“When three of us were brought inside, those men who brought us took the boys away. They were wearing civil clothes and took away the boys, while I was left in a room where a woman was on duty, she was wearing uniform. And then I thought that they know too much about my work, the work that I’m doing, so we stopped there for approximately 10 minutes and I started thinking what I should do. And then I’ve decided…I had some poison. I asked whether I could use the restroom. In a restroom I swallowed that poison. I stayed there for as long as the time allowed me. The poison was not working. Then I walked out to the corridor, no one was there, so I ran across it, jumped on the windowsill, broke the windowpane and jumped out of the window. The only thing I heard was someone’s shriek. Other than that I did not hear anything at all. I passed out”.
“With their fists, with sticks [they hit – ed.], they put us in the so-called boxes, and in them one couldn’t move, couldn’t sit down, couldn’t do anything but stand, and they made us stand in those boxes until a person fainted. And when a person was brought from an investigation, he/she was almost dead, and it was like this not just for me, but almost everybody who was under investigation was treated like this. Girls who were in the same cell with me were helping with whatever they could, gave some compresses. When we asked for a doctor it never did anything good, the doctor never came, and we needed doctor very often, because people were coming from the investigation half dead”.
“And when my parents received my note, they wrote me from the boys, and I calmed down, because I knew that everything was alright. And boys wrote to me and I was hoping to keep that note. So I took this note, sewed it in the dress that my parents sent me. On a small piece of paper they wrote, ‘We are proud of you, that you did not give up, we are grateful to you’ and so on. They addressed me as “Renya”. The note also stated that I was rewarded a Silver Cross”. (Q.: "Can you please repeat what was written there?”) “It was written that they are proud of me, that I stood strong and so on. They also said that they already knew that I was not a provocateur, that everything is alright. And then I was called to… I lent the dress to this woman…she was singing in the choir…I did not know that she was getting married to one of our guards. So the officials found my note. They were questioning me and I thought that they will give me another sentence. In the note boys wrote, ‘Dear friend Renyu, so and so, we are grateful to you for this and that, that you behaved like this and not like that. We are proud of you’. And they signed the note as ‘Friends’”.
“I worked as a nurse in our district, if what I did could be defined as nursing. I took only nursing courses, where I was taught by a Jewish woman who was a doctor. The training lasted for a month and it was aimed at teaching girls how to provide First Aid. After this course there was a special training so we could also teach other girls in various districts. It covered Bilshovetskyi, Burshtynskyi, Rohatynyskyi districts…and in each town we organized something of a kind, and also provided some medicine. In villages there were little hospitals… we also had those hospitals in people’s homes when it was possible. (Q.: "Were those hospitals located in people’s homes?”) “In people’s homes”. (Q.: "Weren’t people afraid to have those hospitals in their homes?”) “Back then people were so committed that they were not afraid. Of course it was scary. At first we had people who were injured in our house as well…before everything was uncovered. And we took care of the patients, but we had to change locations all the time not to get caught…”
Back then people were so committed that they were not afraid
Vira Krokis (Filyak) was born on January 29, 1924, in the village of Dychky, Rohatyn district, Stanislav province (now Rohatyn district, Ivano-Frankivsk region). She received primary education in her native village, and then she graduated from a middle school and a one-year pedagogical school in Rohatyn. During the Nazi occupation she studied at a Trade school and worked as an intern in the divisions of Ukrainian “Cooperative”. She became a member of a youth branch of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) in 1942. The OUN administration told Vira to join the underground after her house was searched by the Gestapo workers. She left her work in “Cooperative” and started working illegally under the pseudonym “Renya”. In the summer of 1943 she underwent a secret training for organizers of the network of the Ukrainian Red Cross. After the training she set up and trained centers (administrative units of Ukrainian underground forces that usually encompassed a few villages) of the Ukrainian Red Cross in the suburbs of Halych. Her family was supposed to be deported to Siberia in 1946, but her father was not at home, and her mother managed to escape. The whole family was in the underground. Vira was arrested in Lviv on May 20th, 1947. Vira was kept in the Lviv NKVD prison #1 on Lontskoho Street, where she made an attempt to commit a suicide. She survived, but was very much injured. Having been released from the hospital, she was transferred to a prison in Ivano-Frankivsk. In December 1947 she was sentenced by the Military Tribunal according to the article 54-1 “a” 11 to 10 years of imprisonment in strict-regime camps and 5 years of deviation of rights. After the trail she was deported to Ural (Chelyabinsk), where she was building a floodbank for 18 months. In 1948 she was transferred to Kolyma (Magadan, Nielkoba, Vakkhanka). While she was in the exile she found out that on July 30th, 1950, she was awarded a Silver Cross of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists “For Courage”. She was released on January 13th, 1956. In 1957 Vira came back to her native village. In 1960 she got married to Yuriy Krokis. Now, she lives in Lviv.