Ukraine: Ukraine and the USSR
Ukraine and the USSR
Lenin's attempts to assuage Ukrainian nationalism through a measure of cultural autonomy were abandoned by Stalin, who, afraid of what he perceived as the counterrevolutionary potential of Ukraine, imposed agricultural collectivization on Ukraine in the early 1930s, requisitioned all grain, confiscated food from homes, and restricted trade and travel. Millions of Ukrainians died in the resulting famine, which became known in Ukraine as the Holodomor [Ukr.,=starvation-killing]. Mykola Skrypnyk and other Ukrainian Communist leaders who opposed Stalinist measures were purged and executed. During World War II, many Ukrainians at first welcomed the Germans as liberators and collaborated with them against the USSR, but Nazi scorn for all Slavs and the harsh occupation (1941–44) turned many Ukrainians into anti-German guerrilla fighters.
The republic suffered severe wartime devastation, esp. as a battleground both in 1941–42 (the German advance) and 1943–44 (the Russian advance). Most of Ukraine's 1.5 million Jews were killed by the Nazis during the war; many were shot outright in 1941, at such sites as Babi Yar (Ukr.
Several major territorial changes occurred in Ukraine during and after the war. South Bessarabia, recovered from Romania in 1940, was incorporated into Ukraine, while the former Moldavian ASSR was detached from the republic and merged with central Bessarabia as the Moldavian SSR. The northern parts of Bukovina and Bessarabia were added to Ukraine, as was E Galicia, including Lviv, formally ceded by Poland in 1945. Transcarpathian Region, which had been part of Czechoslovakia since 1919, was also ceded in 1945, thus completing the process by which all Ukrainian lands were united into a single republic. Crimea was annexed to Ukraine in 1954. Although Russification intensified in Ukraine (as in other Soviet republics) after World War II, Ukrainian nationalism remained strong.
During the 1960s, Ukrainians emerged as tacit junior partners of the Russians in governing the Soviet Union. Leonid Brezhnev was born in Ukraine and held important party posts there before being called to Moscow. Former Soviet ruler Nikita Khrushchev, although a Russian by birth, served as first secretary of the Ukrainian Communist party during the 1930s and carried out the Stalinist purges in Ukraine. In 1986 one of the reactors of the Chernobyl nuclear power station exploded, contaminating a wide area of Ukraine.
Sections in this article:
- An Independent Nation
- Ukraine and the USSR
- The Struggle for Autonomy
- Early History
- Land and People
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
See more Encyclopedia articles on: CIS and Baltic Political Geography