Ukraine’s Soviet Schism Narrowing

KIEV, Ukraine -- The Soviet epoch was a kind of civil war for Ukraine. It was a war waged against those who remembered. The official history was edited. People were afraid, even privately, to talk about themselves or their relatives.

1917-1991 Ukrainian SSR flag (L) and coat of arms (R)

The victors get to write history, not the defeated. But is a new 'victor' now rising from the ashes?

During Soviet times, family photos were burned. People were reluctant to reveal the names of their relatives, so that nobody would find out.

A whole generation of people grew up under severe censorship of memory. They knew nothing of the past and knew only of the present.

One old saying goes: If you want to defeat your enemy, then bring up his children. The Ukrainian nation occupied itself, having surrendered to the Russian empire. A new kind of society was formed.

The fact that the Ukrainian language is not the mother tongue of half of Ukrainian citizens, and that Ukrainian culture is foreign for many of the people here is the result of Soviet occupation.

Mea culpa

The hopelessness and provincialism of life in Ukraine forced the ambitious and talented to migrate to big cities. Their talents served the empire.

For instance, the international community does not know that the baroquecomposers Berezovsky and Bortnyansky were Ukrainian. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, they were Russians, like all people living in the USSR.

All athletes who represented the Soviet Union in international competitions were also considered to be Russians. The price of collaboration for Ukrainians was the impossibility of breaking ranks from the empire.

This was true of Ukrainians from Bezborodko and Gogol to Khrushchev and Ivashko. The empire became the flesh and blood of many Ukrainians. To deny the empire meant to denounce one’s self.

It's an interesting fact that millions of Ukrainians were born in the USSR.

They had no other choice as to their place of birth at the time, as there was no independent Ukraine. They knew nothing of their past. They had no alternative reality.

The daily routine swallowed them up. Of course, the Soviet system had its positive moments: a more or less happy childhood, slowly improving living conditions, one's own cultural and social life.

People could not live in a totally artificial environment, after all, so there had to be some positive things, for which the empire, of course, took all the credit.

There were some other advantages, too, such as being able to travel acros the entire breadth of the Soviet Union without crossing any border, or being able to enjoy certain perks if you served in the army.

Indeed, there were honestly deserved awards boldly engraved with communist symbols. In this way, normal human achievements were merged inextricably with the propaganda. In this way, the USSR made every citizen's life a mere profile.

Quo vadis?

So what is the conclusion here? We need to separate the honor, industry and talent of ordinary people living in the Soviet Union from the evil of the Soviet empire, because these people would have acted equally honorably, industriously and with talent under any system.

They simply fulfilled their duties as parents, friends, professionals and citizens.

But their good deeds must not stand alongside the Holodomor of the 1930s, the mass repressions of the 1930s and 1950s, the war in Afghanistan and the Chornobyl disaster of the 1980s.

On the other hand, for those ardent supporters of the USSR, for those who believed the Soviet propaganda or who used to work in the Soviet bureaucratic machine, with all its privileges, the memories are different.

They will die thinking of the empire. Soviet patriotism is nevertheless as doomed as the Nazi ideology, which is now only history.

A viable system cannot be half-criminal. However, we must not forget about all the decent people when criticizing the Soviet system. For instance, Germany cannot be a synonym for Nazism.

Many decent people lived in Nazi Germany, who were opposed to Nazism.

These people baked bread, tilled the ground, made clothes, conducted business, wrote books and taught children. These honest people were not taken in by Hitler. The system they lived in is not the final judgment for them.

We ordinary Ukrainians did not have much of an effect on the decision-makingprocess of the Soviet imperial monster. We did not choose its negative communist ideas.

These ideas were imposed on us. We had no choice. That is why I call the Soviet Union a spiritual occupation of my country.

The participation of Ukrainians in the management of the local governments and some branches of the central executive is no reason to refer to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic of Ukraine.

Everything that was Ukrainian in the system was rather incidental to it. But, thankfully, nobody calls Ukraine the Ukrainian SSR anymore. This name is now seen as even more fictitious than other Soviet myths.

It only exists in post-Soviet memory. There is only the former USSR, without much mention of Ukraine as a distinct part of it.

We must recognize the Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic as a false otherland, which replaced and served as a substitute for our true Motherland – an Independent Ukraine.

The half-true Soviet Ukraine is an absolute lie in fact. By rebuilding our consciousness, we can rebuild our nation.

Now, we have a Ukrainian state. Despite its Soviet era, which has not yet been fully digested by Ukrainian history, Ukraine will be an independent country free of its colonial past.

Source: Kyiv Post


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