The Danger of History Repeating Itself – Free Ukraine is Vital for Humanity
More and more nowadays there are abundant examples of history repeating itself to the detriment of maltreated nations. Someone, sometime, somewhere did not heed the pleas of the downtrodden, the stateless, the captive nations that it is incumbent upon leaders of the free world, which emerged victorious from a global conflagration, to defend their interests as independent states or else their opponents or even the vanquished will arise again to wage barbaric, imperialistic wars.
That was the premise of launching The Torn Curtain 1991 a decade ago. By 1991 the captive nations of Russian subjugation had declared their independence and it seemed as if the world would be a better place. However, peace and security were not to be had. Moscow, undaunted, immediately resumed its aggressive nature and trolled for new and old victims. Even though Kyiv was liberated, Ukraine would not enjoy independence because Russia, itself, was not defeated and worst of all continued to enjoy at least the passive favor of many countries and institutions.
After the Second World War, representatives of the national liberation movements that sadly fell on the wrong side of the new demarcating line – the Iron Curtain, warned the free world leaders in Washington and London about the dangers of Moscow’s ongoing belligerence. Nazi German capitulation and peace in Europe would not keep Russia from restarting its conquests and replacing Berlin’s subjugation with its own. Since then, throughout the Cold War and today – the post-Soviet era, the free world was cautioned that Moscow would unleash its army against freedom-living peoples in Eastern Europe. The newly independent countries’ experience-based advice was belittled to say the least. And then February 24, 2022, dawned on Ukraine and the staggered world.
Among the many scholars who advised the free world about what it should do to keep Moscow at least in check was Prof. Alexander Granovsky (1887-1976) of the University of Minnesota. In his article in the February 1945 edition of The Ukrainian Quarterly, Granovsky wrote that the free world should consciously support the post-war development of the stateless nations that would keep future Nazi Germanys from raising their heads while subduing Russia’s aggressive appetite. Furthermore, he stated, a free Ukraine is vital to preserving lasting peace. Indeed, it took just 77 years for war to return to Eastern Europe; for Russia to re-ignite its war against Ukraine.
The Ukrainian nation, even before the war, had already voiced its desire to establish an independent state and live free of foreign intervention and occupation. Granovsky wrote: “It should not be forgotten that at the very beginning of the present war, at the time of the partition of Poland, according to the honeymoon pact between Hitler and Stalin, in the first few days of September 1939, the Ukrainian people again, as on many occasions before, expressed their will to freedom.”
Granovsky reminded his readers that “the acquisition of large stretches of contiguous territory, belonging to neighboring peoples, that usually cause serious disputes and political boundary troubles, with all of the attendant measures of denationalization on one side, and the breeding of resentment and opposition on the other, which often produce underground and irredentist movements and open revolts. Certainly, these abnormal phenomena only tend to disturb peace and the fragile economic and political stability of the areas involved.”
Russia and Ukraine share a long contiguous border, which Moscow has tried many times to cross with the aim of seizing the government and establishing its rule over the Ukrainian nation.
Since before the start of the war, Granovsky wrote, the “freedom-loving Ukrainians were not in the habit of bowing to aggressors and, when Hitler let his puppet Hungarian army march against Carpatho-Ukraine, the Hungarians and Hitler met with bitter armed resistance from the entire Ukrainian population of that most backward province of all the Ukrainian lands.” Note the point the writer made in referring to Hungarians as allies of Hitler. Consequently, Ukrainians before all other European nations engaged the Nazi war machine through its surrogate in battle for independence.
And then when a full-scale war erupted across Europe, “Ukrainian sympathies were on the wide of the Allies, in spite of misleading and willfully false propaganda widely circulated to the contrary. This is the reason why many prominent Ukrainian leaders in the nationalist movement were either slain by the German Gestapo and their agents, or have died in concentration camps. Scores of prominent Ukrainian nationalist leaders are now incarcerated as political offenders by the Nazis.”
While the enemies were brutal and large by comparison, Granovsky pointed out, “It has been revealed that the peoples of the Baltic States, as well as the population of Western Ukraine, recently incorporated into the Soviet Empire, made definite declarations that they would fight to the death against both German and Russian aggression and rule, rather than to submit themselves to their domination.”
For its defiance, retaliation against the Ukrainian population was swift and bloody. Many nationally conscious Ukrainian leaders were either shot or placed in concentration camps while the Ukrainian masses were herded into forced labor camps by both German and Russian aggressors of Ukrainian territory. “It is a known fact that the Government of Soviet Russia arrested thousands of Ukrainian intellectuals and leaders and exiled them into Kazakhstan and other Asiatic areas, driving out from Ukraine all constructive and creative elements. The German Nazi forces purged occupied Ukraine of all possible resistance elements, and also removed to the Reich army many thousands of able bodied Ukrainian population for forced labor. All of these measures were definitely aimed at the complete annihilation of the Ukrainian people to present them from attaining their national aspirations of human and national freedom,” Granovsky wrote.
The end of the war found Ukrainians to be inside Russia’s prison of nations. Granovsky urged the free world to regard Ukraine’s aspiration to state formation on a level equal with other nations. “Once the principles of freedom of the Ukrainian nation will be put into effect on an equitable basis, comparable to the freedom of all other national states, this conflict about the fictitious demand on Ukrainian territory under various pretexts will be a clear case of aggression, no matter how we define the term,” he wrote.
The crux of the problem in 1945, Granovsky wrote, is the issue of the rebirth of Ukraine as an independent nation. “On this territory the Ukrainians constitute the majority, though ruled at present by a small minority of invaders. The Ukrainians, according to historic, ethnic, statistical and others facts, are the rightful claimants to this territory of theirs, where they have been residing from time immemorial,” he wrote.
With the free and evil worlds deciding the future of mankind, Russia was busy subjugating those nearest its border. However, Granovsky warned, “Soviet Russia must certainly realize that the boundaries that she is now establishing by aggression in Eastern Europe during the present hostilities can never be permanent.”
Granovsky cautioned that if the Ukrainian people, who have countless times demonstrated their desire for independence, should be denied their freedoms, “It will doubtless provide demoralizing influences on relations among nations. There will certainly be resurgent waves of resentment leading to major disturbances and political revolts. Above all, it will create permanent injustice for freedom loving people and will breed distrust and suspicion against the greater powers, and America in particular, in whose commitments the oppressed and disfranchised peoples have found the courage to nurture sublime faith…The Ukrainians have helped to destroy the German menace. They gave all they could. They have given millions of lives. They have given the best of their efforts. They have suffered great pain, anxiety and devastation for the common cause.”
In view of what Russia is perpetrating in Ukraine today, it is simple to comprehend his conclusion about its historical domination of Ukraine: “In many ways her colonial rule of Ukraine in Europe surpasses all the indignities committed upon colonial peoples in the darkest corners of the world.”
Granovsky asked a salient question in 1945: “Is it really possible that after the wanton destruction of property beyond estimation, the loss of millions of lives and the unbelievable human suffering which this war has brought about, that now either Great Britain or the United States, or any other nation can accede to these original demands of Soviet Russia with the idea either to appease her or to condone the acts of her aggression? If so, it is certain that people will not endure.” Can any government accept Russia again? Can the United Nations regard Russia as a worthy member of the global community of nations?
What’s to be done, rhetorically asked Granovsky? A global regime of justice, he replied: “America with the aid of some of her Allies and liberty-seeking peoples can inaugurate a regime of justice. America can ‘…perform a service of historic importance which men and women and children will honor throughout all time.’
“Among these problems free Ukraine is vital to lasting peace.”
Too bad nobody listened then and too few are listening today.
“The lesson from these events must bear fruit in the future. Unless Ukraine is free at the end of this war, new bloodshed is inevitable,” he deduced.