World War II in Ukraine

The Ukrainian Experience in World War II
With a Brief Survey of Ukraine's
Population Loss of 10 Million

Andrew Gregorovich

Title Page Graphic
The monument over the grave of the great Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko in Kaniv,
Ukraine, surrounded by the barbed wire of a German concentration camp in World War II.

Published in Commemoration of
the 50th Anniversary of V-E Day
and in memory of the ten million.

Map of Ukraine in 1939 This article is intended to provide some of the basic information about the Ukrainian experience in World War II. Ukraine's role in the war is basically unknown in the world. For example, one American encyclopedia of World War II does not even include an entry on Ukraine. For almost a half century Soviet and Ukrainian archives were closed to historians but today it is possible to do scholarly research in Ukraine and Moscow. This may finally provide a more accurate picture than has been possible with existing sources.

Every Ukrainian family suffered losses in the war and many had victims of both Hitler and Stalin. Perhaps it is significant that out of three of my relatives who were victims of the war, two were shot by Stalin's USSR and one was shot by Hitler's Gestapo. Ukraine has thousands of World War II monuments. Very small villages often have a monument listing the names of the World War II dead. Ukrainian losses probably numbered 10 million or half of the entire USSR total and twenty per cent of the entire World War II total of fifty million dead.

I would like to thank the University of Toronto for granting me a year of Research Leave (Sabbarical) which provided me with the time to research this article and my forthcoming book. - A.G.

Photo above: Barbed wire of a German World War II concentration camp surrounded Taras Shevchenko Monument over his grave in Kaniv, Ukraine.

Copyright © 1995 by Andrew Gregorovich
FORUM 1995

Table of Contents


This article is dedicated to the memory of three relatives in Ukraine I never saw. Ivan Andreyevich Hryhorovich and Vasyl Fedorovich Fedoruk of Orelets, Sniatyn raion of Ivano Frankivsk, were arrested November 1940, tried by the Military Tribunal of the 12 th Army in Kiev, on March 27, 1941 and executed by the Soviet government. They were rehabilitated March 14, 1993 (Spravka 736-93). The third victim, (Vasyl?) Andreyevich Hryhorovich, whose first name is not definitely known to me, was shot by the German Gestapo during the German occupation of Ukraine.

Andrew Gregorovich

About the Author

Andrew Gregorovich is a third generation Canadian who heard the war on the radio. Educated at McMaster University and the University of Toronto, he has been a department head in the University of Toronto Library system for over 30 years. A past Chairman of the Toronto Historical Board, he is a member of the Centre for Russian and East European Studies and is on the Academic Board of the University of Toronto. He is Editor of FORUM Ukrainian Review.


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Copyright © 1995 Andrew Gregorovich

Reprinted from FORUM Ukrainian Review No. 92, Spring 1995

since March 1st 1997