Reversal of Ukrainization policies in Soviet Ukraine

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The Holodomor (famine of 1932–1933) followed the assault on Ukrainian national culture that started in 1928.[citation needed] The events of 1932-1933 in Ukraine were seen by the Soviet Communist leaders as an instrument against Ukrainian self-determination. At the 12th Congress of the Communist Party of Ukraine, Moscow-appointed leader Pavel Postyshev declared that "1933 was the year of the defeat of Ukrainian nationalist counter-revolution."[1] This "defeat" encompassed not just the physical extermination of a significant portion of the Ukrainian peasantry, but also the virtual elimination of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church clergy and the mass imprisonment or execution of Ukrainian intellectuals, writers and artists.

By the end of the 1930s, approximately four-fifths of the Ukrainian cultural elite had been "eliminated".[2] Some, like Ukrainian writer Mykola Khvylovy, committed suicide. One of the leading Ukrainian Bolsheviks, Mykola Skrypnyk, who was in charge of the decade-long Ukrainization program that had been decisively brought to an end, shot himself in the summer of 1933 at the height of the terrifying purge of the CP(b)U. The Communist Party of Ukraine, under the guidance of state officials like Kaganovich, Kosior, and Pavel Postyshev, boasted in early 1934 of the elimination of "counter-revolutionaries, nationalists, spies and class enemies". Whole academic organizations, such as the Bahaliy Institute of History and Culture, were shut down following the arrests.

Monument to the murdered kobzars in Kharkiv

In the 1920s, the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (UAOC) had gained a significant following amongst the Ukrainian peasants due to the Soviet policy of weakening the position of the Russian Orthodox Church (see History of Christianity in Ukraine). Nonetheless, in the late 1920s the Soviet authorities closed thousands of parishes and repressed the clergy of the Ukrainian Orthodox church. By 1930 the church was taken off the Soviet Registry and the NKVD made sure that it did not exist unofficially.

Ukrainian music ensembles had their repertoires severely restricted and censored. Foreign tours by Ukrainian artists were canceled without explanation. Many artists were arrested and detained often for months at a time without cause. After not receiving any pay for many months, many choirs and artistic ensembles such as the Kiev and Poltava Bandurist Capellas ceased to exist. Blind traditional folk musicians known as kobzars were summoned from all of Ukraine to an ethnographic conference and disappeared (See Persecuted bandurists).

Repression of the intelligentsia occurred in virtually all parts of the USSR.[3] Despite the assault, education and publishing in the republic remained Ukrainianized for the years to come.

In 1935-36, 83% of all school children in the Ukrainian SSR were taught in Ukrainian even though Ukrainians made up about 80% of the population.[4] In 1936 from 1830 newspapers 1402 were in Ukrainian, as were 177 magazines, in 1936 69 104 thousand Ukrainian books were printed.[5]


  1. ^ "12th Congress of the Communist Party (Bolshevik) of Ukraine, Stenograph Record", Kharkiv 1934.
  2. ^ E.g. Encyclopædia Britannica, "History of Ukraine" article.
  3. ^ Roy Medvedev writes "Instead, Stalin once again looked for a scapegoat and found it in the form of the specialists from among the pre-revolutionary Russian (and Ukrainian) intelligentsia"
    Roy Medvedev, "Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism", Columbia University Press, 1989, ISBN 0-231-06350-4, p. 256-258.
  4. ^ Ronald Grigor Suny, The Soviet Experiment
  5. ^ "Soviet Ukraine for 20 years" p.102 Ukrainian SRR Academy of Science 1938 Kiev, also same data in Statistical Compendium 1936