A more realistic picture of what happened: Ukraine gained autonomy following Russia’s February (bourgeois-democratic) revolution of 1917, under a soviet government that, due to Ukraine’s relative wealth, defended capitalism. Meanwhile, following the socialist revolution in Russia, Ukraine and Poland were given the opportunity to become independent and chose to exercise that right. Masses in Ukraine’s cities, including most Jews, began rising up in support of the socialist revolution, and received military assistance from Soviet Russia. Meanwhile Cossacks, who had enjoyed privileged status as a military people-caste under Czarist rule, and counterrevolutionaries, many of them supported by Ukrainian peasants mobilized by ancient Jew-hatred, organized terrorist attacks on liberated territory. A major anarchist organization rose up in Eastern Ukraine to fight the counterrevolutionaries and defend land reform under the Ukrainian soviet government and the pro-Russian soviet socialist government. Meanwhile to fulfill their promises to end the war with Germany, Soviet Russia was obliged to sign a treaty on massively disadvantageous terms, renouncing support for Polish independence and agreeing to withdraw revolutionary forces from Ukraine. Germany proceeded to organize a coup that put a conservative dictatorship in charge of Ukraine. Land was taken from peasants and given to the former nobility, and the new government of Ukraine organized massacres of Jews. The anarchists defended communal property and territorial independence while ignoring or even sanctioning anti-Jewish attacks. The White Army representing the Allied Powers and seeking to restore Czarism organized death camps for Jews and mass killings of peasants and workers in Southern Russia, and the communists and anarchists allied to defeat them only at great peril. They ultimately made their last stand in Crimea, then part of Russia (following a brief period of Ukrainian military control), where the indigenous Crimean Tatars had largely allied with the pro-German local puppet regime before coming to support Soviet Russia in response to the White invasion of their territory. But in the meantime, the German workers’ uprising put an end to the war, obliging the left-wing capitalist government that rose up in the immediate aftermath to surrender to Allied demands including Polish independence. Ukrainian nationalists seized the opportunity to take back power in Ukraine and established a conservative military-police dictatorship which aggressively persecuted Jews. Soviet Russia renewed its assistance to a revitalized workers’ revolution, but the anarchist movement in Ukraine allied with the right-wing government against the liberated areas. Meanwhile Poland’s new aggressively nationalist, ultra conservative British-backed government began attacking Ukraine to seize Ukrainian territories with Polish majorities or large minorities; most Jews fought on the Ukrainian side against their efforts. Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine, attempting to come to the relief of socialist Hungary and the communist movement in Germany (especially in Bavaria where communists had set up a soviet socialist republic) felt obliged to invade Poland, in alliance with Polish communists, to gain a corridor through which troops could pass to defeat the reactionaries. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian revolution with the aid of Soviet Russian forces defeated the conservatives and anarchists. However, as the German and Hungarian revolutions were drowned in blood, Polish forces defeated Soviet forces (largely through the perfidy of Joseph Stalin, who undermined Red Army leader Leon Trotsky’s military strategy in an attempt to win personal glory). In the aftermath, Poland seized control of Western Ukraine and organized large-scale massacres of Ukrainians and Jews. Ukraine was one of the worst-hit parts of what (when Stalin reversed Lenin’S policy of communist self-determination, as part of his general attack on the gains of communism, and created an institutional structure for counterrevolution) became the Soviet Union in the 1921 famine, partly due to the policy of war communism that privileged urban interests (disproportionately Russian and Jewish) at the expense of peasants (often Poles and Ukrainians). Ukrainians were treated with favoritism by Stalin’s government in the days of the right-wing exaggeration of the New Economic Policy, fueling resentment by Poles, Jews, etc.Then to cover up his crimes Stalin made a sharp lurch to the far left with his “Third Period” dogma and policies of forced collectivization and dekulakizarion. In practice these meant the organized mass killing of millions of Ukrainians and favoritism toward Poles. As the Stalin regime turned back toward the right they attempted to regain peasant support through among other things persecuting Jews and soft-pedaling the Nazi threat, leading to a flowering of Nazi sympathy in Ukraine. Following the alliance with Nazi Germany the Soviets invaded Poland and recaptured Western Ukraine. Rightist forces organized massacres of Poles. Germany eventually invaded the USSR including the Ukrainian SSR and organized mass killings of Jews and CP supporters, creating a leadership vacuum into which resentful, reactionary Ukrainian nationalist fighters, many only recently part of the Soviet Union and with little experience of the advantages of joining, including pro-Nazi and mostly anti-Nazi (though still antisemitic and willing to cooperate with the Nazis against the Soviets) factions. Meanwhile Stalin’s regime dealt with Tatar sympathy for the Nazis by the opportunistic expedient of brutal ethnic cleansing of the Tatars. The Soviets, backed by many loyal Ukrainians (and Jews, etc., in Ukraine) ultimately drove the Nazis out, then very quickly began falsifying their own history as they began their own persecution of Jews which was cut short by Stalin’s death. The Russian nationalists dominating the USSR then attempted to undermine the continuing Ukrainian nationalist agitation (which reflected anticommunism and more particularly dissatisfaction with the Stalinist counterfeit of communism) by giving Crimea, with its Russian minority hostile to Ukrainian independence, to Ukraine. For the same reason they encouraged the repatriation of Tatars who had been exiled from Siberia to Ukraine. The country’s large Jewish minority had been devastated by the Nazis and the right-wing Ukrainians but declined considerably more in subsequent decades as many Jews emigrated to Israel, the U.S., or other countries to escape life under the USSR and its Russian-chauvinist regime. The use of the Ukrainian language in Ukraine was treated as a political football for years … discouraged by Stalin during the Third Period and WWII and by Khrushchev/Brezhnev as they leveraged Russian chauvinism to consolidate their dictatorships … encouraged at the expense of the Russian- (and Polish-, Yiddish-, etc.) speaking minority during the adaptation to Nazism and Great Purge in order to strengthen the right which then had a power center in Ukraine, and under Gorbachev as a symbol of glasnost. Meanwhile, the culmination of decades of Stalinist counterrevolution with Gorbachev’s perestroika (price hikes and market socialism) policy set off a wave of pro-socialist resistance which shattered Stalin’s “prison house of nations,”
leading to Ukrainian independence. Russia’s Communist Party under Gennady Zyuganov responded by staking out an openly antisemitic, Russian chauvinist, “National Bolshevik” revanchist position aimed at resurrecting the old “prison house of nations,” and the largely ethnic Russian “communists” of Ukraine followed their lead. Following independence, Ukraine was divided between pro-U.S. factions (supported by most Catholics, Poles, Tatars, Muslims, and rural Ukrainians) and pro-Russia factions (supported by most ethnic Russians, urban Ukrainians, Jews, and easterners). However, the ruling-class layers of these factions united under Russian auspices to force capitalism down the people’s throats before splitting again as Russia sought effective control of Ukraine via suppression of democracy, occupied Crimea against the will of the indigenous Tatars and much of the local population, and organized astroturfed uprisings. In the wake of the popular uprising against the Russian-backed, ethnic Russian-favoring dictator, the new U.S.-backed government took advantage of the political polarization to shore up capitalist rule by banning communist political organizarionD Nazism today is widely abhorred throughout Ukraine, but there is a tiny but militarily influential faction of pro-Nazi Ukrainians supporting the Ukrainian government (despite their left-leaning Jewish president), and a much bigger residue of reactionary and antisemitic Ukrainian nationalism. At the same time, Russia’s government relies on thoroughly antisemitic, pro-fascist National Bolsheviks as well as ultra-fascist coalition partners for their own support, and is as thoroughly identified with the cause of reaction as in the 19th century.