Between 1943 and 1945, Ukrainian nationalists attacked 99 Polish towns and villages in Wolyn, a Nazi-occupied region of Poland and is now part of Ukraine, and massacred thousands of Poles. It is estimated that around 100,000 Poles died at the hands of Ukrainian nationalists.
The killings were initiated and directed by a radical Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera and his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its military arm, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. Ukrainian villagers eagerly participated in the massacre. Their goal was to purge all non-Ukrainians from a future Ukrainian state. They wanted not only to purge Polish civilians, but also to erase all traces of Polish presence in the area.
On 11 July 1943 at the crack of dawn Ukrainian insurgent detachments and ruthlessly slaughtered Polish civilians in 99 Polish villages. Researchers estimate that on that day alone, known as Bloody Sunday, the number of Polish victims may have amounted to some 8,000 people, mostly women, children, and the elderly. However, the massacres continued for two years. Between 1943 and 1945, around 100, 000 Poles were murdered in 1865 places in Wołyń.
The murders were committed with incredible cruelty. Many were burnt alive or thrown into wells. Axes, pitchforks, scythes, knives and other farming tools rather than guns were used in an attempt to make the massacres look like a spontaneous peasant uprising. In the blood frenzy, the Ukrainians tortured their victims with unimaginable bestiality. Victims were scalped. They had their noses, lips and ears cut off. They had their eyes gouged out and hands cut off and they had their heads squashed in clamps. Woman had their breasts cut off and pregnant woman were stabbed in the belly. Men had their genitals sliced off with sickles.
According to historians, the massacres were ethnic cleansing, but they also meet the definition of genocide. in 2016 the Polish parliament instituted the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Genocide committed by Ukrainian nationalists against citizens of the Second Republic of Poland, at the same time labelling the massacres an act of genocide.