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[email protected] | 21May2015 | Will Zuzak
In Memoriam: Danylo Shumuk (1914.12.30 - 2004.05.21) died in
Eleven years ago today 21May2004 a microcosm of Ukraine passed away in
Krasnoarmiisk, Ukraine. The life experiences of Danylo Shumuk
encompass most of the burning issues that have bedeviled Ukraine and
Ukrainians for the past 101 years. Dubbed the “eternal prisoner” by
Amnesty International, he spent 42 years of his life in prisons, Gulag
camps and exile.
In the 1930’s Danylo Shumuk was incarcerated by the Polish authorities
for his Communist activities. (He did not believe the 1932-33 Holodomor
rumours emanating from Soviet-controlled Ukraine.)
Shortly after the Germans attacked the Soviet Union on 22Jun1941, his
“unarmed” battalion was captured by the Germans and he became one of
the 1.5 million Soviet POW’s destined to be starved to death.
Fortunately, he escaped and joined the UPA, where he witnessed the
“ethnic cleansing” of Polish villages in the Volhynia region in 1943.
He was captured by the NKVD in 1944, but his death sentence was
commuted to 20 years imprisonment in the Gulags. After the death of
Stalin in 1953, he was prematurely released on 20Aug1956. However, in
1957 he was re-arrested and sentenced to 10 years in the Gulags until
Because of his interaction with the “shestydesyatnyky” -- the 1960’s
Ukrainian dissidents -- Danylo Shumuk was again arrested on 14Jan1972
and sentenced to 10 years in the Gulags, followed by 5 years in exile.
During this time his nephew, Ivan
Shumuk of Vernon, BC, initiated an
international campaign to have him released and allow him to emigrate
A short overview of his arrival in Canada on 23May1987 and my
interaction with him is archived on my website at
As Ukraine is fighting the Russian military in the Donbas for its very
existence in 2015, it is symbolically relevant that Danylo Shumuk died
and is presumably buried in Krasnoarmiisk on Ukrainian-controlled
territory some 30 km west from the Russian-controlled strongholds of
Donetsk and Horlivka. A “moleben” by Ukrainian ATO participants at his
gravesite would be a fitting tribute to the life of Danylo Shumuk.
Will Zuzak; 2015.05.21
[This article shall be archived at