Ukrainian women, among many others, executed by the NKVD in Dubno prison on June 24-25, 1941
When the German army launched Operation Barbarossa against the USSR on June 22, 1941, the NKVD troops (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) were ordered to evacuate Ukrainian political prisoners into the interior of the Soviet Union. However, time was lacking, the Red Army was in full retreat, transportation and other supplies were insufficient, so the NKVD swept aside all legal procedures and proceeded with mass executions of as many political prisoners as possible.
Such mass executions were carried out by the NKVD all across Eastern Europe, primarily in Poland, Ukraine, the Baltic States and Bessarabia.
It is extremely difficult to pinpoint the exact number of deaths in Ukraine within these two days. Estimates of the death toll vary between locations; nearly 9,000 in the Ukrainian SSSR, 20,000-30,000 in Western Ukraine,with the total number reaching approximately 100,000 victims of executions in the span of a few weeks.
From the evening of June 24 to the morning of June 25, 1941, the guards of NKVD Prison No.2 in Dubno, Rivne Oblast, the operational staff of the Dubno regional department of the NKGB (People’s Commissariat for State Security), and the regional department of the NKVD proceeded to execute the prisoners interned in the prison. The orders were carried out according to a directive issued by Vsevolod Merkulov, People’s Commissar of State Security of the USSR and an oral instruction issued by deputy chief of the NKVD in Rivne Oblast Klimov.
At that time, Shynkarkin was the director of Dubno prison, Vynokur was the head of the NKGB regional department, and Cherevko was the head of the NKVD regional department. Vynokur was killed on June 25 in a skirmish with the Germans; Cherevko surrendered to the Germans; Shynkarkin’s fate is unknown.
Scholars are still working on identifying the victims, and the exact number of prisoners executed in the prison is unknown. The approximate figure stands at 250-260. More than a hundred people have been identified by name.
In her book “Великдень у в’язниці” (Easter in Prison), Valentyna Kreshchenko-Lipishkevich, survivor of the executions, wrote the following:
“There were seven of them in the cell, and I was the eighth… I looked around and asked them their names – Stefa Kilyarska, Olia Orlovska, a certain Pulkovnikova (I don’t remember her first name), Tereza Trautman, an elderly lady from Polissya, and another older woman (I forgot her name), and also Frosya from Lutsk, whom I’ll never forget. It turned out that she was a communist who was placed in our cell to report on us… I liked Tereza the most; she was a poet; she even scratched out poems with her fingernails.”
Only Valentyna Lipishkevych and Frosya survived…
25-year-old Tereza Trauman was a resident of Dubno, a seamstress, stylist, sewing instructor, and a member of the Polish underground. She was arrested on March 23, 1941and sentenced to eight years in a concentration camp on June 14, 1941. She was executed along with her sister.
Olia Orlovska was actually 23-year-old Nadiya Orlovska from the village of Strakliv; she was deported to Kazakhstan in 1940, escaped and returned home, where she was arrested on January 14, 1941, accused of “ illegally crossing the border” and “unauthorized arrival in a prohibited area of residence”. She was executed along with her friend and fellow villager Olena Paliy.
Teresa Trautman’s sister Jadwiga was also executed in Dubno prison.
Soviet repressions in Rivne Oblast
According to Andrii Zhyviuk, Candidate of Historical Sciences, who has been working with a team of Ukrainian historians for more than ten years on the multi-volume “Реабілітовані історією” (Rehabilitated through History), over 130,000 persons in Rivne Oblast were persecuted by the Soviet regime:
- about 28,000 were arrested and convicted (including executed prisoners). 19,910 victims have been identified.
- at least 500 persons were executed in Rivne regional prisons in 1941.
- some 100,000 members of families labeled as “enemies of the people” were exiled in 1939 to perpetual residence in special settlements in the Far North, Siberia, the Urals, the Far East and Kazakhstan
- about 2,500 OUN and UPA members were killed in combat by the NKVD.
Every year, Ukrainian historians examine and process new documents…and the figures of the repressed, persecuted and executed continue to grow.