13. Under Polish Occupation

To get back to events in Kamyanets: Polish troops entered Kamyanets on December 8, 1919 and moved east along to Ushytsya river to Proskuriv-Shepetivka-Olevsk. In the south they held a line of defense against Denikin, but when pressed by the Reds, Denikin's troops surrendered to the Poles, the latter contained the Reds from advancing along this line any farther. There was no peace under Polish occupation in the Kamyanets region because lower Polish officials started requisitioning goods from the people who replied with sabotage. Officers of the 1st Recruit Regiment paid me frequent private visits and reported on the behavior of Polish authorities. There was a fairly large Polish population in Kamyanets and my Polish neighbors watched the comings and goings of suspicious-looking visitors to my apartment. One night several men of the Polish military police entered my apartment, searched it, and arrested me. When I was being taken into the police car I heard my Polish neighbors say: "That's he." A captain of the Polish military police interrogated me immediately and when I explained why these people had been coming to see me, he ordered my release.

Without much to do, I renewed close contacts with my high school classmates, Dr. B. Matusov and Engineer8 H. Lerner who were staying in Kamyanets. The latter was an official of the Ministry of Jewish Affairs, and he told me an interesting story. It seems that in September a complaint reached the Ministry signed by Jews of Mohyliv county which stated that "Colonel Shandruk oppresses Jews, demands money from them under threat of throwing hand-grenades into their homes, forces Jews to make the sign of the Cross and to eat dirt," etc. A secret investigation of the charges was ordered by Minister P. Krasny and conducted by Lerner and a department chief. The result was both surprising and humorous. When the investigators asked the complainants to describe Shandruk, they said: "he is short and wears a red goatee." Lerner told them in the presence of Minister Krasny that this was some kind of provocation because "Shandruk is tall (over six ft.) and has no beard, only an upward-pointed mustache." Unfortunately, nothing more was done about this matter, although I had a fairly good idea about the identity of the person acting under my name.

Late in January 1920, our Foreign Minister A.M. Livytsky came to Kamyanets from Warsaw where he also headed the Ukrainian delegation negotiating with Poland. He called a meeting of responsible Ukrainians to report on the progress of negotiations. I attended the meeting and heard all the people then present who represented all political parties, speak in favor of our Government's bid for Polish military and political aid, provided that our political position was clearly understood by the Poles.

Several days later General Kolodiy asked me to start work on a list of commissioned and non-commissioned officers in the Kamyanets region. The order was issued by our Minister of War, Col. V. Salsky, then in Warsaw, and approved by the Polish authorities. There were immediate complications, however, arising from a lack of coordination: an identical order was issued to Col. O. Shapoval who was also in Kamyanets appointed to command the 2nd Infantry Brigade which he was to form. I offered my services to Col. Shapoval, promising to join his brigade with all my former subordinates. According to instructions of the Minister of War the brigade was to consist of three infantry battalions, an artillery division and a cavalry company with the provision that with growing enlistments the brigade would develop into a division, and battalions into regiments. In order to work out the details of this matter. Minister Ohienko, acting on the recommendation of General Kolodiy and Col. Shapoval, sent me to Warsaw. The trip was difficult, but very interesting. It was interesting because I went in uniform, on military travelling orders issued by the commander of the 18th Polish Division; General Krajowski, which was holding the front against the Bolsheviks on the Kamyanets sector. It was a hard trip because the passenger coaches were unheated to Ternopil, and we had January weather. My appearance in Warsaw in uniform created a sensation, and Polish officers asked me on the street of what nationality I was. During my two weeks in Warsaw I reported on the military situation to the Commander in Chief and Minister of War. They gave me money for Col. Shapoval and organizational projects.

There I also learned that after I had left Kamyanets a considerable armed force of partisans began operations against the Bolsheviks around Mohyliv. The partisans had been organized by Col. Udovychenko who had been ill with typhoid in December and taken to Odessa. After recovering he reached Mohyliv on his way west. Col. Salsky had plans to give Col. Udovychenko command of the 2nd Division which would include the remnants of the 1st Recruit Regiment as a nucleus of a fourth infantry brigade (this was an organizational innovation because formerly divisions consisted of three brigades). Col. Salsky told me that he would put me in command of the 4th brigade, but the final decision would be up to Col. Udovychenko.

At this time Col. Salsky also informed me about the course of diplomatic negotiations with the Poles in the matter of a Ukrainian-Polish alliance, and noted that Polish parliamentary and party circles were creating difficulties with recognition of Ukraine and engaging Poland in military aid to Ukraine, but that the final decision was in the hands of Chief of State Jozef Pilsudski whose attitude was favorable. Our military Attache to the Polish high command was Col. B. Homzyn, mentioned before, who informed the Commander in Chief on all military matters.

 

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[8] Engineer graduate of Technical Institute (College).