CHUMACHENKO O. A. International scientific conference “Lithuania and Poland in 1918 from the present prospects of Central-Eastern Europe: history, politics, culture”. Report on topic: “Anti-Hetman uprising in Ukraine (14 november – 14 december 1918) fo...
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the anti-Hetman uprising that overthrew the Pavlo Skoropadsky’s regime and culminated on 14 December 1918 in the restoration of the republican rule of the Ukrainian People’s Republic. Even now Ukraine continues to defend their own right to independence and territorial integrity, and therefore it is necessary to study the experience of Ukrainian liberation struggle and analyze the lessons arising from the tragic mistakes and miscalculations of the Ukrainian public and political leaders during the Ukrainian revolution of 1917– 1921 years.
The topic of the anti-Hetman uprising in Ukraine in 1918 is rather researched1 . We consider some little-known aspects of the anti-Hetman uprising preparation following the memories of a Ukrainian social-revolutionary Mykyta Shapoval2 “The Hetmanate and the Directory. Excerpts from memories”. This manuscript is stored in the Mykyta Shapoval’s Personal Fund, transferred to Ukraine by the Czechoslovak Government after the Second World War. During the Soviet period, access to this fund was prohibited, and only after Ukraine is getting independence the fund’s documents became available for research1 . In addition, we use other M. Shapoval’s works and speeches as well as memoirs and historical researches of the Ukrainian revolution participants: V. Vynnychenko, D. Gyrsky, A. Melnyk, I. Mirchuk, P. Skoropadsky, M. Stakhov, P. Khrystyuk.
The questions to discuss are:
1) Who owns the idea of an armed uprising against the Hetman?
2) The military issue in organizing the rebellion and the role of subjective factors, in particular, M. Shapoval’s personal friendly and family ties with the military leaders;
3) Real reason that M. Shapoval was induced to refrain from membership in the Directorate after his leadership in the rebellion organizing.
The grouping of the opposition forces against Hetman
In March–April 1918, the Ukrainian Central Rada worked in the atmosphere of German occupation and already “lost” Ukrainian revolution. In the middle of April, the anticipation of a “right” danger was already apparent. The Congress of Grain-growers-Owners convened on April 29, 1918, proclaimed Pavlo Skoropadsky as the Hetman of Ukraine. From the very beginning of the Hetman Skoropadsky’s rule, the opposition against him began to emerge. In early May 1918, the Ukrainian National-State Union (UNSU) was created, which united opposition groups headed by Social-Federalist Andrew Nikovsky. In its composition, there were socialist-federalists, farmersdemocrats, socialists-independent workers. The UNSU began the struggle against Hetman and Hetman’s government as «bourgeois and non-Ukrainian». The Social Revolutionaries and the Social Democrats, who were not included in the UNSU, created their own Center of Ukrainian parties for negotiating with the Germans in order to put them to their side.
The coup d’état led to changes in the ranks of various parties, including the Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries (UPSR). At the Fourth Congress of the UPSR, which took place on May 13–16, 1918, there was a split in the party, and Mykyta Shapoval, together with Ivan Lyzanivsky and Nykyfor Hryhoryiv, established the Central Bureau of the UPSR (the so-called Central Committee). The Committee occupied the middle position between the right wing of the Socialist Revolutionaries, who stood for the political and public life democratization, and was ready to compromise with the government, and the left wing that criticized all party activities and sought an agreement with the Russian Bolsheviks.
To combine all Ukrainian parties the UNSU invited both Social Revolutionaries and Social Democrats to its membership. They accepted the invitation, but after entering the Union, according to the I. Mirchuk’s memoirs, they «brought in immediately such a party grenade and demagogy», that the initiator of the Union – the Ukrainian Democratic and Industrial Party – came out of its composition. The Union now removed the word «state» from the name, proclaimed a new appeal: «For the legitimate power in Ukraine». Now, in addition to the parties, this coordination center also included Ukrainian professional organizations – the Peasant Union, the Teachers’ Union, the Law Society, the Union of Railway Workers, the Galician-Bukovyna Council, and others. M. Shapoval later wrote: «The unification of Ukrainian political parties and public organizations in the National Union – this was the organizational form of the idea of the Ukrainian revolution». According to P. Khrystyuk’s definition, the UNU became «the center of the legal opportunist struggle of the part of the Ukrainian petty bourgeoisie and the right wing of democracy with the Hetmanate in the direction of Ukrainization and democratization of the latter».
The Ukrainian National Union, which was formed at the beginning of August 1918 by the Ukrainian political formations that opposed the Hetman, proclaimed the creating a united national democratic front and the rebirth of a sovereign Ukrainian People’s Republic as the main goal.
The UNU began its organizational work by establishing branches throughout Ukraine. Soon numerous delegations from different corners of Ukraine began to appear, arrived «to seek the truth». The Main Council of the UNU, in which M. Shapoval took a direct part, solemnly welcomed them. In his opinion, to consolidate Ukrainians in a short time helped by the UNU Statute, which «deployed in the cities of Ukraine, and had a purely national platform – the defense of independence and the national character of Ukraine».
In September 1918, V. Vynnychenko as the Social Democrats’ leader headed the UNU. M. Shapoval was elected the chairman of the military commission, and V. Vynnychenko was also the chairman of the foreign affairs committee. They worked in full agreement with each other: «... military and foreign affairs were conducted jointly». V. Vynnychenko led predominantly foreign representative activities and specifically politicized with the Germans, Hetman and Bolsheviks. Precisely at this time Hetman P. Skoropadsky, having received an instruction from Germany, took steps to reach agreement with the UNU as an organization that could not be ignored. In his memoirs, P. Skoropadsky wrote: «The Ukrainian National Union, which united all the Ukrainian parties with Vynnychenko … tortured me from morning to night». M. Shapoval lay more on internal, organizational, military, and socio-political work. M. Shapoval completely devoted himself to the work in the UNU, although he was then a member of the Directorate of the Central – the Union of Agricultural Cooperatives.
At the beginning of October 1918, the UNU was a significant force that the majority of Ukrainian parties really supported. Through its branches throughout Ukraine, the UNU had a connection with the whole country, so the Union knew about the mood of the Ukrainian people and its dissatisfaction with the existing government, which was expressed in numerous peasants’ local revolts.
In his memoirs, V. Vynnychenko claims that he owns the initiative of the uprising: “I ... offered the representatives of the parties ... to speak before the Ukrainian people as the leader of the revolution against the Hetman and the German army. Shapoval with all his loyalty and tireless energy rushed to organize the uprising”. The same conclusion can be drawn from the presentation of these events by V. Vynnychenko in the «Revival of the Nation», where he also exhibits himself as the initiator of the uprising.
According to Mykyta Shapoval, this happened in a different way. Based on his remarks, he first expressed his opinion on the uprising, relying on the real possibilities of organizing the troops, during a conversation with Andriy Makarenko, which took place a few days after the M. Shapoval arrival from Kamyanets-Podilsky on October 26. A. Makarenko was at that time a director of the commercial department in the Ministry of Railways and was very knowledgeable in railway affairs throughout Ukraine. In this conversation, he clearly outlined the state of the organization of the railway guard, headed by General Oleksandr Osetsky, which was completely separated from the gendarmerie.
When M. Shapoval asked, could it be possible to stop the movement of all the railways on a certain day, A. Makarenko answered affirmatively. Then they spoke about «the helplessness and pointlessness of all negotiations with Skoropadsky and the Germans that the Ukrainian cause could be moved only by struggle and active», and suddenly Shapoval said: «What if ... the uprising?»
Thinking that the political leadership of the uprising should take on the UNU, M. Shapoval and A. Makarenko decided that at on this stage V. Vynnychenko could be trusted. Therefore, the next day, he was kept secret about the uprising preparation, which he was very interested in. Consequently, if we believe the M. Shapoval’s memoirs, the initiator of the anti-Hetman uprising in 1918 was M. Shapoval, and not V. Vynnychenko.
M. Shapoval’s friendly and family ties with military leaders
The most important moment in organizing the uprising was, of course, a military issue. M. Shapoval and V. Vynnychenko, who continued to work in agreement with each other, relied on the military assistance of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (USR) headed by Yevhen Konovalets. On October 30, 1918, M. Shapoval met with Andriy Melnyk and Fedir Chernyak, explained them the situation, and informed the UNU decision to raise an uprising against the Hetman. As a result, they formulated the Army Council statement on participation in the people uprising, which Y. Konovalets adopted the next day. In addition, M. Shapoval secretly hid in his plan commander of the Zaporizhia Division in the Kharkiv Region Colonel Petro Bolbochan, and Commander of the Black Sea Kish Colonel Peleshchuk.
The closest assistants to O. Osetsky were Colonel V. Pavlenko – the Chief of the Guards of the Left-Bank Railways, and Colonel Khylobochenko – the Chief of the Right-bank Railways, both M. Shapoval’s longtime friends since his training at Chuhuiv Military School. M. Shapoval considered these people loyal to Ukraine. The head of the Uman Division of Guard was M. Shapoval’s brother – Colonel Oleksandr Shapoval.
The turning point
In his records M. Shapoval stresses that it is «Krasnov’s speech and the approval of Skoropadsky’s silence at their meeting in Skorokhod on November 3, 1918» was a turning point in the uprising preparation. Finally, a secret joint meeting was scheduled, to which M. Shapoval and V. Vynnychenko personally invited representatives from different parties: from the Social-Federalists – Serhiy Yefremov, Andriy Nikovsky, Kostyantyn Matsievych, from Social Democrats – V. Sadovsky, from the Peasant Union – Fedir Shvets. M. Shapoval summed up the uprising organizational and technical part, V. Vynnychenko – political part. M. Shapoval reported on the actual forces and the possibility of «quick, multi-day mobilization», ascertained what armed forces would probably have been able to dispose of the uprising. V. Vynnychenko spoke about the complexity of the situation, «hopelessness ...», and they both proved the necessity of the uprising, but received the «first defeat»: all unofficial representatives of the parties did not support the proposal. «As a result the majority of the UNU Presidium expressed against the preparation of the uprising».
After P. Skoropadsky banned the All-Ukrainian National Congress conferred by the UNU, scheduled on November 17, organizers of the armed opposition M. Shapoval and V. Vynnychenko were scheduled to «sit the full Presidium of the National Union» on November 13. On November 14, 1918, when the Hetman issued a «Letter» announcing a new Cabinet under the leadership of right conservator Serhiy Herbel, the UNU leaders realized that it was time for the uprising. Therefore, on that day, a meeting of the UNU Main Council attended by the newly released prisoners Symon Petliura and A. Makarenko was held. The next day, November 15, M. Shapoval and V. Vynnychenko informed UNU Presidium about the uprising. In addition, a conspiring meeting of the UNU Presidium with the troops’ leaders was held.
Why M. Shapoval was not a member of Directory?
After Pavlo Skoropadsky’s 14 November 1918 proclamation of the Ukraine federation with Russia, the Directorate (the “Directory”), appointed on the eve by the UNU, began an anti-Hetman uprising.
V. Vynnychenko and M. Shapoval invented the name «Directorate» earlier during nighttime concealment. They took it from a historical analogy: «As the Directorate’s regime in France ended the system of dictatorial terror and impunity, the new Directory of the Ukrainian People’s Republic was supposed to end the regime of the Moscow Cabinet in Ukraine». V. Vynnychenko as one of the antiHetman uprising leaders joined the Directorate together with S. Petliura, F. Shvets, A. Makarenko and P. Andrievsky.
Surprisingly, M. Shapoval, the organizer and leader of the uprising, did not enter into its composition. During the meeting, he himself argued his refusal to be incapable of such a role, which «requires a great and constant strain of will» and he «was extremely tired for two months». He also whispered to О. Yanko that if he enter the Directory, the Germans will accuse it in Bolshevism because he has had a «Bolshevik reputation» since 1917. Later M. Shapoval in his memoir will sound a completely different reason – his personal confrontation with S. Petliura since the time of the Central Rada. In 1919 M. Shapoval acknowledged the appointment of Petliura to the Directory as a mistake.
Shortly before his death in 1932 M. Shapoval in his speech in Prague on the Anniversary of the Ukraine’s Unity, revealed a true reason, and it was «not the person of Symon Petliura, but one V. Vynnychenko’s step» through which the uprising leaders quarreled. Although they continued to work together, between them «a black wall of alienation arose». A week before the Directorate’s election, V. Vynnychenko informed M. Shapoval that he secretly negotiated with the Russian Bolshevik Dmytro Manuilsky, who offered financial (3 million rubles) and people assistance to carry out the uprising in exchange for the permission of the Bolsheviks party legal activity on the territory of Ukraine. M. Shapoval recalls that V. Vynnychenko agreed to take money and offered him to do it. M. Shapoval «categorically deny the idea of the Bolsheviks assistance because such a step could lead to the loss of all the achievements of the Ukrainian revolution and the authority of its leaders».
On November 15, 1918, the Directory went to Bila Tserkva, and when it returned to Kyiv on December 18, 1918, M. Shapoval, as the head of the UNU, transferred the revolutionary government from the UNU to the Directory. With the end of the uprising, the consolidation period of the Ukrainian democratic forces ended, because the political parties that were part of the UNU and rallied around the Directory had a common goal – the struggle against the Hetman regime. On other issues, their positions often differed, and in finding compromise solutions, the political parties and leaders began to figure out their relations again. Ukraine at that time was not destined to elect a power through elections. The sad outcome of the Ukrainian war of independence (1917–1921) is well known – none of the political forces has succeeded in preserving state independence.