VASYL VYSHYVANYI - THE UKRAINIAN HABSBURG
A descendant of the royal Habsburg dynasty, who joined the Ukrainian nation-liberation struggle; an archduke, who was considered a contender for the hetman's mace, politician, poet, Colonel of the Legion of Sich Riflemen and the UPR Army. William Habsburg (also known in Ukrainian history as Vasyl Vyshyvanyi) was born on February 10, 1895 in Croatian city of Pula.
His first poetry collection "The days pass..." Wilhelm dedicated to the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, to "the fighters, who fell for the freedom of Ukraine." He became a fighter for Ukrainian independence and sacrificed his life for the freedom of this land behind the walls of Lukyanivska Prison in Kyiv, being a prisoner of Bolsheviks.
|Wilhelm Habsburg in the ranks of the Sich Riflemen|
With 12 years Wilhelm Habsburg lived in the town of Zywiec, Western Galicia, "There I first heard about Ukrainians - Vasyl wrote in his memories - Poles called them "Ruthenians" and characterize these people as a bullies. Then I truly believed that these Ukrainians, who live not so far from Zywiec, are real bandits. In the age of 17 I had go the Hutsul mountains (a region of the Carpathian Mountains - ed.). I rode incognito through Lviv and Stanislav (now - Ivano-Frankivsk). The mountains were wonderful, I was really impressed by them. I Vorokhta village I met a local peasant... and stay there for a night. Then I went everywhere in search of Ukrainian bandits, but my expedition was unsuccessful and I been disappointed about that. Since then I have changed my worldview and back to Zywiec a different person."
After graduation from the military academy Wilhelm was sent to the frontline, where he commanded one of the Ukrainian sonia's. Later he became a commander of an army group, which included itself the legion of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen. During military service Vasyl spoke Ukrainian, under the uniform he wore Ukrainian embroidered shirt - Vyshyvanka, presented by the soldiers. Because of that Wilhelm earned a nickname Vasyl Vyshyvanyi. "My sotnya was consisted from Ukrainians, who were a nationally conscious people, however, they afraid to express it publicly because then every Ukrainian was considered as politically suspect. The Ukrainian sotnisa were commanded by Germans only."
Wilhelm Habsburg, as a member of the royal family will automatically become a member of the Senate. There he befriended with Ukrainian parliamentarians, including Yevgen Petrushevych.
Until the end of the life Wilhelm Habsburg considered himself a Ukrainian. After defeat of the Ukrainian revolution he back to Vienna. In 1947 he was arrested by Soviet military counterintelligence SMERSH in Vienna in accusation of cooperation with the Ukrainian nationalists and brought to Lukyanivska Prison in Kyiv. During his imprisonment he insisted on speaking the Ukrainian language at interrogations. On 12 August 1948 the decision was made to transport him to the western Ukraine in order to serve a 25-year prison sentence. Before this could be carried out, on 18 August he died of untreated tuberculosis.
Vasyl Vyshyvanyi was buried in Lukyanivsky cemetary in Kyiv.