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Chapter 25

This webpage reproduces a chapter of


Ukraine under the Soviets
by Clarence Manning

published by
Bookman Associates
New York,
1953

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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 p215  Conclusion

On March 5, 1953, Joseph Stalin, who had been the dominant force in the Soviet Union for 29 years, died in the Kremlin of a stroke. The man who had superintended the transformation of the country, the Georgian revolutionist who had espoused the Great Russians as had none of the Russian tsars, died peacefully in his bed, almost the only one of the Communist leaders since Lenin who has not died violently or in the slave camps of the north and the east. It was the end of an era.

The next day, his successor, Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov, was installed in office with a complete realignment of the governmental organization and a large number of shifts, promotions and demotions among his associates. The announcement emphasized that the new regime would follow closely the lines promulgated by Stalin. In this new setup, Khrushchov, the former Russian tyrant over Ukraine, was confirmed in his position in the Presidium of the Communist Party, and his successor, another Russian, Melnikov, the present head of the Ukrainian Communists, was made an alternate in the same Presidium.

The day before, as Stalin lay dying, the Kremlin government issued a statement urging unity upon all the peoples of the Soviet Union and reiterated the statement that success in carrying on the policy was due to the loyalty to the Soviet regime of the Great Russians, the leaders of the Union. They were the only one of the Soviet peoples or the peoples under the Soviets mentioned by name.

Nothing in the careers of Malenkov or of Beria, who emerges with increased powers as the head of the Ministry of the Interior (including National Security), or any of the men mentioned for  p216 high office gives any indication that the old process of russification and centralization will be changed. Everything points to an intensification of it and perhaps an intensification that will be less original and even more mechanical. There seems little likelihood that there will be any diminution of pressure or any return toward the relative liberalism of the early years. We can only wait to see whether the transmission of power can be handled without any of the discords that followed the death of Lenin and whether Malenkov can succeed to the deified position which was demanded for Stalin during his later years.

The mystery that the Kremlin has thrown around itself has succeeded in hiding from the world the personal relations of the new leaders. Yet, the almost immediate attacks on American and British planes in all parts of the world reflect the determination of the new regime to continue the militant policy of its predecessor. On the other hand, the peaceful speeches of Malenkov and a few isolated acts of apparent diminished hostility have served to revive the hopes of many of the Western nations in the possibilities of better relations with the USSR. This is quite in accordance with Soviet plans to split its opponents, who still do not want to realize that gestures of friendship to the peoples beyond the Iron Curtain mean nothing more than gestures of friendship to the foreign Communists already dependent upon Moscow for their support and guidance.

By Soviet definition, the Communists are the peace-loving leaders of all the peoples of the world and the only ones entitled to speak for these peoples, while non‑Communist governments are something to be deceived and overthrown from within, if possible. This has been the cardinal principle of Soviet policy since 1917 and explains the repeated failures of the free world to reach any definite settlement with Moscow. It should lead the West to reexamine its relations with the Kremlin and also those with the Great Russians who are now, in the Kremlin language, practically equated with the Communists.

It should compel the West to forget the dream of a Russian unity and the speeches and writings of the Russian emigrés should be considered critically in view of their attitude toward Ukraine  p217 and the other non‑Russian peoples that were conquered by the tsars, reconquered by the Soviets and now in the name of Great Russian Communism subjected to a new period of russification.

At the same time, there is no new evidence that the regime of Malenkov is any more tolerant of the national differences or feelings of the non‑Russian peoples than was the previous regime. The steady rise in influence of Khrushchov suggests the opposite and a still greater pressure upon Ukraine.

Since World War II, the attitude of the Kremlin toward the Ukrainians has perceptibly hardened. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic is a member of the United Nations. It has its own government, its own flag, its own national anthem. Yet, by the orders of the Kremlin, no diplomat from outside the iron curtain is admitted to its capital of Kiev. Its government conducts all of its affairs through Moscow.

The Ukrainians are to‑day the slaves of Moscow in their own country. They are liable to be deported across its boundaries at any moment and their places taken by Russians or persons from anywhere within the Soviet orbit. They are compelled to think Russian thoughts, to interpret their past, their present and their future in terms acceptable to their elder brothers, the Great Russians. The slightest deviation from that path is met with the grim charge of bourgeois nationalism, the gravest offence in the entire list of crimes.

That same process in earlier stages is taking place in all the Soviet satellites. Step by step, the culture of the other countries is being remodelled on the Russian Soviet pattern. The Russian language is being introduced and forced into the dominant place. Step by step, their national traditions are being spurned, corrupted and altered, so that they will be worthy members of the Soviet Union under Russian Communist leader­ship. Their contacts with the outside world are being cut, while the Moscow radio blares out day and night the statements that the Russians are the friends of peace while the nations outside are warmongers and imperialists.

We might be tempted to believe that Moscow is right but we  p218 can scarcely with normal intelligence and sanity believe that the millions of Ukrainians who had been condemned for bourgeois nationalism are anything but victims of a mania of persecution and of cruelty. We can hardly believe in the criminality of the increasing role of victims throughout the satellite states. We can hardly believe in the stability of a regime which can find itself menaced by the flight of a single citizen from its paradise.

When we add to this, the constant Soviet warnings of the danger of espionage, their secrecy as to all matters of economics, their isolation of foreign representatives, their unwillingness to let travellers and observers view their great achievements, we must become still more doubtful. We cannot give credence to the benign character of a state which proclaims almost every day that it has discovered new acts of disloyalty, of sabotage and of almost open revolt, which annihilates whole groups and nations for disloyalty.

One thing is obvious. The situation calls for a firm and progressive growing interrelation between the world outside, an interrelation in arms and in economics and in culture. It needs an awareness of the process by which this Soviet system has been built up. Then, perhaps in time, we may secure the answer to the question whether the Soviet Union will sweep the whole of humanity within its stereotyped laws because of its real strength or whether the power of the Soviet Union is based upon the disunion of the democratic world, its mutual jealousies and antagonisms. Will the successors of Stalin dare to risk a war or will their artificial structure fall apart, if it passes under too great a strain?

Yet, to answer such a question, we must know as much as possible of the methods by which that system is built up. It is here that the fate of the Ukrainians comes in again, for we can follow in their sad experiences the methods which the Russian Communists have ever employed.

In a very real sense Ukraine and the Ukrainians are the touchstone of the system. If the Kremlin can win a lasting victory, it has a chance of success. If it can persuade the Ukrainians to be happy in their new slavery, it may win out. If it cannot stop  p219 their opposition except by their total extermination, then we can be sure that world can save itself if it awakes.

There is only one thing certain. Before the United Nations can function as it was intended, its members must be independent states and peoples. That means that the Ukrainian representatives must be free representatives of a free Ukraine who can contribute their part to the common welfare. In one way or another, that must come and the Muscovite domination must be ended. May it come soon and in a peaceful manner! Then, with that, will come of necessity the ending of the process, the restoration of liberty to the countries within the Iron Curtain and the possibility of the cooperation of men for the elimination of suffering, want, injustice and fear and the opening of a new and enlightened period in human history.


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