Voice of the past: UPA’s 1943 call to arms addressed to the people of the Caucus Region

By the summer of 1943 the armed struggle of The Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) was gaining momentum. This guerrilla formation was operating deep in the rear of the Wehrmacht in the Volynia area. The cherished goal of the insurgent fighters was the foundation of an independent state within the areas inhabited by Ukrainian people. But the path to independence was blocked by the German occupants, along with other forces claiming their rights on the Ukrainian territories such as the USSR and the Polish Resistance Movement (before the beginning of the 2nd World War Western Ukraine used to be a part of Poland). In 1943 the area of Volynj was a region of permanent  conflict between UPA, the Germans, the Polish, and Red Army partisans.

UPA call to arms 1By 1943 the Germans were loosing the war, and the advancing Red Army was due to arrive and restore Stalin’s rule. The Ukrainian insurgents were preparing to confront, face to face, the huge military machine of the Russian totalitarian state.  There was no chances of assistance from the US or Great Britian, due to the fact that UPA was fighting against two countries which were participants of the Anti-Nazi coalition (the USSR and Poland). In such a situation the leaders of the Ukrainian resistance movement had to hope for a revolution by peoples of the USSR themselves, against both Nazi and Bolshevist oppressors.

The instrument to spark the national revolution was the Ukrainian insurgents’ propaganda as well as the national legions (armed units) of UPA. Where did the legions come from? As a matter of fact Germany itself was playing the national card in its war against the Soviet Union. They were organizing military and police units (as a rule, companies and battalions) based on national identity which stood under their national banners. One of the places where there were formations serving the German army was Poltava region and there were many servicemen in these units. Ukrainian insurgents persuaded many of these soldiers to come over to their side, and formed out of them the same kind of national legions under UPA, but yet now orientated to fight both the Germans and the Red Army.

Georgian, Uzbek, Azejbardzan and other UPA units were successful in fighting against both Nazi occupants and Red Army partisans. UPA believed that there would be a shift in the socio-political situation in the Soviet Union which would lead to the collapse of the power of the Bolsheviks, and that by fighting on the side the Ukrainians legions the other national ethnic groups within the USSR would be able to create their own national armies of liberation and political movements throughout the Soviet Union. At the time of the entry of the Red Army on the territory of Western Ukraine UPA consisted of units from 15 different national groups, ranging in size from platoon to battalion.

On November 21-22, 1943 a conference of oppressed nations of Eastern Europe and Asia was convened. The conference took place on the territory of modern time Rovenskaya area in underground conditions. Representatives of 13 oppressed nations from the USSR participated, that included 39 participants: 6 Georgians headed by “Karl”, 6 Azejbarjanians (with “Fizul” heading the delegation), 5 Uzbeks (“Shimrat”), 4 Armenians (“Antrant”), 4 Tatar people (“Tukay”), 2 Belorussians (“Druzhny”), 2 Ossetians (“Aram”), Kazakh “Dezhkman”), Cherkes “Dzigit”, Kabardians “Baksan”, Chuvash “Skvortshov”, Baskir “Kagrman” and 5 Ukrainians (representing UPA).

The resolution at the end of the conference stated: a new international order based on the triumph of the political rights of every people, every nation will give the full capabilities of the cultural and economic development. The system of free national states provides for individual’s liberty that was oppressed and exploited by the (USSR) imperialist system”.

In their propaganda leaflets Ukrainian insurgents addressed the soldiers in Russian and other national languages with an appeal of a common cause against both Hitler’s and Stalin’s imperialism. Shown below is the pamphlet with an appeal to the peoples of the Caucasus which was printed in an underground printing house in Odessa.. It was issued around the period of the Conference of the oppressed people of Eastern Europe and Asia. Just 3 months later the Chechen and Ingush people were barbarously deported, house by house, to distant regions of the USSR.

UPA call to arms 2

For Independent Composite Ukrainian State!  

Freedom to people!

Freedom to individuals!

 Cherkeses, Kabardians , Ossetians, Chechens, Adygeis,

Lezgians, Ingushes ! 

The Proud sons of Terek! Honorable posterity of brave Dagestan, Chechen, Ingush and Ossetian souls. Your ancestors bravely defended your mountain nest villages against the conquerors from Moscow — more than once. For centuries they managed to assert their freedom and independence.

Since 1587 Moscow repeatedly tried to occupy your strongholds in order to utilize them as their own out-posts for the further colonization of the whole Caucuses. By way of their brave pressure your ancestors destroyed the Moscow fortress of Tarki and eliminated countless amount of Streltsy of commander Khvorostin, thus entirely discouraged the jackals from Moscow to encroach on the your freedom for a few centuries.

Then come the hard years of struggle in the 19th century. Since 1807 Moscow’s armies advanced like an avalanche into your native mountains to destroy your villages and turn you into slaves.

However the predator made a mistake. Russian mercenaries like Tsitsianovs, Yermolovs, and Paskevichs did not take into account that the sons of mountains, where Prometheus was chained to at their heights, can never be conquered. 

Thousands of mountain horsemen responded to the sacred call of jihad. They united around their naibs and murds, to defend their home places. The ancestors of mountain people remember the glorious battles of Gerzel-aul (1825) where the troops of general Lisanevich were destroyed. 

 Among thousands of others, the name of heroic Shamil will long stay in the memory of his ancestors for he was able to lead the heroic struggle against Moscow. Besides we will never forget the glorious deeds of your ancestors in the battle of Gergebil (1843) where thousands of Russian Vorontsov’s soldiers were eliminated. Derbent, Gekha, Gimry, Gunib represented the pages of heroic struggle written in blood of Gamzat Bek, Kazi Mully, Khadzhi Murad and Khadzhy Yousip. Your pastures were turned into estates of Vorontsovs, Tsitsianovs and Yousupovs. Thousands of your forefathers perished in mines and Siberian taiga. Thousands did not surrender to Moscow, and had to drag the last days of their lives banished in a strange land. In 1917 the prison of nations collapsed and so did the Moscow Empire. Chechens, Circassians, Ingushes, Lezgians, Ostians came back to their native places. Governing bodies were created, and the hated enslavers were thrown over Terek and Kuban.  

But the sun of freedom over the mountain villages did not shine long. Again the torrent of enemies from Moscow, headed by red executioners Kirov and Ordzhenikidze poured down as an avalanche burning down villages, requisitioned herds, and enforcing the horrors of Russian Extraordinary Counter-Revolution Commissions. But Moscow was still was not satisfied. In order to enslave you completely, Moscow demanded forced “collectivization” that resulted in a mountaineer’s losing their herds and their property. He now had to look for his daily bread in the mines of Chiatura, or the oil fields in Baku, or to Grozny and Emba.

And at the start of Bolsheviks’-German war, you were shepherd to the front in the name of Moscow.   Some part of you, having no wish to defend the Red Moscow, entered the national battalions in the ranks of the German army, in order to eliminate the hated Moscow tyrant. Alas, your aspirations did not come true. When Germans came to you native lands they implemented a policy of enslavement, no lesser than at the time of Red Moscow. German imperialism, having captured you in its military machine, were suffering defeats at the fronts, loosing it allies, trying to build a barrier for their lands out of your dead bodies.   Children of Mountains! It’s enough to continue being a blind weapon in the hands of German imperialism! Remember the legacy of your proud forefathers who sacrificed their lives for the freedom of Caucasus!   Ukrainian people call to you to join a common struggle against eternal enslavers. Let us build up a powerful front against the blood-suckers of humankind.

 With arms in hands come over to the national units of Ukrainian Insurgent Army which is fighting German and Moscow imperialists for many months now. Gather forces for the total revolution against Moscow-Bolsheviks tyranny. We are united under the same slogans – LONG LIVE INDEPENDENCE FOR THE PEOPLE OF DAGESTAN, OSETIA, CHECHNYA, KABARDINO BALKARIYA, INGUSHETIA!



Chief Command of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army

General Headquarters, November 1943.



The article was prepared by InfoNapalm group based on the materials of the site “Bandera Nationalist Library”:

Translator: Roman Vlasof