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Letter to Gareth from Russian emigré A.V. Baikalov
baikalov letter

Although the Gareth Jones Society does not yet have access to Gareth's letter to Mr Baikalov, we do have his reply to Gareth. It is undated, but is probably from the Summer of 1933, and is viewable from the link above. As well as giving an insight into the wishful thinking of a Russian diaspora imperialist in the 1930s, Baikalov also writes in it of his view that Gareth’s “assumption that the famine has increased nationalist feelings amongst the Ukrainians and other minor nationalities is wrong and cannot be justified by facts”. These words indicate that Gareth’s view was that, rather than dousing the flames of nationalism, as today some argue was Stalin’s aim, the famine was actually feeding them. In other words the famine was adding to, rather than destroying, a national idea that was already growing as an unintended consequence of the Ukrainization policy pursued by the Bolsheviks in the 1920’s. When Gareth wrote a paper on Poland’s Foreign Relations in March 1931 he wasn’t to know that Stalin’s recognition of that consequence meant that Russification was now in the saddle and the earlier policy had already begun to volte-face.


Writing in that paper in reference to the 1930 harsh ‘Polish pacification’ of Ukrainians in Eastern Galicia, which he believed was brought about through ‘provocation’ by Ukrainian nationalists, Gareth was still able to write that, in contrast,...  “On the Soviet side of the frontier [from Poland], although any Anti-Communist independence movement is instantly crushed, every effort is made to encourage the Ukrainian language, literature, schools and art”. Despite the “brutality” of the Polish troops sent to pacify the region, Gareth has some sympathy for the Polish Government and blames Ukrainian elements for bringing about a robust state response due to “serious provocations”. 


Those provocations had come the previous Autumn when the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, lead by Yevhen Konovalets, “started on a campaign which led to the burning of cottages and barns”. Future leader Stepan Bandera had just become a member and may well have taken part. Gareth’s condemnation of the actions of the OUN were in keeping with his pacifist outlook and aversion to terrorism.  It should be pointed out that at the time Gareth was not aware of the OUN and mistakenly wrote that the ‘pacification provocateurs’ were the Ukraine Military Organisation (UVO), an outfit he described as “working by illegal means for independence” and of being (correctly) “accused of receiving funds from Berlin”. The UVO had become the first rung on Bandera’s careerterror ladder when he joined them in 1927 before stepping up two years later to Konovalet’s OUN.


In the same paper Gareth also wrote about “the other main Ukrainian party, the UNDO.” whose aim was “also an independent Ukrainian state”. Unlike the OUN however the Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (UNDO) had a democratic, Soviet-friendly, inclusive ideology which opposed anti-Semitism. As such they were a threat to the aims of the OUN, particularly by their planned participation in Pilsudski's 1930 Polish elections. Such creeping political compromise with, and accommodation of, Polish rule by Ukrainian society had to be opposed. And the OUN carried out that opposition with classic terrorist tactics. Using the terror and sabotage that Gareth described, against Poles as well as moderate Ukrainians, the OUN successfully provoked the authorities into a reaction so extreme that it alienated those Ukrainians who had hitherto been willing to make peace with President Pilsudski’s Polish state. Some 40 years later similar tactics were employed by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhof but, unlike the OUN in 1930, the RAF did not then meet with the same success. Such tactics are still in use, not always unsuccessfully, today.


Gareth’s views on Ukrainian nationalism evolved over time. After his March 1933 walk through Russia and Ukraine they were definitely influenced by those of Consul Karl Walther from the German Consulate in Kharkov. Walther was considered something of an expert on Ukrainian nationalism at the time. Gareth’s notes of his conversations with Walther on the subject can be found in the third of his 1933 Soviet diaries.


Orest Subtelny in his ‘Observing the famine of 1933: the Reports of German Diplomats, writes...


<Walther stated that in view of the growing dissatisfaction in Ukraine, the Communist Party was looking for scapegoats. In this connection, he pointed out that Jews, who were particularly numerous in Ukraine, occupied the highest positions everywhere and were generally hated. Their instinct for self-preservation pitted them against the national movement and separatism. It also seemed to Walther that the ruthless struggle against separatist tendencies was actually a diversionary tactic and that under the cover of attacking the nationalists and their alleged foreign supporters, the Party was actually preparing for an anti-Soviet backlash. This view was supported by Hencke in Kiev. He reported that many Ukrainians actually wished for a deepening of the crisis in hopes that this might lead to a Bolshevik collapse. Certainly in the countryside, anti-Soviet feeling was so high that Party members armed themselves for safety's sake and feared to venture from their homes. 

There was, in the view of the Germans, a direct connection between the Famine of 1933 and the so-called "Ukrainian Question. Hencke reported that:

“The development of the Ukrainian Question during this year can only be viewed in connection with the Famine. Due to this catastrophe, for which the population holds Moscow and its policies responsible, the old gap between the independence-minded Ukrainians and the unitarianism of Moscow must naturally become greater. A characteristic reflection of the mood of the population is the very widespread view that the Soviet regime encouraged the spread of the Famine in order to bring the Ukrainians to their knees.”> 

It is intended that in time, and after further research, a more comprehensive, and coherent, analysis of Gareth's views on the subject of Ukrainian nationalism will appear on this page.


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