A Guide to the Soviet Union

A Guide to the Soviet Union

A Guide to the Soviet Union

A Guide to the Soviet Union

Excerpt

Time was when Russia was the Russian Empire. The Tsars who ruled it as absolute monarchs hoped to unify it into a single whole. Their idea of unity, however, was peculiar. They thought that a people's nationality could be changed by denying its existence. Here, for example, is a statement about the Ukraine by a one-time Minister of the Interior, Valuev:

"No distinct Little Russian language ever has existed, exists, or ever can."

The very word Ukrainian was avoided, and Little Russian substituted instead. But the Ukrainians went on speaking Ukrainian, and thinking of themselves as Ukrainian, and hating the Tsarist officialdom. For the monarchy spoke of the "one and indivisible Russia" out of one side of its mouth, and barked discriminatory orders against non-Russians out of the other.

To pursue such a policy with regard to a single nationality might have worked, if it were small enough. But the Ukrainians were a nation almost as numerous as the French. Then there were the Poles, nearly twelve million strong within the Empire, the Belorussians, almost ten million, the Jews, about five million, four million Uzbeks, three million Finns, and many others. In all, half of the population of the Empire was not Russian, consisting of at least sixty nationalities worthy of the name, plus dozens of tribal peoples.

When the first World War came, the Empire could not stand up . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.