An Anti-Soviet book
Sergiy Bilokin. ‘Mass terror as a way of state administration in the USSR (1917 – 1941), Kyiv, the Petro Mogyla Kyivan Scientific Union, 1999, 448 pp. (in Ukrainian).
Vasyl Ovsienko, Kyiv
The book is dedicated to the memory of people who became victims of the criminal state system. ‘Several my good friends, — as Bilokin writes, ‘were killed in different years. The life of many my friends were shortened for the guilt of reading and distributing books, the books read and distributed by all. This was the work of the known organization, which seems to disappear. This organization by its crimes against those who were close to me, by its brutality, with which it treated myself, became my personal enemy.
This book is really anti-Soviet and anti-Communist — in the Soviet times there followed cruel repressive measures for a little piece of such truth.
Bilokin avoids emotions, each opinion of his is linked to a concrete fact. The book has 2,400 references to genuine documents. He avoids retelling the sources, he gives them verbatim, with all mistakes. He avoids to translate the Russian terminology into Ukrainian, the repressive bodies are the GPU, NKVD, KGB. Like a real scientist Bilokin investigates the object — the mechanism of destroying people — with scientific pedantry. When a reader studies the parts ‘Selection of people for the future society (pp. 147 – 156), ‘Liquidation of classification (pp. 156 – 160) and a further part (pp. 346 – 359), the reader learns about the level of the people, who conducted the terror, he begins to suspect that the sophisticated theory of destroying people was not created by them, it somehow came from Satan.
Sergiy Bilokin is a candidate of philological sciences (since 1978) and he is well known in Ukrainian scholarly circles. Starting since 1969 Bilokin has published some essays about the repressed figures of the Ukrainian culture: Stepan Taranushenko, Mykhaylo Boychuk, Ludmila Starytska-Cherniakhivska, Fedor Ernst, Vasyl Bazylevich, Veronika Cherniakhivska and others. After the defeat of the putsch, when the KGB archives were partly opened, Bilokin studied about fifteen hundred of KGB files, protocols of Political Bureau of the Communist party of Ukraine, many memories of the repressed. At the presentation of the book reviewed the author said with a note of triumph that in the battle with those in charge of the USS (being the successor of the KGB) archives he won, but his victory was very uneasy.
Only a part of the archives are opened now, one may receive the files of those repressed, who later were rehabilitated. The protocols of the ODA are still secret, although they lost their significance long ago. It was clearly seen when the USS published the ODA files in the cases of M. Grushevskiy and O. Dovzhenko. Until now there is no law which states the term of secrecy for such archives. Everything depends on the whim of the bureaucrat in charge. Sometimes the reader of the archive file is warned up to which page he is permitted to read the materials. Two months ago the author of this note went to the former party archive, and the man in charge of the reading hall said with satisfaction: ‘And now this fund has become forbidden.
Machinations around the archives of the KGB began in mid-fifties. In his report at the XX Congress of the Communist party Khrushchev said much about the unjust repression of the ‘honest communists Rudzutak, Eiche, Tukhachevsky, but he said nothing about the method of building collective farms, extermination of peasants and culture figures, writers, priests.
In mid-fifties a wave of rehabilitation started. Such bandits were rehabilitated as Tukhachevsky (he had fought against the peasants in the Tambov oblast and applied chemical gases). Another rehabilitated ‘angel was Zatonskiy, who had introduced the ‘collective responsibility, when for real or imaginative crimes not only that who committed the crime was punished, but many people from his environment. By the names of rehabilitated executioners like Uritskiy, Postyshev, Kosior, Vorovskiy, Frunze, Kotovskiy, Artem, Petrovskiy the streets were called and monuments erected. During this rehabilitation widows of some repressed writers were rehabilitated too (Zerov, Kulish, Kurbas). But they were rehabilitated as ‘honest communists. Those who wore the label ‘nationalist were not rehabilitated.
Bilokin analyzed the cases of some rehabilitated KGB-men. Before they themselves were repressed, they had destroyed very many innocent people. So the power rehabilitated both criminals and their victims. The criminals are being rehabilitated even now. On p. 367 of Bilokins book the photo of the document is shown, issued in 1997 (with the Ukrainian trident!) about the rehabilitation of Sergiy Pustovoytov, who before his arrest in July 1937 had been the head of an NKVD department. He was shot, but before he headed a factory of faked information against Ukrainian intelligentsia.
The main idea of the book is to refute the idea in the modern history that only one person — Stalin — is guilty in all the crimes. In the times of Gorbachevs glasnost they wrote that Stalin was psychically ill and that the tops of repressions in the USSR were caused by the virulent periods of his disease. Such theoreticians admitted that if instead of Stalin the country had been governed by Kamenev or Kirov, then the repressions would not have happened. During the recent election campaign we were persuaded that present communists are quite different, but in truth the communist ideology whenever and wherever it is applied predetermines the extermination of a sizeable part of the population, unsuitable for building communism.
‘German occupants, — said Bilokin at the presentation of his book, ‘could surround a block in a town, gather all the inhabitants and shoot down every tenth: it was a very primitive terror. Russian revolutionaries in the czarist times cherished the idea to exterminate all the people older than 25 years of age, as carriers of incorrect ideology. Their successors, bolsheviks, had a more reasonable plan based on the profound Marxist-Leninist theory of class struggle. They acted in two directions: 1) to form a new breed of people — builders of communism; 2) to liquidate that part of the population, which, by some or other reason, are unable to become the builders of communism.
Ukrainians with their profound religious convictions, with their individualism and love to property, especially to their plot of land, were clearly the wrong material for building communism. We had to be exterminated as a nation. What would remain of the Ukrainian people had to blend with the ‘new historical community — the Soviet people, based on the Russian people, Russian language and culture. Now 38% of electors in Ukraine voted for the communist Simonenko. Up to now they have not understood that they voted for their own death. If — save God! — they got another famine and another campaign of repressions, then 99% of those who remained would vote for communism.
The author of the book reviewed investigates how since the first days of the Soviet power with the initiative and under the guidance of Lenin the administration by means of the internal passport system, filling in various questionnaires, etc. created a powerful information system, which enabled the party leaders to know all about the population. All the people had to write their biographies, fill in questionnaires with scores of questions (such as about the social origin, in which military units served, in which parties was a member and who recommended you there, if you were represses or had the repressed relatives, if you have relatives abroad and have you had hesitations in following the main party line). Having got this information the top party leadership at the proper time decided who must be liquidated.
On 2 June 1937 the most massive Ezhovs purge began. On this day the Political Bureau of the Communist party approved document Ï 51/94 ‘About anti-Soviet elements. The operation started by the order of the NKVD No. 00447 on 5 August 1937 and lasted to 15 November 1938. Every republic, oblast or district received limits for the number of the repressed divided in two categories (I. To be shot, II. To be incarcerated, with the ratio 3:1). The receivers of this plan started the socialist competition for overfulfillment of the plans. So, the Peoples Commissar of Internal Affairs of Ukraine I. Leplewski three times requested the centre to increase the limits.
Ukrainian national aristocracy, as a class, had been destroyed by 1925. The best part of the Ukrainian peasantry had been destroyed by the famine and exiles to the Siberia, which dealt the mortal blow to the Ukrainian grain-growing culture. The Ukrainian clergy was fully liquidated. All members of the Central Rada, all members of Ukrainian public organizations and parties (including the Ukrainian communist party) were liquidated as well. Almost all the members of the union of Ukrainian writers were exterminated too (from 200 in 1934 only 36 remained in 1939). In the purges of late 30s all the rest of the Ukrainian population, layer by layer, was combed. As a result the communists exterminated the best, the most active, the most educated, the most productive part of the Ukrainian people. For further breeding they left the most obedient, which they interbred with the imported aggressive, godless population using Russian bad language. Only in 1934 about 240 thousand families from Russia were transferred to villages of Eastern Ukraine devastated by the famine. Walk in the central Pechersky district of Kyiv. It is almost completely populated by offsprings of NKVD-men and occupants brought here ‘to Russify the land. Here, during the 1998 election, a Russian communist (enemy of the Ukrainian independence) nearly got to the Supreme Rada of Ukraine.
‘The bond of times is lost, — Bilokin writes. ‘Many features of our time do not follow from the previous culture of the Ukrainian people. Bolsheviks severed the historic links. No modern Ukrainian minister, no ambassador in other countries, no manager of a plant are offsprings of Hetman Myhailo Hanenko, Count Grigoriy Miloradovich, Colonel Martyn Nebaba. Nowadays people know two, maximum three, generations of their ancestors. No family lives in the same house more than 80 years. All lost their nests, no one has at home things older than their grandparents. All had been robbed, destroyed or got lost during the last war. The roots have been cut, the soul of the nation has been raped (p. 14).
That was the way how the ‘indivisible Soviet people was created. Do we like it or not, it existed and still exists. That is why our communists do not consider us as the Ukrainian people, only as the people of Ukraine. We really are a gravely ill society glued from the fragments of exterminated classes. Our society is marginal, it has no national spine. Self-conscious Ukrainians do not make its skeleton. The richest owners in our country are not Ukrainians (there was one, but now he stays in an American prison). The best culture and education are not Ukrainian. Main mass media are not Ukrainian. On the great part of our land, including the capital, one need courage and psychological efforts to speak Ukrainian.
The time has come to analyze the situation objectively, in a scientific way. It is time to understand why happened what has happened and who is guilty. It must be done not for the purpose settle accounts with our neighbors, close and distant, it must be done in order to understand which relations must be established for future. I think that our neighbors at least during nearest 50 years will be approximately such as in the past 500 years. The present explosion of the militarist psychosis in Russia in connection with Chechnya is the confirmation. We shall have Russia as a normal neighbor not very soon. And when the Russian Empire collapses, the Russians will not forget the syndrome of the imperial grandeur very soon.
Let us look into the document ‘The personnel of the NKVD for 1937 (pp. 346 – 559). We shall see that almost all command of all levels consisted of Jews. On the other book (‘The last address. The 60 thanniversary of the Solovky tragedy. Volume 2, Kyiv: Sfera publishers, 1998, p. 14) we read that in 1935 40% of the Ukrainian NKVD personnel were Jews, whereas in 1940 it was only 4%. They were also exterminated, after they exterminated the best Ukrainians.
And now from the remains of the human mass of not the best quality we have to sculpt a modern European nation.
We shall need for this many decades. The God Almighty caught us falling to the precipice and gave us a slim chance. If the independence had been given to us 15 — 20 years later, then it would have been unneeded (as in the Belarus case). But we must remember that God is angry with the lazy. So in order to resurrect the people we need super-efforts of several generations of the Ukrainian elite, which is just being shaped now.
As a former teacher I assess the book of Sergiy Bilokin as excellent. Its publication is an important event. The time has come to comprehend what has happened during the social and cultural catastrophe which our people survived. In spite of the small run (500 copies) the fundamental investigation by Bilokin soon will become a foundation stone in building the ideology of Ukrainian elite. The author, understandingly wants to continue his work in the archives, but I would advise him to spare some time for a cycle of radio transmissions and try to come to TV.