restricted access Three: Excising Evil
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Three Excising Evil Therefore as soon as a spark appears it must be snuffed out, and the yeast separated from the vicinity o f the dough, the rancid flesh cut off, and the mangy animal driven away from the flock o f sheep, lest the entire house burn, the dough spoil, the body rot, and the flock perish. [The heretic ] Arius was one spark in Alexandria; but because he was not immediately suppressed, the entire world was devastated with his flame. (St. Jerome, Commentariorum in Epistolam ad Galatas libri tres)1 T H E UKRAINIAN nationalist cause failed to materialize in the Vinnytsia region. To contemporaries, however, the virtual eradication of the nationalist presence in the region was not a foregone conclusion. At the time, several factors seemed to play into the hands of the anti-Soviet movement, powerful enough to induce Soviet authorities to lump the region together with its western counterparts, where a full-fledged civil war was already under way. A by-product of the annexation of the western provinces in the fall of 1939 was the proliferation of nationalist activity in the region. As the westernmost border region in pre-1939 Soviet Ukraine, Vinnytsia was expected to figure highly in nationalist activity. And that is indeed what happened . The arrival of nationalist activists to the region from western Ukraine during 1939-40 prepared the ground for an outburst of underground activity already on the eve of the war and surfaced following the arrival of German troops.2 And with the looming German retreat, nationalist forces once again emerged as the most powerful in the region. "At 1 St. Jerome, Commentariorum in Epistolam ad Galatas Itbrt tres, in J.-P. Migne, ed., Patrologia latina, vol. 26 (Turnhout, Belgium, n.d. ), col. 430. 2 Tsentral'nyi Arkhiv Vnutrenntkh Voisk Mimsterstva Vnutrennikh Del Rosstiskoi Federatsii (Arkhtv W MVD SSSR po Ukrains'koi i Moldavs'kot SSR) (hereafter, TsAWMVDRF), f. 488, op. 1, d. 51, 1. 1. According to a local nationalist memoirist, slogans such as "Get the Moskali [a derogatory name for Russians] and Muscovite Language Out of Ukraine and Our Schools" and "Long Live the Independent United Ukrainian State" appeared in schools on 130 C H A P T E R T H R E E the very beginning," related a Soviet partisan commander from Vinnytsia, "the largest organizations were those of the nationalists, who actually seized all the power in the villages, in the districts, and in the towns."3 Indeed, nationalist leaders were beaming with confidence in the popularity of their cause in the region. Internal communications between nationalist partisans in Vinnytsia on the popular reaction to their movement were unequivocal: 1. With the exception ofindividual supporters ofthe Bolsheviks, the population is following the work of the insurgents with great interest. Every action taken is welcomed with great enthusiasm. Although secretly, people talk about it everywhere. They view the insurgents as their defenders from the bloody regime . One can often hear individual women threaten Bolshevik activists, saying: "Just you wait! Don't think that you are special (Boha zlovyv za nohy). There were many like you among us, but they are no more," and so on. 2. The spirit ofthe population is much undermined when they learn that we are few. Rumors that individual detachments of the UPA [Ukrainian Insurgent Army] marched past various roads in large numbers raise hopes for a quick and decisive victory. 3. The population welcomes and respects the insurgents. One often meets a family who has no means to survive but nevertheless does its best to feed every insurgent with whatever it can, sharing its last crumb of bread. 4. The population desires to see us victorious at every step, wishes the expansion of our activity and that everywhere the NKVD will be met with machine guns and resistance.4 Equally definitive was the assessment of the popular rejection of Soviet power. "Almost 99 percent of the population hates the Bolsheviks and views them with hostility," continued the communique. "You can learn this by speaking to any peasant. [The population] especially hates the kolkhoz system, the NKVD, and that they confiscate all the bread." The report followed with an optimistic note regarding the healthy skepticism of the local population who "does not believe any of the Bolshevik promises that after the war life will get better and more concessions will be made. For twenty-five years the Bolsheviks ruled, promised a lot, but gave nothing . The population understands this business."5...