My paper focuses on the experiences of war of the three main ethno-religious groups in L’viv. Jews, Poles, Ukrainians experienced the war in ways which contradicted each other’s experience. The analysis of contemporary sources shows that the incompatible recollections of the war are based on these conflicting experiences.
I have not limited myself to a reconstruction of events but instead examined the mental baggage with which the groups started in the war. I will be looking at the question of how Poles, Ukrainians and Jews perceived their own behaviour and the behaviour of the other groups during the Soviet and German occupation, what conclusions they drew from their perceptions and how they integrated them into their constructions of reality and their justification strategies. But it is not possible to examine such experiences without reference to the general conditions under which such experiences occurred. For this reason I have also taken a closer look at the perspectives of both occupying powers and how they viewed these three main urban groups. The Germans and Soviets determined the framework within which the three most important ethnic groups in East Galicia operated.
Under Soviet rule 1939-1941 and after August 1944 social categories were of prime importance. The pre-war elite was repressed, while the occupying power attempted to gain the allegiance of the lower classes, the young generation and parts of the intelligentsia for the Soviet project. National categories also played a role, both at a central level where policies were formulated and at local levels where policies were implemented. The Soviet leadership based its policies for the integration of the occupied eastern Polish territories into the Ukrainian SSR on its nationality policies of the 1920s. In the UkrSSR the Ukrainians were the titular nationality, which meant that they took precedence in administration, culture and education over Poles and Jews. But the key positions in the administration and the economy were held by newcomers from Eastern Ukraine and other parts of the Soviet Union. During the first occupation, Poles, Ukrainians and Jews were all affected by large-scale arrests and deportations, which were governed by categories of class and which, in addition to Jewish refugees and Polish settlers, particularly affected the economic and political elites of the Second Polish Republic. The Soviet policy changed once it became apparent that its offensive strategy to gain the sympathies of Ukrainians was doomed to disappointment. After the summer of 1940 the Soviet Union turned more towards the Poles who were courted and given concessions in certain areas of cultural policies.
The Soviet occupation policy was based, first of all, on sociopolitical and power-political categories and only in the second instance on ethno-political categories. However, the perceptions of the local population were structured by ethnic patterns of perception. The Soviet measures were reinterpreted accordingly. When the Soviet power implemented class conflict policies against the pre-war elites, this affected all ethnic groups; however, because of their dominant position before the war it affected the Poles most, followed by the Jews.
Survival strategies which were accepted and understood as such when employed by members of their own group were used to reproach the “other” group with if they employed them and were categorised using traditional ethnic patterns of interpretation. Only behaviour which strengthened and confirmed ethnic stereotypes was taken in. Contradictory information was noted, but did not flow into the process of interpretation. The behaviour of a majority of the Jewish youth, of Soviet officials of Jewish origin and the willingness of refugees to take jobs in the Soviet administration and militia was used to collectively reproach all Jews and the blame laid at the door of the L’viv Jews.
Linking the Jews to the Soviet regime and Soviet crimes was one way of exculpating members of one’s own group from their participation in pogroms and the mass murder of Jews after the German invasion. The pogroms carried out by the Ukrainian militia together with parts of the Ukrainian population in the first days of July 1941 were seen as acts of revenge, in which Jews served as scapegoats. Traditional local anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic stereotypes, German anti-Semitic propaganda, actual grievances and terrible hatred came together. The first pogroms followed the pattern of pogroms during the First World War and earlier. But there was a big difference. The new – German – authorities not only did not lift a hand to prevent the pogroms but actually wanted them and did everything to incite the population. To win the local population as accomplices in the mass murder of Jews was part of their program of annihilation. During the next wave of murders – the so-called Petliura days – from July 25-27 it was already less easy than before to secure the participation of the urban population in the pogrom. The Ukrainian auxiliary police carried out most of the murders itself assisted by rapacious Ukrainian peasants who were brought to the city for this purpose.
The German occupying forces based their policies on racist and ethnic categories. They introduced an ethnically-based hierarchy, at the top of which stood the Reichsdeutsche. The most important distinction was the differentiation between “Aryans” and Jews; it was a distinction between life and death. Whereas a policy of extermination of the Jews had already been settled on by the end of 1941, a more differentiated policy was employed vis-à-vis Poles and Ukrainians, which depended on the general military situation, the willingness to co-operate and the degree of collaboration of the two groups. For this reason, Ukrainians universally received preferential treatment. However, every Ukrainian attempt at nation-building and the Bandera faction of the OUN were combated. With the beginning of the German occupation Jews were excluded from any capacity to act. They were isolated in ghettos, murdered in the course of mass executions – as in the infamous Janowski camp – or in the extermination camp Bełżec. Under German occupation Jews appear exclusively as victims of violence and of attacks in the inter-ethnic relationships. Within the ghetto new social structures were created, which only partially reflected the old pre-war structures of Jewish society. In their program of exploitation and murder the Nazis drew upon the members of the Judenräte and of the Jewish auxiliary police, who vainly hoped by their co-operation to save at least some part of the Jewish population or to ensure their own survival.
The L’viv Ukrainians and Poles suffered much. Thousands were murdered, tortured and tens of thousands were deported. But nobody wanted to annihilate them completely. They were trying to survive in the first instance, but they also pursued individual goals which focused on how they wished to live after the war. Their political and military leadership tried to influence the outcome of the war in East Galicia. The Jews were fighting for their lives, the Ukrainians and Poles also fought for their lives, but additionally for territorial gains and political self-determination. It was a completely different experience. The different experiences also had consequences for the memories handed on in the different groups. When we look at Galicia and Ukraine, we are not just looking at a double memory but at a triple or – if we include Russians and East Ukrainians – even a multiple memory of the war. This is what makes it so difficult for the victims of German and Soviet occupation, Poles, Ukrainians and Jews, to understand how the “other” experienced and memorised the war. In addition, while the official Soviet interpretation of the war, propagated after 1945, was partly compatible with the experience of East Ukrainians, it was, however, in no way compatible with the experience of West Ukrainians, let alone Poles or the few surviving Jews.
Every ethno-religious group perceived its own group as the principal victim. There was no shared feeling of common suffering. The Poles thought they had suffered most from German and Soviet occupation and not least from Ukrainian attacks. The Ukrainians thought they had endured most, first from the Poles and the Germans and then from the Soviets, whom they bracketed with the Jews. But in the end Poles, Ukrainians and Jews formed very different categories of victims. The Jews were not only the victims of an unexampled program of murder by the state, but also the victims of their Christian neighbours.
The Germans had given a terrible example of how to get rid of a whole ethnic group. The Germans also created the frame within which the Polish-Ukrainian conflict was played out. But it was less racism than an ideology of integral nationalism which, until the spring of 1944, determined the anti-Polish actions of the UPA. One can say that the murder of Polish villagers by Ukrainian partisans aimed at forcing all Poles to leave Volhynia and East Galicia drew its inspiration from the cynical and murderous German population policies, but was also a consequence of the failed attempt at founding a Ukrainian state in 1918. The forced expulsion of the Polish population had in view the creation of a demographic fait accompli, thereby making the affiliation of the territories to the Ukrainian state inevitable and irreversible. The same applies to the Polish underground. In L’viv, large parts of the Polish population were unable to imagine that it would be possible to live side by side with Ukrainians after the war and favoured the wholesale ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians from East Galicia.
The Polish experience of war vis-à-vis the Ukrainians during and after the war was shaped by the devastating attacks of Ukrainian partisans on Polish villages and finally by the loss of their homeland. The West Ukrainian experience of war was closely linked to the fight with the Poles for East Galicia, the ethnic cleansing of Ukrainians in Poland, the failure to build a nation in the post-war period and the bloody and exhausting guerrilla war against Sovietization. In Ukrainian-Polish relations crimes stand against crimes. The task here is for each side to accept the suffering of “the other” and condemn the crimes of its “own” side.
This is difficult enough in itself but in connection with the Jews we have an asymmetric relationship. During the war neither the Poles nor the Ukrainians were able to come to terms with the unique aspect of Jewish suffering. They categorised the annihilation of the Jewish community in East Galicia using stereotypes inherited from a very different past. In the last two years of the war the Jewish question disappeared from the agenda of the OUN and the Armia Krajowa. Only few Jews remained and these played no role in the plans for the post-war period.
While the rest of the world saw the German-Soviet front of 1941-1945 as only one of the main segments of a global conflict, the Soviet Union defined its confrontation with the Axis powers as a "great patriotic war"(1) After the war, Soviet historians liked to distinguished two concurrent but separate events, and to stress the differences between them. World War II was essentially a clash of imperialist powers with few if any redeeming virtues. On the other hand, the bloody struggle of Communist Russia with Nazi Germany was depicted as a patriotic rising of the Soviet people against the intruding fascist hordes which saved the Soviet Union and the world from fascist domination and destruction. The grandiose name bestowed by the Communist Party on the cataclysmic world tragedy and disproportionate slaughter of Soviet population, helped to depict the Soviet side of the war as awesome, but at the same time liberating and glorious. However, the pompous qualifiers were not introduced into the war's title just for the sake of romanticizing and endearing it to the Soviet people; the appellation was invented for political and ideological reasons. It provided Soviet propaganda with a convenient conceptual framework for explaining the war and eliciting the desired emotional responses from the disoriented population. Itself a powerful war slogan, it became a starting point of all other battle cries.
The grandiloquent title for what was initially a catastrophically inept response to the Nazi attack was coined on the very first day of the invasion. Viacheslav Molotov, Vice-Chairman of the Council of Peoples' Commissar and Commissar for Foreign Affairs, broke the news of Hitler's treacherous aggression in a midday radio address to the Soviet people, on June 22nd 1941. Stalin's trusted henchman alluded to the "patriotic war" of 1812, in which a previous invader -Napoleon - was defeated, and assured his listeners that the Red Army and the entire Soviet people would once again wage a "victorious patriotic war for Motherland, honor and liberty". The message ended with the declaration: "Our cause is just. The enemy will be defeated. Victory will be ours." That same day, Emelian Iaroslavsky, a party ideologue and ghostwriter for Stalin's History of the CPSU, penned a long analytical article titled "The Great Patriotic War of the Soviet People". It was thus the Party and not the people who gave the war its name. The following day Molotov's speech and Iaroslavky's article were printed in the Party's main political organ Pravda (2), and afterwards reprinted in other newspapers. On June 25th, Pravda informed its readers that it had already printed Iarislavsky's article in the form of a brochure and was preparing separate editions of the speech by Molotov and of "slogans dedicated to the patriotic war of the Soviet people with the fascist barbarians". The regime made sure that Soviet citizens were not left to their own devises to unravel the puzzles of the sudden hostilities with their erstwhile ally.
Iaroslavsky's article contained the three essential ideas which would later form the main tenets of the myth of the Great Patriotic War: patriotism, liberation, victory. The author deduced his Soviet patriotism from an imagined Soviet society, "freed from the evils of exploitation" and enjoying "equality and brotherly cooperation of all the peoples of the USSR". He was confident the 200 million strong Soviet people would now "rise in an invincible, powerful upsurge" against Hitler and destroy the "breeding grounds of the fascist infection". Russians had fought other "patriotic wars" before, but only this one qualified as "great" because on its outcome "depended the fate not only of the peoples of the USSR, but of other peoples as well".
The Red Army demonstrated its "mission of liberation" when it recently "repulsed the Finnish white guards" and "brought emancipation to the peoples of Western Ukraine, Western Belarus', Bessarabia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia". These "liberated territories" became the first victims of the attack by the Germans and their allies, but the invasion had just begun, and only a small portion of the Soviet territory was occupied. The liberation message would get more exposure later in the war, when huge chunks of Soviet territory came under Germans control, and when the self deluding doctrine of "wars fought on foreign soil with little cost to the Soviet Union" was abandoned.
The ultimate goal of Soviet engagement was, of course, the defeat of the enemy. Soviet victory over Germany would be accomplished by the Red Army, "flesh of the flesh and blood of the blood" of the Soviet people. Overcoming the ferocious and well equipped enemy would require sacrifice and unity. Iaroslavsky had no doubt that, "for the sake of victory, every one of us will sacrifice his energy, his determination, his knowledge and, if need be, his life". And as for unity, what better authority could be found than Stalin's recent pronouncement: "Our entire people must unite and become one, as never before." Echoing his master's voice Iaroslavsky added: "Victory will be that much more rapid and complete, the closer our great family of Soviet peoples draws together around our great and famous Communist Party of Bolsheviks and her wise leader, the head of the Soviet government - comrade Stalin."
Rallying around Stalin and the Party was part of the marching orders for the whole Soviet society, but non-Russians had the additional task of uniting around the Russian core of the Soviet state. Without Russian help and protection, the peoples of the Soviet Union could not preserve their independence and freedom now, any more than they were able to do so in the past - or so claimed official state wisdom. Ten days after the outbreak of the war, an eminent Ukrainian historian reminded countrymen that while their whole history was "filled with heroic struggle for liberty and independence against various foreign invaders", Ukrainians never ceased "to long for union with their Russian brothers, and their reunion in one state".(3) The author reaffirmed the thesis that Kievan Rus' as a creation of a homogeneous ethnic collectivity which later, under foreign domination, split into three East Slavic nationalities. In the 1930s this thesis became one of the axioms of Soviet historiography. During the war, the subordination of the "younger brothers" to the "elder Russian brother" became more pronounced, especially after the Red Army began to retake lost Soviet territory. Three weeks after Kyiv's "liberation" by the Soviet Armed Forces, a citizens' rally adopted a resolution which reaffirmed support for "the eternal friendship and union" of the Russian and Ukrainian peoples and pledged "to uphold this sacred and benevolent union". The gathering then swore to bequeath this oath to "our children and our children's children, forever and ever." (4)
As the expulsion of the German forces from Ukraine continued, the Ukrainian Parliament became more and more vocal in expressing "the sincerest gratitude to the great Russian people and all the peoples of the Soviet Union, to the federal government, the Bolshevik Party and the great leader of peoples, comrade Stalin" for the aid in "liberating Ukrainian lands from the German occupants".(5) The first post-war session of the Ukrainian Parliament continued in this vein. "The free Ukrainian people turn to you, our elder brother, the great Russian people, with words of love, loyalty and sincere gratitude", read a resolution addressed to "the great Russian people".(6) Recalling Lenin's pronouncement about the impossibility of a free Ukraine without the union of Ukrainian and Russian proletariat, the Ukrainian parliamentarians praised Bohdan Khmelnytsky for "executing the will of the Ukrainian people to be forever united with the great Russian people", and condemned the German hirelings (Ukrainian nationalists) for trying to separate the two. In the non-Russian republics, the conception of the "Great Patriotic War" was thus supplemented with a fourth component: the belief in the indispensable union with the Russian people, without whose guidance and help the other Soviet peoples could not survive. The corollary of this was a condemnation of all the enemies of this unity, especially members of national minorities. The nations of the USSR owed eternal gratitude to the Russian "elder brother" whose past merits earned him a superior standing. At the end of the war, the recognition of this status was declared by Stalin himself in his celebrated toast to the "great Russian people".(7)
The war ended in Europe on May 8th 1945 and that day the Soviet government signed a decree declaring May 9th a work free national holiday. Victory Day became the ultimate embodiment of the Great Patriotic War. By then, the gestation period of the war myth was nearing its term. A telling sign was the spelling of the first two words of the name with capital letters.(8) Interestingly, as a work-free holiday, Victory Day was celebrated only once more in 1946; in 1947 Soviet citizens recalled the event at their workplaces. That year, war invalids, permanent reminders of the horrors of that war, were removed from Moscow and other major cities. War was no longer a popular theme, at least not for the Stalinist regime. Unpleasant memories of the war had to be monitored lest they become a menace to the state. Persons who had some experience with the outside world, whether as prisoners of war, deportees for forced labor in Germany, or even simple survivors of the fascist occupation, were suspect. Writing war memoirs was not encouraged, and those that were published were carefully censured. Stalin wanted the country to forget the war that was, and replace it, in their imagined memory, with the war that should have been.
During Stalin's life, the merit for winning the war went to Stalin, the Party, the Red Army and the people - usually in that order. Khrushchev did not let the legend of Stalin's leading role in the war long survive its hero. "Not Stalin, but the Party as a whole, the Soviet government, our heroic Army, its talented leaders and brave soldiers, the whole Soviet nation - these are the ones who assured the victory in the Great Patriotic War", declared Stalin's successor.(9) Stalin's demotion did not an automatic condemnation of the other lies and inventions about the war. This would have been too dangerous. The ideological "thaw", which stimulated a more open discussion of historical topics and facilitated the publication of more truthful war memoirs, was already going too far. People were coming back from the Gulag and giving alternate accounts of the war years. Deported nationalist were returning and fanning national embers in the non-Russian republics. These changes threatened social cohesion and risked to undermine the real and imagined ties, forged during the war, which still bound the multinational Soviet empire. The regime decided to backtrack and Khrushchev's interlude came to an end.
By the time of Khrushchev's demise, a new cult of the Great Patriotic War was emerging with an elaborate system of symbols and rituals.(10) Veterans visited schools, commemorative meetings were organized in the workplaces, war survivors gathered to remember fallen comrades. The war was being remembered in a significantly altered and refashioned way. A whole new generation had grown up with little or no personal experience of the war; the knowledge these young people had of the fateful event came from the school, the mass media and the official commemorations. The older generations, those who had lived through the war, became accustomed to the official version of events and learned to make their own memories fit those developed by the state. A new collective memory of the war had come into being, and on the basis of this forged image of the country's past, a powerful myth would be elaborated during the long years of Brezhnev's rule.
In 1965 the Soviet Union brought back Victory Day as a work free state holiday. May 9th a became popular date and gradually replaced November 7th as the main Soviet holiday. There were many reasons for this. More people could relate to the recent War than to the October Relovolution, by then a distant past, of which few people had a personal experience. The Bolshevik coup d'Etat initiated the breakup of the Russian empire and years of bloody military conflicts: a long Russian civil war, several wars with the secessionist national republics, a wars against foreign interventionist forces. The war, on the other hand, united most of the Soviet population, which willy-nilly ended up fighting against the same fascist enemy. The Victory Day celebrations fulfilled an important social function. The war dead were honored in official ceremonies and private visits to the graves of loved ones; old war buddies could meet in the cordial ambiance of family and friends to reminisce about past glory and personal tragedies. Finally, the usually sunny and warm days of May were more suited for congenial outdoor gatherings than the winter-like weather of November.
Brezhnev's era is often presented as one of stagnation, but this characterization can hardly apply to the ideological sphere, and especially to the imaginative theories of Soviet nation-building. Having established itself as one of the two military super powers, and having gained the recognition of the outside world, foe and friend alike, that it was a strongly united if not a monolithic society, the Soviet Union took pains to cultivated in its own citizens an unabashed pride in their country's past and present glory and an unconditional loyalty to the unity of the USSR, as an guaranty of this greatness. In the panoply of Soviet war trophies, which symbols of the Soviet people's purportedly radiant socialist future, those from the war against fascism were in the center. The example of the Great Patriotic War would be an antidote to the internal divisions and dissension generated by Khrushchev's liberalization policies. The Soviet empire needed a unifying ideology, and the cult of the Great Patriotic War lent itself for that purpose. Already endowed with a quasi-sacred mythical name, the war evoked genuinely heart-felt attitudes in Soviet citizens. These feelings could now be used to engrave in the society's collective memory a lofty image of Soviet patriotic zeal and civic unity that allegedly bound the population together during the war. Such a model of national harmony would be conducive to the fusion of the motley Soviet society into a new, homogeneous Soviet nation. To prevent the sprawling Soviet empire from disintegrating, Moscow elaborated a powerful consolidating myth in the form of the Great Patriotic War.
The renewed interest in the Great Patriotic War penetrated all the spheres of public life. Victory Day was celebrated each year with impressive military parades. The anniversary received extensive media coverage. Newspapers printed greetings from the government and the Party, letters from veterans, and commentaries by historians. The event was a highlighted in radio and television programs and was a good pretext for reruns of old war movies. Round-figure anniversaries were particularly honored with the inauguration of museums and dedication of monuments. New publication appeared: multi-volume histories, collections of documents, memoirs, and various other materials were published in Moscow and in the capitals of the union republics. Previously rejected memoirs found the publishers more sympathetic, and professional studies of some aspects of the war received more objective treatment than was previously possible.
This was the golden age of monument and museum construction dedicated to the Great Patriotic War. Gigantic war memorials in the form of a woman's figure, various referred to as "Mother Russia" or simply "Motherland" (in the non-Russian republics), were erected in key locations. Although Westerners often spoke of them with contempt - one observer referred to the Volgagrad memorial as "totalitarian kitsch"(11) -the monuments provided the desired background for parades, meetings and other patriotic gatherings. They served as places of pilgrimage for school children and nostalgic veterans. All major urban centers had their own war museums, and other museums often had sections reserved for exhibits dedicated to the war. War monuments, from commemorative board to elaborate museums, were so numerous that by the time the Soviet Union broke up, the greater part of the state protected historical sites were connected with the war period.
Soviet educational made sure that Soviet citizen assimilated the war myth from the earliest age possible. History textbooks and history lessons taught the correct way of understanding the war . Schools set up special remembrance corners dedicated to the memory of the war, and on important dates veterans were invited to share their memories with the students. Some schools organized expeditions to former battle sites to gather exposed bones and other relics of the fallen soldiers. Not armed with first hand knowledge of the various aspects of the war, young people had no way of checking the information they were given by their tutors. Nor was there any reason for them to doubt the veracity of their textbook and teachers, especially since they heard the same discourse from the mass media and the state and the Party on commemoration days. Being idealistic, youth was particularly vulnerable to noble sounding principles from people in authority. Young people had no protection against the claims of the myth of the Great Patriotic War, which had become a part of Soviet civil religion, with its beliefs, ritual and ceremonies.
The myth of the Great Patriotic War fit into a wider program of Soviet social engineering. The avowed goal was progressive integration by a steady "drawing together" and the eventual fusion of the various Soviet peoples into one nation. National amalgamation was said to be beneficial to all, for each member group contributes to and draws from the others, until a new, common culture develops. A linguistic innovation in line with the objectives of integration was the theory of "two mother tongues", which was supposed to endow non-Russians with the language of their elder brother. This linguistic experiment was to be bestowed on the non-Russian population only. People whose first language was already Russian were not to be subjected to this aberrant congenital bilingualism. Non-Russians who saw in the projected cultural fusion not an enrichment of their nation but rather its disappearance, were branded as "bourgeois nationalists"; those who espoused it demonstrated their "internationalist" spirit. "Nationalists" and "bourgeois" were by definition non-Russians; Russians who defended the Russian language and culture were "patriots".
On the negative side of the integration ledger were those who undermined the stability, strength and integrity of the Soviet society. The "bourgeois nationalists" of the non-Russian republics were the most dangerous because they threatened the survival of the Soviet empire; others "dissidents" of various profiles and tendencies only weakened the state without challenging its unity. It was in this atmosphere of intense struggle against the separatist aspirations of non-Russians and equally intensive promotion of the assimilationist policies that the self-identity of the non-Russian masses was reaching its point of maturation. National consciousness of the non-Russians was greatly marked by the war (12), but it took root only during the Brezhnev era. By the time the Soviet Union broke up, the greater part of the non-Russian population had grown into this new identity, exception made for the Baltic republics and, to a lesser degree - Western Ukraine. This hyphenated identity, in which the "Soviet" tandem acted as an umbilical cord, bound the various nationalities to the life supporting common Russian Motherland. It was particularly true of the national elites who held power in the non-Russian republics. That is why these elites were not able to join forces with the national revival, as happened in the Baltic republics, once the Communist regimes began to crumble under the weight of Gorbachev's liberalizing perestroika and glasnost'.
Gorbachev's glasnost' proved devastating for the Soviet historiography. Interestingly enough, the first blows against the fortress of Soviet historical orthodoxy did not come from within the walls of academia. The first to challenge the interpretation of established history were journalists, writers and other outside seekers of historical truth. People questioned the various tenets making up the myth of the Great Patriotic War but it occurred to no one to challenged the mythical nature of the notion itself. Newly published documentation clearly showed the limits of the alleged outpouring of Soviet patriotism and the equally imagined general upsurge against the fascist invader, in the beginning of the War. The idea of liberation was readily rejected in the Baltic republics, where the Communist regime was regarded as foreign occupation, and in Western Ukraine, which had not completely reconciled itself to the brutal Sovietization of the region. Even in Russia critical voices were raised to question the reality of liberation: "We won the war but we did not liberate ourselves, nor did we liberate you", concluded a disheartened veteran in 1990. And then he wandered whether there was no liberation because of the victory. "(13) Did victory impede liberation, or were the two simply not related in the Soviet experience? Victory was undeniable, but whom did it belong to? Under Stalin it was attributed to "the beloved leader", the Party and the people; after Stalin's demise it was accorded to the Party and the people, and after the collapse of the Party it was given to the people. Yet many believed that the Party had stolen the victory from the people.
The collapse of the Communist Party removed its previous hold on historical science, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the appearance of independent republics gave a new meaning and perspective to national histories. The myth of the Great Patriotic War fared differently in different successor states. Russia, the core member of the defunct Union and generally recognized as its principal successor, continued to cherish the memory of the Great Patriotic War as part of its sacred legacy. The Baltic republics discarded the war myth as an unwelcome ideological leftover from the Russian Soviet occupation. In the other post-Soviet republics, the attitude towards the war is somewhere between that of Russia and the Baltic states.
The 50th anniversary of Victory Day was an occasion for grandiose celebrations in Moscow and throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). The Russian mint struck commemorative medals for all the veterans of the "near abroad" (CIS) with engravings only in Russian. The rewriting of the history of World War II, begun under Gorbachev, was continued under Yeltsin and Putin: factual inaccuracies and outright falsification were identified and corrected, and serious studies offered new interpretations. But the notion of the Great Patriotic War was never challenged, even in the face of new archival evidence which contradicted the basic tenets of the myth. The surrender en masse and countless desertions of Soviet soldiers, widespread cases of peasants welcoming the enemy, voluntary cooperation of workers in to rebuild the industry - all this showed a lack of patriotic fervor for the Stalin's Soviet Motherland, at least in the beginning of the war. New documents revealed gruesome crimes committed not only by the fascist intruders, but also by the "liberating" Red Army, which brought in its wake not liberty but Stalin's totalitarian regime. The fruits of the great victory over Germany did not go to the Soviet people but to the masters of the land. In spite of these revelations which undermine the various tenets of the myth, the notion of the Great Patriotic War has survived unscathed in Russia. An author of a penetrating study of war psychology recently analyzed the symbols and myths of the Great Patriotic War but skirted around the mythical the war's title.(14) Russian school children are taught that "the principal source of the victory of the Soviet people in the war was its patriotism and the understanding that mankind was under the threat of destruction".(15)
Iaroslavsky's demagogic appellation of the war is challenged in post-Soviet Ukraine. Ukraine's vision of her past is more complex than that of Russia or the Baltic states. The war left Ukraine with conflicting memories, one side of which were suppressed during the Soviet period but emerged after independence. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (Orhanizatsiia Ukrains'kykh Natsionalistiv - OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA - Ukrains'ka Povstans'ka Armiia), fought both the German and the Soviet forces for the establishment of independent Ukraine. They had the support of a large segment of Ukrainian population, mostly in Western Ukraine. This fact could no longer be ignored in an independent Ukraine, especially since the veterans of these organizations demanded that the previous Soviet laws against them be invalidated and their veteran status be recognized at par with the veterans of the Soviet forces.
Twelve years after independence, the issue is still not solved. Ukraine's largest veterans' organization is controlled by the Communists, and its pro-Russian tendencies and nostalgia for the Soviet Union are well known. This organization vehemently opposes the rehabilitation of the UPA and OUN, and because of its numerous membership it presents a formidable voting power and its voice is heeded by President Leonid Kuchma, the administration and the Parliament. The Communist and Socialist parties of Ukraine are by their ideological leanings also opposed to the recognition of the nationalist veterans. Only the national democrats take a pro-UPA stand. Ukrainian historians and the Ukrainian mass media are both sharply divided on the issue.(16) Ukrainian school textbooks now recognize the OUN and UPA as Ukrainian patriots who fought for Ukrainian independence against two totalitarian systems. But, like in Russia, the officially celebrated Victory Day remains a popular holiday, and, in addition, the Ukrainian state continues to promote the memory of the Great Patriotic War with an elaborate publication program (17), and with a series of commemorations to mark the 60th anniversary of the "liberation" of the various Ukrainian cities.
Since historical myths are ideologically motivated accounts of past events for the purpose of stimulating present and future action, it will be useful to examine: 1) how the so-called Great Patriotic War relates to the realities of the German-Soviet War, and 2) how useful it was for the political agenda of the Soviet and post-Soviet republics.
An analysis of the three main elements of the myth of the Great Patriotic War (patriotism, liberation, victory) reveals that the ideological claims were faar from the historical reality. "Soviet patriotism" was not the all pervading sentiment portrayed by the myth. Mass surrender of Soviet troops in the beginning of the war and large scale desertion throughout the conflict showed that a large number of Soviet soldiers and officers were not ready to die "for the Fatherland and Stalin" as their battle cry demanded of them. Germans were greeted as the liberators they claimed to be, not only in the recently annexed Western Soviet regions but even in areas that had been under Kremlin's rule since the early 1920s. The population was still resentful for the recent genocidal famine in Ukraine and the North Caucasus, and the great repression in the whole Empire. The Yugoslav Communist leader Milovan Djilas was surprised to find so little Socialist patriotism in the Ukrainian population after the return of the Red Army.(18) Anti-Soviet partisan forces, enjoying popular support, sprang up in Ukraine and the Baltic republics, and even in some regions of Belarus and even Russia proper.(19) Collaboration with the German authorities, whether for reasons of survival or for less noble personal advantages, was recorded in all regions under German occupation, and even among members of the Party and former state employees. Cases of hostility of "liberated" populations toward the returning Soviet forces were recorded.(20)
During the war there was still some uncertainty in people's minds as to the identity of the Fatherland to which they owed their patriotism. Theoretically, the all-inclusive Soviet patriotism subsumed all local loyalties. In practice, however, Soviet patriotism tended to fuse with Russian patriotism, the latter disseminated by the ubiquitous Russian-language media, reflected in Russian war songs and slogans, and commanded by the great military figures from Russia's past. Of the non-Russian historical heroes, only those were eulogized who could be shown as promoting eternal union with Russia. Non-Russian national patriotism of the Soviet citizens was suspected of being tainted with "bourgeois nationalism", and as such hostile to the "eternal friendship" of the Soviet peoples, and a threat to the integrity of the Soviet state. As the recently opened Soviet archives reveal, such feelings did exist in Ukraine.(21) The alleged widespread patriotic upsurge in defense of the Soviet Motherland was easier visualize decades later, than to find in real life during the war.
An equally weak component of the Soviet war myth is the notion of "liberation". The liberation of Europe from Hitler's subjugation required the removal of Nazi domination, and this could be accomplished only by driving out the Axis forces. But the expulsion of the Germans from Western and Eastern Europe did not have the same significance for the two regions. To liberate is to replace servitude and oppression by freedom, and not one tyrant by another. In Western Europe, the war against Germany and the liberation of the German-occupied territory were two aspects of the same action. The removal of German rule in France, for example, restored the country's independence, its former democratic system together with the traditional liberties and rights. This is not, however, what happened in Eastern Europe even though Soviet citizens were told that "liberation" would bring back "freedom, honor and independence". When the Red Army drove the Wermacht out of Eastern Europe it did not liberate the region but subjugated it to Stalin's domination. The very nature of Stalin's totalitarian regime prevented The Red Army from being a liberator. Communist totalitarianism simply replaced the Nazi one. To designate as "liberation" both anti-Nazi war fronts, in the West and in the East, obfuscates the fundamental difference between the two experiences. It is significant that in the Soviet political discourse the term "liberation" is usually accompanied by a reference to the occupying forces. The expression "liberate from x" becomes equivalent to "drive out x", or "conquer back from x". In this way, emphasis is shifted from liberty to the previous enemy of that liberty, attention is distracted from the new enemy of liberty and his refusal to grant any liberty.
The Second World War ended with a great victory for the Soviet Union, and that fact needs no discussion. It is also well known that this triumph was accomplished with disproportionate and unjustifiably great loss of Soviet lives, both military and civilian. What is debatable is the significance of this victory for the Soviet people. Hosting his military commanders after the June 24 military parade, Stalin proposed toast the "cogs of the great state machine" without whom "we - the marshals and commanders of fronts and armies, to state it bluntly, aren't worth a damn".(22) It is these cogs (the ordinary Soviet people - in Stalin's definition and Soviet practice) that the war myth has always associated with the great Victory, not only as the instruments of its achievement, but also as its beneficiaries. Yet, if the status of a victor be measured by the benefits reaped, then it is obvious that the cogs of the great totalitarian machine could not be, and certainly were not, the real victors of the war.
Equally fictitious is the notion of the Ukrainian people as co-victors of the war. Inter-state wars are fought by real states. The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was a state in name only. It was not a subject of international relations and therefore not . That disproportionately high percentage of Ukrainians fought and died in the war was undoubtedly a national tragedy, but this did not change Ukraine's colonial status within the Soviet empire.
The heyday of the myth of the Great Patriotic War was the Brezhnev era. To the Russian population it gave pride in their country's achievement, which was not only heroic but also had world significance: the Soviet Union not only saved itself from annihilation by the racist Nazi invaders, it also prevented the fascist aggressors from subjugating the whole world. Non-Russians could share in this common pride for their input in defeating the fascist invaders of the USSR was second to none. Pride in the concerted effort and mutual achievement provided a strong emotional bond among the Soviet peoples. In the notion of the Great Patriotic War, the socialist Fatherland had developed a very powerful and successful consolidating myth. It was during the Brezhnev period, when the other assimilatory and anti-separatist policies were brought to bear on the non-Russian republics, that a new ethnic ("national") but Soviet oriented identity began to take root in the non-Russian population. In this new national consciousness, the Soviet-Russian component played a central role; following Lenin's dictum, Ukrainian identity was inconceivable without its Russian dimension. This dimension was territorial, political, cultural, linguistic, etc.
The essential function of myth of the Great Patriotic War was to unite the Soviet people around the Communist Party and the non-Russian peoples around the Russian elder brother. In the end it failed on both accounts: the Party lost its hold over the disgruntled empire, and the empire disintegrated. Yet the myth has survived, not only in Russia but surprisingly and paradoxically, in some of the former "national" republics. The survival of the myth poses theoretical and practical problems. By continuing to define as patriots and liberators of their Fatherland only those who bore arms only on the Soviet side, the post-Soviet republics perpetuate the division of their societies into victors and vanquished. Voices are now being raised in defense of the Russian Liberating Army (Russkaia Osvoboditel'naia Armiia - ROA) and others who joined the Germans to fight the Stalinist regime. "The idea was that Hitler would not be able to conquer the whole territory of Russia, but will overturn Stalin's rule, and then it would be possible to form a new Russian state and a new Russian army."(23)
A similar discussion is taking place in Ukraine with reference to the Ukrainian Division "Halychyna" and other Ukrainians serving on the German side. However, the Ukrainian situation is rendered still more problematical by the presence of the veterans of OUN and UPA, ignored by the present Ukrainian state authorities. The anomaly of Ukraine's treatment of these two organizations, consists in the refusal to give due recognition to the only political and military formations which fought for Ukrainian independence against both Berlin and Moscow. The newly independent Ukrainian state continues to honor veterans who fought for a foreign based totalitarian state which enslaved Ukraine, while refusing to grant the same rights and privileges to those who fought only for Ukrainian independence. Since the claims of OUN and UPA have widespread support in Western Ukraine, the government's policy can only be divisive for the Ukrainian society. The pro-Communist Ukrainian Organization of Veterans, opposed to the rehabilitation of OUN and UPA is the main protagonists in the struggle for the survival of the Soviet style collective memory of the Great Patriotic War. Anti-independentist by its very nature, the myth attracts all the elements of the Ukrainian society nostalgic for the Soviet Union and favorable to a new "Slavic" integration.
The Great Patriotic War cannot become a consolidating myth for the Ukrainian state as some seem to want it to be. It can only serve the cause it was created for: a Moscow centered conglomerate. Yet the genuine popularity of the 9th of May holiday opens up the possibility of transforming, as some veterans have suggested, the old Victory Day into a new Remembrance Day. Only then could veterans of the former warring parties sit at the same table, and the new holiday could become a force for consolidating the new Ukrainian state.
(1)A more appropriate translation of the Russian expression "velikaia otechestvennaia voina" would be "the great war for the fatherland". The adjective "otechestvennaia" comes from the noun "otechestvo" (Fatherland), derived from "otets'" (father).
(2)"Vystuplenie po radio Zamestitelia Predsedatelia Soveta Narodnykh Komissarov Soiuza SSR i Narodnoho Komissara Inostrannykh Del tov. V. M. Molotova"; Em. Iaroslavsky, "Velikaia otechestvennaia voina sovetskoho naroda", Pravda, 23 iunia 1941. It should be noted that in at that time, and for some years to come, both adjectives (velikaia and otechestvennaia) were not capitalized.
(3)M. Petrovsky, "Viis'kova doblest' ukrains'koho narodu", Komunist (Kyiv), 2 July 1941.
(4)Istoriia Kyeva. Kyiv, AN URSR, 1961. Vol. II, P. 603-604.
(5)Pravda. 3 March 1944.
(6)Literaturna hazeta, 4 July 1945.
(7)Kyivs'ka Pravda, 29 May 1945.
(8)Velikaia Otechestvennaia voina. In Iaroslavsky's Pravda article non of the words were capitalized and this practice continued almost to the end of the war.
(9)From Khrhushchev's "Special Report to the Twentieth Congress of the CPSU" quoted by Nina Tumarkin, The Living & the Dead. New York, Basic Books, 1994. P. 108.
(10)A good description of the war cult is given by Nina Tukarkin in her book cited above. The book is subtitled: The Rise and Fall of the Cult of World War II in Russia. The author's conclusion about the fall of the cult seems to hav been premature.
(11)Nina Tumarkin, op. cit. p. 48.
(12)The impact of the war on the formation of the Ukrainian Soviet identity is discussed by Amir Weiner in his stimulating monograph (Making Sense of War: The Second World War and the Fate of the Bolshevik Revolution. Princeton U. P., 2001.
(13)Viacheslav Kondratiev, "Paradoksy nostalgii", Literaturnaia Gazeta, 9 May 1990. Incomplete translation in Nina Tumarkin, op. cit. p. 205.
(14)E.S. Seniavskaia, Psykhologiia voiny v XX veke. Istoricheskii opyt Rossii. Moscow, ROSSPEN, 1999.
(15)B. G. Pashkov, Istoriia Rossii. XX vek. 9 kl.: Uchebn. dlia obshcheobrazovat. ucheb. zavedenii. Moscow, Drofa, 2000. P. 276.
(16)For a more detailed analysis of the this question see my forthcoming article in the Ukrainian Review.
(17)For ex.: a 250 volume list of some 6 million Ukrainians who lost their lives fighting the Axis powers from the Soviet side, or non-Ukrainians who died for the same reason on Ukrainian soil.
(18)Milovan Djilas, Conversations with Stalin. London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1962. P. 47 ff.
(19)Boris V. Sokolov, Okkupatsiia. Moscow, Ast Press, 2002. P. 205.
(20)The peasants of [ ] asked why the Soviet troops returned, since life had been easier under the Italian occupation.
(21)Ukrainian intellectuals in Kyiv and peasants in the Ukrainian countryside discussed the return of a Ukrainian national government. TsDAVO,
(22)Kyivs'ka Pravda, 26 June 1945.
(23)See, for ex.: Igor Rodin, "Parallel'naia voina", Segodnia (Kyiv), 13 May 2003. The article is written from the Russian point of view.
Anyone who consults the media, especially the electronic media, of the Ukrainian diaspora in North America cannot but be struck by its obsession with the issue of suspected war criminals. The search for war criminals is presented as a witch hunt, harming almost exclusively innocent people and tarnishing the reputation of Ukrainians as a whole. Sensational articles about alleged "Nazi war criminals" appearing in the mainstream media are denounced, sometimes in intemperate terms (particularly in diaspora-Ukrainian electronic media). There is almost no attempt, however, on the part of the Ukrainian diaspora to confront the issue of war criminality in a less defensive and soul-searching manner.
Instead, even well documented war crimes, such as the mass murder of Poles in Volhynia, have been referred to as "alleged," and the cooperation of the Ukrainian auxiliary police in the execution of the Jews has also been questioned. It has also been denied that the Ukrainian movement in World War II had any ideological predisposition, such as anti-Semitism, which could have facilitated participation in genocidal actions.
The diaspora uses a double standard in discussing war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by Ukrainians as opposed to those perpetrated against Ukrainians. Memoirs, for example, are considered untrustworthy evidence for the former, but trustworthy for the latter. The argument is made that no order has ever been discovered instructing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) to kill Polish civilians in Volhynia. On the other hand, an important Ukrainian victimization narrative, that of the famine of 1932-33, is never questioned, even though it too is without its "smoking gun" (as of course is the Holocaust). The crimes of Polish police in Nazi service are taken to provide some measure of explanation or justification for the attack on Polish villages in Volhynia, but never do Ukrainian diaspora authors consider that Ukrainians should be held collectively responsible for the crimes of the Ukrainian police in German service.
Linked to the denial of war criminality, although also motivated by other factors, is the construction of Ukrainian victimization narratives. Three such narratives are dominant in North America: 1) the internment of Ukrainians in Canada during World War I, 2) Stalinist crimes against Ukrainians, particularly the famine in Soviet Ukraine in 1932-33 and 3) the expulsion of Ukrainians from their home territories in southeastern Poland in 1947 (Akcja Wisła). Sometimes Ukrainian participation in the Holocaust is explicitly compared with Jewish participation in the collectivization which produced the famine. Frequently diaspora authors urge fellow Ukrainians to follow the example of the Jews and produce a more detailed, more convincing narrative of their own holocaust. The claim is often made that the Ukrainians suffered as much as the Jews, as though there were a competition in victimization.
The position adopted by the Ukrainian diaspora has to be understood in context. The most articulate segment of the diaspora are the Western Ukrainians who left Ukraine after World War II, which is the target group for insinuations and accuastions of war crimes, and their descendents. The older cohort had witnessed the results of NKVD mass murders in the summer of 1939 and they were keenly aware of the exhumation in Vinnytsia in 1943 of mass graves of murdered Soviet prisoners. They knew also of the brutal methods employed by the Soviets in their repression of UPA right after the war. Some of them had experience with murderous Nazi rule in the Reichskommissariat Ukraine, and almost all knew someone whom the Germans had sent to a concentration camp for belonging to the Ukrainian underground. From their point of view, what was done to the Ukrainians was the primary narrative of the war. Furthermore, the Ukrainian diaspora has been upset by what it perceives to be an uneven treatment of Nazi and Soviet crimes against humanity. They feel it is unfair that only Nazi and Nazi-associated criminals have been prosecuted for what they did in Ukraine and that no member of the former Soviet apparatus has been tried for participation in mass murder. Finally, the Ukrainian diaspora has been put on the defensive by what it perceives to be slurs on Ukrainians as a whole, perhaps most notoriously in the case of the segment "The Ugly Face of Freedom" aired in 1994 on the CBS network program "60 Minutes."
Although the attitudes sketched above are prevalent in the Ukrainian community in North America, no community is monolithic, and there have been and are some exceptions to the rule. One was the late Ivan L. Rudnytsky, who criticized the attitudes of the nationalists to the Jews during World War II and called for Ukrainians to engage in "house cleaning." Marco Carynnyk has also discussed wartime Ukrainian anti-Semitism and continues to work on the topic. American-born Sister Sophia Senyk has criticized the Greek Catholic church in Ukraine for its uncritical attitude towards UPA, in spite of its crimes against civilians. I myself have frankly discussed Ukrainian collaboration in the murder of Jews during World War II.
The opening of Soviet archives makes it intellectually more difficult for the diaspora to remain in denial concerning war criminality. Recent studies of the destruction of the Jews in Eastern Galicia (Dieter Pohl) and of the Ukrainian police (Martin Dean) document Ukrainian collaboration in the Holocaust more convincingly than was the case in the past. UPA's atrocities against civilians have been documented in archivally-based studies (Jeffrey Burds) and in document collections (Volodymyr Serhiichuk). Of course, the results of scholarship are slow to be integrated into collective memory.
It is also more difficult to maintain the innocence of Ukrainian national ideology in light of recent research. It is now clear that Ukrainian nationalism in Galicia was already highly racialized in the late 19th century (Andriy Zayarnyuk) and had developed an elaborate anti-Jewish discourse. Anti-Semitic articles appeared regularly in the interwar Western Ukrainian press (Redlich). During the war there were expressions of eliminationist anti-Semitism (Karel C. Berkhof and Marco Carynnyk). Authors of anti-Semitic articles in the occupation press subsequently became important influential in the media of the diaspora. Also, since the 1920s Western Ukrainian nationalism had promoted ruthlessness towards the enemies of the nation.
A painful yet honest assessment of Ukrainian participation in wartime atrocities is long overdue for the diaspora. A number of postwar societies have come to terms with the dark side of their wartime past, most notably the Germans and also, more recently, the French. Only such soul searching can open the door to reconciliation and to the elaboration of an understanding of the past that can be shared by Ukrainians, Jews and Poles. Otherwise the situation will remain as it is today, with several competing hermetic narratives of what happened during the war. The diaspora narrative, which had never been very convincing to outsiders, is becoming even less so. More importantly, healthy collective memories are based on truthfulness.
Rogers Brubaker has argued that the USSR institutionalized nationality by defining its republics and the citizenry in national terms. Of course, the leadership in Moscow sought to “drain nationality of its content while legitimating it as a form”, but as Yuri Slezkine brilliantly quipped, after Stalin’s death “the national form seemed to have become the content.” In elaborating these ideas, I will argue that while Soviet ideologues were expending impressive amounts of time and effort on sanitizing the permitted trappings of non-Russian nationhood and ensuring their largely ceremonial character, it was the very existence of these institutions, which preserved the republics’ separate identities as nations. For even under Stalin, national institutions’ points of reference were the nationality’s nationhood and (theoretical) right to sovereign statehood. Although the ideologues seemingly succeeded in the difficult task of eliminating all national motifs from the text and music of Soviet Ukraine’s anthem, they nevertheless authorized the creation of a national institution that ultimately strengthened the legitimacy of a Soviet Ukrainian nation as distinct from a Soviet Russian one.
As the Kremlin’s disenchantment with proletarian internationalism grew, in the spring of 1942 Stalin ordered a new Soviet anthem to replace the “Internationale.” After a prolonged process of selection and editing, including corrections made in the dictator’s own hand, in December 1943 the authorities approved the new anthem. Significantly, though, and probably in connection with its plans regarding the UN, Moscow expected the non-Russian republics to produce their own anthems. Work in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Latvia began in the spring of 1944, and once again Ukraine led the other republics in establishing a governmental commission on the anthem as early as 21 February 1944.
The initial reaction of writers and composers demonstrated their eagerness to produce an anthem filled with national motifs, as well as their belief that the party leadership would approve of such an approach. But in the summer of 1946 the Kremlin initiated the Zhdanovshchina. This post-war ideological freeze manifested itself in the purging of alleged Western influences from Soviet culture. In Ukraine, however, the Zhdanovshchina took the form of a renewed attack on “nationalist deviations” in scholarship and culture. As a result, the new anthem, as well as the modified flag and coat of arms, were not inaugurated until November 1949.
Because an army of professional and volunteer party propagandists was
engaged to explain the significance of the new state symbols to the populace,
thanks to the
In other words, regardless of how the population interpreted (and whether it cared about) the party-approved images, colors, words, and music, it recognized the anthem, flag, and coat of arms as institutions of Ukrainian statehood. Stalinist ideologues succeeded admirably in editing the text and music of the Soviet Ukrainian anthem to make them as “non-Ukrainian” as possible. Following the initial confusion, they forced the poets and composers to select the most ideologically sound words and the least Ukrainian tunes. They prescribed the times and ways in which the anthem had to be performed. Yet, the population viewed the very creation of the anthem as an indication that Ukraine’s sovereignty, no matter how nominal, was more likely to be strengthened than weakened. In this the public may have been wrong, but its interpretation was in itself significant.
In the late 1980s, under Mikhail Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost, women and feminist organizations began to form in many parts of the Soviet Union, attracting women from diverse social, professional, and ethnic background. In non-Russian republics, some of women’s organizations grew out of the broad national independence movement and popular front, and others revived the women’s organizations that existed during the pre-Soviet time. In a climate of upheaval of national movement, cultural revival, and reinterpretation of history from the Ukrainian national perspectives, the Ukrainian women’s movement too was involved in the public commemoration of the historical past to advance a revised history. In the end of 1990, just a year before Ukraine’s independence, Radians’ka zhinka (Soviet Women), the only official Soviet women’s magazine in the Ukrainian language, reprinted the anthem of Soiuz ukrainok. The historical legitimacy of women’s organization became even more contested when, in 1994, the two largest women’s groups, Soiuz ukrainok and Zhinocha hromada rukhy (Women’s Community of Rukh), separately celebrated the centenary of the Tovarystva rus’kykh zhinok (Union of Ruthenian Women), a women’s organization in a Western Ukrainian city of Slanislaviv, founded in 1884 by Natalia Kobryns’ka, a “first Ukrainian feminist.” The competition for the legitimate heir of the Ukrainian women’s organization clearly gave the credibility to the canonization of what had once been a women’s group in a Western Ukrainian, or Galician, countryside, even tamed as “bourgeois nationalist” during the Soviet era, as a “first feminist” organization in the post-Soviet Ukrainian historiography.
The recent growing interest and scholarship on the “first Ukrainian feminists,” as the late Solomea Pavlycko put, such as Natalia Kobryns’ka, Ol’ha Kobylians’ka, Olena Pchilka, and Lesia Ukrainka is indeed surprising. All women were related to Western Ukraine in one way or another. The interest and treatment of these women in post-Soviet Ukrainian society seems to be an attempt to install the cult of these women as a sort of Ukrainian counterpart of Alexandra Kollontai or Nazhezhda Krupskaia in Russia. The elevation of these women to the national feminist leaders, equivalent to Alexandra Kollontai, may seem exaggeration, nonetheless, given the recent scholarly trend of Ukrainian women’s history that have been geared up to search for famous women leaders in its own history, this may not be overly exaggeration. Overwhelmed with the revival of interwar women’s organizations, growing interest in fin de siècle Ukrainian feminist literature, and even a nostalgic memory of Habsburg Empire, few seems to pay attention to the fact that the region of Western Ukraine too had experienced the socialism for half a century. In a climate that any Soviet experience are to be dismissed, and the notorious “women’s emancipation” was labelled as “double burden,” the topic of Ukrainian women during the Soviet era, particularly the one in Western Ukraine, a birth place of Ukrainian national movement and feminist movement does not attract much scholarly inquiry. Most scholars, both in West and Ukraine, discredit the Soviet policy towards women, claiming that the Soviet totalitarianism regime did not institute these policies for the sake of women’s own interests. Is it that simple, however? Could we just ignore the Soviet part of the Ukrainian history and assume that the glorious legacy of women’s movement in Galicia simply transcend the Soviet period?
In keeping with the studies and theoretical frameworks made by Ivan L. Rudnytsky, Yaloslav Bilinsky, Roman Szporluk and Yaloslav Hrytsak, who have analyzed what impact the incorporation of Western Ukraine into the Soviet Ukraine exerted on the rest of Ukraine (Eastern Ukraine), my study attempts to examine what kind of legacy and experiences the Soviet Union brought to the women in Western Ukraine.
For the purpose of this conference (Divided historical cultures? The impact of World War II on the shaping of national symbols and collective memory cultures in East Central Europe), I will particularly analyze the postwar cultural campaign in Ukraine through the framework of Western Ukrainian gender perspectives.
This paper explores the ways in which the new Soviet woman was presented, both by men and women, by examining women’s magazines, literature, and memoirs. The print media played an important role in the process of creating a new myth and identity for Western Ukrainian women. In this time of not only total war but also of a whole social transformation, the Soviet officials were well aware of their duty to educate the people, particularly illiterate and ignorant peasant women, for the purpose of acquiring a public identity as “Soviet women.” This paper first analyzes the artifacts of Soviet propaganda (women’s magazines and literature) to understand the various messages being communicated to women, and, secondly, attempts to read how women themselves, in their old age, reflected upon their experiences during these turbulent years by examining their memoirs.
Nach Erlangung der Unabhängigkeit war (und ist in mancher Hinsicht heute noch) in der ukrainischen Gesellschaft umstritten, welche Kriterien die gemeinsame Grundlage für die Definition einer „ukrainischen Nation“ bilden könnten. Eine wesentliche Rolle in den Debatten um die Nation spielt dabei die Konstruktion eines nationalen Geschichtsbildes, das nicht nur der Legitimation des Staates dienen soll, sondern aus dem auch grundlegende Werte und politische Optionen als Orientierung für die Zukunft abgeleitet werden sollen. Im folgenden sollen anhand der Debatten um die Staatssymbolik und nationalstaatliche Hoheitszeichen und den ihnen zugrunde liegenden nationalen Geschichtsbildern einige wesentliche Elemente des ukrainischen nationalen Geschichtsbildes herausgearbeitet werden. Zugleich lässt sich anhand dieser von Historikern und Intellektuellen im „Vorhof der Macht“ konzipierten Symbolik zeigen, wie das Wappen und das ihm zugrundeliegende offiziös-staatlich festgelegte nationale Selbstbild vor dem Hintergrund der regional unterschiedlichen Erinnerungskulturen modifiziert wurde. Dabei wird in diesem Beitrag der Bedeutung der Erinnerung an den Zweiten Weltkrieg besondere Aufmerksamkeit geschenkt.
Die Debatte um die nationale Symbolik ging während der Zeit der Perestrojka (ukr.: Perebudova) von westukrainischen patriotischen Intellektuellen und Historikern aus, die sich in den 1989 entstehenden informellen Organisationen (wie z.B. der Tovarystvo Lev in L’viv) zusammenschlossen, einem dezidiert ukrainisch-sprachkulturellen Milieu enstammten und teilweise bereits vor der Perestrojka dem sowjetischen System ausgesprochen kritisch gegenüberstanden. Als nationale Symbole propagierten sie den goldenen Dreizack auf blauem Schild sowie die blaugelbe Flagge. Mit diesen Symbolen, die im September 1989 von der ukrainischen Nationalbewegung Ruch auf ihrem Gründungskongreß als nationale Symbole anerkannt und 1991/92 schließlich als Staatssymbole durchgesetzt wurden, stellten die westukrainischen Heraldiker den angestrebten unabhängigen Staat bewußt in die Tradition der Ukrainischen Volksrepublik (UNR) von 1918. Westukrainische Patrioten und Kiewer Intellektuelle wollten darüber hinaus auf der Basis des von Mychajlo Hruševs’kyj konzipierten Geschichtsschemas die Ukraine als Erbe der mittelalterlichen Kiewer Rus’ erscheinen lassen und den jungen Staat so durch die Kontinuität einer 1000-jährigen Staatstradition legitimieren. Ein zentrales Element dieses Geschichtsbildes war zudem die Abgrenzung der Ukrainer von den Russen bzw. vom Moskauer Zentrum, das ebenfalls das Erbe der Rus’ beanspruchte und mit dieser Epoche den staatlichen Bestand der Sowjetunion bzw. die unverbrüchliche staatliche Zusammengehörigkeit der drei ostslawischen „Brudervölker“ legitimierte. Die Staatssymbolik wurde laut der Ergebnisse einer für den Entscheidungsprozess maßgeblichen Heraldikkonferenz 1991 als Symbolik des ‚eingewurzelten ukrainischen Volkes’ bezeichnet. Einerseits trug dieses Geschichtsbild deutlich ethnisch-populistische Züge und hatte auch einen exklusiv-ukrainischen Charakter, das in einer betont nationalistischen Optik andere soziale und nationale Gruppen von der nationalen Erinnerungsgemeinsschaft ausschließen konnte. Andererseits war die Erinnerung an die in der Sowjetunion „unterdrückte“ Geschichte der UNR als „letzter Zeit der Freiheit“ mit emanzipatorischen Konnotationen verbunden und imaginierte die Ukraine in Abgrenzung zum sowjetischen autoritären System als demokratischen, mit freiheitlichen Werten assoziierten Rechtstaat.
Der Tryzub und die blau-gelbe Flagge riefen jedoch bereits während der Perestrojka und vor allem unmittelbar nach 1991 ablehnende Reaktionen primär in den östlichen und südlichen, aber auch zentralukrainischen Regionen des Landes hervor. Viele Bürger verbanden mit den Farben Blau und Gelb oder mit dem Dreizack die Symbole der Organisation der Ukrainischen Nationalisten (OUN), insbesondere des von Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) geführten Flügels, der vor allem in der Westukraine eine hohe Popularität genießt. In den russophonen Regionen des Landes wurde der Tryzub mit aggressiver antirussischer nationalistischer Ideologie, Kollaboration mit der deutschen Besatzungsmacht und Verbrechen während der Zeit des Zweiten Weltkrieges assoziiert. In etwas milderer Form galt dies auch für die Sichtweisen auf die Geschichte der UNR, die häufig mit Bürgerkrieg, Anarchie und Chaos verbunden wurde. Diese Ablehnung in Teilen der Bevölkerung war sicher auch eine Folge der sowjetischen Propaganda, die den Tryzub ästhetisch mit dem Hakenkreuz und inhaltlich mit faschistischer Kollaboration gleichsetzte. Jedoch läßt sich die Ablehnung nicht allein als Folge der sowjetischen Propaganda erklären. Die Konflikte waren vielmehr auch geprägt von regional unterschiedlichen Erinnerungskulturen, kollektiven und persönlichen historischen Erfahrungen. Diese resultieren historisch u.a. aus der Tatsache, daß die Ukraine über lange Perioden ihrer Geschichte zu unterschiedlichen Großreichen wie dem Russischen Reich, Österreich-Ungarn, Polen-Litauen oder dem Krim-Khanat gehörte. Die Basis der ukrainischen Nationalbewegung lag vor allem in der Westukraine, die später als die Ost- und Südukraine unter sowjetische Herrschaft kam und wo die ukrainische Sprache und ein ethnisch-sprachkulturelles Nationalbewußtsein stärker ausgeprägt waren als in den russophon geprägten östlichen und südlichen Regionen.
Gleichwohl geht die Ukraine nicht in einer statischen Ost-West-Dichotomie auf, die das Land in einen russischsprachigen, sowjetnostalgischen Osten und in einen ukrainischsprachigen, nationaldemokratischen Westen spaltet. In dieses Bild paßt auch die Analyse der Projekte, Eingaben und Briefe zu ukrainischen Staatswappen, die 1991 bis 1996 im Rahmen der Debatte zur Staatssymbolik an die politischen Instanzen der Staatsführung eingesendet wurden. Bereits die Diskussion 1991 zeigt, daß eine Ablehnung des Tryzub aufgrund der Verbindung mit der OUN und der Ukrainischen Aufstandsarmee (UPA) keine Ablehung der Unabhängigkeit bedeuten mußte. Statt des Tryzub schlugen Bürgerinnen und Bürger der östlichen Symbole vielmehr Zeichen vor, die die Ostukraine besser repräsentieren sollten. Dabei spielten historische Symbole des Kosakentums und ein national eingefärbter Bezug auf Interpretationen aus der Zeit der Sowjetukraine eine wesentliche Rolle, die den im Zweiten Weltkrieg und in der unmittelbaren Nachkriegszeit geschaffenen Denkmälern und Symbolen der Ukrainischen Sozialistischen Sowjetrepublik zugrundelagen. Darüber hinaus wird deutlich, daß positiv erinnerte sozioökonomische Leistungen der Ukrainischen Sowjetrepublik sowie der häufig hervorgehobene Anteil der Ukraine am Sieg im „Großen Vaterländischen Krieg“ nicht mit einer sowjetischen Identität gleichgesetzt werden können, sondern auch den Versuch darstellten, sich über Staat und Territorium mit dem neuen unabhängigen Staat zu identifizieren. Mit zunehmender Dauer der Debatte entfielen dabei sowjetukrainische Argumentationsmuster und wurden durch regionale Argumentationen verdrängt. Dies ging einher mit einer steigenden Akzeptanz des Dreizacks und der blau-gelben Flagge, ein Befund, der auch durch ernstzunehmende ukrainische soziologische Studien bestätigt wird.
Um zu verstehen, warum es dennoch keinem Kompromiß in den Symboldebatten der frühen 90er Jahre kam, müssen auch die politischen Funktionen nationaler Symbole betrachtet werden. In Zeiten des staatlichen Traditionsbruchs kam ihnen als politischen Kollektivsymbolen eine machtpolitische Legitimations- und Moblisierungsfunktion zu, wobei die Mobilisierung der Bevölkerung gerade durch die Polarisierung mittels einer umstrittenen, das bestehende System herausfordernden Symbolik erreicht wurde. Vor allem 1990, im Jahr des „Denkmalsturzes“ in der Ukraine, wurden die Helden der OUN und der UPA endgültig in das nationale Geschichtsbild einbezogen und durch Denkmäler und Änderung von Straßennamen kanonisiert. Außerdem ist die Assoziierung der nationalen Symbole, wie z.B. dem Tryzub, keine pure Erfindung der sowjetischen Propaganda. Gerade die OUN, die in der Westukraine ihre Basis hatte, trug zur dortigen Verbreitung dieser Symbolik und ihrer Geschichtsbilder massiv bei.
Schließlich galt die Durchsetzung der nationalen Symbole im öffentlichen Raum der Durchsetzung des politischen Machtanspruchs der Nationalbewegung gegenüber den konservativen Kreisen der Kommunistischen Partei der Ukraine. Ein Kompromiss beispielsweise im Sinne des Einbezugs roten Farbe in die Flagge hätte in der Optik der damals handelnden Intellektuellen ein Zurückweichen von diesem Machtanspruch bedeutet. Außerdem müssen bei der Analyse der Konnotationen von Symbolen ihr Gebrauch und ihre sozialen Träger analysiert werden, um ihre Rezeption zu verstehen. Die Farben Himbeerrot (als Symbol des Kosakentums) oder der Kosak mit Muskete als Element im Wappen und als Symbol der Ostukraine waren aus Sicht vieler Nationalisten allein schon dadurch diskreditiert, daß sie von den Legitimationswissenschaftlern der herrschenden Nomenglatura vorgeschlagen wurden.
In der Ära Kučma sind dagegen gezielt sowjetische und sowjetukrainische Elemente in das nationale Geschichtsbild einbezogen worden, die als Bindemittel regionale Unterschiede überdecken sollen.Dem „Großen Vaterländischen Krieg“ als ukrainisch nationaler Leistung kommt dabei eine Schlüsselrolle zu. Anhand des unter Kučma geschaffenen neuen Ordenssystems, Gedenktagen und Denkmälern soll dabei in dem Vortrag illustriert werden, wie ein synthetisches Geschichtsbild geschaffen wird, mit dessen Versatzstücken regionale Erinnerungskulturen selektiv bedient werden, um durch eine weitgehende Integration insbesondere der östlichen und südlichen Regionen die Herrschaft der derzeitigen Staatsführung geschichtspolitisch zu legitimieren. Im Hinblick auf die Art und Weise der Implementation der Symbole, ihre ästhetischen Formen und ihren Gebrauchs scheint es sich dabei aber eher um eine Integration von oben und weniger um eine Selbstverständigung zwischen Herrschern und Beherrschten über grundlegende Werte mittels der Vergangenheit zu handeln.
1. Political discourse
The Ukrainian issue did not have a permanent place in the political dialogue of post-war Poland. The issue was rarely discussed in the press in the first few months after the end of World War 2. This was probably because of political decisions. In the few articles which were published, the instances of armed insurrections by the Ukrainian Underground were condemned, and decisions regarding the repatriation of people and the subsequent repercussions were assessed positively. It was emphasised that this formed the basis for future amicable relations between Poland and the Ukraine. During the “Vistula” action, the number of publications on the subject increased significantly. Both publishers from the Communist camp and those from the opposition (which were still allowed to operate) voiced a common opinion, acknowledging that the mandatory displacement action was necessary. In most of the texts the authors divided the Ukrainians into two categories. The first category consisted of the Ukrainian people, which included many good, amiable, open, simple and appreciative people who accepted reality. The second category were the nationalists – ruthless, brutal fanatics, full of a hatred of everything that was Polish, deliberately dragging the peaceful civilian population into their dirty games. This stratagem was not exceptional. A permanent element of Bolshevik propaganda was depicting a healthy majority, dedicated to supporting Soviet rule, and a few counterrevolutionary nationalists serving Imperialism. It is impossible to ascertain whether the use of such an image by the propaganda of the Polish Peoples Republic resulted more or less from direct Soviet inspiration, or was simply one of the universal patterns used in propaganda campaigns. Nevertheless, it was used both in texts aspiring to be academic and journalistic ones. Literature and films inspired by the propaganda apparatus are in the same vein. In 1959, in “Wojskowy Przegląd Historyczny” (Military Historical Review), a periodical which claimed to be academic, Jan Gerhard wrote that a Ukrainian nationalist’s basic form of activity was terror. “Typical anarchist-bandit-like terror is in the tradition of individuals such as Machno or Petlura. Terror which does not shrink from any crime, what is more – relishes atrocities. Members of the band were not content with the mere act of killing. They elaborated upon their murder techniques. They were masters at inflicting a slow, martyr’s death; really accomplished in the art of torture.” Ukrainian nationalists were usually individuals with a personality disorder. Edward Prus is of the opinion that “Mały Stepko (Little Stepko) [Stepan Bandera-WM] had sadistic inclinations. If, as a child, Stefan Bandera killed kittens with one hand, in full view of his peers, simply to “harden his will”, when he turned 30, he redirected these same practices onto people.” The vast majority of “ordinary” Ukrainians came under very strong pressure from the nationalists. In the introduction to one book of memoirs, the author wrote “the Bloody terror of the OUN in respect of the more reasonable percentage of the Ukrainian people, terror, borrowed as it were, straight from masters such as Goering and Himmler”. As a result, the remaining Ukrainians, sometimes by force and sometimes at the instigation of the nationalists, helped the terrorists, or even participated in their activities.
In the propaganda of the Polish Peoples Republic (PRL), a positive image of a post-war Ukrainian is a regional mutation of the Soviet one, of steadfastly working for the good of socialism in one’s country, and loving all the nations of the world, including the Poles.
One could risk saying that the very negative picture of the Ukrainian presented by the Polish propaganda apparatus of the time was intended to serve a similar purpose to that of the extremely negative image of the German fascist and revisionism. To show the reality of the threat, even after the end of the War. At the same time, the propaganda was trying to convince people that the then current international relations (including Polish-Soviet relations) were the best form of protection against German revisionism and Ukrainian nationalism. Paradoxically, therefore, the “Ukrainian Insurrection Army (UPA) murderer” was supposed to protect the order set up at Yalta.
It is not possible to even roughly assess the real impact of PRL propaganda on the general view of the Ukrainian. However, some circles undoubtedly perceived the propaganda as an effect of the traumatic wartime experiences of families or friends who lived on the eastern confines of the Second Polish Republic during the war.
The other image of the Ukrainian in Polish political dialogue after World War 2 was very different. It was depicted by Polish émigré circles concentrated around Jerzy Giedroyć and the periodicals (“Kultura” and “Zeszyty Historyczne”) which he published. This image presents the Ukrainian primarily as a “brother”. A common territory, common history which results in a kind of intellectual relationship, difficult to define, but which are evident, and a common enemy – imperial Russia – are all factors which constitute the basis for this brotherhood. The “Kultura” circles were of the opinion that the sometimes bitter conflicts, or even fratricidal fighting, were not an argument against the Polish-Ukrainian brotherhood. They were proof that, even within a family, it is not possible to agree on all matters, nor resolve them amicably. Our Ukrainian brother had three main faces. The first was that of the personal friend. Often going back to student days or times spent as an activist in the socialist movement. He was usually a fervent Ukrainian patriot, but not a chauvinist. Moreover, he understood the interests of the Polish state and accepted the existence of a Polish-Ukrainian national borderland, where the Poles, of course, played the dominant role. The second face was that of a farmer; sometimes a sober landowner, sometimes a farm-hand or a servant, sometimes a buxom, black-browed young girl. The Ukrainian farmer usually showed respect for the Polish lord or officer, but he always displayed a natural pride and dignity in their mutual contacts. He represented a deep worldly wisdom, a natural sense of morality (not to be mistaken for base burgher morality) and a rich culture, both spiritual and material (not to be mistaken for banal affluence). The third face made its appearance on the fringes of the Ukrainian world – the face of the ‘possessed’ brother. This was usually a young man haunted by the demons of nationalism and communism. The possessed man put himself in the service of the enemy (in Moscow and Berlin), whose mission it was to destroy the Polish-Ukrainian world. In effect, he himself became an Alien and, like the enemy, was driven by a thoughtless, blind hate of everything Polish and truly Ukrainian. The enemy and the ‘possessed’ brother were the reason for the tragic events in Polish-Ukrainian relations such as the fighting in the years 1917-1919, the terrorism during the interwar period and the ethnic purges during World War 2.
The image of the Ukrainian depicted by the “Kultura” circles was to be an antidote to the vision of the hateful fiend, and was to justify the basic political assumption – the necessity and possibility of historical reconciliation between the Poles and the Ukrainians, the basis of which should be a collective fight against Russian imperialism. “Kultura’s” scope of influence in Polish society, especially after 1976, was very limited. It was only in the period during which the underground press operated that copies of some of the texts were proliferated in Poland. Publications published by state publishing houses also started to appear, promoting the idea of a Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation. However, it would seem that until 1989 these publications were only read by that portion of the Polish Intelligentsia who were connected with the political opposition, in its broader meaning.
In the first years after the 1989 watershed, Polish political discussion on the Ukraine was dominated by current day events – mainly the development of the Ukrainian independent social movement and the establishment and consolidation of an independent state. The Ukraine’s emancipation was warmly welcomed by many people, mainly in the liberal and democratic stream of the Solidarity movement and, in subsequent years, also by a portion of the post-communist camp. Profiles of Ukrainian dissidents and members of the opposition – supporters of democratic ideology and independence, capable of enduring the worst suffering, dedicated, and at the same time describing the world in modern, west-European terms, i.e. of a democratic society – were published mainly in “Gazeta Wyborcza”. Even Aleksander Krawczuk, the current president of the Ukraine, who used to be an apparatchik, became a hero of the Ukrainian transformation. This unequivocally positive assessment of contemporary Ukrainians was accompanied by steps which undermined the validity of the unequivocally negative evaluation of Ukrainians during World War 2. First of all, the thesis that the Ukrainian national movement during World War 2 was criminal was discarded. The patriotism, anti-German and anti-Russian stance of the OUN and UPA were emphasised. The events of 1943-1945 in the Volhynia region were presented not as a mass murder but a civil war, the tragedy of two fraternal nations.
The vision of the very positive Ukrainian, described above, has been adopted by the ruling groups in Poland as their own, and is consciously being used as one of the tools for bringing about Polish-Ukrainian reconciliation.
2. Memoirs and accounts
In conditions where there was no freedom to engage in political dialogue, other forms of public statement had a significant impact on forming collective attitudes and ideas in Poland – mainly memoirs and eye witness accounts of the events.
Polish post-war memoirs and accounts, which take up the subject of the Ukrainian, can be classified into two main groups. The first group concentrates on the inter-war period, the memoirs and accounts being written chiefly with the aim of reconstructing a world which had been brutally destroyed at the outset of World War 2, and the break-out of the war and the first repressive measures put an end to people systematically recording their experiences. Fundamentally these type of accounts was mainly aimed at depicting a bygone, fairytale world, in which every man had his place, or the wonderful country of one’s youth. “I have lived to see the past... Beautiful Volhynia appeared before me – the Osada Krechowiecka, Równe, the country of my youth, maybe idealised with the passing of time. I remember the dark, treacherous waters of Horyń where we bathed... . I remember the beautiful meadows surrounding Równe, where the marsh marigold, rush and bird cherry grew with its sweet scent, which I never saw again in my life. I remember the forest which surrounded Osada Krechowiecka and ran to the Ukrainian village of Koźlin. We would go to this forest with Ala and mother or grandma to gather mushrooms. The Łowicki lived there in a forester’s lodge. They had four daughters and Ala and I were friends with them. Their small house was surrounded by fields, full of violets... A small stream ran through the forest, its water crystal-clear and its bottom covered with golden sand where tiny green frogs lived. As children, we spent idle hours sitting by the stream, catching the little frogs, to look at them, touch them and throw them back in the water .... These memories are so vivid in my mind now that I want to share them with you, because they emphasise the magic of Osada Krechowiecka and Volhynia.” In the world described above, the Ukrainians are mainly a background element, sometimes defined as Ruthenians or even “authochthons”. In many memoirs, mainly those of settlers, it is emphasised that “there were no social relations with the Ukrainians”, “each social group led their own lives.” However, this does not alter the fact that economic relations were rather close.
“The local farmer was rather conservative and suspicious of all novelties, therefore only decided what and how to accept things after long observation” However, the authors of the memoirs are of the opinion that often the settlers became a kind of disciple for development for the Ukrainian countryside. The daughter of an army settler noted, “I remember that Ruthenians came to my father for advice on what and how to sow, and to my mother for hatching eggs, because ours were better” . The author of another memoir stated that “the local population from the neighbouring villages also benefited from the settlers by finding work on the farms and taking advantage of better breeds of stock, poultry and better seed as well as new kinds of vegetables, such as carrots, parsnips, leeks, celery”. Individuals from the Ukrainian world rarely appear in the memoirs. If they do, they are often school friends, or especially gifted staff employed on the farms or in the house, servants. “Oleś Sołoducha came regularly to help on the farm...a giant of a man with sinewy hands, a curly crop of hair and laughing eyes. He would take my baby sister Krysia, toss her up into the air “up to the sky” so that when she fell back into his toil-worn hands she could not stop laughing merrily. Apart from Oleś there was also Dmytro. He was a middle-aged Ukrainian, stocky and as strong as an ox....”, wrote the daughter of a settler. Ukrainian nationalists were also well-remembered, as symbols of enmity and danger.
Accounts of the nature of Polish-Ukrainian relations in the memoirs are strongly diversified, but are usually rather general and not based on facts. One extreme are the accounts which show constant and decided enmity. The other extreme are claims that relations were perceived as being amicable and good-natured, fully in line with the idyllic descriptions of the country of one’s youth described by the authors of the memoirs.
If one were to try to find the tone which was the most consistent with the general nature of Ukrainian memoirs from the inter-war period, it could be said that “..we more or less lived in harmony. However, it should be noted that the harmony was superficial, at the most shallow and dulled by a mutual mistrust. It could be said that the harmony stemmed from a mutual necessity and a mutual interest. The Ukrainians provided us with the labour we needed and we paid them for it in cash or in kind... our mistrust and suspicions proved to be justifiable, as was best seen in the behaviour of the Ukrainians towards the Poles during the Bolshevik aggression...”
The image of the Ukrainian during war time is similar in all the available memoirs and accounts. To reconstruct this picture, let us use the memoirs of Apolinary Oliwa, the son of a Polish farmer, participant in the self-defence, after the war a highly-ranked officer in the Polish army, and the largest published collection of eye witness accounts of the events in Volhynia during World War 2 appended to the work of Władysław and Ewa Siemaszko. In the gallery of characters portrayed, the Ukrainian nationalist comes to the fore. He is called by many names: bandit, banderowiec, bulbowiec, hajdamaka, rezun (murderer), “serpent” schutzman, degenerate... His chief characteristic was a hatred of the Jews and the Poles. “Smert żydiwskiej komune i smert Lacham” (death to the Jewish commune and death to Poles) were the basic slogans. Also, the Ukrainian nationalist usually served the Germans, committing the most awful crimes at their behest (including active participation in the extermination of the Jews) and used them to cover themselves against taking responsibility for their crimes against the Poles. His major trait was his tendency to inconceivable cruelty. It was cruelty practised consciously and even with relish. “The members of the UPR had their own specific recruitment procedure. Each of the new band members had to go through a baptism of fire and murder a Pole, Jew or Gipsy, or a Russian war prisoner. As this was not always possible, to ensure their supply of victims did not run out, the degenerates seemingly left many Polish families in peace, until recruitment time... The recruits were given weapons. The circumstances differed – sometimes it was axes, sometimes boards with a well-sharpened knife attached to one end. The required number of victims were then dragged from their homes and given to the recruits; the whole process was looked upon with relish as a “funny” spectacle. The “weapons” were first blessed in an Orthodox church, asking God for a “good harvest”. In the description of a Ukrainian many additional negative traits were described. First and foremost cowardice, which expressed itself by fleeing in panic from an opponent of equal strength yet, at the same time, persecuting those who were weaker. During an attack, we see a running “...tall, strapping schutzman. He catches up with the startled little beings who are scared to death; they stop running and start crying. Two shots are heard. Clutching each other’s hands, the children slump into the snow. Schutzman, the odious “hero”, proudly returns to his criminal comrades”. Another feature of the Ukrainian nationalists was their treachery. In many instances they tried to make the Poles less vigilant, they made arrangements with them, guaranteed them safety, only to then suddenly attack them. Apolinary Oliwa himself provides a concise character study of a Ukrainian nationalist, when reflecting over the body of a murder victim: “looking at the body of the old man, I realised that we are not fighting against people, we are not even fighting animals, because animals are not capable of torturing one another. We are fighting not someone, but something, something which embodies the bad in people. Man – an intelligent being, yet sometimes so base”. The Ukrainian nationalist thus appears as the personification of evil - the devil incarnate.
The authors of the majority of the memoirs and some of the accounts emphasise the crucial difference between nationalists and the Ukrainian nation. For example, Oliwa writes: “Apart from Ukrainian nationalists, there were also Ukrainians who did not tarnish their reputation with any murder, on the contrary – they risked their lives helping the Poles”. Elsewhere he emphasises that “not all Ukrainians agreed to or approved of the murderous practices of their compatriots. I even gave them weapons and they fought on our side.” According to Oliwa’s report, the nationalists were led by vague leader groups. “The Ukrainians started to rule by themselves in Kołki. At a meeting organised in front of the church, a group of nationalist-leaders made, what for them were characteristic statements to the effect that since the Jews had been taken care of, it was now high time to deal with the Poles. They announced that any Ukrainian who was found to be helping a Pole would be severely punished”. Sometimes they found support in Orthodox and Greek Catholic priests, proof of which was blessing the weapons which were to be used to murder the Poles. According to Oliwa, Ukrainian youths were the most susceptible to political agitation. Often the older generation of Ukrainians grieved that their children (of both genders) became members of the bands. The descriptions of the fighting include cases in which the local population participated. However, the criminals were usually anonymous, and many Ukrainian neighbours wanted to help the Poles as best they could. This description justifies the main conclusion that most Ukrainians remained unaffected by the poison of nationalism and war-time demoralization.
Eye witness accounts of the crimes committed in Volhynia also include statements in respect of differentiating between criminal nationalists and the Ukrainian nation as such. However, several statements, mainly made by inhabitants of villages of mixed nationality, show “ordinary people”, often neighbours, as being active participants in the anti-Polish violence. In numerous other accounts, the attackers are presented as an anonymous mass, but the fact that they were not recognized may be due to the stringent social isolation of the Poles before the outbreak of World War 2. This is indirectly attested to by the fact that the accounts often use the term “Ukrainian villages” interchangeably with the term “bandit villages”. The terms “bandits”, “banderowcy” and “Ukrainians” are also usually used as substitutes in these documents. Figures from the Ukrainian world are individualized when showing acts of solidarity, such as warning of imminent danger, or providing help in times of distress. Usually it is members of the family, friends, former employees and, though less frequently, neighbours, who help. They are described as being exceptions in a decidedly hostile world, and that it is not them who are decisive in determining the overall stance of the Ukrainians. The accounts simply state that “even at the best of times, all Ukrainians were enemies of the Poles, both in 1939 and later – the nationalists.”
“Łuny w Bieszczadach” was the most popular novel which described Polish-Ukrainian fighting in the Bieszczady mountains in the years 1945-1947. The book which had been a standard work on school reading lists was published 12 times during Communist rule and also was used as the motif for a screenplay. It was written by Jan Gerhard, a publicist and historian, a member of the political elite of the Polish Peoples Republic. The Ukrainian world described in the book comprises mainly commanders and soldiers of a UPA detachment lead by “Ren”. Ren was a long-time nationalist, and co-organizer of the assassination of Bronisław Pieracki, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Second Republic. During the war he fought in units which supported the Germans. One of his better known subordinates was Hryń – a pre-war stable-boy, bad-tempered and a drunkard. In 1928 he killed his step-father when drunk. In prison he met Ukrainian nationalists and “their ideals found an excellent medium in his dull skull, consumed with hate”. In 1941, Hryń split open a landowner’s head with an axe and participated in several Jewish pogroms, “which enabled him to serve in the German police until the end of the war, and even gained him the rank of a non-commissioned officer”. Bir- an ex-cleric was another of Ren’s subordinates, and the commander of a detachment of one hundred people. Without exception, the UPA leaders had pathological personalities, they were cruel men who exhibited various complexes and at the same time were cowards, unable to confront adversaries who were their equal. They were driven first and foremost by a hatred of the new system and of all people who wanted to live normal lives. Kureń was a collection of various types of desperados and mercenaries – fascists and war criminals – German, Hungarian, Rumanian and even Belgian and French with an important role being played by the soldiers from SS-Galizien. Relations within the detachment were more characteristic of a criminal gang than a military formation. There was no mutual trust, there was constant internal invigilation, discipline was extorted using draconian measures, and one of the main occupations of the commanders was preventing the band members from deserting. To derive political benefits, the commanders murdered loyal band members in cold blood (Germans, etc.). The UPA was constantly defeated in battles against regular army forces, therefore they preferred to ambush, primarily civilians, both Polish and Ukrainian who for various reasons had lost contact with the main forces. The attitude and morale of UPA soldiers may be characterised by the following citation “The detachment commander “Bir”, an ex-cleric, lead a punitive expedition to one of the villages [Ukrainian, whose inhabitants were harvesting crops from fields left by families displaced to the Soviet Union - WM]. Within a few hours the village ceased to exist. The men were locked in one shack, the women in another. The former were shot by firing machine-guns through the walls. Shot were fired until only weak moans could be heard from the inside. Then the sub-detachment commanders gathered enough straw to set the shack on fire and did so.
The detachment commander Bir then ordered a selection to be made among the women. The young and pretty ones were told to leave the shack, the older and uglier ones, together with the children, were again locked in the shack and shot in the same way as the men. The young women and girls, half-dead with fright were driven into several houses by the sub-detachment commanders after which, what stabarzt Kemperer called “fifteen minutes of sexual hygiene” was exercised. The game ended with the victims of those “fifteen minutes” being killed by machine-gun fire.
At the end of the operation, the sub-detachment commanders meticulously searched all the rooms in the houses, the lofts and cellars. Among the general merriment, an old woman who had been hiding with a child in a stack of straw was killed with bayonets. The child was tossed into the burning shack.
This task was completed in strict compliance with the rules in force. The detachment commander Bir, and his sub-commanders, returned merrily to the camp near Suche Rzeki. They felt they had done a hard day’s work and had done the task well”.
The native Ukrainian population is described as normal, a quiet people who want peace, accept the current situation and support the authorities’ policy of giving away land and introducing peace and order. Even if they had supported the Ukrainian Underground sometime in the past, they had now had quite enough of it, and if they did cooperate with it, it was in fear of the awful repressions.
What is characteristic of Jan Gerhard’s portrayal is that he is not exposing the anti-Polish attitude of the Ukrainian nationalists. On the contrary, the UPA was controlled from Munich by the same centre which managed the operations of the WiN detachments. Therefore, the partisans tended to be pathological murderers and mercenaries in the service of international imperialism rather than advocates of the national cause. This feeling was heightened by the international character of the detachments. The victims of the detachments could equally be Jews, Poles and Ukrainians. Thus the front-line was not established according to national divisions, but class and political ones.
Włodzimierz Odojewski’s book “Zasypie wszystko, zawieje…” (“All traces will be removed...”), published in emigration, was written in Poland as a continuation of the plot in the earlier short stories “Opowieści leskie” and “Wyspa ocalenia”. It was perceived, and in Poland is still considered to be, one of the most authentic accounts of the times, although also one of the most bitter descriptions relating to the events which occurred on the south-east boundaries of Poland during the war.
The author does not base the work on his own biography and memories. The people and events he describes are fictional. This is very important because in this case the Ukrainians who are portrayed in the book have been consciously created by the author, and their actions the result of the writer’s decision.
The plot concentrates around the wartime vicissitudes of landowners living in an unspecified area on the Ukrainian-Polish border, sometimes it seems to be located in Volhynia, sometimes in Galicia
The basis of the Ukrainian world is the common people which is not at all uplifting. “He was remembering the many villages that used to be here, inhabited by farmhands, Ukrainians or Ruthenized settlers from other parts of the Polish Republic, many of whom were incited to the unfortunate rebellion against the Soviets, then the Germans and their own riotous leaders, who drowned the noble national aspirations of this people in murder and rape, soiling them with robbery and fire, disgracing them forever. He was deliberating how this blind, primitive element, first moved from its course by delusive class, then national and racial, slogans, in which one thing – hatred - was common, had spread over area. How readily these people started to annihilate all those who had anything. How they jumped at the possibility of razing Jewish villages. How they then moved on to landowner manors, tenant mansions, the more wealthy farmhouses, and when those were gone, they started robbing and ruining the ordinary small farms, not only those where the owners spoke Polish, but also those of their tribesmen and those of the same faith, until they started murdering each other, because the unthinking element is like a wave which, if it does not break against the shore, overflows with another... “Mob”, he whispered” In the novel “Mob” appears in various contexts. In its static form it comprises the farmers’ community – poor, passive, distrustful, introvert, cowardly and hampered by a fear of the rich of this world. When the owners of a ravaged mansion found the things they had been robbed of in one of the farmhouses, the occupant tried to hang herself. “ ...why was she trying to hang herself? At least half, and maybe even the whole village went there to plunder” – asked one of the heroes in the novel – “Because fate led us to her. If we do not move out of Czuprynia for good, they will burn it down from sheer fright, just to clear themselves of blame in our eyes. Do you think they do not know we were there? And why? Dozens of eyes are spying on us from dark windows and listening to our footsteps. And dozens of those who are afraid know that we are unarmed. Which is why their fear is all the greater”... But the same mob, drunk and led by ringleaders was capable of the most horrendous crimes “...and then they dragged the lady out and it was like with Hanczar, that she was still looking them in the eye and they just dragged her down the stairs and the drive holding her under the arms, maybe because she could no longer walk on her own, but then Własow sneaked in from behind and hit her over the back with a wheel, so she stopped looking, with outstretched arms, which could not support her, when she fell to her knees they trampled her down with their boots, like those two before her, and stakes, and whipple-trees; and then they screamed; and then they laughed; and then they dragged her to the farm behind the stable...; well, then they robbed the manor and they loaded the carts with various goods; and then they burned books and slashed pictures; and then they broke china and spread filth wherever they could...” The quoted fragments show the Ukrainians as a mass consisting of an enormous number of simple, not to say primitive, poor people who did not even try to grasp the true essence of the world. Which is why the Ukrainians usually accept an order forced upon them from the outside. They are resigned to their fate, they submit to the rule of the landlords, and in serving them often are models of devotion. As examples we can take the nanny described in the novel – Paraska, or the Hanczar family serving in the Gleby manor. However, the absence of a personal identity constitutes a major threat. The farmers are prone to various external influences – for example the Soviets, Germans or their own “ringleaders” as mentioned by Odojewski.
Those “ringleaders” comprise the second group of Ukrainians which appear in the book. Semen Gawryluk, the illegitimate son of a Russian landlord and a Ukrainian peasant girl is the main one. Educated thanks to his father’s help, an extreme nationalist, he leads an armed detachment which systematically attacks towns and villages inhabited by Poles. He is shown on a “motorcycle with a side-car in the uniform of the German “Nachtigal” unit, with officer’s stripes (some said that in the uniform of the Ukrainian nationalists from Bandera’s company).” He is a symbol of evil, but is not himself a butcher. The dirty work was done on his behalf by his people: “those bandits of Gawryluk’s turned up... [and the witness] saw the crowd of many thousands [of Jews and Poles] being razed down, from babies to elders, because the attackers did not spare anyone who could not cross himself in the Russian manner or speak Ukrainian, so not many were saved, some three or four hundred at the most, hidden by those Ukrainians who wanted nothing to do with those of the “trident”...” Generally, the author acknowledges that the goal of the Ukrainian nationalists was an independent Ukraine. However, the acts attributed to them undeniably lead to the conclusion that he did not believe in any higher motives for these acts. they are usually presented as extremely demoralized bandits who though mainly of plunder and satisfying their most licentious whims. After burning down the town, Gawryluk’s people “shut themselves up in some house with women picked from the crowd, who were to be used in the overnight revelry before they were killed. And then something happened. In the evening they started to lead out the women. They shared them. But there were more of those who wanted a woman’s flesh than there were women themselves. And although they tortured them for so long, that when they shot them in the abdomen they were killing human wrecks who twitched in subconscious convulsions, the number of those waiting their turn, was not diminishing and they started fighting for them among themselves” In the light of the quoted fragment it is not surprising that the image of the “Ukrainian from the trident company” (a Ukrainian clergyman, his son, members of armed detachments – band-members, melnykowcy, bulbowcy, schutzmani, hajdamaki from the Galician detachment [SS]) is extremely negative. First of all, he was treated as a German renegade – he carried out his criminal activities under German protection. At the same time they used him and treated him with ostentatious contempt. He was driven by the basest of instincts and incentives. He spoke of the independence of the Ukraine but the only thing he did was to murder, with untold cruelty, defenceless Jews and Poles, he robbed their property and what he could not use, he destroyed and profaned. The Soviets, and then Gawryluk and the likes of him had a following among the “mob” which often acknowledged that this is how it was to be and succumbed to the prompting to participate in the killing and pillaging.
In many aspects, Odojewski’s novel differs from Gerhard’s, not only in terms of its artistic merit. The picture of the Ukrainian nationalist is painted in the same colours as the ones used by the propagandists of the Polish Peoples Republic and the writers of memoirs who wanted to give proof of the Polish tragedy on the eastern border. He was filled with hatred, in this case towards the Polish-landed classes, and with untold cruelty. The significant difference is that in Gerhard’s and Oliwa’s works the Ukrainian people remained generally good and innocent, and at the most a few became stupefied. Odojewski does not discern the good majority from the bad minority. The ignorant and primitive people follows its leaders, and only single individuals, sometimes due to earlier relations, help individuals or families.
After 1989 no significant literary works were written on the subject of Polish-Ukrainian relations in 1939-1947. In his subsequent novels on the post-war history of the heroes of the epos, Włodzimierz Odojewski does not revise the picture of World War 2. He shows the battle against the ‘baggage’ of the past – both on the part of the Poles and the Ukrainians.
In Polish public dialogue, the Ukrainian was – and is – dominated by Polish experiences in the borderland in the years 1939-1947. The gallery of Ukrainians is dominated by the Ukrainian nationalist – the banderowiec, upowiec, rezun, fascist, bandit. For a long time, this picture was consciously promoted by the Communist state, but is also to be found in émigré works of literature and in various autobiographies. It seems that the image of the Ukrainian in the family tradition of many repatriates was similar.
Therefore, it is not surprising that the collective picture the Poles had of the characters in the Ukrainian world – the Ukrainian inhabitants in the country of one’s youth or the borderland Arcadia, the Cossacks in Sienkiewicz’s novels, or contemporary characters are but a very weak counterbalance to the butcher. It seems that he will not disappear from the Poles’ perception of the Ukraine. There is a chance of enriching the gallery of Ukrainian characters in the collective Polish consciousness with characters with positive connotations.
Події на Волині 1943-1944 рр. були складовою загального міжнаціонального українсько-польського конфлікту, що стався за часів Другої світової війни на території спільного проживання українців і поляків (Волинь, Східна Галичина, Холмщина, Підляшшя, Надсяння, Лемківщина). Тому їх бажано розглядати в комплексі з подібними за багатьма показниками подіями у вищезазначених регіонах, а також в контексті усієї попередньої історії українсько-польських взаємин.
Разом з тим, волинські події мали свою особливість, яка полягала, насамперед, в характері збройних акцій Об’єктом їх стала головним чином польська цивільна сільська людність. До того ж, є разюча невідповідність в кількості українських і польських жертв. За польськими підрахунками, з польського боку впродовж 1943 р. загинуло щонайменше 35 тис. осіб, з яких 18 тисяч - із встановленими прізвищами. За тими ж підрахунками, з українського боку загинуло до 1-2-х тисяч осіб Щодо підрахунків української сторони, то остання не готова представити на сьогодні свої узагальнюючі дані, оскільки подібних до польських підрахунків в Україні ніхто не провадив.
З огляду на цю особливість, як вважає польська сторона, є підстави для того, щоб із загальної картини міжнаціонального конфлікту, а також війни між двома збройними силами – Українською повстанською армією (УПА) і Армією Крайовою (АК), під час якої обидві сторони чинили військові злочини, все таки виокремити волинську трагедію.
Аналізуючи волинські події 1943-1944 рр., варто підкреслити, що однією з головних причин самого українсько-польського міжнаціонального конфлікту часів війни стала та обставина, що поляки, високо цінуючи їх власний, дійсно значний економічний і культурний внесок у розвиток західноукраїнських земель і помилково вважаючи, що цього внеску не заперечуватиме жодна з країн, від моменту їх втрати у вересні 1939 р., ні на мить не хотіли сумніватися в тому, що після переможної війни “західних альянтів” (США і Великобританії) ця територія може бути не повернута Польщі.
На думку поляків, єдиним народом, з яким варто було рахуватися при визначенні післявоєнного статусу Волині і Східної Галичини, були місцеві українці. Втім, провідні польські військово-політичні кола розглядали цю проблему, по-перше, як свою внутрішню, ігноруючи існування “Великої України”, а по-друге, вони ставилися до місцевих українців при врегулюванні територіальної суперечки не як до рівноправних партнерів. Від останніх тільки вимагалося, аби вони в умовах поразки і окупації Польщі залишалися лояльними щодо неї.
Подібна позиція, що знайшла відображення в діяльності польського еміграційного уряду і керівництва підпілля АК в Західній Україні, підтримуваного місцевою польською людністю, цілком суперечила планам найвпливовішої на той час в західноукраїнському суспільстві політичної сили – Організації українських націоналістів (ОУН) бандерівської фракції. Це і стало основою для зростання напруження в українсько-польських взаєминах, яке в 1943 р. переросло на Волині в кривавий конфлікт.
Саме тут з другого кварталу 1943 р. набувають масового характеру вбивства поляків. Поза сумнівом, це було пов’язано зі створенням УПА та підтримкою її антипольських заходів з боку значної частини місцевого українського цивільного населення. Важливою причиною започаткування цих вбивств, а з кінця літа 1943 р. до “відплатних” акцій подекуди вдаються і проаківські партизанські формування за сприяння польських баз самооборони та польської допоміжної поліції на службі у німців, стало також розуміння того, що війна наближається до завершення. Отже, слід було нейтралізувати можливого потенційного претендента на встановлення своєї влади у регіонах спільного проживання українців і поляків напередодні вирішальних для обох народів подій.
Спочатку акції українських повстанців були спрямовані проти польських співробітників німецької адміністрації, що працювали в службах охорони лісів і держмаєтків (лігеншафтів). Поступово вони поширилися на польську сільську людність, причому як на колоністів міжвоєнного періоду, так і на автохтонів. З лютого 1943 р. антипольські акції охопили східні райони Волині – Сарненський, Костопільський, Рівненський та Здолбунівський. В червні вбивства поляків поширилися на Дубненський, Кременецький та Луцький райони, в липні – на Горохівський, Володимирський та Ковельський, а наприкінці серпня – на останній волинський район - Любомльський.
Ці акції набули масовості в зв’язку з переходом у березні 1943 р. до УПА близько п’яти тисяч озброєних українських поліцаїв, які до того часу знаходилися на німецькій службі. До них приєдналася також українська молодь, якій загрожувало вивезення на примусову працю до Рейху. Після цього розпочався бурхливий розвиток повстанських загонів українських націоналістів бандерівської фракції. Невдовзі остання зміцнилася ще завдяки підпорядкуванню собі збройних формувань своїх політичних противників, зокрема, УПА (“Поліська Січ”) Тараса Боровця-Бульби , що з кінця 1942 р. діяла на території Сарненщини і Костопільщини, а також загонів ОУН-Мельника. На середину 1943 р. в УПА налічувалося до 10-12 тисяч чоловік.
Загони УПА підтримувала значна частина місцевої української людності. Причину цього слід вбачати, насамперед, у земельній політиці, яку проводило керівництво ОУН-Б, а саме в розподілі відібраної у поляків землі поміж українських селян. Подібна політика не могла не знаходити прихильного відгуку з боку останніх. Поза сумнівом, саме підтримка УПА цивільним українським населенням, озброєним косами, вилами, сокирами та ножами, і надала волинським подіям особливо кривавого характеру.
Керівництво ОУН-Б обґрунтовувало антипольські виступи прагненням польських політичних сил до повернення повоєнній Польщі Волині і Східної Галичини; співпрацею частини місцевих поляків з німцями, які пішли на службу до останніх після втечі з неї українців здебільшого з метою отримати зброю і помститися українцям; співпрацею з радянськими партизанськими загонами, які нерідко робили місцеві польські поселення своїми продовольчими базами; вбивствами польськими партизанами українських громадських діячів на Холмщині в попередній період, зокрема, під час проведення німцями тут в 1942 р. за участі українців-працівників німецької адміністрації і поліції переселенської акції і створення німецької осадницької території (т. зв. Гімлерштадту) тощо.
Сьогодні вже важко докладно встановити, якою мірою антиукраїнські дії польських боївок на території Холмщини і Грубешівщини під час здійснюваної гітлерівцями в Генерал-губернаторстві останньої акції спричинили масовий антипольський терор загонів УПА на Волині. Але документи українського підпілля переконують в тому, що ОУН-Б підштовхнула до прийняття рішення про проведення широкомасштабної “деполонізаційної” акції на землях Волині саме діяльність місцевих поляків. І в цьому плані, одним з найбільш показових документів, що характеризує мотивацію подальших дій українських повстанців стосовно поляків, є відозва Крайового проводу ОУН на Волині і Поліссі від 18 травня 1943 р. із закликом до них полишити службу в місцевих німецьких адміністративних та поліційних органах влади.
Втім, оскільки цього не сталося, а навпаки якась частина поляків намагалася закріпитися в цій службі з метою підвищити і зміцнити польський вплив в Західній Україні напередодні поразки вермахту і вступу на ці землі Червоної армії, то й відбулося те, що пророкувалося у вищезгаданій відозві. Конфлікт загострився ще більше, коли волинської поляки почали звертатися за допомогою до радянських партизанів, у яких керівництво ОУН-Б і командування УПА вбачали свого основного ворога і готувалися до запеклої боротьби з тою силою, яка за ними стояла. Саме такий стан речей, що склався на Волині навесні-влітку 1943 р., констатували добре обізнані з ситуацією на окупованій території радянські оперативно-чекістські групи, німецькі функціонери і звичайно ж представники місцевої української громади.
Той факт, що польське населення на Волині було малочисельним (не більше 15-16 % від загальної кількості), але воно безвідносно до того прагнуло відігравати тут роль господаря, в тому числі у відносинах з окупаційною владою, тим більше після того, як німецьку поліційну службу полишило близько п’яти тисяч місцевих українців і втекло в ліс, щоб розпочати боротьбу проти цієї ж окупаційної влади, не міг не насторожити українських політичних провідників на Волині і не призвести до загострення й без того напружених українсько-польських взаємин.
Трагізм ситуації, що виникла на Волині, полягав, насамперед, в тому, що нібито цілком спочатку вмотивована з точки зору українських національних інтересів антипольська акція дуже швидко набула небачених за масштабом обертів і надзвичайно кривавого характеру, здійснювалася завдяки участі в ній сільського люду, озброєного тим, що потрапило під руку, в найжорстокіший спосіб і охопила об’єктивно здавалося б загалом безвинних людей, в тому числі старих, жінок та дітей. А це вже був злочин.
Можна сказати й так, що польській людності Волині, а пізніше й Східної Галичини довелося з надлишком розплатитися і за довоєнну помилкову політику урядів Другої Речі Посполитої по відношенню до українців, і за власні уявлення та погляди щодо тієї політики, які, між іншим, добре відбиті в документації так званої “польської підпільної держави”.
В одному з таких документів, а саме в звіті до Варшави командування АК Львівського регіону від грудня 1942 р. про настрої місцевих поляків повідомлялося, наприклад, наступне: “Ставлення до українців скрізь вороже. В жодній дискусії не проглядається хоча б якийсь політичний реалізм стосовно української справи. Кожна програма, що ставить собі за мету вирішення українського питання, якщо тільки вона передбачає, що господарями на цій землі можуть бути тільки поляки, знаходить всебічну підтримку в тутешньому середовищі. Будь-який проект з надання цим землям політичної автономії приречений на невдачу і будь-хто, навіть найбільш популярна особистість, якщо підтримуватиме його, не знайде тут схвалення”. Як то кажуть, без коментарів.
Після генерального виступу проти поляків на Волині 11-13 липня 1943 р., коли майже одночасно загонами УПА було заатаковано понад півтори сотні польських поселень, перші почали шукати порятунок у радянських партизанів. На Волині в складі радянських партизанських загонів воювало кілька тисяч польських селян.
Іншим наслідком масових антипольських липневих нападів стало те, що командування АК Волинського округу нарешті зважилося на часткову деконспірацію своїх сил, і застосування радикальних заходів у протидії загонам УПА та місцевій українській людності, що брала участь в цих нападах. Зауважимо, що до того часу підпілля АК в Західній Україні головне своє завдання вбачало у підготовці до загального антинімецького повстання, що повинно було вибухнути в слушний для того час. Епіцентром такого повстання мали стати центральні райони Польщі.
Не буде помилкою сказати й те, що підпілля АК на Волині на той час ще знаходилося в стадії організації, а тому не змогло вчасно надати допомогу польському цивільному населенню. Радикальні заходи були вжиті тільки в другій половині 1943 р., тобто із значним запізненням. Останні полягали у створенні власних партизанських загонів, а також у залученні значного відсотку офіцерів і рядових бійців кадрового складу АК до створення в польських поселеннях баз самооборони.
На момент прийняття цих заходів у багатьох польських колоніях і селах самооборонні осередки вже існували. Вони були створені місцевими жителями і, як правило, без будь-якої допомоги з боку підпілля АК. Упродовж 1943 р. на території Волині постало кілька десятків таких осередків. Перші з них були утворені вже в квітні. До найпотужніших польських самооборонних баз можна віднести ті, що виникли в поселеннях Пшебраже (до 1921 р. – Пшебродзь) Луцького повіту, Гута Степанська і Стара Гута Костопільського повіту, Панська Долина Дубненського повіту, Засмики Ковельського повіту, Білин Володимирського повіту та деякі інші.
Переважна більшість пунктів опору, а серед них, наприклад, і той, що був у Гуті Степанській, не витримали натиску загонів УПА і були знищені. Тільки з небагатьох населених пунктів місцевій польській людності вдалося евакуюватися до міст під охорону німецької адміністрації, або дістатися інших великих осередків самооборони. Поляки тікали через кордон до Генерал губернаторства або погоджувалися на добровільний виїзд на роботу до Німеччини. Вистояти у боях проти українських збройних формувань вдалося тільки тим польським базам самооборони, які, по-перше, були багаточисельними і в них зосереджувалося інколи навіть по кілька тисяч осіб, по-друге, які отримали солідну матеріальну підтримку з боку командування АК у вигляді зброї, амуніції, а також добре вишколених військових, по-третє, які користувалися допомогою радянських партизанів (переважно у лісистих східних та північних районах Волині).
Деяким польським селам на Волині давали зброю також німці, або у великій таємниці від останніх її постачала польська допоміжна поліція, щоб поляки могли боронитися самостійно. Як правило, це робилося в тих місцевостях (найчастіше Луцького, Горохівського і Кременецького районів), звідки окупанти вивозили збіжжя (скажімо, колонія Гали біля м.Сарни). Завдяки отриманій від німців зброї поляки, наприклад, поселення Гута Степанська Костопільського повіту змогли утримувати оборону від нападів боївок УПА впродовж трьох днів від 16 до 18 липня 1943 р. Польську самооборону окупанти намагалися використати також для боротьби з усе більш міцніючою УПА і радянськими партизанами.
Окрім головного свого призначення – захисту власної людності – члени польських баз самооборони і, насамперед, найміцніших з них, вдавалися до акцій іншого характеру. Від середини літа і особливо восени 1943 р. вони організовували “превентивні” напади на упівські осередки і боївки або напади з метою помсти у відповідь на дії загонів УПА, зрештою, атакували сусідні українські села, вирішуючи таким чином проблему продовольчого забезпечення польської людності. Зрозуміло, що від подібних дій нерідко страждало українське цивільне населення, яке не мало безпосереднього відношення до антипольських нападів.
Втім, упродовж усього 1943 р. місцеві поляки були стороною, що оборонялася. Як вже зазначалося, сили УПА в середині 1943 р. складали щонайменше 10-12 тисяч бійців, а наприкінці року досягли 15-20 тис. До того ж антипольські дії УПА в значній своїй масі підтримувала місцева українська людність, що становила близько 80 % населення Волині Натомість польські партизанські відділи нараховували тільки 1300 вояків Ще близько 3600 осіб, які мали зброю, діяли в базах самооборони. Лише створення в перших місяцях 1944 р. 27-ї Волинської дивізії піхоти АК, призначеної для боротьби з гітлерівцями в рамках здійснення плану "Бужа", зберегло певну частину польського населення від знищення.
Варто наголосити на тому, що при обговоренні проблематики волинських подій 1943-1944 рр. на численних міжнародних конференціях, як українські, так і польські науковці, як правило, намагаються не оприлюднювати ті архівні документи, які можуть бути використані протилежною стороною в своїй аргументації. Подамо такий приклад. У відділі рукописів бібліотеки Варшавського університету знаходяться добре відомі всім польським дослідникам, які вивчають історію збройної боротьби 27-ї Волинської дивізії піхоти Армії Крайової, звіти діячів Волинської делегатури (представництва) польського еміграційного уряду на ім’я волинського окружного делегата Казі межа Банаха. У цих звітах йдеться про те, що відбувалося на території Волині на початку 1944 р. під час формування цієї дивізії. Переважна більшість звітів останнім часом опублікована в Польщі, за винятком того документа, в якому доповідається про знищення польськими партизанськими загонами української людності, в тому числі жінок та дітей.
Зацитуємо фрагмент з цього документа від 31 січня 1944 р., в якому відображені власні спостереження за тим, що відбувалося на той період у західній частині Волині, одного з діячів волинської делегатури польського еміграційного уряду. Останній зазначав таке: “З власних спостережень, а також від звільнених у відпустку солдатів партизанських загонів і родин, які свого часу ховалися на базах, а зараз повертаються до міст, можна дізнатися про речі, які повинні у кожного поляка викликати обурення Те, що зараз діється в сільській місцевості нічим не відрізняється від тої звірячості (od bestіalstwa), яку виявляли українські банди у своєму ставленні до поляків. Польські партизанські загони організовують “наскоки” на українські села, виганяють з них українців, відбирають інвентар, а селища цілком спалюють. Тих українців, які не встигли втекти, застрелюють на місці, не роблячи винятку, здається, навіть для жінок і дітей. Доводиться чути, що партизанські загони проводять реквізиції навіть у поляків. Через це поширюються нарікання. Поляки говорять, що “грабували німці, українці, а зараз грабує наше військо”. Зрозуміло, що в деяких випадках подібні реквізиції є необхідними, однак вони повинні проводитися у такій формі, щоб не викликати ненависть до партизанських загонів”.
Цей документ спростовує твердження деяких польських авторів про те, що дії 27-ї Волинської дивізії піхоти Армії Крайової в 1944 р. не носили характеру “відплатних акцій” українцям, що вони були викликані лише необхідністю “очищення” терену від боївок УПА з метою розширення оперативної бази для боротьби з німцями в рамках акції “Бужа”, що мала посприяти вирішенню проблеми спірних з СРСР територій на користь Польщі.
У зв’язку з вищесказаним відзначимо, що подальше дослідження цієї теми вимагатиме публікації всіх архівних матеріалів, як тих, що знаходяться в Україні, так і поза її межами, незалежно від того, подобатиметься комусь їхній зміст чи ні.
Насамкінець підкреслимо, що враховуючи безкомпромісність позицій польського еміграційного уряду і керівництва ОУН-Б в роки війни щодо поступок на користь один одному в територіальному питанні, навряд чи можна вважати, що в них був реальний шанс досягти згоди, налагодити співпрацю і уникнути або принаймні припинити кровопролиття. Та й історичний досвід свідчить про те, що жодна країна чи народ ще не зрекалися добровільно придбаних раніше земель, або тих, які вони вважали своїми.
Можливо, тільки на завершальному етапі війни, коли для українського і польського незалежницьких рухів стало цілком очевидним, що не завдяки їхнім зусиллям вирішуватиметься питання майбутньої державної приналежності Західної України, постали певні можливості для створення спільного фронту боротьби. Проте, було вже пізно. До того ж, над українцями і поляками тяжіли минулі кривди і образи, що накопичувалися впродовж кількох століть. На превеликий жаль, провідні польські політичні сили так і не відмовилися від претензій на західноукраїнські землі і не змогли побачити в західних українцях рівноправного партнера. Зміни наступили значно пізніше.
In a country where national identity and citizenship do not always coincide, the national symbols and the symbols of the state sometimes are idetical, sometimes there are various forms of coexistence, occasionally also opposition. Every group of symbols has its historical time. In the paper is made an attempt to compare them with an emphasis on two phenomena :
l. How their development correspond with the well –known theory of the Czech historian Miroslav Hroch, dividing national movements and the development of national consciousness in Central Europe into three stages , A, B, C. The first involves the activity of intelectuals, who more or less „discovered“ the nation. In the second stage, patriotic agitation develops, while in the third it grows into a mass movement.
2. What is the place in this trend of the Slovac Republic, which existed for six years during the Second World War.
Among the elements of the national identity, I have selected language, territory and its geographical symbolism, and thirdly the capital city. From the elements of state identity the anthem, state shield and flag.
Problably all historical currents and schools antribute the language a central role in the formation of Slovak national consciousness. Slovak already acted as an instrument off mass agitation in the revolution 1848 . In the late 19. and early 20.th century defense of slovak language against the officialy imposed magyarisation was the clearest and most understable unifiing factor. In the Slovac Republic in 1939 Slovak gained the monopoly with certaine limitations for the German, Hungarian and Rusyn minorities. After 1989, the appeals of nationalist for defence of Slovak languauge did not became an instrument for mass political mobilization. They struck angains the conviction that in this field the normal position had been acchieved long before.
Language as a symbol of national consciousness also appears in the state symbols, in the anthem Hej Slováci :“ O Slavs your Salvonic speech still lives …
A futher factor in national consciousness is the perception of the territory . The clare frontiers of Slovakia was inposed only afteer 1918, a combination of historical, ethnic, strategic and economic consideration. The Slovaks immedialtely aceptet it as their „natural frontier“. The revision of frontier was one of the key points of politics in Slovakia during the war, both officialy and in the resistence.
The most striking geographical point in Slovak national consciousness is the Vysoke Tatry mountains . The cult of the Tattry was cultivated as an instrument of patriotic agitation from the 1840s and continued develop in the twentieth century with more modern means. The Tatry as a recognized national symbol are also included in the category of state symbols. The song There is lighnig on the Tatry ,from 1844 weapon in the arsenal of patriotic agitanion after 1918 became part of the national anthem of Czechoslovakia. The song is a state anthem of the Slovak Republic since 1993.
The Tatry also appeared on the state schield and state flag in the form of three hills and double – armed cross. In the stage of patriotic agitation the shield was taken from the shield of the Kingdom of Hungary , together with the idea that the three hills represent the mountains of Tatra,. Matra and Fatra. When the so –called socialist constitution of Czechoslovakia was adopted in 1960, the slovak schield was changed, but only to the motif of Tatry, Kriváň, the cult mountain of Slovaks from the yers of patriotic agitation in the 19. century. After 1989,. three hills and double cross returned on their old place . As in the case of the anthem, the streng of agreement between a traditional national and state symbol was shown as well as the irreversibility of symbols, which orginated in the period of patriotic agitation and belonged to the mobilization arsenal off mass national movement. They could be originally invented, but the sacrifices of strugle consecrated them. The national colours – white,- blue – red , alredy used in revolution 1848, also belong there.
The national and state symbol is also the capital city. The Slovakia was without a capital city until 1918. Slovak politicians decided on Bratislava for geo –political reasons, althout scarcely a third of inhabitats were Slovak. Betwen the wars they are constant discussion of whether Bystrica or Martin should be capital instead od Bratislava. It was described as an un – Slovak, cosmopolitan city, which could be never the „heart of nation“. When the Slovak Republic was established in 1939, Bratislava became its capital city, already without discussion. Its varied national composition was radicaly solved from 1938 by ethnic cleansing .First the Czech, then the Jews were thrown out, after 1945 Germans and Hungarians followed. Bratislava has the most unstable postition in the symbolic pantheon of Slovakia , funktioned and still funktions more as a state than as a national symbol.
If we compare the development the national and state symbols of Slovakia, we see that in most cases the period of of the Slovak Republic of 1939 – 1945 brought they formal and final fixation. However, this always occured in accordance with the long–term trends going back to the period of patriotic agitation in the 19. century. The Fascist and Communist symbols wast mostly a suplement, superstructure and reinterpretation, rarely an atempt and complete supression of tradition. The national and state symbols are expression of changes, but also of continuity.
The change of the European political landscape in the wake of 1989/90 and the collapse of the Iron curtain as a clear political demarcation line between Western and Eastern Europe affects deeply the post-communist countries and forces them to redefine their identity concepts along with their position in the new political surroundings, and this, in turn, influences national consciousness. The countries are challenged to rethink and reconstruct their identities on multiple levels – the regional, national and European.
In this redefinition of national identities the respective states make selective references to their ´national history´ , stored in a kind of ´collective archive´. These archives of national symbols, myth and rituals figure as a basis for political representation in the frame of reconstructing national identities.
In the post-communist countries, particularly in Slovakia, there are only few traditions of pluralist democracy and understanding of the rule of law relates to the interpretations of party elites. In addition, most citizens of Slovakia who were 80 or older in 1993 (when Slovakia became an independent state) had experienced seven state formations and eight constitutions without changing residence. Of five regimes in their lifetime, only two could be considered democratic.
Therefore, a closer look to symbols, rituals, myths as well as to the stories told about a nation, memories, traditions, notions, social practices and cultural expressions that shape the respective discourses and imprint processes of national identity reconstruction, seems essential to allow for a better understanding of the interference of national and European identities that plays an important role in the European integration and enlargement process. A closer look to this phenomena opens up a perspective which also includes the elementary semantics by which a society develops its self-image and its conception of political meaning. Against this background, the study of the symbolic representation of the new/renewed states allows for a closer look on the symbolic space of politics which frames policy-making processes and political decisions.
My presentation focuses on the role of historical images in the post-communist transition in Slovakia aiming to show that in order to shape national memory after 1989, and even more after gaining state independence in 1993, the ruling and intellectual elite in Slovakia sought to create a convincing popular narrative linking the “acceptable” past with the reconstructed post-communist state. Thus they attempted to manipulate both the experiences shared with others and the jointly held ideas that together structure collective memory. The predominantly nationally oriented political leadership started to use socially organised forgetting and remembering. The major goal of such a policy at all levels was to legitimate the new post-communist independent state, the Slovak Republic. The key historical events in Slovak modern history have entirely contradictory interpretations.
The national affirmation included the establishment of a new collective memory with a negative Soviet, Czech, and Hungarian image and a positive Slovak one mirrored in the fate of Slovak nation in different historical periods. As the Slovaks struggled to create a new national present and future for their country, they also sought to rewrite the past they had shared with the Czechs and Hungarians. Socially organized forgetting , a concerted, popular effort on the part of many Slovaks to reduce or deny the Czech and Hungarian contribution to the shared past certainly played a role in the creation of a new national identity.
Two aspects of Slovak history stand out, making it a particularly good case to develop the concept of our conference. First, Slovakia had (before 1993) its only period of statehood as a Nazi puppet state during World War II. The nationalist party, headed by Catholic priest Jozef Tiso, opted to trade collaboration with the Nazis for Slovak independence. Since the leaders of that state willingly deported much of the Jewish population and since this state was aligned with the Nazis, statehood itself is inherently tainted. World War II is both a moment of a glory and a moment of great shame. It is central moment in Slovak national history but is forever associated with the Nazis.
There is one aspect of Slovakia´s World War II experience that could be rescued – the antifascist uprising in 1944. However, that experience is controversial as well since it was embraced by the communist regime. There is no agreement on other formative moments in Slovak history.
In addition to this problematic legacy of fascism, a second aspect of Slovak history is to be examined, I mean the fact that Slovakia modernized and went through a nation-building process within the communist context. Like many countries in Eastern Europe, its social structure was largely agricultural before 1948. It also had a weak national identity: a small national intelligentsia and little experience of self-administration during the period of Hungarian domination as well as the First Czechoslovak Republic. The fascist period made it easier for communism to wipe out alternative ideologies since the strongest was tainted.
Slovakia´s World War II legacy can be broken down into several controversial issues. How responsible were the leaders of the Slovak state for the deportation of Slovakia´s Jewish population? Was the Slovak state and its ideology legitimate or imposed from outside? What was the resistance to Nazism?
The contribution to Hitler´s effort to exterminate Europe´s Jews is the central moral issue that taints the Slovak wartime state. The Jewish issue is clearly at the heart of the Western understanding of what made World War II different from other wars. According to Shari Cohen: “The moral catastrophe of the Holocaust was such an important part of the postwar intellectual discourse in the West that it is particularly dramatic to see how cut off the East actually was from this discussion.”
The word holocaust did not enter the Slovak debate until 1989 (though small group of nationalists and democrats discussed it). On the territory of Slovakia whose leaders traded nominally independence for collaboration in one of the century´s greatest crime, this history was never exposed to the interpretation of the Holocaust that intellectuals in the West take for granted – that this was a European or human tragedy. World War II is therefore a useful case to illustrate the mechanism of “organised forgetting” during the communist period. The communist ideology made history meaningless for the people who were products of the communist education and socialisation process. Official histories not only left out and distorted key events and personalities but also shifted in what they left out and distorted. This left people unable to judge the meaning of important historical events.
In the case of World War II the communist regime devoted a great deal of effort and resources to creating a communist myth that would win supporters. This included official history texts, elaborate commemorations, holidays, museums, research institutes, novels, and films. According the communist version of the war, fascism was bad, but its dictatorial nature was underplayed and was said to derive from its being a product of the highest stage of capitalism. The resistance against the fascists was good, but this applied only to those aspects linked to Communist Party and the Soviet Union. Deportation of Jews and Hitler´s focus on Jews in his all-European extermination project was not emphasised.
Although the communist regime successfully eradicated alternative ideologies in the years following 1948, small strands survived and developed in the next fifty years. Small, rather weak groups of Catholic nationalists in Slovakia and the nationalist émigrés abroad defined themselves in opposition to the communist regime. They saw this regime as a totalitarian state that repressed the history and culture of Slovakia. Both groups tried to redeem the period of World War II Slovak state and to make it a useable part of Slovak history, the émigrés more for national reasons and the Catholic nationalist more for religious reasons. These groups generally argue that the decision to deport the Jews was imposed by the Germans and agreed to by some radicals in the then Slovak politics.
As mentioned above, the Slovak National Uprising (1944) belongs also to the controversial legacy of World War II. The émigré and the Catholic nationalists generally agree in their interpretation of this historical event, though they vary in seeing it as a conspiracy, a tragedy, a civil war against one´s own state. Even some Catholic nationalists participated in the Uprising, which they saw as anti-Nazi, not anti-Tiso, they do not share the democrat´s evaluation of the antifascist resistance as a moment of Slovak heroism and as a sign of commitment to democracy. For the group of democrats, the Slovak National Uprising was oriented towards recreating a democratic Czechoslovakia and was opposed not only to the Nazis but to the Tiso state. It was a symbol of a return to Europe and for some it constituted a necessary moral renewal for Slovakia. Nevertheless, 29 August, the anniversary of the start of the 1944 Slovak National Uprising, was chosen in 1992 as the national day of the independent Slovak Republic. The debate over the national day, and vote on it, again illustrates the inability to agree on the key moment of Slovak history and the weakness of Slovak national development.
Another kind of public debate regarding the past was not actually opened yet. It is the painful communist past that is generally remaining a taboo. Of course, some of the debate took place over the communist regime - the use of documents, the attempt to interpret what constituted responsibility for the communist past – was part of a genuine process of coming to terms with this past. This process will continue for years. The history writing process, in the post-communist period, continues to exist on the margins, there is a lack of a common interpretative frameworks. As in the other post-communist countries, there is in Slovakia a tendency towards an idealisation of the communist regime with a corresponding increase in nostalgia for the 'good old days', while the injustices of socialism began to be forgotten. This became obvious in everyday life, in the lukewarm acceptance of the economic transformation, in the confusion surrounding solutions to important problems, in the growing anxiety about the future. Citizens seemed to miss 'the certainties' that had become part of their way of life under the communists. History, in many cases, had not be written. The history of communism that was written, abroad and in samizdat, was associated with the ideological elites or the Czechs. It was and still is difficult to assess the multiplicity of new sources and articles that appeared with the end of communism. Archives were being opened and witnesses were beginning to speak, but this information was perceived as inconclusive or unreliable. Because the political agenda after 1989 included keeping anti-democratic symbols and behaviour out, it appeared necessary to také moral stands regarding the crimes of communism and fascists. But the goal of making certain political judgements before history was written was at odds with keeping history nonpolitical and waiting for an independent scholarly process to correct communist-era distortions. However, this ambivalence provided opportunities for open manipulation of competing claims in this area.
National symbols are performing the role of integrating/incorporating and expressing/representing the central ideas and values of a nation. Generally speaking, they (should) stand for the permanence and identity of a nation.
When taking the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia / Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (1945-1990) into consideration, the prime question should be whether its state symbols, including the flags and the coats of arms of its constitutive parts/republics could be interpreted as the national symbols, since the state had been constituted and defined as the "community of nations and nationalities". Furthermore, none of those symbols referred to "nations' and nationalities'" traditions, nor held the potential of arguing at least some kind of permanence. Then - although it may be presumed that certain and perhaps even a larger number of Yugoslav citizens had, to some extent, identified themselves with the newly invented Yugoslav identity, as well as with the Yugoslav state symbols – the search for Croatian national symbols will have to go beyond either the Yugoslav state symbols or the symbols that signified the People's Republic of Croatia / Socialist Republic of Croatia, being the constitutive part of the Federative People's Republic of Yugoslavia / Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.
The Croatian authorities, elected in 1990, demonstrated that this task is indeed not to be easily accomplished. There has been no doubt that the continuity with the pre-communist era should be established, but even tradition did not offer much to chose from. And, indeed, it seemed that only the Medieval Croatian kingdom and the short period of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) could serve as points of reference. However, both periods have been in need of reinterpretation: none of them, not without reason, were seen as bearing the indisputable glory. On the other hand, the post-1990 official interpretation of the Croatian identity - that was to a great extent built upon the proclaimed points of difference from the Serbian – insisted on the image of a developed, urbanised and modern state belonging historically and traditionally to the circle of Western European states with a strong, educated and "sophisticated" bourgeois class. Being described as such, the Republic of Croatia was set apart from its traditional culture.
Traditional culture or, better to say, traditional cultures used to, on the contrary, play an extremely important role in providing the symbolic resources for building up the Yugoslav identity, where the traditions belonging to different parts of Croatia have been shared with other "Yugoslav" traditional cultures to prove the continuity untouched by various foreign occupiers and their "rotten traditions". The same practice has been implemented in the monarchist Yugoslavia as well. And although the monarchist Yugoslavia have had to cope with the same problems that had persisted through the communist Yugoslavia's history and, finally, strengthened by the (trend of the) defeat of communism after the summer of 1989 led to its "decomposition", the very use of the traditional culture in accomplishing the political goals may be seen and interpreted also in accordance with similar and symultaneous practices in other European countries.
Also, when discussing the national symbols one must take into consideration the symbols that are not proclaimed neither perceived as the official ones and that sometimes even oppose the ideas and values they stand for. Exactly this was the case with the most prominent symbols of the Independent State of Croatia which, after 1945, preserved and even strengthened their symbolic value mostly among the Croatian political emigrants, but also among the Croatian economic Diaspora, thus the people who have been regularly visiting their homeland and shearing their "western knowledge" with their relatives and their neighbours living in communism. To them, the pre-socialist Croatia might have had much more in common with the values they have been living for and circumstances they have been living in than contemporary, communist Croatia.
However, the most important question in assessing the problem (not only) of Yugoslav/Croatian national identity as established after the World War II is the question of grounding the interpretation. Although certain interpretative predilections seem to be unavoidable, what can be but is seldom done is to avoid schematic reductionisms that usually set off with pre-interpreting the political context either as negative (totalitarian) or positive (prosperous), and end in unambiguous conclusions. The perception should not, in short, be the relational one, depending on the normative value set and the observation point.
The phenomenon of Josip Broz Tito, for many the only true symbol of the state he governed, is just one of the possible examples, although the most prominent one. In addition, it posts some other interpretative problems. Namely, in a research conducted by the research team of the Croatian daily Jutarnji list in 1998, the former Yugoslav president was pronounced to be "the most important Croat of the Millennium", and all that in spite of the preceding eight years of Croatian democracy sotonising him and his achievements and, in theory, counting upon the tradition covered deeply under the layers of communist ideology.
The main aim of my paper is to note how popular strategies of feminisation and revirilisation of the main historical actors and collectivities become interwoven with the still unfinished formation of basic concepts and attributes of Croatian “ideospheres” of the 1990s, i.e. what does it mean today to be on the Right or on the Left, to recognize anti-fascist or fascist and Ustasha past as someone’s own heritage. I will also try to point out that the negative representation of women partisans in testimonial literature and on film in the 1990s very suggestively revived the topos of cruel traumatized women warriors in recent memoirs of the members of the defeated armed forces in WWII as well as in phantasies of those without personal recollections of past war events. Whether part of false memory syndrome, of invented or incubated memories, that topos functions as a signal of social strategies of alternation typical for (personal) recollection of distant negative experiences in a changed socio-political context. The peculiar cultural mechanism accompanying such, not dominant but indicative and politically welcomed, reminiscences and narratives, is the attempt at demasculinisation and dehumanisation of partisan victors (called bandits again), that is, the feminisation of their (suggested) “moral deformity”, psychopathology, atheism, villainy, monstrosity, backwardness and propensity for war crimes. With the help of familiar rhetoric and imagery of anticommunist propaganda, discredited partisan victors were “disclosed” as false antifascists, as inglorious actors of the “red terror”. As if the words of German pro-nazi propagandist E.F. Berendt that the armed women were “the most terrible furies only Bolshevism could have invented” are reinvokedby Ivan Aralica, the most prominent writer during Tudjman area, whose novel Četverored (In Column of Four, 1997) unleashed the popular depiction of partisan women as “creatures from the gutter, from the gutter of ugliness and monstrosity”. The tradition of associating armed and rebel women with unlawfulness and political disorder assisted those (popular historiographers and provincial intellectuals) who sought to discredit the entire subsequent Yugoslav communist ruling power, particularly the Soviet-style habit of confining and excluding their ‘political enemies’ from contemporary history.
The fact that a just and defensive war has been waged on Croatian state territory during the 1990s helped the symbolic remasculinisation of the nation as “the last rampart of Christianity”. It also explains the efficiency of revived historical images of Croatia as unprotected and victimized but determined women ready to sacrifice herself for the freedom of future generations. Despite the hotly debated issue of national insignia, the very declaration of an independent Republic of Croatia with its government, currency and army were perceived as a reward for all whose family histories were erased or silenced, for all non-partisan veterans who “righteously” expiateed themselves of past defeats and humiliation. Repatriated political emigrants represented their most prominent voices emphasising the continuity and Westerness of Croatian military history and lobbying for the return of Croatian historical military vocabulary and the ethos of the Croatian domobrans’ (homeguards) military tradition. However, the domobrans’ ethos was significantly infected with communist narratives and jokes depicting them as feminised soldiers - defensive, reluctant and fearful. On the other hand, the name and attribute Ustasha - as the harshest communist curse and insult - were associated from the very beginning with the unacceptable idea of Croatian independence for Croatia’s Serb citizens. Its widespread use during the 1991-1995 war reflected the folk belief in the mythical power of curse and anathema on behalf of the opponents of Croatian independence as well as the same sort of believing into protective force of such names and emblems on behalf of Croatian volunteers. Therefore, young and enthusiastic defenders embraced the name Ustasha – as national not ideological marker – together with the spirit of private initiative, such as the “Rambo ethos” and the idea of the first “postmodern war” in which disputes over (correct) politics of representation overshadowed the Realpolitik of political action.
However, the presence of women as individualized and imagined historical subjects was more strongly manifested in testimonial and popular narratives on the past rather than the contemporary war. The ambiguity and plasticity of female images are their most important and decisive characteristics. The reason for this is “versatile, elastic utility of nationalist imagery and its capacity to serve various, and at times, diametrically opposed, political agendas“ (M.P. Anagnostopoulou). The supposed female propensity for aberrant violence and for inspirited self-sacrifice corresponded somehow with the ambiguity of official politics during HDZ ruling power (1990-1999) in declaring Croatia’s Europe-centred orientation, democratic and antifascist tradition while simultaneously discriminating against and purging its citizens of Serbian descent on the home-front. President Tudjman’s naive political project of “reconciliation of the nation” and just financial and symbolical reward of the WWII war veterans regardless of their military background coincided with the failure of the intellectual and legal community to provide facts and figures on communist (post)war crimes and explain their historical context. The desire to testify to war and post-war atrocities half a century later in fact reflects a desire to participate in a public dispute over the innate peaceful, civilised and Christian cultural and moral values of Croatian nation rather than any exploration of the complex nature of the events of WWII.
The ambiguity of representing women as political subjects still prevails, for example, related to the images of girls with Ustasha’s insignia (attending concerts of war veteran Marko Perković Thompson) that often appeared in Croatian magazines. They could be interpreted one of two ways: to demonstrate the widespread and deep influence of “neoustashism” among young Croats and to demonstrate the lack of (ideological) seriousness, frivolity and trendy character of such phenomena. Similarly, the increased number of women in Croatian government and army should manifest in public the Western orientation of the new social-democratic coalition in power whose contextual, very recent understanding of desirable antifascism was recently expressed by Slavko Linić, deputy premier: “the day citizens may say their life standard has betterd will mark another victory of anti-fascists in Croatia”. At the same time, political opposition has employed the strategy of feminisation pointing at the impotent and submissive mentality of Croatian government confronted with the demands of international community and ICTY in The Hague particularly. The fact that the Prime Minister had to buckle to pressure from a woman, the Chief Prosecutor Carla del Ponte, is comprehended as a degrading and humiliating act for the whole nation.
Croatian wartime nationalism has also “sprung from masculinised memory, masculinised humiliation and masculinised hope” establishing Anderson’s “horizontal fraternity” and revitalizing ethos of “authentic” male Domobran’s culture of defensive warfare. However, the difficulties of revealing coherent and harmonized narration of national history (either as the heroic or martyr’s story) shaped by two traumatic points of rupture - WWII and Homeland War (1991-1995) - called for images of partisan women executioners and cruel women guards in communist political prisons. The issue of both gendered violence against our and of their women taking part in organized violence, turned into “mighty ground” for revealing the false humanism of communist rule or, on the contrary, for illustrating once again “the evil of fascist and communist regimes alike” (K. Theweleit). Having in mind the caution that ideological differences are always more important than gender similarities, the ambivalence of imagined and personalized women in arms during WWII confirms once again that the utter goal of constant remodelling of national history is not simple a replacement of community by nation but “rather a constant redemption of its unhappy remains” (P. Wright). In the Croatian case, this task is even aggravated by new social taboos and traumas – the silencing of the victims of war rapes, sympathizing for war criminals among war veterans or confusing the issue of just war with justice in war. The main problem of coming to terms with past as remembered and history as written for Croatian citizens is not insufficient knowledge about the “Yugoslav gulags” and “red terror” – while counter-memories everywhere are more productive in a repressive environment – but fixed points of historical reference and masculinised space of historical agency with a few women witnesses positioned as spokespersons of dominant ideology. Or, depicted as blind force accompanied with the unknown cruelty that thoroughly “destroys masculinity and history” (C. Paglia). Therefore, to answer the question how Croatian historical cultures became gendered in the 1990s and women got caught in symbolic construction of nation is neither simple nor stereotypical.
Основна теза виступу: Ні ОУН, ні УПА не були притаманні ксенофобія та расизм. Звинувачення ОУН у намаганні підходити до вирішення національного питання з “зоологічними” мірками позбавлені історичної об'єктивності. ОУН від самих початків свого існування ставила питання наступним чином: Україна – держава української нації, у якій має бути вирішено статус національних меншин та стосунки з сусідніми державами. Кожна нація має право на свою державу. І український націоналізм був звернений не проти конкретних народів чи націй, а проти окупаційної політики тих чи інших держав.
ОУН поводила себе як класична виразниця прагнень бездержавної нації, до того ж "ображеної" позицією великих держав після Першої світової війни. У цьому ОУН надзвичайно подібна до словацьких глінковців, румунської "Залізної Гвардії", білоруських націонал-соціалістів (які стояли на іншій платформі, аніж німецькі націонал-соціалісти), й інших ультраправих сил, які виступали з позицій реваншизму та перегляду результатів першої світової війни. Такі ж елементи, як імперіалізм чи расизм, хоча й не були визначальними у програмових засадах ОУН, у 30-х рр. жваво дискутувалися серед членства Організації. Це ще більше споріднювало ОУН з іноземними партіями-аналогами.
Якщо умовно розглянути концепцію діяльності ОУН і розбити її на своєрідні "програму-мінімум" (діяльність до досягнення мети - незалежної держави) та "програму-максимум" (форми та методи побудови незалежної держави), то у першому випадку можливі паралелі між ОУН та ірландською Шин-Фейн, а у другому - між ОУН та Італійською чи Іберійською формами фашизму. Щоправда, і у першому, і у другому випадках паралелі будуть досить умовними - український націоналізм - це питомо українське явище, яке лише знаходило в іноземних аналогах методологічну основу для своєї діяльності.
Тому у підході до розгляду українського націоналізму необхідно відмовитися від уніфікованого підходу до всіх праворадикальних течій, що існували в Європі у міжвоєнний період. Саме відсутність ксенофобії як визначальної ідеологеми кардинальним чином відрізняє ідеологію ОУН від нацизму чи ідеології хорватських усташів.
Моменти ставлення до нацменшин в майбутній Українській державі дискутувалися у передвоєнний час. Націоналізм сприймався не як протиставлення чужому, а як звеличування свого. Володимир Мартинець, один з ідеологів націоналізму, у 1937 році, у книзі "За зуби і пазурі нації", стверджував, полемізуючи з прихильниками "біологічного" націоналізму, що українські націоналісти можуть виступати проти Польщі як держави, але не проти польського народу чи польської крові. Як приклад, він наводив той факт, що Євген Коновалець був напівполяком (його мати була етнічною полькою), а в складі Проводу українських націоналістів було два чистокровних поляки (Микола Сціборський та Михайло Мушинський). Олег Ольжич-Кандиба пішов далі і у своїх історіософічних працях стверджував, що саме внаслідок проникнення польського елементу в український соціум у XIX столітті українська нація змогла відбутися як така. А Степан Ленкавський, створюючи свій Декалог на початку 30-х років, відмовився від більш радикальних формувань свого попередника, Миколи Міхновського - особливо у частині, де "жиди, ляхи і москалі" вважалися природними ворогами української нації.
На самому початку німецько-радянської війни українці неодноразово виступали з критикою німецької національної політики – особливо щодо євреїв. Хоча це була переважно пасивна критика (К.Гіммельрайх, О.Штуль). Водночас питання ставлення до національних меншин в Українській державі стало предметом обговорення конференції ОУН у липні 1941 року. Під впливом нацизму ряд діячів ОУН вимагали впровадження “расового принципу” в організаційну доктрину, однак на ділі расовий принцип не було впроваджено.
Що стосується Волинської трагедії 1943 року, то визначальним у ній став не принцип негативізму у ставленні до поляків як етносу. Фактично склалася наступна ситуація. Керівництво ОУН вимагало чистоти націоналістичної лінії і не терпіло дисидентства. Націоналістична ідеологія і теорія націоналізму населенням сприймалися у вульгарній формі. Вульгарний націоналізм сприймався як один з рушіїв революційної боротьби (якщо населенню неможливо дати ідею у чистому вигляді, нехай вони сприймають її у своєму, простонародному значенні - головне мета). Українські націоналісти (особливо бандерівці) у 1942 році вдалися до ряду популістських заходів, спрямованих на підвищення свого авторитету. Саме цим - популізмом - можна пояснити антипольскі акції ОУН і УПА у першій половині 1943 року. Існувала українсько-польська суперечка за українські етнічні території, які для Польщі були "кресами всходніми". Існувала негативна реакція українського суспільства на польський режим у 20 - 30-х роках XX століття. Існував побутовий конфлікт поляків та українців, який базувався на зверхньому ставленні частини поляків стосовно українців. І існувало питання володіння землею. Всі ці моменти бандерівці вирішили використати з метою піднесення власного авторитету і залучення ширших мас у лави УПА.
Важливо відзначити, що вже до середини 1943 року негативні тенденції в націоналістичному середовищі було повністю ліквідовано, і починаючи з серпня ОУН переходить до нової доктрини, серед основних напрямків якої були й пошук контактів з іншими поневоленими народами, створення спільного фронту боротьби проти комуністичного режиму, створення національних відділів в УПА, а також створення Антибільшовицького блоку народів.
Висновок: Ми не можемо говорити про ксенофобію як один із принципів українського націоналізму. Ми можемо говорити про етнічні конфлікти як певні побічні ефекти військового часу, коли теорія націоналізму, старанно формована “верхами” розходилася із практикою діяльності “низів”, а сам український націоналізм піддався певній вульгаризації, яка настає завжди, коли будь-яка теорія починає поширюватися серед мас.
Historians work in two directions: they try to save informations from the past and put them into a narrative order that makes them useful for a present-day discourse.
In the last case, with the change of the political systems the discourse frames have changed, too. Whereas in the „West“ historiography aiming at a reconstruction of „truth“ is slowly giving way to discourse analysis operating on the base of different, possible controversial narratives, there is no predominance of progress in that direction in the European East.
The paper shows efforts to detach Ukrainian pro-German collaboration from the Germans or to present it as a „tragedy“. On the other side, some Polish scholars (with a notable group that favours new approaches) try to draw ethnicity lines in order to exclude unpleasant historical aspects from tradition and save an unquestionable victim’s role for the own group.
In the concluding part, the paper questions history’s usefulness as a reference for positive deductions.