The real price of “Ukrainization”: why did the Bolsheviks publish books in Ukrainian?

11 July 2022

Ukrainization was the policy of the communist totalitarian regime in the 1920s and 1930s, which provided for the involvement of Ukrainians in the activities of Soviet, party, and public institutions and organizations. Politics ideologically and propagandistically influenced society through the use of the Ukrainian language.

“Svidomi_ua” in cooperation with the Holodomor Museum, talk about the real reasons for “Ukranization.”

“Ukrainization” was part of the “indigenization” proclaimed by the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) in 1923. The main task of Soviet “indigenization” in the USSR was the formation of loyalty to the regime, the perception of it as “their own.” Such a policy, among other things, was to weaken the Ukrainian national liberation movement, which threatened the Bolshevik regime.

“Ukrainization” covered most spheres of public life in the USSR. However, it achieved the greatest success in school education and culture.

“Ukrainization” was also progressing toward using the Ukrainian language in official business communication. One of the key tasks was the “Ukrainization” of officials.

“Ukrainization” was carried out outside the USSR as well. In particular in the Kursk and Voronezh regions, the North Caucasus, North Kazakhstan, Siberia, and the Far East.

Such steps concerned the development of Ukrainian literature, art, education, and science. In 1929, about 92% of children in the USSR attended Ukrainian-language primary schools. As of the early 1930s, most newspapers and books were published in Ukrainian. In the 1920s, part of the intelligentsia, seeking to develop all things Ukrainian, sometimes rejected the ideological stratum and, thanks to “Ukrainization,” tried to develop modern education, culture, and science.

Such pro-Ukrainian processes were not included in the plans of the communist regime and were interpreted by them as “bourgeois nationalism” and “Petli​​ura’s Ukrainization.”

On December 14, 1932, the infamous resolution “On grain procurement in Ukraine, the North Caucasus and the Western region” was issued. It marked the end of “Ukrainization,” although, formally, the Central Committee of the CP(B)U was to provide “systematic party leadership and control over the Ukrainization.” But about the North Caucasus, where, as of 1932, Ukrainization was widespread, the Decree sounded unambiguous: “In the North Caucasus, the office work of Soviet and cooperative bodies of “Ukrainianized” districts, as well as all newspapers and magazines published, should be immediately translated from Ukrainian into Russian as more understandable to Cuban, and also to prepare and change teaching in schools into Russian by the autumn.”

It is no coincidence that the new stage of the attack on the Ukrainian language, education, and culture coincided with the starvation of Ukrainians. Destruction of identity is one of the components of genocide, along with physical murder.

The material was prepared as part of a joint project of the Holodomor Museum and online media “Svidomi_ua.”

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