A distinguished Ukrainian soldier presents in the following pages the recollections of his rather stormy and eventful life indissolubly merged with the struggle for liberty of Ukraine and all non-Russian nations of the old Russian Empire. This volume includes that period of Eastern European history which is dominated by the establishment of the Russian Communist dictatorship. This fact must be regarded as a watershed of history since it had far-reaching consequences for both European and world history. Up to the present moment it is the cause of the protracted world crisis of our time.
The memoirs of General Paul Shandruk start with the last phase of World War I in the east and the outbreak of the revolution in the Russian Empire. This Russian Empire is known in the annals of history as the infamous prison of the subdued non-Russian nations. It is also known as the cradle of the fake "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." This Empire's absolutist regime with its political police and the "Black Hundred" terrorists and specialists in pogroms, was backed by the overwhelming part of the Russians who constituted a minority in their Russian Empire of 42.7 per cent. The 57.3 per cent majority of the population consisted of non-Russian nations long oppressed, persecuted and deprived of all rights by the Russians. Their plight formed the so-called "nationality problems" which, with its political, cultural and economic ramifications, became one of the decisive causes of the outbreak of the revolution after Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian, Finnish, Georgian, Armenian and Turkestanian military formations and revolutionary organizations joined the Central Powers in the war against Russia. With the outbreak of the revolution, started by the refusal of the Ukrainian Volhynian Guard Regiment to fire on the workers in Petrograd, began the immediate disintegration of the Russian Empire and imperial army along national lines, the Ukrainians stimulating all non-Russian nations because their modern nationalism was shaped by Hetman Ivan Mazepa (1687-1709) and Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861) who a century ago proclaimed the "new and just law" of George Washington as the ideal of Ukraine. Thus the Ukrainians acted as "the Irish" of the Russian Empire.
The next acts of the historic drama followed in quick succession. After the abdication of the Tsar, the Russian "liberal" imperialists with Kerensky took over the government and began the fight against the demand of the non-Russian nations for self-determination especially of Ukraine. Thus hindering the process of revolutionary democratization inside the Empire, Kerensky attempted to continue the "war for democracy" outside and also started the Brusilov offensive in order not to lose for Russian imperialism the reward promised by the Western allies – Constantinople and the Dardanelles! The German General Staff then decided to send Lenin and his collaborators from Switzerland to Petrograd. Lenin, pretending to "solve the nationality problem," proclaimed "full self-determination including separation" for the non-Russian nations and soon, by a coup d'etat, established the Russian Communist dictatorship. The Russian imperial republic now dissolved into independent national republics of the Tatars (Idel-Uralians), Finns, Ukrainians, Kuban Cossacks, Lithuanians, Estonians, Byelo-Russians, Don-Cossacks, North Caucasians, Georgians, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Poles, Latvians, Siberians and Turkestanians (listed according to the sequence of the dates of their independence proclamations). Almost simultaneously at that time the proclamation of President Wilson's Fourteen Points and the idea of the League of Nations came from across the ocean. All these nations mistakenly believed that America would apply Wilson's principles to all of them.
After establishing their dictatorships in Petrograd and Moscow, the Russian Communists immediately shelved their old self-determination slogans. They concentrated on the world revolutionary program of Marxism-Leninism and, opposing the idea of the League of Nations by the organization of the Comintern, they started to attack their democratic neighbor republics. The "international" revolutionary phraseology of the Russian Communists was only window dressing calculated to gain sympathies among the Marxists-Socialists in the West. In reality, however, Russian Communism was, according to the great Russian Christian philosopher, Nicholas Berdyaev, (The Origin of Russian Communism, p. 120), "the third appearance of Russian autocratic imperialism, its first appearance being the Muscovite Tsardom and its second, the Petrine Empire." Now, in the first line the Russian Communist imperialists attacked Ukraine which was strategically and economically the foundation of the previous Empire. They also created a "Ukrainian Communist government" in Kharkiv which was backed by an invasion of the Russian Red Army. Thus the government of the Ukrainian National Republic was put in the most difficult situation because since the battle of Poltava (1709) where the champion of Ukraine's liberty, Hetman Ivan Mazepa and his ally, Charles XII of Sweden, were defeated by the Muscovite Tsar, Peter I. Ukraine was degraded to a Russian-Muscovite colony. All of its war industries (weapons and ammunition) were in modem times relocated outside Ukraine on Russian-Muscovite ethnographic territory, the Ukrainian language by Ukaze of the Tsar eliminated from public life, schools and press, and the Ukrainian cities, the intelligentsia, the old nobility and the Orthodox Church partly Russified. The Ukrainian National Republic now faced with a new attack by Russian imperialism, urgently needed an ally as did the American colonies in their War of Independence against British imperialism (cf. the alliance with the absolute monarchy of France negotiated by Benjamin Franklin in 1778). Ukraine hoped to find this ally against Russian Communist imperialism in the German nation whose great Herder showed a fine understanding of Ukrainian cultural values and whose Chancellor Bismarck once even planned to reestablish the independent "Kievan Kingdom" in order to get rid of the Russian imperialistic pressure on Central Europe, then masqueraded as idealistic Pan-Slavism and Pan-Orthodoxy with its "Moscow the Third Rome" dreams. During the First World War Germany supported the revolutionary organization Union for the Liberation of Ukraine which was under the leadership of Ukrainian socialists. The government of the Ukrainian National Republic consequently trusted Germany, concluded the Brest-Litovsk Peace Treaty (Jan. 12, 1918) with the Central Powers and invited the German Army into the country in order to gain time for the stabilization of its recovered statehood.
For hungry Germany, after years of allied blockade, peace with Ukraine was a "Brotfrieden," i.e. "Peace for the sake of bread." Coming from a country on the verge of hunger, the German Army in Ukraine did not always behave as guest and ally of the Ukrainian National Government. Alas – the honeymoon between Ukraine and Germany was rather short. Strong reactionary and monarchist forces were at work; in Germany, as a matter of fact, some of the German dynasties were related to the Romanovs, German and Russian nobles were also closely intermarried, especially in the Baltic countries. Therefore, these forces opposed the socialist-democratic government of the Ukrainian National Republic and its parliament, the Central Rada, and fostered the reestablishment of a Russian tsarist regime and empire allied with the German Reich. Finally, after many conflicts between the Germans and Ukrainians, the Ukrainian parliament was occupied and dispersed by a German battalion. Simultaneously, General Paul Skoropadsky was proclaimed Hetman of Ukraine. He was a former aide de camp of Nicholas II and a descendant of the brother of Hetman Ivan Skoropadsky (1709-1722) who was appointed by Tsar Peter to succeed Hetman Ivan Mazepa.
This German coup d'etat was a heavy blow against the organic evolution of democracy in Ukraine. But soon, with the collapse of Germany the Hetmanate of Skoropadsky and his political conception also collapsed after a victorious revolution of the Ukrainian national forces headed by the Directory of the reestablished Ukrainian National Republic. The Ukrainian democratic government then got a sad heritage of internal and foreign policy. It was immediately faced by three aggressions and was forced to conduct three defensive wars. In the north Ukraine was again invaded by the Russian Red Army, in the southeast by the Russian White monarchists under General Denikin from the Don backed by England and later under Wrangel in the Crimea. Finally, the disintegration of Austria-Hungary and the proclamation of the West Ukrainian National Republic with Lviv (Lemberg) as a capital and its union with the Ukrainian National Republic into one state had as a consequence a war with resurrected Poland in the west. The worst in this situation was the complete lack of leadership among the victorious Entente powers, their rivalries, a complete lack of a constructive vision for Eastern Europe and above all, a fundamental lack of understanding of what Russian Communism was in reality and what it stood for.
After a loss of much valuable time and precious blood the Ukrainians and Poles realized that both nations had common interests and a common deadly enemy – Russian Red and White imperialism. The Ukrainian National Republic under the leadership of Simon Petlura and the Polish Republic under the leadership of Jozef Pilsudski concluded the Warsaw Treaty and Military Convention on April 22, 1920. It was in this pact that Ukraine was forced by her plight to cede her western ethnographic territories with Lviv to Poland in the hope that they would be granted full autonomy. The last attempt of both nations to keep Russian Communism in its own Russian ethnographic territory soon followed and the attempt was calculated to stop Russia's imperialistic attacks against the non-Russian neighbor nations aimed at the formation of a new Russian empire as an arsenal for the proclaimed world revolution. But the European powers did not grasp the importance of this historical moment, they did not feel the basic common interests of the European civilization against Russian Communism, they did not help Ukraine and Poland. This was especially true of England, the traditional enemy of European unity, which returned to its "balance of power" policy in order that France would not dominate Europe through her allies. The final result of the Ukrainian-Polish War against Russian Communist imperialism was that the allied armies were forced to retreat. Poland subsequently betrayed its Ukrainian ally and was forced to conclude the Treaty of Riga (1921) with the "independent Soviet Ukrainian Republic," a puppet of Communist Moscow. The Red Army, commanded by many former tsarist general staff officers, soon invaded the remaining non-Russian national republics carrying the banner of aggressive Russian Communist imperialism. Finally, in 1922-1924 the Soviet Union emerged. This new Russian colonial empire was and is the foundation of the contemporary Russian imperialism. This time it masquerades as an "international movement for the liberation of the working class and peasantry and of all colonial peoples exploited by the Western powers." In this historic struggle between liberty and Russian Communism in the east only Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland were able to survive and to preserve their freedom and independence, because the Ukrainian fight against Moscow, waging continuously since 1918, impaired the dynamism of the new Russian imperialism.
The closing act of the drama of this struggle of the non-Russian nations for liberty against the new Russian imperialism, was the first great political emigration from Eastern Europe in 1920-1922. Not only the Ukrainian Government, with its army, political leaders, scholars, writers and their families went into exile to Western Europe, but also the governments or leaders of the Byelo-Russians, Idel-Uralians (Tatars), Finno-Karelians, Don and Kuban Cossacks, Georgians, North-Caucasians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, Turkestanians, Komis and Yakuts. They were all fleeing at the very time that the League of Nations in Geneva started its first steps to protect the rights of nations. There was no UNRRA in Western Europe for the emigration at that time and the fate of the political exiles, of the men, women and children, was horrible – hunger, sleeping on streets and in parks, and sickness. The President of Czechoslovakia, Thomas Garigue Masaryk and Marshal Josef Pilsudski will ever be remembered for what they did for the emigres, especially the Ukrainians. But even in the free countries outside the Soviet Union there was no peace for the refugees. Russian Communism continued a systematic war of annihilation against them by all the traditional methods of the tsarist political police: propaganda, corruption, bribes, kidnapping, provocation, murder and "return home" actions. But the leadership of all Ukrainian parties was so closely knit by the conspiratorial center of the Ukrainian revolutionary movement that all endeavors of the Communists were unsuccessful and the moral health of the Ukrainian emigration remained unimpaired.
The Ukrainian National Government in exile went through a frightful time. The murder of Simon Petlura was a hard blow. Petlura was a socialist and sincere friend of the Jews. A Jew served as Minister for Jewish Affairs in his government. President Petlura's murder taught Russian Communism the lesson, however, that its victims spoke even louder to their nations from the other world than they could have spoken alive. We all kept in mind the motto of nations fighting for their freedom: "a nation not surrendering in defeat – is victorious!" While in exile we continued to fight Russian Communism with the pen, the spoken and printed word, before international congresses and parliaments of the free nations warning them about the true aims of Russian Communism and predicting that as long as this dictatorship was not broken the world would never enjoy real peace.
Above all we analyzed the causes of the common defeat of the non-Russian nations by Moscow. We learned that (a) all the national problems of different non-Russian nations in the Soviet Empire, like in old Russia, were only parts of the general nationality problem of the East and that they all formed one whole; (b) that the successful continuation of our struggle demanded the formation of a common front of all non-Russian nations for common political action, and (c) for common military preparations and actions in the next world war, which Marxism-Leninism frankly promised the free world. This general staff of the non-Russian nations in exile became the Promethean League of the nations oppressed by Moscow, whose organization was entrusted to me by the Ukrainian government in exile.
Our military circles cultivated a conspiratorial alliance and political conception with Pilsudski's Poland and his old revolutionaries against Russian imperialism because, in our opinion, a free and independent Poland was the basis of the existence of free Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland on the one hand, and of free Rumania, Bulgaria and Greece on the other. We concentrated our political actions at the League of Nations in Geneva and desperately attempted to interest the public opinion of the United States in our causes.
Our small successes were the bills of Senator Copeland in the 71st Congress (1929) providing for diplomatic representatives to the Ukrainian and Georgian Governments in exile, an action blocked, of course, by the bureaucracy in the Department of State.
In the meantime the world situation was changing profoundly. The establishment of the Russian Communist dictatorships of Lenin-Stalin inaugurated the rise of totalitarian dictatorships of Mussolini in Italy and of Hitler in Germany. Totalitarian dictatorship means totalitarian aggression as we already witnessed in the Russian Communist case in Eastern Europe. Thus the Berlin-Rome axis was soon established. Mussolini started to build by aggressions his new empire in the Balkans and in Africa. Hitler left the League of Nations and started German rearmament. The Soviet Union, scared by the Berlin-Rome preparations, became the apostle of "collective security" and, with its insurmountable record of terror and murder, was accepted by the democratic powers in the League of Nations in order to strengthen the League's "moral prestige." Thus did the League of Nations grant Russian Communism moral and international sanction for the previous occupations and annexations of all non-Russian democratic republics which in the 1920's used arms to defend the idea of the League of Nations against the Russian Comintern. It was in this sense that the League of Nations signed its own moral death sentence.
The world returned to its post World War I status-divided into two camps with the axis imperialist powers with a clear program of an action against Russian Communist imperialism on the one side and on the other, the democratic camp of the participants in the League of Nations who had to "guarantee" to its member, the Soviet Union, all the conquests of Russian Communist imperialism since 1920, to "guarantee the inviolability and integrity" of the frontiers of the new Russian prison of nations.
It was evident that the revolution in Eastern Europe, from which the Soviet Union emerged, was a still unfinished process and the following conceptions were elaborated for the approaching events.
The first was the Promethean conception of a dynamic democratic revolution inside the Soviet Union, which would dissolve the Soviet prison of nations and reestablish the democratic republics of the non-Russian nations as a basis for the formation of a kind of Coudenhove–Kalergi's Pan-Europa with Ukraine, Byelo-Russia and the Baltic States in the West, a Union of Turkic or Mohammedan nations in the southeast and a Siberian Union in the east. The Polish, Baltic, Turkic and Mongolian revolutionaries sympathized with these ideas as did many anti-communists in the West.
Secondly, the Czechs living under constant fear of Germany, worked among the political emigrations for a future Slavic confederation, they believed in the gradual democratization of the Soviet regime and hoped through Carpatho-Ukraine and Western Ukraine integrated into the future democratic Ukraine to be a part of this confederation and to enjoy its protection against the German "Drang nach Osten." Some French supported this idea, hoping that this confederation would repay France the tsarist loans.
Thirdly, Hitler's conception was the construction of a German colonial empire in Eastern Europe reaching from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
And lastly, the Russian Communist conception of a World Soviet Union through new wars and revolutions was well elaborated and known.
In the cold war of these ideas and conceptions France and Great Britain constantly vacillated, at one time sympathizing with the rights of self-determination of the non-Russian nations while preaching coexistence at other times. But Hitlerism and Stalinism were dynamic forces and the tensions in Europe soon reached a climax.
Poland was the key in this new European constellation. In Poland's hands then was the decision not only of her own fate but of the fate of all non-Russian nations in Eastern Europe and of Europe itself. On the one hand Poland was tempted by Berlin to enter into an offensive alliance against Moscow which surely would have liquidated Russian imperialistic Communism and made Stalin and his gangsters exiles. On the other hand the fantastic successes of Germany, her rearmament, remilitarization of the Rhineland, reunion with Austria, integration of Sudeten-Germany and the colonial plans in the East scared Poland and it accepted the "guarantee" of England in order to remain faithful to her ideals of freedom and the League of Nations Treaty obligations. And the avalanche started. Stalin sold the League of Nations down the river to Hitler with the whole collective security system, non-aggression treaties, Briand-Kellog Pact and so on and the two totalitarian dictatorships of Moscow and Berlin (as once did the absolute monarchies of Frederick II of Prussia and Catharine II of Russia) again partitioned Poland and agreed upon a new partition between them of the remaining free East European nations of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czechia (Bohemia), Slovakia, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary and Greece. The third dictatorship of Rome participated in the deal as a German junior partner.
World War II started. Well understanding that a free and independent Poland was the only real guarantee for the existence of free Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and of the free Central and Balkan European countries of Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria and Greece, and that the existence of all these free countries was the condition for a future liberation of Ukraine and all the non-Russian nations under Russian Communist yoke, and that only then a Pan-Europa as a union of free European nations as the constructive ideal of Ukrainian policy could be realized, the leader of the Ukrainians in Poland, the deputy speaker of the Polish Parliament, Wasyl Mudry, appealed to the mobilized Ukrainians in the Polish Army to loyally defend the Polish Republic. The Ukrainian government-in-exile ordered its contract officers in the Polish Army to do the same. Thus, in spite of the fact that the Polish interior policy toward the Ukrainians was disgraceful and stupid, Ukrainians defended the existence of free Poland up to the capitulation of her army. With Hitler on his march toward Lviv was only a battalion of Ukrainian youth who believed in his "anti-Communism." They soon learned the truth, however, that all Western-Ukraine with Lviv, the Piedmont of Ukraine, was ceded by Hitler to Stalin in exchange for the promised millions of carloads of foodstuffs, iron ore, manganese, oil and other products which later constituted the basis for Hitler's victorious offensive against the West. But the planned invasion of England could not be realized and soon Hitler's eyes were again directed toward the East where Japan was on the way to join the axis.
The anti-German coup d'etat in Yugoslavia delayed for more than a month Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union. According to the opinion of Ukrainian military men, this delay, because of the approaching fall and winter, reduced Hitler's chances for a speedy victory in the east. But this attack did raise new hopes among some Ukrainians who did not study the first edition of Mein Kampf. Using some Ukrainian groups as spearheads and interpreters, the advance of the German Armies and the surrender of the Soviet Armies, consisting largely of non-Russian soldiers, were spectacular. Soon the Germans stood before Leningrad, Moscow and in the Caucasus. The victory over the "unconquerable" Maginot Line created a megalomania in Hitler and (against the advice of experts to respect the aspirations of Ukraine and of other occupied nations and to treat them as allies against Russian Communist imperialism) he decided to disregard Ukrainian nationalism completely. The attempt to organize a Ukrainian national administration in Lviv was liquidated and Ukraine was partitioned by Hitler. Western Ukraine became German as an "inheritance" from old Austria. The Dnister Valley and Odessa Hitler presented to Rumania as "Transnistria" while Carpatho-Ukraine had been presented to Hungary earlier. A dark age fell on Ukraine. The Russian totalitarian dictatorship was replaced by the German totalitarian dictatorship. Hitler continued a systematic persecution of any idea of Ukrainian self-determination or human rights and exploited the country economically as a colony, declaring that in the future it was to become the German "Lebensraum" – the territory for the colonization by German farmers. Soon, even the leaders of the pro-German groups among Ukrainians were interned in concentration camps. Hitler's ideology made Germany unfit for a constructive solution of the nationality problems of the occupied countries in Eastern Europe and dug the grave for Germany in the East. The nationalists went underground, organized guerrilla warfare against the Germans and disorganized the whole hinterland. The collapse of the front soon started especially after the United States supplied Stalin with masses of new war material for offensive actions. Rather late the German command attempted to respect the national ideas of the occupied non-Russian nations but, again, the remnants of the Baltic barons created the "Vlassov conception" which antagonized the non-Russian nations, which were electrified by the news from across the ocean about the contents of the Atlantic Charter and the planned United Nations organization. A new hope was dawning in the West for the victims of Stalin and Hitler and they took this news at face value. They cherished the hope that the United States, after defeating Hitler, would act according to the Atlantic Charter and liquidate Stalin. For this aim they attempted to have national military formations ready for action as allies of the free world.
The second front of the allies in the West, the overwhelming superiority of American airpower, speeded the retreat of the German Armies from the east and Germany's eventual collapse. The second great political emigration from the Soviet Union started with the retreat of the Germans. This emigration was enlarged by the hundreds of thousands of forced laborers brought into the German economy during the war from the east. After Germany's surrender the United States and Great Britain held all the trumps in their hands. They had all the political centers and armed formations of the non-Russian nations for the establishment of democracy and peace in the East but no action followed. Moscow, however, did act because Russian Communism has principles and a program. The Western democracies soon became aware of the actual results of World War II. Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Albania, Yugoslavia and East Germany were communized and put behind the "Iron Curtain," while China was lost in Asia. Thus the free world, still having a monopoly in atomic weapons and immense air superiority over the Soviets, betrayed its old allies of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and China and with paper-protests permitted Russian imperialism to expand its control over 900 million people.
I frankly confess, as the man responsible at that time for the political and diplomatic actions of the Ukrainian government-in-exile, that in my calculations of the worst possible results of World War II I never expected such a fantastic eventuality as the free world betraying Poland or Czechoslovakia. But that is what happened and an entire conception of Ukrainian policy and the policy of non-Russian nations enslaved by Moscow collapsed, together with the belief in the moral integrity of the West. It is a dangerous business to be an ally of the free world if we compare the present situation of these countries or of Hungary with the prosperity of Germany, Italy and Japan.
But the continuous and uncompromising fight of Ukrainians against Russian imperialism was not in vain. This fight forced Stalin to introduce Soviet Ukraine as an equal member into the United Nations. (In 1920 the U. S. State Department blocked the membership of democratic Ukraine in the League of Nations in Geneva by a Note of Undersecretary Bainbridge Colby.)
One bright spot showed through our tragedy. His Holiness the Pope saved us from extradition to Stalin, an action that was, in fact, promised by the Western democracies to Stalin, who, according to comrade Nikita Khrushchev himself, was a mass murderer and criminal. Another bright spot was the fact that the United States opened her gates to the "displaced persons." Thus since 1947, we finally can again think and act as free men and citizens of our adopted Motherland.
But there is no peace for the former exiles and the political refugees. Like the period following World War I, Moscow continues its war of annihilation against the political emigrations by provocation, parcels with time bombs, corruption and "return home" propaganda.
I pictured here the successive phases of the events in Eastern Europe to which the recollections of General Shandruk give plentiful material in facts, details and unvarnished eyewitness reports.
As a comparatively young captain he was a front fighter and experienced all the vicissitudes and hardships of the war against Russian Communism conducted by the improvised Ukrainian Army units in the worst possible circumstances, often lacking weapons, ammunition and medical care.
Colonel Shandruk was used by the Ukrainian Government and General Staff as a commanding officer in many actions of our war against the Russian Communists and gained among all of us, soldiers and civilians, the highest respect as a disciplined soldier completely dedicated to the cause.
As a general in the emigration he was entrusted by the government-in-exile to the most important key position of Chief of General Staff (in exile) elaborating mobilization plans. In order to keep his military knowledge up to date he entered the Polish General Staff college, joined the Polish Army as a contract officer and fought with and commanded a Polish operational group against the Germans. As the Polish Army capitulated it also surrendered this Ukrainian general to Germany.
In the last phase of World War II, the Germans finally grasped the cause of their failure in the East and convoked a conference of the leaders of Ukrainian groups in Berlin. The Ukrainian politicians burdened General Shandruk with the task of heading the Ukrainian National Committee and of saving what was still possible to save.
Accepting this mission, he conducted himself with full human and national dignity. He refused any subordination to the Russian Soviet general, Vlassov, and as a skillful bargainer, forced the Germans to recognize the principle of full equality for the Ukrainian nation and the status of an independent nation in the war against Moscow. As a soldier he knew well that Germany was doomed to defeat and that his only task was to save the human material of the Ukrainian political emigration from falling into the hands of Stalin and to transfer it to the camp of the allies. This he did.
As a primary source for the proper understanding of the Eastern problems in World War II and as a primary source for the history of the Ukrainian fight for liberty. General Shandruk's memoirs are of lasting value.