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Integral Nationalism in the Trial of War REFLECTING ON the attempt of Ukrainian nationalists and Nazis to impose their ethnocentric agendas on Vinnytsia, an editor of Vinnyts'ki visti, the local wartime newspaper, noted that, passive dissatisfaction grew for a variety of reasons—including the inequality accorded to various nationalities: a concept entirely alien to Soviet men. In the end, everything could be reduced to "better our own," i.e., better even the Soviets than the Germans. The people's attitude toward the uprava [local administration ] was likewise one ofpreferring "our own" institutions.1 Surely this was a remarkable assessment from a person who had done time in a Soviet labor camp on the eve of the war before being drafted to the soon-to-be-crushed Red Army. But what exactly did the elusive phrase "our own" mean? If by "our own," locals expressed the desire to be left alone, this was a futile hope. The magnitude of events taking place before their eyes excluded neutrality from the menu. In a world of total war, any response, including inaction, assumed critical significance. Moreover, none of the political forces that operated in the region held a pluralistic vision of social order, and none thought of leaving society as is. Hence "our own" was not used in a permanent sense. People struggled to adjust their predispositions to the constantly changing circumstances. Hopes were dashed, new expectations arose, and the excruciatingly harsh present made it possible to compromise with the brutal, yet familiar, past. Further, the articulation of self-identities was shaped to a large degree by a unique, if obscure, feature of the Soviet totalitarian enterprise: the investment of power in both community and individuals to execute key policies decreed by the political power. Public deliberation, awareness, and active involvement in acts such as mass extermination, denunciations, or the selection of people for deportation established a myriad of practices that challenged daily the presumption of an autonomous, apolitical existence. Any discussion of identities on the local landscape must certainly begin with the peasantry, and not necessarily because of the predominantly rural population of Vinnytsia but rather because all powers competing for 1 HUR1P #548,5. 240 CHAPTER FOUR dominance in the region focused on this constituency. The very group that had been marked by Soviet power as the locus of the Great Transformation found itself celebrated by the nationalist movement as the backbone of the independent Ukrainian nation. In this light, the social and political arena of the peasantry became the site of a clash between conflicting assumptions about the nature of the peasantry and rival expectations for its political allegiance. More visibly than any other group, the local peasantry was a litmus test for the efficacy of three decades of Soviet power through the trial of war and was the key to understanding the fundamental transformation triggered by this cataclysmic event. The choices locals made were largely shaped by the conflicts between the nationalist alternative and the new Soviet legitimizing myth of the war. There were three main arenas of discord: first, the encounter between the ideas and practices of ethnocentrism, including its most radical form of racially based genocide, and the Soviet legacy of sociologically driven excisionary policies; second, the clash between the nationalist revisionist view ofthe socioeconomic rural order and its main constituency, the precollectivization elite in the village, on the one hand, and the continuous sovietization ofvillage culture and politics, with the rising constituency of Red Army servicemen and their families, on the other; and, third, the collision between nationalist separatism and the ritualized inculcation of Soviet Ukrainianhood via the tale of unification of the Ukrainian land and its people. Ukrainian nationalist activists arriving from the western regions may have been unfamiliar with the local scene into which they followed the invading German army, but they certainly had a clear, well-articulated vision of what it should be. The nationalist world was an ethnic mosaic arranged in a hierarchical order of groups that had their own distinctive identities and agendas. By the late 1930s the German and Polish intellectual and political environment within which the nationalists operated before the 1939 partition of Poland was dominated by ethnocentrism. Practically all the major components of the post-Pilsudski Polish polity adopted exclusionary, violent ideologies that viewed the world as comprised of biologically constructed nations, each competing violently with the other. In this environment the physical removal and even destruction of ethnic groups who violated the desired harmony of the...


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