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The Ziatyk Family, Chapter One

Updated on May 5, 2014

The Saga of a Ukrainian Canadian Farm Family in Saskatchewan

The Ziatyk family are a very large Ukrainian Canadian farm family who use to reside in rural Saskatchewan. The Ziatyk family consist of seven siblings: four boys and three girls. The parents; names are Orest and Nadya. The names of their seven children are as follows: George, Marya, Bodgan, Gregory, Julian, Alla, and Natasha.

he Ziatyk family are darkly handsome people. The males of the family are exceptionally tall and ruggedly attractive with jet black hair and slanted black satanically piercing eyes. The women in the family are girlishly attractive with dark hypnotic looks. Their complexion is a light golden olive with warm pink undertones. Their Slavic features reveal distant Tartar and Kalmyk ancestors. Orest and Nadya were affluent hard working farmers as they intended to give a better life for their children.

Orest was born in early November 1928. He was the fifth of nine siblings from an impoverished Ukrainian peasant family in Galicia, Poland. There were six boys and three girls in Orest's birth family. The names of the nine siblings are as follows: Fjodor, Grigor, Hryhoriy, Kostyantyn, Orest, Marko, Masha, Natalka, and Zenovia.

The Ukrainian name for Galicia is Halychyna. Galicia was once the easternmost part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War I. Then Galicia became part of Poland. Orest's ancestors were impoverished Ukrainian serfs under Austrian rule. Under Polish rule, the Ukrainian minority, including Orest's birth family, did not fare much better. Their socioeconomic status did not improve. In fact, it got worse. Orest's biirth family was no different from the majority of Ukrainian peasants living in the eastern part of Galicia.

Ukrainians had it very tough under Polish rule. It was the goal of the Poles to eradicate Ukrainian determinism. In Poland, there was always an animus between Poles and Ukrainians. The Ukrainians always wanted autonomy as a minority which was refused by the Poles. Ukrainians became all but invisible in Poland. Orest and his siblings usually sold produce and other odd goods at the nearby market in Lvov. Ukrainians were not the only sizeable ethnic minority in Poland. Jews also comprised a significant population in Lvov.

Relations among Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews were not always harmonious. There were periodic altercations among the three ethnic group because of long felt ethnic antagonisms. Poles oftentmes viewed Jews and Ukrainians as outsiders while Ukrainians oftentimes viewed Poles and Jews as oppressors, economically and ethnically. The average Ukrainian in Poland believe that Poles wanted to extinguish their ethnic uniqueness and to Polonize them.

Unlike most Ukrainians, Orest and his birth family had cordial business relationships with the Jewish merchants. Orest and his siblings were brought up not to be anti-Semitic. The only concern of Orest and his siblings were just surviving. If they could survive another day-they would be okay.

A family friend, Iurii Zuk, an ardent Ukrainian nationalist, joined the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, and wanted Orest and his older brothers to join the group. They decided to join the group because they believed that Ukrainians should have equality and ethnic autonomy which was nonexistence under the Poles. Many young Ukrainians in Poland joined nationalistic groups such as the OUN.

Even though Orest and his siblings joined the group, they did not become anti-Semitic. Their attitude towards their Jewish compatriots was always cordial and respecful. During the Lvov pogrom which occurred from June 30 to July 2 and from July 25-29, 1941, Jews in Lvov were viciously attacked and assaulted. The Lvov pogrom under the pretext that allegedly "Jewish Communists" were responsible for the massacre and imprisonment of Ukrainian nationalists. Thousands of Jews lost their lives.

Even though many Ukrainians participated in the pogrom, others tried to help and assist their Jewish compatriots. Orest and his birth family were the latter. On one early July day in 1941 during the pogrom, he saw a young Jewish girl no older than twelve aimlessly running. He motioned to her; however, she seemed bewildered. So he grabbed her and hid her in a desolate barn. He and his older brothers proceeded in hiding and sheltering many Jews. Orest was shocked and dismayed at the horrific behavior of some of his fellow Ukrainians. It was not common for Jewish victims to be beaten until they bled to death or be quartered while alive, often dying a slow and agonizing death.

Orest and his brothers being Ukrainian nationalists elected to join the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS (1st Ukrainian Division), better know as the 14th SS Grenadier Galicia Division. Orest was fifteen when he joined the unit; however, his tall height made him look older. Orest and his brothers engaged in fighting on various Eastern European fronts. The last battle of this Division was at Brody where the unit was almost decimated.

Knowing that Germany would soon lose the war, Orest decided to shed his SS uniform, putting on civilian clothes, and go west away from the Red Army. However, on his way to Germany, Orest was identified by some Jewish partisans as being part of the Waffen SS as evidenced by his blood tattoo; however, one elderly Jewish men indicated that he saved his and his granddaughter's lives while he was on patrol duty in Eastern Poland. The partisan leader believed him and permitted him to stay the night in a tent. The next morning Orest left the partisan compound and proceeded west. However when Orest arrived in southeastern Germany, he became wretchedly ill and fainted.........


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    • profile image

      Buffee 2 years ago

      Cheers pal. I do appaceirte the writing.

    • profile image

      zenov 5 years ago


      there's some of those names in my family

      maintoba , came 1905

    • profile image

      don ziatyk 6 years ago

      would like to know more

    • d.william profile image

      d.william 6 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Interesting and very well written. I will look forward to reading more.