had worn the Ukrainian yellow and blue tryzub emblem in my hat. I sat in prison in 1945, 1946, 1947 and 1948. For this emblem they beat me for three years – day and night they beat or killed us. Some German soldiers were also arrested and held prisoners there, but the Ukrainians were killed. They never gave us any blanket nor bed. We slept on the dirt floor and covered ourselves in hay under long tables. The clothing we walked in, we slept in. We were given a bowl for eating but no spoon. I found a piece of blade and this I fashioned into a spoon and soon cut my lip on it.

When we sat in prison for more than a year, they fed us water from beet leaves. Then they made us walk. Some boys fell from hunger and didn’t live. We could not commit suicide. Then they transported us to Olsztyna where they further beat us. They did what they wanted with us. For their amusement, we carried one another like on horses while they told us to “bark like a dog, bellow like a cow and neigh like a horse.”

In the morning they ran water on the floor and said to wash. They told us to kneel and poured water on the floor and told us to say, “Here is the hill, here to the valley and in the ass end will be Ukraine,” and they broke boards and chairs on our backs. This we endured for our nation, our glorified Ukraine.

Before my eyes, one of our shooters was taken, bounded a bit and attached to the wall like Jesus, one held one hand and second held the other hand and third kicked him in the groin. In a few minutes his testicles swelled and they took him immediately on a stretcher. I saw him no more. 

On Jan. 15, 1949, they released me from Rawiczy prison to go home, without money, without bread, in prison rags – but my home was no longer there. All was burned up in Operation Vistula.

Starting in 1946-47, the Polish army had surrounded our villages; told all to pack up and be prepared to leave within three hours. The people cried as they collected what little they could carry, leaving behind their livelihoods. They escorted them to the baggage cars on the train. The UPA had been liquidated in May 1947 so could not help us. These baggage cars were taken to Javozna prison. Some didn’t come out alive. Those who came out alive were told to eat dirt. 

In 1949, three of us were told never to talk to anyone about how we were treated in prison. We begged for provisions, for money for bread and a ticket for home. One gave, others did not. God gave me health and a mind. We went to Protection Mutual in Poznan. There they gave us money for bread and a train ticket for one of us. One was taken to Ukraine to join with his family who had been scattered there. I found that my family was moved to Peshchy and I joined them. The third man went to Olsztyn where his family had been sent.

Domarad says in November 2004:

Mr. and Mrs. Domarad, circa 2016. Courtesy photo.

I am not sorry for my father, because he broke my mother’s left arm and she went to the next world with a broken arm. Ukrainians and Poles were separated in the years 1918-1920. My father waged war and fell into slavery. When he came back from slavery, I was born in 1921. The lice ate my father and he was sent to Ukraine and lived in Lviv. So one Pole lives in Ukraine in the Opening Cemetery.

In 1949 I came to the Pescha village where about 30 farmers and landlords with good riches lived. All had enough after the Germans left. I was a beggar among them. When released from prison in my rags, I was laughed at by the Poles. And when they were dispersing the land, they all caught good ground and Ukrainians were allocated sandy ground. They were relocated to northern Poland to the burned-out, bombed-out Prussian territories. They said, “May Ukrainians eat sand.” So now in 2004 I am still on sand. I’m already 84 years. Of the 30-some farmers/landlords, not one of them is alive. All died and their grounds grew up into woods. 

Carpathian ground returns to wooded areas because it was too harsh an environment for the gentiled Poles. And now who eats sand? I still eat bread. Is God good? With God’s grace, after prison, I live good.

Such was goodness for me. I have outlived all my enemies. In 1949 God gave me a good wife. Later with two children and my wife, I returned to Javirnik to the cemetery of my mother. I didn’t find her tomb because it was all overgrown. I cried silently to myself. I could not repay her for her bread to me when I was in need. 

I still cry for her even though I am 84 now.

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS