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A. Rudzienski

Ukrainian Refugees

Revive Political Tendencies in DP Camps and Canada

(September 1949)

From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 41, 10 October 1949, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The war and the Russian invasion flung hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees into Western Europe who rejected Stalinist “liberation” and prefer to live the miserable life of the displaced. Now all the Ukrainian territories are “united” under the Stalinist scepter and bear the stamp of political “monolithism.”

The Ukrainian refugees in Europe and Canada strive to reconstruct an independent political life. In Western Europe there has been a revival of all the principal Ukrainian political tendencies that crystallized in old Galicia and Volhynia, territories under Polish rule in the pre-war days.

The political life of the Ukrainian emigration is divided into two main camps: (1) The Nationalist camp, headed by Bandera; and (2) the “Democratic” camp of the old popular Ukrainian republic, headed by the unfortunate Simon Petliura. The camp of the popular republic is divided into the UNDO (National-Democrats), who represent the Right, and the USRP (Ukrainian Radicals) and the USDP (Ukrainian Social-Democrats), who represent the Left.

The democratic camp was born of the popular Ukrainian republic that was created by Simon Petliura in Galicia and Volhynia and struggled against the Poles in 1918–19. It is now headed by Dmytri Lewyckyj, old leader of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie in Poland, ex-chief of the popular Ukrainian government, and “official” representative of the national Ukrainian movement.

Leader of the National-Democratic Party, which had collaborated with pre-war Polish regimes, he heads a democratic coalition formed by the Radicals and Social-Democrats. The Radicals represent the Ukrainian peasants, corresponding to the Russian Social-Revolutionaries. The Ukrainian Social-Democrats did not have much importance in the pre-war period, and Were absorbed by the KPZU (Communist Party of the Western Ukraine) or by the PPS (Polish Socialist Party). The industrial proletariat was in its majority Polish or Polonized. The Nationalist Ukrainian camp was formed as a reaction against the compromise policy followed by the official Ukrainian representation in its relation with the pre-war Polish government.

It was headed by Colonel Konovalec, who was secretly assassinated, as was Simon Petliura, president of the popular republic. After Konovalec’s death, Mandera assumed leadership of the Nationalist camp. In Poland, the Nationalists formed the UNO. Its orientation was always pro-German, which is explained by its “realistic” policy, directed equally against Moscow and Warsaw. But Hitler never had any intention of fulfilling his promises and for this reason the nationalist camp split into two camps the “banderivci” and the “melnykivci.”

The Ukrainian press discusses with ardor the problem of the Ukraine’s future and its relations with Poland and Russia. All the Ukrainian tendencies are vehemently anti-Russian. On the other hand, the anti-Polish orientation has dwindled considerably and each day brings a more pro-Polish orientation.

Groups Advance Political Programs

Each political leadership presents its own concept and program for the future. The Nationalists, speaking through Andreiweki in the Ukrainian Tribune, advance the idea of the ABN (anti-Bolshevik bloc of nations), which calls on all nations, including the Russian, to join forces. However, this bloc would be led by the Ukraine, the largest and richest nation of Eastern Europe. The bloc, being a political alliance and not a federation, excludes Poland, the Balkan, and the Baltic countries from the future alliance; The Nationalists wish to form a Eurasian empire on the ruins of Stalinist Russia.

ABN struggles furiously against the idea of the Inter-Seas Federation, the federation of Eastern Europe, óf all the peoples situated between Russia and Germany, including the Balts, Balkan peoples and the Ukrainians. This idea is favored by Polish policy. The anti-Bolshevik bloc embraces all the nations from Germany to the Pacific. The Ukrainian empire would include not only the ethnological Ukraine, but also the Cossack areas (Don), the Caucasian Federation, Kazakstan, Central Asia and Siberia, peopled by Ukrainians deported by Stalin; The infantile megalomania of the Ukrainian Nationalists knows no limits.

Livyckyj’s right-wing Democrats are a trifle more “modest.” This old leader of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie favors the idea of the “Promethean bloc,” made up of all the nations oppressed by Stalinist Russia. But not only this. Livyckyj also “incorporates” Komi, the Buriatic-Mongolian Republic; the Yakutsk territory and Eastern and Western Siberia. According to Livyckyj, Poland would either have to enter the “Promethean bloc,” creating within it a federation with the Baltic countries and White Russia, thus serving both as a barrier against Germany and a bridge between the bloc and Western Europe; or Poland would have to enter the Balkan Central-European bloc, in order to serve as a bridge between the Inter-Seas Federation and the Promethean bloc.

Thus dreams our “moderate” democrat, Livyskyj, dividing nations, territories and empires left and right. Livyckyj’s program is based on the complete dismemberment of Russia and of the Russian Federation proper. It differs from the Nationalist program inasmuch as it proposes a free federation of peoples oppressed by Russia instead of a Ukrainian empire. Nor does it categorically exclude Poland from its organization of states.

Ukrainian Bourgeoisie Still Hungers for Empire

Nove Zyttia, organ of the democratic Left, specifically of the Radicals. The Social-Democratic spokesman, Kotovyc, declares: “I do not believe that of the Inter-Seas Federation, that is, a federation of the Central-Eastern European nations.” Here it is not a question of a Ukrainian empire, nor of a coalition of sovereign nations, but of a federation in which each participating nation must renounce its sovereignty.

Nove Zyttia does not fear Poland as do the Nationalists and Democrats. The Social-Democratic spokesman, Kotovyc, declares: “I do not believe that the Ukrainians have any fear of Polonization, the Poles of Ukrainization.” He proposes the idea of a super-state, initiated by means of a customs union, a single currency and a common foreign policy. He takes as his prior premise the existence of mutual confidence among the nations involved, above all, Polish-Ukrainian understanding, which he considers the basis of the Central European Federation. The Inter-Seas Federation would embrace the Balkans, Hungary, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, the Ukraine, White Russia and the Baltic countries. Its idealogical principle would be embodied in the slogan: “The free among the free, and equal with equal.”

The fan of programs and opinions goes from right to left. The ideological direction is revealed in the specific attitude toward Russia, Poland and other neighboring nations. The remnants of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie hungers avidly for capitalist restoration. On the other hand, the Social-Democrats reflect the desires of the peoples for European unity, even though in the limited form of the Inter-Seas Federation.

Since we defend the Ukrainian people from Russian oppression, we are obliged to inform our readers of the reverse side of the coin – the reactionary, and imperialist appetites of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie, which we hope will never be consummated. We hope that when the hour of liberation strikes, the Ukrainian workers will eliminate not only the Stalinist hangmen but the reactionary remnants of the Ukrainian bourgeoisie as well and arrive at a fraternal understanding with the neighboring peoples within a Socialist United States of Europe. If is well worth noting that the Russian Ukrainian refugees in Western Europe, who are not led by nationalist tendencies, are inclined toward a cordial understanding with the neighboring nations, especially the Poles.

In any case, the Ukrainian problem is sure to play a primary role and occupy a key position in the liberation of Eastern Europe and Russia itself: from the Stalinist yoke. For this reason we must pay a great deal of attention to the Ukrainian question.


(A note by Comrade Rudzienski accompanying the above article points out that it is written on the basis of information and quotations in the Polish press, due to the unavailability of Ukrainian sources. He requests Ukrainian organizations to send their documents, resolutions and press, addressed., care of Labor Action. The Ukrainian People’s Army and the Marxist: tendency among the Ukrainian refugees in Europe, not included in Comrade Rudzienski’s discussion above, have been described in articles in Labor Action and The New International, and further information will be available soon. – Ed.)

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