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Ukraine, Continued - Research

After the Golden Age of Kiev, Kievan Rus disintegrated in principalities. In the 11th and 12th centuries, there was a massive migration of the Slavic peoples into the heavily forested northern regions, because of constant attacks by nomadic Turks, such as the Pecheneg and Kipchak tribes. In the 13th century, the Mongols destroyed Kievan Rus. Kiev was totally destroyed in 1240. Poland subjugated the area, now called Galicia-Volhynia, mid-14th C. By 1569, the area’s nobility had joined with the Polish nobles, while the commoners turned to the orthodox Cossacks for protection against the newly Catholicized nobility.

1657-1686 saw a 30 year war between Russia, Poland, Turks and Cossacks for control of Ukraine.

In the 19th century, Ukraine had become a rural area largely ignored by Russia and Austria. As the Ukraine began to urbanize and modernize, a nationalist movement started. Austrian Galicia became the center of this movement, which Russia attacked with pogroms against Jews and severe restrictions on the Ukraine language.

3.5 million Ukrainians fought with Russia and 250,000 with Austria-Hungary in WWI. After WWI, the Ukrainian nationalist movement resurfaced, as well as several separate Ukrainian states.

The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic became a founding member of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1922, however the wars that birthed the USSR and contributed to the famine of 1921, had already killed 1.5 million Ukrainians and left 100’s of 1000’s homeless.

At this point, Russia encouraged Ukrainian arts and culture, instituted health care, education, social-security benefits, rights to housing and work and measures to protect women’s rights. Stalin, however, reversed these policies in the early 1930’s.

During this time, with the communists favouring manual laborers, this largest of social classes identified more with class than ethnicity. The Ukraine’s industrial output quadrupled in the 30’s, however Stalin’s enforced collectivization of agriculture and the unachievable production quotas he placed on these collectives, killed 3 to7 million in 1932-33, via starvation. This famine/genocide is known as Holodomor. He followed this with the mass killing operation known as the Great Terror in 1937-38. By this time, four-fifths of Ukraine’s writers, artists and intellectuals had been killed.

In 1939, after German and Soviet troops invaded Poland, largely Ukrainian Eastern Galicia and Volhynia were reunited with the rest of the Ukraine.

In 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union, starting 4 years of constant war. Most Ukrainians fought for the Soviets, but a few nationalists joined the Nazis. Initially, some Western Ukrainians viewed the Nazis as liberators, but once they saw how the Nazis treated their occupied territories, killing Jews, shipping out others to work in Germany, creating a food blockade around Kiev (to depopulate the area for German colonization), they joined the Soviets.

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