Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 14. Interwar Poland’s Ukrainians - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JUzxdeYRZc
Transcript:(00:00) (static crackling) (thoughtful music) - Okay, greetings. Happy Thursday. I would take us outside except for the whole recording business, which we can't take outside, which makes me a little sad because it's a beautiful day. This has been one of those New England falls that they promise you with the nice days and, like, the leaves falling from the trees.(00:34) I was driving last night back from Boston, and it was very dark and I was on country roads and there was nobody else out there and it was very foggy, and the leaves were kind of swirling down, and I kept thinking, like, there's going to be a guy with no head in my rear view mirror, like, riding me down on his black horse.(00:53) That really did make me think of that story. So thank you for being inside. Thank you for coming to this lecture. What we're going to try to do today is get into interwar Poland and, in particular, interwar Poland's Ukrainian question. I'm going to start by setting the scene, and then we'll spend the rest of the lecture trying to figure out how that scene makes sense.(01:18) So here's the scene to imagine. It's December of 1933. A Polish border guard is at work, but he's not at work protecting the border. He's at work carrying someone, leading someone towards the border to cross the border into the Soviet Union, into Soviet Ukraine, not far from the Volhynian town of Dubno, very close to border post 1,381.(01:46) The two men are speaking to each other in Russian. The border guard is the more assured, the border crosser the less assured. As they reach the border, the border guard gives the border crosser a gun. The crosser nervously puts the safety on and off. The border guard gives the border crosser a white coat so he can't be seen in the snow.(02:09) He gives him a compass and reminds him that in Polish compasses, the black is the north end of the needle. And with these supplies and with a few words of reassurance, the border crosser makes his way across the border into the Soviet Union. How does it come to that? I mean, isn't it interesting that Poland is sending people illegally into the Soviet Union in 1933? What kind of Poland is doing that? What are Poland's aims? So let's start with what kind of Poland, because now that we're into the 1920s and 1930s,(02:48) the territorial distribution of Ukraine has changed again, as we said at the end of the last lecture. Most of what's now Ukraine is inside the Soviet Union as a republic which is named Ukraine. Much of what is now Ukraine, in particular districts called Galicia or Volhynia, Galicja, Wolyn, Halychyna, Volyn, are inside Poland.(03:10) So there's a new east-west division. There are five or six million people who speak Ukrainian who are now inside Poland, roughly 15% of the population of Poland, which is a pretty sizable national minority. For comparison, that's two or three percentage points more than there are African Americans in the United States.(03:29) So we have to contend now with Poland. If we don't understand Poland, we can't understand the position of these Ukrainians, but we also can't understand how the Poles might be trying to answer the Ukrainian question. So you'll all remember Poland had been a great power. There was this thing called the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that existed from 1569 to 1795.(03:54) You'll remember from just a couple lectures ago that the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late 18th century is the central part of the advance of the Russian Empire into Europe. The late 18th century is the time of the collapse of the Crimean Khanate. It's the time of the collapse of the Ukrainian Cossack state, and it's also the time of the collapse of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.(04:17) So the late 18th century is the moment when Russia becomes a European power, which is symbolized with a shift of the capital from Moscow to St. Petersburg, actually the creation of St. Petersburg, which Pushkin famously calls a window, a window into Europe. So the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is gone, but it has left certain very important legacies for Ukrainians.(04:43) I mean, I've stressed this point over and over again, but it's very important to remember that most of Ukraine was connected to Lithuania or Poland much longer than it was connected with the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union. So just these hundreds of years that we've spent studying that, that's a sort of legacy.(05:01) But I'll mention three particular political legacies. One would be the existence of the Cossacks themselves. So it's not as though the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth created the Cossacks, but the Cossacks existed in a particular form inside and at the edge of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. A second is the general idea of a republic as a state form, right? So when Ukrainians try to found states in 1918, they take the form of republics.(05:30) They take the name of republics. That is in some way natural because it's the European norm, but it's also natural because a republic is also an important part of Ukrainian history. A third legacy is the rule of law. So the rule of law in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth didn't apply to everybody.(05:47) It applied to the nobility. The Cossacks were well aware of this, which is why they wanted to be treated like the nobility, and much of the conflict between the Cossacks and the Polish state had to do with the rights of the Cossacks, that Cossacks should have some kind of rights vis-a-vis the state. They were dissatisfied with their legal position, but they were aware that it was a state which had the rule of law, and that is also a kind of legacy.(06:12) Okay, so in the case of Ukraine, I've tried to make the argument, a little bit counterintuitive, that it was a good thing to be divided, right? So it always seems painful and it lends itself to images of martyrdom when, you know, the national body is divided into multiple pieces and so on. But if you're going to be occupied by empires, I'm not recommending this, but if you're going to be occupied by empires, there are certain political advantages to being occupied by more than one empire, right?(06:43) So just logically speaking, one of them is going to be less repressive than the other. I mean, that may be a slightly depressing way to look at it, but one of them will be less suppressive than the other, and it's always possible that the two of them will in some way compete over you, right? Or they'll try to use you against the other, which might turn out to be to your long-term advantage.(07:00) I tried to explain the dynamics of this with the Habsburgs and the Russian Empire. With Poland, there's a similar situation, but the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is divided between three empires. It's divided between Prussia, which becomes United Germany, and this is a big story which is sort of on the periphery of what we've been talking about, but it keeps becoming more central.(07:21) Like, you can ignore the Germans for a while, but eventually, they make their way to the center of your attention. I mean, that's kind of a general truth, but it's true in this class. So we started with this little state, Royal Prussia, on the Baltic, which the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth kind of tolerates.(07:38) After the ruin, after the weakening of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, this little state Prussia decides that it's a kingdom. It decides that its ruling family are kings. That state, Prussia, will become much larger in the 18th century, and in the 19th century, that state Prussia, in 1870, 1871, will unite Germany, will create a unified German state.(08:00) So the partitioning power of Poland is actually not Germany, which doesn't exist yet, but Prussia. But when Prussia unites Germany in 1871, the Poles are then the most important national minority inside that new German state, and they're subject to various repressive policies, which they respond to in a way which we would think of as involving organized civil society.(08:23) So the Germans try to buy up all the land. The Poles organize their own groups to collect money and to preserve the land. The Germans try to build libraries. The Poles build libraries. The Germans Germanize the schools. The Poles set up their own reading societies. The Poles publish their books. So there's a certain style of resistance in German Poland.(08:42) We've talked a bit about the Habsburgs. The Habsburgs are the second partitioning power of Poland. In the Habsburg monarchy, other conditions prevail, and the Polish gentry, the Polish nobility, are able to gain experience as administrators, bureaucrats. Some of them are elected to parliament. They gain experience of freedom of speech.(09:01) They gain experience of publishing as they wish. All of that experience will also matter for a reunited Poland later on. Most of what had been Poland becomes part of the Russian Empire, and there, the political tradition is much more revolutionary, as one would expect. The kinds of things that were possible in the Habsburg monarchy or even in Prussia are not possible in the Russian Empire.(09:23) The only kinds of politics that are really possible in the Russian Empire are underground, very well organized, conspiratorial, which leads to certain habits of mind and certain habits of practice. So you have three different traditions, all of which have advantages and disadvantages, coming together in Poland when it is created in 1918.(09:41) One more advantage I should really mention. So as I'm sure many of you have been thinking about, an interesting feature of the war in Ukraine now is that the people on the Ukrainian side know the language of the aggressing state, right? So basically all the Poles I'm going to be talking about in this lecture are native or close to native speakers of Russian.(10:03) And so in a tale which is going to be largely about espionage, this matters an awful lot, right? So all the Poles that I'm going to be talking about in this lecture, with maybe one or two exceptions, were educated in the Russian Empire and went through Russian schools and therefore as adults in the '20s and '30s were native or very close to native Russian speakers.(10:21) Some of them have spent time in Siberia, like Jozef Pilsudski, which only, I mean, that improves your Russian in certain ways, right? I mean, it gives you the prison part of the Russian language, which can come in handy. Okay, so the two main traditions in Polish politics that had formed by 1918 already are the Polish Socialist Party, in Polish, the PPS, Polska Partia Socjalistyczna, PPS on your sheets, and the National Democrats.(10:50) So interestingly, the two poles, sorry, in Polish political life, it wasn't intended as a joke, it just came out that way, are already established before there's a Polish state. And these two poles are basically the same today, by the way. It's a very coherent development. So the Polish Socialist Party is obviously center left.(11:13) Its dominant view is there should be a state first and then we'll build socialism later. The Polish Socialist Party tends to be nostalgic towards the old commonwealth and to believe that some future Poland will be a federation, not a nation-state, so a kind of modernized commonwealth in which the Belarusian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian nations will somehow be present and in which the Jews will have some kind of autonomy.(11:39) That's the idea. That's the idea. On the center right, the National Democrats, there's a very different vision. Their attitude towards the history of Poland is very different. The National Democrats say, "Forget about the commonwealth. It fell. It was worthless. The nobility was not the nation.(11:58) The nation is really the peasants. They just don't know it yet. Our job is to take the Polish-speaking peasants and to make them into Poles. That's what a movement is for. That's what the state is for. We're not concerned about the Germans and the Jews and the Ukrainians and so on. They're not really Poles.(12:14) They probably never will be Poles. Maybe the Belarusians and Ukrainians will be, but certainly not the Germans and the Jews." So their attitude is very different. The Germans and the Jews are national enemies, and the Slavs are maybe assimilable, but if they're not assimilable, then they can also be national enemies.(12:29) The National Democrats are thinking about a nation-state. They're thinking about a nation-state where the nation in question is the Polish nation. So these are the two currents in Polish politics which are already present, and when I tell the story of the '20s and '30s, it's really these two currents which are going to be alternating in power, very much like today.(12:52) Okay, so Poland, unlike Ukraine, at the end of the First World War, is regarded by the Entente as an ally. This is really important. By the Entente, of course, I mean the French, the British, the Americans, the victorious Western powers. In the Paris peace settlements, they regard some countries as effectively their allies and some countries not, and this is only vaguely related to what actually happens during the war itself, and it has a lot to do with the interests of those countries, especially France, in the years to come.(13:30) So the French take the most punishment in the First World War. It's largely fought on French territory. The French are most concerned about the balance of power on the continent after the First World War. The peace talks are held in Paris or in nice spa towns around Paris nearby. And it's generally French interests that prevail.(13:50) In Poland, you have an overlap of the principle that was announced, national self-determination. Woodrow Wilson specifies that Poland will become an independent state. So the principle of national self-determination is applied. But also France wants Poland to exist because France wants an ally to the east of Germany, right? If you are France...(14:17) I'm trying to think of, like... You're playing Risk, right? Okay. So if you're France, you always want the ally to the east of Germany, and if you're Germany, you're always afraid of, right? It's that classical situation. So if you're France, you're not so concerned about who that is and what their regime is.(14:37) France had been allies with the Russian Empire, right, for this reason. So the Russian Empire is done with, and what do the French do? The French say independent Poland, and they ally or they try to support the Whites in the Russian Civil War. So they're supporting the pro-imperial forces in the Russian Civil War.(14:56) They lose, as we already know, but that's what the French we're banking on. So the French want allies to the east of Germany. So those two things come together this time, principle and practice, in the creation of Poland. So the Western allies are going to support the creation of Poland, not that the Poles don't fight for it, they do, but they have two things which the Ukrainians don't.(15:16) Nobody is saying that Ukraine has the right to self-determination except for Germany in 1918, and that doesn't count for very much, and nobody thinks that the existence of a Ukrainian state is in their strategic interests except for Poland, and that in a very limited sense, which we're going to get to.(15:36) Okay, so this brings us to, you know, the basic relationship, it's kind of an intellectually beautiful thing to think about, the relationship between a revolution and borders, right? Because a revolution doesn't have borders. A revolution is a total transformation. When you talk about a revolution, you don't say "I want a revolution in my backyard," right? Y(16:01) ou don't say, "I want a..." A revolution is about total transformation. So the French Revolution wasn't, I mean, it was about France, but it was also about invading the rest of Europe, right? Because it was about principles. The Russian Revolution, as we talked about last time, was not meant to be about Russia at all. It was meant to be a global revolution which just happened to take a starting point in Russia.(16:24) But then we get to the very practical question of what happens when the revolution that you've made turns out not to be global. Where does it end, then, right? That very mundane question. Where does it end? And that question is going to be decided largely by the use of force between Poland and the Soviet Union in 1919 and 1920.(16:44) So if we think of the stretch of territory between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Belarus, Ukraine, that stretch of territory is a kind of power vacuum at the end of the First World War. The Entente has won the war, but they won it on the Western Front. The German Army was exhausted on the Western Front.(17:08) The German Army is exhausted fighting in France against the Americans, the British, and the French. So the Germans lose, but they lose the war having never been defeated in the East, which is an odd situation and very important for everybody. From a Western point of view, it's easy to forget about. But from an East European point of view or even a German point of view, it's central.(17:28) It's central to the Nazis, by the way, too. It's central to everything that's going to come next. From the point of view of German soldiers in the East, there never was a defeat. They just had to come home at some point. They were never beaten. They just had to come home. Okay. So after 1918, there's a power vacuum because there's been been a revolution.(17:50) In 1917, the Russian Revolution destroys the Russian Empire. In 1918, the German and Austrian armies move in to support their version of Ukraine, and then they're defeated, so they move back out. And what's left is a vacuum which, on the Polish side, Jozef Pilsudski, who is the leader of the Polish Socialist Party and also the leader of the Polish state, wishes to fill, and on the other side, Vladimir Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik party and de facto of the Russian state, also wants to fill.(18:25) But the interesting idea here which I want you to notice is that neither of them wants to fill it on behalf of nation-states. That's not the kind of idea they have in mind. Lenin is thinking of a global... Where did I lose you? Where did I lose you? Know that I'm sensing confusion in the middle of the room.(18:44) No? You're okay? You're fine? Okay. They can't edit that out, by the way. That's going to be on the video. It's there forever. So Pilsudski is thinking about some kind of vague federation. He's not thinking Poland for the Poles. That's not his idea at all. His idea is somehow the Lithuanians, the Belarusians, and the Ukrainians somehow also in this, right? Whether they would be equal partners or not is less clear, but somehow, some kind of larger state which is not just Poland for the Poles.(19:15) He wants more Lithuanians, more Belarusians, more Ukrainians, more Jews in the state. Lenin's idea is also not... Obviously it's not a nation-state. Lenin's idea is global revolution. And so by the moment we're talking about, 1919, it's already clear that the world isn't going to have a revolution just because Russia did, okay? And this is the key to the, like...(19:40) This is like the original sin, if you want, of the Soviet Union, or it's the key to how things work out later, because Lenin and Trotsky, the Bolsheviks, they didn't think they were starting a Russian revolution. They thought that they were the powder keg for a global revolution. Then what do you do when the global revolution doesn't come? Well, your next move is to say, "Okay, we're going to help it along," right? "We're going to help it along.(20:03) " So once they have won the Russian Civil War, their next move is to think, "We're going to go into Europe and we'll help out the German comrades, because obviously, Germany's the most important country in Europe. If we can get to Berlin, then there can be revolution in Germany, and then there will be world revolution.(20:21) " So stage one is, your theory is there should be global revolution. Stage two is that your practice is, you've got to get to Europe and help out the German comrades. But what's in the way? Poland. And the Poles aren't just in the way. They're moving east. So this sets up the Polish-Bolshevik War of 1919 to 1920.(20:39) As I mentioned last time, the furthest the Poles ever get in this war is Kyiv in May of 1920, the victory in Kyiv with the, you know, the circular march of the Polish cavalry around Khreshchatyk. That is followed by the Red Army's march on Warsaw, where what's called the miracle, the Vistula, the Poles' defeat...(21:05) It's called the miracle. The Vistula is the river that runs through Poland. The miracle on the Vistula was originally sarcastic, like, in the sense of "after what you did, we needed a miracle" because this war was contested inside Poland itself. The National Democrats, the right, opposed the war.(21:22) They didn't want to expand Polish territory. They wanted the nation-state, right? And so for them, this was a dangerous adventure. "Why are we going all the way to Kyiv? Look what you did. You brought the Red Army to the suburbs of Warsaw. We need a miracle." But that sarcastic miracle on the Vistula eventually became a non-sarcastic miracle on the Vistula.(21:38) It's now just a kind of neutral name of the achievement. So the Poles hold off the Red Army at the gates of Warsaw, basically, and stage a very successful counterattack, drive the Red Army deep into Ukraine and to Belarus, at which point both sides are exhausted and a peace is signed, and that's the Treaty of Riga of March of 1921.(21:58) So the Treaty of Riga creates an effect... And you know, and this is something to think about when a war is being fought. Where the border is in large measure defines what kind of states are then going to exist. Because on the Polish side, what you end up getting is not a federation. It's not big enough for that.(22:21) There are a lot of Belarusians, a million. There are a lot of Ukrainians, five million plus. There are a lot of Jews, three million. But there aren't enough for a federation, right? This is a state, nevertheless, which has a clear majority of Polish speakers, and so what it becomes is a Polish nation-state with big national minorities.(22:44) It's not exactly what the National Democrats wanted and it's also not what Pilsudski wanted, but that's what the borders of Riga create. They create this Poland with big national minorities, substantial national minorities. On the Soviet side, what the Treaty of Riga does is that it creates a border.(23:02) It means the revolution has stopped. For now, at least, the revolution has a border, which is to say the Soviet Union has to become a state, which it does. And the Bolsheviks are making this up as they go along. They're making this up as they go along, their response to the defeat. And they were defeated.(23:19) The Poles defeated them. They're not going to be defeated again until Afghanistan in 1979, but the Red Army is defeated by Poland in 1920. And so the response to Polish defeat is to create this thing that we take for granted, which is the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is the state which contains the revolution.(23:37) So it's not supposed to be a normal state. It's not a nation-state. From the Soviet, from the Bolshevik point of view, it's certainly not an empire. It's something completely new. It's a kind of container for revolution, a revolution which at some later date will get spread throughout the world.(23:50) In the meantime, it becomes the task of the Soviet comrades to complete the revolution inside their own borders and to model it for everyone else. Okay, so now that's, so in Poland, what follows from this is a certain fundamental difficulty for democracy. In Poland, you have two basic questions which make parliamentary democracy difficult right from the beginning.(24:23) One of them and the most important is the land question. And I realize I keep beating you over the head with this, but in the first half of the 20th century, land was the most important question in politics, not anything else but land, because most people in the part of the world that we're studying, at least, were peasants, and in general, they wanted to have more land than they did.(24:43) This was still an economy, and we're, you know, in much the world, it's still true, but in Europe, in our part of Europe, this is still an economy where most people have small plots of land and want to have bigger plots of land or have no land and want to have more land. And because, you know... The economy itself is still agrarian, right? This is the center of politics.(25:05) If you want to, you can think of everything that happens in Poland, Soviet Union, and even Nazi Germany as an answer to the land question, where the Poles try to do land reform and kind of fail. Land reform means you take from people who have more land, give it to people who have less land. The Soviets at the end of the day take everyone's land and create collective farming.(25:27) Even Hitler's ideas that you should invade Eastern Europe and take the land, that's a solution to the land question, right? So the key to a lot of this is land, people wanting more land. So in Polish politics, as in Eastern Europe, as in democratic Eastern Europe in general, the key question was land, and the difficulty was trying to get the peasants interested in politics, trying to get the peasants to see that democratic politics somehow serves their interests.(25:56) And the best way to do that is land reform, right? That's something the state can do for you if you're a peasant. It can take some land from your wealthy neighbor, from that person who owned the plantation that your grandfather was a serf in, take some land from that person and give it to you. That's something the state can do.(26:14) The Poles do that to some degree. But here's where the national question comes in. In Poland, there was a peasant party, but it was a Polish peasant party, right? It wasn't just a peasant party. This is really, really, really important. There was no class party for the peasants of Poland. And even more than in the Polish areas, in the Belarusian and Ukrainian areas, most people were peasants.(26:44) So this means that basically, in democratic elections, the Belarusian and Ukrainian peasants were excluded because there was no party they could vote for which really had a chance of exercising any kind of influence. Had there been a peasant party representing peasants as such, that party would've won every time, right? But there was no such party, and so therefore, everything switches around, and if you're a Belarusian peasant or a Ukrainian peasant, you can think, "Well, the Polish peasants seem to be getting some land,(27:14) but I don't seem to be getting any land," right? And so then the land question is magnified by the national question. And this is one of the ways that Polish politics turns in the first half of the 1920s where, when Poland is being ruled by coalitions of National Democrats and the Polish Peasant Party, right? So you can see the setup for this.(27:39) The setup for this means that you have, if you're the Soviet Union, we'll talk more about this, but if you're the Soviet Union looking at Poland, there is a huge opening for you. You can speak to Ukrainians and to Belarusians about national liberation, and you can speak to them about land reform.(28:00) Now obviously, at the end of the day, we know that the Soviet Union is not going to be the homeland of national liberation or land reform. But in the 1920s, this was propaganda. This was an approach that the Soviets could take. And in the 1920s, it seemed pretty reasonable, we're going to talk more about this, because in the 1920s,, the Soviets were engaged in something Poland was not engaged in, which was affirmative action for Ukrainians, giving Ukrainians educational opportunities, building schools and universities, pulling Ukrainians up(28:29) through the ranks of the administration. They were also engaged in allowing Ukrainian peasants to keep the land they took from Polish landlords. So this is a very basic way that Poland and the Soviet Union were different, right? In the revolution, 1917, '18, a lot of what happens in Ukraine, especially Right-bank Ukraine, is that Ukrainian peasants take land from historic Polish landlords and then those historic Polish landlords flee west to Poland, which from the point of view of Poland is ethnic cleansing and oppression, right?(29:00) But from the point of view of the Ukrainian peasants, it's "We finally got the land that we've been working." And so from the point of view of a Ukrainian peasant, that was a good revolution, right? That was a good revolution. That was a revolution or a part of the revolution that we want to keep.(29:14) And in the 1920s, the Bolsheviks were not able to do anything about that and so they allowed it to maintain itself. That was called the New Economic Policy. So in the 1920s, Ukrainian peasants got more land, they got fewer Polish landlords, and Ukrainian educated people were getting affirmative action, none of which existed in Poland, right? So in the 1920s, if you're the Soviet Union, you can make propaganda against Poland because of these basic realities.(29:40) Okay, in Poland, there is, if we get more specific now, there is a big difference between the two Ukrainian districts, and now we're getting to the stuff that, like, 30 years down the line, you're going to be making cocktail party conversation with when you explain to people about the difference between Galicia and Volhynia, right? And you guys are already halfway there because you know, (laughing) because you know that Galicia is the part that came from the Habsburg monarchy, right? You know that the name Galicia, Galizien,(30:14) was invented basically by the Habsburgs to name territory they took in 1772 and that territory, Galicia, ends up being part of Poland. The Poles call it something completely different. They call it Malopolska Wschodnia, Eastern Little Poland. But it's the eastern part of Galicia. Volhynia is something very different.(30:34) Volhynia has been part of the Russian Empire this entire time. Volhynia has been part of the Russian Empire for more than a hundred years. In Volhynia, unlike Galicia, people belong to the Orthodox Church, not the Greek Catholic Church. In Volhynia, there are far fewer Poles and fewer Jews than there are in Galicia, and also the standard of comparison is very different.(31:02) So one of the main problems for the Poles trying to govern Galicia is that if you're a Galician Ukrainian, after 1918, everything got worse for you in a couple of ways. So politics is very much about expectations. If you're a Ukrainian in Galicia, you might have expected "We are going to get our own state" because between November of 1918 and the spring of 1919, there was a West Ukrainian National Republic, and it was defeated by none other than the Polish Army, right? And so if you're a Ukrainian,(31:41) that's a disappointment, right? And there's nothing the Polish state can do to repair that, because from the point of view of the Polish state, this is Polish territory. The second frame of reference is the Habsburg monarchy. So if we're going to be governed by someone else, we're used to having certain things, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, free political parties.(32:01) We're used to having schools. We're used to being able to serve in the administration. Under Polish rule, a lot of that will be taken away. There will be fewer Ukrainian-speaking schools. Ukrainians in general will be excluded from the state administration in Poland, which they were not in the Habsburg monarchy.(32:17) The Greek Catholic Church will not be treated as equal. So in all these ways, the positions of Ukrainians in Galicia is actually worse than it was in the Habsburg monarchy, and they're very well aware of this, and they're used to talking about this. And it's not easy for them to situate themselves in the Polish state.(32:33) Eventually by the late 1930s when things are very bad, the main position among Ukrainians will be something like "Poland is better than the alternatives." But better than the alternatives is not a rallying cry for everyday politics in general. So the main force in Ukrainian politics is something called Undo, U-N-D-O, it's on your sheet, which takes a kind of centrist position, not sure about the Polish state in the 1920s.(32:58) Many people thinking that maybe the Soviet Union might be better, feeling left out of Polish politics with justification. There is a right-wing fraction, a very small group, called the OUN, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which is a typical, looking at this from the point of view of, you know, political science, a typical reaction to exclusion from democracy.(33:21) If, you know, if you go from a more democratic to a less democratic situation, there will probably be some group which decides that the answer to this is violence against the institutions, and that group is the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. In interwar Poland, they were not very significant. They were not very numerous.(33:39) The Poles did a pretty good job of locking them up. They did assassinate a few Polish officials after 1926. In general, they assassinated, as one does, the people who were in favor of some kind of accommodation or compromise, right? You don't assassinate the radicals on the other side. I mean, I feel like I'm now giving you a training course, so don't take it that way, but you see the logic, right? You assassinate the moderates on the other side because if you're a radical, you prefer the radicals on the other side.(34:07) You prefer conflict. You don't want the compromisers because the compromisers might make a deal with your compromisers and then you'd be out of business and your radical vision wouldn't seem like it makes a lot of sense. I mentioned the OUN because it'll become more important during the war, but it's actually not that important during the '20s and '30s.(34:23) So the early '20s in Poland are a time of democratic politics in which the land question is only very unsatisfactorily answered and the national question, if you're not Polish, is not answered at all. This changes a bit in 1926. In 1926, Poland becomes much less democratic, but the people who come to power are more open on the national question.(34:49) In 1926, Jozef Pilsudski, the former head of state, comes back to power by way of a military coup and installs what we, I think, would be very comfortable calling, borrowing some Russian terminology, a managed democracy, right? I mean, it's managed better than the current Russian democracy, non-democracy, is.(35:11) But there are political parties. There is voting. There's a certain amount of massaging of the vote. There's a certain amount of disenfranchisement. It's kind of a democracy, but you also kind of already know who's going to win before the elections take place. So he overthrows a democracy, installs a kind of managed democracy with his own political party and then, you know, governs from behind the scenes.(35:36) It's not really a dictatorship, but it's an authoritarian regime. From our point of view, the difference here, the relevant difference, if you remember between, you know, the basic orientations, center left, center right, the center left is more open on the national question, more tolerant of Jews, more open on the national question.(35:56) And what Pilsudski then begins to do, with no democratic legitimation, this is never talked about at all, everything I'm about to talk about was kept entirely secret from the Polish population, with no democratic legitimation, he then undertakes a policy of trying to tolerate the Ukrainian national identity in part of Poland, partly with the hope of undoing Soviet influence.(36:22) So the Soviet influence, as I've already tried to suggest, was very real. The Soviets in the 1920s are in a rather beautiful strategic situation with respect to Poland, as I've already tried to suggest. In 1923, the Soviets promulgate their doctrine on colonialism and nationalism, which is very clever.(36:41) It basically says that nationalism is reactionary inside the Soviet Union but outside the Soviet Union is progressive, right? Which is a very convenient position. So, you know, it's the Leninist view of national self-determination that, sure, everybody has a right in principle to a nation-state, it just...(37:03) In practice, it depends on whether this serves us or not, right? So anti-colonial movements in India are great, right? As are anti-colonial movements in Poland. Super. Anti-colonial movements in Central Asia or the Caucasus or Ukraine, not at all, right? But so what this allows them to do is it allows them to use the national question and the question of land against Poland but also against the British Empire.(37:30) I mean, the Soviets were engaged with the British Empire as well. But for our purposes, Poland is what matters. So what they do is that they try to present Soviet Ukraine as a sovereign Ukrainian state where peasants have land, where there are national freedoms, and try in this way to draw the millions of Ukrainians in Poland towards the Soviet Union and destabilize the Polish state.(37:57) And as I say, this was carried out with a great deal of success. What Pilsudski does is that he tries to reverse this. So in Galicia, he never has a chance. In Galicia, there is already, when they come to power in '26, the Ukrainian nationalists assassinate the Polish officials and you get a spiral of reprisals and counter-reprisals which discredit the Polish state in Galicia.(38:25) In any event, in Galicia, there just wasn't a kind of fresh terrain to work in. What they do is they take Volhynia and they try to educate a generation of pro-Polish Ukrainians in Volhynia. They carry out a policy known as the Volhynian Experiment from 1928, led by a man called Henryk Jozewski, who's on your sheet.(38:49) And what Jozewski does is a kind of, it's kind of a capitalist or a bourgeois or a liberal version of Soviet affirmative action. So he places Ukrainians in Volhynia in local government. He encourages the use of the Ukrainian language in the Orthodox Church. He encourages a movement towards autocephaly in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church on Polish territory.(39:25) And he talks about Ukrainian independence. He talks about a replay of the Polish-Bolshevik War in which this time, Poland would win and the creation of a Ukrainian state. Now, Jozewski was a true believer in all of this. He was from Kyiv. He was authentically in love with Ukrainian culture and songs, literature.(39:53) He spoke Ukrainian like a native. He deeply believed that Ukrainian and Polish culture were fundamentally very similar and that Russian culture was something different. But in general, one of course has to ask, you know, one has to be a little bit critical all the same. Is this idea of Ukraine, you know, is it for the Ukrainians or is it about creating a buffer state? Because if you're Poland, it's better to have something between you and Russia.(40:20) And for the Poles who were involved, it was a mixture of motives. I mean, there was certainly idealism involved, but there was also this notion that it would be better to have Ukraine for our own strategic interests. So what the Poles do is under the cover of this toleration project, they're also educating young Ukrainians, training them for espionage missions inside Soviet Ukraine.(40:46) And they also, and this is not widely known, but they also revive a government in exile for Ukraine. They revive the Ukrainian National Republic on their own territory. They set up a staff for a Ukrainian army in 1927 with sections for propaganda and for intelligence. And in 1928, this Ukrainian army on Polish soil begins to run its agents across the Soviet border.(41:16) From the point of view of Poland, this is part of a larger project which is known as Prometheanism. And this, again, you should, like... It's a really interesting point of contrast to Poland of today. A lot of the ideas that I'm talking about now have a faint echo in Polish policy today, but it's a pretty faint echo.(41:38) The Poles in the '20s and '30s were a lot more adventurous on these issues than the Polish state is now. The idea of Prometheanism was national self-determination, national self-determination for the oppressed nations of the Soviet Union. And so the Poles, in secret, this was not an open-forum policy at all, but in secret, they funded and helped with the publications of and sometimes helped run people across borders for Caucasian nations, for Georgia, for Chechens, and also for Ukrainians.(42:17) And the basic idea of this is that it's trying to flip what the Soviets are saying. So the Soviets are saying, "We have national self-determination. Look at our beautiful national liberation. Look at these republics." And the Poles are saying, "No, actually, the national question is your weakness, and there are all these immigrant politicians who agree with us and we're going to support them.(42:40) " And this larger policy of Prometheanism had connections with the British and the French and even, interestingly, in the Japanese, all of whom, for their various reasons, had reasons to try to weaken the Soviet Union. Now, so up until 1933, if you read the files, which, one summer, I was able to do... There was a summer when the Polish military archives were entirely closed, but for some reason, they let me just sit there and read them all, which was great.(43:16) I literally used a shopping cart, which is not normal archival practice. I had a shopping cart and I filled up the shopping cart with files, and then I read all the files, and then I went and got another shopping cart. That is the research which is in "Sketches from a Secret War," and that is why there's a lot in "Sketches from a Secret War" which you're not going to find anywhere else.(43:33) But the general drift, as you'll see when you do the reading, is that from 1926 to 1931, '32, there's some really interesting Polish intelligence work going on in Ukraine under this overall auspice of the Volhynian Experiment, under this overall auspice of Prometheanism. We know a lot about the agents and the rings that the Poles were running inside Soviet Ukraine led by this man with the close-to-unpronounceable name of Jerzy Niezbrzycki, who is a very interesting character.(44:05) He, like a lot of these men and women, because a lot of the agents and officers in Polish intelligence, by the way, were women, was a Pole from Ukraine, so someone who knew the territory, knew the languages, was bilingual. Some of them were trilingual. So he ran these agents, and one of the stories which stays with me because it reveals an important difference is...(44:32) So a lot of this stuff is about sex. I don't know how you guys feel about that. Like, is it okay to talk about sex? (laughing) I wish I could share with the camera, like, the various reactions that that got. So a lot of the operations involve sex, so Polish male officers having sex with Soviet women and Polish female officers having sex with Soviet men, or they involve relationships in which sex is somehow in the picture, right? And so there's one example which I found really interesting because it gets us(45:07) to a kind of difference between two systems is when one of Niezbrzycki's female friends, who was a Polish intelligence officer operating inside Ukraine... This is not going to be directly about sex. I'm sorry. It's all in the reading, though. If you get, like, deep into the reading, you'll find there's a lot of sex with spies.(45:28) Okay. But so he had a friend who I'm going to call X22, and what she did was she exchanged consumer goods, in particular nylon stockings, which was something which was trivially easy to get in Poland but which did not exist in the Soviet Union. She would trade nylon stockings and other similar things for files and books from, you know, her female friends' mail, like, from their husbands' libraries and their filing cabinets, right? That was one of her methods.(45:58) She had other methods of operation, it's in the reading, but that was one of her methods of operation. And what this reveals, you'll see where I'm going, is that by 1931, '32, we really have two very different systems. Poland is a capitalist country. It's a poor capitalist country. It's a capitalist country.(46:16) In the Soviet Union, by 1931, 1932, we are in the middle of collectivization, which will be our big subject next time. We're the middle of a transformation of the Soviet Union into a form of industrialized country, which involves taking all of the land away from the peasants and putting them under the control of the state.(46:34) And it is in this moment of collectivization, especially '28, '29, '30, that Soviet Ukraine is probably most at risk. In early 1930, the Soviet secret police records more than one million acts of individual resistance by peasants on the territory of the Ukrainian Republic against collectivization, and it's during this time also that thousands upon thousands of Ukrainian peasants or peasants from Soviet Ukraine flee to Romania and flee to Poland to escape collectivization.(47:15) And when they come to Poland, they plea for war. So, I mean, we'll talk more about it in the next lecture, but it is a very dramatic situation to suddenly lose your land and to see everyone else losing their land and to realize that you have no recourse. So just to quote one peasant... This is from Polish archives.(47:36) So it's interesting, right, because thousands and thousands of Ukrainian peasants fled into Poland and the Polish border guards and other officials took notes, right? And we have all of those notes. So we have, like, this report of what was happening inside collectivization from the perspective of the peasants themselves.(47:51) So one peasant says, "And if a war broke out, the mood of the people is such that if the Polish Army appeared today, they would kiss the soldiers' feet and the entire population would attack the Bolsheviks." Now, why is that interesting, right? That is not the normal Ukrainian peasant attitude towards Poland at all, right? That's from 1930, so it's only a decade or so after the Polish landlords were kicked out the first time, right? So it's a sign of how bad collectivization is that the peasants would be calling for a Polish invasion.(48:23) And this is that moment. March of 1930 is when the Soviets actually feared war. On the 17th of March... It was March of 1930 when Stalin calls a temporary halt to collectivization. He gives one of his speeches that is most remembered, it's remembered as "Dizzy with Success," in which he basically says it's going so well that it's going badly, right? He says, like, "Some of the comrades are a little bit overenthusiastic.(48:50) Collectivization was always supposed to be voluntary. Let's just have a little pause, right?" And that is because of the resistance, especially in Ukraine. It's also the same time, 17 March 1930, that the Red Army is put in full battle readiness because they're expecting an attack from Poland.(49:08) This is the moment when they're most vulnerable. It's also the moment where they're most afraid. So you have refugees fleeing Ukraine to Poland. You have the Soviet Army in full battle readiness. You have fear, but what you don't have is a Polish attack. The Poles look upon this and they say, "Well, the Soviet state is mobilizing.(49:29) It's more powerful than we thought." The Poles were always interested in having more information about Ukraine and about having a Ukrainian alternative, but the most they were ever planning for was to use their Ukrainian agents if the Soviet Union fell apart. They were never actually planning an offensive war against the Soviet Union.(49:50) That was never part of their plan. So I can say this pretty definitively because I've read the stuff. So what happens is that collectivization proceeds and the Soviets ask Poland for peace talks, and the Poles say yes. And in July of 1932, Poland and the Soviet Union sign a mutual nonaggression treaty, which is all well and good, and it's a nice moment in Polish-Soviet relations, but from the point of view of a class about Ukraine, you see the consequences.(50:23) It means that the Ukrainians are left all alone in the middle of collectivization. There's no one to whom they can appeal. The kind of statement that I read, there are hundreds upon hundreds, thousands upon thousands of statements like that of Ukrainian peasants going to foreign consulates and saying, you know, "Please let me out or please invade," right? That's what they say to the Germans and the Poles in the early 1930s.(50:48) "Invade. Let us out. Invade. Let us out." Over and over and over again. But after Poland signs a peace treaty with the Soviet Union in 1932, there's no one to whom they can appeal. So that scene that I set at the top of the lecture when the Polish border guard is sending the Ukrainian agent across the border into Soviet Ukraine, that is in December of 1933.(51:11) By December of 1933, it's impossible that Poland is going to come to the aid of Ukraine, and by December of 1933, about four million Ukrainians will have starved to death in the collectivization famine, which is our subject next time. Thanks. (thoughtful music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 15. Ukrainization, Famine, Terror: 1920s-1930s - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dy7Mrqy1AY
Transcript:(00:00) (foreboding music) - Okay. Greetings, everyone. One of the things you learn when you become a historian is that most of the great quotations that people cite were never actually said by the person. So, and the internet has only made this worse because the internet filters for what sounds right, and what sounds right is very difficult from what a specific person actually said at the specific time.(00:39) So, if you track down, like the 100 most quoted things, especially by people like Einstein in general, they didn't ever actually say those things. Somebody said they said those things, it sounded right. So the example I'm thinking of, I don't think Stalin ever actually said that a million lives is a statistic, and one life is a tragedy, or a million deaths is a statistic, one death's a tragedy.(01:04) He's quoted to that effect all the time, but I have never actually seen the source where Stalin says that, the primary source, and this is by the way, this is how historians work, is that we are always working our way back towards the primary sources and then building our way back up to stories. So if I, like everything that I tell you here is the product of, almost everything is the product of somebody else's research at some time in some archive, finding things out, making new arguments, working it into a book, right?(01:37) So the things that, the things that I'm trying to present to you here is general arguments, are the result of the work of an awful lot of historians, generally Ukrainian historians. And then we try to make it all make sense in a big class. But the reason I'm thinking about this is the difficulty of the subject today.(01:54) So our subject today is the death by starvation, or malnutrition, or hunger-related disease of about 4 million people in the Soviet Republic of Ukraine between the middle of 1932 and the end of 1933. One of the worst manmade famines in modern history, at least, and a turning point in history of the Soviet Union.(02:19) But it's inherently hard to think about. It's, even the number 4 million is hard to think about. But then also, unless you've had very specific kinds of life experiences, the idea of one person starving to death is also very difficult to think about, right? And so the combination of those things, 1 million person, one person starving to death, but 4 million times, 4 million different people.(02:46) So it's a very hard reality to try to imbibe, but I'm not asking you to imbibe it now, as I speak to you, you know, just for a couple of minutes, I'm just trying to give you a sense that there are certain kinds of subjects that, you know, as humanists, we don't just blur over. As scientists, we go to the primary sources, and we check those quotations, and we work our way up to arguments.(03:06) But as humanists, we have to be attentive to human life and the meaning of human life and the way that human life ends. And this is largely a lecture about how human life ends. I'm gonna begin it with an authentic quotation from the period, from January of 1933. I'll tell you where it came from a little bit later.(03:26) The quotation is, "There are villages in which a significant part of the adult population has left for the towns to seek money and bread, leaving the children alone to their fate. In many villages, the tremendous majority of kholkoz,' that's collective farm workers, "and their families are starving.(03:43) And among them are many who are sick and swollen as a result of hunger. And a series of cases no help is given them since there are no reserves whatsoever. in connection with this, many people die every day." So that is not from, a letter from a Ukrainian to a family member abroad. It's not from a Ukrainian talking to another Ukrainian in Ukraine.(04:09) It's actually from a report, it's a handwritten note appended to a report to the head of the secret police in Ukraine. The authorities in Ukraine knew exactly what was happening. They were there watching it, they were there carrying it out, they were there talking about it, reporting on it to one another.(04:28) It's a handwritten appendage to the report, because it's not essential. The lives of the people concerned, the deaths are not really essential. It's not important to the overall five-year plan collectivization, the Soviet project. It's just noted, so it will be known. Which leads me to the first point that I want you to understand, which I'm sure many of you do, it's that famines are political.(04:54) Very rarely do you confront a situation where a famine is a direct result of a physical lack of food. It's the result of a political decision about distribution, which is based upon priorities, where the priority of preserving human life may be very low, or as in this case, it may not exist at all. It may not be a priority.(05:19) And so, if famines are political, then you know, that opens one's eyes to the possibility of how famines can be created in the present or in the future, right? So if, for example, a country invades another country and blockades its ports and says that food will not pass from these ports out into the rest of the world, that is not a lack of food, right? It's not that Ukraine right now isn't growing food, it's that a political decision has been made to try to block the export of that food.(05:49) And therefore, in the Sahel, or in Ethiopia, or in Lebanon, there might be food shortages as a result of political decisions, okay. So, from the point of view of the Soviets, the decision to have people starve in Soviet Ukraine, we see it as political, right? From their point of view, what they think is that everything should be yielding to politics.(06:22) So this is, I mean, I'm gonna get into the details, and the backdrop, and all the arguments about this, but there are a few fundamental things to understand about the way Soviet leaders understood the world in the early 1930s that are crucial here. One is the Leninist idea that everything yields to politics.(06:40) That an elite party, a small group of people with the right ideas can push history forward in the right direction. That there's a natural direction that history is moving, it's moving towards socialism, it's moving toward the domination of the proletariat, and the right people can push it forward.(06:59) And as they push it forward, everything else has to yield because we know that this is the correct way that history has to go. Within this worldview, it's very important to see that the individuals who actually exist in the world do not have any value. So, you know, you might have been exposed to some sort of human rights framework or civil rights framework, or you might think that that's natural, right? All these things are historically contingent, and we learn them or unlearn them, take them in or not,(07:31) in this way of seeing the world, an any individual, any particular individual, doesn't really matter. Because what matters is, where we're all going to get together. Not necessarily us even, but some future generation. At some point, humanity is going to be restored to itself. Alienation's gonna come to an end, private property is gonna come to an end, that's everything, right? That is everything.(07:53) The goal is everything. And means are generally justified. And this has, this has another implication for truth, which is really important when we talk about this famine. So this famine is one of the blunter bigger truths of the 20th century in European history, but nevertheless, extremely controversial, at least for decades, and one of the reasons for that, is that the people who carried it out, had a specific idea about truth.(08:20) And their specific idea about truth is that just as these individuals don't matter, also the facts as such, don't matter. They matter selectively insofar as they can help a narrative, right? That's what facts are for. But facts as such are not so interesting. And the narrative has a shape, and it's the shape of history that I've described before, which is that there's a revolution, the revolution is going to bring, eventually going to bring about human harmony and solidarity.(08:49) That overall shape is what matters. And if it so happens that millions of people die along the way, those individual facts are less important than the overall shape. In fact, if we have to, if those individual facts amount to something that we can't ignore, which is what happened in 1932 and 1933, the scale of the famine was so great, it couldn't really be ignored, then you have to argue that this was necessary, right? So at the Congress of Victors, the Party Congress of 1934, the argument that was made to great success and fanfare,(09:26) was that the famine in Ukraine was part of breaking the back of the international Bourgeoisie by way of its Polish agents, and its Ukrainian nationalists, that the very, all of the pain and suffering actually demonstrates that the revolution has been successful. And that's a form of argument, which I'm sure is not entirely unknown to you.(09:48) The idea that precisely because there was pain, it was therefore, it was therefore worth it, but on a grand scale. And then related to this, again, before we get into the details, one has to remember that if you are a Bolshevik in the 1920s and 1930s, you are taking for granted that whole groups of people who exist on the earth will soon not exist anyway.(10:12) So, you know, you shouldn't be caring about individuals, you should be caring about the future proletariat. But in caring about the future proletariat, you have to understand that the peasants, for example, are going to cease to exist. That's just the way history works. And so if they cease to exist a few years earlier or a few years later, that's not your fault, right? It doesn't really mean anything, whether they cease to exist at one point or another.(10:37) So it, so this is, I mean, it's hard to get these things across now because, you know, there are some capitalists who have this kind of confidence about the way the world works, but there's nobody on the left anymore who has this kind of confidence about how the way the world works, so it's hard to sort of think your way back into this, but if you are sure that the world works this way, and has to work this way and should work this way, then the conclusion that, you know, yes, the peasantry is doomed, I know it's doomed.(11:02) Science says it's doomed. This is the way history has to work, then you're going to look differently upon the deaths of millions of peasants than you would otherwise, because that group was doomed anyway, as you see it. It's not you, you're not exercising the agency, history was gonna move in this direction, You know, you're just playing your part.(11:21) So those are just, those are general things to keep in mind. The second thing that I wanna get across is the background of the 1920s. So one way to think about the famine is the way that I've just given you, you know, let's see the world a little bit the way a Bolshevik leader might see it. Taking a step downwards, a little bit less abstract, another way to see the famine is as a contrast from the 1920s to the 1930s.(11:51) So the Soviets, after the revolution of 1917, were trying to do something in the 1920s, which didn't quite work out the way they expected. And that leads to harsh repressive policies in the 1930s. Or, in the 1920s, the Soviets were taking a kind of pause from a revolution, which they always knew they had to carry out, by the end of the 1920s, they knew that they had to carry it out.(12:18) And that revolution, the economic part of the revolution is what brought collectivization, the end of private agriculture, and famine. So I want you to think now about this kind of contrast between the 1920s and the 1930s. The trick to the Bolshevik revolution in 1917, as I mentioned to you before, is that it was never meant to be a Russian revolution.(12:42) It only became a Russian revolution in retrospect after it failed to be a world revolution. And that sets up the tension, which is inside this revolution, and indeed inside this state, from the very beginning. It was, the idea was, we are going to set off the powder keg in Russia, the rest of the world will join in, and then the rest of the world will help us take care of the rest of the revolution.(13:04) Because let's face it, the political part is the easiest part, right? Transforming the political system, overthrowing a regime, is easier under almost any circumstances than transforming an entire economy. It involves fewer people, you can take advantage of war, and so on, and so forth. So you have a world revolution, which doesn't help, which doesn't happen.(13:24) And you have then the need for socialism in one country. So how do you build socialism in one country to take the slogan? How do you, now that there's not a world revolution, how do you carry out your own blueprint on the scale of the Soviet Union? So there are a few parts to this. One part of this is you barricade yourself off from the rest of the world.(13:50) So the Soviet Union, as of the Treaty of Riga, is is a state with borders, and as we're gonna see over the course of this lecture, these borders will become stronger, and stronger, and stronger, one way to do this is to not let the outside in, not let the bourgeois world corrupt you, not let in all the spies and the wreckers.(14:06) The second thing that you do is that, you take advantage of the scale of your own country. So the Soviet Union was not, you know, the Azore Islands, it was not, you know, the Soviet Union covered, you know, a sixth of the earth, the Soviet Union was the largest country on the planet. And so when you look at the Soviet Union, you can say, well, some of these places are, will be like the colonial periphery, and some, it'll be more like the Metropolitan Center.(14:34) That's not the way they usually talked about themselves, I should caution you, because that's the capitalist way of talking about things. But Stalin occasionally did forget himself and say things like, What we have to do is carry out a policy of internal colonization. The French and the British, says Stalin, have far-flung maritime colonies that they can exploit, we don't have that, but we do have all of this landmass.(14:55) And so we can exploit parts of it to industrialize other parts of it. So you don't have the whole world anymore, but you do have a very big country with more and less developed parts, and you can exploit the less developed parts. And then the third thing that you can do is that you can make a play for time.(15:14) So the play for time is the 1920s. The play for time is the New Economic Policy, the trick of which in Ukraine, to make it very, you know, to simplify a little bit, is that Ukrainian peasants get to keep the land they took from Polish landlords, right? That was their revolution. Where Ukrainian peasants get to keep land that somehow they ended up with after the revolution.(15:39) The revolution didn't make that happen directly, like, no Bolshevik in Petersburg made that happen, but it happened. And they get to keep the land now. And of course, they're pleased with that. The second way you buy time is the national question. You're aware that there is a Ukrainian nation, as I think I've said before, this kind of odd difference between the 1920s and the 2020s, is even the Bolsheviks, I mean, even the most, you know, radical, ruthless, doctrine error internationalist, of the early 1920s,(16:12) like, they were aware that there was some Ukraine there that they had to somehow deal with, they disagreed with how they're gonna, but they were aware that it was there. And then weirdly, 100 years on, when Ukraine is much more clearly there, it's existence is denied. But so you try to buy time with the national question.(16:29) And this was not, I mean, this is an interesting policy, and it didn't happen just in Ukraine. I mean, around the Soviet Union, it was called like, "Korenizatsiya," like rooting, in Ukraine, It was usually called, "Ukrainizatsiya," "Ukrainizing." The idea was, yeah, maybe the nations are hostile to us, or they don't know, or they don't see the benefit.(16:51) But what we will do is we will give them a kind of capitalist stage of development. We're giving the peasant a capitalist stage of development, we're gonna let them keep the land, they'll like that. We're gonna give the nationally-minded elites a capitalist stage of development, because we're gonna give them university education, we're gonna give them jobs in the bureaucracy.(17:10) They're gonna have social advancement, you know, they're gonna move from the countryside into the cities, right? Ukrainian writer, Valerian Pidmohylny wrote a whole novel about this. So, we're gonna give them the capitalist stage of development, basically. 'Cause remember, the whole scheme here is that the Soviet Union has to find its way on its own to socialism.(17:29) So this has a kind of coherence. So in the 1920s, inside Soviet Ukraine, you have affirmative action for Ukrainians as against Russians and Jews, chiefly, the Ukrainians moving in from the countryside to the cities up, up through the ranks, and then you also have a very sophisticated, very interesting movement in Ukrainian culture.(17:54) Just to name one person, if I can name, I'll just name one, which is, Mykola Khvylovy, who was from the Kharkiv region. Again, remember, like in general, the Ukrainian nation comes from the east, that's kind of the default. He comes from Kharkiv, the Kharkiv region, a little town, Trostyanets, I think.(18:15) In the Kharkiv region. I should never say like, "I think," in front of the camera, 'cause now like there will be a million Ukrainians, did Khvylovy become from a place called Trostyanets or not? And is one of my TFs, checking that online right now as we speak, perhaps, yes. So I can be corrected in real time.(18:31) Anyway, but the point about Khvylovy is that he was a wonderful writer, he was in charge of a series of literary organizations who carried out, or was in the center of something called the Literary Discussion, which was about what is the orientation of Ukrainian literature gonna be? World literature, European literature, Western literature, Khvylovy's big thing for which he later, as you can imagine, got in trouble was that, it shouldn't have a colonial relationship to Russian literature, right? It should be a literature on its own.(19:00) The second major figure of this period, whose name is on your sheet, is Mykola Skrypnyk, who was a fairly orthodox Bolshevik in most respects, but who took the Ukrainian question more seriously. He was the commissar for education from 1927 to 1929. He was from Bakhmut, which is, you might have heard that name, just because it's where there's a lot of engagement between Ukrainian army and Russian mercenaries from Wagner right now, that's where a big part of the front is, in Donetsk, Bakhmut.(19:30) So in the 1920s, there was a play for time with the national question, and the idea was, if we make our version of Ukraine, that will bring people into the system, and they will be loyal, and then also it will make Ukraine attractive to those Ukrainians in Poland, who you remember from the last lecture, those five or 6 million people who had reasons to be often disenchanted with Poland.(19:54) Okay? The problem with this play for time is that this play for time had to come to an end. And it had to come to an end as the Bolshevik saw it, in a certain way, which was with the collectivization of agriculture. You know, it's, again, it's hard to get yourself into this mindset because I realize the way that we see things a century later is different.(20:14) But, if you really think that history's on it, actually, it's not so different. Like there are a lot of people after, I mean, this is a kind of loose analogy, but just stay with me for a second. There are a lot of people after 1989 who thought that absolutely, for sure, capitalism was gonna lead to democracy.(20:29) Like, 100%, we know it, Like, that's the way it's gonna work. That's a little, that's of course, not true. I mean, as an empirical matter, just not true. It's been a great century for capitalism, but not so much for democracy. If you've, you know, like I'm talking about like your lifetimes, or since you got out of kindergarten, basically.(20:46) Since you got outta kindergarten, democracy has been going down. Coincidence? I ask you, right? (students laugh) So that, like, but if you've ever been in that groove where people say that like, a certain kind of economics has to lead to a certain kind of politics. That will help you see what they thought, which is that, there was one form of capitalist development and they had to get through it at an accelerated rate.(21:13) And so, and they could not imagine any other way to do that besides extracting from the countryside, and building up in the cities, building the factories, building the mines. And the way to do that was to collectivize agriculture as they saw it. Again, they couldn't think of any other way to do it. And by the way, like these things which seem inevitable, although they're not, I mean, you could have gotten, Ukrainian agriculture would've been much more profitable had it never been collectivized, obviously,(21:39) they could have taxed probably, and made more money from it. But, you know, the things which, things seem inevitable and happened because people think they're inevitable then become models. So just a little excursus here, the whole Chinese Revolution does not happen in the form that it happens without the Soviet Revolution, And that the whole idea that you have to collectivize agriculture as a form of development, that wouldn't have happened in China without the Soviet model.(22:01) And likewise, without the famine that we're talking about here, there wouldn't have been a similar famine, although on a much greater scale in China, a couple of decades later on. Okay, close excursus. So, the only argument at the top of the Soviet state was, at what time to do this, and how quickly.(22:21) And this is a very interesting juncture because in the second half of the 1920s, after Lenin is dead, and Stalin and others are jockeying for power, Stalin shows the intimate relationship between bureaucratic politics and theories of everything, right? Because what, we don't have this anymore, we just have bureaucratic politics, we don't have theories of everything, right? That's why everything seems so blah.(22:46) But so when Stalin is arguing, what he says is, "You know, these comrades, these comrades are saying that, you know, that collectivization should happen too soon. And these colleagues or these comrades are saying it should happen too late, right? And I'm right in the middle, I've got it just right.(23:07) " And so this is an argument about who is the best scientist of history because it has to be done in exactly the right way. But in fact, what he's doing is, he's getting rid of some rivals, and then getting rid of some other rivals, defining himself as being in the middle, which is, that is how this kind of politics works.(23:24) The party is supposed to represent history. So okay, here, the sequence would be, there's history, which brings you the proletariat, and the proletariat brings you the party, and the party brings you the central committee, and the central committee brings you the politburo. And then the politburo is then dominated by one individual or occasionally a small group, right? And so the who gets to be that one individual is then determined by these, like, who is the best at these kinds of games, which was Stalin.(23:53) But the way you make the argument is, we're talking all, and you believe it probably to some degree. You're talking about the whole development of human history, and who is right about how to advance human history. Those are the terms in which the argument is made. So Stalin on the argument of collectivization, manages to consolidate power.(24:12) And this is very important because, and there's nothing solely about this, this is just normal politics, normal tyrannical politics. Once you're attached to a policy that is disastrous, what do you do? Right? You don't say it's disastrous, you say, actually it's the triumph of human history and civilization, and so on, and so forth.(24:30) It had to be this bad. So the fact that this is Stalin's signature policy is very important. This is the policy on which he rides to the top position in the Soviet, in the party, and therefore in the Soviet state. But collectivization as such, doesn't go very well. They start off slowly in '28, '29, in early 1930, they race forward in a couple months, in early 19, in early, sorry, early 1930, they collectivize, at least according to their own statistics, about half the country.(25:03) And that led to, as we saw before, a lot of resistance. In Ukraine, you had a million acts of resistance recorded in this period, you had whole villages walking towards the Polish border, trying to leave, a lot of resistance, including armed resistance and attacks on party members. As we saw before, it's in March where Stalin gives this "Dizzy With Success" speech, it's in March of 30 when the Red Army is placed in full battle readiness on the western front for fear of a Polish attack.(25:33) But there is no Polish attack, right? There is no Polish attack, as we saw last time, the Poles react to the five-year plan by saying, "Wow, the Soviets state is stronger than we thought." When the Soviets propose peace talks, they accept, there's a draft of the treaty between Poland and the Soviet Union in August of 1931, the treaty is signed in July of 1932.(25:58) I mention this again because it's gonna be important for how the famine is discussed. And so now I'm gonna let you in on a secret about how totalitarians do things. it's really smart to talk about threats, which you have already resolved, right? You don't talk about a threat which is actually a threat, because a threat which is actually a threat is a problem for you, which you don't wanna have out there in the world.(26:26) But talking about threats that you've just resolved is very helpful because they're under your control already, and so they only exist discursively. So that's stuff that we talked about in the last lecture, The Volhynia Experiment, the spies going across the borders, that was all very real. But by the end of 1931, latest early 1932, that had all been taken care of, those people had gently been arrested.(26:48) The Soviets were running more spies in the other direction, they were not afraid of Poland, they signed a peace treaty. That was pretty much done for, I mention all of this because when the famine comes, what is Stalin going to blame it on? He's not gonna blame it on a real threat, right? You don't talk about real threats because real threats are actually out of your control.(27:09) You talk about fake threats, or you talk about threats that you've already mastered because then they become, at least you think ,purely under your control. Although, and this is now not a trick, but a reality of totalitarian systems, but not only. Once you inject a very big lie into the system like that, like for example, that the Polish nationalists and the Polish spies are ultimately behind the famine, once you get that into the system, and people live and die on that lie, that lie can then take on a life of its own, right?(27:40) As we're gonna get to by the end. Okay, so how does the famine happen? Partly, the famine happens because of expectations. 1930 was a very good crop, the requisitions targets for the next year were therefore set very high. And 1931 agricultural conditions, weather, was all worse, and most of the farms have by then been collectivized, and collective agriculture just doesn't work as well as private agriculture, especially in the transition year, when you're doing it for the first time.(28:13) So the famine begins in late '31 as the peasants refused to surrender grain. Local party activists in Ukraine, completely, truthfully report up the ranks that there is famine, there are shortages, they ask that requisitions targets be, so requisition is when you take grain away, right? They ask that the requisitions targets be decreased.(28:34) At this point, the crucial thing is interpretation, right? And here we get to a big irony about these systems, which is that they end up relying on personal explanations. So the irony of that is that supposedly, Marxism-Leninism is a science, right? It's a science of society, a science of history. But then if something doesn't go your way, doesn't go the way you predicted, who do you have to blame? You can't blame yourself, you can't really blame science, you can't blame the method(29:10) because that would call Marxism into question, and therefore, your legitimacy. So you have to somehow imagine that particular individuals have almost superhuman powers. And this happens over and over and over again, those categories that I mentioned half-ironically earlier of like the spy and the wrecker, certain individuals turn out to have, you know, in order to explain these things, extraordinary, extraordinary power.(29:36) You might catch this in things that seem like conspiracy theories, right? Or the notion, you know, that people are crossing borders, right? Or that one or two spies inside the party can make a whole system. You see this there examples all over, but in the show trials later on, when like people would confess to doing a whole range of impossible things that you have to be a super-villain to do, to be both a Nazi and a Zionist at the same time.(29:59) You know, these, and then, or you know, when Khrushchev says that the whole problem with the Stalin period was Stalin himself. Like even that's not true, right? Even Stalin is not responsible for all the problems of the Stalin period, right? And so the way the system deals with things going wrong is actually, ironically, to give superpowers to evil individuals and to call them names, and so on.(30:21) So I'm pressing that point home because this is the way that Stalin handles in 1932, the famine in 1932. He says that like it's somebody's fault, right? So it starts with, it's the Ukrainian party's fault, they've gotta work harder. They're not going out there to get the food, but it's the fault of the individuals in the party.(30:40) Stalin says they have to be held, I'm quoting from July 1932, "Personally responsible." So this is, you know, this is detached from reality. They're doing the best they can, but they're an impossible situation. He then moves from there to the reason why these individuals in Ukraine are not doing what they should do.(31:02) And the reason why they're not doing what they should do is Poland. It's that they're corrupted by Ukrainian nationalists, and Ukrainian nationalists are in turn running, you know, they're being run from the Polish state, and actually, Pilsudski is in the back of it, you know, with his hands on the marionettes running everything.(31:20) Which, you know, in "Sketches From A Secret War," I make the point, this would've been news to Pilsudski, because at this time, the Poles were not really able to do anything that they wanted to do in Soviet Ukraine, and they were appalled and confused by the spectacle of the starvation that they saw in 1932 and 1933, In August of '32, Stalin writes an important letter to his, to one of the two other important members in the politburo, Molotov and Kaganovich, Stalin referred to them as "Our ruling group."(31:50) He wrote to Kaganovich, his trusted collaborator, and the great thing about this period, by the way, is that people still wrote letters. So, alright, I won't, I don't have time to wax nostalgic about the 1930s and the typewriters, but Stalin wrote to Kaganovich, "The chief thing now is Ukraine. Things in Ukraine are terrible, it's terrible in the party, they say that in two Ukrainian Oblast, I believe, Kyiv and Dnipropetrovsk, that around 50 Raikom may have spoken out against the grain requisitions plans(32:16) considering unrealistic. In other Raikom," meaning, local regional party commissions. "It appears situation's no better, what's this like? It's not a party, but a parliament, a caricature of a parliament. It's terrible in the Soviet organs, Chubar is not a leader, It's terrible in the GPU," secret police.(32:33) "And Redens is not leading, is not up to leading the fight with counterrevolution in such a large and unique republic as Ukraine, If we don't make an effort now to improve the situation in Ukraine, we may lose Ukraine. Keep in mind that Pilsudki is not daydreaming, and his agents in Ukraine are many times stronger than Redens or Kosior think, keep in mind that Ukrainian Communist party, 500,000 members, haha, even includes a few, yes, not a few, not a few rotten elements, conscious and non-conscious Petlurites(32:59) as well as direct agents of Pilsudski. As soon as things get worse, these elements will not be slow in opening a front within and without the party, against the party." So this is Stalin's personalist interpretation. It's Ukrainian party members, so it's not the laws of history, and of course it's not him, it's not the policy of collectivization, it is that these guys are deliberately sabotaging the harvest in order to break Ukraine off from the Soviet Union.(33:23) Now, this interpretation is very important because it's not, I mean, it's not, it's not everyday reality which drives policies, right? It's, and this is true in any system, it's the elite interpretation that's going to drive policies. And in a system like this one where there is no, like, there's no not much feedback to the politburo, the feedback to the politburo would've been local party secretaries, right? And that feedback has been cut off because Stalin says we can't trust them.(33:53) They're precisely the people who didn't take responsibility. They're the ones who're the agents of Pilsudski, right? We can't trust them. So now there's no way, there's no informational feedback to the top of the system. This interpretation is what's going to drive policy. And the policy, I broke this up into seven, It's on the other side of your notes.(34:09) There are seven specific policies which I think, clearly authorize us to characterize this as a political famine. Seven particular things that happen in just a few weeks in late 1932 and early 1933, which mean that rather than a few hundred thousand people dying, which was at this point, like in late fall of '32, is still possible, 4 million people die.(34:34) Again, these are political choices about what to do with available food. During this time, the Soviets had food reserves, during this time, the Soviets were exporting food, they were exporting food from ports in Soviet Ukraine at this time. People could have been fed from the food that was, it's not that there was a lack of food, it's a decision about how you treat particular people.(34:53) So this cluster of policies, it's kind of extraordinary condensation of things that happen from the end of November 1932 to the end of January 1933. At the first is the return of grain advances, this meant that, if you had met your grain requisitions targets that year, you were then given some grain back to live on and to plant for the next year.(35:24) In November of 32, this was reverse, which meant that suddenly, everybody was vulnerable. But also, you have to think about what this means in practice, which is a hard thing to convey. The famine is being carried out by, by local party members, local state officials, policemen, enthusiastic university students coming back, people who believed in the revolution, coming back to their villages, sometimes their very own villages, it's being carried out by people.(35:52) The food is being physically taken away by people. So every one of these measures, or most of them, it involves people rushing to the village, rushing to a collective farm with the authorization to take things away, and in practice, this often just meant taking everything. Right? Just taking everything. Second measure is the meat penalty.(36:11) it's 20 November, if you didn't make the quota, then you had to pay your tax in meat. And so if any of you have any kind of rural background, do you understand what that means? Like, if you are living on a farm, the goat or the cow is the kind of last resort, so you'll slaughter that goat or you'll slaughter that cow if you have to, but in the meantime, you're gonna take the milk, but if you have to, you have that meat that might get you through the winter.(36:39) Everyone, so all of these collective farms, villages that couldn't make the quotas then had to turn in their goats, or their cows. Just to quote a peasant girl from "Bloodlands," who says, "Whoever had a cow didn't starve." Right? It's a kind of basic, but then they lost their cows in late 1932.(36:59) Third specific policy, the blacklists of 28 November, according to the blacklist, if you hadn't met your target, then you had to surrender 15 times as much grain, which of course is impossible, and was a complete authorization of all the party and state forces to come and take literally whatever was there.(37:22) The blacklists also meant that you were cut off from the rest of the Soviet economy, so it was illegal for you to exchange in any kind of way with any part of the rest of the Soviet economy. Number four is maybe the most diffuse, but it's incredibly important. It's the national interpretation of the famine.(37:41) And this has to do with this character of Vsevolod Balyts'kyi, who was the head of the state police in Ukraine at this time. And at this time, later it was different, but this time, quite close to Stalin and had personal conversations with Stalin about all this. He comes back to Ukraine in December with a message, that Ukrainization has been carried out in the wrong way, right? Ukrainization has been carried out on in the wrong way, Ukrainization has promoted the wrong people, Ukrainization has been dangerous,(38:13) and there are a bunch of, so there are a bunch of details involved with this. Like party commissions now come from outside of Ukraine to run the party. Stalin sends in about a hundred of his own trusted people from the outside to run the party. But the gist of it is that, now, if you are in favor of Ukrainization, you're in danger, but also if you're not being enthusiastic about requisitioning the grain, you'll be called a Ukrainian nationalist, and then you'll be sent to a concentration camp.(38:46) Or perhaps worse, right? So this whole, a right-wing nationalist deviation is being defined. And the method which every party member would've understood was, if you don't go through with requisitioning the grain, even in these conditions, you will yourself be punished personally, and you will likely be sent to a concentration camp.(39:07) That was a standard punishment. And you know, this. and then with this, with the whole plot that like, also the Ukrainian communists are informed that many of them are in fact, secretly Polish agents, there's the Ukrainian military organization, which is run by the Polish military organization, the Ukrainian military organization doesn't exist.(39:28) The Polish military organization hasn't existenced since 1921, but Balyts'kyi, who was a very creative individual, explained the existence of all of these groups. So right around, so that's December-January '32, '33, at this point, about 1 million people are dead. But this interpretation, which says the you and the party will be punished.(39:50) That's one of the big things, which turns it from 1 million into about 4 million. Fifth measure, 20 December, 1932 is the affirmation of the existing grain quota. So they could have reduced the quota, nothing in the scheme of things, that wouldn't have meant anything except that fewer Ukrainians would've died.(40:11) Maybe they would've exported a little bit less grain. They could have reduced the quota, they didn't, they forced it upon the protesting Ukrainian party leadership in late December 1932. Number six, January of '33, the peasants were banned from going to the cities. This is an unusual situation.(40:30) In general in a famine, or in any, like, let's say there's a food shortage caused by bad weather. You wanna be in the countryside, right? It's always better in those situations, almost always, to be a farmer than it is to be in the city. But this famine was different because the state had taken total control over the countryside and had been very successful in extracting food from the countryside, so you actually had this unusual situation where peasants were fleeing to cities to beg for food.(40:59) Or peasants, and this happened over and over again. Peasants would send their children to the cities to beg, to beg for food. Thinking that that was the only chance their children had of surviving. So as of the middle of January, peasants were banned from doing this. And then at the end of January, 22nd January, the Ukrainian Republic of the Soviet Union was separated from its neighbors, Belarus and Russia, it became illegal to leave the Ukrainian Republic.(41:30) So again, a natural response to hunger is to go somewhere else. This blocking, the internal board of the Soviet Union, made this impossible. It also clarifies to what extent this is a specifically Ukrainian event, by the way. The fact that Ukrainians knew that if they went north to Belarus or to Russia, they'd be more likely to be fed.(41:50) And it has the same kind of irony as begging in the cities does, by the way, because Ukraine produces food for Belarus, it produces food for Russia. But Ukrainians in this situation, were going to Ukraine, were going to Belarus and to Russia. So by the summer of 1933, and again, we don't have time, you know, and maybe there are words, it'd be very difficult to describe what this means.(42:15) But by the summer of 1933, we're at about 3 million inhabitants of Soviet Ukraine dead. In addition to this, the Ukrainian party itself, the Ukrainian party has been purged. About 120,000 people are forced out of the Ukrainian party. and particular focus is on the people who had carried out the Ukrainization policies of the 1920s.(42:39) Mykola Khvylovy commits suicide on the 13th of May 1933 after learning of the arrest, he was this very important writer, the one who led the Literary Discussion. After he learned of the arrest of one of his friends, another writer, he committed suicide. He would certainly have been killed otherwise, he was not wrong to believe that.(43:04) The Ukrainian writers were taken to a specific concentration camp in Karelia, where a number of them were later executed. There's a term for this, which is the "Executed Renaissance," captures the phenomenon very nicely 'cause there was a renaissance. The 1920s really were a renaissance. It was the most interesting decade in Ukrainian culture, at least until 1914, at least until 2014, to the present, which is also very interesting.(43:31) But the 1920s were extraordinarily productive in basically all fields of culture. And then almost everybody who was, not almost everybody, most of the people involved were executed. Okay, and then a few weeks later, Mykola Skrypnyk, the guy who had been the commissar for education is himself accused the national deviation and also commits suicide.(43:52) So those two suicides are symbolic of, you know, the end of the 1920s, the end of this idea that Ukraine could somehow move forward into a communist future. The postscript to this, as I wanted to suggest at the very beginning, is the Great Terror. So the Great Terror is a separate chapter in "Bloodlands," and you'll read about it.(44:15) But there are a couple of odd ways in which the Terror, the mass shootings and deportations of 1937, 1938, are actually kind of an afterword to the famine. Or they're another example of this principle that, especially in conditions of extreme tyranny, you will find yourself doubling down on the terrible policies that you made rather than altering them, rather than, you know, rather than taking some kind of responsibility.(44:44) I mean, you could say, I mean, from an ethical point of view, one of the most interesting things about this kind of ideology is that it allows you never to have to take responsibility, right? The word responsibility never appears or to put in the converse way, when people in the sixties and seventies begin to, in the communist world, say interesting things in opposition to communism, the the moral vocabulary which they draw from is centered around the word responsibility.(45:13) Which I mean, if you just sort of flip that around, you can see one of the attractions of being on the inside of this, right? That you don't have to take responsibility. Okay. So the Terror. In two ways, the Terror is connected to the famine. The first is that the five-year plan includes in February 1930, the idea of "de-kulakization.(45:41) " So a "Kulak" is a more prosperous peasant, or somebody whose neighbor says he's more prosperous, and de-kulakization means a kind of artificial class conflict in the countryside where the middle peasants and the poorer peasants are supposed to denounce the better off peasants, and then the better off peasants are sent to this emerging system of concentration camps in the Soviet periphery, which we know is the gulag.(46:08) So as a result of de-kulakization beginning the 1930, a lot of peasants, the disproportionate Ukrainian peasants were sent thousands of kilometers away to Siberia, to camps, for five-year terms. Where, Stalin gets the idea, they were vulnerable to being recruited by Japanese military intelligence. Not quite as crazy as it seems, Japanese military intelligence was actually quite active and skillful, and they were thinking about the national question inside the Soviet Union.(46:48) So it's not pulled from nowhere, right? I mean, the thing about all of these ideas behind the Terror is that they're not, they're never pulled from nowhere, they just take some element of reality and exaggerate it to grotesque proportions. But so the idea was these peasants are serving five year terms, they're gonna be coming back to the Western Soviet Union, and they may cause trouble, right? 1931, so 1935, 36, 37.(47:14) This is one of the origins of the peasant action, which is the major action in the Great Terror. So when you think of the Great Terror, if you think about it at all, you might be thinking of the intellectuals, and the show trials of the party members. That was about 60,000. The Great Terror was about 700,000 people.(47:30) The biggest group affected by the Great Terror were actually the peasants, and the suspicion of the peasants goes back to collectivization. Or, you know, if you like, the notion that, "We did something drastic and terrible to them, maybe it wouldn't be so surprising if at some point they might wanna do something to us.(47:48) " That's the fundamental logic. The second set of major actions in the Terror are the national actions. Again, the details are all in "Bloodlands." And the most important of the national actions, the bloodiest one, which more than 100,000 people are executed, which is a big number. Is the Polish action.(48:07) And the roots of the Polish action go back to the famine. Because the explanation that was given for the famine was, there's the Polish state, there are Polish espionage, the Poles have recruited the Ukrainian communists, that's why they're carrying out all this sabotage. That is not true in anything like social reality, but it remains true inside the Soviet apparatus of repression.(48:31) That story, if I can torture you, that's not how I want to put it, if people are tortured on a very large scale, according to a scheme in which the idea is to get them to repeat a certain story, like, "When were you recruited by Poland?" And so on. then those documents become part of the internal bureaucratic reality of the apparatus of repression.(48:51) And then the Polish, or the Polish plot, although it didn't really exist in reality, only gets bigger in the internal bureaucratic reality of the apparatus of repression. To the point that this fellow Balyts'kyi, who I mentioned earlier, the guy who made it up in the first place, right? The creative intelligence chief who made it up, he was then caught himself according to this logic.(49:16) "If the Polish penetration of Ukraine and the Soviet Union was so incredibly important, comrade Balyts'kyi, why weren't you onto it earlier? Perhaps that's because you yourself are a Polish spy, right?" So the person who invented this idea was himself executed as a Polish spy. But that's just a, that's an individual example of a much larger phenomenon, which is that in the national actions, roughly 100,000 people will be killed as being a spy, as spies for Poland.(49:45) And this, although it's a horrifying event in its own right, in some sense also goes back to this original set of collectivization. But it's the suspicion of Poland, the story of Poland, and the inability of the regime to admit mistakes, take responsibility, and the way that a big lie then metastasizes and remains inside a system, all of that lead us towards these events in the Great Terror.(50:09) Okay, Thank you very much. (calm music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class16. Colonization, Extermination, Ethnic Cleansing - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pi0wyvuNn4A
Transcript:(00:00) (ambient music) - Okay. Greetings everyone. Thank you for joining me on this beautiful day when there are so many lovely things that you could be doing outside. Where did the picnic tables come from? What's up with the picnic tables? Where do those. - [Student] Morse College was closed. So commons went sideways.(00:31) - Okay. Okay, okay. - [Student] It went this way. - Okay. Right. Class. So, again, I would take you guys outside if it weren't for the fact that there's this technology which is keeping me fixed right here. The way that I wanna talk about the subject today is to broaden it a bit and think about the German factor in Ukrainian political history.(01:04) Because the German factor has a kind of strange shape to it where actually Germany, German culture, the German language doesn't mean very much in Ukrainian history until quite late in the day, until the 19th and especially the 20th century. And then suddenly it means quite a lot and most of it quite negative.(01:28) Most of it quite destructive. So, I wanted to start by just going back over a few of the themes from previous lectures just to set the stage for this kind of sudden on rush of Germany in Ukrainian history. Because I have this, I have the feeling that if I just start with 1939 or 1941 in a way that will be too abrupt and we won't understand the depth of the contrast.(01:56) 'Cause something new really begins in the 20th century. There isn't... When Germany begins to contact Ukraine, something new happens and to see the novelty I think we have to start earlier on. So, I'm just gonna now just do a real quick series of stopping points along the previous several centuries.(02:15) Oh, sorry, the other thing I wanna tell you guys in case you haven't figured it out is I have a cold, so I'm at like 85%. So hopefully I'll go at 85% speed and that will be more appropriate and everybody will be happy. I always feel stupid when it's nice outside and I have a cold, right? (students laughing) You know what I mean? I don't feel stupid when it's like January and I feel great but when it's like, anyway.(02:37) So, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna review the last six or seven centuries and just remind us of some of the stopping points that we've marked. One of them is the Holy Roman Empire. So if you think back to the beginning of the class and the conjuncture in which the Kyivan state is formed, Christianity is coming from two directions, from the west and from the south, from the Holy Roman Empire and from Byzantium.(03:01) And roughly speaking, all of the new states that are formed then are either in a relationship to the Holy Roman Empire like Poland because Western Christian or to the Byzantium because Eastern Christian or what we're later gonna call orthodoxy. So, that rivalry, the presence of Holy Roman Empire does have something to do with our story.(03:21) And that rivalry generated this contest for Moravia back in the eighth century where those gentlemen, Cyril and Methodius made that trip northwards to Moravia and they brought the language with them. They brought the language with them which we call Old Church Slavonic. And they were the ones who created an alphabet for Slavic languages.(03:46) That has to do with the German factor in some sense because it's this contest between Western and Eastern Christianity, the friction between them, which forces people to be creative and come up with new solutions like for example, Church Slavonic, like the Cyrillic language which comes, the Cyrillic alphabet which comes a bit later.(04:05) It's a bit of a stretch but I hope you'll buy it if I say that the Viking factor is also in some way the Germanic world. So the Scandinavian languages, except for Finnish of course, the Scandinavian languages are Germanic languages. And so Kyivan Rus' is in some way connected to a broadly speaking Germanic world by way of Scandinavia, by way of the Vikings, by way of the Viking contact which begins eighth century, ninth century, and has to do with the creation of a state in the 10th and especially in the 11th century.(04:36) And so you can think of Ukraine as being part of a kind of crescent of Scandinavian or Viking state building attempts which ranges from England through Scandinavia itself, and then all the way down to Kyiv. The next moment which I didn't really bring out is the Reformation. So, the Reformation is largely a German and then Swiss and then French event at the beginning.(05:04) The Reformation, the emergence of versions of Christianity is relevant to Ukraine, is relevant to our story because it is that friction between Protestantism and Catholicism. The Reformation in later the Catholic, in later Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Reformation, which forces our churchmen in places like Chernihiv in Kyiv to take up many languages, to take up the Renaissance, to take up Disputation, right? It is those things which make those churchmen in Kyiv, Chernihiv different, for example, than Churchmen in Moscow(05:37) who don't have contact with the Reformation, don't have contact with the Renaissance. And will eventually have contact with those things but by way of Kyiv itself. It's also interesting in that Protestantism and Orthodoxy sometimes formed a kind of alliance, at least a kind of brief practical alliance where the Orthodox would borrow arguments from the, the Orthodox would borrow arguments from the Protestants against the Catholics.(06:03) So there was some kind of cross-fertilization and there were also very, there were some very important Ukrainian families, families of Ukrainian magnates, wealthy magnates from old Rus who converted to Protestantism. But in general, that only lasted for one generation and the next generation they converted to Catholicism, and then are remembered as Polish families.(06:25) So, that's interesting. I hope you agree but it's relatively meager. The connection if we compare it to the connection with the Grand Duchy of Lithuania or with Poland, right, or with Byzantium, the connection with Germany is fairly meager until we get into the modern period, the modern period of the nation state.(06:49) And it's here where Germany starts to become very important because Germany's not the most imperial, most important imperial power in Europe. Never, right? Germany, this is a key fact about Germany. Here come your five minutes of modern German history. A key fact about Germany is that it comes into being after the world has been colonized.(07:13) And this is something that the Germans themselves are very aware of. The German unification of January 1871 takes place at a time when almost all of the world that's going to be colonized is already colonized from the European point of view. There are a couple of more decades of the Race for Africa that Germany takes part in.(07:31) It has colonies in Southeastern and Southwestern Africa. But in general, the world has already been divided up by the time that Germany becomes a state in the late 19th century. So you remember some points on the basic trajectory of this that Germany is unified not from Vienna, not from our Hapsburg friends, but by Prussia.(07:56) I've been trying to kinda note along the way in each lecture when Prussia turns up because eventually Prussia is going to be important. The Ducal Prussia breaks free of Poland in 1657 during a difficult time for Poland, a few years after the Cossacks have rebelled that Prussia declares itself to be a kingdom in 1701.(08:17) And then you may, you remember this fellow Frederick the Great of Prussia who's ruling from 1740 to 1780, he turned up in our class as the rival of Maria Theresa of Hapsburg, when Maria Theresa of Hapsburg becomes the first female ruler of the Hapsburgs. He challenges her, he declares war. They come to power about the same time, he immediately declares war as one does on the logic that he's just protecting her as one says.(08:45) And that period of Prussian history is the moment when Prussia begins to gather in other important lands such as Silesia. This moment in Prussian history is also, if I can just make a brief connection to the history of philosophy, this is also the moment of the great German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who you just might have heard of in some other class, the foundational philosopher of ethics and many other things at least in the western tradition in the modern period.(09:17) Kant is the fellow who argued among many other interesting things that when you act, you should act as though you were making a rule. So that as though everything you do, you should be able to categorize and think of it as a rule. So for example, for example, if you're watching this class not live but on video and there are 3 million views of this class, and every single person who watches it sends me an email and expects me to respond, the rule that you are creating is that Timothy Snyder should spend 60 years(09:58) responding to your emails. I've done the math. (students laugh) So that's an example of Kantian reasoning. If you think it would be a good world in which Timothy Snyder spent no time with his children, didn't sleep, didn't eat, did no research, but responded to emails for the next 60 years, then what you should do individually is write me an email and expect me to respond.(10:24) I say that with a smile, I appreciate your nice emails, but just think about the rule that it would be created. So then to think of a different rule. If every time someone watched a video from this class, they made a donation to Razom, R-A-Z-O-M, you would be creating a rule that Ukrainians should get warm clothing over the winter.(10:46) Or if every time you watched a video of this class, you went to my United24 site and made a donation, you'd be making a rule that Ukrainians can protect themselves from drones. So there are lots of rules that you can make, right? It's up to you. Okay. That was Kant. (students laughing) That was Kant.(11:09) So even those of you haven't taken intellectual history are now gonna remember Kant and acting as though all of your actions create a rule. Okay. So Kant is the great 18th century philosopher, So you'll remember that the Prussians and the Hapsburgs are rivals for the unification of Germany, right? They're rivals for the unification of Germany and it's the Prussians, surprisingly, who win.(11:30) They beat the Hapsburgs in the war in 1866. They unified Germany then they beat the French in 1870, and then they unified Germany at the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. They sign a treaty unified Germany in January of 1871. So that's where Germany comes into being. But even in those decades, it's less Germany and more the Hapsburg monarchy that matters for Ukraine, right? Insofar as there's a German factor in Ukrainian history in the 1870s, 1880s, 1890s, 1900s, it's the one that we studied under the rubric of the Hapsburgs.(12:06) When the German language comes into what's now Western Ukraine, it's by way of the Hapsburgs. When the idea of enlightenment comes in, it's by way of the Hapsburgs, precisely. I say I warm you all up with this just because I want you to see how drastic the change is in the 20th century when it comes.(12:27) In the First World War, as we've already seen, there is a moment when Germany controls most of Ukraine. There's a moment in 19, from early 1918 to the middle of 1918 when Germany and the Hapsburgs together control most of Ukraine, occupy most of Ukraine. Theoretically, what they are doing is national self-determination.(12:53) So this whole, this national self-determination business as you know and as you've seen in this class can work out in lots of different ways. The German version of national self-determination was we are going to recognize you. No one else is going to recognize you but we will. And in exchange we want you to deliver X million amount, X million tons of grain.(13:10) And then in practice that grain was very often forcibly requisitioned from Ukrainian peasants who very successfully resisted those requisitions. So, what the Germans were after and the Austrians too was food from Ukraine in 1918 which would allow them to win the First World War. That's very crucial to the First World War and what comes next.(13:34) It's not the kind of thing which we, if you're studying the war from a British or French or American point of view you're gonna be thinking about Ukraine and the food and that the Germans might win in 1918. But from the point of view of Central and Eastern Europe, this idea that Ukraine was a (speaks in foreign language), that Ukraine was like an endless chamber filled with food, right? Like it was a barn, a cornucopia.(13:56) It was an endless supply of food. That notion is very important, right? Because the idea that a land is not about its people, but it's about all the things you can extract from it is a very attractive colonial idea. And that idea is only going to be intensified in the mind of a German soldier who served not on the Eastern but on the western front, and that would be Adolf Hitler.(14:24) So, the way that Adolf Hitler thinks about Ukraine becomes intensely important in 1941, '42, 1943 because that's when Germany's going to invade the Eastern Europe again. I wanna step back here and try to give you a portrait of how Hitler saw Ukraine and how he came to power and then what, then we'll see what the Germans actually did.(14:52) So there is one way in which what happens in the east affects Hitler. He's not a soldier in the east but he does have this general idea that German soldiers generally have which was that we didn't lose the war in the east which they didn't. They didn't lose the war in the east. What happened in the east? Well, the version of what happened in the east that they get is very often coming from refugees coming from the east.(15:19) So namely from the people we call white Russians which is kind of an unfortunate name in a number of ways but by white Russian what is meant are the people who are fighting for the restoration of the empire and lost. And so now many of them end up in France or in Germany. And some of these white Russian emigres bring with them an interesting idea about, interesting for Hitler I mean, interesting idea about Bolshevism, about communism, which is that it is all a Jewish plot.(15:48) So this for Hitler and for the development of German extreme right ideology is a very important piece of what turns out to be Hitler's coherent worldview. Up until that time, Hitler had been saying that the Jews were responsible for capitalism, right? That capitalism was a Jewish conspiracy. After 1919 or so, he begins also to say that the Jews are responsible for communism.(16:24) And the reason and so then this is sort of an old punchline, like how can they be both the capitalist and the communists? But from Hitler's point of view, this isn't actually contradictory at all because what Hitler argues in his book "Mein Kampf" is that the Jews are responsible for all ideas which allow humans to regard one another as humans.(16:48) And so, capitalism with its social contract and so on, capitalism with its contracts, capitalism with its legal recognition and so on is one way that we see each other in non-racial terms. Likewise, communism with its class solidarity and its idea of revolution and so on is a way of seeing ourselves in non-racial terms.(17:13) For Hitler, any way of seeing ourselves in non-racial terms is Jewish and anti-human and anti natural. So the Jews are responsible also for Christianity. I mean, you can multiply, I mean there may be a stronger argument there actually but you can multiply the list of things that Jews are responsible for. They're responsible in Hitler's mind for any notion which sets us apart from racial competition.(17:40) Because for Hitler, and this is a crucial thing, the racial competition is nature. That's the way we're supposed to be. We are divided up into races, races are like species. They shouldn't be interbreeding, they should just be starving one another to death. That is good, that's natural. That's the way nature is supposed to work.(17:56) That's what the future's going to look like. And that's going to be as good as things get. So, how does this lead to Ukraine? Oh, so just to make this clear, this is why Hitler's antisemitism is so intense because what he's saying about the Jews is not, as you sometimes read, he's not saying they're like racially inferior or anything like that.(18:15) What he is saying is that the Jews have a kind of supernatural power to turn the humans into non-racial brain slaves basically with their communism, with their capitalism, with their Christianity, with whatever it might be. They come and they take the healthy humans who should be engaged in racial combat the entire time 'cause that's what they're supposed to be doing, that's what nature says, and turn them into beings who are capable of conversation and so on, right? So, the Jews have spoiled nature.(18:45) He's very clear about this. And what follows from that is that the Jews then have to be removed from the planet one way or another, right? They rule by way of ideas and you can't extract the ideas from everyone's mind without physically getting rid of the Jews. All this logic is entirely clear and explicit in "Mein Kampf.(19:04) " What does it have to do with Ukraine? Has a lot to do with Ukraine. Because the racial element of all this leads to Ukraine. From Hitler's point of view, Ukraine is Lebensraum Like Lebensraum is one of these German words that you have to know. It just means living space or habitat, right? So, in ecological context it would just mean habitat.(19:30) So Lebensraum means like, oh, or ecological niche. Like it's where a species, or in Hitler's mind, a race belongs. Living space. It literally means living space, space for life. Ukraine is the best Lebensraum because it has the most fertile territory, right? It has the most productive agricultural soil, the black earth.(19:50) And therefore the Germans should be there because the Germans are the superior race. And if the Germans are not there, then that requires some explanation which appeals to the Jewish factor, right? So the reason the Germans are not there, the reason we lost the First World War, for example, is that there was a Jewish conspiracy, the Jews stabbed us in the back behind the lines.(20:10) Whatever it might be, right? The Jews were behind the British and their blockade. Whatever it might be. If the Germans have not achieved what they should be achieving, it must be the fault of the Jews. So the idea of (speaking German) leads directly to Ukraine. Hitler's notion is that Germany's gonna become a large empire or a frontier empire.(20:29) He compares it to the United States more than once. The idea is that Germany is gonna control a frontier, dominate a frontier, and the central part of that frontier is going to be Ukraine. Ukraine is also very important in the antisemitic part of this analysis. Why? Because Hitler thinks it's going to be relatively easy to seize Ukraine.(20:52) Why? Because in his way of seeing the world, the Soviet Union is a kind of Jewish empire, right? From his point of view, the communists are all Jews, the Jews are all communists, and therefore the Soviet state is a kind of Jewish exploitation of the simple Slavic and other masses, right? The simple Slavic and other masses, those are the racially inferior people from Hitler's point of view, incapable of politics, incapable of serious culture, ripe for colonization.(21:22) Not capable of anything besides being colonized. But they will probably prefer German colonization to Jewish colonization. And Hitler's ideas about this are quite, I mean, they're really straightforward. We'll come, we may be starving them to death. Actually we're planning to starve tens of millions of them to death.(21:38) But if we give them beads, they'll be happy. And also if we have, if we put up a pole in the middle of the village and put a radio on it and play music, they'll be astonished and they'll dance around the pole and they'll be happy. That sort of thing, right? That sort of thing. His notion is that the Soviet Union seems strong but it's weak.(21:59) And the reason it's weak is that it's just governed by the Jews. The Jews govern with ideas. And if you hit them with violence, the whole edifice will collapse and then the happy masses will accept a new colonial master because it's better than the old colonial master. I note the strong structural resemblance of this to the Russian war planning of late 2021 where the assumption again was that there wasn't really Ukrainian state, there was just a kind of exotic elite which was perching on top,(22:30) and one burst of violence would destroy that exotic elite. And then the happy masses would accept a new colonial master, okay? Closed parenthesis. So both by way of the antisemitism and by way of a (speaking German), Hitler's ideas lead directly to Ukraine. Very briefly, how does Hitler come to power? How does Hitler come to power? How does Hitler come to Ukraine? One of the nice things about teaching Ukrainian history instead of German history is that I don't have to spend all this time on like German public opinion(23:04) and like all these debates, ugh. That's in another class. No, it's an important thing because if you take a class, okay, now I'll make a serious point. If you take a class about Nazi Germany or about the Holocaust, it's gonna be about Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany, Germany.(23:20) And the thing about that is that there aren't that many Jews in Germany, and most of them survive. And so, if you wanna be serious about understanding the Holocaust, you have to understand something about the countries beyond Germany where the Jews actually lived like Poland or like Ukraine or like Belarus, or like Lithuania or Hungary or Czechoslovakia, right? So I'm giving Germany far too short shrift here, of course, but there is a kind of justification for all of this, which is that you can't actually figure out the Holocaust(23:47) just by looking at Germany and German Jews. You have to move into German colonization and the German destruction or attempt to destroy neighboring states because that's where the territory is where Jews live and that's where the territory is that Jews die. So I'm gonna give this the rise, Hitler's rise to power, very short shrift.(24:09) The one factor which enables it is the Great Depression. Germany is formed as a republic. It is a moderately successful republic in the 1920s. It has a hard time with the Great Depression in which 6 million people roughly are unemployed. Political factor. The left is divided between the socialist party and the communist party.(24:32) That makes it much easier for Hitler to come to power. This, by the way, is a sort of universal tactical political lesson that the 21st century is supposed to take from the 20th, which is that when there's a far right threat, the left should not be divided, right? No, I mean that, I mean, like I'm just stating what is out.(24:54) Like that's something, that is a lesson that people, 21st century tacticians have tried to learn from the 20th century, and this is sort of exhibit A of this. Now, the reason why the German left was divided is a bit, is interesting from our point of view because the German left had to be divided because the German communists were not permitted to cooperate with the German socialists.(25:14) The German communists were told what to do by Moscow and because... How does this hook up? It hooks up because at this time the Soviet Union is trying to build socialism in one country. It has to defend itself, right? It very nervously looks on the actions of communist parties in Europe. And what it tells them to do is almost always determined by what it thinks Soviet security interests are.(25:37) And those things change, right? But they don't change in a way which makes it very easy for communist parties to do well inside their own countries, let alone take power. So the socialists are divided, that's another important thing. The third important thing is that the German republic had already significantly compromised itself.(25:57) It was being run largely by emergency decrees. The parliament had already been largely marginalized. So, when Hitler is named as chancellor in early 1933, he inherits a situation where executive power was already inflated, legislative power had been suppressed, and all he really needed was one good crisis, which he got with the Reichstag fire, the burning of the German parliament, which he uses to declare a state of emergency, which stays in power until until he dies.(26:23) By the summer of 1933, they've established primitive concentration camps. They're hunting the socialists and the communists and the Nazis are the only legal party. From our point of view, the more interesting shift or equally interesting is the shift in foreign affairs. Where to put it slightly brutally, much of Europe swings in the direction of this new Nazi German state.(26:49) That's not how people like to talk about it in retrospect. In retrospect, we were all in the resistance. We're always all in the resistance in retrospect, right? But at the time, this seemingly innovative, dynamic, new German colossus drew a lot of positive attention even when it wasn't positive.(27:08) People compromised in its direction one way or another. So, the Germans rearmed and nobody stopped them. The Germans took back some territory that the French were supposed to be occupying. Nobody stopped them. The East European countries, which if you'll remember from what I said about Poland, the East European countries who are having a hard time as agrarian economies during the depression, some of them tend towards Germany because Germany is the rare country right in the middle of Europe, then as now,(27:39) which needs to import food, but it has lots of industrial goods to export. And so Germany makes deals with Hungary and Romania in which they agree to buy German industrial output, and Germany agrees to buy their food at a certain price, which during the depression is incredibly attractive. In March of 1938, everyone looks away as Austria is absorbed by Germany in the famous Anschluss which is another one of those German words you have to know.(28:13) In September of 1938, Italy, Great Britain, France, and Germany agree that Czechoslovakia has to be partitioned in Germany's favor in the famous agreement at Munich which the Czechs always call the zrada the betrayal at Munich. So in all of these different ways which I'm just kind of skimming over, everyone is tilting towards Germany, if not necessarily ideologically then maybe economically.(28:42) But if economically, the ideologically tends to follow. Not necessarily ideologically but maybe geopolitically. But then once you've made the geopolitical deal then maybe your partner isn't so unreasonable, and maybe the Bolsheviks are much worse which is how a lot of people saw it at the time. But speaking of the Bolsheviks, the most radical tilt towards Germany was 1939 when the Soviets and the Germans signed in August and September in two different agreements, a de facto military alliance and agreement,(29:14) an agreement how to occupy Poland and the Baltic, and the Baltic states. So everyone looking back, we all resisted of course looking back and then looking back, everyone has a different history. But there is this general drift which interestingly often braces almost everybody in some way or another from the British to the Soviets to the French.(29:32) Everyone is drifting in some way towards Germany. And this only stops or this only changes tone I should say when someone agrees to fight a war. And that someone in this case agrees to fight a war is kind of a strange way to put it, but the country that resists Germany is Poland. And this matters hugely for Ukrainian history.(29:57) It's hard to say exactly how but the reason why it matters is that Hitler's plan for Ukraine was we ally, we the Germans ally with Poland. And together with Poland, we invade the Soviet Union. After which of course we marginalize the Poles, keep them under control, occupy their country, whatever. But that's the basic idea.(30:23) The war for Hitler is the war in the East. This is something that's very hard for Western people to understand. Like if I say that France was a second rate concern for Hitler and that he didn't wanna fight the British at all, people don't... Obviously now it's very important in French and British memory but from Hitler's point of view, that was secondary.(30:43) The only reason he needed to fight the French from his point of view was to make sure that he didn't have a second front when he went to Eastern Europe. That's why he had to fight the French. And he only had to fight the British because they came in on the side of, oh yes, the Poles. Okay, so the reason why the Poles are so important in the story is that by not agreeing to be a German ally, they force Hitler to change his plans.(31:07) And how does Hitler change his plans? He changes his plans by hastily making an alliance with the Soviet Union. Not what he meant to do, right? But he does so in August and September of 1939. So instead of invading the Soviets with the Poles as an ally, he invades Poland with the Soviets as an ally in September of 1939, right? Not how he meant for it to happen.(31:32) But because it happened that way, then Ukrainian history will take a certain turn which I'm gonna return to in just a second. I wanna repeat the thing I said a moment ago. If the Poles don't fight in 1939 then it's unclear at what point the French or the British ever would've gotten into the war.(31:51) Because the reason the French and the British got into the Second World War was that they had by that time given Poland a security guarantee which they honored in a very abstract way. The French, this is literally true. The French went into Germany a couple of miles and then pulled back out, and so then they had technically honored the terms of their agreement to set up a second front.(32:11) The British didn't do anything at first but they waited for a while, decided what to do. But the crucial thing is they got into the war. And if the British and the French don't get into the war in 1939, it's unclear when they would ever have gotten into the war. And if the British don't get into the war, it's very, very unclear how the Americans ever get into the war.(32:31) Maybe the Americans get into a war in Asia with the Japanese, but without Britain it's hard to see how Roosevelt gets the Americans into the war in Europe. It's hard to see what line leads to that. And if the Americans don't get into the war in Europe, it's not only just that you don't have the Americans fighting, it's also that you don't have the Americans supplying the Soviets which is a huge X factor which everyone forgets about 'cause it's very inconvenient.(32:54) But the reason why the Soviets or one of the reasons why the Soviets were able to hold back the Germans at all was that the Americans were hugely supplying them with Studebaker and Jeeps and all kinds of other things across the Pacific Ocean. So, if the Poles don't fight in 1939, it's a very different world war.(33:12) I just wanna just note that and now we'll go back to Ukraine, okay? So for Ukrainian history, what this means is that we get this strange period from 1939 to 1941 of what you could think of as Molotov-Ribbentrop Europe, Molotov-Ribbentrop were the commissar for foreign Affairs, the foreign minister of the Soviet Union and of Germany.(33:39) They're the ones who signed the pact, August 23, 1939. The notorious, people call it the Hitler-Stalin Pact. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is usually what it's called. This creates a world where for almost two years, the Soviets and the Germans are de facto allies and the country and most significantly for our region, the country of Poland is destroyed.(34:02) Poland wiped off the map. The Poles resist the Germans for about six weeks with actually much more skill and dedication than they're usually given credit for, taking significant losses. But they're facing an army attacking them from, not only from the west, but from the north, from Prussia. Sorry about the geography.(34:23) But Germany actually was north of Poland as well as west of Poland because of Prussia. They were also attacking from the south because Czechoslovakia had been dismantled. And Slovak soldiers joined in the invasion on the German side. And Czech tank, the Czechs had the best military industry at the time. The best tanks, best explosives.(34:43) So the Germans were invading Poland with Czechoslovak tanks. All of that mitigated against Poland even before, so the Soviet Union joined in the invasion on the 17th of September. So the Polish state is destroyed which is not a trivial thing. It wasn't actually, it's not actually normal. It seems normal, I mean, again, there's a parallel here with 2022 and the idea of the state doesn't exist and destroy the state, right? But it's not actually normal to invade countries and then say they don't exist(35:10) unless you're a colonizing power. So Europeans constantly invaded countries and then said they didn't exist. That's the history of the Americas and Africa, right? But for European countries to invade other European countries and say that they didn't exist, that was something new. And that's what the, both the Germans and the Soviets did that with Poland.(35:28) They invaded the country then they said it didn't really exist. And therefore, this is important, what we're doing is not an occupation because you can only occupy a country. Which may just seem like a word game but it's actually, it's a legal maneuver or an extra legal maneuver. Because if there's not a country there, then what you're doing is not an occupation.(35:47) You're not bound by the laws of occupation, by the conventions on occupation, by the customs of occupation. You're just saying that where you are is a kind of undefined place inhabited by autochthonous peoples, right, who we don't really know very much about. That is the German legal approach to the invasion of Poland.(36:04) The Soviet approach was a little bit different. The Soviet approach was that there was a class war going on. The Ukrainian and the Belarusian peasants were being oppressed by the Polish lords. The Polish state had collapsed and therefore we just came in to aid our class allies. But again, the Soviets were also careful to say that there wasn't a Polish state anymore.(36:24) The Polish state they claimed had been destroyed. This wasn't an occupation, this was just territory where there was a class war going on. So, from the point of view of Ukrainian history, what follows is that the Ukrainian Soviet republic expands very significantly to the west, pretty much to the borders that it has now.(36:45) The Molotov-Ribbentrop borders of 1939 are pretty much identical to the western borders of the independent Ukrainian state now. Another thing which happens on these territories is a kind of rapidly, like a fast forward version of the Bolshevik policies from 1917 to the 1930s. There the territories are next and then there are four waves of deportations.(37:09) The deportations tend to affect above all people associated with the Polish state. So more Poles than anybody else, although later on there are quite a few Jews who didn't wanna take Soviet passports. But the basic idea is destroy the Polish state and then take the people who have anything to do with the Polish state.(37:25) The colonists, the landowners, the bureaucrats, the soldiers, the foresters, and get those people to Kazakhstan. Get them to Kazakhstan, get them to Siberia where they won't cause any trouble. And then the notion was that now we're carrying out a revolution and so we are going to transfer land from these people to the oppressed Ukrainian and Belarusian peasants.(37:46) This revolution is really for you. Which is if you'll remember, that's a lot like the 1920s in the Soviet Union where the peasants are brought in, invited into the revolution by the notion that they're gonna get land. And as you remember, the most important political question in this part of the world in the first half of the 20th century is precisely land.(38:06) So the terrain is de-Polandized. Poles are deported from it and Poles lose their land which is a bit like what had happened in 1937, in 1938. If you did the reading in chapter three I think it is of "Bloodlands," the most important national action in the Soviet terror was the Polish action in which 100,000 or around 100,000 Poles were shot.(38:29) About twice as many were deported. And so, Poles are being removed from these terrains where historically there had been Poles, right, in sort of wave after wave after wave. But I said this was accelerated. Not long after that in 1940, so the peasants get the land in early 1940 and then collectivization starts in late 1940.(38:50) So, the stage is very short and peasants are generally disillusioned by collectivization. And even many West Ukrainian communists are disillusioned by this. The West Ukrainian communists who had been part of the Polish Communist Party had been telling their people that Soviet Ukraine is Ukrainian state, that you're all gonna get land, and our national culture is going to be respected.(39:15) Collectivization disillusioned them. The fake elections also disillusions many of them. And they tend to fade from any kind of significance in the region. The reason I mention that is to try to suggest something which is gonna be important in the next lecture, which is that there had been Ukrainian political life.(39:36) Not in the Soviet Union, right, but in Poland. It had been stunted and oppressed but it existed. There were Ukrainian churches, there was Ukrainian civil society, there was Ukrainian educational society, there were Ukrainian cooperatives, the Ukrainian newspapers. All of that. Under Soviet rule that becomes impossible, right? There is a Soviet, it's called Soviet Ukraine but independent forms of civil society from whatever they might be are not allowed.(40:00) The way that Leninism works is that everything that one might think of a civil society has to be part of one larger structure, has to be part of the state or of the party. So all of the legal political parties that had existed under Poland are now dissolved. The communists are now discredited which leaves who? Hmm? - Jewish nationalists.(40:22) - Okay, among Ukrainian political parties. - [Student] The nationalists. - The nationalists, right? The situation has selected for the nationalists. And you'll see why that's important later on but I just wanna mark it right now. Okay. So, the last stage of this and where I'm gonna leave you is Operation Barbarossa itself.(40:42) Which is the Operation Barbarossa is the invasion of the Soviet Union. It's when Hitler finally gets to do the thing which he wanted to do which is invade the Soviet Union, try to seize Ukrainian grain, also try to seize the Azerbaijani oil fields, that's a secondary objection. Destroy the Soviet state as such.(40:59) There are three larger policies attached to this invasion that are formulated by the Germans. The first is what they call the Final Solution, which is initially the idea that the Jews will somehow be deported out of the way to Madagascar or to Siberia, who knows, but somehow made to vanish. The final solution over the course of this war will become more immediate, more proximate, and more directly lethal.(41:25) Over the course of the war, it will move from this kind of vague notion of deportation to killing them first over pits and then eventually in gas chambers. The second larger policy is what they call the Hunger Plan. By the terms of the Hunger Plan, the Germans were going to keep the Stalinist collective farm.(41:43) They were going to try to control Ukrainian and general Soviet agriculture but direct the surpluses from Ukraine to Germany, right? In a way, the same dream of the First World War, direct the surpluses, colonial exploit. Direct the surpluses from Ukraine back to Germany and to the rest of Europe. And this will also be carried out in the sense that cities are going to be starved, most notably Leningrad which is in Soviet Russia, but also tens of thousands of people will die in Ukrainian cities such as Kharkiv and Kyiv.(42:17) It's carried out most notably in the prisoner of war camps where through early 1942, the Germans carry out a policy of deliberately starving Soviet prisoners of war, almost regardless of ethnicity. Some ethnicities are treated a little bit differently than others. Jews are treated much worse. But in general, Soviet prisoners of war starved.(42:38) About 3.1 million die of hunger and related diseases which is a huge number, it's a terrifying number. By the end of, at the end of 1941, this was actually the most lethal German policy. More people were starved to death in these open air prison, not even camps, so just enclosures where people are left to die basically.(42:56) Camp in a way dignifies it too much. More people had died this way than in the Holocaust as of the end of 1941. In 1942, the Holocaust, the Final Solution will pass in part because the Germans begin to think they have to recruit people from these camps in order to do various kinds of police work and other work for them.(43:14) Which by the way means that many of the local collaborators in the Holocaust had been extracted from these camps, right, which gives you a sort of sense of some of the choices that or non-choice that people faced. The third major policy was called Generalplan Ost and that was the larger notion of colonization that over the course of the next decades, tens of millions of Slavs would be moved out of the way, starved or dispersed, what we would call ethnically cleansed.(43:41) The Jews by now would be gone some way or another and Germany would establish a whole series of nice small towns, everything very well-organized, white picket fences. The Ukrainians or the Slavs significantly reduced in numbers but working as de facto slaves. That was the basic idea, that was the blueprint. They never got there, right, because they lost the war.(44:09) The Holocaust which is the last thing I wanna talk about is the one of these three policies which actually, so to speak, is worse than it was planned, right? The general idea was that we're going to starve out everybody or disperse everybody that the Germans are never quite able to do that. They do starve quite a large number of people, as you see in "Bloodlands.(44:30) " They do disperse quite a large number of people but the most focus killing policy and the one that accelerates consistently over the course of the war is the Holocaust. So I just wanna leave you with a couple of thoughts about it and then we'll be done. The first thought about this is that the Holocaust has to do with not only Hitler's general idea that the Jews are responsible for everything, but the particular idea which follows from this, that if we're losing the war, it must be the fault of the Jews.(45:01) So for example, if we invade the Soviet Union and the British and the Americans come in on the side of the Soviets, that must be explained not by Pearl Harbor or anything else, it must be explained by the fact that the Jews are in charge on Wall Street and Fleet Street, as well as in the Kremlin, right? So, defeat in war makes the conspiracy theory more necessary and more pervasive.(45:28) And also it should be said more sociologically useful to the German population as a whole. The conspiratorial antisemitism becomes more important for Germans during the war, especially after they start to lose. So this is specific to the end of 1941. When Germany, when it's clear that the Germans have lost the war that they planned to fight which is 1941, that's when Hitler shifts the idea that all the Jew are to be killed, late 1941, early 1942.(45:59) When I say the German, the war they thought they were gonna fight, this is very important, right? So this is not a military history class. You've heard me bemoan that there's not enough military history. I'm just gonna make one little military history point which is that the wars never go the way you think they're gonna go.(46:11) They never go the way you think they're gonna go. And looking back, it's almost impossible to overstate just how dramatic that truth is. The Germans invaded the Soviet Union thinking that it would fall within 12 weeks on the outside. Six to 12 weeks, the Soviet Union was going to collapse. All of their preparations were made on that assumption.(46:30) They didn't have supply lines planned, they didn't bring winter clothing. The whole assumption is that this is gonna collapse within a couple of months, right? And of course it didn't do that and they couldn't admit that they failed, and they kept fighting and so on as one does. And they blame someone else and that's part of the history of the Holocaust, right? But it's irrelevant for the politics of all this.(46:53) When I say they didn't, they lost the war they thought they were fighting, that's what I mean, right? They expected the Soviet Union to collapse in a couple of months. The World War from Hitler's point of view is the war that happens because they didn't destroy the Soviet Union immediately. Their thought was the Soviet Union falls immediately.(47:09) There's nothing anyone can do about it. But it turned out that was not true. The second point I wanna make about the Holocaust and then we'll be done is that even in the Holocaust, and this is the reading in "Black Earth" which I hope you'll do carefully, but even in the Holocaust, or I should say even especially in the Holocaust, there's never a moment when politics ceases to matter.(47:29) There's never a moment where you get into some sphere of pure evil or pure ethics or something where human experience and human calculations don't matter. The way that people behave during the Holocaust has to do not just with German intentions and German policies of mass killing, but also with their own calculations about what might work out the best for them.(47:51) And in the case of the population of the Soviet Union, of the prewar Soviet Union where this is most relevant is Hitler's idea that Jews are communists and communists are Jews. Now, most Soviet citizens know that there are certainly some anti-Semites in the Soviet Union but in general, most Soviet citizens know that's not true because it's kind of their everyday experience, right? Like they're communists, right? The vast majority of communists were actually not Jews, right? And if you're in the Soviet Union, you know that.(48:20) But the politics of this is that if the Germans come into the Soviet Union and they say, all the communists were Jews and you're a communist, what do you say? I mean, unless you're heroic or you fled, you say, yes, they were. Right? Because that shifts the responsibility from you for this thing which is supposedly doomed communism onto the Jews.(48:46) That's a form of politics, right? The Germans were fooled by this. They sort of fooled themselves and other people fooled them. But that's a form of politics. The Germans come in with an idea of the way the world works. People adapt to that idea of the way the world works in a way that suits them by shifting the responsibility for the Soviet system onto the Jews.(49:04) That's part of the history of the Holocaust. And then of course, in the Soviet Union as elsewhere, the vast majority of the work that's done in the Holocaust is not done by the Germans. It's done by local people. And in taking part in this policy, they're also expressing a kind of personal commitment to a certain view of the world, which is that the Jews are communists, the communists are Jews, the Soviet Union has to be destroyed.(49:27) All of this is incredibly awkward after Soviet power comes back. And how Stalinism deals with all of this, this very messy record of collaboration and resistance during the Holocaust and during Soviet occupation in general, how Stalinism deals with this is gonna be our subject when we come back next week. So, thank you very much.(49:53) (gentle music)
Timothy Snyder: Making of Modern Ukraine.Class 17. Reforms, Recentralization, Dissidence:1950s-1970s - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRdNxx295r8
Transcript:(00:01) (mysterious music) - So today, we're gonna, we're a little bit behind chronologically. I need to spend some more time on the 1940s and 1950s, which is what we're gonna do today. And then the next lecture, we'll catch up to Khrushchev and Brezhnev. What we need to make sure we understand because it's really important for everything that comes later is the transition out of the war.(00:36) And the reason why this is so important is that the Second World War, I mean in addition to the ways that it's so to speak, objectively important, the millions of deaths, the territorial changes, the movements of populations, it's also ideating, ideologically very important. The Second World War is a kind of new starting point for the legitimation of the Soviet Union, and it's also a starting point for many other stories of many other nations about who they are.(01:04) The United States is far away from the conflict. The United States lost relatively few people, it entered the conflict very late. But nevertheless, the Second World War is very important for American self-formation. The closer you get to the conflict, the more true this is, the state of Israel, Germany, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, contemporary countries, run their stories of themselves through the Second World War.(01:29) And in the case of the Ukraine and other countries we're working on, it's through the Second World War, but then also through a kind of Soviet myth of the Second World War. So we have to make sure that we get the Second World War right in order for us to watch how that political memory forms and then we'll have some way to evaluate what's going on today.(01:48) So in the background of everything I'm doing today is 2022, and the way we're thinking about nations and the war in 2022, I'm gonna be talking about the '40's and '50's, but occasionally I'm going to lurch over and remind you to look for a connection. Okay so was anybody else in New York over the weekend? I was in, see, oh yeah, I was hoping I was gonna be the coolest one in class for once, all right.(02:13) So I was in New York over the weekend and I saw the new Tom Stoppard play. That's cool, right, that's cool? Okay, good, I'm reassured. The new Tom Stoppard play is very, it's for him, it's very straightforward, it's very historicist, it's about a family, an Austrian Jewish, partly Jewish Austrian family in the late 19th century into the second half of the 20th century and I don't want to spoil the end, but you know, in the end, most of them die at Auschwitz.(02:45) The problem with that is that most Austrian Jews didn't die at Auschwitz, like that's an easy way to close a play because everyone thinks the Holocaust is Auschwitz and Auschwitz is the Holocaust. And so naturally, if you're trying to bring it all to a tragic conclusion, which he does very powerfully, having the children die at Auschwitz is the way to do that.(03:05) The problem though historically is that most Austrian Jews died in Belarus. And once you know that odd little fact, then you are reminded that the Second World War took place on a territory. And you might move from there to remembering that the second world war happened as a result of German imperialism towards the East.(03:27) So the actual geography of the Holocaust reminds you that the Germans were in a certain place, they were trying to conquer a certain place, and that the killing began and actually continued in all sorts of places, which we often forget, like Minsk, like Riga. Auschwitz of course, was a center of the Holocaust, around a million Jews were killed there, more than a million people were killed there.(03:51) But this little artifact of our culture where everything leads to Auschwitz has the consequence of making this think that everything in some way leads to nowhere because Auschwitz is not a place where you have to know where it is on the map, right? I mean, maybe you do, maybe you've been there, but it functions as a kind of nowhere, as a kind of zero point, as a kind of kind of black hole where everything ends.(04:14) Right, literature ends, philosophy ends, thought ends. Right, Primo Levi says "Here there is no why". But actually, the Holocaust took place in a place, and Auschwitz is also a place, and if this were a different class, we would spend more time on what kind of a place Auschwitz was. But here, what I'm trying, the point I'm trying to get across is how deep in our culture it goes that Eastern Europe isn't really a place, that these territories don't really matter.(04:36) And that in extremists, we will look away from the actual territories. And in extremists, we'll find this reference point, which is familiar, but which gets us not looking at Ukraine or the Baltic states or Belarus or Poland or western Russia, which is where the Holocaust was actually centered. The reason I'm dwelling on this is that whether or not you think about the territories is going to affect how you think about responsibility for the war.(05:03) And if we think about the lecture, so if you think about the lecture last time about the German factor, right, if you're a German and you don't know that there was a German factor in Ukrainian history, you're not gonna be thinking about the German factor, right? If your view of the war doesn't have territory in it, then it also doesn't have most of the peoples in it and your recollection is going to have those peoples in it, and you're not going to be concerned about how you come to terms with those things.(05:33) So part of colonialism is forgetting about colonialism, right, that's part of the trick. Part of being a colonialist, a good colonialist forgets about colonialism, right, and has various devices of doing so. The European Union for all of its undoubted virtues is a project of forgetting about colonialism.(05:49) They're not the only people, there are other ways to do it, but what the European Union does is it tells a story about how the Europeans fought the Second World War, they realized war was a very bad thing, and therefore they chose peace, and unlike the Americans, they stopped fighting wars. Yes, exactly, exclamation point, but that's not true, that's not true.(06:12) What happened instead is that Europeans kept fighting wars until, this is much more banal, until they lost them, which admittedly is like, that doesn't really work as the beginning of the speech in Brussels, you know, it doesn't really work as educational curriculum in Europe but that's the truth.(06:27) The Germans lost the Second World War, which is a colonial war. The French lost in Southeast Asia, they lost in North Africa. The Portuguese and the Spanish couldn't hold out in Africa any longer, right, and so on and so forth. At which point, they then joined together to this European integration process, at which point they started telling the story about how Europeans are very peaceful people, and we've always been very peaceful, and we integrate and look at us, and then look at the Americans, they're bad, right?(06:53) That's actually the European national anthem. It's set to a tune by Beethoven but those are the words. If you don't know German, that's actually what they're singing, okay. Don't email me about that. Okay. All right. It's "Ode to Joy" of course, in fact. It's actually "Ode to Joy", the words are by Schiller.(07:19) But the point is that, there's a serious point here, which is that although the European Union is, we'll talk more about this, but a theme of this class is the world of empire and what you do after empire, right? And the European Union is an answer to what to do after empire. You go back to Europe and you don't talk about empire very much and you cooperate with one another, which has many good sides.(07:42) But what it means is that you don't talk about empire. The Dutch don't talk so much about Indonesia, right? And the Germans do talk about the Holocaust, one has to give them credit for that, they absolutely do talk about the Holocaust, and in that sense, they do better than everybody else, but what they don't talk about is imperial territory.(07:58) They don't really talk about empire or colonization, which really is the operative framework for what they were doing in Ukraine. And so the tricky part of all this is that if you do, if you do memory of the Holocaust, but without territory and without the other people, you lose sight of the fact that you yourself were the colonizer.(08:20) And since you lose sight of the fact that you yourself were the colonizer, you tend to forget the things that colonization involves, like putting local people into awkward, difficult positions. Right, so you don't colonize by yourself, there are always more local people involved than there are colonizers involved, there have to be just mathematically.(08:39) And when you're the colonizer, one of the things that you're doing is you are creating structures that local people will be taking part in. And later on when you remember you're the colonizer, that's one of the things that you think about, right? So if you're thinking about the European colonization of North America, you don't just think about what the Europeans did to the native peoples of North America, you think about how they turned them against each other and how they used one tribe against each other(09:00) and so on and so forth. That's part of the story, right? Likewise, when Germany invades Eastern Europe and rallies collaborators, yes, the nation should come to terms with their history of collaboration in so far as it exists, but the Germans also should recognize that this is part of their history, right, the history of colonization.(09:19) Now why am I talking about all this? I'm talking about all this because in the 21st century, we have a kind of problem, which this lecture is going to lead us to understand I hope, which is that before this war in 2022 broke out, Ukraine didn't really exist as a subject in Germany. Ukrainians didn't really exist as a full-fledged people from the German point of view.(09:42) Insofar as they existed, they very often existed as a trigger for luxury, like you do this better, you do that better, you do the other thing better. You learn your lesson from the Second World War, the way that we learned our lesson from the Second World War. But that analogy doesn't make sense because the Germans were the colonizer in the Second World War, and they colonized Ukraine, right? So you can't lecture, you know, you can't lecture, as an American, you can't lecture the Osage about this.(10:06) You have to sort of realize what you did to the Osage. And the Germans weren't there yet. And that had the odd consequence that up until 2022, the Germans and the Russians were able to find a kind of common ground about Ukraine along the lines of they don't really exist. They're sort of, they're kind of a problem for us, they're sort of complicated, they don't really exist.(10:29) And there was a divvying up of roles about the Second World War, which I hope we'll be able to challenge after this class where Germany and Russia up to 2022, this is now all being reconsidered, but up to 2022, the Germans and the Russians had this kind of nice deal where they divided the good things about the war.(10:46) What the German said was, we get the good thing of having learned all about it and apologized. And the Russians said, we get the good thing of having been the victims and the victors, right, which is a nice position to be in. And everybody else kind of complicates the story, right? And so from from those positions, you know, you can see eye to eye like it's too bad that we invaded you but it's a good thing you won and so on and everyone else in the middle kind of gets forgotten, all those territories,(11:14) those awkward territories get forgotten. Together, we can reproduce stereotypes about Ukraine, together, we can talk about how it's all corrupt. Together, we can talk about how they don't really have a language, you know, and so on. We can do all these things that are quite colonial and not notice it.(11:28) together. We can build a pipeline. Together, we can become economically dependent upon you. All of this goes back to the Second World War. All of it goes back to the German colonization, which I talked about last time. This time, we're going to be talking about the way that the Soviet Union handled the Second World War.(11:46) Without this knowledge, we can't get to where we are now, the '70's, '80's, '90's, 21st century and 2022. Okay, so I tried to make clear the memory stakes. Now let me talk about some of the, some of the actual events. What we're gonna do today is we're gonna get through the war into the end of Stalin so you can see how this all gets set up.(12:08) And the basic story is going to be something like the war is processed as victimhood and victory, but for Russians more than for other people, right? Once you know that that process begins and begins in 1945, the rest of it step by step to Putin becomes less confusing. And the way that the Russians and the Germans are going to come to this weird common understanding about the war also becomes less confusing.(12:37) Okay so history. I'm gonna take what seems like a big lateral step now and talk about, and talk about the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and the ethnic cleansing of Poles during the Second World War. How is this not a big lateral step? It's not a big lateral step because in order to understand the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and its ethnic cleansing of Poles during the war, you have to understand the war, and you have to understand Soviet and German policies during the war.(13:14) So, I mean to be very clear, if you're a Ukrainian and you are identifying yourself with this tradition of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, then there are things that you need to know and things you have to consider and they will be in this lecture. But analytically, if we're gonna understand where it came from, we have to know what Soviet policy was and what German policy was because there's a sort of mystery here.(13:34) I mentioned the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists earlier as a minor, mostly imprisoned terrorist group in Interwar Poland, right? If it hadn't been for the Second World War, we probably wouldn't remember them, with all due respect, at all. They weren't that many people. They didn't matter that much in Poland except for the few assassinations, and they didn't really matter anywhere else.(13:55) I'm definitely getting email about that, but that's the truth, right? The Second World War changed the setup dramatically. How so? Well inside Poland, by the '30's, there was a consensus among Ukrainian political life to accept the Polish state. That was hard, it was disappointing that there was no Ukrainian state.(14:19) But by the second half of the 1930s, people generally understood that the Soviet Union was much worse, that Poland was threatened, and therefore we accept the legality of the Polish state, we try to function within it. That position, which was the majority Ukrainian position by the second half of the 1930s, becomes impossible when? - [Student] When Poland ceases to exist.(14:43) - Poland ceases to exist, 100% exactly right. I mean it seems like such an easy point, but the difference between a state existing and not existing is traumatic for all of the citizens, but especially for the national minorities. If this were a class on the Holocaust, I would now be spending a lot more time on that point with respect to the Jews.(15:04) Because membership in a state which treats you poorly is still very much different than non-membership in any state, right, that's the argument in "Black Earth". For the Ukrainians, it suddenly means there's no one to cooperate with that was a legitimate state a day before. The democratic parties, like UNDO, which I mentioned last time, they melt away, the left wing parties or the radical left wing parties, the communists and the cryptocommunist parties, they cooperate with the Soviets in what becomes Western Ukraine.(15:39) And as we saw last time or the time before, they become disappointed. What's left after that is the extreme right. The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, the people who have experience, who have a coherent ideology of national superiority and discipline, who have practice being underground, unlike everybody else except the communists, and the communists have now come above ground and been disappointed, they have practice being underground.(16:04) They are willing to do things like use violence, which the other parties weren't necessarily willing to do. So they're advantaged in that way, if that's the word, by 1939. They are also advantaged, or they're also transformed by the war itself. So by the time the Germans invade the Soviet Union, the Soviets are just starting to find and deport the Ukrainian Nationalists.(16:29) Germany invades the Soviet Union, and the Ukrainian Nationalists declare a Ukrainian state. That was not the German's idea at all, right? So you now know enough about the German understanding of Ukraine to understand that it didn't require the Ukrainians to found a state. On the contrary, Ukraine was meant to be colonized by Germany.(16:49) If there were some Ukrainians who would be useful in that, all the better, but the idea was to create a colony. So in early July, 1941, sorry late June, 1941, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists decides to declare a state. This effort fails dramatically because the Germans don't support it. Okay, this is a crucial point here, right? The Germans are all in favor of Ukrainian non-political collaboration, but they have no interest in Ukrainian political collaboration.(17:16) So the people who declare independence generally get sent to camps. Roughly four-fifths of the leaders of the Ukrainian Nationalists now go to German camps or prisons, including Stepan Bandera, who is the one who is most often mentioned. So Bandera spent the Second World War, or most of the second world war in Buchenwald in a German camp.(17:35) He wrote letters, it's true, but he had very, I mean he's the figure that the Russians now fixate on, but he had very little to do directly with anything that happened in the war, because he was in a German camp. But the reason this is relevant is that the, what was already a very radical organization was stripped of its top leadership.(17:55) And very, no offense, very young people were suddenly in charge, people who had, just for the record, that got one smile, okay, very young people were suddenly in charge. And this meant that was what was already a kind of unpredictable, violent organization becomes more so. What's worse, just before this happened, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists had split into two fractions associated with these two leaders, Melnyk and Bandera, and those two fractions set about killing one another, thereby further disrupting(18:30) the leadership structure of the organization and making it more likely that it would carry out other kinds of disruptive acts. Many of these people do in fact collaborate with the Germans. We're talking about a few thousand people in a nation of tens of millions, but many of them do in fact collaborate with the Germans, some of them are in the German police force.(18:50) And this too, so this is where my earlier point comes in, none of that could have happened without the German invasion. Right so these men, a few thousand of them, get a specific form of training as a result of the war. Oh and it's more interesting than I just said because I know this is the hard part, you see, it already messed me up, when Poland is broken, the power that comes into Eastern Poland is the Soviet Union.(19:17) And a lot of young men then join, a lot of young Ukrainian men then join the Soviet militia. And those deportations of Poles, which I mentioned earlier and will mention again, many times, the local militia men who carried them out were of Ukrainian nationality. Here comes the part of the story that nobody likes, but which is, there are many parts that nobody likes, but this part particularly nobody likes.(19:40) When the Soviets are driven out by the Germans in summer 1941, a lot of those Soviet militia men of Ukrainian nationality then joined the Germans. Now from a human perspective, this is totally normal. If you're a young man who'd been making his living as a kind of quasi police officer on the countryside and one power goes away and the other power comes, and they also are in need of a job doing basically the same thing, you know, carrying a baton and driving people into deportation columns, different people to be sure,(20:12) you're probably gonna take the same job, right, a lot of it is as banal is that. But in our world of ideology where we think like, oh, they're Stalinists and they're Nazis, and they're this nation and they're that nation and that determines everything they do, it's very hard to get our minds around the kind of basic social fact of double collaboration and the basic human realities, which led a lot of people to behave in that way.(20:35) But what this means is that a lot of these men who just had experience putting Poles and other people onto deportation trains are now serving as German auxiliary police, mostly enforcing the German idea of law on their fellow Ukrainians, but among other things, and this is very significant, taking part in the policy of the mass murder of Jews, which we know as the Holocaust.(20:56) So as always in a colonial situation, there are relatively few people from the colonial power. About 1,400 Germans are directly involved in rounding up Jews. About 12,000 locals are responsible for the murder of about 200,000 Jews in Western Ukraine. I'm talking about Western Ukraine because that's where the nationalists were.(21:16) The people who were the locals, by the way, they were Ukrainians, but they weren't only Ukrainians. There were also Poles, there were other people, but they were predominantly Ukrainians in this part of the world. And then all of these Jews were murdered, usually by Germans, but certainly with the increasing help, especially after 1942 of locals by bullets at close range.(21:36) So that is the education that several thousand young men got. They wouldn't have gotten this education in interwar Poland. They certainly wouldn't have gotten it in an independent Ukraine. They got it as a result of a joint German Soviet invasion and then as a result of a German invasion of the territory which the Soviets just took.(21:57) These men were then the ones who were directly involved in ethnic cleansing of Poles in 1943. The conjuncture was that the Germans are being driven out, it looks like the Soviets are coming. The Soviets, okay here comes another part of the story, which nobody likes, but which is absolutely true and important, the Soviets are recruiting people for their own partisan movement.(22:25) They are not picky at all about who those people are, right? So plenty of German collaborators go right into the Soviet partisan movement. The Soviets are recruiting them. They're trying to recruit German policemen to the Soviet partisans. And one attempt to try to, one attempt to try to recruit them negatively by a provocation ends up with a lot of Ukrainian policemen, German policemen of Ukrainian nationality going over to what turns out to be a Ukrainian partisan movement.(22:55) And that Ukrainian partisan movement, the UPA on your sheet, these are the people who carry out the ethnic cleansing of Poles in the summer of 1943, tens of thousands. The Poles respond, they kill a fair number of Ukrainians too, especially in Galicia. And this end, and so you can imagine this scene now, by 1944 when the Red Army appears, the Red Army appears on territories where Ukrainians and Poles are busily killing one, killing one another, okay so.(23:29) Going back to where we are now, it is, it's just important to remember that these crimes, which have to be known about, this history which has to be known whether you're Ukrainian or not, if you're German, what you have to know about them is that they would never have happened without you, right? They would never have happened without you.(23:48) Without the German colonization policy, none of this would have happened. The men who take part in all of this, if you're Ukrainian and you identify with Ukrainians, then you think about this and you think about responsibility, I think. But if you're a German, you think, huh, it looks like we created the conditions in which something like this could happen, right? That is part of what doing colonial history or doing imperial history reflectively involves.(24:12) Okay and then yeah. One more reflection about Ukraine. The OUN, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, this small group which became important briefly during the Second World War and after, it had a very specific notion of what the Ukrainian nation was. It was a hierarchical notion with a leader who would have absolute power, or a small group of men who would have absolute power.(24:36) The power would be exercised vertically. The Ukrainian ethnos was thought to be a kind of super group, super, the ubermenschen among all the other people's. That and more. I'm just gonna note that that is very different than the notion of Ukrainian nationality which is prevailing now, right? And it's also very different, I'll note something else, they lost, the UPA lost, and the Ukrainian state as it's currently configured, which is on a very different basis with a Jewish democratically elected president(25:06) and a very horizontally organized civil society, that Ukrainian setup is not only the one that we have, but it's the one which is winning a war. Okay, I'm just gonna close with that and people can reflect on it 'cause we really have to get to where we're going now, which is Soviet ethnic cleansing.(25:23) So the Soviets, and this is another irony of the war or not irony, the Soviets pick up in many ways where the Germans, or locally in West Ukraine, where the Ukrainian Nationalists leave off. The Soviets ethnically cleanse with ferocity and determination and with purpose at the end of the Second World War. You'll remember that in the '30's, the Soviets were pioneers of what we now call ethnic cleansing with the national actions of 1937 and '38, directed against notably Poles, Latvians, Koreans.(25:56) During the Second World War, '40, '41, there were these four major deportations from territories taken from Poland. When the Germans invaded, Stalin deported ethnic Germans for the first time on mass with such organization and such skill that the Germans themselves were envious, which by the way is a theme.(26:16) The Soviets had a deportation apparatus, which was very precise, which the Germans never actually, never actually had. And in 1940, you can see the German policemen, who at that time were in a form of cooperation with the Soviets and observing what they were doing, in their correspondence back to Berlin, they would express this envy.(26:33) Like we don't have an apparatus like this, we couldn't do this kind of thing the way that the Soviets are doing. But that's just to remind you that ethnic cleansing as a operational habit was already present. When the Soviets take back territory in '43, '44, they take entire national groups and deport them deep into the Soviet depths.(26:56) I don't have time to go into all the examples now, but it's peoples of the caucuses and then it's peoples of Crimea. And for the purposes of a class about Ukraine, the Crimean Tatars are the most important example. The Crimean Tatars were of course, as we would say now, the indigenous people of the Crimean Peninsula.(27:16) As you'll remember from not so many weeks ago, the Crimean Khanate had been a state for 400 years before the Russian Empire came in the late 18th century. In the late 18th century, there were essentially no Russians in what was called New Russia, but the Crimean Tatars were about 100% of the population of the Crimean Peninsula.(27:38) By spring of 1944, that was zero. That was zero because in March of 1944, 180,014 people identified as Crimean Tatars, men, women and children, were all forcibly deported, most of them to Uzbekistan on the logic that the entire Crimean Tatar people had collaborated with not to Germany. And this logic, this totalizing logic was applied also to Crimean Tatars who returned from the front, including Crimean Tatars who had just been involved in taking Berlin.(28:08) They were all accused of being collaborators with Nazi Germany and all to a person deported far away from their home, such that the Crimean peninsula became empty of its indigenous population as of spring of 1944. Minor note, they were deported in Studebakers, American automobiles, which is just another one of these interesting historical facts that are so essential for how things actually happen, but which everybody afterwards doesn't want to remember.(28:38) The Soviet Union was able to defend itself because of American economic aid. The role that the United States played in the Second World War, at least on the European front, was mostly economic until close to the end and it was instantiated in our very relevant material aid to the Soviet Union even across the Pacific.(28:56) The Americans don't like to remember that because of the Cold War, the Soviets don't like to remember it because of the Cold War but that's the truth. And if you think of the NKVD deporting the Crimean Tatars in Studebakers, in Jeeps, it can help you remember that constellation, which only a couple of years later would seem very strange.(29:13) So this notion that you deport an entire people because they supposedly collaborated as a people with the Nazis is helpful, not just so that we understand the particular failure of the Crimean Tatars, to which we're gonna return because it's a part of the history of Ukraine, but also it helps to place in context the general idea that I'm going to do something to you as a collective because you're Nazis, right, or because you collaborated with Nazis.(29:40) This is a very fruitful idea in Soviet and then Russian practice beginning no later than 1943. So a similar idea is applied when the Soviets get to Western Ukraine where they then refer to Ukrainian Nationalists, the partisans I spoke about before, but also self-conscious Ukrainians in general as collaborators and associate them with Nazi rule.(30:14) And here, of course, there's a case thousands of these men and women had in fact collaborated. It would be wrong to say that the entire group had collaborated, many of them had, but of course many other people had. As no one will ever say, Russians also collaborated. Right, every national group in the Soviet Union to say something which is not, which is controversial, but shouldn't be, every national group in the Soviet Union that was touched by German power collaborated.(30:40) They all did. And any attempt by one group in the Soviet Union to say, "Well, we were innocent and the other ones were guilty", wrong. The statistical evidence of which we have a fair bit shows that the only group which might have collaborated a little bit more than the others, not surprisingly, were the ethnic Germans themselves.(30:56) And the only group which perhaps maybe did a little bit less than the others as far as we can tell were the Belorusians. But in general, everybody collaborated. And so in general, the claim from the Soviet side that we were innocent but the other ones were collaborators is going to be wrong. But Stalin had power so he could make this kind of argument and it was made in Western Ukraine.(31:16) The way that the Soviets approached Western Ukraine has two parts. The first is defeat the nationalist movement, which they do. The Ukrainian partisan army or insurgent army, this UPA, had been formed to fight the Soviets. It's remembered in Poland, and it is remembered in Poland for ethnically cleansing the Poles, but it was built to fight the Soviet Union and it did I mean with, it should be said, with incredible determination.(31:43) They fought on for a very long time against both Soviet power and Polish communist power into the late '40's or even the early 1950s, although by that time, a lot of it was already controlled by the Soviets. This was beaten down with counterinsurgency, which was just as violent as the insurgency itself.(32:00) A man called Nikita Khrushchev defined the principle that we should be more violent towards them than they are towards us because that's the only way to, that's the only way to defeat them. That the Soviets use practices such as, you know, they would kill, when they killed a nationalist partisan, they would bring the body and drop it in the local village to see who would come out because whoever came out were the family and then the family would be deported because the principle was that the families would be deported.(32:27) So about 250,000 people were deported from Western Ukraine. Probably a larger number of people were killed during this counter insurgency. So one approach to Western Ukraine was to crush the insurgency, by killing the partisans and deporting their family members. At this time, the Gulag became disproportionately Ukrainian.(32:45) The other approach was to fulfill the nationalist agenda. And this is a feature of post-war communism in Eastern Europe in general is that it makes a hard ethnic turn. So they fulfill the nationalist agenda, number one, by giving Ukraine westerly borders. In 1945, the Soviet Union basically gets the same borders from the Americans and the British that they did from the Nazis in 1939.(33:12) Again, a point that no one really is super comfortable with, but with a few small exceptions. Basically, the border of 1945 is the border of 1939, which means that once again, Soviet Ukraine is extended significantly to the west. Some of this is is from other places, but most of this is formally Polish territories.(33:31) And this deprived the Ukrainian Nationalists of an argument because Ukrainian Nationalists were all about creating a larger Ukraine. And the Soviet Union continues the ethnic cleansing of local non-Ukrainians. They basically, the NKVD basically comes in and picks up in a more organized way where the Ukrainian Nationalists had left off.(33:52) About 1.5 million pre-war Polish citizens will be deported from what becomes the western part of Soviet Ukraine. And 1.5 million is a pretty big number. Incidentally, of those Polish citizens, roughly 100,000 were Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who were deported westward to Poland because they were not Ukrainian.(34:20) And the reason this, there are many reasons that might seem strange to you, but one of them surely would be that this is an ethnic deportation. So it wasn't about citizenship. The Soviets were saying if you're an Eastern Slav, basically, if you're a Belorussian or a Ukrainian you can stay, but if you're a Pole or a Jew, then you have to go, then you have to go.(34:43) Right, so those people were deported. Meanwhile, simultaneously, Ukrainians are being deported from Poland in the opposite direction, right? So the ethnic cleansing goes in both sides. The first major policy of the Polish Communist regime is to deport Ukrainians, right? So they legitimate themselves on the basis of what had been a hard right Polish position before the Second World War.(35:08) Right before the Second World War the idea of deporting all the remaining Ukrainians would've been almost beyond the imagination. It's the first thing that the communists do. And in that way, their polish communism is ethnic from the beginning. It will be ethnic in other ways later on. For example, in 1968, they will try to deport the Jews.(35:23) But the original sin, so to speak, is 1945, '46, '47. In 1947, the Ukrainians who remain in Poland after this deportation, most of them are deported inside Poland in an action which is remembered as Operation Vistula, where the idea is to take Ukrainians and disperse them around the so-called recovered territories of Poland, the lands that Poland got from Germany.(35:55) And the idea was to take them as individuals so that they couldn't form Ukrainian communities again. So that's the way that, that's the way the Ukrainian question was handled in communist Poland. And it was associated with the attempt of the communist regime to legitimate itself quite openly from the beginning.(36:15) And the idea that Ukrainians were the enemy or one of the main enemies, the second enemy after the Germans, was very important to legitimating Polish communism all the way to the end. The Ukrainians were demonized within Polish communism all the way through the 1980s. The conflict between Poles and Ukrainians was very real, but it was exploited by the Polish communist regime.(36:37) And this was very convenient, of course, for the Soviets, right? Because the last thing the Soviets would want would be some kind of Polish Ukrainian cooperation or understanding. And as we will see a few lectures down the line, when you get to Polish Ukrainian understanding about history and many other things, that is one of the factors that leads to the end of the Soviet Union, okay.(36:56) So this is a very, from the Polish point of view, this is of course a very real history. In the post '89 period, both a president and a prime minister of Poland have had family members who were killed in Viluna, which they may or may not talk about publicly, right? This is a fact about Polish political life, which makes, I'm just gonna say this, just gonna note this, it makes the reception of the six or seven million Ukrainian refugees in 2022 much more interesting because a lot of people when they look at that, they say,(37:28) "Oh, well, the Ukrainians and the Poles, well I mean surely they just like, they're friends, they look at them, they're white people, they must get along, right?" From a distance, it can look like that, right? But in fact, Ukrainian Polish relations are incredibly complicated, as you've probably gathered in this class.(37:44) And 1943 is one of many, and Ukrainians would point to others on the other side, of course, one of many very difficult moments in Ukrainian Polish relations. So the 2022 thing is actually much, much more interesting than it looks. A lot of Americans looked at it from our own optic and didn't see like, oh wow, like something special is actually happening here, which I think it's fair to say there was.(38:07) Okay, the underlying move here though, as you've noticed, is a move towards, is a move towards what you could think of as a quietly emerging Russian ethnic definition of the Soviet state where ethnicity itself has become much more important. Soviet Ukraine has been enlarged, it's been reformed, it has a slightly different, has a different kind of population with fewer Poles, and of course, far fewer Jews who have been murdered in the Holocaust.(38:45) But underneath that, there's a notion that it's ethnicity that matters and that it's the Russian ethnicity which is the most important. And to make this case, which is the last thing we're gonna talk about, I'm gonna start with something that Stalin said at the end of the war, two weeks after the end of the war, 24 May, 1945.(39:05) And this is when Stalin makes his famous toast to the great Russian nation, which I'm gonna read to you in its entirety because it's important. Okay, "Comrades, permit me to propose one more last toast. I should like to propose a toast to the health of our Soviet people, and in the first place, the Russian people.(39:23) I drink in the first place to the health of the Russian people because it is the most outstanding nation of all the nations forming the Soviet Union. I propose a toast to the health of the Russian people because it has won in this war universal recognition as the leading force of the Soviet Union among all the peoples of our country.(39:38) I propose a toast to the health of the Russian people, not only because it is leading people, but because it possesses a clear mind, a staunch character and patience. Our government made not a few errors. We experienced at moments of desperate situation in 1941, 1942, when our army was retreating, abandoning our own villages and towns, et cetera, et cetera.(39:54) A different people could have said to the government, you have failed to justify expectations. Go away, we shall install another government, which will conclude peace with Germany and ensure us a quiet life. The Russian people, however, did not take this path because it trusted the correctness of the policy of its government and it made sacrifices to ensure the route of Germany.(40:09) The confidence of the Russian people in the Soviet government proved to be that decisive force which ensured the historic victory over the enemy of humanity, over fascism. Thanks to it, the Russian people for this confidence. To the health of the Russian people." Now there's something ironic about a toast to fascism where you talk about how your nation is better than everybody else's.(40:27) Yes? - [Student] Why is he saying this? He's Georgian, right? - Yeah, yeah, he's Georgian, that's right, he's Georgian. But you don't, you know, you don't have to belong to a nation to use or even believe in an ethnic idea. But see, I want you to note the difficulties in all this. Russia was great, and I'm now only slightly paraphrasing because it was less touched by German power than Belarus and Ukraine.(40:57) You see? The Russians are steadfast and patient, that's Stalin's spin, because they're not occupied. Of course, the German war did kill many Russians. The most atrocious example is the hunger, the terror siege, the hunger siege of Leningrad in which more than a million people are killed. The scale of Russian death is horrible from a Western point of view, it's terrifying.(41:22) But it's much less proportionately than the scale of death in Belarus and Ukraine, much less, even, not just relatively, but with respect to Ukraine, absolutely. It's fewer people, fewer civilians killed than Russians. And the reason why, you know, the reason why the Soviet Union won the Second World War, isn't that just that Russians came running to the rescue.(41:44) You know, on the contrary, more Ukrainian soldiers die fighting the Germans in the Red Army than Americans, British and French put together. And when the Red Army is pushing back through Ukraine and taking horrible losses, which it does, of all of its peoples, including the Russians for sure, but it's picking up its reserves from Ukraine as it's then moving into Poland and towards Berlin.(42:09) So what happens is ironically here by 1945, is that you have this capacity to decide which nation is great, which nation is greater than the other nation. And you have implicitly also the power to decide who's the collaborator and who is not. And that's going to be the legacy of the Second World War, a major legacy of the Second World War for Soviet and Russian power for decades onwards.(42:34) And it's based on what I wouldn't hesitate to call a flat out totalitarian lie, because you see what's happened by 1945. The man who after Hitler is most personally responsible for beginning the Second World War, and indeed, the man who with Hitler began the second world war as an ally in 1939, now has the authority to define who are the real collaborators, right? And no one is ever supposed to think about that.(43:07) And indeed, in Russia today, there's a law which forbids you from mentioning anything along those lines in any kind of media, right? But this power to have been the ally of Hitler and then to tell you who the ally of Hitler is is very important for Soviet practice and it also helps a great deal now. If you're trying to understand the Russian rhetoric about Nazis and de-Nazification and fascism and so on, it helps a lot to know that the Nazis are who we say they are, right? The Nazis are who we say they are and that's what it means,(43:35) the collaborators are who we say they are. So as the Cold War begins, there's a new cultural focus on Ukraine, which is defined by a fellow called Zhdanov in a larger cultural turn. And the attitude about Ukraine is something like this, that there are two camps in the world, and the camps are, they call them the democracies.(44:07) Right, Zhdanov when he says the democracies, he means us, he means he means the Soviet Union and its allies, and then there are the fascists, the capitalists. And in these two camps, what's interesting about these camps, there's not really any longer a vision of progress. And let me pause on that because it's really, really important.(44:28) After the Second World War, the Soviet notion of legitimacy is gonna be based much less on economics and much more on culture. And the reason for this is that the Stalinist transformation of the Soviet economy has essentially been completed. Awkwardly, the Stalinist transformation of the Soviet economy did not actually bring socialism in any sense.(44:51) I mean we can call it socialism if you want, we can call it state socialism, we can call it whatever, but it's not socialism in the sense understood by Marx. We do not have harmony, we do not have equality. We don't have any of the things which any of the 19th century idealists, or Marx in is more sentimental moments, described.(45:08) None of that prevails in the Soviet Union. But the Stalinist transformation is over. Collectivization has happened. The factories have been built, the mines have been dug. You can dig some more, you can build some more, but essentially the transformation has happened and it hasn't brought the expected result.(45:22) Instead, there's been a terrifying war, which the Soviet Union just barely won with the help of the Americans, which has to be now forgotten very quickly. But this fundamentally, the fact that the Soviet transformation is over, and you have this shift from economics to culture, means that the whole nature of the way the Soviets are gonna define themselves against the West is now a little bit different.(45:41) It has much more to do with a notion of cultural innocence. So when Zhdanov says there are two camps, he means we are the good guys and the capitalists are the bad guys. The capitalists who were our allies a moment ago now turn out to be fascists. And by the way, the dance that the Americans do is almost as extraordinary, right? I mean Stalin's on the cover of Life Magazine in 1943 and there's a whole special issue which I have in my office, come to office hours, it'd be great to see you guys,(46:14) but there's a whole special issue about how wonderful the great Russian people are and how they're the leader of all the peoples of the Soviet Union and how the great Russian people are just like America. It's really interesting if you're in American studies because it's just like America, like the Russians are just like the white people, like they're in charge.(46:31) And look, there's some pictures of people of color and they're kind of subordinate, but they like being ruled by these white people, the Russians, who are just like the American white people. But the point is that the Americans also had to make this turn where they went from being the allies of the Soviet Union who were all Democrats in the sense of small D right, Hollywood was in on this.(46:50) There were great movies about how the Soviets were the greatest democracy in the world. We had this shift from nought to Cold War in just a few years. Okay, but the way the Soviets do it is they say, this is all, you know, this is fundamentally about fascism. the fascists or who we say they are, but here's the important point.(47:07) The important point is that this then becomes about cultural innocence. And the lodestone of what's special about the Soviet Union is no longer the economic transformation. That's happened, it turned out to be a bit of a dud, can't really say so. The lodestone of what's special about the Soviet Union is now much more Russian culture.(47:29) And Zhdanov, the same fellow who gives us this whole two camps idea, is also responsible for a cultural policy in which the idea is that Russian culture is basically good culture so long as it's not contaminated by outside influences. And the Russian writers and poets who are then persecuted are persecuted because they've allowed alien influences, cosmopolitan influences into Russian literature.(47:56) And on this account of the way the world works, naturally, Ukrainian culture is going to be downgraded because Ukrainian culture is closer to the west, it's been contaminated most recently by German occupation, right? And so this becomes another way that Russia is elevated as against Ukraine. And I just want to just give you one little thought about what this four ordains.(48:18) We're not there yet. Okay, Stalin's still in power, it's now the early 1950s, let's say, and we're not there yet, but we're now going to be reach into the question of, well, if this is all about cultures and Russian culture is the one that's central and pure and important and Ukraine is kind of a little bit defiled and on the outside, what is Ukraine? Khrushchev has an answer to that.(48:39) Khrushchev's answer, and we'll talk about this next time, is Ukraine is a slightly less important culture, which always wanted to join Russia. So it exists but the point of its existence was to join Russia, right? Which is an elegant answer and is taken up by many people and it becomes very popular.(48:57) And then Brezhnev will have another answer, which is that now that Ukraine has joined Russia de facto and forever, culture, it's going to become something which is much less important, culture is just going to become something that you have at home. The Ukrainian language will be something that maybe you have at home or on the countryside, but the Soviet Union is gonna be run as a kind of very efficient technical administrative apparatus in which Russian is going to be the neutral language that everyone's going to use and everyone's going to know.(49:23) So Khrushchev and Brezhnev have different answers about what Ukraine is going to be within the Soviet Union, we'll spend more time on them. But at the base is this is this thing which happens during the second world war, which is that Ukraine, precisely because Ukraine is under occupation and Ukrainians suffer more, has to be presented as contaminated and dangerous, and precisely because the economic transformation is over and there's a shift now towards culture, there's the potential for a shift towards nostalgia,(49:53) where the Soviet Union is gonna become with time not just more about culture and economics, but more about the past than about the present or the future, right? By the time we get to Brezhnev, the cult of the Second World War will have replaced the revolution as the central focus of the Soviet Union as a whole.(50:12) And if everything's about the past and if everything's about nostalgia, then you're setting yourself up for actually, you know, a very right wing view of the world. And then the process that you get when the Soviet Union falls apart and you get to today becomes less mysterious. Okay, trying to do a lot today.(50:27) Hope it came through. Thank you very much. (gentle music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 18. Before and After the End of History - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7nM9SetN50
Transcript:(00:00) (dramatic music) (static buzzing) - Okay everyone, greetings. Happy, happy Thursday. This is really a day when I would have loved to take you outside. And I'm feeling more constrained than usual by the camera, which is making me stay inside. I try not to be constrained by the camera at all but there are a few things that I can't do because of the camera and one of them is like, call out your names when I know that you're my class and you're not sitting here.(00:36) Like which I would totally be doing right now with some of you, but I can't because then like, you know, 3 million people would email- Oh, one of them just showed up. (laughing) (audience laughing) Okay, good. Okay, here's what I wanna talk about. I wanna talk about time. So if we were outside, I could do this with the trees, and I could talk about how the seasons are changing and the years go by and each year is a bit different than the one before.(01:04) And some things remind us of previous years, like the leaves changing, right? I could talk about time because the argument that I want you to get from this lecture is that history doesn't actually end. And if we can get that down, a whole lot of the politics of the 21st century we'll see will make more sense than it does.(01:28) History doesn't actually end. Okay, why am I starting so grandly? I'm starting so grandly because I really think it's the case that the decline in history and the decline in the humanities in the last 30 years have a great deal to do with the collapse of democracy and the rise of other forms of politics.(01:51) I really think it's the case that the absence of bearings in the past mean that people are easier to manipulate. Or at the very least, the absence of bearings in the past opens the way for myth-makers who focus on the innocence of our group as the only thing which matters from the past. I think also the idea that history has come to an end is a way of flattening or stultifying the imagination.(02:18) If history is over, then this is the one thing that you just kinda get, and there's not any point practicing your imagination and trying to imagine how, trying to work with your own minds to see how things might be different. There are, you know, you are- Don't worry, I'm gonna talk about Ukraine within like three minutes.(02:35) You can set a timer if you want. But, you have already been exposed to various kinds of ideas about how history comes to an end in your lifetime, right? So one version of how history comes to an end is nationalism, right? So everybody's sorted out into their own place and like we're all ethnically homogeneous, and then history comes to an end, right? That version of history coming to an end is implied in any notion which says the outsiders are the problem and only if we had fewer of them and it was just us,(03:03) then everything would be fine, right? History would come to an end. This hasn't really been a class about nationalism but if you think way back to the beginning, there's implicit in the idea of ethnic nationalism, is the idea, is the assumption that, well, once we finally have our own state and it's just our people, then history comes to an end.(03:19) All tensions will come to an end, history will be over. Another version of history coming to an end is consumerism, right? Fundamentally, it's all just Homo economicus, there's just supply and demand. They're just desires that can be fulfilled. The market will fulfill them. History is over, right? We're all basically the same, it's just a matter of like getting rid of the last few trade barriers.(03:40) History is over. Marxism is also an idea about the end of history. Marxism says that there is a way that humans are supposed to be. We do have a kind of human nature. Human nature has been corrupted by the wrong form of technology. It will be corrected by the right form of technology. Human nature was corrupted when private property entered the scene.(04:06) We were alienated from ourselves. But once we build up industry, once we build up high technology, the working classes will inherit all of that, and we'll be restored to our own nature and everything will be fine. And yes, history will come to an end. Now, this is all, okay, maybe not in three minutes, gimme three more minutes.(04:26) I'm gonna get to Ukraine. This is all relevant to this larger trajectory that we're trying to follow in the 20th century of how Ukraine gets treated in the Soviet Union. Because Leninism was a very special form of Marxism. Marxism says there's a special role for the working class in bringing history to an end.(04:46) Marxism says the working class, because of its special place in history, absorbs, as it were, the suffering of everyone, it has a special position, positionality, which allows it to see, as it were, objectively all the harm of capitalism. And when the working class takes over, all that harm will disappear. Now, one of the problems in Marxism is that you never know exactly when you're supposed to make the revolution.(05:12) If the revolution is really about the working class becoming big and powerful, isn't it then just gonna happen on its own? If capitalism is gonna produce more and more injustice, then maybe there'll be more and more alienation and more and more workers, and the revolution will happen on its own. But surely the revolution is not gonna happen on its own.(05:27) There must be somebody who does something. And Lenin took the view that somebody has to do something. And he took this view which is called volunteerism. He took it to kind of an interesting extreme where Lenin argued that actually what is needed is a disciplined avant-garde party, basically political experts working in the shadows, who know what they're doing, who understand reality better than the workers.(05:53) And that those people should make a revolution happen as soon as there's an opportunity. Wherever there's a weak point in the world capitalist system, we should push on it, make a revolution. So with Leninism, you get this weird mixture of determinism and volunteerism. If there weren't Lenin, like if Lenin had tripped over the furniture in one of those cafes in Zurich and broken his neck, or less demanding counterfactual, if Lenin had gotten off that train which was going to Petrograd in 1917, and like, you know,(06:28) I don't know, got off the train. The train left without him, I don't know. But invent it yourself. But if Lenin is not on the train to Petrograd, it's like that one guy is not on that one train at that one time, there is no Bolshevik Revolution and the 20th century looks an awful lot different. So in that sense, you can say he's right.(06:44) Individuals certainly matter in history. But, so there's this extreme volunteerism, which is confirmed by experience, right? Lenin knows that he is right, that without him and Trotsky and Stalin and, you know, Kamenev and Zinoviev and a few other characters, there wouldn't have been that revolution.(06:59) On the other hand, they believe that all their volunteerism, all this willfulness is justified by their knowledge that history has to go a certain way. That there has to be feudalism, capitalism, socialism. And now that they've carried out their willful act, they have to balance that willful act by pushing the Soviet Union through these stages of history.(07:20) Because there's only one way that history can go. There's only one way that history can go. And the Soviet Union is behind, so we're just gonna have to push it very quickly. The consequences of this view for Ukraine are dramatic, right? The whole idea that there has to be collectivization, that agriculture has to be collectivized is a result of the idea that there's only one way that history can go.(07:43) And collectivization then is the precondition for the famine and the death of around 4 million people in 1932 and in 1933. You see a similar issue with the national question itself, right? In the national question itself, you have the same swinging back and forth between determinism and volunteerism. Where on the one hand, we are confident we know what's gonna happen, and therefore, because we're confident in the 1920s, we're gonna let the Ukrainian writers write, we're gonna let the Ukrainian artists paint,(08:16) we're gonna have affirmative action for Ukrainians to drive them into the bureaucracy and as loyal administrators into the Soviet system. We're confident that that's the way history is going to work. We're confident that capitalism is gonna produce nationalism anyway, and so, therefore, we're gonna do it ourselves.(08:30) We will contain it and we'll channel it and we'll sublimate it, and it will sublimate into loyalty to the Soviet system. But then in the 1930s, they lose their confidence. And instead of being sure that history is on their side, Stalin shifts back into this volunteerist mode. What's wrong with collectivization? What's wrong with collectivization is that individuals are doing the wrong thing.(08:52) Polish spies, Ukrainian nationalists, individual records, people who for whatever malicious reason are trying to block by way of their own volunteerism, the way that history actually has to go, right? So the swing from determinism to volunteerism also helps you to understand how they're trying to understand or how they're dealing with the national question.(09:16) As we get into the Second World War with the national question, we see a new turn. And the new turn is possible because the existence of the Soviet Union is itself in question. So during the Second World War, Stalin and others take a much more benign view of Ukraine. Why did they do this? Because the war is being fought largely in and for Ukraine, and they need Ukrainians to stay loyal to the Soviet Union.(09:45) The Germans, of course, do them an enormous favor by exercising more Terror in a shorter period of time than the Soviets did, thereby turning most people inside the Ukrainian Soviet Republic, back towards the Soviet Union, at least in the sense that it is less bad than the Germans. So during the Second World War, there's a lot of nostalgia.(10:03) Ukraine is called a great nation. Bohdan Khmelnyts'kyi is characterized as a hero of the Ukrainian past. The simple fact that a Ukrainian is even mentioned as a kind of hero is striking. Then as we've seen in the immediate postwar period, there's another turn in which the way the national question is handled is not just by nostalgia, right? Which is characteristic of nationalism.(10:26) It's also handled by ethnic cleansing. It's handled by taking right-wing nationalist solutions and making them Soviet policy. And not just right-wing ones, perfectly mainstream ones like the Ukrainian idea of Sobornist which means in a political context, it means Sobornist means all of the territory of Ukraine inside the boundaries of a Ukrainian state, right? A Soborna Ukraina is a Ukraine that contains all the territory that should belong to it.(10:54) That's what Stalin creates by extending the boundaries of Ukraine, Soviet Ukraine, to the west. But also there are these rather extreme right-wing solutions, which we talked about in the last lecture as ethnic cleansing, where it's not just that lots of people get deported to Siberia, that's traditional, right? From it's been since the 1920s, people have been deported to Siberia.(11:16) It's not just that a quarter of a million Ukrainians are deported to Siberia right after the war. That's notable but it's not what I'm talking about. What I'm talking about is something else, which is the deportation of Poles and Jews into Poland. Because the deportation of Poles and the Jews into Poland suggests that the system no longer believes it can assimilate everybody.(11:41) So if you're deported to Siberia, there's a very good chance you're going to die. But there is also at least the idea in principle that your body is going to be redeemed for the Soviet system, right? You're gonna be a laborer while you're there, after 5 years or 7 or 15 or whatever it is, you're going to come back and you will have been reformed.(11:58) There's at least that idea. But if you were expelled across the border of the Soviet Union into another country, the system's given up on you, right? And that is an even less confident system, an even less internationalist system, an even more nationally-minded system than one had in the 1930s, as we now get into the 1940s.(12:21) This logic is extended in a way, and, again, now I'm recapitulating, last time, but this logic is extended in a way under Zhdanov and under this logic of the two camps, where, you know, you can see this subtle shift in the second half of Soviet history, away from economic dynamism and towards a kind of cultural conservatism, right? Where the economic dynamism of Stalin, of Stalinism, is actually over.(12:48) But no one of course can say that, right? You can't wake up in the morning and say that. But the economic dynamism has already happened. The economic dynamism happened, the mines have been dug, the factories have been built, the big cities have been built. The countryside has been collectivized. All those things have been done.(13:02) And then there was this war. And now we have to think of a new way to justify the state. And the way to justify the state after the Second World War has a great deal to do with suddenly Russian culture, where the class war is defined. Zhdanov defines the class war as Us and Them, two camps, communists, capitalists, or as they would say, the democracies and the capitalists, communists and capitalists.(13:27) But what is the Us in this? The Us in this, under Zhdanov's reasoning, is something like the purity of Russian culture, right? The purity of Russian culture. And Russian writers are now being purged because they are quoting Charles Dickens, or somehow they are too cosmopolitan, to use the word of the day, right? Cosmopolitan.(13:50) And that word, and this is something I wanted to mention last time but failed to, that word in the last few years of Stalinism, especially from 1948 to early 1953 when he dies, that word cosmopolitan is very often used as a code for Jews. So the Stalinist reasoning takes up a Nazi or fascist trope, namely that, it is the Jews who are responsible for the permeability of culture.(14:14) It's the Jews who open up culture to being perverted and influenced by outside forces. That is what they do. And this means that, especially after the foundation of the state of Israel, there's a turn in Stalinism against the Jews. The last national action which was being prepared as Stalin fell ill and died was to be against the Jews.(14:39) And one of you asked me, and it's an important question, what does all this mean for the memory of the events that we refer to the Holocaust and the Soviet Union? The events that we refer to as the Holocaust could not be referred, could not be defined as such in the Soviet Union. In fairness, it took decades for that term to actually emerge as important in the United States.(14:56) I mean, deep into the 1980s, the Holocaust in the "New York Times" still meant nuclear holocaust, right? It's only actually fairly recently, basically in your lifetimes plus a few years, in which Holocaust has the meaning that it does to you today, that is, the attempt at exterminating all the Jews.(15:10) So that's just, you know, just to keep perspective. But in the Soviet Union, the notion was that the Jews who were murdered were peaceful Soviet citizens. And if you were a Jew and tried to draw attention to the fact that Jews were murdered as Jews, and many more of them were murdered than other groups, then you were treated as someone who was a nationalist perhaps, or a cosmopolitan.(15:31) But in any event, you were going to be punished. The very people who Stalin sent to the United States in 1943 to raise money, Soviet Jewish activist writers, he sent them here, Madison Square Garden, they were in a fundraising campaign all across the United States precisely on the logic that Jews are suffering under the Nazis.(15:47) Let's raise money for the Soviet Union. Those people were then purged and several of them were killed on the logic that they had stood out, (chuckling) and that they had done something they weren't supposed to do. Okay, so this brings me to the first end of history that- So I've already given away the game, right? So if I don't get to the end, you know that history doesn't actually ever come to an end, right? So when I talk about these ends of history, I'm trying to give us some perspective(16:10) on things which were presented as ends of history. So my first end of history is the end of Ukrainian history. And what I have in mind is a kind of dialectical solution that Nikita Khrushchev is associated with. By dialectics, so, I mean, for all of you, you know, Anglo-Saxons out there who are used to thinking in a straight line, the dialectic is the idea, you know, if at all, the dialectic is the idea that something can persist even as it is transformed, right? So that things don't just move in a straight line,(16:47) but rather something can meet its contrary and be overcome. And in being overcoming, it becomes a kind of higher reality, which preserves elements of what it was before, but which is nevertheless qualitatively different. So, right. So you needed like a- Okay. Drug joke cut right out of the lecture, right there.(17:06) Never happened. There was no drug joke at all. Yeah so, it didn't happen. Never happened. I didn't make a drug joke. That was me not making a drug joke. (audience laughing) Okay, so. Okay. You needed to wake up an hour earlier. You need coffee. So the example of the dialectic, which many people will be roughly familiar with, would be the Marxist dialectic, right? So the idea that class conflict, capitalism is both good and bad, okay? It's both good and bad.(17:33) It's good because it builds up the structures that you need for socialism, but it's bad because it makes the workers suffer. So if you say capitalism is bad, that's not quite true because in the seeds of that suffering is the good of the revolution, right? And the revolution is gonna maintain, when the revolution happens, it's gonna preserve elements of capitalism, but at a higher level, right? Transformed. Okay.(17:59) So Khrushchev has a dialectical idea about the Ukrainian nation, which I'm going to explain to you in just a moment. But before I do that, I have to say a word about church history. The incorporation of Volhynia and Galicia, but especially Galicia, poses a durable challenge to Soviet Ukraine. Volhynia and Galicia are these westerly districts that had belonged to Poland, whose citizens have been Polish citizens in the '20s and '30s, and who had been exposed to many repressions on the Polish side, but who had not been exposed(18:34) to Soviet Terror and Soviet famine. In Galicia, there was still a Greek Catholic Church. And the Greek Catholic Church, what the Greek Catholic Church is, you know, it's a quintessentially Ukrainian institution. I was at a fundraiser for the Ukrainian Catholic University on Sunday. Ukrainian Catholic Church is the institution which was founded in 1596 by the Union of Brest, which was known as the Uniate Church for a couple hundred years after that.(19:05) After the partitions of Poland, the Habsburg took this church under their wing and they renamed it the Greek Catholic Church. They educated the priests, they treated the priests as a kind of a conduit for enlightenment in a larger population. So this Greek, and then this Greek Catholic Church especially under Metropolitan Andrii Sheptyts'kyi, became something like a national institution under the Habsburgs and remain so under the Poles.(19:32) Sheptyts'kyi by the way is, well, he's remembered for a lot of very interesting things, but one of the things that he's remembered for and that we ought to know him for in this class is that he probably rescued more Jews during the Holocaust than any non-diplomat. So there were diplomats who rescued more people, but Sheptyts'kyi rescued more than a hundred Jewish children in the St. George's complex in Lviv.(19:54) He died in 1944. He died just as Soviet power was returning. When the Soviets reenacts what had been Western, what had been Western Ukraine is now Western Ukraine again, what had been Poland, they dissolved the Greek Catholic Church in March of 1946 and they subordinate the Greek Catholic Church to the Russian Orthodox Church based in Moscow.(20:20) The Greek Catholic Church continues to exist in hiding as they save themselves in the catacombs. There continued to be sacraments, there continued to be priests until the end of the Soviet Union. Now a striking thing about this little incident which I just want you to note, is that when the Soviet Union dissolves the Greek Catholic Church, they do it in March of 1946, I'm not expecting any of you to like do the math in your head but that's the 350th anniversary of the Union of Brest.(20:49) No, it's not my joke. This is on purpose because there's something about these round numbers which is starting to draw the Soviet imagination, right? Something about these kind of negative anniversaries. I say negative because when it was 1596 and the Union of Brest was made, nobody said, "Hey, in 350 years there'll be a Soviet Union which is gonna undo this.(21:10) " It's a negative anniversary 'cause it only makes sense looking back, right? So in 1946, the logic was, a mistake was made 350 years ago, which we are now, yes, it's weird, which we are now going to correct. I just wanna note this kind of secular thinking, right? This treatment of the past, this non-historical treatment of the past as a kind of source of anniversaries where we confirm something or where we undo something.(21:34) This hasn't been a class on Marxism but that is not a Marxist way of looking at history, right? That's not a Marxist way of looking at history at all. It's a very conservative way of looking at history. Okay, so this brings me to what Khrushchev did, which is very interesting. So Nikita Khrushchev is the last leader of the Soviet Union/Russia who you could say really knew something about Ukraine.(22:01) We talked about this a few lectures ago, this phenomenon of Russian workers who went to the Donbas. Sorry, Russian peasants, Russian workers working in the Donbas. That was Khrushchev's family. He was from, you know, as soon as I say this, you know, one of my TAs who shall remain nameless, will google it, but he was from a little place I think called Kalinovka, and his family went into the Donbas and worked, like a lot of Russian workers, right? Then in the party, he was in Ukraine, Soviet Ukraine, during the Terror.(22:34) He was in Soviet Ukraine during and after the war. His, ugh, I'm not sure if concubine is the word if you're a communist but his longtime partner, later his wife, was a Ukrainian from the far, far, far west, from Vasylkiv, or Vasilkov, which is now actually in Poland. So she was a Lemko. Lemkos being Ruthenian speakers of a language which can be seen as a dialect of Ukrainian.(23:02) Although if you speak Polish, it's strikingly easy to understand Lemko dialect of Ukrainian. So she was a Lemko. There were the Lemkos, the Boykos, the Hutsuls, these are the Ruthenians from the extreme west of, you know, what's now considered Ukraine. Also in Czechoslovakia, also in Poland. So she was a Lemko from the far, far, far west of what you'd think of Ukrainian territory, who moved to Odesa, became a communist.(23:26) And then she was in the West Ukrainian Communist Party, inside Poland in the interwar period. So she was someone who understood Ukrainian politics from all the way from the west. So why am I telling you all this detail about Khrushchev? Oh, Khrushchev was also involved in the suppression of Ukrainian partisans after the Second World War, right? So Khrushchev knew that there was a Ukrainian question.(23:46) He knew there was a Ukraine, he'd been deeply involved with it in many angles for decades. So it's a little bit, it's a little bit like after the First World War, when the Bolsheviks realized, okay, of course we have to deal with Ukraine in some way because we've just realized Ukrainians can field an army and, you know, they lost, but they're real.(24:06) After the Second World War, and Khrushchev comes to power after Stalin's death which is 1953, he is someone who's been dealing with the Ukrainian question one way or another, on and off his entire life. So he finds a solution to this question of how Ukraine can both exist and not exist. Here's the solution.(24:26) It has to do with an anniversary, okay? So imagine it's 1954 and Khrushchev has just come to power. 1954- See, it's like so handy that you've taken this class, like, it goes back centuries, right? Because you're immediately thinking 1954, that's the 300th anniversary of the Treaty of Pereiaslav, right? That's what you're thinking.(24:48) You're like, you guys were right on that. And so was Khrushchev. So the official interpretation which is given of Ukrainian history, and this is clever and it is very influential and it has something to do with the war that's going on now, the official interpretation which Khrushchev gives is, yes, of course, Ukraine exists, ancient history, distinct nation, Cossacks, all of that.(25:11) But in 1654, Ukrainians chose to forever bind their own history with that of Russia, right? So they existed in order not to exist, or they existed in order to exist at a higher level, right? Ukraine existed, but it flowed into Russia and thereby exist at a higher level as part of now the Soviet Union, right? That's dialectical thinking.(25:36) If you kind of stretch your neck a little bit, it's easier. So this is kind of a brilliant solution and it's connected with, 'cause it seems to solve this ideological problem the Soviet Union keeps having. Ukraine is real, but then like, we're afraid of it. What are we gonna do? What's its future? Its future.(25:51) Its future was chosen in 1654, exactly 300 years before. The way this was done marks a couple of trends in the communist world. The first I've already suggested, which is this anniversary business, right? The nostalgia, the justifying things on the basis of hundreds of years ago. The second is consumerism.(26:12) So in 1954, to mark this grand anniversary, which they just, you know, invented. I mean, it's not that anybody was celebrating the 100th or the 200th, right? Only the 300th (chuckling) was somehow important. So they produced consumer goods marked 300 years, 200, 200,000 I think it's Yekelchyk who writes about this in your reading, 2 million packs of cigarettes with 300 years written on them, which is kind of mysterious.(26:40) It's like the opposite of the health warning you get now, right? 200 pairs of men's socks, 200,000 bras and nightgowns. And I just like leave it to your imagination what impression it makes when a bra says 300 years on it. (audience laughing) But I mean, in fairness, this was the beginning of consumerism in the Soviet Union.(27:01) Okay, the other thing which happens in 1954, and this is, again, very, this is pregnant with meaning for what comes next, is that Khrushchev, again, someone who understands the Ukrainian question and knows that, unlike a lot of, you know, unlike Brezhnev who's gonna come, unlike other people, he knows that it would make sense to appear to be doing something for Ukraine.(27:23) Khrushchev has the idea that the Crimean Peninsula will be transferred from the Russian Federation to Ukrainian Republic, right? When I say Russian Federation, I mean the Russian- The RSFSR, I mean the Russian Soviet Socialist Republic, the Russian Republic of the Soviet Union. Trends because none of these are independent states at the time.(27:42) Of course, there's a Russian Republic, Ukraine Republic. It's gonna be moved from the Russian Republic to the Ukrainian Republic. Why did that happen in reality? Two reasons. The first is practical. As you all know from reading the news, Crimea is a peninsula, from the point of view of Ukraine. It's connected by land.(27:59) But it's an island, from the point of view of Russia. There's no connection to Ukraine from Russia by land. Hence the big bridge. And so if you're going to, so in terms of just sheer administration, the connection of water and electricity, the grid, work much better from Ukraine obviously then from Russia.(28:15) And so administratively, it made a lot of sense. The second reason why this sort of thing was plausible is the ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars. Because up until 1944, the reason why Crimea had a special status, it wasn't just in the Russian Federation, it was an autonomous unit of the Russian Federation, because of the Crimean Tatars.(28:35) Once the Crimean Tatars were ethnically cleansed, as they were, that reason for that status disappears. In fact, that status itself becomes a bit of an embarrassment. Why was it an autonomous republic? Because, you know, they're not even supposed to speak about the Crimean Tatars at this point, right? All the Crimean Tatar, like the toponyms, just like Catherine did, the toponyms, the place names, are now being renamed.(28:56) Crimean Tatar war heroes are being described as Dagestani. They're being given other ethnicities in Soviet press, just because the idea of the Crimean Tatars is supposed to go away, it's supposed to disappear. And so that's another reason why the transfer of Crimea could seem plausible. And it suggests a kind of, look, it suggests two interesting things at once.(29:18) That Ukraine is getting something, so Ukraine should be grateful. Russia is giving something. But the idea that Russia is giving something suggests that it was Russia's to give, right? And here you find the origin of this notion that Crimea was always Russian. Because how could Russia have given it to Ukraine if it hadn't been Russia's to give? But maybe in some pretty profound senses, it wasn't Russia's to give, right? Maybe in some fairly profound senses, Crimea had a diverse history, all of its own.(29:52) Okay, so this moment in 1954 with the gift of Crimea, the gift of Crimea from Russia to Ukraine, you can see how that matters now. Because the idea that Crimea was always Russian is based upon two things, the ethnic cleansing of the Crimean Tatars, and then the idea that Russia could give it to Ukraine, right? That's the basis of that notion.(30:10) Okay, so. But this from Khrushchev's point of view, of course, this is a meant to be a kind of pro Ukrainian gesture. And towards the end of Khrushchev's period, we actually do move into a period of something like national communism in the Ukrainian Republic under a man called Petro Shelest. Shelest.(30:30) I think I'll put his name on there for you. Shelest. Shelest was a Ukrainian, native of Ukraine. Unlike Khrushchev, he had nothing to do with Stalinist crimes. He was perceived as protective of Ukrainian culture, or at least not as interfering with Ukrainian culture. The 1960s saw a minor renaissance of Ukrainian culture led by young writers uncreatively known as the Sixtiers group.(31:01) One of the figures here who's gonna appear in a couple of different junctures in your reading is Ivan Dziuba who wrote an interesting text called "Internationalism or Russification?" which raises the questions which I've been talking about here like, you know, for example, well, it's about these tensions, right? About how you handle Ukraine.(31:20) And is Moscow actually internationalist or is Moscow actually Russifying? Dziuba also in 1966, and this is in your reading, gives a little informal speech at the site of Baby Yar. Baby Yar is the largest single massacre site in the Holocaust in terms of mass shootings. In September of 1941, about 34,000 Jews were murdered over the course of two days over this ravine, Baby Yar, at the edge of Kyiv.(31:50) And Ukrainian Jews, survivors, other Jews, had been gathering informally at this site. And in 1966, Dziuba gave this speech, which was, you know, which was a kind of breakthrough in Ukrainian-Jewish relations. And that was all part of this moment of relative freedom of Ukrainian culture. Okay, so Ukrainian history came to an end, right? You got it, 1654 Ukraine merged into Russia.(32:11) Its only purpose was to merge into Russia. You also get that that's not really the end of history. All right, so the third end of history, I've already suggested, is the end of Crimean history, right? The end of Crimean history, which is implied in this transfer. You know, as you know in this class, especially from that lecture of a couple weeks ago, actually a lot of the oldest attested material we have from this region is from Crimea or from the southern coast.(32:40) The oldest attested peoples, not the oldest peoples but the oldest attested peoples who left behind a written trace are in or around Crimea, and they're the Greeks and the Jews. We know that the Golden Horde and the Crimean Khanate had a state in Crimea for about 600 years. And that that came to an end in 1783 when New Russia, when Russian Empire takes over and New Russia is declared.(33:06) At that time, the population of Crimea was about 100% Crimean Tatar. By 1944, it was 0% Crimean Tatar, right? After the deportation. And so, you know, as I mentioned before, this is a kind of end of history. Because it's not just that the people are removed, it is also that their property is given away, the names of sacred sites, the names of towns, the names of everything are changed.(33:35) The Crimeans are not only deported, this might seem obvious, but they're not allowed to come back. And although Khrushchev generally condemns Stalin's deportations of people, he does not change the rule that the Crimeans are not allowed to come back. And, of course, in this transfer of 1954, this grand, you know, gesture between Russia and Ukraine, the Crimeans are totally absent.(33:58) Nobody goes to Uzbekistan and asks the Crimeans what they think about any of this, right? And so this is a kind of end of history too, the end of the history of Crimea or the end of history of the Crimean Tatars. And the notion that it was always Russia, which, you know, has its intellectual origins around this 1954 transfer, it also is very appealing to Soviet citizens who come to settle in the Crimean Peninsula.(34:27) The Crimean Peninsula remains and becomes a even more important Soviet naval base. And so it has that demographic. It also becomes a place where Soviet notables can retire for the very simple reason that it's warm and most of the rest of Russia is not. And when you're a recent arrival in a colonizing position, the notion that a place has always been yours (chuckling) is very attractive, right? Very attractive.(34:53) See, look, you're getting better at dialectics all the time, right? So like, precisely because you're new, the idea that you've always been there is very attractive. Because the thought that you're just there colonizing, literally taking someone else's property after they've been ethnically cleansed is not very appealing.(35:07) So the idea that you were always there is attractive precisely because you weren't, right? So that's the end of Crimean history. Now the final end of history that I wanna do, actually there's two more, the next one is the end of Soviet history, okay? And the end of Soviet history, we're gonna talk more about this in a lecture to come, but the end of Soviet history has to do with Brezhnev, Leonid Brezhnev who supplants Khrushchev in 1964.(35:37) He makes his debut on the world stage really in 1968 when the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies invade Czechoslovakia to put to an end a reform movement known as the Prague Spring. In 1968, he inaugurates what's called the Brezhnev Doctrine. The Brezhnev Doctrine is the idea, and this has resonance today too, that whenever a fellow socialist state is threatened by counterrevolution, the Soviet Union can arrive with fraternal assistance, right? So this metaphor of brothers is a very interesting thing.(36:18) I mean, again, not to put too fine a point on it, but like being someone's brother is not a very Marxist idea, (chuckling) right? At least not in this sense, right? I mean, fraternite, okay, that could be a revolutionary idea. But the idea that I'm your big brother and then when something goes wrong, I get to come in and pound you, that is not an especially Marxist idea.(36:38) And that's the idea of brotherhood which is meant here. And it also raises interesting questions. Like, if you're my little brother, who are the parents? Like, where's mom and dad? Like, where are they in all of this? Right? So like, this move into the family, like it's actually a very conservative move, right? It's kinda mysterious, right? There are just these brothers and there aren't new sisters and there aren't parents, but there are brothers.(37:02) And the little brother's always doing wrong and the big brother's always gonna come and help. That idea in 1968, but even more importantly than that in 1968 about the Brezhnev Doctrine is that it's no longer really about ideology. So Brezhnev doesn't care about Marxism. He cares about it much less than we have in this lecture.(37:20) You know, Brezhnev, doing that thing about dialectics, he also would have like raised his, you know, eyebrows, which is more of an effort for him than for you guys. And, you know, would have said, "Oh, what are you talking about" right? Brezhnev was not interested in Marxist theory at all. The Brezhnev Doctrine is not really about Marxism, it's about power.(37:36) And the Brezhnev Doctrine defines what is, as what should be, right? So, you just follow the line, whatever it might be, and that's it. We're not gonna justify it theoretically anymore. That's a big important breakthrough in the 1970s in the Soviet Union, and not only. Because what it suggests is that we are no longer moving into a future where these dialectics are still doing their work or into a future where Stalinist industrialization is still producing dynamism and economic change and social mobility,(38:08) which it did, for a couple generations. But no longer. Social mobility is basically halted, right? In the Soviet Union in the 1970s, if you're an engineer, very likely your father was an engineer, right? If you went to university, probably your parents did. In the early days of the Soviet Union, it wasn't like that, right? It wasn't like that.(38:25) The nice apartments in Kyiv, with all due respect, like in the late Communist period, they were owned by families that were elite families. Okay, owned is maybe the wrong word. But in the early period, that wasn't true. There was lots of dynamism because of the economy, but also because of Terror, right? Also because of Terror.(38:40) One of the things, one of the attractions of Terror, if you're young, I don't mean to give you ideas, but one of the attractions of Terror if you're young is that it- Stop nodding in the front row, it's troubling. You're right like only a few feet from me. One of the attractions of Terror if you're young, is that it clears up space above, right? So the Great Terror of '37, '38, among other things, cleared up a lot of room up above for people to move through the ranks quickly(39:03) and make careers. But both Khrushchev and Brezhnev, and this is one of the few things that Brezhnev kept from Khrushchev, said we're no longer to have mass Terror, at least that affects other communists, right? So that was another way that social mobility was halted. So what Brezhnev is doing in the 1970s is he is proclaiming something like what he calls really existing socialism.(39:28) And really existing socialism, it's like that- There's a Jack Nicholson movie in which he says like, "This is as good as it gets." I've even forget the movie, like maybe that was even the title, but he is in a dentist's office and he's like looking around. It's like there was an old guy sitting next to him.(39:41) He's like, "You know, this is as good as it gets." It's like that. Like, this is it. Like, this is it. There's nothing else. We told you there was gonna be communism, there isn't gonna be communism. This is it, right? Your little apartment, you know, whatever, that's it. This is it. This is real existing socialism.(39:56) This is what we've got. And we're gonna defend it. And it's not gonna change. We'll keep it going, we'll tinker with the economy, but no major reforms, certainly no theoretical discussion. This is it. And this has basic implications for the Ukrainian issue because, if everything is just the way that it is, all you gotta do is kind of borrow from the West, and this is how the Soviet Union gets itself into trouble.(40:23) Talk about it next time. But you borrow money from the West, you borrow gadgets from the West, you steal gadgets from the West, you steal technology from the West as best you can, and you try to make the system, as it is, function smoothly. How does it function smoothly? Suddenly Technocracy is what matters.(40:38) Not revolution, technocracy. We all have to speak the same language. What language is that gonna be? Russian. And so here you have, you're in this old imperial tension where the center says, I need you all to speak Russian. But it's not because I don't like, you know, Bashkir. It's not because I don't like be Belarusian or Estonian.(40:56) It's because it's efficient. Whereas you, from your point of view, in Mongolia or the Baltics or whatever, you say, actually I kinda like my own language and I think it's plenty efficient. You know, I think it works very well. It's very efficient in my own life, right? And so that tension, which is built into all these projects emerges in 1970s with particular reference to Ukraine.(41:16) So Shelest is replaced in 1972 by Brezhnev's man who's called Shcherbytsky. And the 1970s then become a decade of a kind of administrative Russification of Ukraine. No one says Ukraine doesn't exist, no one says Ukraine high culture doesn't exist, but Ukrainian language disappears slowly from schools, the Ukrainian textbooks are printed in far lower print runs.(41:44) It goes down to about 25% by the end of the 1970s of what it had been at the beginning. Russian becomes very much the language of prestige. To take an example you guys will understand, everybody will understand this example. You theoretically- Okay, I'm just gonna put it to you, right? Theoretically, you could take your university exams like the equivalent of your SAT, whatever, university entrance exams in Ukraine, you could theoretically take them in both Ukrainian or Russian, because we're tolerant, right?(42:10) But the difference is, if you take them in Ukrainian, you're not gonna pass. (audience member laughing) So what do you do, right? I mean, what do you actually do, right? So no one is saying Ukraine doesn't exist. Look, here's the entrance exam, right? Here, it's right there in front of you. You wanna take it? But if you want social advancement, if you want to go to college, you're gonna take it in Russian, right? So that's the kind of dynamic we're talking about here.(42:35) So I'm referring to this as an end of history because of this idea that this is as good as it gets. That, you know, everything is now just about the- It's about the consumerism. You know, we're gonna kind of imitate the capitalist that way. We imitated them with the transformation, now we're gonna imitate them with consumerism.(42:55) And with the nationalism. But this is where things get tricky. In the '70s and '80s all over the Soviet Bloc, regimes begin to resort to nationalism. But how do you do that in the Soviet Union? The Soviet Union's a multinational state. The way that they do it is with nostalgia about the Second World War, which is referred to as the Great Fatherland War.(43:18) When Brezhnev takes away the future, he substitutes in the past, right? He's actually very, I mean, he gets mocked a lot but these are very intelligent political techniques which plenty of capitalists in the 21st century have copied, right? So you take away the future and you slide in the past. And the past is a view of the Great Fatherland War in which the Soviet Union is the innocent victim, and the Soviet peoples defend the world from the horrors of fascism, led, of course, by the Russians.(43:50) So there's an ambiguity here. Is it a myth about all the Soviet Union, or is it a myth about Russia? And it's in this myth that present-day leaders like Lukashenko in Belarus or Putin in Russia were raised. And it's another building block in trying to understand this war of 2022. Because the idea of the Second World War in which, you know, Stalin's alliance with Hitler is totally forgotten, the Russians are totally innocent and, you know, won the war with nobody else's help, you just have to simplify that a few more steps(44:22) to get to the way Putin thinks about the Second World War. And also, it helps to explain, you know, why he would think that he could fight this war the way that he has done. You know, who is in fact- The Mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, who was an anti-Semite, he said, you know, "Who is a Jew, I decide. I decide who is a Jew," right? Putin's notion is like, "Who is a fascist, I decide," right? If it's anybody but me.(44:45) Because by definition the fascist are the other side. And that's just a couple of steps away from this view, the Soviet view of the Second World War. So it's an end of history in which now you're looking back to the past. All right, where I wanna close is just with a few minutes about Poland. In Poland, and here's where you get all these funny names that are at the end, like all these names of like Polish thinkers and Ukrainian thinkers.(45:10) And the reason why they're here is because in Poland, or rather from Polish thinkers, you get a very interesting moment of Polish Ukrainian conversation, which is actually about how history's not over. (chuckling) It's about how something new is coming and we have to be ready for it. Which is so different and fresh in its time, that many people can't deal with it, right? Even from the point of view of the West, in the '70s and '80s, the idea that there was gonna be anything but more of this(45:45) was almost impossible to process, right? By the '70s and '80s, it really did seem like Brezhnev was forever, the Soviet Union was forever, the Eastern Bloc was forever. Ukraine had been pretty much completely forgotten about, except by the emigre institutions, the Canadians in Alberta, the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, the diaspora.(46:04) But with the exception of that, Ukraine was basically gone from the Western imagination. But there was a very interesting project inside Poland or among Poles which worked against this. And it operated against this notion that history was over, which was also true in Poland too. In Poland, there was everything I talked about.(46:25) There was, 1968 as a turning point, shift to consumerism and nationalism. In the 1970s, the Polish state actually declares itself to be ethnically homogeneous, which is a way of saying history is over, right? All these national things, it's all Poles now. No Jews, no Russians, no Ukrainians, no Belarussians, no Germans.(46:44) It's just Poles and that's the triumph of communism. It's a very interesting version of the triumph of communism, right? But history is over. There was a group of people around a journal called "Paris Kultura." And I need you guys to know this name so much that I'm going to give you a hundred percent guarantee that it's on the exam.(47:03) (chuckling) "Paris Kultura." "Paris Kultura" was formed by a group of Polish emigres. Jerzy Giedroyc was the most important. Juliusz Mieroszewski also very important. Jozef Czapski. And what "Kultura" said was, about the Ukrainian question, very interesting things. But in 1952, they printed a letter to the editor which said, "Let Lvov be Ukraine.(47:30) " Actually, it said, "Let the blue and yellow flag fly from Lvov." Now if you're Ukrainian, you're thinking like, what's radical about that? What's radical about that is that Poland had just lost half of its territory seven years ago under conditions which could only be seen as completely illegitimate, right? The Soviet Union had taken half of Poland's territory in a war in which Poland had lost millions of its own population, right? In those conditions, saying, "Oh yes, let's just like. Oh, fine."(47:56) You know, Poland only had four major cities. Warsaw was destroyed, Vilnius went to Lithuania, Lviv went to Ukraine, right? And so you're saying, "Oh, legit." It was like saying in 1952, "Let the Ukrainians have it," was incredibly radical. And they went from there to the argument in the '60s and '70s- Again, the crucial thing about this, guys, the crucial thing is they were thinking ahead, right? They didn't think history was over.(48:23) They thought at some point communism was gonna come to an end. Even more essentially, they thought that imperialism had to come to an end. And they didn't just mean Russian imperialism, right? They meant imperialism as a whole, which meant their own imperialism, their own Polish imperialism had to come to an end.(48:43) So their strategic argument for the existence of Ukraine was, we need Ukraine because without Ukraine, there will be Russian imperialism and there will be Polish imperialism. And both of those things are bad for us. Russian imperialism bad for us, Polish imperialism also bad for us. So there was a calculated strategic argument which they made in the '60s and '70s, totally in the wilderness.(49:08) Totally in the wilderness. Other Polish immigrants did not necessarily go along with this view, right? In the West, the idea that communism have come to an end, Ukraine, all this, pretty marginal. But along with this, and all these names that I don't have time to mention anymore, unfortunately, but along with this, what "Kultura" did was seek out and publish exceptionally talented Ukrainian writers like George Shevelov, like Borys Levyts'kyi.(49:39) They found the Ukrainian writers and they befriended them and they published them. The Ukrainian writers who were executed in the '30s or committed suicide, the term Executed Renaissance for those writers comes from Jerzy Giedroyc. He made that term up. And he published a thousand-page book collecting the works of these Ukrainian writers, right? No one else did that, but "Kultura" did that.(50:02) And in this and many other ways, they pushed Ukrainian culture towards the center of at least of Polish culture and they made friendships. I'm gonna finish now, but you get the point. By the time of Solidarity in Poland in 1980, the "Kultura," which was regarded as the best Polish publication, had already started this argument.(50:25) And so during the Solidarity period in '80, '81 where there was some space for free discussion, the Ukrainian question was already discussed. And many leaders of Solidarity, such as Adam Michnik and Jacek Kuroń issued statements which were very friendly to the idea of Ukrainian independence during that period of 1881.(50:40) And then when Poland becomes an independent state in 1989, this argument has already been won. And one of the first things that Poland does is that it begins a foreign policy which is friendly to Ukraine. Now the reason why any of this was possible was because this milieu of intellectuals had been making this argument that history was not over, that communism was gonna come to an end, that imperialism does have to come to an end, and we have to be ready for it with arguments, right? So, my Plato A here at the end(51:11) is one for the history of ideas. And I'll explain more about this in lectures to come, but the fact that some people recognized that history couldn't come to an end, and that imperialism might come to an end, actually had a great deal of influence on how imperialism did come to an end after 1989. Okay, that's it.(51:29) Thanks. (gentle music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 19. Oligarchies in Russia and Ukraine - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2N2BDGKl0L8
Transcript:(00:00) (majestic music) - Okay, greetings. We're getting towards the end of this class, so I wanted to remind you that there is a second exam. You know that. And I also want to remind you that there is a brief written assignment for this class as well. It's not meant to be complicated. You don't really need to do any additional research for it.(00:30) It's essentially about looking at the reading that you've got and finding some kind of a theme that you think is interesting in Ukrainian history. Ideally, not a theme which is identical to one of the lectures. Ideally a theme where you've connected some of the dots yourself. It doesn't have to be an incredible brainstorm, just a theme, Just an idea that unites other ideas.(00:56) And talk to your TFs about it, that's what they're there for. So this is not meant to be tricky. It's just meant to be for a way to try to rethink the class diagonally, make some connections that maybe I didn't make or the reading didn't make. Try to connect different parts of the reading with one another in a way which maybe I didn't do.(01:16) Talk about it amongst yourselves, not right now, but talk about it amongst yourselves. That's a good way to think of ideas, is to brainstorm what some of these things could be. Might even be fun, meet your classmates. Invite that person you always wanna invite for tea. Here's your chance. (student chuckling) Who knows what will happen? (student chuckling) speaking of who knows what will happen, it appears that a couple of Russian missiles just fell on Polish territory, which leads us nicely into our theme today.(01:54) What I'd like to do today is I actually wanna take a step back and talk at greater length about the Polish factor, just as I did a couple of lectures ago about the German factor. I wanna do properly what I meant to do last time, which is to give you a sense of how Polish policy after 1989 helped Ukraine to become the state that Ukraine has become.(02:20) I would use that to lead into the main subject, which is the 1980s, the 1990s, and the formation of a Ukrainian state. So from today's point of view, November 15th or so, 2022, where Poland is Ukrainian staunchest supporter, or one of Ukrainian staunchest supporters. Where there have been millions of Ukrainian refugees in Poland in the last nine months.(02:45) It's very difficult to remember that in fact, Ukrainian national identity when it formed, was formed against Poland. Against Poland. And so the Cossack legend, the struggling peasantry, the battle for land, all of that is chiefly about, not Russia, but Poland. It's about Poland. And then the Polish Ukraine encounter over the centuries has also created a lot of the concepts, a lot of the underlying political notions that are taken for granted in Ukraine today and has been creative in lots of other ways.(03:24) So I just wanna start by reminding you of that. I know that you know it, 'cause one of the basic themes of this class has been that nations don't come from nowhere. Humans evolved once in Africa. None of us is truly autochthonous, groups come into contact with one another. The alphabet was only invented once.(03:46) I can do this all day, So when we look at a nation, the gut instinct of a state is very often to say there was ethnogenesis and a people formed a thousand years ago, and maybe there was a baptism or like some magical event where we all started, cherry tree was cut down, whatever, constitution, you name it. Like some moment where everything is like, you get a clean, fresh start.(04:08) But that's not the way history actually works. Nations are par excellence, international events. And so in order to explain Ukraine or any other country, you have to get all the international factors into the picture. This is something that Roman Szporluk who was and is a great Ukrainian historian, always insisted on.(04:29) And it's true for everybody. It's true for Russia, it's true for China, It's true for America. If it weren't for the particular configuration of British-French relations having to do with the Seven Years War, no America or some completely different version of America. All right, so I wanna just remind you how important the Polish factor has been for Ukraine.(04:49) You know that it was Lithuania, which very quickly thereafter formed a personal union with Poland, which swept up most of the territories of old Rus, including Kyiv. You know that it was Lithuania, which very quickly merged with Poland in a personal union, which perpetuated much of the cultural attainments of Kyiv, including the language of law.(05:12) And much of the law. You know that because of the Polish-Lithuanian state or the Lithuanian-Polish state, Kyiv becomes a major center of European trends such as renaissance, reformation, counter reformation. Kyiv along with Chernihiv, a couple of other places, if this were a class in Belarusian history, we'd be talking about some other characters like Skaryna.(05:39) But Kyiv is one of the places where an orthodox world, an eastern Christian world, is bouncing up against these Western trends. And that's because of the Polish connection or the Lithuanian connection. The idea of a republic, which is very important, Res publica, Rzeczpospolita, Rich Pospolyta The idea of a republic comes from Poland.(06:03) It's not coming directly from Rome of course, it's coming from Poland. The idea of political rights in a republic which may not be held by everybody. And of course the dispute between the Cossacks and the Polish nobility back in the 16th century, 17th century is largely about who belongs to the republic.(06:23) Who actually has rights? If the republic means the common matter, who is the public? Who has access to rights. Both at the micro level and at the macro level, the Cossacks rebellion of 1648 is largely about that. If Bohdan Khmelnyts'kyi had had better access to justice by way of courts, if he'd been seen as a noble, then probably no rebellion, at least not at that time.(06:49) The Cossacks themselves, this particular formation of Cossacks anyway around Zaporizhzhia is a result of Polish power... Encounter of Polish power with the Crimean Tatars. They're living in the zone between Polish power and the Crimean Tatars and they're learning from both, adapting to both. So Poland-Lithuania loses the Left-Bank.(07:13) I've gotten all kinds of directions from email about what I should do with my hands when I talk about Left-Bank and Right-Bank. They say, when you talk about the Right-Bank, move your left hand and then the students will understand. But I'm just assuming you guys don't actually don't even know your left from right.(07:27) So it doesn't matter what I do. I'm assuming you're like my kids. They're like, if I say left, they go right, They go da, da, da, da. So I'm just gonna do whatever I want with my hands when I talk about... But the eastern part of Ukraine, Poland loses, the Left-Bank is lost in the 1660s, 1670s.(07:42) The Right-Bank is lost about a century later when Poland is partitioned 1770s, 1790s. There are four or 500 years here that one has to account for where the Polish factor is very, very direct. And even after Poland no longer exists, as we've talked about, it's still the Polish aristocracy that owns much of the land Right-Bank, Ukraine, all the way up to the Bolshevik Revolution.(08:08) So there too, there's an important idea of property rights and the desire of Ukrainian peasants to have to have property. Then there's also this minor current, which becomes major later on, which is Galicia Volhynia. Halychyna (indiscernible) Galicia. Which is part of Poland known as Czerwona Ruś Red Ruthenia.(08:34) It's part of Poland from the 1340s onward, and then is part of the Habsburg monarchy, and then is part of Poland again. And then that region Halychyna Galicia becomes part of the Soviet Union after the Second World War. And then is much of what we now call Western Ukraine. So I'm just reminding you, I don't want you to forget any of this when we enter into the modern period.(09:00) 'Cause there's this temptation in the 20th century, this kind of unhealthy temptation to say, well something has just happened and now everything else is gone. Like the First World War, the 'war to end all wars,' And the Second World War was thought to reset everything. And then the Cold War came to an end and history itself supposedly then also came to an end.(09:20) All these mental resets. But there's no way to understand Ukraine without this long trajectory. Which of course can be interpreted in various ways. But it's uncontroversial, and I think incontrovertible to say, without the Polish factor in the long run, there wouldn't be a Ukraine of the kind that we now have.(09:40) So what I wanna explain now is the thing that I was very hasty about the last time, which is how Polish foreign policy and Polish thinking about Ukraine had a decisive and I would even venture to say world historical effect in the 80's and in 1990s. And to do this, I need to draw your attention to a certain...(09:59) I'm gonna have to make a certain anti-imperial point, which is this. When people talk about the period '89 to '91, now they talk about Moscow and Washington, which is already problematic, because what happened in '89 to '91 had a lot to do with Warsaw, Prague, Budapest, Vilnius, a lot of other places.(10:24) But more than that, people talk about Moscow and Washington as though they knew what they were doing. Especially with respect to Washington. There's this very strange view which holds that... The Soviet Union broke up in 1991 because the Americans, and they were all powerful and they machinated... is that a word? It was all (indiscernible) like they were behind everything and somehow there was a plot and they wanted to break the Soviet Union up.(10:53) And that's just not so. That's just not so. American policy at the time was to hold the Soviet Union together. And the period '89 to '91 was a series of one unexpected event after the other, which people reacted to sometimes very skillfully. The Bush Administration reacted very skillfully to an unexpected situation, especially with respect to the unification of Germany.(11:16) There were some good diplomats at work, no denying that, but basically nobody expected the East European revolutions of '89. And even after the East European revolutions of '89, very, very few people expected the Soviet Union to fall apart in 1991. And the American political class was working with great determination in the opposite direction to try to keep Gorbachev in power and to try to keep the Soviet Union together.(11:44) I mention all that because this is not a class about the Cold War, although Arne Westad teaches great classes about this. This is a class about Ukraine. But it's very important to see that these countries, which where people lose focus, what people remember about '89 to '91. I mean, what's one image from '89 to '91? - [Student 2] The fall of the Berlin Wall.(12:07) - Yes, David Hasselhoff. Sorry that joke did not work. That joke was totally out... You know who David Hasselhoff is? So you know that he played on the Berlin Wall. Yeah, so David Hasselhoff here is like KITT and Knight Rider. That was Knight Rider, yeah. Because in Germany he's a rock star. And in Austria he's a rock star.(12:27) And so when the Berlin wall fell, David Hasselhoff went and played... You don't need David Hasselhoff, but the image is the Berlin Wall falling. Which A, it didn't fall. It's a very dramatic image, The people... And then it fell. It didn't actually fall. They opened the gates and they opened the gates, because an Italian journalist asked a question and the East German official gave an ambiguous answer and people went to the gates and the border guards opened them and then they charged into...(12:53) But that's not how communism really came to an end. The reason why we like Berlin Wall is because it's very dramatic, right? And because it's Germany and Germany's a big important country. But the real action at the end of the Cold War was not actually in Germany. The real action at the very end of the Cold War was much more in Poland than anywhere else.(13:12) And when it comes to the end of the Soviet Union, we can't understand that part without Ukraine. I'm sure you all get that. So the point that I wanna make now is that there was an interior development inside Poland, or among Poles that was running against the main current of communism and also against the main current of nationalism.(13:35) And if that sounds contradictory, keep in mind that one of the ways that communism was trying to stay in power by the 70s and 80s was as a kind of boring, homogenizing version of nationalism. A nationalism which looked back to uncontroversial symbols that wouldn't defend the people in Moscow. A communism that took credit in the Polish case for making the country nationally homogeneous I.e.(14:03) without Germans, without Ukrainians, and without Jews. A communism which seemed like it could go on forever. And indeed that is what the 70s and 80s felt like. So in order to... (foot bumping desk) Sorry. In order to understand the mood shift of '89, one has to grasp that it really did seem like that version of communism could go on forever.(14:26) It really did seem like that they were winning, as they put it, the correlation of forces was in their favor. That they were winning in the third world, that they would keep winning in the third world. That their economy was big comparable to the American economy. The CIA thought that the Soviet economy was, in 1975, was 57% of the size of the US economy, which it almost certainly wasn't.(14:47) The East German economy was thought of as being... I forget, but it's like the fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, one of the biggest economies in the world, or at least per capita. Those things were really not true, but that's really how it seemed. The version of communism which was going on in Poland, offers a kind of exception.(15:10) And that exception was Solidarity. And I have to mention Solidarity. I realize this is a class about Ukraine, not about Poland, but the Solidarity movement in Poland. Which one of your TAs, whose name I won't mention since I've learned I shouldn't mention anybody's name, 'cause then they get like millions of emails.(15:30) But one of your TAs who shall now remain nameless, works on this subject. I'll be very happy to talk to you about it. And you can guess which one. So Solidarity is very special, because what Solidarity does is that it opens a window where discussions of difficult questions having to do with communism and nationalism are possible.(15:53) Solidarity is possible, because the Polish workers above all, who gets left outta the story of the revolution? The workers. There was only one working class revolution ever, and it was in Poland. And who gets left out of the story? Poland and the workers. '89 it's all about the clever guys in the suits.(16:13) No, it's fundamentally about a working class revolution, which began in Poland, which made it seem possible that communism could come to an end. So what was special about Poland was this, in the 70s, the Polish regime was operating basically the way that other communist regimes in Eastern Europe were operating and the way Brezhnev wanted them to operate.(16:34) Namely, no discussions of ideology, marxism is dead, no serious attempts to reform the system. Reform is dangerous, if you try to reform, we can invade you as in Czechoslovakia in 1968. That's the Brezhnev doctrine. The country seems to be getting a little bit out of line than fraternal assistance. So the Polish government, which was led by a man called Edward Gierek took this to its logical extreme and said, this is all about consumerism and nationalism.(17:08) Then what we're gonna do is we're gonna borrow... And you can see how this is just the next logical step. We're gonna borrow a lot of money from the West, we're gonna let people travel a little bit more, we're gonna work on refrigerators and cars and consumer goods, try to provide them.(17:25) And for about five years, this seemed like it was going very well. We're talking about the 1970s now. After about five years of this you get oil crisis, you get Poland not being able to pay back its hard currency debts. So hard currency debt may sound like a technical term. And up until the moment when you don't have hard currency.(17:49) So if you borrow money in dollars or German marks as they were at the time, you have to be able to pay it back in dollars or German marks, which means that you have to be able to sell something which will give you dollars or German marks, which the Poles were not really in a position to be able to do. They over-invested in heavy industry.(18:06) They didn't invest in things that they could actually sell like textiles and agriculture. So they found the economy by 1979 went into the red GDP in 1979 in Poland, was negative. Solidarity begins as an economic protest against price increases. But it morphs very quickly into a political movement which demands the right to form a free and independent labor union.(18:34) That's what Solidarity is, it's a labor union. But also other political rights like the release of political prisoners and freedom of speech. Solidarity exists in Poland for about 16 months from August of 1980 until Marshal Law's declared in December of 1981. And during the 16 month period, there is a free discussion in the press, in public among people of many difficult questions, including the Ukrainian question.(19:07) And Solidarity itself does some very interesting things with respect to Ukraine. Like for example, express its solidarity with the nations of the Soviet Union. I'm sure that sounds incredibly... Like an incredibly bland formulation now. But in 1981, that was an extraordinary thing to say, to recognize the nations of the Soviet Union.(19:27) And I'll talk more about this in a moment, but in Solidarity newspapers and even in public discussions, many of the difficult questions of Polish-Ukrainian relations, which we've talked about, like the ethnic cleansing in Volhynia, Operation Vistula, The interwar Poland and its oppressive policies towards Ukrainians.(19:46) Many of these things were discussed, Many of the things were worked out. People in Solidarity had the sense correctly that the Ukrainian question was being used against them. That the Ukrainian question was being used to keep Poles in their place. How did they know to do this? And this is the part that I did in 45 seconds last time.(20:08) And I wanna spend a few more moments on it. This is the part about where I was trying to make the point that history doesn't come to an end. And so you should plan for the future, Which is, I'm sure that's what your mom and dad tell you all the time anyway. Sorry, I'm not gonna do an in imitation of all of your parents, I have limited time.(20:25) I only know some of your parents. This is being filmed. The point though and it's a very serious point, is that if you think history is coming to an end or if there's only one destination for history, then political imagination just disappears. Just disappears. And if you're in a complaining mood, you might say, oh, this is the story of my lifetime.(20:50) Because in the United States, everyone said history came to an end in 1989 and then everyone stopped thinking about the future and here we are. That may give you an intuitive sense of what I'm talking about. But what happened in the Polish case is that a group of... A very small group of Polish thinkers centered around this journal called Kultura, rethought the issue of Poland and its Eastern neighbors.(21:18) And in particular they rethought the issue of Poland and Ukraine. And the men and women who did this were coming out of a liberal status milieu in Interwar Poland. They didn't come from nowhere. These were the same people who in Interwar Poland, thought there should be autonomy for Galicia. We have to take the Ukrainian questions seriously.(21:40) Some of them were active in the attempt to create autonomy in Volhynia. Some of them were thinking about how we might break the Soviet Union apart. This group survives... Most of them, survives a second World War. They end up abroad in a suburb of Paris called Maisons-Laffitte which is chiefly known for its horse races.(22:09) In case you go there, that's something you could do. The food's also nice. So they went to Maisons-Laffitte 'cause they couldn't afford the rent in Paris. And how did they get to Paris? Here's how they got to Paris. First you serve in the Polish army. Second Germany invades, third, you retreat to the East, fourth Soviet Union invades, fifth, you get deported to the Gulag, sixth after you deport to the Gulag, Germany invades the Soviet Union.(22:35) Seventh, Stalin decides that he needs you to fight after all on his side. Eighth, you're allowed to form an army, but not one that's gonna fight on the eastern front, only on the western front. What number am I on? - [Students In Unison] Nine. - Ninth you form up... You're released from the Gulag.(22:54) You probably leave your wives and children behind. You're released from the Gulag. Men. You probably leave your wives and children behind the Gulag, You form up... That part of the story always gets left out. But if you think about it for just a minute, you realize, well wait a minute, where were the women and children? Oh, they were still in the Gulag.(23:19) So you form up... That's what heroism looks like. You form up in an army, in a base in southern Russia. You make your way through Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Northern Africa, you fight on the western front in Italy, take terrible casualties, especially at the famous battle called Monte Cassino. That's the standard trajectory.(23:43) And then after having done all of that, of course the Soviets win the war on the Eastern Front, Poland goes communist, you can't go home. So simple little story. That's the basic trajectory of a lot of these folks. They're variations, but that's the basic idea. So these are people who are very often Russian speakers Jerzy Giedroyc's the most important of them, born in Minsk.(24:06) Russian, probably his preferred language of reading. Had a Russian wife for a while. Jozef Czapski, probably the second most important of them. Born in what's now Belarus. Very extremely cosmopolitan origins, chooses Polish identity. These are people who knew Russian, who knew Eastern Europe, who had a sense that Poland...(24:29) Their sensibility about Poland was everything opposite. Everything contrary to the notion that it was some kind of small Central European ethnically homogeneous entity. But their achievement, their achievement was to think about the future and to imagine what it would be like to be an independent Poland in Eastern Europe.(24:52) In other words, they went beyond the obvious grievance position. I mean, it is totally obvious. Poland lost half its territory, It lost millions of people during the war. It was an ally... The whole second World War was fought because of Poland. And even though it was an ally, it still ends up under Soviet rule.(25:11) The entirety of Warsaw is destroyed at the end of the war. So there are things to have grievances about, but they, if you want, quite calmly or even coldly, moved beyond the grievance. Oh, and the point is, a lot of these grievances could be directed against Ukrainians. Ukrainians got Western Ukraine. That's not what they called it.(25:29) Ukrainians got the districts of Małopolska wschodnia they got Wołyń, the Ukrainians got this territory from us. So a lot of these grievances could be directed against Ukrainians. What Kultura did was they moved beyond the grievance position into what they portrayed as a geopolitical position, which is interesting.(25:46) They said, okay, if there's gonna be an independent Poland, how is that gonna be possible? How is it gonna be possible? It's gonna be possible with an independent Lithuania, independent Belarus and especially independent Ukraine. And the reason why this is so important, this is their argument, is imperialism, imperialism.(26:10) Russian imperialism will only be blocked by an independent Ukraine. Polish imperialism will only be blocked by an independent Ukraine. There's a very important degree of self-understanding and self-knowledge in this. When I went to visit Jerzy Giedroyc in Paris in Maisons Laffitte in 1994, for the first time.(26:36) He had no idea who I was. He didn't have a perfectly high opinion of Americans and I was just some kid. But I told him what I was working on. At the time I was working on Polish... Contemporary Polish diplomatic relations with Ukraine and Lithuania. And he said, he gave me this little speech in which he said, Proszę Pana You've probably heard a great deal about the romantic Polish legacy in the East and all of the terrible suffering of the Poles in the East.(27:02) And he said, This is all nonsense. Which is a very strong thing, to deny the entire frontier rhetoric of your own country. Very strong position. To take Polish romanticism and say, just gonna push that aside. Very strong position, very strong position. And so they start with the geopolitical logic and the whole time, what they say is, this is all...(27:32) Okay, this is all just cold hard geopolitical reasoning. That's what they say. But in order to carry this out, in order to make Ukraine real, they engage with Ukraine. And again, for a lot of them, they've been already doing this for decades. So Giedroyc took a class in Ukrainian history in I think 1924 in Warsaw.(27:54) Okay, so classes in Ukrainian history, they're important. He took a class in Ukrainian history as a law student in Warsaw. He was engaged with a Galician question in interwar Poland. It wasn't the first time they thought about Ukraine, but they engaged with Ukraine in the sense that they publish, I mentioned this last time, they published Ukrainian writers, They published George Shevelov, who is a brilliant Ukrainian philologist.(28:16) They published Borys Levyts'kyi, he was a otherwise unknown, but very talented sovietologists or contemporary historian in the Soviet Union. They publish a thousand pages of what Giedroyc calls the 'Executed Renaissance,' which is the murdered or some of them committed suicide. But the murdered or exiled Soviet Ukrainian writers of the 20s, the 20s and early 30s.(28:41) In 1952, they publish a letter. I mentioned this last time. They publish a letter saying, let the blue yellow flag fly over Lwów which is an extraordinary... At the time, an extraordinary thing to say. And then they back that up over the course of the 60s and 70s with a long series of geopolitical articles. But the entire time they're doing this, they're also publishing.(29:06) And here comes the slightly... The part which is slightly impalpable, but they also befriend Ukrainian writers. They befriend Ukrainian writers. Ukrainian writers become part of their milieu over the course of the decades, these friendships build up and Ukraine becomes real for them. So the entire time they're saying this is just like a cold-hearted, you know, we're just cold-hearted geo politicians, we're just doing this in the interest of the Polish state.(29:32) And that's some of the truth, maybe even most of the truth. But that calculation, I mean, you might even say that geopolitics was only possible with the help of the personal dimension. They couldn't have done it themselves. They needed to do it with the Ukrainians, And so a lot of Ukrainians found their voice.(29:49) Oh and I almost forgot to say, the person, he only published one article in Kultura to my knowledge. But the person who was often guiding Giedroyc about who to publish on the pages of Kultura was this fellow Ivan Rudnyts'kyi who I mentioned towards the beginning of the course. Ivan Rudnyts'kyi who comes from this Ukrainian family, Jewish origin.(30:14) His mother was Milena Rudnyts'ka, powerful orator, parliamentarian interwar Poland. It was Ivan Rudnyts'kyi who in the 60s and 70s in particularly was winning the debate in the diaspora about what kind of nation Ukraine was. He was also advising Giedroyc about who to publish in Ukraine. Rudnyts'kyi, you know who Rudnyts'kyi is, because you're doing the reading, right? I don't have to tell you who...(30:39) You're doing the reading. Yes, I like the smiles when I say that. I'm not gonna think too hard about what those smiles mean, but I like them. So, Rudnyts'kyi who's the most influential voice on behalf of the argument that Ukraine is a political nation and not an ethnic one, is involved with Giedroyc, who has a very similar idea.(30:57) A very similar idea about nationhood, which is its fundamentally a political commitment, fundamentally about political action. So why am I dwelling on this so much? I'm doing this so much because you've seen in this class how Ukraine is a result of, and sometimes the victim of various imperial powers.(31:21) You can't make sense of Ukraine without the Ottomans, the Crimean Tatars. You can't make sense of Ukraine even without the Swedes, if only briefly. The Austrians certainly matter quite a lot. And the Germans matter, definitely, especially in the 20th century. The most important imperial powers would be the Russians and the Poles.(31:41) If you look at the situation as the Soviet Union is coming to an end in the late 1980s, you're down to only two possible imperial power... Well, let's be nice to everybody else. Only two possible imperial powers. The Poles and the Russians. And the Poles take themselves out of the picture. The Poles take themselves out of the picture.(32:04) The Poles in fall of 1990, before Ukraine is an independent state, before the Soviet Union has ceased to exist, they make up this thing of a treaty with a country that doesn't exist. Diplomacy can be more interesting than you think. They make up this instrument, which is a kind of treaty with Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which says we each recognize each other's borders.(32:31) It could seem trivial, right? But it's not at all trivial. What they're doing is they're putting the border question off the table preemptively. And when they do this, I should mention Solidarity again, they're following the debate, which has been happening in Solidarity in the 1980s. So the Solidarity debate all moved in that direction.(32:53) So when comintern came to an end in Poland, it wasn't like in other countries where suddenly all the historical questions rushed out at once and were very hard to handle. That was true for the Soviet Union by the way. In Poland it was a bit different. The historical questions, many of them had already been set up like the Ukrainian question.(33:13) And so then when there was suddenly a sovereign independent Poland, they could make policy based upon a previous discussion which had already happened. So by the time that Ukraine does become independent in December of '91, there is no Polish question, there is no Polish question. The Poles have already declared that they are in favor of an independent Ukraine, which means that from December, 1991, to the present day, the only potential imperial power and of course now real imperial power.(33:41) But the only potential imperial power is Russia. So you see where I'm going with this. The part of the making of modern Ukraine is the encounter with Poland. Part of the making of the Ukrainian state as we know it now, has to do with Polish-Ukrainian relations, which since 1991 have certainly had their ups and downs.(33:59) But the recognition of Ukraine as an independent state and Ukrainians as a separate people has always been a constant. So in Ukraine itself, I wanna mention three influences on political thought in the 70s. So as you've noticed, I think the 70s are very important for where we are now, because the 70s were when a certain generation, which is still in power in Russia, and Belarus was formed.(34:27) And what's crucial in Ukraine, I think, is that that generation is no longer in charge in Ukraine. The people who run Ukraine now are in their upper 30s and and lower 40s. They're from a different generation. This generation, which in the Soviet Union was called stagnation or in Czechoslovakia normalization, this generation of the 70s, this generation where...(34:48) This time when ideas were thought not to matter. When history, as I talked about last time was thought to be over when ideologies were all thought to be discredited and where cynicism was the dominant mood that people had to try hard to come up with some way to think outta the box. So at a time when East Europeans are being invited to just say all that really matters is your personal...(35:16) We know, we agree with you. There's gonna be no glorious communist future. We agree, we know, we admit it. This is really existing socialism and this is good as it gets. But look, cars, maybe some foreign travel, refrigerators, television, television was very important to this. Television programs. We'll give you that and it's just gonna go on forever.(35:38) There aren't any alternatives, that's the deal. How do you think your way out of that? And so this idea of normality. In Poland, this is important, to be abnormal in the 70s and 80s politically, was to be Jewish or Ukrainian. Not really to be Jewish or Ukrainian. I mean some of them were Jewish. But it meant...(35:58) So normal was like, you're with the crowd. You belong to the majority nation. You're not causing trouble, you're with us. And the dissidents were all categorized Jewish, Ukrainian, Jewish, Jewish, Jewish, Ukrainian, Jewish, Jewish, Jewish, Ukrainian. 'Cause that's what the secret police really liked.(36:14) They like to have them on the outside. So you're supposed to be normal. You're not supposed to raise your head, you're not supposed to raise your hand, you're not supposed to raise your eyes, you're not supposed to have ideas. You're just supposed to go along with this kind of consensus that we're day after day we're gonna have the same thing.(36:29) Human rights was an answer to that. Directly an answer to that. Directly, directly. Because Brezhnev in 1975 wanted recognition of the status-quo. So Brezhnev in 1975, along with the Americans, the Canadians, the Europeans held a conference in Helsinki. Very important conference, things are still named after it today.(36:54) People still find it very motivating. What Brezhnev wanted was more the same forever. So what he wanted was for the Western powers to acknowledge the Soviet borders and the borders of the East European states. So those borders were never recognized by anybody. There was never a peace treaty after the second World War in Europe.(37:14) So what he wanted was effectively a late peace treaty that would legalize, codify the status quo. The ironic outcome of all of this is something else. He gets that, he gets that. But in exchange, there are a few... If you read it, it's an interesting document. If you read the Helsinki Final Act, there are a few paragraphs in there kind of buried, about human rights.(37:39) And what the East Europeans did was they said, oh, we're gonna take this extremely seriously. The East Europeans said, well that's now the law of the land. And of course they knew that they weren't in rule of law states and they knew that their leaders didn't really mean it. But nevertheless the idea of human rights became very fruitful.(37:55) Because with human rights, you can always find a gap between what the state says it's doing and what it should be doing. With human rights you always have an argument coming from the person outwards or from human dignity outwards about the way things should be. It gives you a different kind of language of evaluation.(38:13) So all across Eastern Europe, the Russians did this. the Russian dissidents had already been publishing since the late 60s, something called the Chronicle of Current Events, which was using human rights language. The Czechs did this, Charter 77 launches the distinct career Vaclav Havel who eventually becomes president.(38:30) The Poles did this, they had a committee, something called the Committee to Defend the Workers. Ukrainians did this. In 1976, they formed something called the Ukrainian Helsinki Committee. And Ukrainian Helsinki Committee. I'm sorry, I have to be so hasty about all this. We're doing a thousand years and these are fascinating figures, but Ukrainian Helsinki Committee makes the interesting argument that the nationality is part of human rights.(38:58) So it's not that the nation is an ethnic group, but the fact that I wanna speak my language or that I wanna be able to sing my songs or I wanna be able to wear my shirt. These things are part of my life as an individual. And so that national rights are actually individual rights, human rights. They said lots of other things that were much more universalistic and conventional.(39:23) But this is a point that they made. It's a very telling point that the nation doesn't have to be a collectivity, the nation could be something which resides in people. And you can violate their rights by not letting them speak their language. So taking my school books away, which is what happened in the 70s in Soviet Ukraine.(39:42) The de facto not letting me go to university in my own language. Not hiring me, because I'm known to be somebody who speaks Ukraine in public. That these are violations of human rights. And so the Brezhnevian language is all technical efficiency. History's over, it's all about how, it's all about efficiency.(40:03) So why don't we all just speak Russian. 'Cause that would just be easier. How do you answer that language? You can only answer that language with some kind of why, with some kind of normative position. And human rights gave people that language. So one source of the political thinking, which is gonna inform Ukraine later on are the dissidents.(40:22) And the dissidents... This is predictable. The dissidents end up in the Gulag. The Gulag is much smaller by the 70s and 80s, but it still exists. There are two major camps that Ukrainian dissidents are sent to. And in these camps, they encounter Ukrainian nationalists, because those people were sentenced to 25 year terms.(40:43) Sometimes repeatedly. And so Ukrainian nationalists who were sentenced in the 40s, 50s, were fairly regularly still in the Gulag in the 70s and 80s and there were conversations in the Gulag about what kind of future Ukrainian nation there would be. And again, I wish I could go into more detail with this 'cause it's fascinating.(41:03) But the basic drift is that the political nation argument wins out. That the ethnic national argument is seen for what it is. And certainly the dissidents in general have respect for the nationalists for having taken risks, which they certainly did and having resisted Soviet power which they certainly did.(41:21) But the argue, the general drift is towards the political characterization of the nation. The third place that this is happening is in the diaspora in Canada, in the United States especially where it's the same... Interestingly it's the same two sides. Where many of the people, and this remains true, many of the people who are very active in the Canadian-American diaspora come from West Ukrainian families who are associated with nationalist politics.(41:53) But over the decades, the argument becomes more about the Ukrainian state and about how this thing, which is Ukrainian-Soviet socialist republic and its present boundaries will become an independent state and what the politics of that will be like. And although this is not easy for people, the reality of Soviet Ukraine is that many people speak Russian.(42:16) It's a multinational country, making an independent state with just the idea of ethnic Ukrainians is gonna be pretty tricky. And so the argument that Ukraine is basically political, and this is not trivial. Also interesting... You don't have to tell me that you love the reading. You don't have to tell me you love the reading.(42:33) But at the time at least, the adventures that Ivan Rudnyts'kyi was making in intellectual political history, they were interesting. I know I sound so defensive for assigning you this stuff. But it wasn't just... You'll notice he's not just writing about how there were Ukrainian people and look at their songs and it lasted forever.(42:54) That was my parody of Hrushevsky. It's about interesting combinations and individuals and surprising currents that meet each other. And it's also about contact between Ukrainians and others. It's international history. So political nation means interesting history. It means you're working for an interesting account of where you came from and maybe where you're going.(43:16) And so again, I'm abbreviating these decades of debates. But again, it's the political notion of what Ukraine is gonna be like that wins out. And wins out before '91. Wins out before '91, which is very, very important, because the Ukrainian territory which is inherited in '91, is indeed a complicated and messy business.(43:40) I have to be very brief about this, unfortunately. So how did Ukraine become an independent state? Ukraine becomes an independent state, because Gorbachev messes up his attempt to reform the Soviet Union. Understandably. Gorbachev has the idea that communism can be reformed. As he tries to reform communism, he realizes he has to consolidate his own position, because the Communist Party is full of defacto reactionary lobbies that will drag their feet and defend their interests.(44:13) So he tries to build up a Soviet state. This is from '85 to '91. He tries to build up a Soviet state where he's going to shift being basically the president. He's gonna be the head of state and that's gonna matter. As he does this, the question is raised about the federal structure of the Soviet Union.(44:30) So as you know, going back back to 1922, essentially the Ukrainian question means that the Soviet Union has to be or has to look like a federal state with these national units. By summer of 1991 as a new state treaty is being discussed, this question of how centralized or decentralized the Soviet Union is going to be is the thing which pushes Soviet Conservatives against Gorbachev and brings about a coup where people try to bring down his rule in August of 1991.(45:03) As a result of that, Gorbachev is pushed into the background. So the hero then... His name's not even on here, but you know. The hero then of that little episode is a Russian communist called Boris Yeltsin. And what Yeltsin does is he sees this occasion, he leads the resistance to the coup. Gorbachev is in his dacha.(45:26) That's where you are during a coup. If you were read your lines, it's coup, okay go to dacha, read book, wait for the knock on the door, stay in dacha, that's how it goes. So Gorbachev is in his dacha, Yeltsin gets on top of a tank, famously at that age, he could still get on top of tanks. And the Russian military...(45:46) The Soviet military hesitates and the coup plotters lose. Yeltsin takes advantage of this to pull Russia out of the Soviet Union, which leaves Yeltsin in charge. That's the way the Soviet Union comes to an end. Russia pulls itself out. The second most important actor in all of this is Ukraine. The Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian leaders of the Russian, Ukrainian Belarusian parties meet in a forest in Belarus.(46:14) They meet because they're the heads of the three republics of 1922, which still exist in 1991. So the constituent republics of the Soviet Union that still exist meet to dissolve the Soviet Union. Now the Ukraine... So the man who does that is Leonid Kravchuk and Kravchuk is a party Apparatchik. He had been responsible for ideology born in interwar Poland actually in the 30s, 1934 thereabouts in Volhynia which was then in Poland.(46:53) Kravchuk represents the most important current in the beginning of independent Ukraine, which are the slightly national communists. Because you see by... Ukraine from 1972... Soviet Ukraine from 1972 to 1989 had been ruled by the first Secretary Volodymyr Shcherbyts'kyi who was a conservative and a russifier.(47:21) Ukraine had been one of the least reformed republics during the Gorbachev period. Shcherbyts'kyi was against Perestroika, He was against Gorbachev's reforms. When the Chernobyl nuclear reactor blew up in 1986 in Ukraine, this made it seem like Gorbachev's reforms were meaningless. One of his reforms are called Glasnost which means transparency.(47:42) But the reactor blew up and nevertheless, they went out for the mayday parades and irradiated themselves in Ukraine, because Gorbachev didn't want anyone to know that there had been this terrible accident. So Gorbachev's reforms both in appearance and in reality were much slower in Ukraine than elsewhere.(48:00) So there was a very brief interval before the Soviet Union came to an end for Ukraine to get its politics in order. The result is that the way that Ukraine comes to an end is that the Communist Party is still the main force and there are people shifting at the top of the Communist Party. This fellow Kravchuk gets in charge.(48:19) He sees his opportunity after the coup. He has a referendum on Ukrainian independence. I guess this is important today. There's a referendum on Ukrainian independence, which a majority votes for in every region of Ukraine, including Crimea by the way. More than 90%... This is 1991. More than 90% in the country as a whole.(48:38) And they also have presidential elections. And Kravchuk turns out to be president, wonderful. So he works this out very well. But what he represents is the most important current in Ukrainian politics at the beginning. Which are the communists who are able to ride this wave and reestablish themselves in positions of authority inside Ukraine.(48:58) So I didn't quite get to Paul Manafort. You guys can remind me. Make sure we get to Paul Manafort. Paul Manafort will probably appear in the next lecture, which Professor Shore is giving about my Maidan. She'll also be getting the bad news that she has to do 15 years before Maidan. 'Cause I only got as far as I got.(49:16) Please make sure to read that her book, I think it's the only assigned reading this week. Please make sure to do the reading before the lecture. Thank you very much. (papers rustling) (mystical music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 20. Maidan and Self-Understanding - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg_CLI3xY58
Transcript:(00:00) (tense music) - Greetings everyone. Thanksgiving is coming, less students are coming. Today, we have a wonderful opportunity to... To close the historical part of History of Ukraine course, with guest lecturer, Professor Marci Shore. She is Assistant Professor... Associate Professor of history already here at Yale.(00:40) Professor Marci Shore teaches European cultural and intellectual history. She graduated with a bachelor's and PhD from Stanford, and holding master's degree from University of Toronto. She wrote it extensively on intellectual history of Eastern Central Europe. And recently, she published book on history of Euromaidan (indistinct) was submitted to read, "The Ukrainian Night: An Intimate History of Revolution" And today, we'll be particularly talking about the years coming to Euromaidan,(01:20) and revolution itself, and its consequences. Marci, the floor is yours. - Oh, thank you. Thank you, it's nice to see you. I'm recognizing some of you, so I think some of you have listened to me talk before, or taken my classes, so hopefully this won't be too repetitive. Let me start... Let me start just briefly with...(01:47) With the fall of communism in 1989, 'cause this was also reminding me of when I was younger. One of the things Maidan did was bring me back to that moment when I first became enchanted with this whole part of the world, with Eastern Europe. And in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, it was one of those things that felt inconceivable and impossible until the moment that it happened.(02:17) And then, in retrospect, it seemed inevitable, which I think is a lesson for historians in general, that the thing that seems impossible and inconceivable will seem that way until the moment that it happens, and then it will retrospectively seem to be inevitable. The Soviet Union seemed like it would go on forever.(02:36) The one thing that struck me when I first started going to Eastern Europe in the early 1990s was how many people said to me, "I never thought I would see it end in my lifetime." People who were dissidents, people who sat in prison, people who did everything they could to protest, people who did nothing, people who were content, people who went along with it; Everybody said, "We never thought "we would see it end in our lifetime.(02:59) " And I know that you've all, by now, sat through this whole course on Ukraine, so you know a lot by now about the Soviet experience. So I'll just say, as a reminder, in some sense to myself as well, that the Soviet project was arguably the largest, deepest, most far reaching experiment in social engineering that has ever been performed on mankind.(03:28) And in some sense, we are still grappling with the sheer scope of the experiment, and the sheer magnitude of the failure, of the catastrophe. It was not just an attempt to remake a government, and it wasn't even just an attempt to remake a society. It was an attempt to remake human beings. It was an attempt to create a new kind of human being.(03:55) And I was... I was the last generation to grow up during the Cold War. The war was... the world was divided into two camps. There was an Iron Curtain, not literal, although in the case of the Berlin Wall, there was actually physical wall. The world was divided into those two sides and you were never gonna see what was on the other side.(04:15) Sorry, I'm trying to avoid moving around too much, which is my usual practice because I see that there's a camera there, so I'm gonna try to be disciplined and stay right here. And then, one day, it was over and the wall fell, and the world opened. And soon enough afterwards, the Soviet Union seemed to dissolve.(04:37) Kind of, just dissolve into pieces. Ukraine, as you probably heard, got its independence, to a certain extent, by default, but also with some agitation, and with some desire on the part of the population. And in the West, we were celebrating. "The wicked witch is dead "and now we all live happily ever after," that was the paradigm.(05:00) I always think of the Wizard of Oz, and "Ding Dong, the witch is dead." You've all seen the Wizard of Oz, yes? "Ding dong, the witch is dead." There was a sense that the wicked witch is dead, and now we were all gonna live happily ever after. Ironically, or perhaps paradoxically, the Hegelian narrative that had been underlying communism all these years gave way to what was also a Hegelian narrative about a liberal teleology of progress, that now that communism had failed and now we knew that, in fact,(05:33) the locomotive of history was leading towards liberal democracy. And there was a sense that liberalism, democracy, free market neoliberalism, they were all part of, what Adam Michnik has called, the "utopian capitalist package." They were going together as part of a harmonious whole, and now, we were all going to move on that train and live happily ever after.(05:59) There had been wonderful existentialist metaphysics among dissidents and philosophers in the 80s and 90s... Or 70s and 80s, especially after 1968. That kind of disappeared in the 90s because everybody was celebrating the end of history, as Francis Fukuyama called it, and the triumph of neoliberalism. There was something kind of smug about that.(06:23) Our smug Western triumphalism that, yes, we were right, now everybody lives happily ever after. Now, in some sense, that was a narrative that, on both sides of the Iron Curtain, was very deeply felt. But something we perhaps didn't appreciate so much, being on the former capitalist side, or the still capitalist side, of the Iron Curtain was just how brutal the 1990s were for the societies that were coming out of communism.(06:55) Nobody really knew how you go and undo the communist experiment, and try to get back on that locomotive. Nobody really knew how you made those transitions. There were lots of theories. There was shock therapy in Poland. There was a faith that even if it were... However rough it might be, there were gonna be some bumps in the road, but now we knew where the road was going.(07:23) And the 1990s, I mean, not only in the former Soviet space, perhaps more dramatically in the former Soviet space than in the rest of Eastern Europe, which was also quite rough. One of my graduate students now, who's from Albania, said, there's an expression Albanian, that's "it's not the 1990s," that references that you're continually referencing the trauma of the 1990s.(07:46) It took us a long time, I think, in the West to understand that the 1990s were traumatic. There was a kind of wildness to it, a sense that the old rules no longer obtained and nobody knew what the new rules were. The coming of capitalism came as a kind of what, in American history we've called "robber baron capitalism.(08:09) " Capitalism as a wild free-for-all with no rules. It left open the possibility of former communist apparatchiks very quickly transitioning into gangster-style neoliberals who managed to monopolize and steal a lot of the state resources. The transition was not particularly gentle, and not necessarily particularly fair at all.(08:36) So Ukraine was languishing under these conditions, as were other places. It was called... The Ukraine of the 1990s was called by the American political scientist, Keith Darden, "The blackmail state," which was a term that got taken up. Was mired in corruption scandals, you probably heard a bit from Professor Snyder already about Leonid Kravchuk, who came through the Communist Party.(09:05) And then, his successor, Leonid Kuchma, who was entering politics around 1990, and just mired in corruption scandals. This omnipresence of corruption, of this lawlessness that is accompanying the transition to capitalism. I mean, I still remember the transition to capitalism even in so-called "gentle places," like Prague, where you just got in a cab and they could charge you any amount of money.(09:33) There was no in there being any kind of limitation, or any kind of commitment to rates that were pro... That were posted. I mean, you just felt constantly vulnerable because there were no rules. In the year... In September 2000, this era is probably personified, or symbolized, by a brutal murder, an assassination of a Georgian-Ukrainian journalist...(10:00) Young Georgian-Ukrainian journalist, Georgiy Gongadze, who had been reporting on corruption, who was assassinated during Kuchma's reign. There wasn't widespread violence en masse against the population, but if you were a dissident journalist or if you were making trouble in particular, then you were clearly very vulnerable.(10:26) And Ukraine languished this way until the elections of 2004, which is really where I wanna pick up for today. And the elections of 2004, the presidential elections, were the elections between two Viktors. My kids are always complaining that all of these people we know in various Slavic speaking countries, their names repeat too much.(10:48) There are many Agnieszkas in Poland and Romania. There are many Viktors, there are many Sashas. So this is an election between two Viktors; Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko. And Viktor Yanukovych was your post-Soviet gangster type. I mean, not really "type," I mean, he was a gangster. I mean, and not...(11:12) My friend, Ivan Krastev, the Bulgarian political scientist, said to me once, "Marci, it's not just that "he's a gangster, "he's a petty gangster." To which Radek Sikorski answered, "the sums of money involved were "really not so petty." Post-Soviet gangster type, close to the Kremlin, representing continuity with what had come before.(11:35) The presidency would clearly enrich himself and his circle of friends. And then, there was Viktor Yushchenko, who seemed to be the person who was Westward-looking, who was looking towards Europe, who was going to take Ukraine, or had visions of taking Ukraine, on a path towards eventual European Union integration.(11:57) And the short version of this particular story is that Yanukovych's team tries to poison Viktor Yushchenko with dioxin. Not only tries, they do poison use Yushchenko with dioxin. The doctors save him, but his face is grotesquely disfigured. And in some ways, that disfigured face, the images of Yushchenko as a victim of this dioxin poisoning, becomes the face of those elections, and a symbol of the brutality and the corruption.(12:35) Not only do they poison Yushchenko, but then they cheat in the elections. In a way, not so dissimilar from the way that Lukashenko, in Belarus, cheated in the elections two years ago. It was quite obvious to people that they had forged the election results. And at that point, Ukrainians come out onto the streets.(12:58) And in particular, they come out to the main square in the center of Kyiv. And the main square in the center of Kyiv is called the Maidan. I just wanna say about the Maidan, it's an unusually large city square, and it's an unusually complex geographical space. So for those of you who are interested in what is visual, who are interested in what is architectural, it's multi-leveled, which is not so typical for a city square.(13:30) And there's a underground part, with a subway and with some underground shopping. So it's large and complex, and architecturally offers possibilities for things to happen on this square. So for those of you who haven't been there, that physical space is significant to the rest of the story that I'm going to tell.(13:51) And hopefully, you all go some day. Hopefully, after the victory when (speaking foreign language). As they say Ukrainian, "We can all go back and do fun things on the Maidan." Ukrainians go to the Maidan, to the central square in Kyiv, and they protest in November 2004. They protest forged elections.(14:15) And Kyiv is very... It gets very cold in the winter. It's fairly far north, not as far north as Petersburg, but quite far north. For three weeks, people stand there and they freeze and they shout. It's completely nonviolent, but they insist on free elections. And somewhat miraculously, it works, Under pressure to some extent from other European countries, but the elections are done over.(14:45) This time, Yushchenko is declared the winner. And people are happy and they go home. And as you can probably guess, this is not going to be happily ever after. We're still waiting for that moment in history when happily ever after comes, it's never come, so we don't want to anticipate too much. People go home, and there's a sense of, "Now, we are on the right path.(15:11) " But the short version of this story is that Yushchenko turns out to be a disappointment. And hopefully, you'll have some time to talk in your discussion sections in more detail about why he turns out to be a disappointment. Was he never quite the same after the dioxin poisoning? Was he never actually the Messiah figure that he was projected to be? Was it because of infighting on his team? Did it have to do with the falling out with the Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko? Was he always a little bit self-interested?(15:39) Did he always have certain nationalist leanings? For overdetermined reasons that will... We will never be able to know, with certainty, exactly what was causal. It doesn't work out well. And again, I hope you'll have some time to talk about this in your discussion sessions 'cause it was an interesting moment.(15:57) And in the meantime, Yanukovych, it had seemed absolutely impossible that this man could ever come back. I mean, first of all, he was hardly very inspiring to begin with. He was... He had a past that was a past as a gangster, he was involved in robbery, he was involved in assault, stealing state resources, being his usual gangster self.(16:18) There's nothing particularly appealing about him. I realize I'm being very biased here. And it was publicly exposed that he poisoned his opponent with dioxin and cheats in the election, so you think, really, he's out of there. But somehow, he's still lurking around in the background, and he doesn't give up.(16:40) And he finds out that in Washington, there are some Americans who have a little boutique industry going for gangsters with presidential ambitions. I mean, really, American capitalism, you can find anything. And so, he decides he's going to hire one of these public relations consultants who specializes in gangsters with presidential ambitions.(17:07) And so, this guy, whose name was Paul Manafort, you may have heard of him, comes over to Ukraine from Washington. He doesn't know Ukrainian, he doesn't know Russian, but he knows how to play golf. He has opinions about suits, he has opinions about haircuts, he has opinions about facial expressions on television, and they hang out and he grooms...(17:36) Manafort grooms Yanukovych and gives him a makeover. Now, again, I realize I'm not a very objective source of information here because I find Yanukovych somewhat repulsive. I didn't really see the transformation. Nothing seemed to be particularly enchanting about him after Manafort worked on him. But somehow, he comes back and in 2010, genuinely wins the election.(18:03) And this time, nobody disputes the election results. And as a thank you gift, he presents Paul Manafort with a $30,000 jar of black caviar. I don't even know what one does with a $30,000 jar of black caviar but again, I'm speaking as somebody who doesn't like caviar. So again, for overdetermined reasons, I'm not impressed by this.(18:27) In any case... You can tell I'm not really a neutral observer to this story. I'm not Ukrainian, but I'm also not a neutral observer. It's hard to maintain your stance as a neutral observer for a very long time. In any case, Yanukovych is the president, he's being his usual gangster-like self, not particularly inspiring.(18:49) He's not offering anyone some kind of grand narrative. I mean, he's not one of these dictators with "I am going to restore you to greatness." There's no eschatology, there's no teleology. It's just like "the next gangster could be worse, "so you better kind of shut up "and go along with me.(19:07) " He's not using widespread violence against the population, unless you really get in his way, and then people could be eliminated here and there. And he's dangling out the carrot of eventually, slowly perhaps, one day, putting Ukraine on a path towards European Union integration. And this, for the people, especially the people who are exactly your age, was...(19:38) Meant everything. Whether or not, if you were... If you were 15, or 18, or 22, or 25, whether or not Europe was going to be open to you meant everything about what kind of future you could have. Would you be able to learn foreign languages? Would you be able to study abroad? Would you be eligible for Erasmus exchanges? Would you be eligible to do internships in Brussels? Would you be able to travel, and go to conferences, and meet with other young people without spending months waiting in long lines, and humiliating yourself,(20:11) and paying lots of money and pleading for a visa that you might or might not get? So this, whether or not the doors of Europe would be open, was enormously important, especially to young people, and especially to students, especially to people who were looking at their future, who were upwardly mobile, who wanted to learn languages, who wanted to see the world.(20:32) In November 2013, Yanukovych was due to sign this very long anticipated association agreement with the European Union. Now, it was not a fantastic agreement, and I think that the TFs can tell you more about the details of this agreement. It would have involved Ukraine undertaking costly reforms to get in line with European Union regulations.(20:59) It almost definitely would have provoked retaliation from the Kremlin, who did not want Ukraine associating more closely with the European Union. And at the end of the day, it didn't make any promises about European Union membership. This was an association agreement, it wasn't a membership agreement.(21:19) But it was a foot in the door. It was symbolically of enormous significance. It was a sign that Ukraine had intentions of getting in line with European standards for integration. And it was a sign that, potentially, even if contingently, if everything went well, Europe was open to the possibility of accepting Ukraine.(21:44) And so, for an agreement that, on the face of it and in the details, didn't seem so spectacular, it was of enormous symbolic and existential significance, especially to a certain demographic. At the 11th hour, when the ceremony had... There was a signing ceremony. It was set up in Vilnius. Everything was all arranged for the end of November.(22:08) And at the very last minute on November 21st, Yanukovych suddenly said, "No, I'm not gonna sign." And then there was a feeling of sudden shock and devastation. Again, not equally throughout the population. And I keep emphasizing that because it's very different from the war that's going to come later.(22:29) The people who were... The part of Ukraine that was truly devastated by the association agreement was a more distinct demographic than the part of Ukraine devastated by the war, which is a whole country. At that point, still, nothing might have happened. It's one of the lessons about historical contingency.(22:49) People were very depressed, people were very upset, people were angry. Had not a 32 year old Afghan-Ukrainian journalist, named Mustafa Nayyem, not posted on Facebook, in Russian, a little note on November 21st, saying, "Hey, let's be serious. "If you're really upset, "come out to the Maidan by midnight tonight.(23:17) " And he said, "likes do not count." Interestingly, that "likes do not count" initially often got mistranslated to English, which I found odd because it's one of the rare, serendipitous moments when the Slavic translates perfectly into English. It was literally "likes do not count.(23:37) " And as a historian, that really captured me because I thought, "Wow, "that's a sentence that would have made "no sense before Facebook." Like, student... I mean, literally, it would've been devoid of any semantic meaning before Facebook. And now, "Likes do not count" is going to become a revolutionary slogan for the 21st century.(23:57) People come out to the Maidan that night. Mostly, although not exclusively, young people, students, people exactly your age, quite similar to yourselves, they go out to the square. It's November, it's cold, not as cold as it's going to get in January, but cold. They hold hands, they sing, they play music, they're completely peaceful.(24:21) They're not interested in ethnic politics, they're not interested in language politics, they're not interested in opposition political parties, they're not talking about elections. Their slogan is "Ukraine is Europe." That's it. "Ukraine is Europe." And they call themselves "Euromaidan.(24:43) " They want Europe to be open to them. And there are, at any given time, anywhere from several hundred to a couple thousand of them on this square. They stay there for about nine days. Again, completely peacefully, hanging out, dancing, declaring that "Ukraine is Europe." And then, at four in the morning on November 30th, Yanukovych suddenly, or not so suddenly, we don't really know, I have no privileged epistemological access to what was going on inside his head, perhaps under pressure from Putin,(25:25) he decides to send out his riot police, called Berkut, to brutally beat up the students. And this was a shock. It was a shock because there had been a tacit social contract that however much corruption there had been, however weak the rule of law had been, however much that people's livelihoods and resources had been stolen from them, however a journalist may have been assassinated here or there if they were too critical, since 1991, in independent Ukraine, the regime had not used mass violence against its own population.(26:07) And there was a sense that that was a line that was impermissible to cross. Nobody was killed, although that was initially unclear, but the beatings were really quite brutal and a lot of people were seriously injured. It seems that Yanukovych was counting on the fact that if you shock people this way, not enough to kill people but enough to terrify them, the parents will freak out and they will pull their kids off the streets.(26:39) And one of the people I talked to about this afterwards was a great Ukrainian novelist who writes in the genre of magical realism, Taras Prokhasko, you should all read him, if you haven't, there's quite a bit that's been translated into English. His son, Markian, who was a young journalism student, was on the Maidan in Kyiv at the time.(27:03) And Taras was in Ivano-Frankivsk, so he was not there. He was an overnight train ride away. But his son, who was a student, was there. And Markian had been there for several days. And just coincidentally, at like two in the morning before Berkut came onto the square, he went to a friend's apartment and fell asleep.(27:25) And he had been on the square day and night for the past couple days. He turned off his phone and went to sleep. And there's this sudden outbreak of brutality. People call... Phone calls are being made. Taras gets a phone call, a message from a girl who knows his son, and he's trying to get ahold of his son and he can't.(27:47) He's calling, and calling, and calling, and Markian is not answering the phone. And he's getting more and more distraught. I know you guys are too young to have children, but it's like... As soon as you do, you are like... I already had children by the time that Maidan came, and you can feel it under your skin, this terror about like not being able to find your children at such a moment.(28:08) He's calling hospitals, he's calling police stations, he's calling everybody he knows in Kyiv, and Markian is not answering the phone, nobody else can find him. Finally, Markian wakes up, turns on the phone, finds out... Finds hundreds of messages, sees that... Finds out what's happened. Calls his girlfriend, now his wife, she posted a message on Facebook that says he's alive.(28:32) He talks to his mother, talks to his father, the things you're supposed to do, like a good child, when your parents have been hysterically worried about you. Keep that in mind if you're ever in such a situation. And Taras immediately gets in his car and starts driving... Driving to Kyiv. And as I said, it seems that Yanukovych is counting on the fact that you do something violent, and shocking, and you terrify parents, like Taras.(28:59) And of course, he was not the only parent who was terrified. I'm just telling you his story because I happened to talk to him. And he thought they would then pull their kids off the streets. They're not gonna expose their children to this, And so, Taras is one of the parents who runs to find their children.(29:16) And when he finds Markian, he doesn't pull him off the street, he joins him there. And that's the moment when everything turns because that is en masse what the parents do. So you go from having had several hundred to a couple thousand people on the streets of Kyiv, to, a day and a half later, you have hundreds of thousands of people on the streets of Kyiv.(29:48) Nobody has ever seen that many people on the streets of Kyiv. And now, they're not just shouting, "Ukraine is Europe." Now, they're shouting, "We will not permit you to beat our children." And interestingly, I heard this also from people who didn't have children there per se, but they all became our children.(30:09) "We will not permit you to beat our children." And that was the moment that when I talked to the... Vasily Cherepanin, who is one of the leading leftist intellectuals, who was probably in his early 30s at the time, he said "That was the moment when Euromaidan became Maidan," with no prefix.(30:31) And it was no longer just about the European Union. It was now a revolt against... Against something that, in Russian, is called (speaking foreign language). This is a word we don't have in English, but during the Trump Administration, I was suggesting that we needed to introduce it in English because it was missing, which is this idea of arbitrariness tinged with tyranny.(30:58) The sense of helplessness in the face of power. The feeling that the powers that be can do whatever they want to you, and you are helpless. That you are being treated as a play thing, as a thing and not as a human being, as an object and not as a subject. And the maidan became a revolt against (speaking foreign language).(31:19) It became an insistence on being treated as a person and not as a thing, as a subject and not as an object, and they began to call themselves, "On the Maidan, the Revolution of Dignity." And "dignity" here... I really... You're gonna... I'm now exposing myself as the intellectual historian who teaches a lot of philosophy.(31:40) "Dignity" here in the Kantian sense. So for those of you who haven't been subjected to reading Kant with me, and if my husband hasn't told you enough about Kant, Kant has a famous definition of a human being. Kant says that "Whatever can be exchanged "for something of equivalent value has a price.(32:01) "Whatever is beyond all price "and bears of no equivalent has dignity. "Human beings are distinguished "in that we possess dignity. "We do not have a price, we possess dignity." And from this comes Kant's categorical imperative, which is the basis of his moral philosophy, which is you always treat a human being as an ends and never as a means, always as a subject and not as an object.(32:31) In this sense, the Maidan was a very Kantian revolution. I realized most of the political commentators were not talking about Kant but I said, I'm intellectual historian, so I feel compelled to talk about Kant. It was a Kantian revolution. We wanna be treated as human beings and we are going to insist on being treated with dignity.(32:50) It was a remarkable moment for me as a historian because so many revolutions have been emplotted as oedipal rebellions. You can emplot, in fact, the whole history of communism as a series of oedipal rebellions, where each generation rises up and turned against the fathers. So the fact that suddenly you have parents joining their children on the streets, and that is the moment that creates the revolution, was just an extraordinary thing to witness in real time.(33:25) And then, when I was working on the book, I became very interested in interviewing people in the same family of multiple generations who went to the Maidan, because people then started going to the Maidan with their children, with their parents, sometimes with their parents and their grandparents. You would have multiple generations going.(33:43) And one of the... One of the people I interviewed, together with his father, was this young kid. I mean, literally a kid. He was 16, he wasn't even at university, he was still in secondary school, named Roman Ratushnyi, who was on the Maidan from the beginning. His shoulder was battered in on November 30th from Berkut.(34:06) But he was determined to go back. He kept going back. And I was talking at this cafe in Kyiv, and it must have been December 2014, to Roman, to his father, Taras. And Roman was living with his mother at the time. And I said, "Your m..." I mean, he seemed so young to me, and I said, "Your mother must have been very upset, "but she let you go back.(34:33) " And he said, "My mother? "My mother was making Molotov cocktails "on her (indistinct)." Yes. One of the horrific pieces of news I got in the spring early in this war was that Roman, before his 25th birthday, was killed in June, fighting in the East. After that, within a couple days, the Maidan became a whole parallel polis.(35:05) Parallel polis was a concept that was developed by the Czech dissident philosopher, Vaclav Benda, in the late 1970s. And it was the idea that to oppose the regime, to oppose tyranny, was not just, or should not be primarily, "we're going to have a political protest." It was to create an alternative space, an alternative society, with your own institutions, in which you live according to the values as you wish to see them instituted in the society as you wish to imagine it.(35:39) The Maidan became a parallel polis. Within 48, 72 hours, there were elaborate kitchens running, there was a whole infrastructure. People were cooking soup in cauldrons, they were making tea, they were making coffee, there was clothing distribution points, a piano, a stage, a library, an open university, medical clinics.(36:04) There was a whole world going on in the Maidan. People were living on the Maidan. People were coming every day to the Maidan. Some of them were coming in shifts to the Maidan, walking around the Maidan. It was getting colder and colder, so you couldn't stand still, you had to keep walking. There were cleanup crews.(36:24) One of the other young students who was on the Maidan, who now is fighting in the East, and who I worry about every day, Misha Martynenko, said "the Maidan was so clean "you could eat off the pavement." Everybody was taking care of this space. This was their space. People were suddenly not drinking alcohol, which was extremely unusual, like in Kyiv in the winter.(36:49) There were performances, there were lectures, there were discussion groups, there was a whole world that took place there. It was a masterpiece of self-organization. And interestingly, there was a sense of an explosion of civil society, of self-organization, in a way that hadn't been anticipated. But I found when I pushed, that you could find the origins in these much smaller instances, or more modest instances of civil society, that had been percolating beneath the surface.(37:27) At one point, my friend, Katya Mischenko, who was shuttling back and forth at the time between Vienna, where she had a fellowship, and Kyiv, who was... Among other things, she was guarding patients at hospitals from being kidnapped by Yanukovych's people, which was something he liked to do. Protestors would be injured by Berkut, and then while they were vulnerable in the hospital, they would be kidnapped and taken away.(37:52) And Katya was... Came back to Vienna one day, and all of us were jumping on her and say, "Okay, tell us what's going on. "Tell us what's going on." And she was talking about guarding people at the hospital, and how they had organized teams, and there was an SOS hotline and if you saw somebody taken away, you could call this number.(38:11) And there were these people with cars, and they were on this program. And I said, "Katya, how'd you guys get "an SOS hotline overnight, "in a couple hours? "How did you get it so fast?" And she said, "Oh, well, there was an LGBT group "that had a confidential hotline.(38:26) " It was small, it was under the radar. You could call and discuss personal issues, but... And so, they just turned it over to the Maidan. And I found that an interesting detail because it suggests that even if something is kind of... Is in a very nascent, modest stage, any little bit of infrastructure, once it's there, then becomes a jumping off point.(38:49) You've already got a hotline set up. Maybe it's a small hotline, maybe it doesn't get many calls, but it's there. And once these little pockets of things were there, it turned out that there was a springboard that was unanticipated. It was an extraordinary thing to watch. There was also this sense of what Europe meant changed.(39:11) I think Europe was no longer, first and foremost, the highly imperfect, contingent empirical manifestation that was the European Union. Europe was Europe, in the kind of platonic essence of Europe-ness. Europe represented human dignity, it represented human rights, it represented the rule of law. It represented western civilization in the sense that Gandhi meant when he was one...(39:41) Gandhi was once famously asked what he thought about Western civilization, and he gives this answer, which some of you may have heard, "I think it would be a very good thing." I mean that Europe, that would be a very good thing, was the Europe that was at stake on the Maidan. The essence of what it would be to live under a regime of human rights and the rule of law.(40:04) The other thing I wanna talk about that was so remarkable to me, and goes back to the idea of the overcoming of a generational divide, is this overcoming of boundaries. And I should say, my perspective on this was influenced by the fact that I was... I was an American in Vienna, watching this livestreamed. And the people in the Maidan set up cameras to live stream themselves, so the Maidan was live streamed 24 hours a day on the internet, which is also an uncanny, trippy thing.(40:38) People turned the cameras on themselves. You were kind... It was a self-violation of one's own privacy in an effort to assert one's own narrative. And so, I was an American, watching this livestream from Vienna, but in some ways, I was watching it, above all, through Polish eyes. I mean, I was following the press in different languages, including in English and German.(41:01) But the coverage I was somehow clinging to most was the coverage coming from Poland. And in particular, what my friends in Poland, who had been veterans of Solidarity in the 70s and 80s, and who had sat in prison under communism, were writing. And maybe, I'll just take a little brief detour here to say something about that.(41:23) So there's... There are two remarkable Polish films, which you should all watch, by the great director, Andrzej Wajda. They're in a series starring Krystyna Janda, "Man of Marble" and "Man of Iron." And in the second one, "Man of Iron," it... Early in the film, we are in 1968 in Poland.(41:44) In 1968 in Poland, the students lead protest against communist government censorship, and many of them end up in prison, including many of those people who were still... Who were watching the Maidan, and who I was in close touch with watching this. And in the film, one... Which is fictional, but based on real events.(42:06) A young man, a student, goes to his father, who is a shipyard worker, in 1968, as the communist secret police are coming and battering the students, and asks his father to bring out the workers in solidarity with the students. And the father refuses, and he locks the son in his room, and he says, "Someday, when the time is right, "we'll march together.(42:29) " And the son is livid. And he says, "No, I will never forgive you. "We will never march together." And two years later, in Poland, it's the shipyard workers who demonstrate against the regime. And in the film, in Wajda's film, "Man of Iron," the father then comes to his son and ask him to bring him and his friends out in solidarity with the workers.(42:55) And at that time, the son basically says, "Hey, you let us down two years ago, "now you go to hell." And what Solidarity was in Poland, both in its proto form, as the Committee for the Defense of the Workers, which was spearheaded by Adam Michnik and others in 1976, and then the form it evolves into through 1980 and 1981, was this remarkable moment of the coming together of the fathers and the sons, and the workers and the intellectuals, and the Catholics and the Marxist, and the Jews and the Poles,(43:34) and all of these hitherto existing boundaries. And that was what happened on the Maidan. You had people who never in their lives would have encountered one another, who wouldn't have necessarily been on the same side, who wouldn't have shared a common way of understanding the world, suddenly encounter one another with this kind of openness that people would not have expected.(44:01) And it was watching... I think part of my captivation was seeing how people like Konsta Gebert, and Adam Michnik, and Aleksander Smolar, and these veterans of Solidarity were watching the Maidan because they knew better than anybody else that that Solidarity, that Solidarność in Poland represented it, that it lasted 20 seconds after communism fell.(44:29) But they also knew that it was this extraordinarily precious thing that most people never experience, and they never counted on living to see a second time in their lifetimes. And they appreciated it, they knew what it meant. They knew that it was that miracle that most people never experience. And that that was what the Poles understood about the Maidan.(44:55) I think that's why the coverage was so different. In the German press, people were talking about the kids in Kyiv, supportively, but in a slightly condescending way. In the Polish press, they were talking about powstanie. powstanie, which is insurrectionary. It's like this romantic, lofty, noble word in Poland, to talk about powstanie.(45:18) "Those who fight for our freedom and yours." Okay, I see I'm... Okay, I see I'm running out of time, so let me... People stay on the Maidan. They stay all winter. They stay and freeze, and the stakes get higher and higher, and the government violence becomes more and more severe. Peoples disappear.(45:45) Sometimes their bodies are found, having been tortured and frozen in the woods. Activists are frozen and battered with fire hoses. There are... There's a sense that the violence is only increasing. And again, it seems to be that Yanukovych is saying, "If you keep raising the stakes, "it's going to stop.(46:17) " But it has the opposite effect because at a certain point, you can push people to the other side of fear. You can push them to the point where they feel that "no one will ever be safe "as long as this man is in power. "The only way any of us are going "to be able to breathe again is "if he's overthrown.(46:39) " The stakes become all or nothing. Remarkably... I mean, even watching from a distance, even watching this livestream, you could feel a kind of existential transformation. When those students went out to the Maidan in November, nobody was thinking, "We're gonna die here," or "We're ready to die here.(47:02) " And by the second half of January, you could feel, almost palpably, and even from a distance that something had turned, and a critical mass of people was ready to die there if need be. And then, you were kind of... You were just waiting for the end game. You knew that more violence was going to come, and you knew that those people were not gonna leave.(47:26) And there was this sense of voyeuristic terror that I was watching this with, and many people were watching this with. This happened in the second half of February 2014, where Yanukovych's regime unleashes a sniper massacre, and there are snipers on buildings firing down. And this is all being live streamed, so you are watching people being killed in real time.(48:04) You're watching these battles in real time. More and more reinforcements start coming to Kyiv. In Lviv, there's a former real estate agent... Or she's still a real estate agent now, but she turned herself into a committee to organize buses. They were just putting people on buses and sending people to Kyiv.(48:26) And people wanted to go. More people wanted to go than they could produce buses. Radek Sikorski, who was the Polish Prime Minister at the time during this massacre, flies over to Kyiv to try to negotiate a ceasefire. He goes to the presidential palace to talk to Yanukovych. The presidential palace is very close to the Maidan.(48:53) I mean, Radek gets there and you can smell the smoke. I mean, things are burning, buildings are burning, people are burning. You can smell the smoke in the presidential palace. He goes in to talk to Yanukovych. I found this... I found this kind of extraordinary because I thought... When I talked to him afterwards, I thought, "Radek, you're sitting there, "talking to this man.(49:14) "You know that with every "additional five minutes that takes, "more people are being killed. "And you know you're talking to someone "for whom other people's lives "just don't have any value. "I mean, was he at all concerned about "these people who were being killed "as you were talking to him?" And Radek is like, "Marci, he doesn't have much of an emotional imagination.(49:34) "He's not that bright. "No, he didn't seem concerned at all." But finally, they managed to negotiate a ceasefire, and a call for early elections. Yanukovych agrees to early elections. Not immediately, but several months from then. People in the Maidan do not wanna sign it. They don't trust the president.(49:53) They've just seen their people die. Radek takes a very hard line stance and says, "Hey, listen, "I grew up in Poland under Solidarity. "We underestimated the strength of the regime, "and we got martial law and mass detention. "So you accept this now. "Later, you push for more.(50:10) "Otherwise, you're gonna get the army, "you're gonna get martial law, "you're all gonna be dead." And they sign. But it's clear that people are just furious. I mean, they're carrying corpses in caskets through the Maidan, and Yanukovych flees. He flees across the border to Russia.(50:30) And Paul Manafort is out of a job. We all know what he does next. Little green men in unmarked camouflage appear on the Crimean Peninsula, sent by the Kremlin. While no one has had a chance to catch their breath, one president has fled, he's been deposed. There's an interim government, but they haven't had elections yet and nobody really knows what's going on.(51:00) And Putin capitalizes on, particularly, that moment to try to take Crimea... To take Crimea, and to instigate separatist rebellions throughout eastern and southeastern Ukraine. So-called "Russian tourist" come across the border. They have been told various stories, one of which is that the Maidan was a CIA-sponsored conspiracy, and that Ukrainian Nazis are now heading east to kill all the Russian speakers.(51:35) I don't have time to go into, unfortunately, the rest of that story, but I'm sure after the break, you will be caught up as to what happens after the annexation of Crimea and the beginning of the war in the Donbas. Let me just... Maybe if I can say something philosophical and existential at the end. So I'm not really a political historian per se.(52:00) One of the things that struck me most about the accounts people were giving on the Maidan was how everybody started talking about how they lost track of time. Something happens to time during a revolution. It changes its form. You can't remember what happened an hour ago, what happened the day before, what happened a week before.(52:18) I mean, one of the principles of revolution is that the state of affairs that obtained five minutes ago could become completely irrelevant five minutes later. That anything can change at any moment. That suddenly, there was an effacing of the boundary between night and day. You could call anyone at any time.(52:35) (That) That was true if you were 15 or if you were 75, that the experience of time changed. And I became very interested in thinking about time. Time and revolution. And one of the things I learned from the Maidan, or learned from the accounts of the Maidan that I was getting from my friends, and colleagues, and other people who were there, was an appreciation of Sartre's idea of time, of the present.(52:59) The present is a border. The present is a border between... Between what Sartre calls "the inward self." Facticity, what has already happened, who you have been up to this moment, what cannot be changed, and "the forward self." What is coming in the future, what is not yet determined, what is the possibility for transcendence, to go beyond what has been and who you have been up to this moment.(53:25) And that border is with us, every moment of our lives. The present is the moment of that crossing of the border from what has already been and who we have been to the possibility of going beyond, but we normally don't feel it, we normally don't turn our attention to it. And revolution is that moment when you suddenly shine a glaring light on that border, and you are shaken into understanding the present as the moment of the possibility of going beyond.(53:53) Thank you. (audience applauding) (calm music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 21. Comparative Russian Imperialism - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IWRXLrJhqA0
Transcript:(00:00) (electronic music) - Good afternoon, everybody. Happy Tuesday. Today's one of those days in which our biweekly lecture is going to be delivered by a guest. And our guest lecturer is Professor Arne Westad. Arne Westad studied history, philosophy, and modern languages at the University of Oslo before doing a graduate degree in U.S.(00:34) and international history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before joining the faculty at Yale, where he is the Elihu Professor of History, he held positions at the London School of Economics and Harvard University. Professor Westad has published 16 books, most of which deal with 20th century Asian and global history.(00:54) He is one of the world's leading historians of the Cold War, which he worked on for a significant part of his career, writing important work about the Soviet Bloc and the People's Republic of China. He now specializes in the histories of empire and imperialism, as well as China's place in the international order.(01:12) Today, in one of our very last meetings of this course, he will deliver a lecture about comparative Russian imperialism. Arne, the floor is yours. - Thank you. (students applauding) Thank you, Wiktor, for that generous introduction. I can see the Russian empire up here flicking off and on, and that's a little bit like what the Russian Empire has been over a long period of time.(01:41) So maybe that's illustrative of what we are going to talk about today. So I think the reason why I've been asked to do this lecture is that I teach a class this semester here at Yale on comparative empires and imperialisms. So where we look at the transformations of empires going back to the mid-19th century and all the way up to the U.S. empire today.(02:05) It's an undergraduate seminar, and I hope the undergraduates enjoy it half as much as what I do. So the purpose of the lecture is trying to understand better how Russian imperialism versus Ukraine today fits into a bigger context. So both of Russia's own past as an empire, but also that of the other empires.(02:33) And I think one of the problems that we've had conceptually and interpretatively with regard to Russia's war of aggression this year is that it hasn't been understood enough in terms of those contexts. And I hope this class overall have helped the people who are here or those who are watching understand that aspect of the conflict better, because it is, to me, crucial, not just in terms of the conduct of the war, but also how the war is going to end.(03:06) Without understanding that deeper background, it's really hard to get to understand that. So I'm gonna be looking, as I said, at Russia's own past, but also gonna be looking, although briefly, at China, at France, at Britain, and to some extent, to United States, which also I think in terms of its past certainly best should be understood as an empire.(03:30) And I'm gonna start with the drivers of Russian imperialism coming out of the 19th century that stayed with us for a very long time. And you will hear resonances of these today. I'm going to talk about the competition between the Russian Empire and other empires in Europe and outside of Europe. I'm going to talk in particular about the Qing Empire in China, the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and Eastern Europe and Britain.(04:04) Just to get a sense of how this element of competition came to frame much of the thinking both back in the early 20th century, but also today about Russia's place in the world. Then I'm going to do in the substantial part more of a direct comparison between Russia and its relationship to Ukraine and Britain, really meaning England, in its relationship to Ireland, and France in its relationship to Algeria.(04:41) And I picked these up not because they're identical, they're not identical, but they have a lot in common in terms of how long the involvement has lasted. But also crucially, to me, that this is a matter of decolonization. Even though these areas, these countries are close to the Imperial Centers, Ireland and Algeria, their evolution has been an evolution driven in the 20th century by decolonization.(05:10) And what I'm indicating here, of course, is that the relationship between Russia and Ukraine is in many ways similar in character, not in every context of those relationships. And then I'm gonna finish before we hopefully have time for just a couple of questions about talking about what drives Russian imperialism today, especially, but not exclusively, with regard to Ukraine.(05:36) So that's the overall framework for this lecture. And some of this of course you will have touched upon before, but probably not in the context that we're trying to draw up today. So let me start then with the drivers of Russian imperialism. Is there anyone who can stop that map from flicking on and off? - [Speaker] Press Escape button on the keyboard.(06:01) No, no, no, keyboard ESC. - Press the Escape button. - [Speaker] Yeah. - That seems to be a good idea. So we're gonna start by thinking about the drivers of Russian imperialism, the way that it came out of the 19th century. Some of these drivers, in my view, as you will hear later on in the lecture, have stayed relatively intact and others have changed.(06:27) The argument I'm putting forward here is not an argument about absolute continuity. It is about the need to understand the starting point for many of these forms of thinking. Without which, I think we are lost in our attempt at understanding what is the situation today. (telephone ringing) It's this one.(06:51) It's not me. (students laughing) (telephone ringing) (students laughing) Probably. It should have been a red phone, right? So the first of these drivers is also the most complex one. It's a sense on the Russian side within the Russian elite or elites of uniqueness, of exceptionalism, of standing apart as an empire from other empires.(07:28) Now, Russia, you underline this, Russia is not the only empire that thinks of itself in that way. You are sitting here within an empire that thinks of itself very much in that way, right? What is a little bit special with Russia is how comprehensively some of these ideas developed from fairly early on about religion, about authenticity, which is a term that is often used, for Russian speakers here, "samoefikasnost" which can be translated in many different ways, but self being, very often, and I think most correctly,(08:11) certainly in the context of the 19th century, translated as at authenticity, being close to the people, having a certain almost mystical connection between elites. Then of course being imperial elites, and the vast majority of people who were included in the empire, not just Russians, it should be said, but everyone that was included within the empire.(08:39) A genuine understanding of people's wishes that other empires, according to these texts, did not possess. A search for a genuine order that could represent those wishes of the people. Of course leading to the idea or the ideal of benign authoritarian rule. And you will hear much of this being reflected in some of the discourses later on as well.(09:09) And speaking of this, by the way, I'm reminded of the great British historian, Sir Lewis Namier. I don't know if Namier's name has come up earlier in this series of lectures. He was one of the people, though most of his work was on British constitutional history, who gave voice to this idea about a particular link between Russia, Russian empire, and authenticity.(09:35) So Namier was born in Warsaw in the late 19th century under the name of Bernstein. He then moved with his family to Ternopil, where he grew up. Polefied, is that the word? Polefying his name to Niemirowski, which then became Namier when he came to Britain as a student. Authenticity was the term that he often used.(10:01) He hated the Polish Republic. He hated Germany even more. He was ambivalent on Ukraine, but he was big on Russia because it was authentic, right? In a way that other empires, including the British Empire, which he served for most of his life, were not. So this is the first driver: uniqueness, exceptionalism, authenticity.(10:23) The second one, it seems to me, is the emphasis within the official discourse of expansion as being defensive. Now, again, other empires do this as well. There is always a border that needs to be pacified. We're gonna talk about the Qing Empire later on, always a border to be pacified, the British Empire stumbled into its empire, et cetera.(10:50) But it's never emphasized as deeply and for as long, in my view, as the expansion of the Russian Empire. And much of it was then rubbed off in a somewhat different form to the Soviet Union, when that was reconstituted later on within what had been the Russian Empire. Now, some of this is easy to understand, the emphasis on defense.(11:15) Part of the reason is that Russia, of course, confronted empires east and west, that for most of its existence, were much stronger than Russia itself. In Europe, for sure, but also the Ottomans, and certainly the Qing in East Asia, as the Russian empire discovered fairly early in its expansion East, you didn't mess with the Qing.(11:39) That was not a good idea. It was probably in terms of sheer military capability combined with a ideology of aggression, the one that you really didn't want to come up against. So this idea of expansion as being defensive in order to meet challenges that other empires are stronger, very significant in the 19th century.(12:02) Then thirdly, expansion as opportunistic. And this is the one that is most problematic in a way to deal with, because it isn't 100% true. I mean, it's not arguing that there weren't plans for expansion within the Russian Empire in the 19th century. There certainly were such plans, but in a way, I would argue that were much less carried through on in the Russian Empire than in any other empire that I know, including the ones that I mentioned so far.(12:34) Part of the explanation for that is, of course, the relative weakness that I have already referred to. But then of course, making use from the mid-19th century on of a unique moment when the Eastern, and here I would include Britain, meaning British India, the eastern empires that Russia confronted got into trouble, all three of them, the Qing, the British, and the Ottomans, roughly at the same time.(13:04) The Qing, mainly for domestic reasons, I would argue, and then followed by what confrontations with Western imperialism, the Ottomans because of the beginning of nationalist organizations in part of the Ottoman Empire, especially in the European part, and the British, because of the rebellion in India in the 1850s.(13:24) So instead of pushing outwards, these empires start to step aside, opening up for a remarkable period of Russian imperial expansion. Now, that's opportunistic. It's opportunistic for a reason. That reason is the weakness of others. But it also tells you something about the ability to act. And that is what happened in the late 19th century.(13:50) And the result you see up here, in terms of this is the Russian Empire, and on 1914 or thereabouts. If you look at the red line, which is the one that we are really broke upon massive expansion of territory. Then fourthly, a driver of Russian imperialism coming out of the 19th century is the emphasis on hierarchy, bureaucracy incorporation of elites.(14:19) Also, meaning, it was non-Russian elites. So again, these are characteristics you would find in any empire, but particularly, the emphasis on the incorporation is something that the Russian Empire took very far. Most of the people, I think Putin will be profoundly shocked if he reflects on this, but most of the people who constituted the expansionist elite in the Russian empire were not Russian.(14:47) They came out of other, mainly European, not exclusively, peoples that were part of the Russian empire in the 19th century. They staffed and mandated, and they were the bureaucrats that came to serve it, which was part in a way of the promise that the empire presented to them in terms of how working for and with the Russian Empire could serve a lot of people who were not necessarily Russian, or perhaps even more crucially, had not been born in a dominion of the Tsar.(15:25) That worked. And it worked for a very, very long time. It wasn't uncontroversial. Certainly not in the areas that had been colonized. Neither was it uncontroversial within Russia itself, but it was a powerful aspect of how the Russian empire worked. People who were born, grew up in Ukraine, for instance, in many cases, went to serve the Russian Empire in far away places, Poles, Germans, Belarusians, you have it.(16:03) I won't go through all the different groups that served in these kinds of worlds. So hierarchy, bureaucracy, incorporation. Of course, a driver of Russian expansionism was also the exploitation of resources. So for those who were already thinking, "Aha, here's Professor Westad arguing a completely idealistic understanding of Russian imperialism.(16:31) " Not so. I mean, there were motives that were driven by the wish for exploitation of resources outside what had been the established borders of the empire. What is remarkable though about the Russian Empire for a very, very long time was that it was relatively ineffective in exploiting those resources. So this was not for a lack of trying, but if you look at this map, and you will have heard this many times, I'm sure, in this class, distance sometimes defeated the best purpose of exploitation, right? You could grab the resources, as all imperialists do,(17:07) that you want and that you need, but could you easily bring them to market, which here would be mainly in the West? Did you even necessarily want to bring them to market when you could use them to strengthen the state much more locally? Those are questions that need to be asked about the Russian empire. So saying that this is not about the exploitation of resources as almost all imperial ventures are, would be wrong, but it's also important to remember her relatively ineffective, inefficient for a very long time(17:40) the Russian Empire's exploitation of these resources were. And then the final driver that I'm going to mention, there are many, but it has to stop somewhat. It's about settlement. So again, if you look at the map, we should have had a map that indicated where people from various parts of Russia settled during the empire, but especially after emancipation, from the 1860s, you have a massive expansion of settlement in various parts of Russia, far from where people were born.(18:18) So not just saying that it was (indistinct) who settled. They were fairly large number, but there were also other kinds of peoples. The empire, in a way, opened up for settlement. For those of you who are here primarily because of your interest in Ukrainian history, you should look at where Ukrainians have ended up all over the Russian empire.(18:41) Maybe especially look at the far east and what is today the Maritime provinces, which has a very large number of people from Ukraine settling. This is important, because not all empires settle, right? There are some, Russia is among them, where settlement, trend settlement, whatever you want to call it, is an important part of the drivers.(19:08) We're gonna come back to this a little bit later on. And there are others that are too much less of it. And then of course there other hybrid ones, like the British Empire that would settle in some areas, which is part why fairly large number of you are here today. North America would settle, Australia would settle parts of Africa, and carrying out at least episodic acts of genocide as they did so.(19:38) But then in other parts of the British Empire, settlement was not on the agenda. There was very little British settlement in India, for instance. And we can, if you are interested in comparative imperial history, we could move further into why that was so. I often use the example of Korea. So Korea was in some kind of union in a very broad sense, being linked to Chinese empires for a very, very long time.(20:05) But there were no Chinese attempts at settling Chinese people in Korea during that time period. From the early 20th century, Korea became gradually a part of the Japanese empire, and the Japanese settled in very large numbers. So it's important, particularly for those of you who have an interest in concepts linked to certain colonialism, it's important to understand what this is really about, and what the forces are, the drivers of it why it consult the way it is.(20:32) So these are the drivers of Russian imperialism at the higher level the way I see them. So let's then turn to the issue of competition that I mentioned originally. And I do think that this is important in order to understand why we ended up with a Russian empire that control all of this enormous land mass that we are looking at here.(21:08) And you will know this, and I'm not gonna dwell on it, Russian expansion towards the east and towards the south and into other parts of Europe started quite early. We're talking about the 17th century, in the early 17th century. But of course, during that time period, as I already said, the Russian Empire had to be very careful not to come up against stronger empires, which would basically whack them if they tried to get into the areas that were contested.(21:39) So most of that expansion went northward and eastward into areas in which the anti-imperial resistance were much weaker. That was the story for a very, very long time. And it's really the 19th century that changes this. As I already indicated, it's important sometimes to recognize this in history. The Russian Empire, in many ways, got lucky.(22:13) It got lucky with the Qing. It got lucky with the Ottomans. It got lucky with the British for no reason connected to the Russian Empire itself, right? There was the opportunity to expand into enormous areas, because of that weakness of Russia's opponents. So you see that here along the borders of the Russian Empire going into the (indistinct), going into Central Asia, Southern parts of Central Asia, which had been an absolute no-no, because if you went in there, you got in trouble with the Qing.(22:53) And then of course, ultimately, in the far east, what became the Maritime provinces were taken directly from the Qing Empire when the Qing got into real trouble in the late 19th century. I think we can learn a lot about how empires behave if we think about them in terms of competition, right? Not just each empire for itself, which generally has been the approach, but also how empires learn from each other, how they see each other.(23:28) My Princeton colleague Jeremy Adelman has written really well on this. I mean, how empires take over characteristics, take over imperial technologies from others. And in many ways, this is what Russia then proceeded to do in the 19th century. Of course, not just in the areas that were taken over, but in other parts of the Russian Empire as well.(23:54) This sudden explosion in expansion also gave rise to much of this restlessness that took place in other parts of Russia, which even truly would lead up to the fatal engagement in the war in 1914, and then to the collapse of the Russian Empire in the revolution. A collapse that quite a number of historians will explain, at least in part, by overstretch, that they were trying to do too many things at the same time and therefore failed.(24:26) There's a lot to be said for that. Yale colleague Paul Kennedy's term "imperial overstretch" I think is incredibly well applied to Russia in the late 19th century. So comparison is not just a issue by issue comparison, at least to me. Comparison can also tell us a great deal when you think about it in a broader context, when you think about it in a societal context, an economic context, and maybe first and foremost, in a state context.(25:01) Not just about political systems, but about how one create or tries to create capable states that respond to these kinds of imperialist opportunities as they come out. Now, I thought at this point, that it could be quite helpful for us to explore some of the categories that most of which we have already touched upon in terms of drawing a more immediate comparison, as I said, to begin with, between Russia, Britain, and France.(25:39) I'm not picking these three because they are the only three that you could possibly compare. I mentioned the Qing. I mentioned the United States, but there is something in particular about the start of expansion with these empires, Russia, Britain, France, that I think can be quite illustrative. And many people now lost decade or so who want to work on comparative empires and imperialisms, have started looking at these factors.(26:11) With Ukraine being a significant part of it in terms of its relationship to Russia. And the parallels then, as I said, to begin with, is the English in Ireland and the French in Algeria, both early attempts at colonization that lasted for a very long time and ultimately failed. They failed because the people who lived in these regions took on identities, accepted identities, worked through identities that were not commensurate with imperial project that had been put on them from the outside, even though significant elements,(26:56) think language remained, or after that imperial period was over. Anti-colonial revolutionaries in Algeria mainly wrote in French. The activist of the Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army used almost exclusively English. So there are things that do remain. But let's look at this in terms of some more specific comparisons.(27:31) One, and here we get to go back to that term again is of course about settlement. This is difficult because settlement happen in slightly different forms in these three countries. So in Algeria, in Ireland, and in Ukraine. So in Ireland settlement, English settlement, happened more or less all over the country.(27:59) But then increasingly, and here we see a parallel to Ukraine, increasingly, as industrialism started to take hold in the most resource rich, energy rich parts of the country, meaning the north, right? And the parallel here, of course, is Donbas in the eastern parts of Ukraine in particular. There's also a parallel to France in Algeria, where it was the most productive, but mainly in agricultural terms, areas along the coast that were colonized by French-speaking people, not necessarily people who came from France,(28:37) but people whose main language was French and moved into these areas under the auspices of the French Empire. In all three of these countries, in terms of settlement activities, the native population were mainly excluded. Not fully excluded, but mainly excluded. The arguments that were being used for this were of different kinds.(29:10) One had to do with education and skills, which of course, the empire that was in control deliberately deprived the people they were ruling over of. If you ever heard of a self-fulfilling prophecy, you can see that that one is there. But also, of course, loyalty to the imperial project, which was very, very significant probably as we already touched upon, in all three of these cases, particularly in the late 19th century, settlement was a part of expanding one's own population overseas.(29:46) And in these cases, of course, in areas that were pretty close to the imperial model country, which is important in this context. But the comparisons here are not just about settlement. They're also about incorporation. And this is when things I think get really interesting. The idea at the Imperial Center of these countries, which had, for most of the countries, had a separate existence being an integral part of the imperial homeland, not just the imperial state.(30:27) Imperial states are vast, over to the peripheries. And no would, or very few people, especially if you're not French, would make an argument that these faraway places actually are a part of France or part of whatever, right? But if you happen to be next door, it is more problematic in many ways. So you get this argument in the late 19th century, which has resonated all the way down to very close to today, that Ireland really belongs to Britain.(31:02) It is part of the British Isles, right? It should be incorporated. More incorporation is what is necessary, not less incorporation. Until, of course, the British hit at one of the weaker moments in history, an armed rebellion that they couldn't overcome, that established an Irish state. But in the process of that, this is where incorporation really resonates.(31:28) The British kept hold of the north, of the northern parts of Ireland, which had been the part that had been mostly settled by English people, Scottish people, other people from the empire who had come in to work at the factories and work in the areas, in the north. In the Franco-Algerian situation, things were even worse in terms of finding a solution, because as many of you will know, in the late 1940s and 1950s, the position that the French state took was that Algeria was an integral part of France.(32:08) Even considering any form of autonomy, nevermind independence for Algeria was tantamount to devaluing the whole significance and position of the French state, which is why that War of Independence became so incredibly vicious, right? Because it had to do with identity, and identity both within the former colonized area and within the imperial center.(32:40) Exploitation is an important part of this, and various kinds of exploitation of near areas in terms of empire. I think there are some parallels here as well with regard to these three. When I say exploitation, I'm not always thinking about it in sort of purely material terms, though that is a significant part of it, as I have already described.(33:10) But it goes further than that. It's also making use of the manpower, for instance, for wars, for further wars of expansion. If you look at the number of Algerians that served in France's wars during the 20th century, especially, it's a very, very large number. The number of Irish people who served in various British armies, sometimes as the front troops for this, are also very, very high, right? So it's not just about economic exploitation, it's also exploitation of the manpower that is actually there.(33:54) It's also other forms of exploitation. Sexual exploitation is one part of this in a gendered sense, which I think is really important to emphasize. Its exploitation in terms of when you have more development as you did during the mid-20th century. Exploitation of resources in terms of everything from currency to fuel.(34:25) When you think about imperialist exploitation in these near contexts, you sort of have to take the smash and grab version, right? Of exploitation that most of us think of in imperialist terms and magnify it, look at it through a slightly different lens, in part because the cases that I'm talking about here were not cases of resources having to be brought in from afar.(34:54) They were pretty close and easily accessible. So settlement, incorporation, exploitation. And then finally, cultural hegemony. I'm gonna dwell on this a little bit because I think it is hugely important for all three of these cases. So I talked about language to begin with in this part, and how language had been used in order to incorporate certainly elites, but after a while, to further a field as well into the imperial project.(35:42) Ukraine is of course the best example that I know of this, right? But Ireland and Algeria would not be far behind. Prioritizing the culture of the colonizer is, as Edward Said and others have told us, a really important aspect of continuing the imperial tradition, sort of driving on the kind of issues that come from the earliest period of empire and of imperialism.(36:16) It's also a way in which imperial powers almost always create divisions within the countries that they are in control of. And culture here is probably more important than straightforward politics. It brings us back to what we talked about at the beginning of this lecture in terms of identities, in terms of discouraging dissent among the colonized, because the cultural power of the colonizer is so much greater.(36:55) For instance, we are international, we are global, we are great power, we are super power, while you are not, right? You are local. So culture works in that way, I think, with regard to imperial projects, and probably is the last thing to go, right? I think it's pretty clear in the case of Ukraine, and eminently visible in the case of Algeria and Ireland.(37:25) This is certainly so, and it is an issue. It's an issue that of course, only colonized people after decolonization can deal with themselves successfully. But it is an important issue. So I wanted to make sure that we have a little bit of time at the end for questions. So I'm just gonna make some final remarks first about Russian imperialism today versus Ukraine.(37:55) But then I think more importantly in terms of what I know something about how the effects of this war are going to resonate on the Russian side in terms of dealing with the past including the deeper past. So I have absolutely no doubt, as you might have guessed, in terms of how I framed this lecture, that Russian imperialism today versus Ukraine will end in the same way as England and Ireland and France in Algeria in decolonization, in spite of neo-colonial wars.(38:41) So I mean, the Russians in Ukraine in 2022 are not the first ones who engage in neo-colonial wars. I mean, Algeria, and in my view Ireland, are also good examples of it. You find it in almost all parts of the world. This idea that if a formal association in terms of empire is gone, that that's the end of the story.(39:03) Almost in all imperial context, not so. This continues to be problematic for a very long time after that. And part of the reason for that, I argue, is that these positions are so closely bound up in identities, in core identities, for many of the people who are involved, not just on the side of the colonized, but perhaps even more powerfully on the side of the colonizers.(39:34) And this is what we sometimes do not understand well enough, maybe especially in the Russian case, because this has been including the collapse of the Soviet Union, such a long and outdrawn affair. This is in many ways about Russian identity. And it is, in my view, first and foremost, identity in Russia in the sense of an inability to deal meaningfully with the past.(40:07) I spent a lot of time in Moscow in the early 1990s. As Wiktor said, I worked on the history of the Cold War. There was no better opportunity for a historian of the Cold War than to be in Moscow in the early 1990s when the archives started to open up and you could get access. I also then was witness to how people almost overnight went from belonging to one of the two superpowers, which gave immense pride to a lot of people in Russia over onto being next to nothing.(40:42) People starving, people in Moscow, elderly people starving to death in 1993. So that sense of collapse, being déclassé, everything taken away, is a very important reason I think why Putin has been able to develop Russia or not develop Russia in the direction that he has. Course also manipulates very effectively, at least up to the war in Ukraine began, the image globally of the Soviet era as a kind of anti-empire, while in reality, of course the Soviet Union kept some, not all, but some of those visions of empire relatively intact.(41:30) So what Russia needs, in my view, probably more than anything else except regime change, is a reckoning with the past. Just like there is a need to discuss slavery and settler colonialism in Europe and in the Americas and elsewhere, there is also a deep need for Russians to discuss the effect the empire has had on those at the receiving end, but also, and maybe more fundamentally on Russians themselves, because it's very difficult, as this country, United States is slowly realizing to be an empire and a republic.(42:12) To be an empire, nevermind a democracy, but even a functioning republic at the same time. So these forms of what I call hybrid exceptionalism that Vladimir Putin has been using in his war of aggression against Ukraine, when Foreign Minister Lavrov at the beginning of the conflict spoke about Ukraine as being a Russian sphere of privileged interest, right? You can see how that resonates with some of these drivers of Russian imperialism that I've been talking about today.(42:52) So on the Russian side, it is as important to deal with this in terms of empire as it is to deal with it in terms of war. So that's what I had to say. And we have time, I think. Exactly five minutes for questions, if there were people who wanted to ask. Please. - Was there any conflict between this Russian sense of authenticity as an imperial motivation and the fact that many of the servants of imperialism were themselves not Russian? - I think there are some links.(43:34) I mean, one I think is that it is the imperial institution in itself that is unique in a way. You sort of project it upwards. You can see some tendencies to that during the Soviet era and the post-Soviet era as well, this idea of inclusive representation, right? People have written whole books about this comparing the late imperial era in Russia and the Soviet Union, right? This idea of representing something that is much bigger than Russia, much bigger than the Soviet peoples themselves that is immensely attractive to others.(44:14) Now, for most of the time, it should be said, with regard to the Russian empire, that wasn't so, with some bulk exceptions. People were incorporated into the empire by force and not by choice, right? But you can still see how it could work, right? This idea that you represent some bigger idea that is not even necessarily Russian in nature, but has the Russian state, the Russian imperial state in this case at its center.(44:50) Other questions? Yeah. - [Student] You hinted that what you think Russia needs is regime change and reckoning with the past. Do you think that when regime change does come, they will bring this reckoning with the past or no? - I certainly hope so. The track record is not particularly good with regard to this.(45:13) Look, there's been, over the last 20 years in Russia, I'm sure all of you're aware of that, a very specific set of attempts of moving away from dealing with the past in any meaningful sense. I mean, to some extent, that is what the Putin regime has been about, right? A kind of denial of everything that has happened before.(45:40) Not always in a specific sense. It's very interesting, right? So as an archival historian, I found it fascinating that in the very last two, three years before the invasion of Ukraine, Putin, we know that it was Putin himself, acted to open up many archives from the Soviet era. And we don't know the reason why that was so.(46:06) I have a strong suspicion that the real reason was to compare his own regime favorably with what had been the failure of the Soviets. I mean, Putin, as you will know, his constituent elements is that he's an anti-communist. He believes that the communist era, in spite of the little parenthesis around the great patriotic war, that communism was bad for Russia, bad for Russians.(46:34) It might have been good for other peoples in the empire, but it was bad for Russians. So I think you have to have a pretty significant change, not just in terms of the regime itself, which can go in any direction. I'm not in any way foreseeing that what comes off for Russians necessarily is better than Putin.(46:55) But in terms of thinking about the past, I think it's more significant in terms of society than it is significant in terms of the state. Of course, the state must not resist it or disallow it, but my greatest shock with regard to the 2014 invasions and the 2022 invasions was how many ordinary Russians who were, at least the step of the way, carried along.(47:27) Boy, this pack of lies and half truths that Putin presented as the justification for colonial wars. And that tells me that there is a lot of work among Russians themselves to do, to understand how they are held back by this imperial mindset. Because as I said in the case of the other examples, this always ends badly when you are gotten to the early part of the 21st century.(47:56) One final question, if there is one. If not, let me make one very brief point at the end. So in this lecture, I've tried to look at sort of the long delay, the kind of trajectories that come out of the past, even the deeper past. I've not done so trying to tell you that history explains everything. It doesn't.(48:28) There are new directions, new trajectories that are not necessarily connected to the past. But if you wanna try to understand terms, terminologies, parts of language, ideas and identities, then history can be a great guide, because history brings something to the table in terms of understanding the present, which can explain things that otherwise would be really, really hard to explain.(48:57) So that's, in a way, my message in this lecture. Doesn't explain everything. But it's hard to make do without it because of the things that it can help you to understand. All right, thank you very much. (students applauding) (soft gentle music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 22. Ukrainian Ideas in the 21st Century - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yz6MSiGZQCU
Transcript:(00:00) (somber music) - All right, we're getting close to the end. There's this lecture, which is gonna be about culture very broadly understood. And then the next lecture, which is gonna be a kind of review of the ideas of empire and Europe. You can think of both of these lectures as helping you think through some of the main issues of the class as you prepare for the exam.(00:37) 'Cause I understand that as Yale students, you would prefer actually not to be in class, but to be studying for the exam, and I'm here to tell you, you can do both at the same time, right? Especially the essay questions in the exam give you a lot of room to think through and make arguments, right? Think through and make arguments.(00:54) And so in these last couple of lectures, we'll mostly be doing interpretation. So this lecture is about culture. I'm not gonna try to define what a culture is. We've got the whole anthropology department for that, but what I have in mind here is the very broad notion of, let's say, a set of self, a set of mutually reinforcing notions of what a people might be.(01:21) So by Ukrainian culture here, I'm not gonna have time to get into, with some exceptions, the details of Ukrainian literature and Ukrainian poetry. What I'm mainly concerned with is the notion of people. So I'm going all the way back, if you remember, all the way back to September in the first couple of lectures when I tried to specify that the modern legal notion of genocide rests on the equally modern notion of a people or a nation, and that these two things are in a kind of uncomfortable relationship, one with the other.(01:59) And as we complete this course during a war, which certainly has genocidal aspects to it, it's worth thinking about that relationship. So the Genocide Convention in 1948 assumes that there is such a thing as a people, right? It assumes that there is a society which has a top and a bottom, which has some way, which has some kind of a border where people are in or people are out.(02:28) So the convention acknowledges of people in law by presuming that they exist. You can think of the act of genocide as a different kind of acknowledgement, right? You don't destroy something if it doesn't exist. You don't seek to destroy something if it doesn't exist. But the slightly tricky part about this is that very often, the act of destroying to people begins with the explicit verbal negation of its existence, right? And so, one of the larger points I want to try to make in this lecture, maybe the large point,(03:02) is that Ukrainian culture, the notion of what Ukraine is, where it begins and where it stops, can't really be done outside of this larger notion of an encounter. It can't really be done outside of the notion of an encounter with the Russian Empire, with the Soviet Union and contemporary Russia. Now, as I try to make this argument, I wanna be clear about something very specific about this encounter, something which makes it a little bit different from the other encounters we've talked about in this class,(03:33) which is that this is an encounter which denies that it is taking place. Okay. This is, like, I'm sure you've all had moments like that in your lives, right? Perhaps on a Saturday night, encounters where, okay, that was like a really low, going really low, really fast, (students laughing) really early on a really important point.(03:55) All right. But there's a certain strangeness to an encounter, or there's this, let me put this, there's a specific character to an encounter where one side denies then an encounter is actually taking place. A third party looking in will say, "Well, yes, the encounter is happening," but there's nevertheless something specific about this.(04:14) So as a way to start, I want you to just remember that moment in the third quarter of the 19th century in the Russian Empire where the existence of the Ukrainian language is being denied. It's a very specific thing to do, right? To go out of your way to deny something exists is a very specific form of action.(04:35) The Valuev decree of 1863 includes the famous passage that I'm quoting now, "The Ukrainian language never existed, does not exist, and shall never exist," right? So, or as we say, in Ukrainian, Української мови ніколи не було, нема, не буде Right? So I don't know. That was kind of a joke.(05:02) But there's a very specific, there's a very specific thing going on here when an encounter is being denied, right? So if it never existed, why would you refer to it, right? If it doesn't exist now, why are you banning it? But maybe the most interesting thing is the claim that it never will exist.(05:23) It never will exist. There's this very specific kind of omniscience going on when I make the claim that something will not happen, right? I'm denying the basic unpredictability, or at least, the contingency of everything which is going to happen after I issue this decree. In other words, this decree is doing a very specific kind of work.(05:51) The relationship between the emerging Russian imperial culture and the Ukrainian culture, which exists at the time, is taking on a very specific form. Because of course, it's not as logically contradictory or silly as maybe I'm suggesting, the idea that the Ukrainian culture or language doesn't exist means that it's existence can only be described as part of Russian culture, right? So it's not that there are no, it's not that there's nothing there, it's rather that it can only be described as existing(06:27) as part of something else, right? And so when I say that you don't exist, what I'm really doing is that I'm saying that I do exist, right? So there's a fancy term for this, which is like Constitutive Other, which you're welcome to note down and use to impress your friends. But the idea that you don't exist is how I show that I do exist.(06:51) What you are doing has no character of its own. It is a version of what I am doing, right? And so there's a very specific thing which is going on here, whereby Russian culture as it emerges, is being defined not exactly against Ukrainian culture, but somehow riding along on top of Ukrainian culture. Anything that seems to be Ukrainian is actually Russian, and anyone who denies this is moved out of history.(07:22) So this is where the categorical part of never will exists comes in. So this class has been all about encounters, a basic argument about the nation in this class has been that no nation comes from nowhere, right? That's why all the founding stories are so implausible, like the one with the lady and the snake, and the one with the guy.(07:43) The founding stories are all really implausible, right? They're fun, they're silly, they don't make any sense. All the stories of ethnogenesis, including the ones involving the aliens, they're all implausible, right? There's always some encounter. And the whole argument of this class about how something specific emerged on the terrain that's now Ukraine involves, it involves the Khazars and the Vikings and the Byzantines and the Slavs and the Lithuanians and the Poles.(08:12) And of course, it also very much involves the Russians and the Soviet Union. But there's something very specific going on from the 19th to 21st centuries where this encounter has an ideological quality to it that the others don't. Or in the case of the Polish one, I would say, no longer have, no longer has, but in Russia, it clearly does.(08:37) So in order to get ourselves to see this and maybe get ourselves out of it, we have to kind of look at some trajectories in the Russian encounter with Ukraine, not from the point of view of how a Russian national ideology would see them, but just to note what this encounter looks like, right? So this very special thing, this is the overall special thing.(09:03) There have been lots of European empires, right? But they all have the feature, and write this down 'cause it's important, of starting in Europe except for one. You see, what's very different about the Russian Empire is that it becomes an empire by going into Europe, right? By going into Europe.(09:31) The Russian Empire becomes the Russian Empire in 1721, having moved from Asia into Europe as a result of the cataclysm of 1648 onwards. Remember that, and then there was that whole lecture about the 18th century and the collapse of Poland-Lithuania, the collapse of the Cossack states, the collapse of the Crimean Tatar state, all those things happening in the 18th century, leaving Russia in Europe.(09:57) But it's not a European empire that went outwards, right? It is a state which was centered at the edge of Europe in this relatively new city called Moscow, which first went south and east, and then its final stage of development went into Europe. And the ambivalence of the relationship with Kyiv is built into that.(10:16) Because on the one hand, on the one hand, you become European by claiming Kyiv, right? 'Cause Kyiv has all those European things that you might want. It has the old baptism, it has North European history, it has the Renaissance, it has the Baroque, it has all the European references. It's just older than you are.(10:38) And by a lot, I mean by five centuries, right? Kyiv is four or five centuries old than Moscow. It is a millennium older than St. Petersburg, right? That's a lot. So the ambiguity is you become European by going to Kyiv. But since you are the empire, you can't acknowledge that the periphery is better than you.(11:02) So this tension is built in from the very, very beginning. On the one hand, we are European because Kyiv, but on the other hand, the people who are around Kyiv have to be the periphery and are therefore inferior. That tension is built in from the moment that Kyiv, Chernihiv, these places come into the Russian Empire, and it's still very much present today, right? So the Russian Empire vis-a-vis Ukraine is simultaneously inferior and superior at the same time, right? It's superior because it's big and powerful(11:40) and it's the empire, but it's also inferior because this is the place that actually allows us to become the Europeans, right? This is the place that allows us to become the Europeans, but we can never say that. That can never be said out loud, right? So there's this deep tension which is built in to all of this.(12:02) Okay. So one part of this is the timing, right? Another part of this has to do with an encounter in religion. There probably hasn't been enough religious history in this class, and it's an important element of the history of Ukraine, in particular, distinctiveness between Ukraine and Russia, not just because there's a Greek Catholic church in Ukraine and not in Russia, not just because church participation is much higher in Ukraine than it is in Russia, but maybe mainly because in Ukraine, there is not a clear relationship(12:39) between church and state the way that there is in Moscow, both at present and historically. For many centuries, the relationship between the church and the state, and including the last 30 years in the lands of Ukraine, has been rocky and uneven. The church has been repressed by the state. It's been a part from the state, but it's never been seamlessly woven together with the state, and that's an important difference.(13:05) But from the point of view of Moscow, this curious things happens, which I mentioned in the 17th century, but it's very, it's an important example of this dialectic. The Russian Orthodox Church, such as it is, and now, I'm leaning very heavily on a dissertation by the wonderful Yale PhD graduate, Ievgeniia Sakal, the Russian Orthodox Church, such as it is, takes on its form and its own narration of what it is in an encounter with Ukraine.(13:32) So if you remember back to the 18th century when the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth collapses, there are all of these educated churchmen in places like Kyiv and Chernihiv and they've been having these debates with each other, and they've been having debates with the Catholics and the Protestants. They've been besieged by the Counter-Reformation.(13:48) They've been dealing with the Jesuits for decades. These are very erudite men, and suddenly, they're confronted with this new situation in which there's no longer the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to deal with, no longer the reformation, Counter-Reformation, all that's gone, but there are these fellows in Moscow, and they're suddenly subordinate to them.(14:07) So what is the story that you tell? There's a political story, I'll return to that, but there's also a religious dispute which takes place. And then this religious dispute, authorities in Moscow and authorities in Ukraine have different ideas. And the authorities in Moscow have the power. The authorities in Ukraine have the arguments.(14:23) But what happens over time, and this is all verges on being a general truth, the people with the power will eventually figure out the arguments and they will eventually use them. So within the space of a generation, the church authorities in Moscow are also using the same sources and the same kinds of arguments that the church authorities in Ukraine are using.(14:43) In other words, the church authorities in Moscow, by way of Ukraine, start reading the French and the Latin, and they start borrowing the arguments from the Western theologians, and they start disputing and doing all the things that the Ukrainians are doing, and what they come up with is this interesting claim.(14:57) They claim, well, the reason that we are different, and we are right about theological matters, is that we, the Russian Orthodox Church, are basically the unbroken, continuation of the Byzantine church that nothing has really happened. It's just all a placid pool of non-events. "We are pure.(15:17) " Right? And this is, if you know anything about Western Orthodoxy, this is the account to this day, right? That it's a non, basically a non-historical institution, but this argument that they're a non-historical institution emerges as a result of historical encounter with Ukraine, very much like the political point, which I made in the lectures a couple of weeks ago.(15:38) The idea that Kyiv and Moscow are somehow connected, organically connected, that Moscow fulfills itself in Kyiv and vice versa and all of this, That is also an argument which was made by Ukrainian churchmen in the late 17th century facing a new position of power, right? And you'll remember, it's a pretty clever argument, at least in this short term.(16:03) If you are in Kyiv, and suddenly you're being ruled by Moscow, you make the argument, "Hey, you and Moscow, everything actually came from us in Kyiv. "Therefore, we're very important." But given a generation or two, that argument will be turned around against you, and it will become something much more like Kyiv fulfills itself in Moscow.(16:25) It all began in Kyiv, but everything fulfills itself in Moscow. And so now, the role of Kyiv is to be subordinate to Moscow. But the point is that that whole argument never emerges without Ukraine, right? So all of these important steps in the history of what's going to become Russian culture are deeply, organically connected with Ukraine.(16:46) Take a literature, right? Take a literature. Okay. Who's the first important Russian writer besides Pushkin? - [Student] Gogol? - Yes, Gogol. Who is from? - [Student] Ukraine. - As everyone knows, from Ukraine, right? And his first stories are about Ukraine, and his family is Ukrainian. Gogol is the turning point where the bilinguality stops being Ukrainian-Polish and moves towards being Ukrainian-Russian, right? From the point of view of the 20th or the 21st century, you might think, "Well, the Ukrainians and the Russians,(17:23) they've always been together, blah." No. It was Ukrainian-Polish was the normal bilingual character situation for a long time. In the 19th century, Ukrainian-Russians starts to become the normal one, and you have these Ukrainians who write in Russian. If you don't know Gogol, by the way, after exams, I know, but you might wanna start reading some of his short stories.(17:43) If you like the grotesque, if you have a taste for things like Edgar Allen Poe or Kafka, it's truly extraordinary, wonderful stuff. But the cliche is that we all come out from under Gogol's overcoat, which is a play on words because like an overcoat, but also, "The overcoat" is one of Gogol's most important, one of his funniest and most important stories.(18:03) But Russian literature comes from this Ukrainian story, right? So in all of these levels, we have the same problem. Another is with educated elites. So again, by the 20th century, there are very impressive Soviet educational institutions. And by the 19th century, early 20th century, Russian imperial ones as well.(18:26) But when these two societies merge, the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy and Kyiv is far more important than any educational institution in the Russian Empire. And so during the 18th century, graduates to the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy are flooding Petersburg, which is the capital after 1721, with the educated elites who help govern the empire, right? So in all of these ways, the Ukraine is what's needed to make a Russian self-assertion, but that Russian self-assertion has to negate its own sources, right? It has to negate its own sources,(19:02) or else, it will seem incomplete. Something related happens at the level of history where the Russian story, as I've just described it, it has to be a story about political legitimacy, right? And again, you can see an extreme version of this in Putin today where Russia exists and has the right to rule because of baptism in Kyiv in 988.(19:32) Nothing that's happened between then and now really matters. What you have is an unbroken right to rule as a result of a kind of metaphysical event a long time ago. It's a version of, I mean, it is actually very much like and is a version of these medieval or early modern stories where a family says, "By the way, we're descended from wolves, and not just any wolves, but the ones who founded Rome," or whatever, right? I'm sort of, that's kind of a Habsburg joke.(20:00) But when families, in families, you have families, you may know this. Families have these kind of, probably from your family tells you this story, like you had this great uncle, he actually invented the airplane. If you let families go on like that, they eventually just, everybody comes, has descended from some king or whatever.(20:17) I'm making a serious point or trying to, which is that history begins with a genealogy that legitimizes eternal power, right? So if you're a family, you have trouble getting at keeping power, getting power, not so hard, blood and treasure. It's keeping power which is hard, and that requires some kind of legitimating ideology and the idea that you're gonna keep power forever into the future makes more sense if you can explain why you've had power or should have had power forever into the past,(20:44) and so there's some kind of story about how, what, where you came from, right? So a lineage of power, and that's where political history comes from, okay. So now, if you're in the 19th century and it's Ukraine, the move that you make is you counter political history with social history, and that's Hrushevsky, right? That's Mykhailo Hrushevsky.(21:06) You then say, "No. History isn't just about some kind of legitimating story that makes sense to the people who are in power. It's about actual continuities in culture." Right? That history is about the people, okay. Then you get into this conversation, which continues to this day where if I say, "History is not about the power, it's about the people.(21:32) " Okay. At first glance, that might seem very much a matter of justice. But the obvious question is, okay, who's the people then? Are the Jews the people? Are the Poles the people? Is everybody who's on the terrain the people? Or is it just the people who know, if history is about the songs and the stories and the language, what about the people who don't know the songs and the stories and the language, but live on the same territory, right? So this is where there begins in Ukraine, but not just in Ukraine.(21:59) It's just Ukraine's a very interesting and clear case of this. And Ukraine begins this, forgive me, like this dialectic where neither of these positions is, it can be exactly right, right? The idea that history is about the people is attractive, right? But if you push it to an extreme that makes history just about the ethnicity and it becomes ethnic nationalism, then there's a counter argument which says, "No, the people are defined by action.(22:26) The nation is a daily plebiscite." And so it doesn't matter whether they're Jews or Germans or Poles or whatever, it's about participation, and cooperation, and things like this. That's the political nation. But if you push that all the way to this extreme, then everything is politics. Why can't I make compromises with some other nation? Maybe I can just take money from this guy over here.(22:46) What's wrong with that? It's all part of me being political. And this is the political nation, right? And so neither these positions can quite be correct, at least take into an extreme. They're in some kind of communication with one another the entire time, and that discussion is going on today.(23:02) It has to do partly with the Jews, the Jews in Ukrainian history, which is an example of culture which we have to spend at least a moment on. The Jews of Ukraine are there because of currents in Polish history. The Jews of Ukraine become Russian imperial subjects after Ukraine ceases to become part of Poland.(23:28) The Jews of Ukraine, see over the course of the 19th century, their traditional way of life essentially broken down as a result of the military draft and other things. And the Jews of Ukraine, or some of them in the late 19th century build up a kind of a modern Yiddish literature. The most important example of this, which you will have heard of, if you come from these traditions is all of Sholem Aleichem.(23:51) Sholem Aleichem is basically, and now, I'm stealing idea from my colleague, Amelia Glaser. but what Sholem Aleichem is basically doing is he's taking Gogol and his portraits to the Ukrainian countryside and making them gentler, and bringing the Jews into the center of the conversation, whereas Gogol at the beginning of the 19th century was very much about taking mystical pre-enlightenment beliefs and working them into modern literature.(24:24) What Sholem Aleichem was doing was taking Yiddish language. That's important. He's writing Yiddish. Yiddish language literature and using it. Yiddish, which is an old language and only newly a literary language, taking Yiddish and using it to write about the problems of modernity. And what are the problems of modernity? The problems of modernity are socialism, romantic love, right.(24:45) So the position in Tevye the Dairyman is that he has these daughters, and you guys know this, "Fiddler on the Roof," right? "Fiddler on the Roof," right. So it's the problems in modernity from the point of view of a Jewish dad, basically, right? And the girls, all the daughters all have some, they all do something unexpected thing, but each one of the things they do represents modernity, like the socialist, the rejecting the church, but even romantic love itself is a modern idea here.(25:11) Okay. So this is, so the Jews are, if there's going to be a talk of culture in Ukraine, the Jews and Jewish history have to be part of it, and that includes the broad destruction of Jewish culture at the beginning, not of the second, but the First World War when the Jews of Western Russia were deported, which was one of the causes of the pogroms, which happened most intensively in Ukraine during the war.(25:40) We have to also talk about the assimilation of Jews in Ukraine to the Russian language before, but especially after the Bolshevik Revolution. And then in Ukraine in particular, and I'm just very briefly referring to material that you've read and we've talked about, but the mass murder of most Jews in Ukraine during the Holocaust.(26:01) And then after that, the return of Jew, not, return is the wrong word, but the immigration or the movement of Jews from elsewhere in the Soviet Union to what is now Ukraine. So Ukraine is now one of the most important Jewish countries in the world, numerically speaking. It's one of the few, you can count them on one hand, countries that have a Jewish president.(26:19) It is the only country in the world that will ever, now, I'm gonna make a prediction, that will ever have a Jewish president elected by 70% or more of the vote. I don't think that's ever gonna happen, because it won't happen in Israel because there're always two candidates, right? So it's hard to, see, I'm cheating. I'm using math.(26:34) But this Jewish Ukrainian culture is a post-war, second, third, fourth generation Ukrainian culture, but it's clearly part of what one could think of as a political nation, right? So the greatest, again, so now, we're in a situation where the greatest Ukrainian warlord in history is a Jew, which proves that God is Jewish and has a sense of humor.(27:03) (students laughing) In the Soviet Union, there's a version, and we've talked about this, of how Ukraine becomes the Constitutive Other. The Soviet Union needs things from Ukraine. The Soviet Union needs for Ukraine to be a nation, but then not to be a nation, right? So it needs for Ukraine. So, Ukraine, Stalin, Lenin, they know that Ukraine is a nation.(27:37) They need Ukraine. They want as much of Europe as they can, but they have to settle for Ukraine. They need Ukraine to be a nation, but they also need it not to be a threat, and so that's the dialectic of the 1920s and 1930s where the Ukrainian nation, Ukrainian literature, Ukrainian people are educated.(27:56) Literature is supported for a while, and then it breaks in the early 1930s. In a similar way, the Ukrainian economy has to exist and not exist. The Soviet Union needs the Ukrainian economy because of, and this is a theme which literally goes back, I mean, a lot of things, people say, "Go back to the ancient Greeks," but mostly, we're just having fun.(28:19) In this case, it really goes back to the ancient Greeks. Ukraine is a bread basket, right? Athens depends on grain from what is now Ukraine, just as the Soviet Union depended upon grain from what is now Ukraine. It's a bread basket. So they need the economy, but they don't want it to be the Ukrainian economy.(28:40) It has to be part of a larger project, right? If they had let the Ukrainian peasants just grow the grain, they would've had bigger yields than they did under collected by as agriculture. But collective by as agriculture meant that it was all under control, and it would be the Soviet Union, which would be in charge of the distribution and the exports, right? So the Ukrainian economy has to exist and has to not exist, which is a very brief way of referring to something that we have talked about before, which is the death of about 4 million inhabitants(29:13) of Soviet Ukraine during the 1930s. Something similar can be said about Ukrainian culture after the Second World War. And again, now I'm reviewing a theme. So we need it, but we don't need it. And this is, during the Second World War, we need, we is now the Politburo, right? We is Stalin. We need Ukraine because the war is being fought in Ukraine.(29:40) And so, we'll talk up the Ukrainian nation. We'll even talk about Bohdan Khmelnytsky as being a hero while the war is going on. When the war is over, this is all gonna change. Under Zhdanov, this is all going to change. Ukraine is gonna be suspicious. The Western Soviet Union is going to be suspicious.(29:57) And then Khrushchev is going to find this brilliant solution. And I mean, I don't mean that ironically, and as politically, it has been very powerful. If you need the Ukrainian nation, you need Ukrainian culture, but you also don't need it. What do you do? You say it's real, but it's reality is expressed in its merging with Russia into something bigger, right? And so the brilliance of this move in 1954, you remember 1954, it's when they gave out the cigarette, like millions of cigarette packs(30:28) with the words, 300 years, on them. Also, nightgowns, socks too, I think. The brilliance of that is that you're acknowledging that Ukraine is real, but you're just saying Ukraine's history went in a certain direction. In 1654, Ukrainians made this choice and it binds on them forever. It's been done, right? So let's just remember that.(30:49) And the Soviet Union is a version of this choice, which was made 300 years ago. So Ukraine is real. It's just that Ukraine's existence is now meaningful as part of a larger unit with Russia, and that is the version of how to think about Ukraine, which works extremely well in Soviet Russia and in Soviet Ukraine for a lot of Soviet Ukrainians for a very long time.(31:13) Something like that, some version of that from 1954. And this is an expression, again, these things aren't just made up. These things are expressions of the actual politics of the actual Soviet Union. So this might come as a surprise, but there haven't actually been that many Russian leaders of Russia in the narrow sense of Russia, right? So if Russia claims the ancient dynasty from Kyiv, I mean, they were Scandinavians.(31:50) And then the Romanovs, at least after Catherine, I mean, the only Romanov we can be sure of after Catherine was Catherine because you always know who the mother is, right? I really have to stop because I don't have enough time to talk about Catherine the way that I'd like to talk about Catherine. But in the case of the Romanovs, the only Romanov, I mean, this is dead serious now about the succession.(32:14) The only Romanov you can be sure of after Catherine is Catherine herself, and Catherine was a German. So that's not a Russian origin story, right? And then the Bolsheviks, okay, Lenin is maybe the most famous Russian of the 20th century, but how many Russian grandparents did he have? That was like a high level question.(32:34) I'm looking at the TAs. One, one. Stalin's a Georgian. Khrushchev is from Russia, just barely but he grew up in Ukraine. Brezhnev, as Jenny has taught me, was born in Ukraine and had Ukrainian nationality as his passport nationality, and changed it to Russian, changed it to Russia. So you have to get, oh, and Gorbachev, half Ukrainian family from southern Russia, and I am old enough to remember people in Moscow making fun of his accent and saying that, "He's actually from Ukraine, this guy."(33:12) So you have to basically get to Yeltsin or Putin before you're talking about Russians in an unambiguous sense running Russia, right? And so the story of how we need them, right? We need them, but we can't say we need them, actually reflects the history of the Soviet Union in all of these ways. It also reflects that the history of Soviet industrialization, where much of what is important is in Ukraine, the coal and the steel, and then later, the rockets.(33:44) A lot of what is important is in Ukraine, and so we need Ukraine. We need Ukraine. We need it more than we say we can need it. And so that's why what we need has to be incorporated into this story about how what we need doesn't really exist on its own, exists with us. And in case I forget to say this, the point of all of this is that one can't talk about Ukrainian culture without all the encounters, but this is a specific kind of encounter, right? This is a specific kind of encounter.(34:13) It's a little tiny bit like US history where, with the attitude of whites towards Blacks where, "We are us because of you. You're what makes us different, but we can't acknowledge you for that reason, you see." The different, see, that's like, it's that same kind of pattern. The difference is the Europe part, right? That the Europe part plays out differently, but it's that kind of move, right? It's that kind of move.(34:38) So just in case I forget to say that that's the argument, that it's an encounter, but it's not like other encounters. It's not like other encounters. But the point of culture is also, and now, we're gonna get, now, we're gonna talk a little bit more in depth for the next 15 minutes about the late Soviet period in the contemporary period.(34:58) The the point of culture though, would be that even though all these things, all these contingencies I'm insisting on are true, that if you're creating culture, you're trying just to create, like you're trying to create, right? You're trying to create. And much of the protests that happen from the sixties onward are kind of in that spirit where the notion of Ukrainian culture is not that we're trying to defend Ukrainian national culture, we're just trying to defend culture.(35:26) We're just trying to be ourselves. And the move that Ukrainian dissidents make, especially in the 70s, is they say, "Look, it's not about Ukrainian culture, Russian culture writ large. It's not even really primarily about Russian culture and its hegemony, although that's a problem. What it's really about is the individual.(35:46) " This is the move they make in the 70s, right? They say human rights includes the right to be from the culture that you're from, and that's something inside you as a person, right? And so that has to do, so that is your normality. So I'm gonna mention a couple of crucial examples of this, and there's only really time for a couple, but one is 1965 when, this is early Brezhnev, Ukrainians are being persecuted, and at the same time, a film comes out, which I urge you to see, called "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors"(36:28) which is by a Georgian Armenian, Sergei Parajanov, but it's based on a story by a Ukrainian writer called Kotsiubynsky, and it's set in the extreme West Carpathians, extreme west of Ukrainian. It's not only in Ukrainian, it's in Carpathian dialect of Ukrainian. It's not socialist realism. It's magical realism.(36:51) And it's quite weird. It's quite weird and beautiful, and it's one of the very best Soviet films, if that's even the word. Apropos of this film, there were protests about the oppression of Ukrainians. One of the people who took part in these protests was a poet called Vasyl Stus, who loses his job as a result.(37:15) I'm gonna read to you one of his poems to make this point that sometimes culture is just trying to be culture, right? And that a lot of the defensive culture in the late Soviet period was on that basis, that all these things that I've been explaining to you, people understood. That was there. That was sorted out.(37:35) But then, somehow it's all meaningless unless there's a, there, there, right? Unless the culture itself is there. So Stus goes to the Gulag twice. He ends up dying after a hunger strike in 1985. But this is the kind of poetry he wrote. This one is called "A Stranger Lives My Life and Wears My Body.(37:58) " "It seems to me that it is not I who live, but another someone lives for me in the world taking my shape, no eyes, nor ears, nor hands, nor feet, nor mouth, estrange to my own body. And a chunk of pain and closing myself, suspended in the abyss. And you, though born, just burned and never grew into the body.(38:19) You never entered the flesh. Just a passerby between the worlds, having sunk to the bottom of before in existence. A hundred nights ahead, and a hundred nights behind, and between them, a mute doll, burned white from self-inflicted pain like a speck of hell. The laconic cry of the universe, a tiny ray of the sun trapped and estranged in the body.(38:39) You are awaiting another birth for yourself, but death entered into you long ago." That's my translation from yesterday. It's much prettier in Ukrainian. I'm gonna resist the temptation. It's really nice in Ukrainian. Мені здається, що живу не я, а інший хтось живе за мене в світі в моїй подобі.  Ні очей, ні вух,ні рук, ні ніг, ні рота.(39:00) It's very nice in Ukrainian. Learn Ukrainian. Read it in Ukrainian. So Stus goes, is sent, is imprisoned. He's released. By the time he comes out, there's a human rights movement, the Ukrainian Helsinki Group, he defends it and then joins it, is sent to the Gulag. Again, he's sent to Perm. The Gulag in the 70s is much smaller, but it still exists.(39:27) Perm is where I think four members of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group die. He is one of them after a hunger strike. I'm gonna read you another one of his poems. We're just gonna do him as a poet today. This is not my translation. This is Alan Zhukovski translation, which was just published a few months ago.(39:45) This one is called "The Lord Has Started Being Born Within Me." "The Lord has started being born within me, and half-recalled and half-forgotten, waits till I depart from life. It looks as if he is outside me, at the edge of death where living people should not dare to enter. My grandchild and my ancestor, God waits.(40:03) Together on my own, that's how we live, how we exist when nobody is near. Misfortune thunders like a cannonade. He is salvation, so, white-lipped, I say, 'Please save me for a second, Lord, and then, recovered, I will save myself alone without assistance.' But he wants to leave my borders and desires to finalize my demolition by salvation, seeking to force me from myself amid the gusts of chilling winds, a saber from its scabbard.(40:30) He bides his time and wants to get outside to make the candle of my pain go out so that the darkness of obedience would save me by the touch of Otherness, another form of life, another name no longer mine, along with countless people inside the kingdom of the frenzied God who wishes to be born from deep within me, but I'll preserve that healing flame for longer, to not get caught too early by the darkness.(40:50) My pain's black candle fills my road with light and represents my stealthy victory." So culture carries a shadow with it, right? Culture stands for itself. These poems are, they're not about politics, but culture stands for itself, but there's a shadow alongside it. The shadow from the 1860s from the Valuev Decree, the shadow from the 1930s from famine and terror, the shadow of the 1970s of the assimilation and the forced integration from the top, which means that when Ukraine emerges as an independent state in the 1990s,(41:32) culture is pursued very, very gently. There is no strong Ukrainization policy in the beginning. Kyiv and Ukraine are characterized by bilinguality, by code-switching, by surzhyk, which is the mixing of the two languages. The Europe is portrayed in the beginning. Oh, there's another thing which is very important about Ukrainian culture, which is, especially at the beginning, oligarchical pluralism, oligarchical pluralism by which I mean when you have several different oligarchs with several different foundations(42:12) and several different TV stations and several different this and that, that's a different situation from when you have one. It may not be the ideal situation, but it does mean that different views emerge about art and history and other things with different patrons. That was very characteristic of Ukraine in the 1990s, right? And remain, it's coming less so, but it's still, it's a feature, it's a feature of Ukraine.(42:34) Okay. So the early attitude towards Europe, I mentioned one novel, which is again, for fun, Yuri Andrukhovych, "Perversion." In this novel, Europe figures as this kind of postmodern, very distant, beautiful thing, which we never might, which we probably never get to, or if we get to, it'll be a result of all kinds of improbable drunken adventures.(43:03) That's like the postmodern carnival version of where we are. We are this outskirt. We are this province. We reach Europe with our spectacular literature basically. This changes, I would say, around the time of the Maidan about what you've read a book and had a lecture where Europe starts to become much more practical.(43:24) where Europe is not, because the politics of wanting to join Europe follows the culture of wanting to join Europe, right? And the culture of wanting to join Europe has to do with younger people who see Europe as a future. And so Europe becomes, somewhere around the 2010, it's ceasing to become a kind of strange thing which is desired, a strange object of desire and more kind of practical place where we might go.(43:49) And a key figure here would be Serhyi Zhadan, Serhyi Zhadan, who in Kharkiv, in 2014 had his skull broken for, this is, I mean, it could not be more symbolic of the themes of this lecture, had his skull broken after he refused to bow down to Russians in a quite literal sense. Zhadan is a great novelist and also a great poet.(44:17) He also has a ska band, which is a rare threefer, I have to say. And when he does win the Nobel Prize for literature, I want that ska band right in the middle of what they, all right. Okay. So Zhadan would be an example of something else, which is very important, which is the eastern re-anchoring of Ukrainian culture, right? So I've made this point, which is slightly awkward if you're from Ivano-Frankivsk or Lviv which is that the historical function of Galicia was basically 1870s to 1970, 1980s, maybe 1990s.(45:01) Right. There was a very special wolf for Galicia in that time, and it remains a kind of repository, a safe place to go, so to speak, in Ukrainian culture, but Zhadan is from a Russian speaking environment, and he chooses to write only in Ukrainian and express himself in Ukrainian absent emergency situations.(45:23) So Zhadan was doing that the entire time. Zhadan, by the way, is also someone very much worth reading, remarkable short stories if you don't wanna invest in a whole literature. Tremendous, what is the title, Jen? Like the last, "The last," or is it "The First Gay Club?" Do you remember? (student speaking away from mic) Okay.(45:46) He has like, among of the things, he has really good stories about, he has really good stories about things which approach being political without quite being political, right? So his story about the gay club is a good example of that. Anyway, this eastern anchor point is very important because some people were doing it all along, but then 2014, in Maidan was a turning point where major figures in Ukrainian culture realized that they weren't really welcome in Russia anymore and made a kind of turn.(46:16) One of them was someone called Svyatoslav "Slava" Vakarchuk, who is the lead singer of Okean Elzy, which is the biggest rock band. Traditionally, a very big following in Belarus and Russia. After 2014, this became awkward. Another was the comedian and writer, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who up until 2014, had a very big following, a very big career in Russia, and appears in Russian television until I think early 2000, maybe late 2013, early 2014, but then he realizes something has changed, right? So this is a turning point for a lot of people.(46:49) And then in 2022, we've reached a more dramatic turning point, extremely dramatic turning point and where things are happening so quickly and so violently that it's hard to characterize what's happening, but a dramatic example of this is, is the writer, Volodymyr Rafeienko, who was here at Yale a couple of weeks ago.(47:08) Volodymyr Rafeienko who wrote only in Russia, who didn't even know Ukrainian, which is unusual, and who ceased communicating in Russian entirely with this war and is now a Ukrainian language writer, which is not an easy thing to do, not an easy thing to do. It's kind of a remarkable thing for him to be doing.(47:29) He said something very interesting when he was at Yale. He said, "We don't choose language. Language chooses us." And it's a strange kind of freedom, which like, there's profundity, there's profundity in that. What's that? - [Student] You don't master language. - Yeah, you don't, right.(47:44) Yeah. "You don't master language, language masters you." Right. "You don't master language, language masters you." Yeah. Не ти володієш мовою, мова оволодіває тобою So another example of this would be another writer who was just at Yale, Stanislav Aseyev, also from an entirely Russian speaking background, a writer now in Ukrainian, and a Ukrainian writer whose most recent book is about torture, and it's actually one of the best bits of prison writing that's been produced,(48:17) I think in Eastern Europe or maybe anywhere else. So the final point that I wanna make about culture is that we're looking, okay, two more points, indulge me. We're looking at a new centrality of Kyiv, a Kyiv is something that hasn't been before. It's a Kyiv which is asserting itself as a European capital, and that is something new.(48:46) Kyiv has been many things but a European capital among other European capitals in a modern sense is new, and a proud Kyiv is something new. And I'm gonna read a poem from Stus, which is about Soviet Kyiv, and you'll see why I'm doing this. It's "Thousand Year Old Kyiv," and this is from, translated by Bohdan Tokarskyi and Uilleam Blacker.(49:13) "One-thousand-year-old Kyiv, fancied, feeling young again. Suddenly, Kyiv was aware of hotels, trolleybuses, trams and trains, the Paton Bridge, the ungainly buildings on Khreshchatyk. Kyiv licked the rough asphalt with its pagan tongue, the slopes of the Green Theatre became overrun by martens, squirrels, aurochs, and the god Yarylo's roaring heathen laughter drove the Dnipro's waves.(49:31) Kyiv coughed asthmatically. Through the metro's drafts, the electric trains fearfully rattled, as a dozen layers of ground, white from human bones, horses' skulls, and gray ash of funeral pyres, rippled like the skull of an angry bull's neck. Kyiv strained but then gave up, just how the devil to lift this whole assemblage of new-builds, avenues, motorways, and the stately birthless bellies of the inhabitants? May sacred forces strike you down, heathen Kyiv hurled a curse.(49:56) But then it saw a pack of pioneers, and, ashamed, it bowed its head. It hid itself away without a peep." Pioneers, you have to know. Pioneers means communist youth group, right? So Kyiv finally submits. That Kyiv of is now gone, right? The people who are now in charge of the government in Kyiv, the people are now in charge of culture in Kyiv are of a different generation that isn't just post-Soviet or anti-soviet, it's just something else.(50:19) And the very last point that I wanted to make is that, although it's too soon to evaluate what this war means for culture, one of the very striking things about this war is the production of culture within it. So other people have noted that this is the most recorded war of all time, which is true. I would note that that act of recording by a journalist is also an act of culture, which requires corporeal risk-taking as well as intellect, but just the culture itself is going on.(50:49) Not to sound too romantic or pathetic about it, but right down to and including in the trenches, right? I have colleagues who are still giving their lectures from where they are right in the trenches, and the production of poetry and other forms of culture goes on. So I'm just going to read you one more poem.(51:05) Please indulge me. This is from Yuliya Musakovska, who's a mom who works in IT. She wrote this in late March, 2022 for her collection, which is published under the title "Iron." Her poem goes like this, this is March. "Such problematic, such frightful poems, full of anger, so politically incorrect.(51:26) No beauty in these poems, no aesthetic at all. The metaphors withered and fell to pieces before they could bloom. The metaphors buried in children's playgrounds under hastily raised crosses, dead in unnatural poses by the gates of houses covered in dust. They prepared meals over an open fire. They did try to survive.(51:53) It was a dehydration that they perished under the rubble. Shot in a car under a white flag made from a sheet with colorful backpacks over their shoulder. They lie on the asphalt face down next to the cats and dogs. I'm sorry to say so, but such verses are all we have for you today. Dear ladies and gentlemen, spectators of the theater of war.(52:26) (somber music)
Timothy Snyder: The Making of Modern Ukraine. Class 23. the Colonial, the Post-Colonial, the Global - YouTubehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLfFmYWjHtc
Transcript:(00:00) (intriguing music) - All right, everyone. Greetings. This is the last lecture of this class. You have an exam in a couple days. You have a thematic assignment due a week after that. The thematic assignment's meant to be very straightforward. I don't want you to do extra research. I want you to pull out some little theme that is in the reading that maybe I've referred to or haven't referred to at all and write something simple and straightforward about it.(00:38) Don't overthink it. Don't overdo it. Don't make us work too hard. It's 1500 words. Pick a theme, it's not gonna be hard. Can anybody sing? Do you think, can you sing? Do you know how... what's it called? Do you know how the "Carol of the Bells" goes? - [Student] No. - Okay. (students vocalizes) That's it.(01:10) (students laughing) That's the one. That's the one. That's the one. Very good. (students chuckling) And you didn't raise your hand when I asked. - [Male Student] I know. The second question usually is not great after the first. (Timothy and students laughing) - All right. - So we had eight tones of Christmas music there to start us out with, which I'm gonna get back to, if I manage.(01:33) What we're talking about today is empire in Europe. And like the last lecture, this lecture is meant to bring some threads together to help you think about the essays and help you think about the class as a whole. We're obviously talking about this in the context of an imperial war that is going on right now, the Russian War against Ukraine, which began in 2014, and which was accelerated this February with a full scale invasion.(02:04) I think this is a fairly straightforward imperial war in its rhetoric and in its goals. I'll talk more about that as we go. What I want to talk about, though, in this lecture, is what this imperial war tells us about Europe and the European imperial past and what we can say about the European and American reaction to this war on the basis of the history of empire.(02:34) So a larger theme of this class, as you've all gathered, is what is history good for? What is it and what is it good for? One of the things that history is good for is reflection upon the other stories about the past that you are being told. So there's an obvious criticism, of course, in this class of the imperialist narrative that Ukraine doesn't exist, but perhaps more subtly, there's also a criticism of a European narrative, which says that European integration was born out of the higher European wisdom(03:14) that war is bad and that peace is good. So if any of you are from European Union member states, you'll be familiar with this, because you've been bombarded with it since childhood. The notion that the Europeans are different and better than the Americans, because they experienced a Second World war and they saw that it was bad, and therefore, they have now had economic cooperation and since then, things have been good.(03:41) There are a couple of problems with this. One of them is that what happened is not that Europeans learned from the Second World War that war is bad. That never happened. They kept fighting wars after the Second World War. They kept fighting wars until they lost them. That's a critical part of the story, which goes missing.(04:05) The Dutch and Indonesia, the French in Algeria and Southeast Asia. The Portuguese and the Spanish can't hold out in Africa. It's basically the same story everywhere. They keep fighting until they lose and the wars they lose are imperial wars. The story of European integration, as it's told, allows that imperial history to be pushed aside, to be occluded, to be not seen at all and because that history is not seen at all, this leads to misanalysis and misunderstandings of contemporary political situations.(04:39) The other tricky thing about that story is that it suggests that once you've learned this lesson that war is bad, all you have to do is trade with people and everything will be good. To emphasize, the problem with that is that the European integration story with all the trade, which certainly happens, Treaty of Rome and all of that, it all happens after the defeat in the imperial war.(05:04) And so trade may be very well, be a good thing. But in the actual European history, this trade project follows upon defeat in imperial war. And when you take the defeat in imperial war out of the story, you're removing something which is going to disable your analysis of the rest of contemporary events.(05:26) So just very briefly now, I'm gonna remind you of some of the high points of the history of European Empire. We've already had a couple of lectures on this already. It's in the background of the reading in Road to Unfreedom, Black Earth to some extent, but I wanna try to make sense of where we are now on the basis of this trajectory of empire.(05:46) So from the point of view of European Empire, 1776, the great proud American independent story, that's when the Northern Hemisphere basically falls out. I mean, there will be six... the Spanish will be around for a while, the Portuguese, too, but 1776 is, basically, you can call a turning point where the Western hemisphere, where the Americas fall out, begin to fall out of the calculation, empire is going to mean, essentially, Asia and Africa.(06:15) The 19th century is then a competition for the territory that's still left. Most famously or notoriously, the race for Africa at the end of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century or at the beginning of the 20th, we have a First World War, which is a world war, even before the Americans arrive, because of empire.(06:34) It's a world war because it's fought with colonial soldiers from all over the world. It's not a war of Europeans against Europeans. It's Europeans and their colonial subjects against other Europeans and their colonial subjects, which is fought in Europe. In the end of the First World War, what we have is a curious situation where the land empires all managed to lose and the sea empires, the maritime empires managed to win.(07:00) The British and the French managed to win, the Ottomans, the Germans, the Russians, in a complicated way, by way of revolution, the Hapsburgs, all manage to lose. And as we've seen, in this war, Ukraine is a major prize. Ukraine is the territory that the Germans think they can use to win the war on the Western front.(07:19) They turn out to be wrong, but that is what they think. At the end of this war, we have the rise of the doctrine of self-determination, which means, in effect, that the maritime empires, I'm now counting the US among them, have the idea that some of the former territories in the land empires in Europe should become independent states.(07:47) So national self-determination does not apply to all the world. That's a truism. It was not about American colonies or British colonies or French colonies, far from it. It was about the former terrains of defeated land empires, but not all of them. Not not Ukraine. Not Ukraine. Ukraine instead passes through this incredibly complicated period that we have studied of, in which you have white Russians, that is, Russian restorationists of empire who are fighting for Ukraine.(08:17) We have Poles who, in some way, are fighting for Ukraine. We have the Leninist idea of self-determination, which basically means we say that you can have self-determination, but so long as it doesn't contradict the interests of the center of the revolution. So a kind of declarative self-determination. And while this is all going on, this is why I asked if anybody could sing.(08:38) While this is all going on, musicians from Ukraine are on tour across Europe and North America, playing, for example, in Carnegie Hall. The song which drew the most attention is the melody which was just sung, which was composed by a Ukrainian composer called Mykola Leontovych, which really caught the attention of the Americans, so much so that it was adapted with new English words to become what's now the Carol of the Bells, which is the most striking, I think, American Christmas carol and I'm gonna return at the end to why that is.(09:15) Leontovych, himself, is murdered in 1921 by the Bolshevik secret police. So then what is the Second World War? Again, from the perspective of Ukraine or from our perspective, the Second World War is another imperial war. But this time the German aspiration for Ukraine is the absolute center. It's at the absolute center of Hitler's plans.(09:40) It's at the absolute center of the war itself. And the theory behind this war, and you've read all of this in Black Earth, but the theory behind this war is that the stronger nation should be colonizing and starving the weaker nation, that's what always happens. Or the stronger people, the stronger race should be dominating, colonizing, starving out the weaker.(10:04) Why does this not always happen? According to Hitler, it doesn't always happen, because of the Jews. That is Hitler's version of antisemitism. The Jews have ideas like Christianity, capitalism, communism, rule of law, contracts, you name it. And these ideas get into people's minds and prevent them from becoming the ruthless racial warriors that nature meant them to be.(10:27) So in Hitler's view, the Jews are both softening the minds of Germans, and this is important, they're ruling Ukrainians, because the Soviet Union, according to Hitler, is a Jewish state. So the Ukrainians, in his analysis, are colonial people. They're being ruled by one colonist, the Jews and if you kill the Jews or get them out of the way somehow, the Ukrainians will be happy to be ruled by another colonial master.(10:52) That's the theory. In the planning for the war, the Germans intends to starve tens of millions of Soviet citizens, tens of millions of Soviet citizens, in order to colonize the Western Soviet Union and especially, Ukraine. Tens of millions of Soviet citizens. The reasons why they think this is possible is because, at the time, everyone knew that there was this thing, which only recently, people have started to call Holodomor, which is the famine in 1932-1933.(11:27) The German analysis is that the collective farms in the Soviet Union can be used to divert food in any direction. So if they can be used to divert food to feed the Russians, they can also be used to divert food to feed the Ukrainians. We can use them as instruments of starvation. In fact, they're never able to starve tens of millions of people.(11:44) Most of the starvation takes place in prisoner of war camps, where about 3 million Soviet prisoners of war are starved. Ukraine, as you know from the reading, is also a major site, oh, and by the way, Ukrainian soldiers who are starving in the German prisoner of war camps in 1941 refer to their experience of hunger in the Soviet Union in 1933.(12:07) There're even songs which refer to both of these events. Ukrainian, as you know from the reading, is also a major site of the Holocaust. Two of the major shooting sites, Kamianets-Podilskyi and Babi Yar just outside Kyiv are, of course, in Ukraine. And the war is largely fought in and for Ukraine. And so it's very important for present politics and for present conversations about imperialism that we know that this war was an imperial war.(12:35) This is not just some point that I'm trying to make on the margin. It's very important to keep in mind that there was an imperial motive, an imperial geography to this war and that they were peoples who were subject to an imperial policy. At the end of the Second World War, once again, the maritime empires managed to win.(12:54) The British and the French managed to win, again, with the help of the Americans. Germany, which is aspiring to be a much larger land empire, loses and loses very decisively. And in losing decisively their imperial war for Ukraine, the Germans begin the trend of other European empires losing imperial wars.(13:20) That thing which I've just said is the thing which is silenced. It's silenced that Germany's war was an imperial war and it's silenced that Europeans then began to lose a series of imperial wars. And how is that silence achieved? It's achieved by the otherwise very attractive story of European integration.(13:37) The story about how Europeans are very wise, and they understand that war is bad, because they're smarter than the Americans who keep fighting wars, et cetera, et cetera. And so in this story, it's the empire that goes missing and it's most crucially, the story of the German empire which goes missing.(13:56) So Ukraine goes missing just as Indonesia and Algeria and Morocco and Mozambique and all the rest go missing from this story. But as I say, this is most important for the Germans. This lecture is about empire and you think I'm only gonna be talking about Russia, but I'm gonna be spending a lot of time talking about Germany.(14:13) Russian imperialism is, right now, very open. It's not very complicated, we'll talk more about it, but crucial to where we are in the 21st century is the misanalysis, the misapprehension and forgetfulness about German colonialism and German empire. And as I say, one of the things history is good for, maybe the major thing, is to create reflection about the things that one got wrong or the things that one missed.(14:39) So in Germany, from 1945 and 1989, the main story is the division of the country. Germany loses its Eastern territories. What remains of Germany is divided into a West Germany and to an East Germany. One Democratic, one communist. From the point of view of West Germany, the major story is of one's own victimhood, one's own victimhood.(15:07) We were bombed at the end of the war. So many of our men died. We lost all of this territory. Our country was divided. So the major story in the 50s, 60s, into the 70s is one's own victimhood. So this business of Germany taking responsibility for the Second World War is a relatively recent development and quite partial.(15:32) The discussion of German responsibility for the war begins as a discussion of the Holocaust, which is very important. It allows other discussions and it's tremendously important in and of itself. The problem with the discussion of the Holocaust, which takes place in Germany in the 70s and 80s, is that it's missing a lot of important things.(15:52) It's missing any discussion of East European territories. It's missing any discussion of territory at all. And it's missing, perhaps most critically, the German imperialism, which got Germany out into Eastern Europe in the first place, which is a crucial part of the history of the Holocaust, because that is where the Jews lived.(16:12) So without the German imperial ambition to get to Ukraine, there couldn't have been a Holocaust, because those territories are where the Jews or most of the Jews actually lived. So in this discussion of the Holocaust, one of the things which is missing is the German imperial ambition. So you get self-criticism about the Holocaust, but it's limited, it doesn't have territory.(16:33) And the Jews who are most important in this discussion are the German Jews. And of course, that is a very important history. But German Jews are only about 3% of the victims of the Holocaust, only about 3%. And so that story can't be a representative one and it can't be one which is going to get Germans to think about the broader geographical scope of the war.(16:55) And then, indeed, it tends to be one... Whereas, the history of the Holocaust tends to move you to a place where you can talk about other crimes. So for example, Jews in Eastern Europe are some of our witnesses to the starvation of Soviet prisoners of war. In Jewish testimonial material, there is evidence of the starvation of Soviet prisoners of war.(17:14) If you focus on Germany, all you have are the Germans and the Jews, which is a very different sort of story and you're not being forced to think about the other crimes, let alone the other peoples further east. In the 1970s, West German social democratic governments begin a process of reconciliation with the Soviet Union.(17:38) And this is a Soviet Union, which you know from the reading from the class, this is the Soviet Union of Brezhnev. And so what we have underneath this reconciliation is the meeting of two stories about what actually happened in the Second World War. And by this time, by the 1970s, there's a Soviet story and the Soviet story is a cult of the war in which we were the victims as well as the victors, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and Soviet Alliance with Nazi Germany, completely taboo.(18:10) The documents are hidden away. No one's remembering that. It's a Russified cult of the war. It's a Russified cult of the war. This meets a German story in which Germans are increasingly willing to take responsibility for the Second World War and the way that Germans move in this direction is to direct the apologetic energy towards the Moscow Center.(18:39) And so in Germany as in the Soviet Union, the idea that the Second World War was about tens of millions of dead Russians becomes normal. Now, the Second World War did involve millions of dead Russians, but the scale of suffering was actually greater in Ukraine and in Belarus than it was in Russia. And the story in which Russia monopolizes both the victory and the victimhood also starts to become natural in Germany.(19:08) And so then, in this weird way, what is actually meeting is a Russian quiet imperialism, the administrative Russification of the 1970s with a German or with the remnants of a German imperialism, or German implicit imperialism, or at the very least, the total absence of a reckoning with German imperialism, which means that it's totally natural that in this situation, no one talks about Ukraine, at all.(19:35) No one talks about Ukraine, at all. The Germans have no reason to talk about Ukraine, because there's been no historical reckoning. And so Russia's silences about Ukraine or control about Ukraine seems completely natural. After 1989, we reach a moment where we have, as you've seen already in this class, After 1989, we're in a moment of tremendous change of rapid geopolitical realignment, where, from the German point of view, and we're now under Christian democratic governments headed by Helmut Kohl,(20:12) from the German point of view, what we have is historical justice. We have a unification. East Germany and West Germany are brought together. The most interesting anti-imperial move that's made at this time was made, as we've seen again in the lectures and the reading, was made by the Poles, actually.(20:30) When the Poles recognize the Ukrainian border before Ukraine is even independent, they're making an anti-imperial move vis-a-vis themselves, which makes it much easier for the Germans to make the same move vis-a-vis Poland. Because all the way up until 1990, Germany had not recognized its border with Poland.(20:50) The fact that the Poles put any national quarrels with Ukrainians out of the question made it somewhat more likely that the same outcome would prevail on the German-Polish border. And the lack of national conflict or border conflict is one of the reasons why the European Union can enlarge as it will to embrace many of the former communist states in 2004, 2007, 2013.(21:14) During this time, Germany is the most important democracy in Europe, unified Germany. It's the biggest economy. It's a very functional democracy. It may already be the most important democracy in the world, but you can't tell the Germans that. And as we enter the 21st century, the Germans have a reputation for having dealt with the past, which is only partially justified.(21:44) One has to be very careful here, because the Germans are, of course, pioneers in identifying a particular historical evil, which is the Holocaust, and beginning a story of addressing it. And that has been good for their democracy. And I suggest, in general, that those kinds of things are good for democracy.(22:00) The problem with this reflection is that it was thought to have been completed. The idea was that by the time we got to the end of the Cold War, we, the Germans, have already gone through this process and now, we're in a position to be a model for other people. Whereas in fact, the end of the Cold War created, I would've said, an opportunity to think about eastern Europe more broadly and about the German war in the East more broadly, which is the thing that doesn't happen.(22:31) So the form the criticism very often takes is that other people in Eastern Europe, in Poland, for example, or in Ukraine, don't understand how important peace is. So peace is the crucial category. What the Germans will say again and again, and here I say the Germans with some confidence, because this is a consensus which goes, which spans most of the political spectrum, is that peace is the important thing.(22:57) But peace is not what happened to Germany. Defeat is what happened to Germany. But you won't find Germans arguing that imperial powers have to be defeated. What you find them arguing is that peace is a good thing. So there's no reflection on empire. There's no imperial analysis in this framework.(23:22) There is room for criticism of decline of democracy in a minor key, but here, the Germans, and again, this is a broad consensus, generally miss the most important and obvious case, the decline of democracy, which is Russia in 1999 to 2000, or maybe Russia, 1993 to 2000. But in any event, the rise of Putin in 1999 to 2000 is a hugely important turning point, because it's here that Russia fails to have competitive elections where one Russian president, Yeltsin, anoints the next one, Putin, Putin stages a war.(23:58) And so you avoid that thing, which is so crucial for the success of a democratic system, in which somebody coming from somewhere else unexpectedly is a candidate and wins, and wins. Here you have instead the person at the center of the system picking the next person who's the center of the system. This is the moment where Russian democracy fails.(24:17) Likewise, there was very little recognition in Germany, I think it's fair to say, of the significance of the reverse happening in 2004, 2005 in Ukraine. In 2004, there was similarly attempt in Ukraine for a president to anoint his successor and then elections were faked to see that that successor would win and this was held off by civil society protest.(24:39) And in this way, Ukrainians were able to arrange for an actual democratic succession where the person that the incumbent wanted to come into power to succeed him did not actually come to power and someone else did. So 2004, at this time.... There's something I have to go on the record now. It's at this time when Gerhard Schroeder, who's the social democratic, now, prime minister of Germany, it's at this time, November 2004, that Schroeder says Putin is a flawless Democrat.(25:13) And that kind of rhetoric from Schroeder is going to continue, essentially, almost to the present day. In the 21st century, under Schroeder and then under his successor, Angela Merkel, the key that the Germans tend to apply in their foreign policy towards Russia is economics. And I wanna stress this point again, although I'm sure it's clear, this arises from a certain misanalysis of how the European Union and how European integration arose.(25:49) The theory of European integration was war is bad, trade is good. I mean, one doesn't wanna dispute those two premises, but the missing part in the story is, we, the Germans, decisively lost a war and admit that we lost it. (chuckles) We gave up on imperial solutions, because we had to 'cause we were defeated and then we moved on to something else and that that was true of most of the other Europeans as well.(26:15) And so the economics becomes a magic where the notion is, then, if we cooperate economically with Russia, for example, if we buy Russian natural gas, that must have a positive effect on Russia, because that's the theory. So Gerhard Schroeder, who's the leading figure in all of this, negotiates a gas pipeline with the Russians a few weeks after he leaves office in 2005.(26:40) In what not only the Germans might find to be unseemly haste, he then joins the board of the gas company in question and is employed, in one way or another, by the Russian hydrocarbon industry with accumulating titles and salaries for the next many years. This policy, though, in fairness, one has to say, is a consensus policy, which is then continued by the Christian Democrats.(27:05) And when I say the Germans over and over again, I'm basically meaning the two Volkspartei and the two big parties. Now, the irony of all of this, especially given that Schroeder is from the Social Democrats, which, historically, is an antifascist party, the irony of all of this is that this is a time when an astute observer, at least, might have noticed that certain important parts of the Russian elite, including the president of the Russian Federation, are beginning to talk in openly fascist terms.(27:35) And that the president of the Russian Federation is quoting Russian fascists in his most important political addresses. There is no notice of this in Germany. No notice at all. I think the logic of insulating Germany from all of this is something like we are the antifascists and therefore, if we're negotiating with them, they can't be fascists.(28:03) And this logic prevails deep into the 2020s and probably until the beginning of the war. So the Maidan of 2013-2014 can be seen in this light as well. Actually, the Maidan of 2013-2014, which you've read about, which you've heard about in a separate lecture, confirms this post-imperial analysis of the EU, because that's how everybody sees it.(28:30) Everybody who matters anyway. The Ukrainians wanna join the European Union, because they understand that the European Union is there to rescue slightly problematic post-imperial states, such as their own. The Russians wanna stop Ukraine from joining the European Union, because they recognize the same thing.(28:49) They understand that should Ukraine join the European Union, it is much more likely that Ukraine will become a successful rule-of-law state and prosper and become a model for Russians, which, from the point of view of the Putin regime, would be a very bad thing. Everyone outside the European Union sees the logic that I'm trying to share.(29:06) It's only inside the European Union that it becomes unclear. When Russia invades Ukraine in 2014, we see the implicit imperialism of Russian-German cooperation become explicit in the language which the Russians use and which the Germans, then, pick up. The Russian invasion of Ukrainian in 2014 is muddled and made unclear and a great success for Russian foreign policy.(29:34) And the muddling and the un-clarity is a result of certain kinds of tropes about Ukrainians, which are imperial tropes. That Ukraine was never really a real state, that Ukrainians aren't really a people, and if they are a people, they are corrupt and their state is gonna fail because they're corrupt.(29:51) And by the way, they're all Nazis. Oh, and they're gay, that fit in there, too. And they were you know... (students laughing) No, you know how this works. It's social media targeted audiences, that's how it works. If you don't like gay people, they tell you the Ukrainians are all gay. If you don't like Nazis, they tell you they're all Nazis.(30:12) If you do like Nazis, they tell you that they're all Jews. That also happened. (students chuckling) Social media, it's your life, you understand this. But this imperial rhetoric, and here's the point, is largely accepted, at least in 2013-2014, in the German media. At least as the central points of discussion, are they all Nazis? Which is just a way of asking are they all barbarians? Are they all Nazis? Is it a failed state? Did the Ukrainians somehow bring this upon themselves? All of this language,(30:44) which speaks to the German imperial tradition about Ukraine. And of course, the Russians are consciously manipulating this. They're consciously playing on what they understand to be German sensibilities. Now, I said this was a consensus and it is, when after Russia invades Ukraine, the Christian Democratic government under Angela Merkel then brings into existence Nord Stream 2, which is interpreted at the time by a broad swath of Europeans, not just Ukrainians and Poles, but many of Germany's West European allies,(31:22) as nothing more than a reward for Russia invading Ukraine. Because what Nord Stream 2 does is it allows the Russians to very easily bring their gas to Europe without having it to pass through Ukrainian territory. So there is a consensus of implicit imperialism here, which has to do with, on the Russian side, an aggressive retelling of history, which I'm gonna say more about now.(31:48) But on the German side, a lack of historical reflection combined with a certainty that the historical reflection has already taken place, which is not only a German problem, you can find that elsewhere, too. So when we get to the war of 2022, this is an imperial war, I think, fairly obviously. It's an imperial war in that it's based on a story of history in which some people exist and some people don't.(32:16) Putin's account of the history of Russian Ukraine, which he gives in July of 2021, tells you that what happens today is predetermined by things that happened a thousand years ago. That things that happened a thousand years ago give him the right to say who's actually a people and who's actually not a people.(32:31) It's imperial in the classic sense of denying that the people you encounter are a people, instead they're a tribe or a clan or they're corrupt or whatever. And it's imperial in the classic sense of denying that the state you encounter is a state, they're not subject to law, law doesn't really apply, what is law anyway? The more interesting thing which is happening, continuing the Russia-German theme here, is that the Russian invasion of Ukraine very, very closely follows the model of the German invasion of the Soviet Union,(32:57) which the Russians themselves tip off at the very beginning. They tip this off at the very beginning by saying that this is all a war about de-Nazification and all you have to do is remove the de. Just takes a little bit of Freudian analysis here. Just a tiny, tiny bit of Freud to get what they're really after.(33:16) What they're really after is they're fighting a war on the German model, on the German model. And with the de-Nazification, they're doing their typical thing of rolling something in front of the western media, especially the German media and saying, "Hey, why don't you talk about this.(33:30) Let's change the subject to how many Nazis there might be in Ukraine, as opposed to we're invading the country right now." But the de-Nazification thing, I think, is actually deeply a clue to what's happening. 'Cause the similarities are actually really striking. The notion that Ukraine only exists because of conspiracies.(33:53) The idea that Russia is not the aggressor, but it is the victim of conspiracies and therefore, it must attack Ukraine. The ideological assumption that the state you're attacking doesn't really exist. It's just propped up by said conspiracies. So the moment you hit it, it will fall apart, which is literally what Hitler said about the Soviet Union.(34:13) Putin says the same thing about Ukraine. There is also, it's obviously not nearly as important, but there's also an antisemitic element in which the thing which is artificial is the presidency of Volodymyr Zelenskyy himself, because he's Jewish. And that element has grown larger with time as the Russian media now presents Zelenskyy routinely as the devil or as the anti-Christ.(34:38) Also, the idea which is practically plagiarized that the Ukrainians are a colonial people, they have one master now, but they would be happier with a different master. Now they have the Americans, the Jews, the gay international conspiracy, whatever, they have some master, but we would be a better master. But the Ukrainians are colonial people and they'll be happy when we replace the previous master.(34:59) All of these ideas are not just uncomfortably close, they're practically copies of the German motivations or the German's stated ideologies in the invasion in 1941. There's even the haunting fact that the Russians were planning one kind of genocide, which was the extermination of the Ukrainian elite, and they have since moved on to other forms of genocide when that one didn't work out.(35:22) Which again, in a minor key, is very similar to what happened to the Germans who were planning a mass starvation campaign, which they were not able to carry out, but then moved on to other forms of genocide when the war actually continued. So the actual policies of Russian Ukraine include things like the deportation of a 10th of the Ukrainian population, including children, the execution of elites, rape as politics, the bombing of evacuation routes and so on.(35:48) And currently, the deprivation of water and energy. And this moment we're in now, as we move into the winter of 2022, is, if you're a German, at least, should be uncomfortably close to the winter of 1941, where the idea is you're killing people by depriving them of access to things. The Soviet prisoners of war died in the millions, not because they were shot, although many of them were shot, especially the Jewish ones, but they died in the preponderance, because they were denied access to other things,(36:17) which is of course what Russia is now trying to carry out on the scale of Ukraine itself. This is not a reference which Germans themselves make. And I would say that's because the Germans generally don't think of the Second World War in terms of the things which happened in the east. So of course, the war in 2022, to be fair, does change people's views.(36:37) The general consensus, which is not just a German idea, it's also an American idea, that Ukraine is a weak state, is challenged by the events of February, March, April, and the rest of 2022. The idea that Ukraine was gonna fall apart within three days was not just, and this is important, it wasn't just a Russian idea, that was also basically believed in Washington and in Berlin and I would suggest that the reasons why we all believe that have to do with our own imperial past.(37:05) It's not just Russian propaganda, it's our vulnerability to certain kinds of arguments about how other people are corrupt and they haven't ever really had a state and maybe they're all radicals and can they really have elected a president? Things have changed, things are changing. The German parliament just voted a few days ago to recognize the Holodomor as a genocide, which is interesting and of itself, but it's a short step from there, I would like to think, for Germans to think about how their own hunger plan(37:37) in 1941-1942 was related to the Holodomor, not just in the experience of people, but also in its planning. The Ukrainians who survived both certainly linked both. So it's an interesting moment to see what's going to happen in the winter of 2022. But when we speak about empire, it's important to recall that empire is about the denial of the subjectivity of others.(38:06) It's about monopolizing agency. We exist and they don't really exist. And so the story of Russian imperialism in Ukraine is also the story, or more importantly, the story of the Ukrainian reaction. So Ukrainian subjectivity and all this matters and not just as an answer or as the answer to a negation of, it matters on its own.(38:27) And here we can also see a way that history can help us. The historical references that Ukrainians make on the battlefield at this point in the class should be clear to all of you. When they refer not just to Cossacks but to Vikings, that will no longer seem like a curiosity, that will seem like something which is not very surprising.(38:42) When they claim the Second World War as their own war against the Russians, this is also, probably, now understandable. But the most interesting things in the history, frankly, may have to do with the history of the last 30 years. A lot of what the Ukrainians are doing in their communications has to do with a particular understanding of both Russia and the West and the United States, which I think is specific to a certain generation or two of Ukrainians.(39:07) And the generational part itself is very important. The elites who govern Russia are the same elites as 20 years ago. Which, in Ukraine, is not the case. The people who are running Ukraine now tend to be younger than me. I'm not as old as you think, I mean. They're closer to my age than your age, let's put it that way, but they're young still.(39:29) (students laughing) They're still young, they're still young. They're still learning, they're still growing. The people who are running Ukraine now are in their late 30's and early 40's, just to be clear. And so there's been a generational turnover, which is, itself, very important.(39:45) And this is also the generation which experienced Maidan, participated in it or saw the consequences of it and that has a lot to do with the sheer subjectivity of the Ukrainian battlefield response, which is based, not just on a state, which turns out to be far more functional than people thought, but largely on the basis of what we call civil society, of people in horizontal organizations filling in the gaps and doing the things that the state can't do or in a way that the state can't do them.(40:11) It's also reflected in the pluralism of the army itself and the army's ability to take local decisions, but also the various kinds of formations, which appear in the Ukrainian armed forces. Which include, by the way, as probably everybody knows, but it's roughly one in six female and includes gay soldiers who actually mark themselves very often as such.(40:34) Prominent cases, but not the only cases of the variety, which is possible in a pluralist army. But the war itself is largely about this subjectivity. The word that Ukrainians use, as I have found, others might correct me, most often to say what it's about is freedom. Freedom in the positive sense, not just of being free of Russians, but freedom in the sense of what is going to come next.(41:01) And the resistance, and this is the point that I meant to get to last time and didn't get to, the resistance is also carried out by the people who would ordinarily be creating the culture. It was two lectures ago that a historian, a colleague of mine, a guy called Vadym Stetsiuk, was killed in combat and this death in combat was reported in turn by a journalist, a very courageous, intelligent journalist called Vakhtang Kipiani, who's a Ukrainian of Georgian origin.(41:35) That name, which I very much hope I have on the sheet, that name, Kipiani, he wrote the book about Vasyl Stus, who was the poet I cited at length last time, the most important of the Ukrainian-Soviet era dissident poets and in that book, just follow me here, in that book, he devotes a chapter to a man called Viktor Medvedchuk, because this guy, Medvedchuk, was Stus' lawyer in 1980 when Stus was on trial.(42:04) And at that time, your lawyer was not somebody who represented you, he was someone who stood up and said, "Yeah, he's guilty, he actually did it and he probably should go to a camp." And Stus, then, did go to a camp and went on a hunger strike and died five years later. This fellow, Medvedchuk, you're gonna see why I'm mentioning this, this fellow, Medvedchuk, is Putin's personal friend and he was one of the candidates in February to be the person that the Russians were gonna drop in to run Ukraine.(42:30) So there are continuities in this, not just a personal, literal example, that go back to the 70s. And one way to think about the moment we're in now, not just in Russian-Ukraine, but for the whole world, is whether we can ever actually get out of the 1970s. Whether we get out of the 1970s into something else.(42:50) Because the 1970s, and this is a bit of a pivot, but just work with me here. The 1970s are also the origin of all of the literary theory, which is behind Russian propaganda. And one way to understand this conflict in Ukraine is one version of the 70s against another version of the 70s where the other version of the 70s is the dissidents, the human rights idea.(43:15) The notion that you're bearing responsibility. So there are many ways to criticize the Russian media about Ukraine. You can talk about how it's genocidal and say genocide and all of that's true, whole long list of critiques. But maybe the most interesting thing about it is the total shunning of responsibility.(43:35) The idea that the war itself is just a performance. That we ourselves are not involved. We're not really involved personally. It's a performance, it's a spectacle in which Ukrainians should die because that... it's like when our soccer team scores a goal or something. They should die because that's the way that the world works.(43:55) That's the way we are entertained. And in this, of course, the people who are urging all of this, I mean, to make the obvious point, but it's important, they're not themselves ever going to go to the front. They're not themselves ever going to go to the front. It's a spectacle. It's a spectacle.(44:17) Signifier is separated from signified. What is actually true? Everything that really matters is the medium itself. That version of the 1970s versus the other version of 1970s, which is the dissident version, which says you're always bearing some responsibility all the time, even when the situation is unfair.(44:35) Even when you're in a show trial or even when you're at war, you take some responsibility anyway, even when the conditions are against you. And this is, by the way, one of the things that, when I did talk to Zelenskyy back in September, we spent a lot of time talking about. So on the other side, of course, it's the case and I put some of the names on the list, because I can't mention all of them and even that list would be very incomplete.(44:59) But on the other side, Ukrainian cultural figure after Ukrainian cultural figure is killed in this war, some in bombing and shelling but many of them in combat. Many of them in combat, from famous movie actors to multiple ballet dancers, to athletes, and of course, journalists, humanists, scientists. Most recently, the conductor of the Kherson Orchestra was executed for refusing to conduct a concert for the Russians, which of course, recalls Leontovych, the Ukrainian composer I mentioned earlier, who was executed because he represented Ukrainian music.(45:47) I could mention a Russian cultural figure who was killed in Ukraine. There is one person I can think of and no doubt there are more, but the one who I can think of, and people will no doubt help me in the sea of emails I'll get about this, but the one who I can think of is Oksana Baulina. She was a Russian reporter who was killed by Russian shelling in the Podil district of Kyiv and the way she was killed is by what's called a double tap.(46:18) A double tap is when you fire an artillery shell and then you wait for the rescue workers to come and then you fire on them, that's a double tap. It's a way that journalists often die, that's how she died. And so she died in Podil. She was a Russian, she did die in this war. She is a known cultural figure, she died.(46:32) Of course, someone who opposed the war. There are no Russian cultural figures who are in favor of the war, who are fighting this war in Ukraine. None. There are no such people. She dies in Podil and what is Podil? What is Kyiv, what is Podil? Podil was a port area of the city. I'm asking you a way back now to the 8th century, 9th century, beginning of the class.(46:55) It was the port area of the Khazars before the Vikings even showed up. The Vikings controlled in 900, which is a sign that they and not the Khazars are the ones who are in charge of Kyiv. If you walk down to Podil from the center of Kyiv, there's a beautiful route downwards, there's a 14th century Lithuanian castle on the way, which marks the period of Lithuanian control of Kyiv and much of Ukraine.(47:19) In the 19th century, Podil was the site of markets, which were dominated by Jews and Poles. Was it made Russian by shelling it? Was it made Russian by the death of a Russian journalist? So Podil was there before any of this. Podil was there a long time ago and it's been a theme of this class that nations are real political entities in the 20th century, the 21st century, the 19th century.(47:54) They're formed by all kinds of contact along the way. But there are some things which are actually, authentically old. I ended the class last time by reading Julia Moskovski's poem about the problematic politically incorrect verses. But, of course, the thing about that poem is that it's not actually the poem that's problematic.(48:21) It's we who are problematic. And the poem is perfectly elegant. It's the we, we who are problematic. This thought that this is leading me to is the way the poem answers itself. Because the premise of the poem is that this is all we have to offer, these awkward words, but that's not true at all. The example of Ukrainians resisting this war offers much more than that and it offers much more than that even in poetry.(48:51) When Julia answered me on, I can't even tell you what platform, 'cause I don't know, but maybe it was Instagram, maybe it was Telegram, I don't know. But what she said was, "I thank all of the Ukrainians who are continuing to create in times of war," which is an acknowledgement of an important point.(49:07) That it's not just that the war is going on, the culture is going on the entire time, which leads me to where I began and where I'm gonna end, I promise, very soon. On Sunday, I was at a concert in Carnegie Hall, which is not something I do all the time. You have to make me, but I have kids. You can imagine, it was three hours long.(49:34) But I really wanted to be there, it was very interesting. Among other things, the performers were the Ukrainian's Children's Choir, which is called Shchedryk. And Shchedryk is named after a song called, "Shchedryk," but Shchedryk is an interesting word, because Shchedryk involves an adjective which can mean both generous and bountiful.(49:57) A person is generous, but a situation is bountiful. And that it's generous that gives me a cue, which I need to use to thank all of the Ukrainian historians and also the Ukrainian listeners. This class has turned out to have been listened to a lot of people in Ukraine. So I'm very glad that you've done so and that you've indulged my interpretations.(50:16) But the blurriness between generosity and bountiful is interesting, because it points us back to a pre-Christian era where in a pagan world where the deities are present in the world, there isn't really a line between generous and bountiful. The world is gonna be bountiful, because the deities are generous.(50:34) And that's why you perform certain rituals and that's why you celebrate the season. So that song, the (vocalizes "Carol of the Bells") that song, which we have as an American Christmas Carol, is, of course, you know where I'm going with this. It's a Ukrainian song and the reason why it's so different from all the American Christmas carols is because it arises from Ukrainian polyphonic singing.(50:58) From multi-part harmony, Ukrainian singing. And the song itself, the song that Mykola Leontovych took almost 20 years to adapt is ancient. It's ancient. And it's not about winter actually, it's actually about spring. Because if you're a pagan, I mean, if you're a sensible person actually living in the world, when does the year actually begin? It begins when things start growing out of the ground.(51:20) And it begins when the swallows come and sing. It begins when the first lambs are born, which is February or March, which is what the song is actually about. It's about those things. So this song, which was adapted and played in Carnegie Hall a century ago and then played again on Sunday, is ancient. It's pre-Christian, it goes back before 988.(51:41) It's actually about spring. It's about fertility, it's about prosperity, it's about love, it's about how things are going to get better. That part in the American version where they say at the end, "Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas," in that part of the song, in the Ukrainian version, it's actually about how your wife is beautiful.(52:01) (Timothy and students chuckling) Things are going really well for you. You're gonna make lots of money this year. The farm's going really well and by the way, your wife is beautiful. (students chuckling) And what it literally says is that she's dark-browed, which is beautiful. That's a beautiful woman in Ukraine.(52:19) It's a woman who has dark eyebrows. It's a song about spring. It's a song which we think of as about winter, which is about spring, which I close on, because I just wanna suggest that sometimes that things that seem like an end can actually be a beginning. Thanks. (students applauding) (gentle music)

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