Mykhaylo Soroka, 1911-1971 (20.13)

«No 20 : 2 July 1971»

On 17 June Mykhaylo SOROKA died suddenly of a heart attack in Dubrovlag, Camp 17a.

Mykhaylo Mykhaylovych Soroka was born in the Ternopol Region in 1911. An architect by profession, he studied in Prague. In 1930 he took part in the activities of the OUN [Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists], fighting in its ranks for the independence of the Western Ukraine from the Polish Republic. For some time Soroka was confined in a Polish prison.

After the territory of the Western Ukraine had been occupied by Soviet troops in autumn 1939 and incorporated into the Soviet Ukraine, many OUN members were arrested in Lvov in a single night. Among them were Soroka and his wife K. M. Zarytska (CCE 15.8, item 1), the daughter of a prominent Lvov professor of mathematics. Soroka was despatched to Vorkuta [NW Russia]; Zarytska remained in Lvov Prison, where she gave birth to a son, today the Ukrainian artist and decorator Bohdan Soroka, who lives in Lvov.

Soroka was kept beyond the Arctic Circle until 1950, when he was rehabilitated—a rare event in those years. After his release he returned to Lvov (by this time Zarytska, as a messenger of UPA commander Roman Shukhevych, had already been under investigation for about three years). Soroka did not stay long in Lvov; not receiving permission to live in his homeland, he was obliged to leave for Krasnoyarsk Region [Central Siberia].

In 1952 Soroka was again arrested. It turned out that a certain Austrian, who had been released with him, had been repatriated to Austria and shortly afterwards published his memoirs.[1] He described life in the Vorkuta camps and told of the circulation among the prisoners of persistent rumours of their possible mass liquidation. The prisoners were determined to resist, and made preparations to defend themselves if this operation should be carried out. The plan was drawn up under the direction of Mykhaylo Soroka.

So once more Soroka was in the camps—this time sentenced to 25 years.

K. M Zarytska, who is in the women’s political camp [at Dubrovlag] not far from the burial ground for camp inmates (the convicts’ graves are adorned with plaques bearing, instead of the name of the deceased, his camp number), learned of her husband’s death indirectly; the camp administration did not officially inform her of the death of Mykhaylo Soroka.



[1] Joseph Scholmer, Arzt in Workuta [A doctor in Vorkuta], first published in Cologne in 1954.