Carpathian Sich

Carpathian Sich (Karpatska Sich) (also the Carpathian Sich National Defense Organization). A paramilitary organization in Carpatho-Ukraine in 1938–9, formed in November 1938 from units of the Ukrainian National Defense (organized in Uzhhorod by Ukrainian nationalists and headed by Stepan Rosokha). The leadership of the Carpathian Sich consisted of the command (commander, D. Klempush; deputy-commander, I. Roman) and the staff of officers. The organization's headquarters were in Khust, and there were 10 individual district commands with subordinate local sections, which conducted military and political training involving several thousand men. Five permanent garrisons conducted regular military training, and a number of the Sich soldiers served in the local police force and with the border guards. The Carpathian Sich adopted uniforms and ranks modeled on those of military formations in Ukraine during the struggle for independence (1917–20). It was also involved in cultural and educational work among the local population: its members organized the artistic group Letiucha Estrada and published the weekly Nastup, edited by Rosokha. The Sich held general and district conventions, the largest of which, consisting of several thousand participants, took place in Khust in February 1939.

A significant number of Galician Ukrainians (who entered illegally from Poland), together with emigrants from Russian-ruled Ukraine, joined the local Ukrainians as officers and soldiers in the permanent garrisons of the Carpathian Sich. After Carpatho-Ukraine's proclamation of independence, the Sich became its national army (Col Serhii F. Yefremov, commander; Col Mykhailo Kolodzinsky, chief of staff) and, in March 1939, mounted an armed resistance to the Hungarian invasion. At that time the strength of the Sich was about 2,000 men. Several hundred of them died in battles against the Czechs (13 March) and the Hungarians (14–18 March). Overwhelmed by the Hungarian army, the soldiers either retreated to Romania and Slovakia or hid in the mountains. The Romanians turned over many of the soldiers to the Hungarians, who in turn gave up many Galicians to the Poles and kept the remainder as prisoners. Illegal executions of prisoners were perpetrated. The struggle of the Carpathian Sich against the Hungarians was the first armed conflict in central Europe to precede the Second World War.

(See also Transcarpathia.)

Karpats’ka Ukraïna v borot’bi (Vienna 1939)
Hirniak, L. Na stezhkakh istorychnykh podii (New York 1979)

Vasyl Markus

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 1 (1984).]

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