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Original camp correspondence of Mykoła Kłymyszyn

17-08-2016

Original camp correspondence of Mykola Klymyshyn a prisoner of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp Auschwitz no. 57340, are now in the Archives of the Memorial.

The collection includes a total of 77 letters and 8 postcards. It is primarily correspondence between Mykola Klymyshyn and his wife Olena - letters sent from the prison at Montelupich in Cracow, from Auschwitz, as well as letters written after release from the camp. It also includes letters sent by his wife to Auschwitz camp and two letters sent from Auschwitz by Klymyshyn to his mother. Most of them bear traces of checks by the camp’s censors.

 

Camp correspondence of Mykoła Kłymszyn
Camp correspondence...
Camp correspondence of Mykoła Kłymszyn
Camp correspondence...
Camp correspondence of Mykoła Kłymszyn
Camp correspondence...
Camp correspondence of Mykoła Kłymszyn
Camp correspondence...

– This collection is of particular significance to us, because it is very rare to find well-preserved extensive correspondence both sent by a prisoner of the camp to the family, and that the prisoner received from loved ones. In this case we, it is mostly letters exchanged between a husband residing in the camp and his wife. As a result, we can after many years after those events reconstruct the process of exchange of thoughts between two people, which the events of war separated for a long time.Mykola Klymyshyn’s wife Olena and little son who both parents affectionately called Seniatko or Senko lived in freedom, said Wojciech Płosa, Head of the Archives.

Mykola Klymyshyn was born 25 February 1909 in Mościska. From 1929, he was a member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. In that year, he began studying philosophy at the Jagiellonian University. On 13 January 1936, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for his part in the assassination of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Poland, Bronisław Pieracki.

In September 1939, he was freed. Until 1941, he resided in Cracow, and in April 1941, he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Main fraction of the Banderites of the OUN. On 7 September 1941, he was arrested by the Germans in Zhytomyr. He spent nearly one year in prison – first in Lviv, and then in Cracow. On 8 August 1942, he was referred along with a group of 63 men from the prison at Montelupich to Auschwitz, where he received the number 57340.

In the camp, while working in the Aufnahme kommando (receiving prisoners) together with Polish prisoners of the resistance movement he was illegally copying lists of transports arriving to the camp, which were then transmitted to the resistance movement organization. On 19 December 1944, he was released from the camp.

In a letter to each other, the spouses stressed how very important the bond they have been maintaining through correspondence is important for them. They exchange inform about the most important matters, but also recollect memories.

On 20 February 1944, Mykola Klymyshyn wrote among other: "With the first rays of the Sun I kiss You, my beloved. For just now, the Sun visited me through the window and the memories of You come calling, because You shine like the Sun in my life. Although we are still far from each other, we are all connected in rays of the Sun and stars. Today is like a beautiful Sunday, just like the day we took a trip out of Cracow and I broke the skis."

A few months later, however, he points out: "Today I have a very quiet Sunday. I can relax and dream of You, my beloved. I see before me Your lovely, grey eyes staring at me with longing and anticipation. They are staring at me so beautifully, like you always stare at me my Olenka."

A particular portion in the correspondence is dedicated to the son, whose health and behaviour the father inquires after in every letter. In a letter of June 1944, we read: "Our Senko must be well-fed at this time that he is growing. He must eat and have fun. I regret that he spent 3 years without me. These are the most beautiful years of childhood. “The wife calms her husband, praising her son as a child, very polite, cheerful and who loves to play with his peers. Sieniatko loved to play with wooden horses and watch picture books. The mother is also proud of the fact that her son talks and speaks correctly. Similarly, the child very much missed the absence of his father at home. On 22 January 1943, Olena wrote to her husband, among others, the following words: "Our son is growing beautifully. Every night he prays: ‘O God, give me back my Father'.

Mykola Klymyshyn remained in Germany after the war. He organized and led the field unit of the OUN in the Western occupation zones Germany. In 1949, he immigrated to the United States.

Activists of the OUN-B in KL Auschwitz

The Germans began arresting activists of the OUN-B in August 1941, because they did not want to give up the plan to create an independent Ukraine. They were mostly detained in prisons in the Galizien district from where they were mainly transferred to KL Sachsenhausen, as well as in Montelupich in Cracow, from where they were sent to KL Auschwitz.

The Banderites were subjected to German repression and most of them joined the conspiracy. After a few months, the Organization resumed operation. The command to reconstitute OUN-B conspiracy activities was assumed by Mykoła Łebed. In 1942, the first troops of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army was created, which was responsible for the mass murder of Poles during the so-called Volhynian massacre.

In the Auschwitz concentration camp, the Germans imprisoned nearly 200 banderites. Most of the inmates survived the stay, and thanks to the protection of camp gestapo worked later in better working groups. In addition, they received large quantities of food parcels from the Red Cross. Some of them were also previously released from KL Auschwitz, which was a result of the change of policy by the German authorities towards the Ukrainian nationalists.