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Zero Point Ukraine Part 5: New Ukrainian diasporas across the world

Book highlight from “Zero Point Ukraine” by Olena Stiazhkina

Part 1 of “Zero Point Ukraine” highlight from the chapter entitled  “Unexpected outcome” considered the myth of the “Great Patriotic War” as the starting point for the new Russian empire. Part 2 focused on Ukrainian resistance as the continuation of the national liberation struggle. Part 3 outlined the new international situation after WWII. Part 4 addressed the issues of new and existing Ukrainian diasporas in post-war period. Part 5 summarises post-war activity of the diaspora promoting the idea of a free Ukraine, and concludes the highlight.

Part 5

The unfinished war

The new wave of emergence and the symbolic growth of Ukrainian diasporas in the Western world had other implications as it was based on a paradigm of the unfinished war—unfinished, that is, for Ukraine. For a significant number of Ukrainians, “to be Ukrainian” in Europe, US, and Canada meant to live and act for future victory. This intention, surprisingly, corresponded to the motives for survival of Ukrainians in the Soviet camps. Despite the fact that life was completely different in the free world, and the temptation to assimilate and lose self-awareness were high, members of the Ukrainian diaspora institutionalized and developed their science and culture, systematically placing the Ukrainian question on the global agenda. In 1945, the Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences (UVAN) was founded in Germany, in 1949 it was moved to Winnipeg (Canada).  In 1950, a branch of the Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences opened in the US, later on in Great Britain and Australia. The Ukrainian Institute of America, founded in 1948, became a significant achievement of the Ukrainian community in the United States.

New emigrants, comprised mainly of DPs— displaced persons—originally from Western Ukraine, OUN members, UPA fighters, Ostarbeiters, prisoners of war—made a powerful political impact on the existing Ukrainian diaspora, primarily in the Americas. Discord among the first wave of emigration—those who supported the idea of Ukrainian independence, “socialists,” “national-communists,” true “supporters” of the USSR—was still ongoing. New additions to the movement initiated and organized efforts to consolidate, aimed at saving Ukraine from the Soviet perpetrators. This second wave of emigration produced, for instance, such new organizations as the Canadian League for the Liberation of Ukraine (1949), Plast scout organization (1948) in Canada. In Argentina, there was the Ukrainian Club (1947), the Union of Ukrainian Women (1948), Plast Ukrainian Youth Association (1949), the Organization of Ukrainian Youth (1950), the Fraternity of Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (1950), the Brotherhood of Former Soldiers of the First Ukrainian Division of the Ukrainian National Army (1951), etc. Most important, this post-traumatic post-war activity of the diaspora did not cease in the subsequent years: the social efforts of Ukrainians and the interest of the free world in victory over the USSR made the Ukrainian diaspora an important factor of preservation and promotion of the idea of a free Ukraine. The diaspora became a political guardian for those who continued to fight within the borders of the USSR, a symbolic guarantor of the world’s solidarity with Ukraine. Church communities formed around the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church played the same role. They united North and South America, the Vatican, Europe and those parishioners of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church who secretly adhered to their faith in Soviet Ukraine.

During the following decades, this unexpected aftermath of war became evident not only to the Soviet regime, which fiercely fought so-called “Ukrainian bourgeois nationalism.” The severe and exceptional consequences for Ukraine were reflected even at the level of public awareness, e.g. in the popular joke. “Which country is the largest? Ukraine. Its borders are in the Carpathians, its capital is in Moscow, its prisons are in Siberia, its churches are in Canada.”


15 Vasyl Pliushch, “Korotkyi narys istorii Ukrainskoi Vilnoi Akademii Nauk u Nimechchyni” [A short outline of the history of the Ukrainian Free Academy of Sciences in Germany], Ukrainski naukovi visti. Informatsiino-naukovyi Biuleten Ukrainskoi Vilnoi Akademii Nauk u Nimechchyni, no. 1–2 (August, 1970; January, 1971): 5–31.

16 For details see Tetiana Plazova, “Diialnist naukovykh ta osvitno-vykhovnykh oseredkiv ukrainskoi diaspory u povoienni roky” [Activity of the scientific and educational cores of the Ukrainian diaspora in the post-war years], Ukrainska natsionalna ideia: realii ta perspektyvy rozvytku 25 (2013): 148, .

17 On establishing information connections see: Svitlana Hurkina, “Hreko-katolytske dukhovenstvo Lvivskoi arkhyieparkhii v umovakh peresliduvannia radianskoiu vladoiu (1944–1950 rr.)” [Greek Catholic clergy of the Lviv Archdiocese under persecution by the Soviet power (1944–1950)], PhD. Diss. (Ivan Franko National University of Lviv, 2012), 158–159. Also: Bohdan R. Bociurkiw, “Religion and Atheism in Soviet Society,” in Richard H. Marshall, Jr., ed., Aspects of Religion in the Soviet Union, 1917–1967 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971); Natalia Shlikhta, Tserkva tykh, khto vyzhyv. Radianska Ukraina, seredyna 1940-kh – pochatok 1970-kh rr. [The church of those who survived. Soviet Ukraine, mid-1940s through the early 1970s], (Kharkiv: Akta, 2011), 468.

18 Oleksandr Shutiuk, “Vytok spirali” [A turn of a spiral], Livejournal, January 17, 2014, .

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Professor Dr. Olena Stiazhkina studied history at Donetsk National University. Since 2016 she is Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Ukrainian History in the second half of the XX century at the Institute of History of Ukraine at the National Academy of Science of Ukraine. Previously, she completed an internship at the Institute for Human Sciences (IWM, Austria) and held a professorship at the Department of Slavs’ History at the Vasyl Stus Donetsk National University (Ukraine).

Olena Stiazhkina is a member of the Ukrainian Oral History Association, the Ukrainian Association of Research in Women’s History, and the PEN Club Ukraine. Her previous books include Women in the history of Ukrainian Culture in the Second Half of the 20th Century (Donetsk: Skhidny Vydavnychy Dim, 2002), Gender Relations in a Modern Society (Donetsk: Skhidny Vydavnychy Dim, 2006), A Person in the Soviet Province: Evolution of Failure (Donetsk: Noulidzh, 2013), Stigma of Occupation: Soviet Women of the 1940s in Self-Vision (Kyiv, Dukh I Litera). Her papers have been published by, among other outlets, Indiana Press, University of Tulsa, Istorychni i politologichni doslidzhennia, Nauka. Relihiya. Suspilstvo.

HOW TO ORDER You can order “Zero Point Ukraine” here


Olena Stiazhkina’s book is Volume 10 in the “Ukrainian Voices” book series.

The “Ukrainian Voices” book series includes English- and German-language monographs, edited volumes, document collections and anthologies of articles authored and composed by Ukrainian politicians, intellectuals, activists, officials, researchers, entrepreneurs, artists, and diplomats.

The series aims to introduce Western and broader audiences to Ukrainian explorations and interpretations of historic and current domestic as well as international affairs.

The purpose of these books is to familiarise non-Ukrainian readers with how some prominent Ukrainians approach, research and assess their country’s development and position in the world. The series was founded in 2019, and the volumes are collected by Andreas Umland.

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