Dangerous illegal printing in Soviet Ukraine


Istoriia UPA

[History of the UPA]

Publication: [Ukrainian SSR, late 1960-80s].

[SHANKOVSKY, Lev], Istoriia UPA

Rare example of a Ukrainian samizdat, focusing on the history of its now famous resistance group.

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Our Notes & References

Where did the ‘Banderites’ come from, in their own words: a very rare Ukrainian samizdat. We could not find any other example of Ukrainian samizdat on Worldcat or auctions worldwide; but we are aware of two other similar copies of this samizdat in Ukraine.

The book discusses the history of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (Ukrayinska Povstanska Armiia, UPA) up to the early 1950s in three sections: the origins of the UPA, its fight against Hitler’s Germany, and then against the Bolsheviks. The text quotes UPA’s documents, outlines biographical details of the organisers and includes three tables with the results of the Army’s activities in 1947-49.

Brought back to the mass attention by today’s Kremlin media, the UPA was originally founded by the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in October 1942 as a resistance group against the invasion from both the Soviet Union and (partially) the Nazi Germany, as well as the Polish Underground State and Communist Poland. UPA gradually developed into a guerilla army; it formally disintegrated in 1949 but some of its units continued operations up until 1956.

In the 1950s, the OUN managed to distribute some samizdats despite the NKVD’s brutal fight against the organization up until the 1960s. The present book’s technically advanced production and the daring black-and-red wrappers (matching the colours of the UPA) with Ukrainian ornamental floral motives were possible only in the later, comparatively more peaceful 1960-80s.

Its content takes from the work by the prominent OUN activist and historian Lev Shankovsky (1903-95), Ukrainian Insurgent Army: Shankovsky was personally involved in the activities of the UPA as a soldier, researcher, secretary and later a diplomat for the OUN since the 1920s, representing the interests of the organisation internationally, especially after his emigration to Germany and then the US.

Shankovsky’s work was part of the large two-volume Istoriia Ukrainskoho Viiska [History of the Ukrainian Armed Forces] by the notable Ukrainian publisher Ivan Tyktor and published in Winnipeg in 1953. This later work is scarce too, as WorldCat locates only 4 holdings, all in Canada. Tyktor’s History was presented as a second, augmented edition of a first work on the history of the Ukrainian troops (Lviv, 1936).

Issued in hardcover, in a small printrun, each volume counting over 800 pages, Tyktor’s History was impossible to read covertly; the present compact, illegal and ‘home-made edition’ was therefore prepared for clandestine distribution to sympathisers of the UPA in Soviet Ukraine.

Item number



Physical Description

Octavo. 196 pp. samizdat typescript.


Original printed and stapled wrappers in pink, black and white, echoing the colours of the UPA.


Spine creased, a bit chipped at foot; central sheet of notebook loose, pen mark on lower wrapper.

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