Investigation into the Crime committed at the Village of Huta Pieniacka

The Head Commission for the Prosecution of Crimes against the Polish Nation received new, previously unknown documents regarding the murder of about a thousand of Polish inhabitants of the town Huta Pieniacka by the 14th sub-unit of the SS Division 'Galizien' on February 28, 1944.

Up to this point, 80 witnesses have been interrogated. According to the witness' testimonies, and in the light of the collected documentation , there is no doubt that the 4th battalion 'Galizien' of the 14th division of SS committed the crime. In the Chronicle of Military Operations of this division, a following note has been found regarding the Huta Pieniacka crime: 'Our division began to write its history with blood'. This fragment comes from the document received by the Head Commission from the Center in Ludwigsburg in 1999. The Head Commission also turned to the General Prosecutor of Ukraine asking for any documents regarding the 14th division SS 'Galizien', particularly to the crime committed by members of this formation in Huta Pieniacka.

On Feburary 14, 2000, the General Prosecutor's Office replied that the Archives of the Security Office of Ukraine in the Tarnopol region lacks materials pertaining to the murder of about a thousand of inhabitants of the Huta Pieniacka village (located about 50 kms away from Tarnopol). In January 2001, British television showed a film entitled 'SS in Great Britain'. During the film a document entitled 'The List of names of SS members nominated to non-commissioned officers' was shown. The list contains 48 names. The Head Commission turned to the author of the film, Julian Handa asking about the source of the previously unknown document. The film was based mainly on documents of the investigation currently conducted in Poland. The author of the film replied that this document comes from the National Archives in Kiev.The prosecutor conducting the investigation once more turned to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, requesting to institute a search for documentation regarding the 14th division, referring to the information obtained from Julian Handa. Recently, the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine sent certified copies of previously unknown documents, coming from the Ukrainian National Archives in Kiev. Among the documents, there is a fragment of the "Chronicle of February 25th, 1944. Information inferred from the "Chronicle" remains in contradiction to the hitherto established facts of the investigation.

In the light of the established facts, the crime was committed by the 4th battalion of the 14th division on February 28. On that day, early in the morning, soldiers of this division, dressed in white, masking outfits, surrounded the village. The village was cross-fired by artillery. SS-men of the 14th Division of SS 'Galizien' entered the village, shooting the civilians rounded at a church. The civilians, mostly women and children, were divided and locked in barns which were set on fire. Those who tried running away were killed. Witnesses interrogated by the prosecutors of the Head Commission described the morbid details of the act. The crime was committed against women, children and newborn babies. After murdering the inhabitants of Huta Pieniacka, the local Ukrainian population robbed the remaining property of the murdered.

In the 'Chronicle' it says that these were other German troops, not the entering 14th Division of SS 'Galizien'. However, it is difficult to regard the statement as true. The 'Chronicle' does not indicate which German troops committed the crime. Polish witnesses testified that the criminal orders were given by German officers. The orders, however, were executed by the Ukrainian members of that division. In the film 'SS in Great Britain' Julian Handa shows that in 1947 8,000 members of the 14th Division and other Ukrainian formations were admitted to the territory of Great Britain with the right of residence. Therefore, British prosecutors were to arrive in Poland. They were to get acquainted with the outcome of the investigation currently conducted in Poland, and to receive witnesses' testimonies related to the crime of Huta Pieniacka. The SS membership alone, that is considered to be a criminal formation, is not subject to prosecution due to the expiry of validity. The SS-men, who are alive, may be prosecuted for their complicity in the genocide. In the fragments of 'The Chronicle of the 14th Division of SS Galizien', there is the following entry on the criminal activity of Ukrainian guerilla fighters: 'In the village of Demydkowycze, the underground army fighters encountered the heavily fortified bunkers nearby where Jews were hidden. The underground army fighters crushed the bunkers. They killed two hundred Jews'.

June 26, 2001