October 20, 2021

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The inspirer of the Ukrainian insurgents

The inspirer of the Ukrainian insurgents


The Ukrainian land for centuries has given birth to majestic figures. Our history knows not only the princes and hetmans, but also ordinary warriors, who also worked their own destiny and the destiny of the whole country. Today we remember one of the pantheons of those to whom the descendants of Volodymyr the Great, Ivan Mazepa and Stepan Bandera owe their existence on the map of Europe, to the faithful son of Ukraine – Yuri Gorodianyn-Lisovskyi. In the interwar period, he became known to the public as Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi.

All the original conscious life of the Poltava region was Don Quixote of his time, who placed his soul and body on the altar of Ukrainian statehood. Quite often, her desperate character of the rebel (rebel), Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi, hid behind an elegant dress and a playful appearance. He was a member of the First World War and this combat experience was useful to the young army of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. In 1918-1920 he served as a colonel with the commander-in-chief Symon Petliura. The Soviet occupation forced Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi to go underground – in the Kholodnyi Yar area (now the Cherkasy region of Ukraine), he organized numerous rebel groups that resisted the Bolsheviks.

In the period between the two wars, his life was also full of adventures: espionage and sabotage; prisons and psychiatric hospitals; a few shots. Subsequently, there was a war for Carpathian Ukraine against the Hungarian invaders in the spring of 1939, a brief migration to Finland and work for the German Abwehr. And in the meantime – writing, bohemian life in Lviv, love affairs, artistic environments. Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi is rightly considered contemporary the legislator of the standard of the new Ukrainian national resistance. He was able to prove that a descendant of free Cossacks is able to combine the traditions of their ancestors and a stylish jacket with a fashionable hat, where a revolver was always erected next to the sword.

But first … Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi was born on January 14, 1898 in the village of Demidovka in the family of an imperial army officer and a hereditary Cossack. His mother was of the Polish szlachta type. Future inspire the childhood of Ukrainian insurgents spent in central Ukraine. The region, full of Cossack spirit, fascinated and drunk with adventures. It is not surprising that with the start of the Great War in August 1914, Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi went to the front, where he served under the command of Khan Nakhichevan and Sultan Giray.

After the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty, the famous Cossack became a soldier in the equestrian regiment of the Zaporizhia division of the newly created Ukrainian People’s Republic army. In this military unit, Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi encountered the Winter Campaign of 1920 and the so-called “triangle of death”, when between the cities of Liubar, Chortoryia and Miropol, Ukrainian troops were surrounded by three hostile forces: Poland, Bolsheviks and Denikin’s Volunteer Army. In the winter of 1920-1921 the Zaporizhia division was in the vicinity of Kholodnyi Yar. It was here that Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi fell ill and had to stay for treatment in a local monastery. After recovering, he went to the camp of the insurgent-haydamaks, which the brothers of Chuchupaka then assembled into detachments.

For the next 2 years, Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi proved himself to be a strategist, having repeatedly canceled the plans of the Bolsheviks. As one of the rebel leaders of the Kholodnyi Yar, he managed to make raids behind the enemy. Hot lead, the whistle of the steel saber and the sharp words of Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi’s campaign flyers have long been the nightmares of the invaders. It was on the ground, sung by Taras Shevchenko, that the instigator of the insurgents proved what the descendants of the free Cossacks are capable of. “Here the farmer was always ready to sixize a weapon and go towards the enemy, it seemed that the old days were back, when every farmer was armed and always ready for battle” – recalled later Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi in his novel autobiographical “Kholodnyi Yar”.

Subsequently, the Kholodnyi Yar Republic was formed. Its territory covered more than 25 neighboring villages and counted an army of fifteen thousand rebel peasants. The rebels called themselves Cossacks, and their commanders – atamans (in memory of the military tradition of the Cossacks). As such, the rebels did not have a single ideology, but all recognized that the main line was the struggle against the Bolsheviks. The stiffer the resistance, the sooner the demands of a political nature gave way to socio-economic ones.

After the defeat of the rebel movement in Kholodnyi Yar, Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi leads an underground fight in the territory of the USSR, in the lair of the enemy. On instruction of the government of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in exile, he works in the administration of the agents of the OGPU (Common Political Directorate of the State). Therefore, it has failed more than a chekist operation. In the summer of 1924 he was arrested. For the anti-Communist clandestine work, the Bolsheviks granted Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi 15 years in psychiatric prison in Kherson.

In the spring of 1931, he managed to escape and reach the city of Rivne, and then – moved to Lviv. Here he took the pen: he wrote an essay “Ave, dictator”, dedicated to Joseph Stalin; with the assistance of the Metropolitan of Galicia, Archbishop of Lviv Andriy Sheptytskyi, he publishes his Magnum Opus on the heroic struggle of the Central Ukrainian insurgents – “Kholodnyi Yar”. Both books were very popular with Ukrainian emigration and Ukrainian youth. The famous Cossack living in Poland continues his revenge against the Bolsheviks. In 1920-1930, Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi helped the partisan detachments to enter the USSR, which skillfully terrorized the Chekists.

With the height of World War II, fate threw him into Greece and then Turkey. But Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi could not stay long in one place, while somewhere there was a war with the Bolsheviks. In the winter of 1939-1940, an experienced warrior goes to where his participation is most needed: to Finland. The head of the government of the Ukrainian People’s Republic in exile, Oleksander Shulgin, who has entered into negotiations with the Finnish ambassador in Paris, gave carte blanche to yesterday’s rebel leader. The diplomat was invited to send an experienced officer (i.e. Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi) to Finland to form a military unit of the Ukrainian National Army of Red Army POWs (163rd Rifle Division and 44th Rifle Division).

At the moment, there is still no confirmed information whether the detachment of Ukrainian volunteers actually formed in Finland and whether it took part in the war alongside the Mannerheim army. The secret is that its size also remains. Despite this, it is known for certain that Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi was in the combat area in the east of the country (near Suomussalmi) and on the Karelian Isthmus in February-March 1940. At the same time, the last Hetman of the son of Ukraine, Danylo Skoropadskyi, proposed to British special services a project to create a Ukrainian expeditionary legion in the territory of Canada, which was supposed to help the defeat of Finland. However, the large-scale offensive of the Bolshevik army led to the rapid end of the Winter War.

During 1941-1944 Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi, who had already been recruited by the German Abwehr service, was in Leningrad and Ukraine. There he gathered information and hunted down the leaders of the Bolshevik partisan movement. The failure of the blitzkrieg forced the former UNR army colonel to finally migrate: he and his wife sneaked through Austria into Germany and settled in Neu-Ulm. Life in the new conditions of the city, where the explorers and spies of yesterday’s allies were full, turned out to be more dangerous than hostile bayonets and bullets. Yuriy Horlis-Horskyi died under inexplicable circumstances in September 1946, but the fame of his exploits still lives on in those Ukrainians who volunteered to go to war with Russia in the spring of 2014.