Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Polisian Sich (Poliska sich). A Ukrainian insurgent formation, organized in June 1941 by Taras Borovets under the aegis of the Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic. Its earliest anti-Soviet activities in Sarny county consisted of attacking NKVD jails and Soviet Army mobilization centers and capturing arms and ammunition. In July 1941 the Sich was recognized by the German authorities as a local militia, whose primary mission was to clear Polisia of the remnants of the Soviet Army before they regrouped into partisan detachments (see Partisan movement in Ukraine, 1941–5). In August Borovets obtained the support of the OUN (Melnyk faction) and, assisted by a cadre of UNR Army officers, expanded his force to several thousand men. The Sich's chief of staff was P. Smorodsky, a lieutenant colonel of the UNR Army. After defeating a Soviet force at Olevske on 21 August, Borovets established his headquarters there. With the elimination of the Soviet partisan threat, the Germans forced the Polisian Sich to demobilize (15 November 1941). In March 1942 Borovets reactivated it, this time as an anti-Nazi insurgent force, and renamed it the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The five-company army began its anti-Nazi activities in late April 1942. Its best-known operation took place at Shepetivka on 19 August. In the autumn of 1942 Borovets signed an armistice with Soviet partisans, but failed to reach an agreement with the Germans, and hostilities with the Soviet partisans and the Germans resumed in February 1943. By that time, partisan units controlled by the OUN (Bandera faction) had become the dominant Ukrainian force. The two Ukrainian insurgent forces shared a common name, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, without merging into one army. The steady loss of men to the rival UPA and the decline in peasant support prompted Borovets to rename his force the Ukrainian People's Revolutionary Army. On 18 August 1943 the force was surrounded and disarmed by the UPA. Borovets and his staff escaped and remained active until November 1943.