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Communist Takeover and Occupation of Ukraine

Special Report No. 4
the Select Committee on Communist Aggression
House of Representatives
Eighty-Third Congress Second Session
under authority of H. Res. 346 and H. Res. 438

December 31, 1954 — Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union
and ordered to be printed

Mr. Kersten of Wisconsin,
from the Select Committee on Communist Aggression,
submitted the following


[Pursuant to H. Res. 346 and H. Res. 438]

 p. ii  House Select Committee to investigate Communist aggression and the forced incorporation of the Baltic States into the U. S. S. R.

Charles J. Kersten, Wisconsin, Chairman
Fred B. Busbey, Illinois Ray J. Madden, Indiana
Alvin M. Bentley, Michigan Thaddeus M. Machrowicz, Michigan
Edward J. Bonin, Pennsylvania Thomas J. Dodd, Connecticut
Patrick J. Billings, California Michael A. Feighan, Ohio
James J. McTigue, Committee Counsel
Edward M. O'Connor, Staff Director

 p. iii  Contents



History of Ukraine


Ukrainian Revival


Rise of the Ukrainian National Republic


Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the meaning of communism


Militant communism


New economic policy




End of the new economic policy


Famine of 1932‑33


Attack on Ukrainian culture


Prison camps


Yezhovshchyna, 1936‑37


Vinnytsya — The "Ukrainian Katyn"


First occupation of western Ukraine


German-Soviet war


Russian Communist return


Church policy


Postwar Ukraine


Postwar culture


Latest developments


 p. v  Introduction

The committee wishes to express its appreciation for assistance in the preparation of this report to Georgetown University, its faculty and to the group of experts from various parts of the United States who cooperated with the university. The record of hearings of the committee, together with individual sworn depositions from eyewitnesses, documents, exhibits, and other authoritative evidence formed the basis for this report.

The purpose of this report is to telescope the essentials of the history of Ukraine and its people; including the period of Communist takeover and occupation of that nation. It is hoped that this report will help the American people to understand better the nations and people enslaved by communism and thereby to more fully appreciate the true nature, tactics, and final objectives of the criminal conspiracy of world communism.

 p1  Communist Takeover and Occupation of Ukraine

History of Ukraine

The Ukrainian people who have suffered from the aggression and genocidal policy of the Soviet Union, have also during the past centuries been neglected by the non‑Russian world. From the time when they became entangled with the empire of Moscow by the Treaty of Pereyaslav in 1654, Moscow has resorted to all possible measures to deny their national existence as a people with their own distinct culture.

Today, the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, as one of the Union Republics of the U. S. S. R., is a charter member of the United Nations, but it is not allowed to enter into direct relations with any of the free nations of the world. It still remains, in the opinion of the masters of the Kremlin, raw material to be remodeled and shaped to fit their fancy, without regard to the principles of democracy or the wishes of the people.

According to the best calculations, which are of course approximate, there are about 54 million Ukrainians in the world. This entitles them to rank in Europe next after the Russians and the Germans in point of numbers. The greater part of them live in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. There are still some areas on the borders inhabited by compact masses of Ukrainians, especially in the Russian Federated Soviet Socialist Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic. There are also large areas in the Russian Far East, along the Amur River and elsewhere, that have a concentrated Ukrainian population, either by way of voluntary emigration or by enforced deportation and exile.

The area of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic includes about 602,000 square kilometers or in the neighborhood of 200,000 square miles. This includes the celebrated black earth district, one of the richest agricultural lands in Europe, and the well known coal- and iron-mining districts of the Donets Basin and Kryvy Rih. It lies on the north shore of the Black Sea and extends from the Carpathian Mountains to the Don River in a broad belt.

Many of the historical difficulties of the Ukrainian people have been connected with the name of their land. In the oldest period it was called Ruś. It is very clear that in this form it was applied chiefly to the Kievan area and from there spread among the eastern Slavs. It appeared in Latin usually under the form Ruthenia.

The other name, Ukraine, likewise appeared early and the precise meaning as "borderland" or "settled country" is still in dispute. Modern political usage, however, has come to prefer it in view of the confusion between Ruś and Russia, a term which came into use only in the 18th century under Emperor Peter I.

 p2  Herodotus in book IV of his History described in detail the early history of what is now Ukraine, and early Greek and Byzantine historians traced the history of the various invading tribes. In the 9th century a power­ful figure, perhaps with the use of Varangian troops, organized out of the separate tribes or clans a strong state of Ruś with its capital at Kiev. By the time these rulers became real personages in the historical sense, they were speaking a Slavic language which has been described as ancient Ukrainian.

The country was Christianized from Constantinople and accepted the main outlines of Byzantine culture under the reign of Volodymyr the Great at the end of the 10th century, together with the use of a modified Church Slavonic which had been introduced from Bulgaria. Greek and Bulgarian monks and clergy came in numbers to Kiev. In a short time Kiev with its Cathedral of St. Sofia developed into one of the most prominent outposts of Byzantine civilization.

Yet Kiev and its rulers had close affiliations with the West. One daughter of Yaroslav the Wise (1019‑54) married King Henry I of France and others married into the royal families of the then Norway, Poland and Hungary. A daughter of Harold, the last Saxon King of England, was the wife of Volodymyr Monomakh of Kiev (1113‑25). The policy of the early rulers was to maintain both their relations with Constantinople and with the developing states of Western Europe.

Then in 1240 came the invasion of the Mongol Tartars under Batu Khan. This wrecked the Kievan state and reduced the capital to a pile of ruins. The princes of Halych (Galicia) struggled on against the new invaders. The rulers of Suzdal-Moscow yielded and became the slaves of the Khan.

Gradually by intermarriage even more than by force, what we now know as Ukraine came to form a most important part of the medieval Lithuanian state. The kings of Hungary extended their control over the Carpathians, and the kings of Poland in 1362 gained control of Halych.

At the dawn of modern history, in their state of division the Ukrainians felt themselves menaced by three influences. They feared the growing power of Moscow under Ivan the Terrible who sought to annex them. They felt that Moscow was Orthodox but uncultured. They feared the power of Roman Catholic Poland, especially as many of the leading nobles accepted Polish Renaissance culture and with it the Roman Catholic faith. They feared also the Mohammedan influences wielded by the Sultan of Turkey and the Khan of the Crimea.

Under these conditions a part of the clergy who most valued Western influences opened negotiations with the Pope, and in 1596 there was prepared the Union of Brest which allowed them to maintain their Orthodox customs in return for a recognition of the Papacy. This created the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite which became especially strong in Galicia and the Carpathians.

By the seventeenth century a new force emerged, the Zaporozhian Kozaks. The freedom-loving Kozaks went out into the open and uninhabited steppes which were systematically raided by the Tartars and established their own center at the Zaporozhian Sich below the rapids of the Dnieper. There, though they were nominally subjects of the King of Poland, they formed a quasi-autonomous military community  p3 which fought for the King against the Tartars, but bowed to his will at no other time.

Poland, having difficulties at home, found it increasingly difficult to deal with this problem. This precarious situation came to an end in 1648 when Bohdan Khmelnytsky became the Hetman. The Poles forced him and the Zaporozhians into open revolt and in a few weeks he had defeated the Polish armed forces. It was then that he conceived the idea of establishing a definite Kozak state and expelling the Poles from the Ukrainian lands. To do it, he needed allies. With no success in other directions, in 1654 he approached Czar Alexis of Moscow, and the result was the Treaty of Pereyaslav.

Khmelnytsky met the Czar's envoy, Buturlin, at Pereyaslav on January 18, 1654, and apparently made some sort of an oral arrangement for a joint campaign against Poland. Russian historians have always insisted that it was a formal submission but they have decided neither that the treaty meant the incorporation of Ukraine, which is obviously not the case, nor a personal union under the Czar. Ukrainian historians have treated the treaty as a military alliance which was broken by Russian actions. Even the Communist historians have varied from the denunciation of Khmelnytsky as a tyrant in the Soviet Encyclopedia of 1936 to an enthusiastic laudation of him as a supporter of union with Russia in the Theses issued during 1954 for the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the treaty.

The treaty did give Moscow a chance to interfere in the internal affairs of the Zaporozhian Host which was endeavoring to set up a local administration in which the officers of the Kozak regiments became the local sources of government. When Khmelnytsky died in 1658, there was no one to inherit his powers and his prestige. In a few years there had ensued what has been termed the "ruin" in Ukrainian history. Thousands of Kozaks fled to the so‑called Slobozhanshchyna which was nominally under the Czar but still a no‑man's land. The chaos was only made worse when in 1667, by the Peace of Andrusivo, the Czar and the King of Poland divided Ukraine along the line of the Dnieper, with Kiev on the west bank handed over to Moscow in return for a loan.

The most outstanding Hetman of that period was Ivan Mazepa, who ascended to power in 1687. When Charles XII of Sweden, in the autumn of 1708, turned his attention to Muscovy and advanced to the boundaries of Ukraine, Mazepa openly joined him. His sudden revolt, however, found many of the Ukrainians unprepared. Still there was a steady flow to his banners and the Zaporozhian Sich came out for him and the cause of a free Ukraine.

Czar Peter I took a terrible vengeance. He attacked and captured Mazepa's capital of Baturyn and tortured to death the entire population of the city in an appalling massacre. The unfortunate Battle of Poltava on June 17, 1709, doomed the hopes of Mazepa as Charles XII, unable to lead his troops in person because of a wound received a few days earlier, was completely defeated.

From then on, for nearly a half century conditions deteriorated rapidly. When Catherine II came to the throne, she forced the resignation of the then Hetman, and in 1775 ordered her troops to seize and destroy the Zaporozhian Sich. In 1783 she issued the final order abolishing the Hetmanate as an institution, abolishing the Kozak regiments  p4 and ending under Russian law all traces of self-government or separatism in Ukraine. From this moment Ukraine was to be known as either Little Russia or South Russia, and it was officially resolved that the Ukrainians were Russian and to be treated as such. Russian governmental institutions were introduced, serfdom was established in its Russian form, and Catherine proudly believed that the Ukrainian problem had been fully and completely solved.

Meanwhile the division of Poland, which took place between 1772 and the final extinguishment of the country, brought under Russian rule nearly all the Ukrainian provinces. The same program was applied to them. Step by step, area by area, the Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite was liquidated, often with great violence.

There was left merely Galicia and Bukovyna, which passed under the control of the Hapsburg Empire, and Carpatho-Ukraine which had been for centuries under the Hungarian Crown. Ukraine was doomed, and with its passing from the map, the history of the country vanished from the consciousness of the European peoples.

The Russian victory was not as complete as it first appeared. There were still left the Ukrainian people with their traditional modes of living, their folklore, their songs, their costumes, and their memories of the past. The patriotic Ukrainian spirit found refuge in the hearts of the masses.

The Ukrainian Revival

In 1798 a cultural revival started. Ivan Kotlyarevsky, a Ukrainian nobleman of Poltava, published in the Ukrainian language a burlesque of Virgil's Aeneid, in which he presented the wandering Trojans under the form of the Zaporozhian Kozaks wandering about in search of a new home. Nothing like this in the vernacular had ever been done and his version of the Eneida introduced a new pattern into Ukrainian life.

While the literature was in this embryonic state, Taras Shevchenko appeared. In 1840 he published his collection of poems, the Kobzar, and followed it up later with his epic, The Haydamaky. Ukrainians of all classes thrilled to the music of Shevchenko's verse, and the future of Ukrainian literature was never in doubt from that moment. It had proved its right to exist as one of the Slavic literatures.

Shevchenko found in Kiev, in 1845, a group of like-minded young men largely connected with the University of Kiev. In 1846 they established the Society of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, and dreamed of the establishment of an independent Ukraine as one of the republics of a free Slavdom. The idealistic elements far outshadowed any practical revolutionary practice. Still the society was too dangerous for Nicholas I. That imperious ruler with his fear of revolution, at one and the same time denied the existence of Ukraine and feared its revival. When the existence of the Society was established, its members were all arrested and given various sentences. Shevchenko as the best known of its members was sent to a disciplinary battalion in central Asia with a special ban on painting and writing. He was released by Alexander II in 1857, as a broken man, and died in 1861 in St. Petersburg.

Shevchenko and his friends set the pattern for the Ukrainian revival in the Russian Empire. It was primarily a cultural and not a political movement. But it could not be stopped. It was in vain that  p5 the Minister of the Interior, Count Valuyev, in 1863 declared that there had never been, was not and never would be a separate "Little Russian" language. It was in vain that the Russian censors utilized this remark to ban the printing of diverse Ukrainian works. The work went on, and when Professor Mykhaylo Drahomaniv was forced to leave his post at the University of Kiev and retire to Switzerland, the world heard again of the existence of the Ukrainian people after a century and more of silence.

There had been a similar revival of Ukrainian consciousness among those Ukrainians who had been brought under Hapsburg rule in the Western Ukrainian lands. It had taken there a somewhat different form, for it centered around the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. Immediately after Galicia passed under Austrian control, Empress Maria Theresa had established in Vienna, in 1774, the Barbareum for the education of Greek Catholic priests from Galicia and Carpatho-Ukraine. In 1788 she established a seminary in Lvov and in 1784 the Government opened a university in Lvov.

By 1848 there was a Ukrainian Rada in Lvov, Ukrainian newspapers were appearing and an organized movement was in existence. The reaction that followed checked it, but with the increased freedom that came in the Hapsburg lands after 1867, the movement revived and Lvov became an important Ukrainian cultural center.

It will at once be seen that there was a difference in the development of the two halves of the country. Under the Hapsburgs there was no denial of the Ukrainian national identity. Ukrainian progress was hampered by the Poles but it was nevertheless possible to form political parties and compete in the Galician elections. In Russia, the Ukrainian identity was denied and many of the younger Ukrainians were drawn into the Russian revolutionary movement, while no separate Ukrainian political activity was possible.

It was not until after the revolution of 1905 that the Ukrainians under Russia were able to express themselves more freely. There were Ukrainian delegates in the first Duma, but the constant changes in the Russian electoral laws and the reaction that followed the failure of that revolution, steadily reduced the opportunities of the Ukrainians, even though the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1905 had recognized Ukrainian as a language distinct from the Russian. However, as early as 1899 there had been formed in Kharkov a Revolutionary Ukrainian Party from which came many of the Ukrainian leaders in World War I, and this revived in some of its clandestine publications the idea of an independent Ukrainian state.

The outbreak of World War I sharply changed the situation. The Russian Government at once adopted an extreme an anti-Ukrainian position, stopped all Ukrainian publications and forbade the opening of any purely Ukrainian relief societies, even for Ukrainian war prisoners captured from the Austrian armies. On the other hand, the Russian Army penetrated Galicia and in the early days of the war captured Lvov. They immediately tried to suppress all the nationalist societies with the avowed intention of Russianizing the entire Ukrainian population of Galicia and the Carpathians. When they were driven back in 1915, they carried with them large numbers of Ukrainians whom they settled in various parts of the Empire.

As an answer to this, there was organized in Vienna a Society for the Liberation of Ukraine, meaning, of course, that part of Ukraine  p6 under Russian domination. The Austrian Government allowed the organization of some special volunteer Ukrainian military units. They became the nucleus of the later Riflemen of the Sich and of the Galician Army. As regards the future of the Ukrainians of the Western lands, they revived the idea that there should be a special Ukrainian province formed in Eastern Galicia with the other Ukrainian sections of the Empire, as Bukovyna, to be a Ukrainian state within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Ukrainians under Austria had a free hand to work among the Ukrainian prisoners of war from the Imperial Russian army. Such was the situation when in March 1917, the Russian revolution broke out and Czar Nicholas I abdicated his throne.

The Rise of the Ukrainian National Republic

The Russian revolution which broke out on February 25/March 8, 1917, was more of a collapse of the old imperial organism under the strain of World War I than the conscious work of an organized revolutionary movement. The leaders of the Duma under the first Prime Minister, Prince Lvov, firmly believed that the Russian Empire were one and the same thing and they desired to preserve as much as possible of the old imperial unity. The Volyn Guard Regiment, largely composed of Ukrainians, had aided in the revolution and almost from the first demanded the use of Ukrainian insignia and the Ukrainian language as the language of command. Inspired by the Social Democrat and writer, V. Vynnychenko, they aided in the formation of a Ukrainian National Committee in Petrograd and appealed for Ukrainian rights and the amelioration of the lot of the Ukrainians in the Austrian territories occupied by the Russian Army.

In the middle of March the under­ground Society of Ukrainian Progressives came out from under cover. When Prof. Mykhaylo Hrushevsky, the greatest of Ukrainian historians, returned home during the same month from forced exile in Russia, he took the lead in the organization. On April 7, there was a great demonstration in Kiev at which Professor Hrushevsky spoke of the ending of the past, the fight for fundamental national rights, and called on the Ukrainians to be loyal to their native land — Ukraine. Out of this developed the central Rada as a gathering of the politically conscious Ukrainians of Kiev. This led to a Ukrainian Congress later in the month which broadened the scope of the Rada to include Ukrainians from the provinces as well as from Kiev.

As a result of definite rebuffs from the Russian provisional government and on the demands of the soldiers, the Rada issued on June 23, 1917, its first universal, written by Vynnychenko, and declared in this that from this time Ukrainian had to live its own life. The Rada then set up a General Secretariat in which Vynnychenko became General Secretary (really Prime Minister) and Simon Petlyura became Secretary of Military Affairs. This was in effect the first modern Ukrainian Government.

These developments led to the arrival in Kiev of a delegation from the provisional government consisting of Kerensky, Tereschenko, Tsereteli, and Nekrasov. They worked out with Hrushevsky, Vynnychenko, and Petlyura a plan for a definite provisional organization of a Ukrainian government out of the Rada and General Secretariat but  p7 including definite subordination to the provisional government in Petrograd.

On the return of the delegation to Petrograd, the provisional government rejected this compromise, while, by this time, the Petrograd Soviet under the influence of Lenin was threatening a definite revolt in that city. The provisional government continued to threaten the Rada with arrest and trial for exceeding its authority, while the sentiment of the Ukrainian people in all classes called for the Rada to exercise greater independence.

This period of confusion ended abruptly when on October 24 to November 7, the Petrograd Soviet overthrew the provisional government and declared itself the master of Russia. Neither the Central Rada nor the Kiev Soviet were willing to accept the change in the regime. At the moment a greater menace was presented by the staff of the Russian military garrison in Kiev which in the name of the provisional government tried to seize power. This attempt was broken by a general strike of the workers and after a few troubled days, the staff left the city and the Rada became the governing body of Ukraine.

Then on November 20, it issued the Third Universal, which was really a declaration of national independence except that it contained the phrase "not breaking the federative bonds with Russia." It showed how far Ukrainian thought had gone and how much, in the face of Petrograd's obstructionism, the Rada had already accomplished, for there is provided for the establishment of a democratic republic in the Ukrainian ethnographic boundaries and guaranteed to all citizens those democratic rights that form the basis of a free country.

The Western Powers, England and France, had their representatives in Kiev but they were unable to give the new regime immediate help because of the war. The Black Sea ports were closed, since Turkey was on the side of the Central Powers and all Allied aid had to come from the Arctic ports of Archangel and Murmansk and Vladivostok across Russian territory.

At the same time, the Russian troops, demobilizing on the southwestern front and largely under Bolshevik influence, were streaming across the country. These offered a more insidious menace to the new state than had the former Russian garrison or even the Russian workmen and partisans of the provisional government in Kiev and the other cities. They offered a good chance for Lenin and his followers to interfere and try to seize the country.

Such an attempt was not long in coming. According to the memoirs of I. Puke, who was put in charge, the Bolsheviks moved 8,400 of these Russian soldiers toward Kiev on November 30 with the intention of seizing the city. The Rada discovered this conspiracy in time, disarmed the party, and shipped it out of the country.

But Lenin had to try again. This was the same Lenin who had consistently preached self-determination for all the nations of the old empire as a means of defeating the provisional government. The Rada was growing stronger, so he prepared to overthrow it by an armed invasion from Russian territory. He placed the troops under the command of Antonov-Ovseyenko, his most trusted commander.

 p8  Following the armistice with the Central Powers, Lenin officially recognized Ukraine as a completely sovereign and independent state on December 17, 1917 in these words:

We the Soviet of the People's Commissars, recognize the Ukrainian National Republic and its right to separate from Russia or to make an agreement with the Russian Republic for federative or other similar mutual relations between them. Everything that touches national rights and the national independence of the Ukrainian people, we, the Soviet of the People's Commissars, accept clearly without limitations and unreservedly.

This was an unequivocal statement. However, at the same time this recognition was extended, the Bolsheviks presented an ultimatum on the ground that the Ukrainian Central Rada by its failure to recognize the Soviets and the Soviet Government in Ukraine was acting in a bourgeois manner and could not be accepted as an "empowered representative of the laboring and exploited masses of Ukraine." The ultimatum went on to demand that the Rada bind itself not to allow any military units to go to the Don or the Kuban regions without the permission of the Bolshevik commander, that it help the Bolsheviks in their war against the counterrevolutionary movement of Kaledin in the Don, that it stop all affords to disarm Soviet regiments and the workers' Red Guard in Ukrainian and return arms to those units that had been disarmed. If this was not done within 48 hours, the Soviets would declare war upon the Ukrainian National Republic.

The Ukrainian Government rejected this ultimatum with the statement that they had disarmed Russian soldiers engaged in a conspiracy against the Ukrainian Government and threw the blame for any hostilities upon the Soviets themselves. On the same day the Third Peasant Congress of Ukraine and an All‑Ukrainian Congress of Soldiers', Workers' and Peasants' Deputies, held in Kiev, supported the Ukrainian Government. A handful of dissenters who supported the Russian Bolsheviks left the city for Kharkov, where they joined a meeting of Russian workers from the Donbas which had overthrown the government of the Rada in that city and established a Central Executive Committee of Ukraine and a People's Secretariat. This group claimed to be the allies of the Russian Soviets, and was recognized as such by Stalin in a letter of December 25, when the Russian Soviet Army began to cross the boundaries of Ukraine.

It is of interest that it was only in the case of Ukraine that the Soviet Government definitely issued an ultimatum and a declaration of war, before its armed forces crossed the boundary to set up a Soviet government on Ukrainian soil. Yet it is of interest that such loyal Bolsheviks as V. Shakhray, the minister of war of the pseudogovernment, stated in one of his reports that —

in our war against the Central Rada we have only the army brought into Ukraine by Antonov and all Ukrainian units look at it as hostile and counterrevolutionary.

The Ukrainian Army was not able to withstand this assault. Many of the older units were ill‑equipped and a volunteer force of almost untrained students trying to defend the approaches to Kiev was cut to pieces at Kruty on January 22, 1918, after a heroic struggle. There was a constant threat of revolt in Kiev and in other cities, and finally on February 8‑9, the Government and the army retreated from Kiev to Zhytomyr.

The Bolsheviks entered the city and they at once began a reign of terror, massacring on the streets or before an extraordinary committee  p9 of the Cheka everyone that attracted their attention, including even Ukrainian Communists who were caught speaking Ukrainian. The mass executions which were to be a feature of Moscow Bolshevik policy in Ukraine were beginning.

At this point we quote a witness who appeared before the committee and testified on this subject:

Mr. Zozulya. It was the usual custom of the Bolsheviks not to take prisoners of war. All who were taken were shot on the spot. I was personally trapped in the city of Kiev for 2 days after the Bolshevik forces had taken over the city. I witnessed armed units of the Bolshevik army roaming the streets of the city of Kiev and intercepting soldiers and people in the streets, and if on any person any kind of document issued by Ukrainian independent government was found, such person was either shot on the spot or taken to a special camp which was established for them in the royal palace.

At least 5,000 people had been executed within a period of 3 days at that time. I have a document which proves that even one of the Bolshevik agents who was in the Ukraine at that time states in his memoirs that he was almost shot because he was caught with a Ukrainian document on him, which he naturally had to have in order to act as agent. His name is V. Zatonsky and his memoirs were published by the Ukrainian Communist newspaper in New York, the Ukrainian Daily News.

I was also ordered to be shot, but was saved by a miracle because in one of my pockets I had a piece of paper with the personal signature of Lenin on it. I also had a pass on me issued by the Soviet Ukrainian Workers, Peasants and Soldiers in Kharkov.

The Central Rada decided that under these circumstances it was necessary for them to make peace with the Central Powers and to send their own delegates to Brest-Litovsk, despite the protests of the British and French representatives in Kiev. Three young men, Mykhaylo Levytsky, Mykhaylo Lubynsky, and Oleksander Sevryuk were sent to Brest on January 12, 1918. To support them, the Rada decided to proclaim the Fourth Universal on January 22 and declare the complete independence of a Ukrainian state. This was done almost to the sound of the firing of Russian guns across the Dnieper.

On February 7, the Germans, Austrians, and the delegates of the Rada signed the first of the treaties made at Brest-Litovsk. The Central Powers recognized the independence of the Ukrainian National Republic, including the territory claimed by the Ukrainians and those areas that were still under German and Austrian occupation. In return the Ukrainians promised 1 million tons of grain to the Central Powers. Also the Central Powers promised to return the Ukrainian prisoners of war and to arm the Ukrainian armies for the struggle against the Bolsheviks.

Once the treaty was consummated, the Ukrainians called upon the Germans and Austrians for military assistance. The appearance of well-trained troops changed the situation and on March 1, the Rada was able to return to Kiev and resume its work of constructing a democratic state. By the end of April the entire area had been cleared of Bolsheviks and the country was beginning to recover from the initial Soviet Russian aggression. On April 29, they adopted a constitution and elected Hrushevsky the President of the Republic.

The country had been robbed and ruined by the Communist occupation. Despite the efforts of the Rada and its officials, they could not gather the grain rapidly enough to satisfy the German military authorities who had aided in clearing the country of the Communists and now became restive and suspicious of much of the liberal legislation passed by the Rada.

 p10  This provided the excuse for the formation of a countermovement headed by Gen. Pavlo Skoropadsky. On April 28, a German detachment raided the Rada on various charges despite the protest of Professor Hrushevsky. Then on April 29, Skoropadsky called for the overthrow of the Rada. A descendant of the old Hetman Ivan Skoropadsky, he proclaimed himself Hetman of the Ukrainian State and announced the introduction of a conservative regime. The Rada had to submit but almost none of the older statesmen took part in the new government.

It was not long after that the growing signs of German and Austrian collapse encouraged the Ukrainian political parties, which during the summer had been holding secret meetings of opposition. They later transferred their center to Bila Tserkva where there were encamped units of the Riflemen of the Sich, a unit formed and trained in Austro-Hungary. There, following the collapse of Central Powers, on November 15, a directory consisting of Vynnychenko, Petlyura, F. Shvets, A. Makarenko, and O. Andriyevsky started a revolt and marched on Kiev. By December 19, the directory had entered Kiev in triumph and the Ukrainian National Republic was again restored.

In the latter part of October 1918 it had become evident that the Empire of Austria-Hungary was disintegrating and the Ukrainians of Galicia, Bukovyna, and Carpatho-Ukraine made plans in Lvov to act when the time came. On the night of November 1, they raised the Ukrainian banner over Lvov and established the Western Ukrainian National Republic. That Western Ukrainian National Republic voted on January 3, 1919, to unite with the Ukrainian National Republic, and the union was proclaimed at Kiev on January 22, a year after the foundation of the eastern state.

In the meantime, in the month of November 1918, Stalin in Moscow, contrary to the armistice made in Kiev on June 12, set up again another Ukrainian Soviet Government under carefully selected Communist leaders, Pyatakov, Antony Alkin, Artem, Kviring and Zatonsky. Zatonsky was the only Ukrainian in the group and Artem attempted to argue that "the creation of Ukraine was reactionary, even if it was Soviet," as Zatonsky published in his Fragments of Memories of the Ukrainian Revolution, in 1929. On November 17, a Revolutionary Military Soviet was set up in Kursk under Antonov, Stalin, and Zatonsky to carry out this decision. By December 1, there was issued a manifesto of the provisional workers' and peasants' government of Ukraine, declaring itself the Soviet Government of Ukraine and threatening death to anyone obeying the laws and orders of the legal Ukrainian Government.

Thus the first act of the new directory was to take note of these military operations. Well informed as to what was happening, the directory protested and was told:

There is no army of the Russian Socialist Soviet Republic in Ukraine. The military action on Ukrainian territory at the moment is between the armies of the directory (the Ukrainian National Republic) and the armies of the Ukrainian Soviet Government which is completely independent. Between Ukraine and Soviet Russia there are no military clashes.

There could be but one answer and on January 16, 1919, the directory ceased efforts at peace and declared war on Soviet Russia.

Another menace was equally serious. When the World War ended and the Dardanelles reopened, a French force landed at Odessa on  p11 December 12 and demanded that the port be turned over to an anti-Communist government under a member of the Russian Whites. A month later another force landed still further to the east and insisted on the surrender of a large part of the Black Sea coast. The victorious entente made it clear that they intended to support the Russian Whites under Denikin and would treat the Ukrainian Government as an enemy.

The following months brought great disappointments. With the approach of the Communists, the directory was forced to retire from Kiev on February 4 and began its wanderings to the northwest until it reached Kamyanets Podilsky​a after a series of heroic but fruitless struggles. When the Allies allowed the Polish forces of General Haller to approach the River Zbruch, the West Ukrainian Army was forced across the river and joined Petlyura in the middle of the summer. The union of the two forces proved profitable at first and they finally were able to recover Kiev on August 30. However, almost immediately, the forces of General Denikin, which had been advancing from the Black Sea with the support of the entente, forced the retirement of the Ukrainians and they, in turn, in a few days were compelled to retreat and turn over the city to the Bolshevik troops.

In the meanwhile the Allies did their best to keep arms and even medical supplies from reached the hard-pressed Ukrainian forces, who were being decimated by typhus and other diseases. In the spring of 1920, Petlyura himself went to Poland and succeeded in making an alliance with the Polish commander Marshal Pilsudski at the cost of the eastern Galician lands. The two forces of the Poles and the Ukrainian National Republic entered Kiev on May 7, 1920. It was almost the end, for on June 11, the joint armies were obliged to retreat. Then after feet Battle of Warsaw, while the Ukrainians were fighting in eastern Galicia, the two forces advanced again but hostilities were ended by the armistice of Riga on October 18, 1920. The Ukrainian Soviet Republic signed this treaty and no mention was made of the Ukrainian National Republic. Small forces of this remained active on Ukrainian territory until November 21, 1920, and then they were forced to recross the Zbruch and seek refuge in Poland where they were interned.

The withdrawal of the forces of the Ukrainian National Republic across the Zbruch in November 1920, marked the close of a chapter in an heroic struggle for national independence. It did not, however, bring tranquillity to that part of the territory which fell under Communist rule, for the uprisings of the oppressed peasant continued on and some of the leaders remained in the field for 2 and even 3 years longer.

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Meaning of Communism

To understand better the reasons for the relations between the Russian Soviet Republic, the Ukrainian National Republic and the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, it is well to note a few facts in regard to the theories of Lenin and his apparently flexible policy.

Lenin's belief emphasized purely the class nature of the Russian revolution, after he took charge of the movement. Before that he  p12 had encouraged self-determination as a means of breaking down and weakening his opponents. He had built his following mainly on the Petrograd Soviet of Workers' and Soldiers' Deputies and the appearance of the peasants in the movement came almost entirely after he had secured control.

The first Bolsheviks in Ukraine were almost exclusively to be found among the Russian workers in the cities, as Kiev and Kharkov, and in the general area of Donbas. The opposition ced in the Ukrainian peasants who had had a long tradition of owner­ship or at least possession of their own homes and land.

A further corollary of this was that a certain part of the more radical Ukrainians were at one and the same time convinced of the truth of the Communist doctrine and also proudly conscious of their Ukrainian nationality. But there was no recognized Ukrainian Communist Party, and, again and again, these approached in one form or another the central committee to ask for the formation of a Ukrainian Communist Party. One of these cases came in 1918 at Tahanrih after the Communists had been driven out of Ukraine. To all of these, Lenin and his associates answered an unflinching negative. They had formerly been subject to the Russian Communist Party, now in the hour of its triumph they could not escape its control.

There were however two groups which were more or less outside of its jurisdiction — the Borotbisty and the Ukapisty.

The Borotbisty, who took their name from their journal, BorotbaStruggle, developed out of the extreme left wing of the Social Revolutionists shortly before the issuing of the Third Universal. They were largely men of undeniable Ukrainian feelings but men who were willing to cooperate with Lenin in the political, if not the cultural, field. By 1920 they were so entangled in the Communist plans that they seemed good allies for spreading communism in the small Ukrainian towns and villages. They would gladly have formed a Ukrainian Communist Party but Lenin found a simpler solution. He set up a local Communist Party, the UKP, the Communist Party of the Bolsheviks of Ukraine, which was merely a subordinate and local branch of the general Russian Communist Party. Then he allowed the Borotbisty to elect certain members to this branch group.

The Ukapisty — Ukrainian Communist Party — were a somewhat more difficult problem. They had originally been Social Democrats and Marxian trained, but as a result of the situation by which the Ukrainian National Republic was fighting simultaneously and alternately against the Bolsheviks and the Denikin forces, they proved allies of the Republic against the Denikin men but not against the Bolsheviks. Here, again, they insisted upon admission to the Communist International as a special group. They, too, with their Ukrainian connections could prove useful and as alliances in war are sometimes strange, Moscow played with them until 1925 when they, too, were forced to bow and accept a subordinate position.

Both of these groups played their own role in the early days. Both were ultimately doomed but by different paths.

These maneuvers were outside the general policy of the Moscow regime toward the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic which Moscow policy desired to keep for a while as a quasi-independent state for its international value and effect. This, with certain mild concessions, could be handled through the regular Communists, although it was  p13 with displeasure that the Moscow leaders found dangerous deviations, even among these. There were too many like Mykola Skrypnyk who tried to combine both communism and Ukrainianism in different proportions. Ukraine proved itself an unwilling victim, albeit a very challenging field for the trying out of experiments on ways of dominating subject countries. That is why Ukraine has been the scene of so many experiments and why it has been an especial victim of the Russian Communist terror.

Militant Communism

The system known as militant communism was for all intents and purposes introduced at the very beginning of the Communist regime. It was partly an ideological experiment and it was also in part an application of the old pagan rule that to the victor belong the spoils.

The Russian leaders of the first invasion of Ukraine were as much interested in plundering the peasants to secure grain as they were in capturing the country. They were willing to communize it and to massacre those classes of people whom they opposed as bourgeois, but they also wanted food because, despite the World War, there was still food in Ukraine.

Militant communism as a theory required the individual to turn over all of his produce to the state and receive back his own share. This in a rich agricultural area meant the retention by the peasant of only a few bushels of wheat and other food. Still the grasping character of the Red brooms in their search for grain did not overlook anything.

Until the end of 1920 they had the additional excuse that they were operating in enemy territory and exactly as the Red Army troops did in Berlin and Budapest after World War II, they killed and raped without restraint. In some cases the work was done by the collecting detachments who were sent from Moscow and Petrograd. In others it was done in a more theoretical but equally practical way by the Cheka — The Extraordinary Commission for the Suppression of Counterrevolution, Sabotage, and Speculation — with speculation defined as all private business dealings, no matter how small.

The peasants resisted as might have been expected. Thus, while in Russia, the land under cultivation in 1920 was 102 percent of that in 1916, in Ukraine it was 46 percent and in the great grain-growing areas around Mykolayiv it was only 24 percent. The same was true of horses. Moscow had 79 percent of its stock; Ukraine, 16 percent. In the case of cattle Russia had 114 percent; Ukraine, 30 percent.

Ukrainian industry was in much the same position, for it had been dominated by foreign capital and the Soviet policy had seized and expelled the technicians. The production of coal in the Donbas dropped from 23 million tons in 1913 to 4,600,000 tons in 1920. The production of iron ore almost stopped, and the railroads were entirely demoralized.

Then in 1921, the first year of even nominal peace, there came a severe drought, and the grain crop was almost a total failure throughout large areas. A famine broke out and several millions of people starved. It extended into some areas of the federated Russian Republic but this famine did not fit into the plans of Lenin, so he allowed the American Relief Commission to extend help, although he limited  p14 it as much as possible in Ukraine. Yet it was obvious that something drastic had to be done. The result, a tactical Communist retreat, was the new economic policy.

The New Economic Policy

The new economic policy was formally adopted at the 10th Congress of the Russian Communist Party in March 1921, but it could not become effective, because of the drought, until the following year. Without any formal action the same policy was adopted in Ukraine, and this was a good indication of the dependence of the Communist Party in Ukraine and the Ukrainian Soviet Republic on Moscow.

The basis for this in agriculture lay in a slight change. The peasant was now compelled to deliver to the state a certain amount of his products and he was allowed to sell the rest where he could. He was no longer obliged to turn over everything except what he was allowed for his own use. This gave the peasant some inspiration to work and to improve his land. The same concessions were made to small-business men and traders, while the large plants were retained as Government trusts, and work in them was made more attractive both to the workmen and to the specialists and technicians necessary for administering them.

The outside world assumed that the disastrous effects of militant communism had taught the Communists reason and commonsense and that they were returning to sound and civilized policy. Slowly but surely the barriers against the Communists were relaxed and they were invited to various international gatherings. The world leaders did not realize the full effects of Lenin's purpose.

On the internal situation the result was almost instantaneous. The amount of acreage under production began to increase again. The free Ukrainian cooperatives were revived. To help the situation still further, the Ukrainian Communist Government listened to the advice of trained agriculturists, and liberalized in the Ukrainian tradition the land code set up by Moscow, so that a peasant could lease land for 7 years and was assured that his own land could be maintained intact without periodic divisions as in the Russian fashion.

The same effects were in general seen in the measures that were adopted in heavy industry, in coal mining, and the production of iron ore and pig iron. By 1927 Ukrainian production had been restored to the general level that it had at the beginning of the revolution. The country had substantially recovered from the havoc wrought by militant communism, and it seemed as if it were on its way under the Communist system (as applied) to a lasting prosperity. All this was more apparent than real for step by step Moscow was gathering into its own hands the controlling power in all important branches of life.

Even during militant communism the Russian Soviet Republic had made a treaty with the Ukrainian Soviet Republic in 1920, whereby the latter had handed over to Moscow the control of the commissariats of the army, navy, foreign trade, railroads, finances, labor, and posts and telegraphs. The influence of the Ukrainian S. S. R. on foreign affairs steadily diminished, although it still had representatives in those countries which had recognized the Ukrainian National Republic.

Then in 1922 there was developed the idea of forming the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This was carried out and approved early  p15 in 1924 by the Second Congress of Soviets. Although the constitution guaranteed the right of secession to the republics, it was nullified by other clauses of the same constitution. Under this the commissariats were divided into three classes — all Union (foreign affairs, army, trade, railroads, and posts and telegraphs) in which the central authority was supreme; Union-Republic (finances, labor, the Supreme Council of National Economy, and labor and peasant supervision), in which the authorities of the Republic acted under instructions from the center; and Republic (internal affairs, land questions, education, justice, health and social security) in which the Republic had the deciding word, subject to suggestion. To complicate this system even further there was no special government set up for the Russian Republic which was imperceptibly merged with that of the Soviet Union. Still other clauses, especially on the system of amendments, gave Moscow the right to interfere anywhere, at will.

This should have been a warning, but the general improvement in conditions and the policy of both the Union and Republic administrations concealed the truth from all except the most intense opponents of communism.


In the same period there developed in Ukraine a lively intellectual life connected with the so‑called Ukrainization, i.e., the opportunity to develop in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic as elsewhere those qualities that were closest to the heart of the people.

In the first place, there came a flood of decrees providing for the increased use of the Ukrainian language. Instructions were issued that all officials should learn Ukrainian (though somehow this was never applied to the higher men sent down from Moscow). Political persecution of the older leaders dropped to a minimum and any political trials were rather intended to discredit older leaders than to punish them. Invitations were extended to such men as Professor Hrushevsky to return and occupy high posts in the universities, the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, and in many other institutions. Moreover, the Government, despite its atheistic principles, encouraged the formation of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church which soon won wide adherence among the Ukrainians, especially as the Russian Orthodox Church with Patriarch Nikon was still in disgrace with the authorities.

The literary movement was even more striking and Ukrainian literature entered upon one of its most brilliant phases with younger men as Maksym Rylsky, Pavlo Tychyna, and M. Khvylovy coming to the forefront. The theater Berezil, under Les Kurbas, felt the new impetus and so did painting and all the other arts. There was a real Ukrainian Renaissance underway and only a few doubting Thomases dared to question it.

All this culminated in the literary discussion, which was started by Khvylovy, a sincere Communist, who emphasized the need of orienting the new Ukrainian culture on the traditional culture of progressive Europe and not on Russia. In a brilliant series of pamphlets, he outlined his views with such effect that by 1925 he was receiving the personal criticism of Stalin himself, for daring to preach the slogan of "Away from Moscow." Khvylovy was supported by many of the more prominent writers and critics and also by O. Shumsky, the  p16 Borotbist Commissar for Education. Finally in 1927, Shumsky was removed or promoted out of Ukraine before his final debacle, and was succeeded by Mykola Skrypnyk, an old Bolshevik who developed the same policy and went even further in providing opportunities for Ukrainian culture to prosper not only in Ukraine itself but wherever, in the entire Soviet Union, Ukrainians were living.

However, Skrypnyk was a curious combination of Ukrainian patriotism and Communist fanaticism. In 1929 he paid attention to the fact that there were no Communists in the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences and he forced the election of several. Thus, it was Skrypnyk who really opened the attack on the Ukrainian revival, and this attack came to be the dominant event of the succeeding years.

The End of the New Economic Policy

In 1926 at the 15th party congress Stalin made it clear that the time had come to take further steps toward the establishment of the Communist ideal and indicated that there would be a general reorganization with increased emphasis on centralization and industrialization. Out of this developed the first 5‑year plan which viewed the development of the union as a whole and definitely indicated that the various Soviet republics would lose even more of their autonomy. Each was to be developed, not with a view of strengthening its own resources or the well-being of its population but as a part of a general plan which would treat each republic in such a way that it would perform one or more definite functions in the general union economy. This meant for Ukraine that it would continue to be an agricultural area and the producer of mineral and metal raw and semifinished materials which would take their final form in the Russian Republic.

To carry this out, the Commissariat of Agriculture was definitely turned into an all‑union commissariat and there were thus brought under union control all the various agricultural institutes and experimental farms which had been developed to supply the Ukrainian needs. In the same way, the tractors were removed from local control and placed in a series of tractor stations serviced from Moscow and under its orders. Also, the cooperatives were placed under the control of Moscow and their funds were transferred to the capital and placed at the disposal of Moscow as socialist accumulation.

It would take too long to describe all of the devices that were introduced to urge the people to enter the collective farms "voluntarily." Of the number of confiscatory taxes, a grain tax based on puds double the average production of a given area was imposed upon the peasants, while at the same time the peasants were refused permission to leave their villages without a police permit and the GPU guards on the frontiers of each republic were strengthened. All this was done to ruin the peasants and force them to turn over their lands to the collective farms. It was the first step in the deliberate destruction of the Ukrainian village.

Then the government quietly shifted its division of the peasants and began to group the middle peasants with the rich instead of the poor and to call them kurkuls, subkurkuls, and the poor. This gave the opportunity to stir up hostility in the villages among the different classes and to take the first steps for the elimination of the kurkuls. It is hard to estimate the number of kurkuls who were deported during  p17 1929‑30 but it was undoubtedly in the millions. The new reign of terror had begun.

In 1930 came the order for compulsory collectivization of all the land and the means of production. The peasants were ordered to turn over their land and animals to the collective farms or be deported. Naturally this aroused tremendous opposition. In many places the peasants killed their cattle rather than turn them over and a condition of near revolt covered the most of Ukraine and Kuban, where individual farming and individual landholding had been the strongest. It naturally had less effect on the Russian Soviet Republic for there the principle of the village working of the land had prevailed even before the Soviet revolution.

Once again, as in the freely rampaging days of militant communism, large forces of the NKVD and even military units were sent to the villages to force the people into the collective farms and those who hesitated or showed any opposition were forced into them or deported without their possessions. Again and again witnesses, many of them appearing before the Select House Committee on Communist Aggression, have testified to this from all parts of Ukraine.

We can form some idea of the extent of this policy of dekurkulization and collectivization when we remember that according to Lenin in his book, The Development of Capitalism in Russia, there were only 2 percent of kurkuls in the entire Russian Empire and this included the great land­owners. With them deported and their lands divided, the percentage of kurkuls by 1929 could scarcely have exceeded 1 percent of the population, but there was hardly in Ukraine a village in which, under the instructions of Moscow, 5 to 15 percent of the population were not declared kurkuls and uprooted. In many cases their houses and barns were actually destroyed so that there would be no trace left of the "enemies of the people."

The Famine of 1932‑33

When these methods failed to break the opposition of the peasants to the idea of the collective farms, Stalin decided upon a still more drastic device — the starvation of the Ukrainian villages. This was carefully planned and worked out in the greatest detail.

During 1931 the demands for the delivery of grain reached an unprecedented height. New and extra delivery quotas were imposed upon the villages and the collective farms alike, and all the grain thus secured was either removed to the Russian Republic or was sold on the foreign market at dumping prices or even for the costs of unloading in some places as Italy. By these and other methods, the entire grain reserves were removed from Ukraine and so were all other crops that might support the population. The grain harvest of 1932 was somewhat below normal as a result of another drought but the population could have survived, had there been the normal grain reserves.

Signs of the approaching famine were evident early in the autumn of 1932 but they increased rapidly during the winter, and shortly after the beginning of 1933 the storm broke with all its fury. To strengthen the hand of the authorities, the Council of Commissars of the Union in Moscow passed on August 6, 1932, a law for the "protection of Socialist property." This made it illegal to pick a single head of Socialist grain in the fields or even to pick up a stalk which  p18 had been over­looked in the harvesting. The same regulation applied to everything that was the nominal property of the collective farm. It was one of the last loopholes stopped to intensify the severity of the famine.

Then, on January 24, 1933, the Central Committee of the VKP resolved that —

it was regarded as proved that the party organization of Ukraine had not carried out the tasks assigned to it in organizing grain deliveries and executing the grain plan.

It established political detachments in the machine tractor stations,

the chief basic tasks of which were the insuring of the unconditional and immediate execution by the kolhosps and their members of all their obligations to the state and especially the decisive struggle with stealing kolhosp property, the struggle with the manifestations of sabotage of the income of the party and the government in the sharing of the grain supplies and the meat products of the kolhosps.

To enforce this, Moscow sent to Ukraine Pavel Postyshev as second secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine with 7,000 political workers from the Russian Republic. These men were formed into special commissions for investigating the thefts of food by the peasants. They swarmed through the villages; they sounded the walls of the houses to make sure that no grain or other foodstuffs had been hidden in them; they investigated every place in the courtyards where the earth showed signs of having been disturbed. There follows eyewitness testimony given before the committee:

Mr. Lawrynenko. Special brigaders were at that time dispatched from Leningrad and other Russian cities and the total of these brigaders was in excess of 20,000 people, and their task was to search and confiscate the grain in the Ukrainian villages. And they could call upon the Red army to help them.

On the one hand the confiscated grain was transported to Russia where it was stored in railroad stations and sometimes out in the open. The other part of that grain was being transported to Odessa and other parts of the Black Sea, and from there it was transported to foreign lands.

My wife's family escaped from Poltava to the city of Voroniezh, which is in Russia, and there they were able to save themselves from starvation because at the railroad stations of Russia grain was plenti­ful. Kharkov is the main railroad center of the Ukraine, and in that city I myself saw whole trainloads of grain being dispatched to Russia day by day during the famine and the ravaging of the Ukraine. This was a mass phenomena.º Many of my friends and colleagues undertook trips as far as Moscow and Leningrad in order to buy bread there which they brought along in suitcases back to their families, and in this manner they were able to save their families from starvation.

Mr. McTigue. Did you personally feel the effects of this terrible famine?

Mr. Lawrynenko. I lived in the capital, and personally I felt it to a lesser extent than people in smaller cities felt it. There were many times when I went hungry.

Mr. McTigue. Why do you think, Mr. Lawrynenko, that the Russians staged this terrible famine of grain in a year when crops were plenti­ful?

Mr. Lawrynenko. I remember from press reports of the party newspapers in Ukraine of June 1932 Molotov taking part in these conferences. At this conference with Molotov the president of the Council of People's Commissars of Ukraine by the name of Chubar stated to Molotov that the plan of grain collections as determined by the Central Government in Moscow was contrary to reality, and he asked that it should be abandoned. But Molotov replied, "This is no place for discussions. The plan must be carried out."

Mr. Feighan. Molotov, is that the same Molotov who is now the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Soviet Union?

Mr. Lawrynenko. The very same one Vyacheslav Molotov, the same man.

The famine was organized in order to break the opposition which the Ukrainians were displaying to the policy of colonial exploitation of the Ukraine by the Russians from Moscow.

 p19  There was a double blow delivered against Ukraine, one against the basic population element of the Ukraine which is the agricultural element of the peasants. The other was against the educated people of the Ukraine, that is, the intelligentsia.

According to my personal observations I have come to the conclusion that during the period of the famine at least 6 million people died in the Ukraine as a result of it, and about 80 percent of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, that is, the classes of the Ukrainian leader­ship, also perished during this period.

For example, at that time there were about 240 authors working in the Ukraine. About 200 of them were liquidated, and most of them I knew personally. There were about 84 prominent linguists, language experts, in Ukraine, of whom 62 were liquidated.

I have compiled a list of 62 different departments of cultural and scientific life in the Ukraine, and I have found that there was a similar picture to the 2 examples cited above in all the 62 divisions. This is in reference to the cultural leaders of the nation. The number increases to tens of thousands when you consider that subject to liquidation were also the middle classes of the intelligentsia, that is, white-collar workers, teachers, and similar professional people.

I myself was arrested and declared a bourgeois nationalist, an enemy of the people, merely because of the fact that as a student in the course of intellectual discussions I defended the position that the Ukrainians formed a part of the Western European culture and that therefore Ukraine is alien to Russian culture which the Moscow rulers were attempting to impose upon Ukraine.

The country became desolate. In the spring of 1933 there were many villages where the entire population had perished and almost one‑third of the houses in some places were empty. There was no one to bury the dead. The bodies were hauled away on carts or thrown into ravines and allowed to lie as they fell, for no one had the strength to dig graves. A witness before the Committee had this to say on the subject:

Mr. McTigue. You were going to give us two or three illustrations of what the people were doing after they had used up all of the available food.

Mr. Prochik. A commissioner came to a villager's home. And in this home the woman of the house was cooking something in the pot, while her husband was lying on the floor dying from starvation.

Chubar asked the woman what she was cooking in the pot, and she answered to him that she was cooking a cat.

After they ate the cats, they ate the dogs. And after they had run out of cats and dogs and mice and any other animals to eat, they started to eat the people themselves who had died of starvation. It got to be so bad that while many of us villagers would walk along the road, we would see many people who had died along the road. And it was not uncommon to see somebody walk up to one of these dead people and cut off an arm or leg and put it in a sack and take it home so that they would have something to eat.

And the famine got to be so bad that in the town of Polianetska an 8‑year-old girl went to visit her grandmother and her grandmother, insane from this hunger, butchered and ate this girl.

Postyshev's title bore also the ominous mark of commissioner in charge of resettlement and during the height of the famine, in the summer of 1933, thousands of Russian families were moved to the large railroad stations for reassignment to those houses where the Ukrainian families had died of starvation. All this was done under an order signed by Molotov with a preamble "moving to satisfy the desires of the people to permit the settlement of the free lands of Ukraine and the north Caucasus at the cost of the central districts of the U. S. S. R."

It is difficult to estimate the actual number of casualties during this artificial famine, for there is no doubt that it was artificial. In fact when Chubar, the chairman of the Soviet of Commissars of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, appealed to Stalin for food at least  p20 for the starving children, he received the definite answer from Stalin, "No remarks on that question." It was not long before Chubar disappeared as an "enemy of the people."

The most conservative estimate is that there were about 4,800,000 deaths, although there are many recognized scholars who have placed the number as between 5 and 8 million. In addition, there was the loss to Ukraine of that part of the population which did succeed in getting out of the country and securing work in other sections of the Soviet Union.

There is more definitive information available on the losses in livestock. Thus according to the figures in the Ukrainian Encyclopedia (p1064), the number of horses dropped from 5,300,000 in 1928 to 2,600,000 in 1933, of cattle from 8,600,000 to 4,400,000, of sheep from 8,100,000 to 2,000,000 and of swine from 7,000,000 to 2,000,000. These figures will give a graphic account of the devastation that was caused in the country by the combined action of the removal of the kurkuls, the collectivization and the famine. They show some indication of the hostility of the people to the new order and of the severity of the measures of the Government which was prepared to do anything rather than recede a particle from the path on which it had set out.

During the entire period, Stalin and his associates absolutely denied that a famine was raging in Ukraine and refused to allow any of the foreign correspondents to visit the country. The first American journalist to report it was Mr. William Henry Chamberlin of the Christian Science Monitor, but the news leaked across the border into eastern Galicia under Poland and it was reported to the League of Nations in Geneva. Despite all appeals, any international relief was prevented and owing to the rise of Hitler at this period and the desire for unifying the opposition to Nazism, the international leaders did not try to exert any pressure upon the Soviet Union. Since that period, and especially since World War II, there has been made available to the world an almost unlimited mass of evidence from people who went through the famine and saw the deaths of their relatives and friends from starvation.

However, a western statesman, Edouard Herriot of France, was allowed to visit Ukraine during the famine. Here is what a witness had to say about that visit:

Mr. Lawrynenko. Yes. The route which M. Edouard Herriot was supposed to take from the airport to downtown Kharkov was especially prepared for that occasion. Buildings and fences were painted, the many corpses that had been lying in the streets, the people who had died from starvation, were removed, and the whole place was especially staged for the trip which he was to take through the city.

Edouard Herriot in an interview declared that the Ukraine was a most prosperous and flowering country, and this was one of the most horrible personal blows that I had ever experienced because I knew that this was far from the truth

Mr. Feighan. Was this the same year in which over 6 million Ukrainians died because of the forced famine?

Mr. Lawrynenko. The same year. This was the same year when 6 million people died of starvation. That is why it was so difficult for me to reconcile the statement made by Herriot with the real conditions then prevailing.

The Attack on Ukrainian Culture

The collectivization and the famine that were intended to paralyze and terrorize the Ukrainian peasants and destroy the Ukrainian way  p21 of life and thought, was but one aspect of the general attack on things Ukrainian. Simultaneously there was directed the same attack on all of the intellectual leaders of the country.

Willingly or not, Skrypnyk and the Ukrainian Communists who sympathized with him, had started this when they forced the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences to admit certain Communists to their member­ship on the basis of political reliability. The move soon spread, and it swept before it all of the persons who had been active in the production of the Ukrainian renaissance, especially after 1929 when Stalin at the 17th party congress had set the trend to centralization and russification at the very center of Soviet policy.

The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church was the first to go. Even before this, Metropolitan Lypkivsky had been confined to Kiev and forbidden to visit any of the parishes in other parts of Ukraine. Then he was arrested and disappeared. In 1930 all of the bishops of the church, most of the leading priests and the outstanding laymen were picked up and executed or deported. Once more the Russian Orthodox Church, thanks to the tacit understanding between the Locum Tenens, later Patriarch Sergey, was the only form of religious organization that was to be allowed to exist.

Ukrainian Orthodox Bishop Mystyslaw Skrypnik who appeared before the committee as a witness told what he found as a result of this policy:

Archbishop Skrypnik. I visited practically all of the churches in the entire Ukraine from July 1941 until September 1943.

The entire Ukraine religious life was destroyed. I did not find one Ukrainian bishop, although there originally had been 32. I finally met one bishop, Juris Teslenko, Bishop of Vinnitsa, who had returned from incarceration in a Siberian prison and who had contracted tuberculosis and died shortly thereafter.

From my investigations I learned that over 3,000 Ukrainian priests had either been exterminated or had been sent to prisons in Siberia. I also noted that about 90 percent of the Ukrainian Orthodox churches had been either completely destroyed or had been turned into other buildings such as warehouses, barns, et cetera, or had been completely supplanted, after they had been destroyed, and other buildings were put up in their place.

In 1930 there came the trial of the so‑called Union for the Liberation of Ukraine. The very existence of this society has been much disputed, but it was discovered by the NKVD and in a show trial there were condemned a group of the most respected Ukrainian leaders of literature and science. These included Academician S. Yefremov, the dean of Ukrainian literary scholars, Academician Mykhaylo Slabchenko, a former Social Democrat, Prof. Yozyf Hermaydze, a former member of the executive committee of that party, and Mme L. Starytska-Chernyakivska, one of the outstanding writers of pre‑revolutionary Ukraine. The accused were primarily persons who had played a part in the Ukrainian National Republic and were among its most respected figures. All received long terms of imprisonment and were very definitely removed from the intellectual world. Their works were removed from the libraries and placed on the banned list.

The attack was not limited to mass trials and arrests. Take the case of Professor Hrushevsky. He had returned to Kiev on the invitation of the Ukrainian Soviet Government and had been the heart and center of the Ukrainian historical studies. He was suddenly denounced in handbills as being insufficiently Marxist and was accused of a large number of historical errors and anti-Government activity.  p22 Then he was tried publicly at the university. This meant that any one could attack him in any kind of language, no matter how vile and obscene. His associates and younger colleagues were encouraged, as the price for holding their own jobs, to repeat the most grotesque accusations. Then the person accused was supposed to make a speech admitting his own errors and unworthiness as a form of self-criticism. If he refused to do it, he was again pilloried, and if he did, he was immediately arrested for having confessed to antigovernmental work. Hrushevsky, who was 64 at the time, was finally arrested and confined in an obscure village under inhuman conditions. When he was completely broken by this procedure, he was released and moved to a rest home in the Caucasus, where he died in 1934.

Soon after this the academy was reorganized as the Academy of Sciences of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, and many Russian scholars were appointed to it. To promote the brotherhood of the Soviet peoples, the historical-philological section was combined with the social-economic and almost all historical studies were abolished, while literally hundreds of manuscripts that had been accepted for publication disappeared or were destroyed.​b Hrushevsky was classed in the Communist jargon with Mazepa and Petlyura as the worst enemies of the Ukrainian people. They were charged with bourgeois nationalism and accused of trying to destroy the unity of the Russians and Ukrainians and to undo the great work of Marx and Lenin.

Among these show trials we may mention the following as only a partial list: the Ukrainian National Center, 1931; the Ukrainian Military Organization, 1933; the All‑Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionist Center, 1933; the All‑Ukrainian Borotbist Center, 1934‑35; the National Fascist Organization of Ukraine, 1937. These and other groups included almost every one who was in any way connected with Ukrainian patriotism and the aspiration for freedom and independence.

The movement was well on its way when Postyshev arrived in Ukrainian and set to work to purge the Communist Party in Ukraine. No one was too highly placed or too well respected. He removed Chubar, the chairman of the Council of Commissars and replaced him with Pavlo Lyubchenko. He deposed Skrypnyk to the post as head of the state planning commission, a purely nominal job since the planning was all done in Moscow.

Skrypnyk knew what this meant and before he was arrested, he shot himself on July 6, 1933. Khvylovy had also been made aware of the change in the situation and before he could be arrested, committed suicide on May 13, 1933. Thus the two most power­ful figures ended their lives by their own hand and escaped arrest and torture.

The purge was both intensive and extensive. For every person who suffered publicly there were thousands of others. Witnesses before the select committee have repeated with monotonous similarity the same story — the arrest after midnight by the NKVD, the confinement under shocking physical circumstances in overcrowded, foul-smelling cells, where the prisoners were either compelled to stand on their feet supported by their fellows or at best could only lie down on the bare bunks in turn, the summoning at night to the investigating officials, where they were given a written confession to sign, threats, abuse, beatings, continued over a period of weeks or months, until the individual  p23 was completely broken physically, mentally and morally, and then a sentence of 5 to 10 years in a distant labor camp at hard labor.

One of these witnesses, Ivan Pushkar, described how in 1936 he was arrested and thrown into a prison in Kharkov in the Spetskorpus, Cell 11, on Kholodna Hora. The cell had been made in czarist times for 30 men. Now it held 280. The men were almost naked but the sweat still kept pouring off their bodies. Their hairs and beards were long and the lice were crawling over them. The newcomer was placed near the barrel used to relieve the men's needs and the stench was terrible. In the morning each prisoner received a cup of warm water and 300 grams of bread for the day. For dinner each received a cup of soup and a handful of porridge. In the evening each had a handful of vinaigrette, composed of beans, beets or peas. A pail of this was put in the cell. Then the men sat down, put their hands on their knees and the overseer took the pail, dipped out with a ladle a spoon­ful of the mixture, dumped it in the prisoner's hand and he conveyed what he could to his mouth. That was the entire supper. After 24 days of this, he was taken at night for examination and when he did not plead guilty, he received a blow in the face. Then three NKVD men began to throw him around, crushed his fingers in the door and kept the torture up for 4 hours. This went on for 18 days before he was sent to 10 years of compulsory labor in Kolyma.

This was the fate of most of the Ukrainian intellectuals. In a table prepared on the fate of the Ukrainian writers, witness Hryhori Podolyak summarizes as follows: In 1930 there were active in literature 246 writers, of these, 7 died a natural death, 1 escaped abroad, 173 were arrested or deported, 16 were shot, 4 committed suicide, 11 disappeared without a trace, and 34 remained free to write, and these, which included such names as Rylsky, Tychyna, Korniychuk, and Yavorsky, became the willing mouthpieces for Moscow. The casualties took in not only Ukrainian Communists, but the entire groups of Neo‑classic authors as Zerov and his associates, who were primarily artists, the Futurists like Semenko, dramatists as Les Kurbas, the founder of the Berezil theater, and the chief Ukrainian dramatist, Mykola Kulish, but it extended to all who were in any way famous.

Submission did not always afford any better hope, for such a man as Ivan Kulyk, who in 1932 and 1933 played an important role in the crushing of the older authors and stood forth as the apostle of the Communist line in attacking the more independent thinkers of bourgeois nationalists was himself removed a few years later on exactly the same charges of "bourgeois nationalism" that he had been making a few years before. So, too, did Andri Khvylya who had been Postyshev's right-hand theoretician in the events of 1933.

The Prison Camps

The relatively few men and women who have returned from the Soviet labor camps in the far north of both Europe and Asia, have given us startling information on the Communist methods of dealing with their unfortunate victims, whether they have merely been deported or have been formally accused of some crime and been declared enemies of the people. They have allowed us to see and understand in some degree both the motives and the methods which are employed for building up the Arctic North and at the same time for liquidating and  p24 removing those persons whose presence in their home lands has become distasteful to Moscow.

From the moment when the victims have once been seized, with or without their families, and put in the locked cars for the long journey to one of the great camps, there is nothing but a story of man's inhumanity to man. One witness after another has told of the long, slow journey behind locked doors day after day, week after week, with almost no food, little water, and in winter, with the heat almost entirely furnished by the human bodies. Every now and then the doors are opened for some purpose, very often merely to throw into some one of the great rivers the bodies of the dead which may have lain for days in a corner of the car.

These camps, whether around Solovky and the White Sea or in Kolyma or elsewhere in northern Siberia, are filled chiefly with non‑Russian peoples, largely Ukrainians and people from the Caucasus and central Asia. The few Russians held in these camps have been chiefly criminals of various kinds, recruited for the sole purpose of dominating and abusing the prisoners.

It is very clear that for the Soviets throughout the thirties, the prisoners have been expendable. No one has cared to preserve them as a permanent labor force for there have always been enough other persons under suspicion in the more settled parts of the union to maintain a constant supply of recruits for this free labor pool.

The testimony of the few returned prisoners has shown the curious pattern of genocide and of the use of the prisoners as a vast unpaid pool of labor freely employed by the Communists under inhuman conditions for strengthening their hold upon the Arctic and the shores of the Arctic Ocean. The slave empire of the NKVD, under whatever chief it has had at a given moment, has remained ever since the period of the late twenties and the beginning of the first 5‑year plan a definite fixture in the plans of the authorities of the Kremlin.

The Yezhovshchyna

The destruction of the Ukrainian cultural renaissance and the crushing of the traditional Ukrainian peasant life were but the first steps in the policy of Stalin and his associates. That dealt with Ukrainian life and thought in the present. It was necessary also to alter the past and the future.

As a result of this, Postyshev in 1934 moved the capital of Ukraine back to Kiev from Kharkiv, where the center of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic had been since its foundation. In a sense this may have been an apparent sop to Ukrainian sympathies, but it had a vital part to play in the plans of the Kremlin. Kiev was a traditional center and the Communists could not forget that the original claims of Moscow in more senses than one were based on the assumption that Moscow was the heir of Kiev as well as of Constantinople.

Thus they seized the opportunity to plan a new and greater Kiev and, of course, the center was destined to be on the site of ancient Kiev. With this in mind, Moscow decided to destroy many of the finer monuments of ancient and modern Kievan art. These had been largely expressed in church architecture, and the Communist theories of atheism, combined with the dislike of those periods when Kiev had been the least under the influence of Moscow and the closest to  p25 the West, led them to tear down many of the greatest monuments of architecture and art. Accordingly they removed many of the finest examples of Ukrainian art, as the Cathedral Church of the Golden Domed Monastery of St. Michael from the 12th century, the cloisters of the Monastery of St. Irene from the 11th, many of the monuments of the Mazepa Baroque of the late 17th and early 18th centuries and a number of other monuments of still more recent times.

Yet it is interesting that in many cases the grandiose structures that were planned to commemorate the new Kiev were not erected and the ground was left vacant or replaced with cheap and short lived buildings that were shorn of any artistic or historical value. The reason was the difficulty in framing that positive policy that was the dream of the Kremlin. It was relatively easy to destroy, but from the time when Moscow decided fully to Russianize Ukrainian life, it became more and more difficult to picture how a culture could be, in Stalin's words, "socialist in essence and national in form." This and the demand for socialist realism as a form of art led to newer and sharper clashes.

These appeared even in the life of the federated Russian Soviet Republic when during these same years Stalin annihilated on one excuse or another many of his own former associates, the old Bolsheviks. Men like Bukharin and Zinovyev, the early Communist military leaders as Tukhachevsky and Yegorov, and many others from the time of the civil war, all passed through the portals of the NKVD. Even the chief of that organ, Yagoda, paid the supreme penalty at the hands of his successor Yezhov, and along with the adoption of the Stalin constitution in 1936 which confirmed de jure as well as de facto the Russian supremacy in the Soviet Union. Yezhov started a new reign of terror to break any heresies that might still be existing in Ukraine.

Postyshev was one of the first to go. Kaganovich again appeared in Ukraine, and he turned against the appointees of Postyshev. Lyubchenko, the chairman of the Soviet of Commissars, was called to Moscow and accused of being a spy for the Nazis. He realized what was coming and he, too, committed suicide. The executioner Yezhov applied the theory that if the chief of a bureau was guilty of being an enemy of the people, all of his associates and subordinates who had not denounced him, were undoubtedly guilty also. There came again new mass deportations and a new period of mass executions, all on the charge of being "enemies of the people."

Zatonsky, put in by Postyshev as Commissar for Education, had ventured the daring suggestion that Russian could be spread in Ukraine by allowing it to absorb some Ukrainian expressions. He was rebuked by no less an authority than Maxim Gorky and it was soon his turn to disappear. All of his aides, as Kulyk and Khyvlya, who had aided in the old holocaust, now paid the penalty.

The new suggestion was that Ukrainian should be assimilated to Russian by the introduction into it of Russian words wherever the Ukrainian words differed. New dictionaries, new histories of literature, new pedagogical methods were needed, but it was impossible for any individual to carry out this policy in the way required by the Kremlin. The cultural situation became again so tense that Krymsky, one of the few Ukrainian scholars who had survived, called one of the new Ukrainian-Russian dictionaries a Russian-Russian dictionary. Even the humblest school teacher was not safe, if she  p26 taught in her classes in the Ukrainian language the Ukrainian words. She was accused of trying to separate the two brotherly peoples and moved on to the labor camps for a 10‑year term of service.

Vinnytsya — the "Ukrainian Katyn"

The mass terror which had been started by Yezhov, and in which his own fate was sealed, did not entirely subside under his successor, the Georgian Beria. Some of the old murderers and torturers were themselves murdered, but their places were taken by others equally ruthless, and a good example of this was found in the opening of the mass graves in Vinnytsya in 1943.

There had been rumors around the city that the NKVD had long been massacring prisoners at a tremendous rate. On May 24, 1943, under the German occupation, a group of Ukrainians discovered in the archives of the Vinnytsya City Soviet a document explaining that a certain barred zone had been turned over on April 1, 1939, to the NKVD for special use and that building on and access to this area was officially banned. The area was guarded by the NKVD and police dogs, and no one was allowed to approach.

The Ukrainians selected one of the sites for excavation, and at a depth of about 1 m. they came upon a mass grave containing 102 corpses in various stages of disintegration. A commission of Ukrainian physicians examined these and determined that they had all been shot in the base of the skull. All the bodies had their hands bound behind them with cord.

The Germans then took over the excavation and in the course of a few weeks some 95 mass graves, containing 9,439 victims, were opened. Among these, 14 graves and 1,390 victims were located in the Gorky Park of Culture and Rest which had been constructed for the entertainment of the citizens over the site of the mass graves. Of this number some 676 bodies were identified by their clothes, papers, etc. In a special pit, in the pear orchard, there was discovered also a large number of documents relating to the murders. The NKVD had carefully collected the so‑called proofs of the victims' crimes and when they were executed, these proofs were only partly destroyed in this pit.

The graves and bodies were examined by an international commission, as was the case of the mass graves of Polish officers discovered about the same time in the forest of Katyn. An examination of the identified bodies showed that the list contained 212 peasants, 82 workers, 51 Government officials of various grades, 26 specialists, 4 priests, and 16 military men.

The Vinnytsya graves are one of the best authenticated examples of the terror that continued even after the removal of Yezhov, for the medical examination revealed that most of them had been made between 1938 and 1940, on the eve and during the first years of World War II.​c

The First Occupation of Western Ukraine

On August 23, 1939, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a treaty of mutual friendship. This was the prelude to World War II, and when the German forces crashed through Poland and were approaching Lvov, the Soviet Union under this treaty denounced its understandings with Poland on the ground that Poland had ceased to  p27 exist and invaded the country so as to take the Ukrainian and Byelorussian lands.

The Soviet forces entered Lvov on September 22, 1939, and at once began to make themselves at home. The first days were devoted to a conscious Ukrainization and the elimination of the Polish influence in the city. The Ukrainian population at first cooperated in the rounding up of the Polish officials, especially among the police, and seemed inclined to hope that things might become more tolerable.

The Communists at once confiscated all private factories, banks, shops, etc, and by legal and illegal means looted the wealth of economic goods in sight. They arranged also an endless series of meetings in all plants and institutions where Communist speakers poured forth the praise of Stalin and the U. S. S. R. and pictured the happy life in the "country of socialism." The audiences were composed of persons who had "voluntarily" met under fear of arrest and they applauded loudly, for informers and NKVD agents noted those who kept silent or were less vociferous, and these began to disappear.

On October 22, a National Assembly (elected by the usual Communist methods) met in Lvov and asked admission to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. A handpicked delegation went to Moscow and on November 1, the area was "formally" incorporated by the Soviet of Commissars in Moscow. The area was reorganized on the Soviet pattern.

The Ukrainian language was introduced officially but Russian was made the official language of the all‑Union commissariats, and more and more the use of it spread in the schools and public offices. All Ukrainian societies were abolished. The Shevchenko Scientific Society was closed, and its properties turned over to the University of Lvov and the Academy of Sciences of the U. S. S. R. Its publications were henceforth to be chiefly in Russian.

Naturally all the property of the church (the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite) was confiscated and all its publications stopped. At this time the great church leader, Metropolitan Sheptytsky, was not arrested but his actions were much circumscribed, and he found it difficult to communicate with the priests under his control. The teaching of atheism, often in an obscene manner, was introduced into the schools which were more and more staffed and directed by persons sent in from the U. S. S. R. Many of these actively cooperated in the task of arresting and deporting students and others who had shown any opposition to the Soviet regime or had been of any special prominence before the occupation.

In the beginning, after the confiscation of the larger estates, the land was given to the peasants more or less in accordance with the Ukrainian Land Code of 1922. This was only a transitional stage for, by the summer of 1940, efforts were made to force the introduction of collective farms as in eastern Ukraine, but this had not been fully carried out by the time of the Soviet-German war of 1941.

The tempo of arrests and deportations steadily increased as the Communists began to take note of the increased activity of the OUN, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. This had been a banned society under the Polish rule but it had developed a well-organized net of groups throughout eastern Galicia and now took the lead in opposition to the Communists. There were at least three trials of persons  p28 belonging to this organization and a fourth was in prospect when hostilities commenced.

The entire Soviet policy was very evidently a deliberate attempt to go through with some speed the same process by which the Russian Communist power had been established in eastern Ukraine in 1919. There was a regular timetable and the processes were repeated in Bukovyna and Bessarabia, which Rumania was compelled to hand over to Moscow in 1940.

The German-Soviet War

On June 21, 1941, the German-Soviet war broke out, and as the German troops crossed the frontier, the Soviets were forced to retreat hurriedly. But in every city in western Ukraine in the first days of the war, the NKVD and its agents shot all of the political prisoners, except a mere handful who were miraculously saved.

One of these, Valentyna Nahirnyak, who had been connected with the theater in Rivne, has given a graphic account of her escape. She had been in a cell with seven other women, one an informer of the NKVD, set there to spy on the others. A band of the murderers came into the cell and shot with their automatics at the group until they fell. All but three were dead. A little later a man entered the cell and bayoneted all three of these but Miss Nahirnyak's wounds were still not mortal, although she had received six bullet wounds and two bayonet cuts.

The same process continued as the German armies advanced into eastern Ukraine. Here the Communists had more time than in the extreme west, but even in Vinnytsya some 700 bodies were found near the railroad station. In Kharkov, one of the main prisons was closed and set on fire, while the NKVD remained on guard to prevent any assistance until the interior was destroyed and the inmates were all dead.

Following the orders of Stalin to leave only scorched earth, the Communists destroyed all supplies of food which they could reach, so as of the leave nothing for the population which had been left behind. They mined as many buildings as they could and tried to allow fire to finish the work.

It is small wonder that in the early days after this reign of terror, many of the Ukrainians welcomed the invading German forces. They hoped for the restoration of a free Ukrainian even if under German protection. Accordingly, on the very day of the German entrance into Lvov, the political leaders still alive formed a sort of provisional government under Yaroslav Stetsko and later this was broadened by a Committee of Seniors under Dr. Kost Levytsky who had been the Prime Minister of the Republic of Western Ukraine in 1918. This movement spread eastward with the German advance during the summer of 1941.

It did not, however, fit in with the plans of Hitler and so in August, most of these leaders were arrested and deported to Germany. Germany claimed as war booty all the collectivized property owned by the Soviet state and thus perpetuated the slave system which the Communists had introduced. They were less severe in their opposition to the church and many churches were reopened, and priests emerged from hiding and resumed their functions.

In August 1941, the Germans annexed western Ukraine to the general government and allowed the Ukrainians here certain rights,  p29 especially in the field of social relief. They permitted considerable publication and educational work in Kiev. The rest of Ukraine was formed into the Reichkommissariat Ukraine under Gauleiter Erich Koch, a thorough sadist. It was not long before the Nazis began to deport ablebodied men and women for work in Germany and this aroused new tensions among the population.

Resistance against the new invaders developed early in 1943 with the formation of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) under General Taras Chuprynka (Roman Shuhevych), who showed remarkable powers as an organizer and leader. The UPA secured control of a considerable amount of territory, especially that away from the main points of communication and the main routes and roads, for the Germans concentrated their forces on these and maintained their hold on the countryside chiefly through the use of mobile detachments which were often cut off by the forces of the UPA.

Father John H. Hrynoch, a member of the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council who testified before the committee, had this to say on the subject of organized resistance in the Ukraine:

The Ukrainian resistance was organized not only on political lines but also in the form of armed resistance, in the form of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA). The Ukrainian population takes part and constitutes the liberation movement for the entire Ukrainian nation. All the Ukrainian people fight for the same aims and motives as do their own armed units of the UPA. In no other way could one explain that after 9 years following the conclusion of the world war that there is still a political and armed resistance in the Ukraine, a political and armed resistance which received no assistance from other sources, and must rely solely on the assistance of its own people. It should be noted that although the under­ground movement may change the form of this struggle or the number of participants but still behind the entire movement is the entire Ukrainian population.

At the same time the Soviet Government kept sending partisan bands trained and directed by Moscow into Ukraine behind the German lines and tried to keep them supplied from the air. They ravaged the countryside and robbed and murdered the population.

The UPA in 1944 finally formed the Supreme Council of Ukrainian Liberation (UHVR) which coordinated the military and civilian sides of the Ukrainian struggle. This became in a sense a government for the UPA.

During the war the Communists to some degree relaxed their pressure on the Ukrainian population. Writers in praising Stalin were allowed more freedom to express Ukrainian patriotic feelings. Vague promises were made that conditions would be better after the war, but these were vague and did not involve any basic concessions to the Ukrainian spirit. However it was at this time that V. Sosyura's poem Love Ukraine was written and received a Stalin prize for its patriotic character.

By the time the German tide began to ebb after Stalingrad, the Soviet leaders prepared to profit by the Sovietophile feelings in the United States and Great Britain. The Yalta agreement provided for the compulsory return of persons displaced by the Germans and none of the Western leaders understood at the moment the purpose of Stalin or the feelings of the displaced persons from the east. Further, the Soviet of Ministers, as they now called themselves in Moscow, arranged for the formation of Ministries of Foreign Affairs in the Union Republics and set up such a ministry in Kiev, on their recovery of it,  p30 under D. Z. Manuilsky, who had been the Russian representative in Kiev during the peace negotiations in 1918, a good sign that the ministry would be anything but Ukrainian. In the same way they secured the entrance of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republics as charter members of the United Nations; they later gave these republics their own flags and provided for them new national anthems to express their independence and their brotherhood with the Russians and the other peoples of the Soviet Union. As the Soviet armies reentered Ukraine and Byelorussia, they were renamed Ukrainian and Byelorussian armies. Of course, Russian remained the language of command and no concessions were made in these forces to national sympathies or ideas.

With the return of the Communists, the UPA turned its attention to the new invaders and commenced another war against both the retreating Germans and the advancing Soviet armies. They did this, although they knew that their position would become increasingly more and more difficult and they had almost no hope of success in view of the western attitude.

The Russian Communist Return

The return of the Soviets was introduced by ominous events. The peasants "grateful for their liberation" were compelled to make large gifts of relatively scarce grain and other food supplies to Stalin and the Moscow government. Then the government ordered a general mobilization of all men from 16 to 60 without regard to their ability of bearing arms. Large masses of these perished under the fire of the German machine guns. At the same time large numbers of women and girls were mobilized for forced labor in various parts of the Soviet Union.

Against the resisting population the Government sent well-equipped raiding parties into the villages and forests, the so‑called Red Partisans and Children of Stalin. They were in reality exterminating detachments which ranged over the country and gave free reign to all of their most bestial instincts, thus fulfilling their sacred obligations to the Soviet Government and father Stalin. They shot the "Banderists" (the name applied by the Communists to the UPA and all their sympathizers), burned villages and arrested the people and deported them. They raped women without regard to age, from young girl children to women of extreme old age. A large part of these bands had venereal disease and spread it among the population. Thus in the one village of Spasiv in western Ukraine, there were 60 cases of disease spread after the entrance of these bands.

Cases are also known in Stryj where girls were deliberately infected and refused any medical treatment until they had infected at least three men connected with the UPA and presented their names and addresses to the authorities. In some cases, the Communists scattered lice infected with typhus germs, and put on the black market poisoned serums and drugs where they thought they might fall into the hands of persons sympathetic with the UPA.

The advance westward of the Soviet armies did not end this struggle. The UPA attempted as much as possible to encourage the population and hamper the return and functioning of the Soviet system. In the Carpathian Mountains and western Ukraine the movement was well  p31 organized because of the favorable terrain. The armed struggle continued much longer and with many successes. On March 20, 1944, the UPA ambushed Marshal Vatutin, the commander of the first Ukrainian feet and so wounded him that he died in a hospital in Kiev on April 15.

This turned the attention of Moscow to the problem of suppressing these forces, and on April 2 they moved 10 divisions and some motorized brigades of the NKVD into Volhyn where UPA forces were active, but despite some pitched battles in which several thousand men were involved on both sides, the Soviet armies made little headway.

On November 27, 1944, the Communists appealed to the UPA to lay down their arms in return for a promised amnesty, but no one believed these promises and on December 1, the Communists started another offensive with 30,000 men who occupied all the villages between Lvov and Khodoriv. These operations continued into 1945, when Moscow moved several army divisions into the area after the ending of the war with Germany. Many of the troops refused to take part in this action and were sent to the Far East as punishment instead of returning to their homes. The extent of these hostilities may be shown by the fact that on October 31, 1945, the UPA even captured and held for a short time the city of Stanyslaviv.

Another attempt to put down the Ukrainian revolt was made in 1946 when the Minister of the Interior of the Ukrainian Republic, Gen. Lt. Vasyl Ryasny, sent General Colonel Moskalenko into the area with a large force. Moskalenko was ambushed and killed on May 3, 1946. This involved new changes in the government in Kiev, and Kaganovich was again sent back as First Secretary of the Communist Party.

In the meantime the area of the fighting continued to spread. When the Communists recovered Bukovyna from Rumania, the UPA was there to oppose the partisan bands which occupied all of the cities and towns and attacked and robbed the local population. Then when in the fall of 1944 the Soviets occupied Carpatho-Ukraine, they began an agitation for the addition of it to the Ukrainian Soviet Republic; and on June 25, 1945, President Benes recognized the justice of their claims and ceded the territory. The communization of this extended the operations of the UPA still further.

In still another area, the region west of the Curzon Line, it was agreed between the Soviet Government and the People's Republic of Poland that the Ukrainian population in Lemkivshchyna should be deported across the boundary. This led to incursions of the UPA into this area. In the fighting that ensued, Gen. Walter Swierszczewski, the Polish Vice Minister of National Defense, was killed on March 28, 1947. He was a well-known participant in many Communist campaigns in Spain and elsewhere. This led to a tripartite agreement of Moscow, Poland, and Czechoslovakia on May 12, 1947, to suppress the UPA, and the armed forces of all united to suppress a menace that the Communists had denied ever existed.

After 1947, there were fewer large battles but warfare on a smaller scale continued. By 1952 open, military conflict ceased and the chief object of the UPA is now to maintain a constant state of unrest and uneasiness on the part of the more prominent Communist terrorists in the country. Thus they can encourage the people to maintain their  p32 Ukrainian nationality and consciousness against Moscow's efforts to denationalize and destroy them.

The Soviet attitude toward these Ukrainian struggles have been marked by a curious dualism which Western and American statesmen and journalists were slow to detect. On the one hand, Moscow printed the most exaggerated accounts of the gratitude of the Ukrainian population to Stalin and the Red Army for their liberation. On the other, they spoke constantly of the bandits and later of the Banderists operating in large areas of completely peaceful territory. The real situation only began to be realized when in 1947 a detachment of some 400 members of the UPA succeeded in crossing as a military unit from the Carpathians through Czechoslovakia and Austria into the American Zone in Germany and surrendered. They brought with them many of the publications of the free Ukrainian press of the time and much valuable information. Other groups arrived in 1948 and 1949 with still more material in the American Zone.

The Church Policy

The policy of the Soviet Government toward religion in Ukraine has been of considerable importance. On their return to western Ukraine, the Communists applied the antireligious laws less harshly, and this aroused hopes that the increased attention to the Russian Orthodox Church and the Patriarch of Moscow might be the sign of a new temper in Moscow. This hope soon proved vain.

Metropolitan Andri Sheptytsky, as before, was personally untouched, perhaps because of his personal prestige among the people. However, he died on November 1, 1944, under conditions that aroused suspicions of poison. Then he was automatically succeeded by his coadjutor, Dr. Yosyf Slipy, a distinguished scholar and a former rector of the Theological Academy in Lvov.

Early in 1945 the new Metropolitan made a present to the Red Army of 100,000 rubles in the hope of improving relations with the Government. It was received by minor officials who demanded the active aid of the church in the struggle against the "Banderists." It was of course refused as a matter of church policy. Shortly thereafter, the patriarch formally wrote to the Metropolitan and his bishops and called upon them to give up their allegiance to the pope and pass under his jurisdiction as the patriarch of Moscow. This, too, was of course rejected.

In April 1945, the NKVD suddenly arrested the Metropolitan and all the bishops of the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite in the area that had passed under the Soviet Union. They were taken to Kiev and there the Metropolitan was tried secretly and sentenced to 8 years imprisonment at hard labor in distant camps. The other bishops received similar terms and one, Bishop Khomyshyn of Stanyslaviv, is known to have died in prison in Kiev.

Later a politico-religious campaign was started against the late Metropolitan Sheptytsky, and almost simultaneously three renegade priests, headed by Rev. Gavryyil Kostelnyk, formed an initiating group for reunion with Moscow, and of course they received the full sympathy and support of the government. When several hundred priests met in Lvov to protest the actions of this group and appealed  p33 to Stalin for protection under the Soviet Constitution, they were arrested. Some were shot and the rest deported.

Finally on March 8‑10, 1946, this group felt itself ready for decisive action. They called a meeting in Lvov to carry through a definite break with Rome and a union with Moscow. No one can still be sure what proportion of the members of this group were priests and what proportion were members of the NKVD, but it unanimously approved the change and the Orthodox bishop of Lvov took over the Cathedral of St. George and all the property and churches of the Metropolitanate. The Union of Brest in 1595‑96 was declared ended, and the Catholic Church of the Eastern Rite was wiped out and its members included in the Russian Orthodox Church. Those who protested were arrested by the NKVD and the Catholics of the Eastern Rite were forced into the under­ground.

Even before this, in the diocese of Peremyshl which had passed into Communist controlled Poland, Bishop Kotsylovsky had been arrested on September 17, 1945, with his Auxiliary Bishop G. Lakota. Bishop Kotsylovsky was handed over to the Soviets after a series of illegal transactions and died in a Soviet prison in 1947.

It was now the turn of the Bishop of Uzhorod, Teodor Romzha, in Carpatho-Ukraine. His carriage "accidentally" collided with a Red Army vehicle and a short time later he died in a Soviet hospital. Again the use of poison was reported. His diocese was at once forced to receive an Orthodox bishop and was wiped out.

In 1950 the last of the bishops of the Catholics of the Eastern Rite in the Diocese of Pryashiv in the now Communist Czechoslovakia, Bishop Pavlo Goydich, was seized with his assistant. The two men were sentenced to life imprisonment and the diocese was reunited with the Russian Orthodox Church.

The new Russian Orthodox priests do not use the old manses which existed besides their churches. They live in the various cities and in many ways their general life is often more that of the NKVD than of the clergy. They owe their posts to a strange combination of the patriarch and the secular authorities, while the real church in these areas has ceased to exist or has gone under­ground, some sort of a clandestine organization under the Rev. Prof. M. Lavrivsky (a pseudonym).

No one can estimate the number of martyrs who have suffered during this enforced destruction of a church which for nearly four centuries has been at work in the area. Thousands have been arrested and deported for their religious beliefs, but surprisingly few of the priests and laity have been willing to take part in the new movement that has been officially recognized by the Ukrainian Soviet Government.

Postwar Ukraine

The end of the war brought to a Ukraine, which had been cleared of the Nazis, no relaxation of tension. The Communist leaders began immediately to talk of American imperialists and to use that excuse for still further exactions and demands on the population.

At the height of their Sovietophilism the Western Powers allowed the Communists to return by force most of the eastern Ukrainians in the DPº camps. Very few of these ever reached their native villages. The very fact that they had allowed themselves to be taken to Germany  p34 or to be captured was sufficient to make them undesirable citizens. They were accordingly punished as war criminals and either executed, sent to labor camps in the far north, or settled outside of Ukraine in other Soviet republics.

In its agricultural policy the Soviet Union revived and re‑formed the collective farms and made living conditions on them still more unbearable. It could not and did not improve the living conditions, for even though payments to peasants were higher, the charges imposed upon them were even greater than the increase of income.

The summer of 1946 saw again a drought and this in some places produced a condition of at least near-famine. During the winter of 1946 and the spring of 1947, it has been reported that at least 500,000 from the collective farms made their way for at least a short time to western Ukraine in an effort to get food for themselves.

Another conception was the introduction of the so‑called agrogorod or farm city. This was introduced so as to facilitate the control of the collective farms by the Communists. It involved the destruction of many of the old villages and the erection of large settlements composed of the workers of several former farms in one place. Thus, whereas at the end of the war there were in Ukraine 33,653 collective farms, the number by the end of 1950 had been reduced to 14,443.

The Soviets undertook the definite collectivization of the land in western Ukraine. As a decade earlier in eastern Ukraine, the villages of western Ukraine suffered heavily, and from almost every community where statistics have been made available, it is clear that in almost every village from 100 to 300 were deported to Siberia. The arrests were numbered in the thousands and the peasants were mobilized after the war for various purposes. Everything possible was done to humiliate and break the patriotic feelings of the population.

On the industrial side the conditions were no brighter. Soon after the war there was so much unrest that the services of troops were needed in Kharkiv and Odessa, and while it is hard to say what part of these disturbances were directly connected with the work of the UPA, it is easy to understand that the conditions in the cities were bad.

The work of restoring the factories went slowly. A very small part of the technicians and workers removed from Ukraine before the advance of the Germans were allowed to return. They were kept beyond the Urals in the new factories that sprang up in those areas. The same was true of the machinery. The excuse was made that new machinery would be secured for the factories in Ukraine but little of this was forthcoming, and that slowly. Even the fourth 5‑year plan provided few new constructions in the country. The largest sums of money were made available for the Russian Republic, very little for Ukraine, and almost nothing for the industrialization of the area west of the Dnieper and in western Ukraine. Of course the argument was that they were too exposed to the danger of attack from the west and that the Union was acting for military security.

In fact it revealed a very definite policy on the part of the central government. This was to develop the entire Union in such a way that Ukrainian industrial production would increase very slowly and the share of Ukraine in the total general and industrial yield of the Soviet Union would definitely diminish. On the other hand, the Soviet Union still maintained that it could not exist without the  p35 products of Ukraine. It was the same dilemma that had been faced by Tsar Nicholas I when he proclaimed the danger of Ukrainian revolt side by side with the statement that there was no Ukraine and no Ukrainian movement.

However, some concessions were made to the people in that for the first time, after Melnikov was removed on a charge of overstressing the role of the Russians in Ukraine, a Ukrainian, Kyrychenko, was made First Secretary of the Communist Party there. Such Ukrainian authors as Korniychuk and Bazhan were given Government posts, and Tychyna was made chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the U. S. S. R. These were only slight concessions and cannot hide the fact that those persons who were appointed had distinguished themselves for years by their slavish submission to the will of Moscow.

Even in these cases it may well be asked how far such steps have been taken in response to a recognition of Ukrainian sensibilities as such and how far they have been motivated by a need to establish new formulas for the application of Moscow's policy toward the satellite states which are in a position scarcely different from that of Ukraine at the time of the New Economic Policy and Ukrainization. The very desire to make apparent concessions may be only the application of the new policy elsewhere and the standardization of ideas.

Postwar Culture

With the ending of the war, the work of standardizing Ukrainian culture on the Russian type was resumed with vigor. The arguments of Zhdanov against cosmopolitanism were but another phase of the feeling that Russia knows best, exactly as Stalin proclaimed the Russians as the cause and chief agent in the Soviet triumph. There came a renewed outbreak against those slight relaxations that had been made in wartime.

The case of Sosyura's poem, Love Ukraine, is to the point. This had received a Stalin prize when national patriotism was more or less desired. In 1951 Soviet critics discovered it contained ideological errors and compelled the unfortunate author to apologize for his mistakes.

Korniychuk, always a zealous servant of the Kremlin, joined in the demand that the Ukrainian Communists needed to realize the dangers of bourgeois nationalism in language as well as in content. The use of older forms of language was clearly a sign of bourgeois sympathies. A new Ukrainian dictionary published in Moscow in 1948 by L. A. Bulakhovsky and the poet Rylsky, and the authors were able to boast that they had compiled it on the basis of the spoken language of the government offices and not upon the older, pre‑Bolshevik usage. They introduced from Russian whatever they wished, for "thanks to the Russian language, the Ukrainian has been able to acquire the capacity to respond to the needs of socialist construction and to satisfy the cultural needs of the Ukrainian people."

In plain language, the Communists are striving to make Ukrainian a dead language incapable of growth or of adaptation to modern conditions in any way other than by the addition of Russian elements. At the same time the whole theory of Stalin's linguistic and philological discussion was that Russian was already a zonal language because  p36 it was the language of communism and its standards were correct; and was to replace the other languages of all people who had risen to the understanding of the principles of Moscow.

Russian books, Russian art, Russian theatrical companies are flooding Ukraine as never before. Ukrainian history and Ukrainian literature are being revised to show their dependence in the past, the present and the future on the "elder brothers," the Russians.

Latest Developments

Joseph Stalin died on March 5, 1953, and he left his post behind him. One of his closest associates, Beria, the long-time head of the NKVD and the MVD, passed to his reward when he was liquidated as an American agent a few months later. Malenkov is still the nominal leader of a group who are running the country and Khrushchev, for many years the dominant force of Ukraine, is now one of the great figures in the party. It is still too early to analyze all the changes that this involves but the events of 1954 have not altered the general line of the party.

In January of 1953 there was celebrated with all the fanfare possible the three hundredth aviary of the Treaty of Pereyaslav which brought Ukraine into alliance with Moscovy. For that august occasion the Communist Party issued new theses on the relations of the two nations. These unhesitatingly call Kiev the oldest Russian city, for they postulate an original linguistic, political and racial union. They call Lvov the oldest Ukrainian city because it was founded by the Ukrainians after the division of the language. The theses stress the great help of Moscow in food and arms to Khmelnytsky in his struggles against Poland, and they hail him for his wisdom in creating the union. They stress the contacts between Shevchenko and the Russian radical thinkers, and finally they emphasize how the Ukrainians are now merging in the Russian proletariat.

Then to emphasize still further the brotherhood of the two peoples, the Council of Ministers turned over to Ukraine the Crimea, from which they had already forcibly deported its native Tartar population. It was an interesting gesture which hardly ventures even to suggest that the wishes of the people of the Crimea had even been consulted.

That is not all. Moscow has decided to cultivate more land in Kazakhstan and Siberia. To carry out this duty, some 800,000 young Ukrainians, young men and women, are to "volunteer" for this pioneering service. There can be little doubt that they can be found by force, if not by choice. It is another example of the long continued attempt to place the Ukrainians everywhere, except in Ukraine, and when we remember the Soviet practice ever since the downfall of Skrypnyk, we can think of this new suggestion only in terms of denationalization and genocide. But no matter where they might be situated, the Ukrainian people will never fail to sing in patriotic voice their historic national anthem, Shche ne vmerla Ukraina (Ukraine will never die).

Thayer's Notes:

a Something is wrong in the text. Kamyanets Podilsky is firmly southwest of Kiev.

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b A clearer and very depressing idea of just what was lost can be gathered from Oleksander Ohloblyn's Ukrainian Historiography 1917‑1956, in which many authors' works are footnoted "published without the editor's foreword and without mention of his name", "printed, was not released", "following the arrest and sentencing of the author, this volume was not released", "ready for printing, was never published", "the work was not completed due to her arrest and deportation". On p361 ff. Ohloblyn details the Russian campaign of the 1930's to destroy the writing of Ukrainian history: including footnotes 269 and 270 that give a rather long but apparently very fragmentary list of "lost" works, and a similar list of persecuted scholars.

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c John F. Stewart's Crime of Moscow in Vynnytsia (Edinburgh, 1952) documents the Vinnytsya massacre in detail: 32 pages, 14 photos. If, as happens often enough, that link becomes inoperative, please contact me: I've kept a copy.

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Page updated: 16 Nov 22