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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Ukraine Under Communism

The communists also dissolved the existing political parties, terminated the functioning of the “Prosvita” (Enlightenment), dissolved the Shevchenko Scientific Society and other civic organizations. Simultaneously they began to arrest civic and political leaders as well as members of the Ukrainian Organization of Nationalists (OUN), who were condemned to various terms of imprisonment.

As a result of the Soviet repression, the Ukrainians looked with some hope to the Germans when the Nazi-Soviet war began on June 22, 1941. Germany, however, did not want to commit themselves regarding the future of Ukraine. The OUN leadership, therefore, decided to place the Germans before an accomplished fact by proclaiming the renewal of an independent Ukrainian state as soon as the German Army entered Lviv, the capital of Western Ukraine.

The OUN accomplished their objective – on June 30,1941 Yaroslav Stetsko, the deputy of Stepan Bandera, proclaimed the renewal of the Ukrainian state. In response, the Germans arrested Bandera, Stetsko and other members of the OUN leadership ultimately sending them to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, where they were kept till the end of October 1944. This action inspired OUN to organize a significant underground movement as well as the Ukrainian Insurgent Army UPA. The Ukrainians now had two principal enemies --- the Bolsheviks and the Nazis. By the end of October 1944 the Germans were out of Ukraine and the communists were back as the rulers.
The only significant opposition was the OUN and the UPA. The struggle was so intense that in some regions it had the characteristic of civil war with great losses to the population. One report states that by January 1,1946 some 443,960 people were detained, arrested, executed and otherwise punished. These repressive operations, primarily by KGB, continued into 1950’s.

One of the most tragic blows against Western Ukraine was Stalin’s decision to liquidate the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the central social, cultural and national institution. The death of Metropolitan Sheptytsky on November 1,1944, just as the Soviets returned to Lviv, played into their hands – the keeper of the nation had passed away.

To weaken the church structure, the communists arrested Sheptytsky’s successor, Metropolitan Yosyph Slipyi and sent him to Siberia, where he remained a prisoner for 18 years. The communists also arrested 10 bishops – all of whom perished in forced labor camps in Siberia. Bishop T. Romzha was poisoned by the KGB. As the KGB terrorized the church hierarchy, a group of priests were persuaded, or perhaps frightened into joining a pro-Soviet clique, which called a synod, that proclaimed the dissolution of the union with Rome and a “reunion” of the Greek Catholic Church with the Moscow Patriarchate. Some, however, remained faithful to the Greek Catholic Church and practiced their religion in the underground.

After Stalin’s death in March 1953 mass terrorism in Ukraine came to an end. Khrushchev inaugurated a new era. The unpopular First Secretary of the Communist party Leonid Melnikov was replaced by Oleksiy Kyrychenko, the first Ukrainian in that position. Khrushchev’s “secret speech” in 1956, which characterized Stalin’s rule as terrorism, encouraged artists, writers, scholars and professionals to stand up for individual and national rights.
The first questions were in defense of the Ukrainian language and Ukrainian history. The Ukrainian Academy announced in November 1957 that it decided to publish a journal dedicated to Ukrainian history. Demands for reform of history courses in Ukrainian schools appeared in the official organ of the Ministry of Education. The Khrushchev “thaw” provided a limited opportunity to oppose Moscow’s policy of Russification.

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Location:  Eastern Europe
Capital:  Kyiv
Communist Rule:  1922-1991
Status:  Independence: 24.08.91
Victims of Communism: