Володимир Семків

* 1929  

  • "Settlement Balìn. In Balìn there lived the whole staff, and there was a camp for political prisoners. And I was there. - Who was sitting out there, what people? - There where all nationalities there: Ukrainians from Galicia and Ukrainians from Eastern Ukraine, and full of Russians, and full of Jews. Different people were there. Later, the influx of those, who were in the Vlasov army, was very rich. Then almost half of prisoners were from those Vlasov soldiers. - And from Baltic countries? - Yes there were also from Baltic countries, especially the Lithuanians. They were not satisfied with the Soviet authorities as well. It was the concentration camp of people dissatisfied with Soviet authorities, or who fought with the Soviet authorities. - And were the criminals there? -No, none was there."

  • "Nobody, even newspapers, expected that the Soviet Government would come to us (I remember that I have already read Polish and Ukrainian newspapers). In 1939 there were already Ukrainian newspapers. None absolutely didn’t think that the Soviet Government would come to us. By the way, I stood there and watched as the Soviet army was deployed in Zhovkva. I see it as it is today. People didn’t praise it. Everything looked very scantily. They came as the poor men : without good clothes, stank with horse sweat, as they were riding. - You say you've seen how the first soviet troops were riding. Were they greeted in Zhovkva? Did people welcome them or didn’t care about it? - Mostly Jews welcomed them. I don't know why the Jews greeted them, but Jews had cried “Vivat!","Vivat!","Vivat! ". This I remember. Nobody else welcomed them".

  • "It was special concentration camp. There was a special regime in it. When we came from work we were closed in cells. But they didn’t call them “cell” – barrack. There was a place there we could wash ourselves. Then we went altogether to canteen. This canteen was as slops pit hole. The food was very bad. I am not sure that I would bear 10 years there – I would die in such case. I was there for two years. Right after the death of Stalin we were astonished – in 4-5 days we got good porridge, a good soup. Only some days after his death passed. So it was his work – he wanted people starve there in camps."

  • "In 1941, when the war started and Germans have already came up all prisoners (there were 29 of them) were dreadfully murdered in prison in Zhovkva castle. These victims were massacred in inhuman way: with cut down ears, pricked bellies, broken hands. In 1941, when Germans came, we saw all this. There were a crowd of people. I with my father also was there. And we saw all this crippled bodies (29 corps). One woman, Storozhukova, found her husband there. She looked two days on him and couldn’t recognize him. She was almost sure that her husband is not there. But then she recognized by button. On the eve she sawed this button and it was different color than other buttons on the costume. By this button which she sawed day or two days before she recognized her husband."

  • "They were coming at night, at midnight, half past twelve or one o’clock at night. They knocked the door: “Open the door! Documents control.” I looked in one window than in second. Near every window the soldiers stood. What should it mean? We didn’t have any suspicion and didn’t think about deportation. He said: “Documents control”. Father opened the door. An officer and two soldiers came in. They checked everything in house – nothing. All documents were on the table. I already had passport, as well as my father and mother. He didn’t check names in passports, but hid them in under-arm case. Father asked why he hid passports and asked to give them back. He said: “You don’t need passport anymore – you will be deported. Take everything you need with you. You have two hours for gathering things. The car will come after you at 4 a.m."

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    Witness' home (Zhovkva, Lviv region), 29.08.2011

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“Nobody thought that Soviets would come”

skan-06.jpg (historic)
Володимир Семків

Volodymyr Semkiv was born in 1929 in Zhovkva town, Lviv region. In 1946 he graduated from secondary school. Soon he became a liaison of UPA (URA) and spread anti-Soviet postcards. On the 1st of January 1950 Volodymyr‘s family was imprisoned in Lviv jail on Zamarstynivs‘ka st., but on the 1st of February they were deported to the Far East. In one month train came to Pivan‘ station which is 11 km far from Komsomol‘sk-on-Amour. His family found itself on the settlement Paryn. There Volodymyr was working on forestry. After two years of work he was accused of distributing of rebellious leaflets found in his father‘s house in Zhovkva. On the 15th of February 1952 Volodymyr was arrested. He was transferred from Komsomol‘sk-on-Amour to Habarovs‘k, where he was held for two months. In June 1952 Volodymyr was sentenced to 25 years of imprisonment in concentration camp of strict regime in Balin city for anti-Soviet propaganda. He spent in a concentration camp for about 2 years, but after the death of Stalin he got under amnesty. In 1956, Volodymyr returned to settlement Paryn to parents. In 1969 he came back to the Motherland. After Ukraine gained independence in 1991, he became a head of the Organization of political prisoners and repressed in Zhovkva district. Now he lives in Zhovkva, Lviv region.