The Ukrainians that aren’t mentioned

From the film The Ukrainian Labour Temple: A Cultural and Political Movement from Winnipeg’s North End (2012), directed by Aaron Floresco. Photo: Canadian Dimension

The corporate media claim that all Ukrainians support President Zelenskyy, who has banned most political parties except his own and the far-right. These news outlets also whitewash the fascist gangs―integrated into the Ukrainian army―that engage in torture.

The sleazy London Daily Mail even mourned the death of Maksym Kagal, a member of the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion.

The real history of Ukraine includes a rich revolutionary tradition both in Europe and North America. Even the anti-communist “Encyclopedia of Ukraine” admits that 4.5 million Ukrainians were members of the Red Army that defeated Hitler.

Around 1.7 million Ukrainians earned medals for bravery. Over a million died in combat or were murdered in concentration camps.

One of the many sheroes was Lyudmila Pavlichenko, who was born near Kiev. She was the most successful woman sniper in history with 309 confirmed kills. Among them were 36 enemy snipers.

Pavlichenko was decorated as a Hero of the Soviet Union and made a tour of the United States. She spoke of how the Red Army was made of many nationalities on the basis of equality.

In contrast, the Jim Crow U.S. Army was so racist that even the blood supply was segregated. The folk singer Woody Guthrie wrote a song about  Pavlichenko

Oleksiy Fedorov was born in a Ukrainian peasant family. Federov was an outstanding leader of the partisan units that fought behind Nazi lines. 

By 1943 Federov led 12 guerrilla groups that included 5,462 fighters. They engaged in 158 major battles with the fascists, derailing 8,675 armored trains and blowing up 47 bridges.

Federov became a major-general and was one of only two partisan leaders to be awarded the Hero of the Soviet Union medal twice.

Another partisan leader who became a Hero of the Soviet Union was Pyotr Vershigora. He was a son of two Ukrainian teachers.

Ace fighter pilot Ivan Kozhedub shot down 62 Nazi aircraft. The son of Ukrainian parents, he was made a Hero of the Soviet Union three times.

Kozhedub became the first Soviet pilot to shoot down a Nazi Me-262 jet fighter. He later commanded a Soviet Air Division along the China-Korea border during the Korean War. The National Air Force University in Kharkov, Ukraine, is named after Kozhedub.

Millions of Ukrainians revere these anti-fascist heroes. They want to put a stop to the fascist gangs that worship Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera.

Bandera’s thugs helped the Nazis kill more than a million Jewish Ukrainians as well as tens of thousands of Polish and Roma people. The current Ukrainian regime has allowed memorials to Bandera to be erected while statues commemorating the Red Army have been torn down.

Ukrainian miners vs. Mounties 

Like other immigrants from the Tsarist empire, Ukrainians joined the labor movements in both Canada and the United States.

In the early 20th century, they founded meeting halls called labor temples. The Ukrainian Labour Temple in Winnipeg, Canada, still stands, though it was raided by police during the 1919 Winnipeg general strike.

Over its entrance are two clasping hands reaching across a globe with the slogan “Workers of the World Unite.” The pro-Soviet Ukrainian Labor News was published there weekly. (Manitoba Historical Society)

Another progressive Ukrainian publication was “Robitnytsia” (“The Working Woman”). 

It was Ukrainian immigrants who were the backbone of the communist movement in Western Canada. Jeff Kochan In “Canadian Dimension” (Jan. 3, 2020) describes some of their activities:

“In 1926, Ukrainian-Canadian leftists helped to elect Canada’s first communist politician, Winnipeg alderman William Kolisnyk. Ukrainian-Canadian communists served on Winnipeg’s council well into the 1930s, much to the alarm of the Ukrainian-Canadian right.

“Historian Orest Martyowych notes that when one Ukrainian-Canadian alderman urged the city to assist Jewish refugees, he was ferociously attacked in the right-wing Ukrainian-Canadian press. Ukrainian-Canadian leftists were denounced as the useful idiots of a ‘Judeo-Bolshevik’ plot.”

It’s the political descendants of these fascists who support the Azov Battalion and the Right Sector today.

Following the Bolshevik Revolution, the Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA) founded 25 branches in Saskatchewan alone. (Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan)

This association supported the 1931 coal miners’ strike in Bienfait, Saskatchewan. The workers were organized by the Workers Unity League, which was led by Communist Party members.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police killed three of these strikers on Sept. 29, 1931, in nearby Estevan. The inscription “Murdered by RCMP” is on their tombstones. Many more workers were wounded or arrested.

The Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association was shut down by the Mounties in January 1940. The Association of United Ukrainian Canadians continues the ULFTA’s progressive work.

This is the real tradition of Ukrainian working people.

Join the Struggle-La Lucha Telegram channel