Recognizing the deportation of the Ukrainians as justified is a political, not a legal, decision of Poland

December 4, 2023


Ukrainian historians explained what was wrong with the decision of the Polish prosecutor, who closed the investigation and called the “Vistula” action humane – it ignores the facts and was provoked by political reasons.


As it is known, the prosecutor of the Institute of National Remembrance of Poland (IPN) closed the investigation into the communist crime against humanity – the forced and unexpected deportation of 150,000 Ukrainians in the spring of 1947, known as the “Vistula” operation.

The prosecutor of the IPN claimed that “the military operation took place in a humane manner” and had a “preventive and protective nature”. “No actions were detected that would cause public or private damage,” the IPN official statement said.

The investigation also “did not find” any abuse or excess of authority in the decision on mass eviction.

The Center for Research on the Liberation Movement, the Ukrainian non-governmental research organization, a member of the European Platform of Memory and Conscience, analyzed the decision of the Prosecutor of the IPN and issued the historical and legal position on it. The document is published on the organization’s website.

It states that “the decision of the prosecutor of the IPN contradicts not only the facts and documentary sources that have been made public for many years from both the Polish and Ukrainian sides, the previously expressed position of scientists, presidents and parliaments of Poland and Ukraine, but also the position of the IPN itself”.

“The evidence unequivocally indicates that the “Vistula” action was of a coercive nature (it took place against the will of the population and with the use of military units), it concerned the relocation of the population groups on the basis of nationality (ethnic Ukrainians or members of mixed Polish-Ukrainian families) from the areas where they were dwelling at that moment on legal grounds, and was also carried out in the absence of grounds permitted by international law.

Hence, it was the deportation or forced displacement of the population.

Tortures were applied to those placed in the Javozhno concentration camp, and the prohibition of return under the threat of repeated deportation or concentration camp was the persecution of an identifiable group on national grounds in connection with the deportation and forced relocation of this group. According to the norms of the international law, all this is a sign of a crime against humanity,” explains the lawyer and the historian Serhiy Riabenko, the representative of Ukraine in the international project International Justice for the Communist Crimes of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.

The publicized document analyzes the arguments of the prosecutor of the IPN and claims that “the prosecutor de facto recognized the existence of the internal armed conflict on the territory of Poland between the government and the organized structures of the Ukrainian underground, which had all the signs of combatants. And therefore, making decisions on the relocating of the civilian population for reasons related to such a conflict, in the absence of urgent wartime needs (as it was in 1947), according to the norms of international law, had the characteristics of a war crime”.

The attempt of the IPN prosecutor to “justify” the actions of the authorities of the communist Poland in relation to the citizens of the latter is not much different from the attempts of the Russian propagandists to “justify” the repressions of the Soviet totalitarian regime, first of all, the mass deportations of the entire population groups, including the Crimean Tatars and the Poles.

“The prosecutor’s conclusions have little to do with the conduct of a comprehensive, objective and independent investigation, and are rather caused by the reasons of a political nature,” the published analysis reads.

At the same time, more than a hundred Polish historians, intellectuals and public and cultural figures published a letter of rejection to the leadership of both chambers of the Polish Parliament, where they protested and condemned the decision of the Institute of National Remembrance to terminate the investigation into the recognition of the “Vistula” action as a crime. They called the decision scandalous and demand a reaction from the highest authorities and an unequivocal assessment of the action of “Vistula” as criminal.


On April 28, 1947, the operation of the Polish communist authorities began, during which about 150,000 Ukrainians were thrown out of their native homes. People were taken hundreds of kilometers away, those who tried to resist were killed. With the Vistula Operation, Poland “cleansed” their ethnic territories of Ukrainians and put an end to the Ukrainian liberation movement on these lands (there were no people left who supported it), thereby solving the “Ukrainian issue in Poland”. This operation was the final chord of the Second Polish-Ukrainian War, which unfolded within the framework of the Second World War, starting in 1942 in the Kholm region (now the territory of Poland). The war was for Ukrainian territories that were part of Poland until 1939 (Kholm region, Volhynia, Galicia), where the Ukrainians wanted to create their own state, and the Poles wanted to restore the pre-war borders. However, the issue of borders was resolved after World War II without the participation of Ukrainians and Poles, after which the communist authorities of the Soviet Union and Poland forcibly changed the ethnic configuration of the western Ukrainian and eastern Polish territories. The most brutal stage of this was the “Vistula” operation in 1947.