Nazi death camp
WORLDS APART Henry Pavlovich
Background to the novel "Worlds Apart"
Cover collage
The book cover is a collage of photos
Why a book and why a website
How it came about and the reasons for a website
InterWar Poland's borders
Between the wars, Poland's borders were further east than they are now
Historical context
The book tells of real people who experienced real events
Russian revolutionary movements and Jewish emigration after 1881
The link between revolutionary movements and Jewish emigration after the Tsar's assassination
The different rulers of "the Jerusalem of the North"
Ethnic Cleansing in Volhynia
Between the wars Poland occupied an eastern region called Volhynia
Waffen SS “Galizien” (Halychyna) Division and Other Pro-Nazi Forces
When the Nazis went to war, some communities sided with them (e.g. those Ukrainians who formed the Halychyna or SS Galizien Division) and afterwards thousands of them posed as refugees
The “Anders Army”
The army created by Stalin's former prisoners to fight the Nazis
Languages and Worlds Apart
An article for the journal of the Chartered Institute of Linguists
A map of Europe-Asia showing places featured in the book

Ethnic Cleansing in Volhynia

Nursery school, Wilno, 1920s

Between the two world wars the region of Volhynia was under Polish administration but in fact ethnically Ukrainian. After World War I, when Poland regained independence, the Polish government strongly supported the idea of an independent Ukraine (Ukrainian People's Republic). At the end of the Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921, under the Peace of Riga, overt Polish support for Ukraine's independence was ruled out. Poland initially promised local autonomy to her newly acquired and predominantly Ukrainian-populated territories. However with the rise of Polish nationalism, Polish policy reversed; the Ukrainian language and culture were suppressed. Between 100,000 and 300,000 Polish colonists were settled in these predominantly Ukrainian lands, and Poles were appointed to virtually all posts (including local police). Orthodox churches were destroyed or forcibly transformed into Roman Catholic ones (as opposed to Ukrainian Catholic). Ukrainian libraries were burned down by Polish mobs who went unpunished by the Polish police. Local Polish youths were organized into armed paramilitary militias, further terrorising the Ukrainian population under the pretext of maintaining law and order. Few civilians were actually killed.

In September 1939, following the outbreak of World War II and in accordance with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, Poland was occupied in the west by Nazi Germany and in the east by the Soviet Union. Volhynia fell within the Soviet zone of occupation. Within two years, in June 1941, with Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union, Volhynia was occupied by Nazi Germany. Each change of ruler brought upheavals and arrests. Local Ukrainians formed resistance groups that grew into a full-fledged guerrilla army.

In February 1944 in coordinated and widespread actions, local elements of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UIA) [1] attacked the Polish minority population, killing many, in an effort to drive the Poles out of Volhynia. Two delegates of the Polish Government-in-Exile, J. Z. Rumel and K. Markiewicz, together with a group of representatives from the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa), attempted to negotiate with UIA leaders. They were found murdered on 8 July 1943. On 11 July, a series of massacres began, with many reports of UIA units marching from village to village, killing Polish civilians. The massacres lasted five days. UIA units continued the ethnic cleansing, particularly in rural areas, until most Poles had been deported, killed or expelled. After 1944, the scale of such actions was limited.


1. Ukrayinska Povstanska Armia, a Ukrainian nationalist partisan organization during and after World War II. Also referred to as Ukrainian Insurgent Army, UIA.

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