Polish Orthodox Church
January 29 marks 67 years since setting fire to the village Zaleszany and brutal murder of the 16 residents who died for the fact that they were Orthodox and belonged to the Belarusian national minority. Thus, they have become part of a bunch of martyrs Chelm and Podlasie, who in the 40’s of the 20th century, have suffered innocent death for their faith. By reason of the approaching anniversary of the tragic events we are briefly recalling their course.
On the morning of January 29, 1946, the 3rd division of National Military Union Brigade led by Romuald Rajs, nicknamed “Bury” came to the village Zaleszany. Members of the department were housed at individual hosts. At about 2 – 3pm villagers were informed about the necessity of arrival “for a meeting” Dmitri Sacharczuk’s home. After the meeting at this point, they called out Piotr Demianiuk, a 16-year-old mayor’s son and the neighboring Suchowolce village inhabitant – Alexander Zielinko. Both were shot. To the home, where residents gathered came the commander – R. Rajs “Bury”, which fired into the air to silence the audience. He then told them that they will cease to exist, and the village will be burned. After the commander left the room by, the door was locked. Then they set fire to straw thatch. The burning building was surrounded by part of the armed members of the division. Residents fled the house through doors and windows located on the second side of the yard. Soldiers guarding the exit fired directly into escapees, and fired above them. Meanwhile, other members of the division proceeded to set fire to other buildings in the village.
Not all the residents went to the meeting. For those who remained in their homes, and only tried to escape as a result of the spread of the fire were shot. When the house of John and Natalia Niczyporuk was set on fire, killed was the whole family: husband, wife and daughter Anna. Of the family Nikita Niczyporuk died: his wife, Maria, who was eight months pregnant, newborn son Joseph and older sons, Peter, Michael, Alexei. Also burned were daughter of Basil and Tatiana Leończuk, 7-day unbaptized child that the mother had left the house thinking she would quickly be back from the meeting. During the escape from his burning house shot was Gregory Leończuk with two small children: Constantine, aged 3 and 6-month-old Sergei. Even before the burning of the village of Fyodor Sacharczuk shot for refusing oats for the horses. Also killed was 41-year-old Stefan Weremczuk.
The above facts, are only one of several tragedies that took place between January 29 and February 2, 1946, in the district of Bielsk Podlaski. The Polish branch of the National Union of Military commanded by ‘Bury’ killed total 79 people and had pacified apart from Zaleszany the following villages: Wolka Wygonowska, Zanie, Szpaki, Koncowizna.
On Sunday January 27 the descendants of the victims and the people of Zaleszany prayed for the repose of the souls of the dead in the Female Orthodox Church Congregation House of St. Catherine. Divine Liturgy was celebrated at 9am, and immediately after the panikhida.