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Time and place where genocide was inevitable. Torn communities and families.
Dire, thick atmosphere of waiting for massacre you knew that will happen. Pure terror unleashed at night, when neighbors come to kill you in one hundred different ways preceded by showing how this community was like at time of peace. You would not think that it is really possible. Marriages, working together, social space and to some degree language is common. But there are some differences on both sides...
Dmytro Klyachkivsky citation: "We should make a large action of the liquidation of the Polish element."
To understand this film properly you need some historic and psychological (Lucifer effect) background. I am certain that when reversed things would have gone south anyway.
Wolyn (Volhynia) is historic region where poles and Ruthenians lived peacefully for centuries (by that I mean peasants).
Around XVII century Poland gained more territory in what today is called Ukraine. Polish noble class assimilated Ruthenian (today Ukrainian) noble class. One of Ruthenians even become elected king of the Commonwealth of Polish and Lithuania.
Wolyn alone was in polish rule from XIV century.
This whole territory east of Wolyn and including Wolyn was a place where polish peasant run away from polish noble class (szlachta) rule and mixed with local Ruthenian population.
Commonwealth wanted to suppress those people. Thousands of them remained on king payroll as soldiers - so they knew how to fight. Those people responded accordingly with Chmielnicki uprisings, killing Poles and assimilated Ruthenian nobles. Century of bloodshed ended by Russian subjugating most of these lands. This is why eastern Ukraine (Russian rule) is different from western Ukraine (Polish rule).
Era of nationalism resulted in Ukrainian National Revival when Ukrainian people gained new identity and were distancing from Polish and Russian cultures.
In interbellum period in Poland unfortunately won the idea of unity - Ukrainians and Belorussians was to be assimilated into Polish culture (there was project of creating Polish, Belorussian and Ukrainian separated states in confederation) Ukrainians responded with violence.
And film starts when this period is about to end. Firstly Russians witch to this date see Ukraine as "little Russia" in a derogatory way) and next Germans which promised own state to Ukrainians.
Ukraine had seen Hitler as they savior in a way. Organisation born from this feelings decided that Wolyn must be ethnically cleansed to ensure Ukrainian nature of this region in future.
That's when Lucifer Effect starts to sink in. Same was in Tutsi - Hutu case.