Gregory Vasyura: what happened to the Punisher, who burned down Khatyn

History 16/03/20 Gregory Vasyura: what happened to the Punisher, who burned down Khatyn

the Tragedy in the Belorussian village of Khatyn, which occurred in 1943, is known to all. For a long time it was believed that the destruction of civilians at the hands of German executioners. As it turned out, for this crime responsible are not only the Germans.

Who is the culprit?

March 22, 1943 the German punitive expedition in accordance with the principle of collective punishment for alleged complicity with the guerrillas killed 149 residents of the Belarusian village of Khatyn. It is established that in this operation involved the 118th schutzmannschaft battalion and a special regiment of the Grenadier division of the SS “Dirlewanger”.

a Special role was assigned to the 118th battalion – collaborationist auxiliary unit of the German security police, the vast majority, consisting of Ukrainian nationalists. Chief of staff it was Gregory Vasyura, a native of Cherkasy region, who played one of the most visible roles in the punitive action.

Vasyura – hereditary farmer, a career red army officer, head of communications infantry division. In 1941 during the battle for Kiev fortified he was captured, and then moved to the side of the Nazis. Executive and hard working defector drew the attention of the German authorities, and soon he was entrusted with the 118th police battalion. With him Vasyura manifested itself in the infamous Babi Yar near Kiev, where it was shot about 150 thousand Jews. Now the police decided to drop the struggle with the partisans in the forests of Belarus.

Fateful meeting

the day before the tragedy of Khatyn in the village spent the night members of the guerrilla group “Uncle Vasya”, having moved in the morning toward the village Pleshchenitsy. At the same time, to meet them went a column of German executioners in the composition of the 118th battalion and the 201st security division. Among them was a police captain Hans welke – Hitler’s favorite athlete, the first of the Germans who won soloto at the Munich Olympics in 1936.

On the way met the Germans who worked in logging women who on the question of the proximity of the guerrillas replied in the negative. Unsuspecting German convoy moved on and doesn’t drive the three hundred meters, was ambushed. In the ensuing firefight, the guerrillas managed to destroy three of the Nazis, which was unfortunate welke. Turning back the executioners found out where it was hiding on the eve of the “people’s Avengers”. First they shot 26 people in logging, and then headed to the Katyn.


the Policemen of the 118th battalion under the direct supervision Vasyura surrounded the village, and then everyone managed to find the sick, the elderly, women with babies – were herded into the shed and locked. The building was covered with straw, doused with gasoline and set on fire. The old building quickly went into flames. People in a panic began to pounce on the door, which under the pressure of a dozen bodies broke down and revealed. However, those who managed to escape from the Inferno was expecting machine gun fire. Later the whole village was burned.

on this day killed 149 villagers, including 75 children under 16 years of age. Officially, managed to survive only 56-year-old blacksmith Iosif Kaminsky. According to one version, the scorched and wounded Kaminsky unconscious was left lying before the departure of the policemen, the other, he returned to the already burning village. Seeing Kaminsky, the executioners opened fire, but only wounded a fleeing resident. On this day, Kaminsky lost his son, who managed to escape from the barn, but subsequently died in father’s arms.

According to some researchers, to escape from the burning barn managed six inhabitants of Khatyn. One of them called Anton Baranovsky, who at the time of the tragedy was 12 years old. Anton is well remembered the events of that day and called the names of the policemen involved in the action. In 1969, immediately after the opening of the memorial complex “Khatyn” Anton Baranovsky under strange circumstances died.

Ukrainian historian Ivan dereyko does not deny the participation in the punitive actions of the 118th police battalion, however, recounts the story in his own way. He writes that the police attacked the group “people’s Avengers”, made a RAID on the village, which, in their opinion, entrenched guerrillas. In the assault were killed 30 guerrillas and a number of civilians, 20 people were taken prisoner. And then, according to Deraco, policemen on the orders of obergruppenführer Kurt von Gottberg, with the participation of a special SS battalion burned the village. Participation in the punitive actions of his countrymen Ukrainian historian studiously silent.

Taboo subject

Writer Elena Kobets-Filimonova is in the process of working on a book about Katyn turned to the archives of the Institute of party history under the Central Committee of the PBC. “They immediately warned me not to write that in Katyn were partisans – says Filimonov. – At the direction of the centre the partisans were not supposed to stay in the villages in order not to endanger civilians. But they stopped in the village and have brought trouble on Khatyn”.

However, not only guerrillas, but also any information related to participation in the Khatyn tragedy of Ukrainians was banned. Once it became known that the Ukrainian Polizei 118th battalion involved in the mass destruction of civilians, the First Secretary of the Communist party of Ukraine Vladimir Scherbitsky addressed the Politburo with a request not to disclose this information. To the request of the head of the Ukrainian SSR in Moscow reacted with understanding. However, from the public that information it was impossible to conceal.

What happened with the main party of the crime Gregory Vasyura? After the war he was in the filtration camp, where he managed to mislead Soviet authorities and the traces of their atrocities. However, in 1952, in cooperation with the occupation authorities of Kiev military district Tribunal sentenced him to 25 years imprisonment. 17 Sep 1955, came the famous Decree of the Presidium Veravnogo Soviet of the USSR “About the Amnesty of Soviet citizens who collaborated with the invaders during the war of 1941-1945”, and Vasyura were released.

So he worked quietly in his native Cherkasy region, if not new evidence, which revealed the facts of his heinous crimes, including the Katyn. During November–December, 1986, Minsk hosted a closed process over the already aged veteran of the punitive SS battalion. The investigation revealed that Vasyura personally killed more than 360 civilians – mostly women, children and the elderly. According to the decision of the Tribunal of the Belorussian military district Grigory Vasyura was sentenced to death by firing squad.

the Latest cartel 118th battalion remained Vladimir Katryuk, living in Canada. Interestingly, in 1999, he was denied canadian citizenship as soon as the authorities found out about his participation in the punitive actions against the civilian population, however, in 2010, by court decision, the citizenship was restored. In may 2015 the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation filed against catraca criminal case, but Canada refused to extradite the offender. A month later he unexpectedly died.

Russian Seven

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