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Lieutenant General J. J. Singor

Born in 1920, Bussum, the Netherlands

Served in the Royal Netherlands Air Force

Date of interview: 25 August, 1989

Place of interview: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Interviewer: Petro Potichnyj

Length of Interview: 103 m.


I would like to state first that I only agreed to give this interview because of the assistance that the UPA gave us during the war in 1944. And we owe them probably our lives.


After the war was over [Holland capitulated in May 1940] very soon we all were demobilized and sent home by the German authorities. Then I studied first at the University. But at a certain time you had to sign a declaration of more or less for loyalty to the German authorities. And I didn’t do that and a lot fellow colleagues-students didn’t do it either. So I had to stop the studies. And we didn’t expect it all, because I was in a civilian clothes and had got nothing with me. And we were taken prisoners there and put on a train and transported to Nuremberg. After some time we were officially declared to be prisoners of war and then, after some time, we were transported to Stanislav.


Mostly it was organized and you were to apply and say: “I’d like to escape”. Then we heard that the camp should be evacuated and moved to another...the prisoners would be moved to another area, in Germany, probably.

In that building there was a theatre set up, very small one. It was a big room, a very big room and on the stage, on which also all the thing happened, by the cadets, plays. There was about eight meter deep and high enough, let’s say maybe seventy centimeters to crawl under it [the stage] and hide yourself. The night before, let’s say the transportation day two of our colleagues went to the theatre hall and had a lot of black wall paper with them and other things, and during the night they installed and constructed what we called an imitation real wall. Well, the next morning it was the last roll call before the transportation. As soon as the roll call was over the group of seven ran to the theatre hall to get under the stage. We were just in the theatre hall when there came a signal, alarm: “The Germans are approaching!” So we dive more or less through the prompter’s hole under the stage, the seven of us. And then the Germans were already in the hall, in the room. So, we were lying there still. And all the cadets came over our heads. In the meantime we were crawling around to get behind that imitation wall. Then it was very quiet in the room, because there were only three four or three Germans, and then we had to be awfully still, of course, silent, because any noise we could have made at that time could have been heard by the German soldier in the room. Personally, I found that one of the most difficult, dangerous moments at all. Well, later they found out because as soon as all the cadets had been searched there was another roll call outside and the seven cadets were missing.

We had been under the stage for thirty six hours. And that evening our leader went out again and said: “Let’s move, let’s go out.” So we went out and were prepared to get out of the camp. That was not so easy because all the gates were closed, locked. Then Syp and I decided to split up from the other group and go on our own “Let’s not talk, but let’s get out.” We managed to go over the barb wire. We went to the main guard house and there we went over the fence in the streets of Stanislav and then we went up to the Carpathians, in the direction of Hungary. That was the escape.


But kept on marching and marching. The only contact we had when we were in a haystack or straw stack it was, I believe. Syp and I were resting there. At some time we heard noise and a dog barking and then I put my head out of the straw stack outside and then I saw below me a young lady, and a little dog barking and I was full of straw and I said “Hello”, moment later Syp came and “Hello.” She got frightened like hell and off she went with the dog and we went the other way. That was not an official contact.


Later in the afternoon we came to let’s say woods, a forest, and in the distance you could see the hills coming up. And it started to snow. It was getting dark. And I said: “Syp, what are we going to do if we meet wolves and bears, and other things.” And Syp said: “Running and going on. Get rid of them.” Well, it was nice. So we were tired. You can imagine that. And we needed to rest. But we didn’t see anybody.


I said: “Syp, I see two people over there in the wood.” He said it was impossible. I said: “Well, see they are coming.” I started to cry [speaking in Dutch]. And they came in our direction. And they came from one tree to another, and then suddenly very close to us they pointed their rifles in our direction and they started to shout. And they looked rather dangerous in our eyes, because in our opinion they were full of weapons, and ammunition belts. And in no time we were laying flat on our faces in the snow. And then we had to stand up and under [?] we had to go further in the woods. Let’s say five minutes or ten minutes later they came back with two other partisans, and one of them spoke German and he interrogated us. And we said: “Well, we are from Stanislav, we are escapers, and so on.” And then we had to follow him and the guards were walking behind us and then we went down a little bit and suddenly we were in a camp with some tents, I believe, and number of people over there.


Camp fire was burning and then we were invited to sit down and we got to eat. Very friendly people at that moment. And having dinner with them, we remember there was one big pot on the table and everybody get to scoop with a spoon and then we were eating all together. It was eating an excellent meal, a soup. And then we started a conversation, who we were, who they were. They told us that they belonged to the Insurgent Army, the UPA. And they fought for free Ukraine, they fought against the Russians and they fought against the Germans, they fought against everybody. Well, that was at that moment our idea, anyway. And they asked us if we would join them. Well, we said that we didn’t speak the language...They understood that and appreciated that. And then they said: “We are going to bring you to Churchill.” Well, that’s fine. That was what just we needed. Therefore we escaped. So we were very happy, Syp and I. The discussion was very pleasant.

We actually lived with them as they lived in the forest, and later on we went to the all farmhouses.


We got an idea that it was military organized. They said: “Well, we are in control of the woods.” And they were not afraid of the Germans, they told us that Germans didn’t dare to get there, only in very big numbers. They said: “We control the area and we even go to Stanislav to walk around at night. And if we see a German heading we take his gun.”

There was a woman in the camp. She was a doctor or she had studied medicine or things like that. But later on during our journey with the UPA, I said: “May I have your name? I’ll write it down and send you a card, etc” And the said: “No. No names. No writings. No nothing. Forget about it.”

It was an unbelievable fight that they had to keep up over there, and the Russian partisans, and the German army. You can just imagine that they kept fighting up for so long.


And then about midnight, I think it was, two nice big sleds coming up and nice horses, partisans in the first one, partisans in the second one, and we two in the second one nicely on benches and then we went through the Carpathians. Very comfortable tour of sightseeing. And they were singing nice songs and we had to sing too.

In the morning at five o’clock we arrived at a farmhouse, small farm house. And there was a lady, and she came out of the bed and after some time we went to the bed to sleep. We felt ashamed more or less. But they said: “No, you go there and sleep.” The hospitality of that moment was unbelievable. We stayed there a day or so, and mostly at night, the next evening there came a group of people and they took us away. And we made a tour in the night to another house. And so it went two or three times and then the last two we made alone when we ended at four o’clock in the night I stumbled over something and then I heard the Dutch curse and there we were in the house where the others already were.


Interviewer: So they were actually bringing you from various places to one farmhouse?

Singor: Well, what we found out later: Syp and I escaped from Stanislav and we went let’ s say in south, south western direction, trying to get to Hungary. So we were in a quite different region than the others., because the others jumped the train very much to the north. So we were maybe forty miles apart from the others. They were picked up more or less in the vicinity of Dniester. What I’ve heard some of them were picked up crossing a bridge, and others in that area. And we were in Black forest, in the Carpathian's foothills, beginning of the Carpathians.


With the whole group all together and escorted to Hungary.


Well, of course , we had learnt at school the history of the Soviet Union and several states it consisted of. And also we had heard about the national feelings of different groups in the Soviet Union. But I didn’t know too much about it. Really. Just superficial knowledge.

I’ve read about Mr. Konovalets, who was assassinated in Rotterdam in 1938, I believe it was. It was news on the paper. So, that was all that I heard. The first time actually about resistance at the UPA organization in the Ukraine.

We knew that part of the population was friendly to us, it should be friendly.


That was an exciting adventure. It was...going at night in the snow on the sledge and big horse in front of you. Well, it was unbelievable. It is unimaginable. I have told it sometimes to the people in the Netherlands, and they said: “It is an unbelievable story that you could survive. That you survived. That you had the fortune to meet the UPA.” Because we were not...Syp and I...we were not... We met the UPA. I told you yesterday. We are good navigators. We navigated directly to the middle of the camp of the UPA.

excerpt from the Interview with Lieutenant General J. J. Singor
Ukrainian Insurgent Army
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