restricted access Six: Peasants to Soviets, Peasants to Ukrainians
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Six Peasants to Soviets, Peasants to Ukrainians IN NATIONALIST IDEOLOGY the nation was embodied by a single socioethnic group: the Ukrainian peasantry. Tested by recurrent destruction inflicted by a host of foreign occupiers, the peasantry was believed to have preserved its ethnic, religious, and linguistic purity. Moreover, it was the peasantry that held the keys to victory in the cataclysmic struggle for independence . "The time has come when our entire people stands up to fight for new life and a better fate," exclaimed Selians'ka dolia, an OUN-M journal directed solely at the peasantry. Success and victory will depend on you, the peasant. .. Ukraine, her power and wealth—that is you . . . Who feeds the entire Ukraine? The village. Who gives Ukraine a healthy and guiding intelligentsia—soldiers of the national revolution ? The village. The Ukrainian peasant is afighterand martyr for the freedom and happiness ofUkraine. For centuries, his blood and sweat watered the Ukrainian land.1 In stark contrast to the Soviet cult of the urban working class, a sovereign Ukraine would be a peasant state. The free farming community had not only been the sole glimmer of hope in the past, it was now the backbone of the future socioeconomic order. "The Ukrainian state is a state of the conscious toiling peasant masses. Its laws will be issued in order to strengthen the peasantry stratum, to deepen its national consciousness, and render it the proper place at the stirring will of the state. The land in Ukraine is the land of our peasantry. It [the peasantry] owns it," declared the journal. "We shall abolish the exploitation by international capital and international communism, restore private ownership ofthe land, and abolish collective and state farms. The land will be divided among the Ukrainian peasantry. There will be no capitalists in Ukraine, no Muscovite Skoropads 'kyis servants, no Poles, and no Jews. Any hopes for the restoration of large estates will be crushed under the blows of peasant hands under the banner of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists," concluded the author.2 1 TsDAHOU, f. 57, op. 4, d. 369,11. 60,61, 61b. 2 Iu. Iosenko, "Osnovy zemel'noi polityky orhanizatsii Ukrains'kykh nationalistic" in ibid., 1. 61b. PEASANTS TO S O V I E T S / U K R A I N I A N S 299 For wartime nationalist language regulators, it was the often belittled language of the village that embodied Ukrainianhood. As one of them wrote, in 1943: There is a tendency generally [to consider] that the development of a language begins with the town, not with the village, despite the fact that some linguists are glad to direct writers en masse to the village. And though the rural language does provide the profusion of expression for contemporary writers, [it] is still very important and we still need to examine it closely; it controls the literary language, since the Ukrainian literary language is somehow based on the language ofthe village.3 Moreover, despite the Soviets' return to the region in the spring of 1944, circumstances in the immediate postwar era stirred hope among nationalists . Nature appeared to play into their hands—or so it seemed. The postwar restoration ofthe resented collective farming system was accompanied by the disastrous famine of1946-47, and nationalist writers saw the event both as evidence to the unchanged criminal nature of Soviet policies in Ukraine and an opportunity for the nationalist cause. In a brochure entitled New Famine Catastrophe in Ukraine, Iaroslav Starukh advanced the nationalist version of the disaster. Starukh insisted on calling the recent development a famine as distinguished from its Soviet official designation as a drought, or "dryness." A drought indeed had occurred, but it built on the more fundamental cause of the collective farm system. "That best colonial exploitation system" enabled the regime to squeeze grain from the peasantry regardless or despite the drought. Consequently the famine was viewed as a deliberate punitive method by the Soviet regime directed against the peasantry in general, but, above all, against Ukraine. "4 The present famine was a repetition of1921-23 and 1932-33, argued Starukh. "When we consider that at any time, against the growing wave of liberating fight of the Ukrainian people Moscow always organized her counteraction by help of a hunger, then we shall see that the hunger, this the greatest mass murder of millions of men, is a conscious plan, organized action ofBolshevik Muscovy which considers thefamine as an instrument and weapon of her imperialist policy...