January 1918; Ukraine declares Independence from Russia

owedtojoy

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Ukraine was the first of many new countries to declare Independence in 1918, as the First World War drew to a close.

Before the First World War:

Ukraine (the name means "borderlands" in Russian and Polish) consists mainly of a large part of the South East European plains, watered by the Dniepr river, supporting both settled farmers on its fertile land, and semi-nomadic, quasi-military Cossack people.

Historically, it had formed part of Poland (or the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), or of Russia. Polish, Russian and Turkish armies had fought over it. In those wars, some Ukrainians had often ended up on both sides, suggesting a lack of a national identity, or at least of a central power, in those years (pre-19th century). But eventual control by Russia and its incorporation in the Russian state gave birth to Ukrainian linguistic and ethnic nationalism.

Romantic Ukrainian nationalism focused on the medieval state of Kievan Rus (also recognised by Russia as a precursor), and the "Hermanate" of the Cossacks in the region. Ukrainian was a distinct language from Polish or Russian, the country had thriving urban and industrial centres and prosperous agriculture exports. Newspapers, novels and poems were written in Ukrainian, and a political Ukrainian consciousness had emerged.

As the American historian Benedict Anderson defined a nation as "an imagined community" then Ukraine existed in the minds of its people. With the collapse of the Tsarism and the Tsarist state in 1917, it hour had come.

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

This map below showing the outcome of this Treaty negotiated by the Central Powers (mainly Germany) and the Bolsheviks between December 1917 and March 1918 is the first to show Ukraine as an independent political entity.

The map gives a picture of Eastern Europe under German hegemony – an independent Ukraine, Baltics states with German princelings (it was planned), with an autonomous Poland as part of Germany. Not so far from today’s Eastern Europe, except perhaps Poland, but with the EU backed by the US in place of Germany. There was also a massive reparations bill, even more swingeing than the one the Allies were to impose on Germany.



A Ukrainian delegation attended the talks, and gave a good account of themselves, engaging at one point with Trotsky himself over Ukrainian independence.

In theory, the Bolsheviks were all for independence of the subject peoples of the Tsars. But, as Lenin said, “scratch a Russian revolutionary, and you will find a Russian chauvinist”. Many of the Russian Bolsheviks were as nationalist as the Tsarists, and resented Ukrainian independence. It took all of Lenin’s authority to persuade them to accept the Treaty, which was signed in March 1918.

Declaration of Independence and Afterwards.


Independence Demonstration on the Maidan, Kiev, April 1917. The first public demonstration in support of national independence in Ukraine

A Central Rada (“Council”) had already been set up in Kiev after the 1917 February Revolution and the abdication of the Tsar, mainly staffed by liberal intellectuals. It was these who declared the independence of the Ukrainian Republic on 26th January 1918. The foreign minister secured recognition of Ukraine from the Entente powers and from the Central powers.

But the Rada was to have no honeymoon for state building. Greedy eyes saw the country's major natural resource - wheat. Already the Bolsheviks proclaimed Ukraine a Soviet Socialist Republic, declared Kharkiv the capital and occupied Kiev. A German army in turn captured Kiev, and set up a Dictator. They usurped the authority of the Republic, which never really recovered. Both the Germans and Soviets began "requisitioning" grain, which precipitated a peasants' revolt, often led by local Anarchists and semi-bandits, who plundered, murdered and raped in districts other than their own.

White Russian armies invaded from the South, but these had no time for an independent Ukraine either, and only exacerbated the chaos.

A Ukrainian named Symon Petliura led a Ukrainian resistance called the Directory, and re-occupied Kiev in 1918 with Polish support. Kiev changed hands many times, and Petliura returned, but Polish support could not last. Petliura fled Ukraine and was later assassinated, and peasant armies struggled on until agreeing to truces with the Soviets in 1920-21.

To pacify the peasants the Soviets had to agree to stop the brutal requisitions, which were only to return with the onset of Collectivization and the Holomodor. They also had to adopt "Ukrainisation" - use of the Ukrainian language in preference to Russian, and the leadership of the Ukrainian Communist party to be mainly Ukrainians. So the Soviets won the first round of its clash with Ukrainian nationalism, but it really was a decade of uneasy truce.

Ukraine celebrates 24th August as its Independence Day, the day it declared Independence in 1991. But January 1918 is important because it vindicates Ukraine claim to historic nationhood. You could say January 1918 is to Ukrainian statehood what the 1916 Rising, or the 1919 First Dail, is to Irish statehood.
 


Dame_Enda

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Before it was part of Poland it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which ceded it to Poland as part of the deal establishing the state of Poland-Lithuania (Union of Lublin). Before it was part of Lithuania it was part of the Principality of Volyn-Halych. Lviv is called after Lev, the son of one of the princes. It had become part of Lithuania originally in the aftermath of the Mongol invasions, which led to the breakup of Kievan Rus into principalities and Duchies under Mongol/Tatar suzerainty. Moscow became the Russian capital because in the early days they were responsible for collecting the Russian tributes for the Tatar Golden Horde.

However parts of modern Ukraine were not originally part of Ukraine. I think its name originates in the Poland word for "province" (sortof like the Krajina region of Croatia).

Poland-Lithuania was one of few parts of Europe to escape relatively unscathed from the Black Death, which had wiped out serfdom in the West. In contrast, serfdom in Poland-Lithuania and Russia became stronger at that time. In the 17th century Polonised Ruthenian nobles like Jeremi Wiśniowiecki were behaving like English colonisers in Ireland, challenging Ukrainian Orthodox landowners title to the land. The Polish king Wladyslaw sympathised with the Ukrainian Cossacks in this dispute but couldnt risk upsetting the nobles who controlled the Sejm (parliament). In the 1600s Poland was in the midst of a similar constitutional struggle to England between the king and parliament, except in the Sejm, voting was by unanimity not majority. Under the Henrician Articles, the nobles had to right to form "confederations" rebellions against the king. This king was quite popular with the Cossacks. But his successor Jan Casimir fell out with them over his unwillingness to continue the raids against the Khanate of Crimea. This and the land issue were the primary causes of the rebellion against Poland in 1648-54 known as the Khmeltnitskiy Uprising, though the Polish promotion of Catholicism was another factor. An estimated 4 million deaths occurred during this war and the overlapping Polish-Russian and Polish-Swedish war (known as the Deluge).
 
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owedtojoy

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I presume it was under German auspices
In a way, just like Patrick Pearse wanted an Irish Republic under German auspices, if they won the war.

Germany and Austria were starving in 1918 - their main interest in Ukraine was in obtaining food. Same as the Soviets who were terrified of losing Russia's main provider of grain.

Germany in 1918 was not a united government - the military wanted occupation and requisitions, the more moderate politicians of the Reichstag were sympathetic to Ukrainian self-determination and alliances. You might say they wanted to be Ukraine's "gallant allies". In fact, the mention of "self-determination" by Ukraine in the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk stung the Western Allies, who wanted to be seen as the ones promoting national independence.

It all played out to the worst for the Ukrainians - Germany power collapsed in November 1918 and its armies withdrew. A bit like Bush's invasion of Iraq, they had already destroyed Ukraine's best chance of a unified and stable state, leaving a power vacuum for the Soviets or the Poles to fill.

Grain requisitioning triggered brutal peasant's revolts, not just in Ukraine, that rocked the Soviets by its violence. Famine descended on the new Soviet Union and it was forced to beg for wheat from American famine relief organisations then operating in Germany. It had to abandon what was called "War Communism" (= requisitions of grain from peasants) for a New Economic Policy that recognised private ownership and a market economy.
 

parentheses

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An interesting thing I learned recently is that when the Germans retreated from the Baltics and Ukraine there followed in their wake certain former Tsarist officers and officials. Some of these people held extreme anti semitic views which were inflamed by the recent Bolshevik revolution.

Later, In Munich, they made contact with the members of a new political party-the NSDAP. It has been claimed they had a significant inffluence on the developing political opinions of the NSDAP leadership
 

Dame_Enda

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An interesting thing I learned recently is that when the Germans retreated from the Baltics and Ukraine there followed in their wake certain former Tsarist officers and officials. Some of these people held extreme anti semitic views which were inflamed by the recent Bolshevik revolution.

Later, In Munich, they made contact with the members of a new political party-the NSDAP. It has been claimed they had a significant inffluence on the developing political opinions of the NSDAP leadership
Madame Blavatsky was one of the founders of Aryan race theory.
 

making waves

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Grain requisitioning triggered brutal peasant's revolts, not just in Ukraine, that rocked the Soviets by its violence. Famine descended on the new Soviet Union and it was forced to beg for wheat from American famine relief organisations then operating in Germany. It had to abandon what was called "War Communism" (= requisitions of grain from peasants) for a New Economic Policy that recognised private ownership and a market economy.
Every so often we get one of these threads - threads that bear little (if any) relation to historical events of the period.
 

owedtojoy

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Every so often we get one of these threads - threads that bear little (if any) relation to historical events of the period.
Let's hear the Official Party Version, then.

Or are you afraid of criticism?
 

owedtojoy

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An interesting thing I learned recently is that when the Germans retreated from the Baltics and Ukraine there followed in their wake certain former Tsarist officers and officials. Some of these people held extreme anti semitic views which were inflamed by the recent Bolshevik revolution.

Later, In Munich, they made contact with the members of a new political party-the NSDAP. It has been claimed they had a significant inffluence on the developing political opinions of the NSDAP leadership
Many Nazis were ethnic Germans from the Baltic states - Alfred Rosenberg, the racial "theoretician" of the party was from Estonia. He was hanged at Nuremberg.

The struggle in Ukraine and the Russian Civil War included many pogroms - Tsarist Russia was the European leader in anti-Semitism pre-1918, and it is not surprising some of the transplanted Germans brought the ideology with them to Germany.
 

bormotello

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Many Nazis were ethnic Germans from the Baltic states - Alfred Rosenberg, the racial "theoretician" of the party was from Estonia. He was hanged at Nuremberg.

The struggle in Ukraine and the Russian Civil War included many pogroms - Tsarist Russia was the European leader in anti-Semitism pre-1918, and it is not surprising some of the transplanted Germans brought the ideology with them to Germany.
BTW, most of pogroms in tsarist Russia happened in Ukraine, which only intensified when Ukrainians declared independence.
Symon Petliura led many pogroms and have been killed by Jewish activist Sholom Schwartzbard
And this is how Ukraine was looking when Germans "freed" them from Communists
30 Shocking Historical Photos of the Lviv Pogroms in 1941
 

paddycomeback

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Of course a country of reactionaries suckled by the British wanted out of post-revolution Russia.
Strange how they are being praised for their independence whilst our founders are routinely castigated.
 

parentheses

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Many Nazis were ethnic Germans from the Baltic states - Alfred Rosenberg, the racial "theoretician" of the party was from Estonia. He was hanged at Nuremberg.

The struggle in Ukraine and the Russian Civil War included many pogroms - Tsarist Russia was the European leader in anti-Semitism pre-1918, and it is not surprising some of the transplanted Germans brought the ideology with them to Germany.
The area from the Baltics down to Ukraine was the zone of historic anti semitism in the 19th and 20th centuries. And that was the area which the Germans occupied in the first world war.
 

owedtojoy

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Of course a country of reactionaries suckled by the British wanted out of post-revolution Russia.
Strange how they are being praised for their independence whilst our founders are routinely castigated.
By whom? Where?
 

owedtojoy

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There is no 'official party version' - there is historical fact

As for commentary on this topic - knock yourself out - I been through this several times on here.

http://www.politics.ie/forum/history/260262-7-november-1917-revolution-russia-100-years-ago-today.html
We are talking about Ukraine, not Russia.

As shown in the OP, the trajectory of the revolution in Ukraine was much different to that in Russia. The Bolsheviks could appeal to Russian nationalism to combat the White Russian counter-revolution and its western backers. But that appeal failed in Ukraine, which had developed its own distinct nationalism.
 

owedtojoy

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Before it was part of Poland it was part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which ceded it to Poland as part of the deal establishing the state of Poland-Lithuania (Union of Lublin). Before it was part of Lithuania it was part of the Principality of Volyn-Halych. Lviv is called after Lev, the son of one of the princes. It had become part of Lithuania originally in the aftermath of the Mongol invasions, which led to the breakup of Kievan Rus into principalities and Duchies under Mongol/Tatar suzerainty. Moscow became the Russian capital because in the early days they were responsible for collecting the Russian tributes for the Tatar Golden Horde.

However parts of modern Ukraine were not originally part of Ukraine. I think its name originates in the Poland word for "province" (sortof like the Krajina region of Croatia).

.
In 1918, parts of modern Ukraine were still in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Post-WWI Poland included parts of modern Lithuania and Ukraine, but Stalin ensured the expulsion of Germans from the East made possible a transfer of Slavic populations eastward after 1945.

What does Ukraine mean?

Quora:

In most Slavic languages, "kraina" means "country" or "land". The word "krai" in Russian is used this way too (several regions within Russia are categorized as "krai"), but its second meaning "edge"/"boundary" is often pitched by Russia to interpret the word "Ukraine" as "borderlands" (of Russia, of course).

Wikipedia:

The name "Ukraine" (Ukrainian: Україна Ukrayina [ukrɑˈjinɑ]) derives from the Slavic words "u", meaning "within", and "kraj", meaning "end", "land" or "border". Together, "u+kraij" means "near the border" or more aptly in English, "the borderlands".

I took the meaning from Anne Applebaum's Red Famine.
 

making waves

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The conduct of the Civil War is dealt with in the link I added – and the Ukraine was a key battle ground in the Civil War.
As for the OP – I will address some points that demonstrated the biased nature of the post.
A Ukrainian delegation attended the talks, and gave a good account of themselves, engaging at one point with Trotsky himself over Ukrainian independence.
The Ukrainian nationalists lined up to support Germany during the negotiations on the basis of their opposition to the Bolsheviks and support for the emerging White counter-revolution.

In theory, the Bolsheviks were all for independence of the subject peoples of the Tsars. But, as Lenin said, “scratch a Russian revolutionary, and you will find a Russian chauvinist”.
If you are going to quote Lenin then do the courtesy of being accurate -
Scratch some Communists and you will find Great Russian chauvinists
And he was specifically talking about Finland and the agreement between Finland and the Bolsheviks on Finnish independence.
Many of the Russian Bolsheviks were as nationalist as the Tsarists, and resented Ukrainian independence. It took all of Lenin’s authority to persuade them to accept the Treaty, which was signed in March 1918.
The decision to sign the Brest-Litovsk Treaty was a tactical decision and forced by necessity as the Bolsheviks needed to address the emerging White counter-revolution.
Already the Bolsheviks proclaimed Ukraine a Soviet Socialist Republic, declared Kharkiv the capital and occupied Kiev. A German army in turn captured Kiev, and set up a Dictator. They usurped the authority of the Republic, which never really recovered.
The Bolsheviks initially declared the independence of all minorities within Greater Russia. The reversal of the decision was not because of opposition to Ukranian independence but because the Ukrainian nationalists lined up behind the Germans and openly supported the Whites. It should also be noted that the RADA were not an elected body and that, at least initially did not declare an intent to separate from Russia (many of the petty bourgeois layers in RADA were enmeshed in Greater Russian nationalism). Furthermore, it was the workers movement under the leadership of the Bolshevik activist Evgenia Bosch that had fought the resistance to German occupation during WW1.
The Bolsheviks did not proclaim anything in the Ukraine – it was the Ukrainian workers committees who declared a Socialist Republic. The Soviet army entered the Ukraine to defend the Ukrainian socialist government. The Ukrainian nationalists sought and received the support of the Germans in order to attack the Bolsheviks and after the withdrawal of the Red Army the Germans promptly dumped the Ukrainian nationalists and took control themselves. The Ukrainian nationalists were idiots to think the Germans would grant them independence (which the Bolsheviks would have).
Both the Germans and Soviets began "requisitioning" grain
The Bolsheviks, at least initially, requisitioned grain from the larger peasants who were hoarding grain supplies.
White Russian armies invaded from the South, but these had no time for an independent Ukraine either, and only exacerbated the chaos.
The Ukraine became a key battle ground during the Russian Civil War and the Ukrainian nationalists supported the White counter-revolution.
To pacify the peasants the Soviets had to agree to stop the brutal requisitions,
The Bolsheviks stopped the requisitions because the Whites were defeated and the dire circumstances faced by the peasantry. That is not to say that the Bolsheviks did not make serious mistakes in the Ukraine – but the intent of the Bolsheviks consistently was to defeat the Whites and secure a future for the workers and poor rural masses.
which were only to return with the onset of Collectivization and the Holomodor. They also had to adopt "Ukrainisation" - use of the Ukrainian language in preference to Russian, and the leadership of the Ukrainian Communist party to be mainly Ukrainians. So the Soviets won the first round of its clash with Ukrainian nationalism, but it really was a decade of uneasy truce.
Now you are getting into the role of Stalinism which is a different debate.
You could say January 1918 is to Ukrainian statehood what the 1916 Rising, or the 1919 First Dail, is to Irish statehood.
Given the fact that the Ukranian nationalists were lined up in support of German Imperialism, your analogy is not accurate.

The Bolsheviks could appeal to Russian nationalism to combat the White Russian counter-revolution and its western backers.
The Bolsheviks never appealed 'to Russian nationalism' - their approach was consistently internationalist.
 

Clanrickard

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The Bolsheviks, at least initially, requisitioned grain from the larger peasants who were hoarding grain supplies.

The Bolsheviks stopped the requisitions because the Whites were defeated and the dire circumstances faced by the peasantry. That is not to say that the Bolsheviks did not make serious mistakes in the Ukraine – but the intent of the Bolsheviks consistently was to defeat the Whites and secure a future for the workers and poor rural masses.

.
And thus a loony left shill sums up the genocide against the Ukrainian people which resulted in millions of deaths. Pathetic.
 


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