1917-1921 1941-1944

Ukraine 1922-1941

In the course of 1920-1921 the Ukrainian sideshow of the Russian Civil War, as well as the Russo-Polish War were concluded. The border with Poland was fixed by the Treaty of Riga, leaving Western Ukraine within the Polish borders. Carpatho-Ruthenia was part of Czechoslovakia, the Bukovina and Bessarabia part of Romania, the remainder of Ukraine (without the Crimea) territrory of the Ukrainian SSR.
The land reform implemented by the Bolsheviks had resulted in the creation a significant class of Kulaks, land-owning farmers. The policy of operating an economy based on coupons, the aboliton of money and banks, had backfired, and in 1921 had to reintroduce money (among others heavy silver coins) in order to induce farmers to produce quantities of food sufficient to feed the Soviet population. Calls for voluntary joining the collective (Kolkhoz, Sovkhoz), advertised as being progressive, were followed by some, while many held on to the land gained so recently. The Sovietization of Ukrainian society was stronger felt in the cities.
In 1921 an Ukrainian Exile Government was established in Prague, Czechoslovakia.
When the Ukrainian SSR was formed in 1922, Kharkiv was selected as capital; in 1934 it was moved to Kyiv. The Ukrainian SSR was a founding member of the USSR on December 30th 1922; while the USSR formally was a federation, Ukrainian policy in reality was decided in Moscow.
In 1921 the Ukrainian Orthodox Church had been established, separating the Ukrainians from the Russian Orthodox Church, gaining recognition as an autokephalous church in 1924. Its seat of administration was in Kiev. In 1924 the Moldavian ASSR was formed, within the Ukrainian SSR; also a stretch of territory, with Shakhny and Taganrog, was ceded by the Ukrainian SSR to the RSFSR in 1924. An administrative reform in 1932 organized Ukraine into 7 oblasts (Kyiv, Chernihiv, Kharkiv, Stalino, Dnipropetrovsk, Odessa, Vinnytsia); by 1939 the number of oblasts had risen to 19.
Soviet Russia improved education; elementary education was conducted in Ukrainian; the literacy rate in rural areas was increased. Also, the health care system was improved.
When Stalin terminated the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1928 and replaced it with a policy of ambitious industrialization, Ukraine's cities benefitted. The Dniepr Hydroelectric Station at Zaporizhzhia was constructed in 1927-1932. This policy of planned industrialization was accompanied by brutally enforced collectivization; the Kulaks (landowning farmers) were declared state enemy no.1, their land, tools and livestock confiscated, their families treated as outcasts, left to starve (Holodomor or Ukrainian Famine / Genocide of 1929-1933). While this policy was applied in the entire USSR, it had special significance in Ukraine, where a high percentage of the population was affected; the number of victims is estimated in the millions. When international aid was offered, Stalin rejected it stating that there would be no famine in the USSR.
In the 1930es, the USSR took measures against the clergy (the USSR was an atheist state), against the Kulaks, against the urban elite accused of being Ukrainian Nationalists. Show trials as well as mass executions took place; the number of victims buried at Bykivnia is estimated at 100,000.

In September 1939, Soviet troops occupied Eastern Poland; its southern regions were annexed into the Ukrainian SSR. In July 1940, Romania ceded Bessarabia and the Northern Bukovina to the USSR; the Northern Bukovina and Southern Bessarabia were annexed into the Ukrainian SSR. Most of Bessarabia was integrated into the Moldavian SSR (upgraded from the status of an ASSR within the Ukrainian SSR), which in turn ceded 8 rayons to the Ukrainian SSR.

Articles Ukraine between the World Wars, History of Kiev 1918-1941, Ukrainian Autokephalous Orthodox Church, Holodomor, Dnieper Hydroelectric Station, Bykivnia, from Wikipedia
A Cold War in Miniature : The Polish-Soviet Secret War for Ukraine, 1926-1939, from Wilson Center, East European Studies
DOCUMENTS Historical Population Statistics : Ukraine, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
Ukrainian SSR, from World Statesmen
Regions of Ukraine, from www.statoids.com
REFERENCE Paul Robert Magocsi, Ukraine, A Historical Atlas, Toronto : UP 1985 [G]
Kohut, Zenon E., Historical Dictionary of Ukraine, Rowman & Littlefield 2005, KMLA Lib.Sign. R 947.7 K79h
Article : USSR : Ukraine, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1924 pp.1261-1263, 1925 pp.1269-1270, 1926 pp.1232-1233, 1928 pp.1272-1273, 1929 pp.1248-1250, 1932 pp.1269-1270, 1937 pp.1293-1294 [G]
Article : Ukraine, in : Americana Annual 1927 p.843, 1928 p.744, 1930 p.760, 1931 pp.755-760, 1932 p.706, 1933 p.761, 1934 pp.589-590, 1935 p.712, 1936 p.727, 1937 pp.699-700, 1938 p.695, 1939 pp.762-764, 1940 p.779

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 13th 2006, last revised on August 24th 2007

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