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Part I
Chapter 11

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Stalinist Rule in the Ukraine
by Hryhory Kostiuk

published in the U. S. A. by
Frederick A. Praeger, Inc.
New York

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Part I
Chapter 13

Part One
Stalinist Centralism and the Ukraine

 p47  Chapter XII

Before the Final Assault

The Purge of Ukrainian Literature

The next objective to attract Postyshev's attention was Ukrainian culture, in particular literature. By 1938, the spirit of an independent search for cultural and literary modes of expression was all but suppressed by the earlier imposition of Party controls. Not only were several writers silenced and their ideas condemned and branded as counter-revolutionary (Khvylovy, Zerov, Pidmohylny, Ivchenko) but also all literary organizations and groups, such as "Hart," "Pluh," "Vaplite," Mars, New Generation, VUSPP, "Avant-garde," the Neoclassicists, "Lanka," "Prolitfront," had either been disbanded earlier or else dissolved, following the Party resolution on literature issued in April 1932.1

However, there were still among the living writers and critics those who in the past had led the movement of cultural regeneration in the Ukraine. Their earlier works were permeated with an anti-centralist, often anti-Russian, spirit and were rooted in the conviction that a spontaneous growth of socialist Ukrainian culture, linked with the past traditions of that country, was possible and desirable. In 1933 many of these writers seemed subdued to Party controls, although some of them still showed some resistance to the Soviet regimentation of literature, which showed itself with special prominence during the formation of the Soviet Writers' Union (1932‑34). It was against these champions of the spiritual resistance in the Ukraine that Postyshev directed his attack. He began by destroying those who were already dead.

In Kharkov where Chernyshevsky and Artem streets meet there stood a small statue, commemorating the leading Ukrainian Communist (former Borotbist) and writer, Vasyl Ellan (Blakytny). It was erected, after the poet's death, in 1925. Blakytny, who died at the age of 32, had been the editor of Visti, and chairman of the proletarian literary organization "Hart." The statue was small and in the course of the years ordinary citizens had become indifferent to it, with the exception of a few writers and students who came there at times to pay homage to the deceased writer.

One May morning, early passersby noticed that the statue was badly damaged. It was reduced to a heap of rubble. During the day some people inquired as to the reason for this act of vandalism. The explanation given in the following day's papers was that the statue had been inadvertently damaged by a truck. As a result of the accident it was decided to remove the statue altogether and to re‑erect it  p48 in another place, to be decided upon by the city planning commission.2 Needless to say, the Blakytny monument was never re‑erected. The truck which destroyed it was, in all probability, sent expressly for that purpose by Postyshev.

Next on the list were the living representatives of the Ukrainian opposition to Party controls in literature. On May 12, the OGPU arrested the writer Mykhaylo Yalovy (nom de plume, Yulian Shpol), a former president of the Ukrainian literary group "Vaplite," and chief political editor of the Ukrainian State Publishing House. This was a signal that the core of the Ukrainian literary resistance to Moscow's policy, represented by former members of "Vaplite," was to be ruthlessly destroyed. The impact of this blow was felt particularly deeply by Mykola Khvylovy, the spiritual leader of "Vaplite" and its chief theorist. He considered himself morally responsible for the fate of his associates. Besides, Yalovy was a close personal friend of Khvylovy.

On May 13, 1933, Khvylovy invited some of his friends to breakfast at his apartment. A few moments after his guests had assembled, he asked to be excused, went to his study and shot himself. By the time his friends reached him he was dead. On his desk lay a letter, addressed to the Central Committee of the CP(b)U. In it he accused the Party of betraying the Revolution, and branded the terror which it used in the Ukraine as the beginning of a new Thermidor. He wished his suicide to be regarded as an act of protest against the tactics of the Party.3

It is no exaggeration to say that Khvylovy was the most color­ful personality in Ukrainian literary life. He owed his reputation not only to the independence and integrity he showed in opposing the cultural policy of the Party in the Ukraine. He was also an outstanding writer and essayist, and had been a member of the CP(b)U since the days of the Revolution. His death, therefore, could not be ignored. On May 14, 1933, the official organ of the CP(b)U, Visti, carried an obituary of Khvylovy.4 It ended with these words:

At the moment when the masses of workers and collective farmers are fighting with enthusiasm in all fields of socialist construction, the revolutionary fervor of the writer Khvylovy has given out. In spite of our regard for Khvylovy as one of the outstanding Soviet writers who has greatly enriched Soviet literature, we cannot but deplore his thoughtless step.

 p49  In spite of precautionary measures, Khvylovy's funeral turned into a spontaneous demonstration against Postyshev's regime. It was attended by writers, students, workers and trade union representatives, as well as by the printers, many of whom had known the deceased writer well.

The Central Committee of the CP(b)U was quick to brand such actions as hostile to the Soviet state. The secretary of the CP(b)U, Popov, publicly condemned Khvylovy's suicide as a "demonstration against the state."5

About the time of Khvylovy's death, another Ukrainian poet, Hirnyak, committed suicide. Professor Havryliv, of the Kharkov Pedagogical Institute, also took his own life. Some time later, another former member of "Vaplite," the writer Dosvitny, was arrested. During the next few months scores of Ukrainian writers and critics were rounded up by the OGPU. Some of them were sentenced to death and executed, a few committed suicide, and nearly 300 others were deported to concentration camps.

The Fate of the Historical School of M. Yavorsky

The greatest modern authority on Ukrainian history was Professor Mykhaylo Hrushevsky. His Istoriya Ukrainy‑Rusy (History of Ukraine‑Rus), mostly written before the Revolution, was an outstanding study of Ukrainian history, based on original sources, earlier works of Ukrainian historians, and Slavic historiography in general. Written in nine large volumes, Hrushevsky's work also represented the result of years of research, illuminated by competent scholar­ly analysis. It established the continuity of Ukrainian history, beginning with the earliest period, the ninth century, and it demonstrated the inter-relation of the political and social aspects of this history.6 Hrushevsky was no Marxist. This, as well as the fact that he was the chairman of the Central Rada, the parliament of the Ukrainian People's Republic (1917‑20), made his work unacceptable to the Soviet regime. Therefore, while tolerating further research conducted by Hrushevsky as a member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, the Soviets encouraged another school of history, based on the Marxian approach. The latter was headed by a young Ukrainian scholar, Matviy Yavorsky,7 who, in 1929,  p50 became a full member of the Academy of Sciences. As the head of the Institute of History and chief editor of Istoryk-Marksyst (The Marxist Historian), Yavorsky organized extensive research into Ukrainian history. The fruits of this he presented at the First All‑Union Conference of Marxist Historians, held at Moscow from December 28, 1928, to January 4, 1929.8 At this conference Yavorsky and his pupils attacked the centralist Russian concepts of history which some Soviet historians had inherited from Imperial Russia. Yavorsky's arguments were so convincing that the foremost Soviet Russian historian of the time, M. Pokrovsky, whose authority was undisputed,9 recognized the contribution of Ukrainian historians as of signal importance to Marxian historiography. In his final address to the conference, Pokrovsky made it clear to his Ukrainian colleagues that there was no room in Soviet historiography for the theories of the "one and indivisible Russia."

Pokrovsky's pledge was premature. His view of Soviet history did not coincide with Stalin's plans.10

In the Ukraine, the repudiation of the Marxian historical school of Yavorsky began soon after his return from the Moscow conference in 1929. He was first attacked in an article in the Bilshovyk Ukrainy.11 Soon an outright smear campaign was started against Yavorsky. He was accused of having had dealings with Herman Skoropadsky. An alleged former wife of Yavorsky published in the press some letters revealing the immoral character of this Academician and member of the Party.

Sometime in 1930, Yavorsky was expelled from the Party, dismissed from the Academy of Sciences, and exiled to a distant part of the USSR. It would seem, therefore, that by the time Postyshev began his purge of Ukrainian intellectuals, Yavorsky's fate was sealed. A similar fate was meted out to Professor Hrushevsky who, in 1930, was deported from the Ukraine. However, the final blow to Ukrainian historians was reserved for Postyshev. After all, Yavorsky's and Hrushevsky's ideas could be revived if the pupils of these historians were allowed to live and to  p51 carry on their work. It was decided, therefore, to annihilate whole groups of associates and pupils of the two famous historians.

In March 1933, Yavorsky was arrested (at the same time as Shumsky, Maksymovych, Solodub and other Ukrainian national Communists) and charged with belonging to an alleged Ukrainian under­ground military organization.12 There were reports that, three or four years later, during mass executions of prisoners in the concentration camps, he was shot.13 In his speech at the Twelfth Congress of the CP(b)U in January 1934, Postyshev listed the following professors of the All‑Ukrainian Association of Marx and Lenin Institutes (VUAMLIN) as enemies of the state: Yavorsky, Richytsky, Chechel, Mazurenko, Holubovych, Khrystyuk, Romanyuk, Lyzanivsky, Trublaevych, Bilyk, Chichkevych, Bilash, Vikul, Fedchyshyn, Demchuk, Bon, Stepovy, Svidzinsky, Zozulyak, Oliynyk, Kuzmenko, Lozynsky, Chekhovych, Yurynets, Slipansky, and Vityk.14 About the same time other associates of Yavorsky (Hurevych, Rubach) were also arrested. The VUAMLIN was dissolved in 1935 or 1936. Shlikhter, in a speech at the Thirteenth Congress of the CP(b)U, in 1937, declared that "in the former VUAMLIN the band of counter-revolutionaries, Trotskyites and nationalists made a nest for itself."15 Thus ended the Marxian school of Ukrainian historians.

The Fate of the Historical School of Hrushevsky

Until 1931, the historical section of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences was under the chairman­ship and intellectual leader­ship of Professor Hrushevsky.16 In 1931, after the trial of the so‑called Union for the Liberation of Ukraine (SVU), held during the previous year, a new "secret" organization, consisting of Ukrainian scholars and intellectuals, was uncovered. It was the so‑called Ukrainian National Center (UNTs)17 which was supposed to include nearly all the former political associates of Hrushevsky (Chechel, Holubovych, Khrystyuk, Shrah, Kosak). Hrushevsky himself was accused of being the head of this conspiratorial body.18 Hrushevsky was not arrested, but was removed from the Ukraine to the vicinity of Moscow, where he was isolated from Ukrainian scholar­ship.19 Here, while reporting regularly to the GPU, Hrushevsky continued to work on the history of the Ukraine in the eighteenth century, from time to time publishing the results of his research in the Izvestiya (News) of the All‑Union Academy of Sciences.

 p52  The year 1933 brought no relief to Hrushevsky. "At the beginning of the year," writes one of his former collaborators, "two learned associates of the historical section of the Academy of Sciences, H. Hlushko and S. Shamray, were arrested. After the first of August all the members of the historical section of the Academy were relieved of their duties and all research facilities connected with the history of the Ukraine or former projects of Hrushevsky, were abolished.20

Later, Hrushevsky was moved to Kislovodsk, where he died on November 25, 1934.21

The Bahaliy Institute for the Study of Slobidska Ukraine, although not directly within Hrushevsky's jurisdiction, was severely purged in 1933. One of its outstanding scholars, Professor Natalia Mirza-Avakiantz, was arrested and deported.

The End of the Historians of the CP(b)U

The purge of Ukrainian historians also affected official Party historiographers. The history of the CP(b)U and of the Ukrainian Communist movement represented an obstacle to Stalin's plans to extirpate the national spirit and tradition from the non‑Russian Communist movements. First of all, the journals Litopys Revolyutsii (The Chronicle of the Revolution) and Istoryk-Marksyst (The Marxist Historian), devoted to study and research in Soviet Ukrainian history, were discontinued. A virtual blackout was imposed on all investigations in the fields of Ukrainian Communism. During the years 1933‑53 not a single work on the history of the CP(b)U was published.

The first official historian of the CP(b)U and the author of many works on the history of the revolution in the Ukraine was M. E. Ravich-Cherkassky.22 A former member of the Jewish Social-Democratic Party, Bund, Ravich-Cherkassky firmly believed that the national aspect of the Revolution in the Ukraine was of the greatest importance. He was a staunch opponent of the traditional Russian interpretation of Ukrainian history and approached the study of Soviet Ukrainian history deeply convinced that the Ukrainian state was not a gift of the Soviet regime, but a hard‑won prerogative springing from the Ukrainian past. He wrote:

Up to the present a notion persists, not only in the circles of the bourgeois Russian intelligentsia, but also to a certain extent among the Communists, a notion not very different from the one which holds that the Ukraine was invented by the  p53 Germans. Many members of the RCP, swayed by bourgeois prejudices, believe that the UkSSR and the CP(b)U are fictitious or else merely playing at independence. At best they concede that during the period of struggle against the nationalist Central Rada and Directory, it was imperative for the Communist Party and the Soviet government in the Ukraine to adorn themselves with defensive, national and independent colors. Now that the Soviet government in the Ukraine has been firmly established, they argue that the role of the UkSSR and the CP(b)U is finished.23

Ravich-Cherkassky viewed the Russian imperialist outlook with real apprehension. He held that the unfettered development of the Soviet Ukraine was of cardinal importance in the battle to win the other countries of Eastern Europe over to Communism. The historic mission of the Soviet Ukraine was to unite those parts of the country which were occupied by Poland, Rumania, and Czechoslovakia into one Soviet Ukrainian State. Such a "United Soviet Socialist Ukraine," he wrote, "will be a power­ful factor in the social revolutionary movement among the Slavic states in Europe."24

Ravich-Cherkassky disappeared from political and scholar­ly life two years after Yavorsky. Following the pronouncement of the Central Committee of the All‑Union CP(b), dated October 9, 1932, which concerned the counter-revolutionary group of Riutin, Ivanov, and Galkin, Ravich-Cherkassky was expelled from the Party together with 24 others, including Zinoviev and Kamenev.25 His subsequent fate is unknown.

Another historian of the CP(b)U, M. Popov, after enjoying a spell of popularity during Postyshev's regime, disappeared in 1937.

The purge of Ukrainian historians, including those who were exclusively concerned with the study of Ukrainian Communism, paved the way for the creation of the Short History of the CPSU. Having suppressed the early historiography of the Ukraine and of the CP(b)U, and having disowned Pokrovsky's26 school of history, Stalin was ready to write his own version of the history of the USSR.

 p54  The Battle against Philosophy

Before the Revolution of 1917, the Ukraine produced many outstanding writers (Shevchenko, Kulish, Franko, Lesya Ukrainka, Kotsyubynsky, Vynnychenko) and scholars (Kostomarov, Antonovych, Drahomanov, Zhytetsky, Potebnya, Hrushevsky). There had, however, been very little progress in philosophy.27 Not only were there no prominent Ukrainian philosophers in the early twentieth century, but interest and training in this discipline had declined considerably.

The early twenties brought a new lease of life to philosophy in the Ukraine. This became evident not so much among the members of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences as among the Marxian thinkers gathered in the Institute of Philosophy established as a branch of the VUAMLIN (All‑Ukrainian Association of Marx and Lenin Institutes). The leading role in this institute was played by Professor Semkovsky, a former Menshevik who later became a member of the Party. Although a man of sound philosophical training and great erudition, Semkovsky did not have much understanding of the current problems of Ukrainian life and therefore failed to attract young Ukrainian thinkers. Instead, beginning with 1929, a new star was rising on the horizon — that of Volodymyr Yurynets (born in 1891), a pupil of Pokrovsky and Deborin.28 A man of Western European education, a former student at the Universities of Vienna, Berlin and Paris, Yurynets had obtained his doctorate before the Revolution. In 1920 he was graduated from the Institute of Red Professors in Moscow and was sent, on Pokrovsky's recommendation, to lecture first at the Communist University for Toilers of the East and then at the University of Moscow. He was a man of many talents, interested not only in philosophy and mathematics but also in poetry and languages, several of which he spoke fluently. His study of Freud, written and published in German, was widely discussed in European philosophical journals of the twenties.

Around Yurynets there formed in the Ukraine a group of promising young philosophers (Demchuk, Stepovy, Paskel, Nyrchuk). In 1928, Yurynets, with the complete approval of the Party, was made a full member of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. With the help of his associates Yurynets published at that time several collections of philosophical writings and was an active contributor to the periodical Prapor marksyzmu (Banner of Marxism). One of his colleagues, Professor Nyrchuk, was nominated to the newly established chair of philosophy at the Kiev branch of VUAMLIN.

The work of the Ukrainian Institute of Philosophy was carried on in two fields: the history of philosophy in general and of Marxism in particular; and the  p55 philosophy of Ukrainian history. Until 1933 conditions had been favorable for the inquiries conducted by the Institute. A drastic change occurred after Postyshev's arrival. The first victim of the new policy was Professor Nyrchuk. In March 1933, the Central Committee of the CP(b)U published the following declaration:

The symposium "For Lenininst Philosophy," issued by the Kiev branch of VUAMLIN, contains a series of gross errors and distortions of Marxian-Leninist theory. The method used by the chief editor of the collection, Comrade Nyrchuk, that of copying entire passages from the classical works of Marxism without indicating the sources, of arbitrarily wrenching quotations out of their context and garbling them for his own purposes, is completely anti-Bolshevik and anti-Party.

As a result, the Central Committee resolved to

deliver a severe reprimand to Comrade Nyrchuk, and to remove him from this command post on the ideological front. To reprimand the editorial board of the symposium. To instruct the Kiev Provincial Committee of the CP(b)U to organize an inspection of the activities of the entire group working under the leader­ship of Comrade Nyrchuk.29

The last paragraph of the resolution made it clear that the Party held the Institute of Philosophy and Professor Yurynets responsible for the failings of Nyrchuk.

On July 3, 1933, the secretary of the CP(b)U, Popov, delivered a direct attack on Yurynets in his speech before the Kharkov Party meeting.30 Results speedily followed. On July 17, 1933, a Pronouncement by the Central Committee of the CP(b)U condemned Yurynets and his school. It read as follows:

The Central Committee of the CP(b)U notes the extreme lack of Party spirit of V. Yurynets who, in his article, "On the Crisis of Contemporary Physics," and in his textbook on dialectical materialism, committed direct plagiarism from the works of many bourgeois authors (Jordan, Haas, Schrodinger) as well as Soviet authors (Maximov, Yegorshin) . . .

The Central Committee considers V. Yurynets an adherent of bourgeois-idealist philosophy and a philosophical supporter of Yavorsky's historical school . . . He furthered the idea of the "bourgeois-less character" of the Ukrainian nation and preached orientation toward Western Europe . . .

The Central Committee of the CP(b)U decided, therefore, to

exclude V. Yurynets from the ranks of the Party, as one who adheres to bourgeois philosophy, supports the historical scheme of Yavorsky, a pseudo-scientist, and plagiarist.31

 p56  The charge of plagiarism was a familiar device for discrediting scholars in the eyes of the public.

After being expelled from the Party, Professor Yurynets and Nyrchuk were deprived of their chairs and both were later arrested. Professor Nyrchuk was chosen by the NKVD to head the fictitious Trotskyite-Nationalist Terrorist Bloc, which included several Ukrainian scholars, philosophers and intellectuals, all condemned for terrorist activities. The present author met several of them (M. Yuvchenko, P. Savchuk, Davydenko, Professor Ye. Shabliovsky, and I. Greenberg) in the Lukianivska prison in Kiev, early in 1936. According to these men, Nyrchuk, after being tortured by the NKVD, confessed to being a ringleader of the "Bloc."

The net result of these persecutions of Ukrainian philosophers was the annihilation of all independent thought among the Ukrainian Marxists. They were considered dangerous as ideologists of Ukrainian Communism, and as thinkers who were favorable toward Western European ideas.

Ukrainian Linguistics on Trial

The attack which Postyshev launched against Ukrainian linguistics was primarily directed against the Institute of Linguistics at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

Even since 1917, work on the standardization of the Ukrainian literary language had been carried on by Ukrainian scholars, actively supported by those Ukrainian Communists who realized the importance of this task for the development of Ukrainian culture and literature. Skrypnyk, who in 1926 became Commissar for Education, was a real enthusiast in this cause and did a great deal to co‑ordinate the work of Ukrainian linguists. Professor Sherekh, an authority on the Ukrainian language, describes the situation in the twenties in the following words:

The centers formed or reactivated by the government for scholar­ly investigation of Ukrainian language problems were: The Ukrainian Language Institute of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, devoted to working out Ukrainian scientific and technical terminology, the Ukrainian language chairs at the Institutes of People's Education (Universities), and courses in Ukrainian, in particular the Central Course of Ukrainian Studies in Kharkov. The moving force behind this movement was the Commissariat of Education, headed first by Shumsky and then by Skrypnyk.32

In 1927, on Skrypnyk's initiative, for the first time a scholar­ly conference was convened, which devoted itself to the problem of the systematization of Ukrainian orthography. The Commission of Ukrainian scholars formed both from the Soviet Ukraine and abroad at this conference worked out a uniform Ukrainian orthography which replaced the two spelling systems used before (one in the  p57 Soviet Ukraine, the other in the Western Ukraine and Bukovina). According to the new orthography, the Ukrainian transliteration of foreign words, in Sherekh's words, "broke away from the Russian tradition and approached that of Western Europe."33

This research in Ukrainian linguistics became an integral part of the policy of the CP(b)U, which was aimed at achieving cultural and linguistic self-expression within the framework of the Soviet Ukrainian state. After 1930, this policy was attacked by the All‑Union CP(b). In the field of Ukrainian linguistics the new Postyshev line showed itself first of all in the assault on the Institute of Linguistics. The signal for it was given in an article published in Pravda. The author, B. Levin, charged that the Ukrainian Institute of Linguistics was a center of bourgeois nationalists and enemies of the people who wished to separate the Ukraine from Russia, to alienate the Ukrainian language from the "brotherly Russian tongue," and to bring Ukrainian closer to Polish and German. The article also named some members of the Institute — Olena Kurylo, Yevhen Tymchenko, Mykhaylo Dray-Khmara and Sheludko — as enemies of the Soviet state, thus sealing their fate.34

Following an intense campaign against the "bourgeois nationalist Ukrainian linguists," (mostly in the columns of the Party organ Bilshovyk Ukrainy and the linguistic journal Movoznavstvo [Linguistics]), the OGPU emerged as the supreme arbiter in this debate by arresting scores of Ukrainian linguists.35 Among those who perished were such leading philologists of the day as Kurylo, Tymchenko, Sulyma, Synyavsky, Nakonechny, Nemchinov, Smerechynsky, and Dray-Khmara.

The End of a Theater

One of the few manifestations of pre‑Revolutionary Ukrainian culture which the tsarist regime could not suppress was the theater. In the Ukrainian theater there survived a tradition of stubborn protest against oppression. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century this protest showed itself in the ethnographic and romantic melodramas from Ukrainian life which formed the repertory of the theaters of Sadovsky and Saksahansky. After the Revolution the role of this type of theater was exhausted and there followed a period of search for new theatrical forms. In the Soviet Ukraine two theatrical companies became prominent during the twenties. One was the Franko Theater (director and producer Hnat Yura) which continued to develop in the tradition of realism and did not experiment with new techniques. The other theater, formed by Les Kurbas (formerly of the Molody Teatr), was Berezil.

The talented producer Les Kurbas created in the Berezil a theater which reflected the latest Western European trends, above all expressionism. The function of the theater, according to Kurbas, was to disturb and stimulate the spectator,  p58 not to tickle his palate. In order to perform this task, the theater had continually to employ new methods of dramatic expression. "No stabilization, no return to the old [forms] is possible," wrote Kurbas. "In our period of transition there is no style which can become stable."36

At the same time, Kurbas' theater provided scope for sharp criticism of the new Soviet philistinism and snobbery. This did not increase its popularity in many quarters, yet, owing to the support of Skrypnyk, Berezil became, in the late twenties, the most prominent Ukrainian theater. It received the title of "the first state academic dramatic theater."

Postyshev's direct attack on Berezil began on October 5, 1933, when Kurbas was asked to deliver a lecture on the theoretical and aesthetic principles of his theater in the Commissariat of Education. Following his expose, the Commissariat issued a resolution condemning Kurbas' views as "nationalist" and accusing Berezil of being linked with the "Vaplite" literary group and of perverting Soviet reality.37 It also relieved Kurbas of his duties as the director of Berezil.

The last act of the Kurbas drama followed very soon. It was played by Kurbas in the best tradition of Berezil — courageously and with zest. From the accounts given by one of Kurbas' associates, an actor of the Berezil company, Yosyp Hirnyak, we know of the last meeting between Kurbas and Postyshev. The dictator of the Ukraine attempted to win Kurbas over by every possible means of blackmail and persuasion, demanding that Berezil give up its principles and its criticism of the Party, and follow "socialist realism." In reply, Kurbas is supposed to have said that he would never betray the basic principle of his theater which was the unmasking of falsehood and evil, no matter what forms these might assume.38

Kurbas' intrepid stand cost him his career. He was arrested in November 1933, and deported to a forced labor camp, from which he never returned. Berezil, with its director and producer taken away, was subjected to further purges and renamed the Shevchenko Theater. Only after such repressive measures could Postyshev present "socialist realism" upon the Ukrainian stage, "socialist realism" represented by the plays of Korneichuk and glorifying Soviet rule in the Ukraine.

The Extent of the Purge

Postyshev seems to have acted with extreme thoroughness. He left nothing untouched; every field of cultural, scholar­ly or scientific endeavor in the Ukraine  p59 was affected by the purge. Here are some of the institutions which were investigated and "cleansed."

1) The Agricultural Academy (the director Sokolovsky, his deputy Slipansky, Academician Yanata, Professor Bilash, all perished in concentration camps).

2) The Research Institute of Soviet Construction and Law (the director Trublaevych, his deputy Tsarehradsky, and Professors Lozynsky, Romanyuk, Romanyshyn, Veretko, Chekhovych, Demchuk, Sarvan, Semenova, Nedbaylo, Pankyn, Poznyakovsky, Myroshnychenko, Li, Kulkyov were all arrested and deported).

3) The Research Institute for the Deaf and Dumb (director Sokolyansky was arrested).

4) The Shevchenko Research Institute of Literary Scholar­ship (research associates V. Boyko, S. Demchuk, M. Panchenko, Ye. Shabliovsky, R. Verba, P. Kolesnyk, Yosypchuk, V. Koryak, Yu. Lavrynenko, V. Kubas, H. Kostiuk,​a V. Bobynsky, Yu. Savchenko, A. Paniv were all arrested and sentenced to long terms in concentration camps; director S. Pylypenko and research associates A. Richytsky, R. Shevchenko, K. Pivnenko, H. Protsenko, and S. Matyash were executed).

5) The Ukrainian State Publishing House (director Ozersky, editors Yalovy, Epik and many others were arrested).

6) The Molody Bilshovyk (The Young Bolshevik) Publishing House (director M. Hrytsay was arrested).

7) The Rukh (Movement) and Knyhospilka (Book-Union) Co‑operative Publishing Houses were dissolved after several members of the staff were arrested.

The fine arts were not over­looked. The Ukrainian School of Painting, headed by Professor M. Boychuk, and most of the prominent painters of the day, V. Sedlyar, Padalka, Pavlenko, Shekhtman, Mizin, as well as the distinguished art critic Vrona, were silenced. They were accused of idealism, obscurantism, medievalism, nationalism and other sins.

The Ukrainian film industry was forced to follow a new policy in its productions. Famous Ukrainian films, produced by one of the best Soviet directors, the Ukrainian Dovzhenko, such as Soil, Arsenal, Zvenigora,39 were withdrawn from circulation. Dovzhenko himself was sent to Moscow where he made films to suit the style of "socialist realism." Another promising director in the Ukraine, Kavaleridze, was also denied the opportunity to continue his own path. The loss of Dovzhenko, whose early films showed a promise of great and original art, was particularly grievous for Ukrainian cinematography.

The Author's Notes:

1 Cf. Luckyj, op. cit.; for the resolution on literature see Pravda, April 24, 1932.

[decorative delimiter]

2 The incident is based entirely on the author's reminiscences. The search to find the information in the Soviet press proved fruitless.

[decorative delimiter]

3 Khvylovy's letter has not been preserved. Its contents were related to the present author by two close friends of Khvylovy who read it. According to them, soon after Khvylovy's death the police entered his apartment and seized the letter together with other documents. The existence of such a letter is confirmed in the following publications: O. Han, Trahediya Mykoly Khvylovoho (The Tragedy of Mykola Khvylovy), Augsburg, Promotey, n. d.; O. Filomelya, Ukrainsky litopys abo Kalendar istorychnykh podii (A Ukrainian Chronicle or a Calendar of Historic Events), Winnipeg, 1950, pp41‑42; S. Harmash, "M. Khvylovy i nasha doba" (M. Khvylovy and Our Epoch), Nasha borotba (Our Struggle), No. 2, 1946, pp48‑53; "Spohady pro Mykolu Kulisha Antoniny Kulish" (Antonina Kulish's Recollections of Mykola Kulish), in Mykola Kulish, Tvory (Works), New York, 1955, pp416‑18.

[decorative delimiter]

4 Visti, May 14, 1933.

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5 Visti, July 12, 1933.

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6 An abbreviated version of Hrushevsky's work was published in English: M. Hrushevsky, A History of the Ukraine, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1941.

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7 Matviy Ivanovych Yavorsky was born on November 15, 1885, in the village of Korchmyn, district of Rava Ruska, in Galicia. After receiving his education as a lawyer, he served in the Austrian army during the First World War. In 1918, still in the army, he reached Kiev where he established close contacts with Ukrainian political leaders. In November 1918, Yavorsky took part in the uprising against Hetman Skoropadsky; in 1920, together with the Borotbists, he joined the Communist Party. His work as a historian began in the early twenties. In 1928 he took part in the convention of historians in Berlin. (All these data are gathered from Nauchnye rabotniki SSSR bez Moskvy i Leningrada, Izd. Akad. Nauk, 1928, p507, and Bolshaya sovetskaya entsiklopediya, 1st ed., Vol. 65, Moscow, 1931, p328.) Yavorsky's chief works are: Narys istorii Ukrainy (An Outline of the History of the Ukraine), Kiev, 1923; Ukraina v epokhu kapitalizmu (The Ukraine in the Era of Capitalism), Kharkov, Poltava, 1924‑25; Narysy z istorii revolyutsiinoi borotby na Ukraini (Sketches in the History of the Revolutionary Struggle in the Ukraine), 2 vols., Kharkov, 1927, 1928.

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8 Trudy pervoi vsesoyuznoi konferentsii istorikov-marksistov (Proceedings of the First All‑Union Conference of Marxist Historians), 28.XII.1928–4.I.1929. Vol. I. Moscow, Komakademiya, 1930; see especially: pp36‑40, 426‑35, 436‑59, 460‑68.

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9 A. Avtorkhanov, Pokorenie partii, Chapter XII, Istoricheskaya shkola Pokrovskogo (The Historical School of Pokrovsky), Posev, No. 4, 5, 6, 1951.

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10 M. N. Pokrovsky died in 1932, and his school was later destroyed. See Avtorkhanov, op. cit. For Stalin's evaluation of Pokrovsky as historian see Malaya sovetskaya entsiklopedia (Small Soviet Encyclopedia), Vol. 8, 2nd ed., pp385‑88.

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11 Yavorsky's views were declared un‑Marxian and false. The following condensation may be found in Bolshaya sovetskaya entsiklopedia, 1st ed., Vol. 65, Moscow, 1931, p328: "In his works Yavorsky, screening himself behind Marxian phraseology, developed a nationalist-kulakist system of ideas. Its basic tenets were: a) an attempt to interpret the whole of Ukrainian history as a struggle of the people for a state of their own; b) the presentation of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie and the kulaks as a revolutionary force holding hegemony in a bourgeois-democratic revolution and a denial of the hegemony to the proletariat; c) the idealization of Ukrainian petty-bourgeois parties; d) the rejection of the historical preparation for the director­ship of the proletariat and hence a denial of such a proletarian revolution in Ukraine."

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12 Polonska-Vasylenko, op. cit., pp65‑66.

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13 S. Pidhayny, op. cit., pp57‑60.

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14 Visti, January 24, 1934.

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15 Visti, June 5, 1937.

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16 Cf. Polonska-Vasylenko, op. cit., pp81‑94; also supplement No. 5, pp122‑26.

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17 O. Buzhansky, "Za gratamy GPU‑NKVD" (Behind the Bars of the GPU‑NKVD), Svoboda (Liberty), No. 288‑300, December, 1950; D. Solovey, op. cit.

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18 "Itogi i blizhaishe zadachi provedeniya politiki na Ukraine" (Results and Immediate Tasks of the Conduct of Policy in the Ukraine), Pravda, December 2, 1933.

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19 For more details, see the section of this study devoted to the Ukrainian National Center, pp89‑90.

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20 O. M. "Ostanni roky zhyttya Mykhayla Hrushevskoho" (The Last Years in the Life of M. Hrushevsky), Nashi dni (Our Days), No. 3, Lviv, March, 1943.

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21 For a more detailed review of Hrushevsky's last years see the present author's article "The Last Days of Academician M. Hrushevsky," Ukrainian Review, No. 5, Munich, 1957, Institute for the Study of the USSR, pp73‑83.

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22 Apart from the history of the Ukrainian Communist Party (op. cit.), Ravich-Cherkassky edited the following books: Revolyutsiya i KP(b)U v materialakh i dokumentakh (The Revolution and the CP(b)U in Materials and Documents), I, Kharkov, 1926; Pervoye maya: Yuzhno-russkie rabochie soyuzy (The First of May: The South-Russian Workers Union), 1926.

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23 Ravich-Cherkassky, Istoriya . . . p5.

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24 Ibid., pp2‑6.

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25 Pravda, October 11, 1932.

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26 The letter which Lenin wrote to Pokrovsky appears in the English translation of the latter's history (M. N. Pokrovski,º Brief History of Russia, translated by D. S. Mirsky, London, 1933, Vol. I, p5):

Comrade Pokrovski, I congratulate you very heartily on your success. I like your new book, "Brief History of Russia," immensely. The construction and the narrative are original. It reads with tremendous interest. It should, in my opinion, be translated into the European languages.

I will permit myself one slight remark. To make it a text book (and this it must become), it must be supplemented with a chronological index. This is, roughly, what I am suggesting: 1st column, chronology; 2nd column, bourgeois view (briefly); 3rd column, your view, Marxian, indicating the pages in your book.

The students must know both your book and the index so that there will be no skimming, so that they will retain the facts, and so that they will learn to compare the old science and the new. What do you say to such an addition? With Communist greetings, yours, Lenin.

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27 The two best known Ukrainian philosophers of the past were Hryhory Skovoroda (1722‑1794) and Pamfilo Yurkevych (1827‑1894). "It is impossible to deny the weakness in the development of our theoretical philosophy," reports Entsiklopediya ukrainoznavstva (The Ukrainian Encyclopedia), ed. V. Kubijovych and Z. Kuzelya, Munich‑New York, Vol. II, p718). The reasons for this, it suggests, may be found in the "absence of one's own state, lasting a long period of time, and in the resultant low material standard of the Ukrainian people for centuries."

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28 See Literaturny yarmarok (The Literacy Fair), No. 5, Kharkov, 1929.

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29 Visti, May 10, 1933.

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30 M. Popov, "Pro natsionalistychni ukhyly v lavakh ukrainskoi partorhanizatsii ta pro zavdannya borotby z nymy" (On Nationalist Deviations in the Ranks of the Ukrainian Party Organization and on the Means of Combating Them), Visti, July 12, 1933.

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31 The resolution of the CC CP(b)U dated July 17, 1933, Visti, July 22, 1933.

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32 Yu. Sherekh, "Pryntsypy i etapy bolshevytskoi movnoi polityky na Ukraini" (Principles and Stages of the Bolshevik Linguistic Policy in the Ukraine), Suchasna Ukraina (Contemporary Ukraine), June 29, 1952.

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33 Ibid., p10.

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34 B. Levin, "Kak orudovali burzhuaznye natsionalisty" (How the bourgeois Nationalists Acted), Pravda, April 27, 1933.

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35 R. Smal-Stocki, op. cit., passim.

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36 Kurbas, op. cit., p162.

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37 "Postanova NKO Ukrainy pro kerivnytstvo teatru Berezil" (The Resolution of the People's Commissariat for Education on the Director­ship of the Theatre Berezil), Visti, October 8, 1933.

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38 V. Khmuryi, Yu. Dyvnych, Ye. Blakytnyi, V maskakh epokhy (The Masks of an Era), Germany, 1938; also Yosyp Hirniak, "Birth and Death of the Modern Ukrainian Theater," in Soviet Theaters: 1917‑1941, ed. M. Bradshaw, New York, Research Program on the USSR, 1954, pp250‑338.

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39 Lewis Jacobs (The Rise of the American Film: A Critical History, New York, 1939, pp322‑23) has this to say about Dovzhenko: "His films have not had such advantages of widespread publicity and distribution as the other two directors [Eisenstein and Pudovkin] have enjoyed, but they are in many respects equally unique and valuable. To the structural contributions of his associates he has added a deep personal and poetic insight, which not only gives his films a mystical quality, but makes them utterly unusual . . . So personalized are these pictures [Arsenal, Soil] that they achieve the emotional intensity of great lyrical poems; so concentrated, rich, and unexpected are their images that Dovzhenko, perhaps more than anyone else, can be called the first poet of the movies."

Thayer's Note:

a Hryhory Kostiuk — the author of this book himself.

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