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[email protected] | 21May2015 | Will Zuzak

In Memoriam: Danylo Shumuk (1914.12.30 - 2004.05.21) died in Krasnoarmiisk

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 1967.

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 to Canada.

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.

Respectfully submitted
Will Zuzak; 2015.05.21

[This article shall be archived at
http://www.willzuzak.ca/tp/wllzzk/zuzak20150521ShumukMemoriam.html .]