Roman Dmowski – “The Ukrainian Question” political prophecy of 1930 coming true

A few years ago I wrote a translation of a documentary, called Project ‘Ukraine’, which very well covered the history, running up to the creation of the geopolitical entity, known as “Ukraine”.

I have now come across an unlikely source of information, corroborating and expanding on the theses put forth in the documentary above. It comes from a Polish politician Roman Dmowski and his 1930 work “Kwestia ukraińska” – “The Ukrainian Question”.

Below is my translation of a Russian article, which analyses his work: Year 1930: Roman Dmowski on Ukrainian Independence.

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What is distinguishing a natural-born politician from a random rogue, hanging out on the political stage? The sense of political acumen, the ability to predict the course of events for decades to come signs that are little noticeable at the moment.

Roman Dmowski had this gift in abundance. The expert on Slavic history, active political leader of Poland of the first third of the twentieth century, opponent of Jozef Pilsudski. They say that in his youth Pilsudski stole Dmowski’s wife. Dmowski remained a bachelor, while in politics he seriously disagreed with Pilsudski.

Dmowski was a more measured politician than Pilsudski with his clinical Russophobia. During the revolution of 1905, Dmowski, remaining a Polish patriot, urged the Poles to ally with the Russian tsars, and during the First World War, unlike Pilsudski, he took the side of the Entente. However the proclaimed ultimate goal of his policy was always the building of a national Polish state.

Dmowski’s attitude to the Ukrainian question is noteworthy. Especially interesting is his extensive article “The Ukrainian Question” (“Kwestia ukraińska”). It does not exist in a Russian or Ukrainian translation, more’s the pity. The reader would be able to meet Dmowski’s predictions about the future of Ukrainian statehood and witness an amazing accuracy of his predictions. The “Ukrainian question” was written over 80 years ago – in 1930, when there was not even talk of independence of Ukraine, but Dmowski’s internal sense of politics foresaw much of what we are witnessing today. So…

From the first lines Dmowski indicates that the separate existence of the Ukrainian people begins only in the XIX century, and the dialect of the people “reached the level of literary language”, so the appearance of independent Ukraine on the world map was only a matter of time. The author agrees that the term “Ukraine” designated the lands near the Eastern edge of the Polish Commonwealth, and it had no political and national significance. Dmowski also acknowledges the fact of the unity of the Russian language from the Carpathian mountains to the Pacific ocean, and that the regional differences between the three Russian pieces (Greater Russia (Velikorossia), Rus Minor (Malorossia), Belorussia) was caused by the defeat of Kiev by the nomads.

As a cultural and historical whole, Ukraine does not exist for Dmowski. Different parts of it had different history and it makes no sense to speak of a single Ukrainian nation. He considered Chernigov and Poltava to be the most “Ukrainian”, while the spirit of Ukraine is expressed by “the great writer Gogol”. The author acknowledges that the tsarist authorities did not put obstacles in the way of literary and cultural ukrainophilism, but the Poles embarked on the transformation of this innocent ukrainophilism into a ukrainophilism of a different kind – political.

Ukraine is less interesting from the national-cultural point of view, than from the political-economic perspective, and that last factor is the key in the idea of Ukrainian independence. The populist idea that was so popular in the nineteenth century, became quickly adopted by the international powerhouses. Therefore, in the early twentieth century, the term “Ruthenian” (Rusin) – referring to the inhabitants of Galicia and Bukovina – is replaced by the term “Ukrainian” in the Austrian political discourse.

“The ease with which the official Vienna jumped from a local, narrow concept of “Rusin” (Ruthenian) to the broad concept of “Ukrainian” and thus the internal Ruthenian issue turned into an international Ukrainian issue is surprising,” writes Dmowski. Austria-Hungary, which was already associated with Germany in a close Union, went on to an even greater rapprochement with Berlin so as to have in the face of Germany as a second German state, an additional support for the Austrian Germans. It was just at that period that the common German political literature took up the production of a new state concept – Larger Ukraine. “A German Consulate is opened in Lvov – not for the German citizens, of which there were none in Eastern Galicia, but for the political cooperation with the Ukrainians, which subsequently became publicly disclosed”.

With the replacement of the “Ruthenian” question with the “Ukrainian” issue, the political centre of gravity shifted from Vienna to Berlin. There was no Ruthenian population in Germany, but the Ruthenian question very keenly interested the German strategists, who “on the eve of the First World War looked at Russia as an object of economic exploitation”. However, the discovery of coal and iron on the territory of Donbass (which would be transferred from the RSFSR to the UkSSR by the Soviet authorities) allowed the Russian Empire to begin strengthening their own industry, while for Germany that meant not only the closure of the Russian market for its exports, but also the emergence of a new competitor in the Asian markets.

Germany firmly asserted its presence in Turkey at the same time (during the First World War the Turks will act as the allies of the Germans), and they needed to remove Russia out of the way for the complete control over the Black Sea region and the Balkans: “All these dangers and difficulties were eliminated by the bold project of establishing an independent Ukraine. Given the national and cultural weakness of the Ukrainian population, its lack of solidity, the presence on the sea coast of peoples, who have nothing to do with Ukrainianism, a large Jewish population and a considerable number of German colonists in the Kherson region and Crimea, you can be sure that this new state will be easily subdued the Germanic influence. Independent Ukraine promises to be a political and economic branch of Germany”.

At the same time Russia would lose the opportunity to influence European policy, would be pushed away (albeit partially) from the Black Sea and would also lose influence in the Balkans, which improved the positions of the Ottoman Empire – a German ally and the eternal enemy of the Southern Slavs (Yugoslavs). In addition, the Ukrainian project was the German anti-Polish project, allowing to hit with one shot two German opponents – Poland and Russia.

For Dmowski the Ukrainian question was inseparably linked with oil. Due to the deposits of the Caucasian oil, Russia entered the small circle of privileged states with oil wealth. The oil of the New and Old world was already divided between the Western powers. Venezuelan, Colombian, Mexican, Peruvian crude oil was under US control; the Indian was under the control of the Dutch; Iranian and Iraqi – under the British control. The distribution of oil wealth meant the distribution of world powers and oil-rich Russia, with borders from the Pacific to the Carpathians was not included in the calculations of the West. “Ukraine has no oil… but if one understands its territorial scope in a wide sense, extending it to the Caspian sea, as some do, then the separation of Ukraine from Russia will lead to separation of the latter from the Caucasus and the liberation of the Caucasian oil from under her control,” concludes Dmowski, stating that the Ukrainian question is the issue of crude (Russian) oil.

How can one not remember the numerous statements of today’s national-patriots about “ethnic Ukrainian lands”, reaching the foothills of the Caucasus, and dashing statements of Michael Kolodzinski, a member of the OUN and the author of the military doctrine of Ukrainian nationalism: “We, who are building the Ukrainian state, must push the border of Europe to the Altai and Dzhungaria…. Ukraine aims to link this area with Europe politically, economically and culturally… and the phrase “on the border of two worlds” will get a real sense… Like Caesar, conquering Gaullia, opened the whole of Europe to the Roman culture and civilization, so will our nationalist revolutionary army must open to Western European culture the space, stretching to the South and South–East of Ukraine… This was the great goal of our life as nation and race, – to take possession of the steppes above the Black and Caspian seas and to build a new centre of world civilization on the verge of two continents”.

Dmowski insists on the rejection of the idyllic interpretations of the Ukrainian question as a matter of the people, suddenly awakened to political life in the nineteenth century. The Ukrainian problem got its scope due to the support of Germany, while the restoration of the Polish state only added urgency to it. An independent Ukraine with the deliberately undefined boundaries to the West became for Berlin a convenient way to get Poland to be flexible in determining the lines of the Polish-German border.

“In recent years, thanks to the coal and iron of the Donetsk basin and the Caucasus oil, Ukraine has become a subject of vivid interest of European and American capital and took a place in their plans for economic and political control of the world in the near future,” said Dmowski. External forces, causing the split between Ukraine and Russia, would never agree to the creation of a small Ukrainian state: “Only a large, as large as possible, Ukraine could solve the problems, that were giving the Ukrainian question such a broad meaning”.

“Ukraine has made a great career, but did the Ukrainians do so?” – the author asks the rhetorical question, alluding to the foreign trace in the Ukrainian question and predicting the future independent Ukraine hard times as soon as it becomes independent.

And it’s not from the machinations of “our enemies”, but from the future political elites’ lack of experience in managing such a large state and solving geopolitical problems of the country, something that they have never experienced before, being part of a larger geopolitical organism (Russian Empire, USSR).

Dmowski predicts the emergence of serious problems in the then non-Ukrainian Crimea and the Caucasus – as a consequence of the emergence of an externally controlled Ukraine next to Russia and the attempts of its creators to advance further into Russian territory. The Ukrainian people cannot solve all these problems, also due to the absence “of the outstanding instinct of statesmanship”, which characterizes Russians. According to Dmowski, stable and independent Ukraine is beyond the power of the Ukrainian people.

“However, there are those who can manage it [instead], but therein lies the tragedy. No human force is able to prevent the transformation of the independent and cut off from Russia Ukraine into a convergence spot for a bunch of speculators from all over the world, who can’t spread their wings in their own countries – the capitalists and seekers of capital, merchants, speculators, and schemers, thieves and prostitution organizers of all stripes. The Germans, the French, the Belgians, the Italians, the British and Americans would rush to the aid of nearby [ethnic] Russians, Poles, Armenians, Greeks, numerous, and most important, Jews… All these elements, with the aid… of the slyest of Ukrainians would create a ruling class, the elite… and no other state would be able boast such a rich set of international dregs”.

Here is the answer to the question why the Ukrainian government, comprised of people of different nationalities, remains the eternal guardian of Ukrainian nationalism! This is a business project, gentlemen, and no patriotism!

“Ukraine would become a boil on the body of Europe… – continues Dmowski, – and the people, dreaming of creating a cultural, healthy and strong Ukrainian nation, which would ripen in their own state, would see that instead of their own country they acquired an international enterprise, while instead of development they got a rapid progress of decay and rot. Those who think that… could it be otherwise, have not a penny’s worth of imagination. There are many managers of the Ukrainian question – both in Ukraine and abroad. Especially among the latter most clearly understand what they are aiming for. But there are also those who understand the project of Ukraine’s alienation from Russia in too a rural form. These naïve people would do well if they did not come near it.”

Sad, but true words.

Tribute to the victims of the St.Petersburg Metro bombing – by Graham Philips

The independent crowd-funded freelance journalist Graham Philips published a much-needed tribute to the now 14 victims of the blast in St.Petersburg.

St Petersburg Metro Terror Attack: Who Were the Victims? tells a short story of each of the person, whose life was so abruptly and pointlessly snuffed out.

Tragic news today, as it was announced that one of the victims, wounded in the 3rd April Metro attack in St Petersburg had passed away in hospital, taking the death toll to 14 now, with it only yesterday having been announced that all 13 victims of the blast had been laid to rest.

However, little attention in the western media has been given to any of the victims, those killed by the terror metro blast. So, here is who they were.

We shall remember them…

Russian industry before 1917, as seen from the Chicago Expo publication of 1893

I have earlier published a translation of a series of articles When Rouble Was Golden – Russia that we lost in the ashes of WWI and the coup d’etats of 1914-1917.

I am currently perusing in my free time reading of many of the old Russian books – as early as those dating back to 1600, and as a late as 1900. Interestingly, The Russian language of the 1600-1700 is very easy to read only equipped with the knowledge of the modern Russian language, and a few basic rules, which points to an organic development of the language, as opposed to many modern artificial languages (like Ukrainian), where the connection between the generations of language carriers was severed one or several times.

As a curious echo to the retrospective of the pre-revolution Russia, I acme across a 752-page long publication “Factory-industrial produce and trade of Russia”, published in 1893 to the Columbian Expo in Chicago. Here is its opening passage:

Marking the 400 years of the discovery of the New Worlds, the Congress of the Northern-American United States considered it most wise to organise an international competition in the peaceful venue of industry and trade, and with this in mind, this year sees opening of the International Fair in Chicago, called “Columbian” commemorating the name of the jubilant. Russia, heartened by the old sympathies connecting the American and the Russian peoples, responded to the invitation from the North-American Federation with the liveliest eager and participated in the exposition with many and diverse exhibits.

Highlighting is mine – have we ever had it, I wonder? Do we still have it at the grass-root level?

The publication includes much interesting statistics and descriptions of the blossoming Russian industry. The introductory section is written by Dmitrij Medleev, who is best remembers as the Russian chemistry scientist creating the periodic system of elements, though he himself view the creation of the customs system as his greatest achievement.

And now to the icing on the cake – the map of Russia and industrialisation in its different parts:

Legend is as follows: Colour represents the output in millions of the then gold roubles from 1-50 million in lightest to over 200 million in darkest hue.
Numbers in triangles: the population in million people
Thee number is squares from top to bottom are the number of factories/industries that are: exempt from tax, taxed, and mining
Number in the circle is the number of square geographic miles in thousands.
The lines are the railway connections.

As we can see, Moscow region (I) had the highest output and the highest population density, closely followed by the Baltic-Petersburg region (II) with St.Petersburg and Riga as their centres.

Finland (III) had its fair share of industrialisation and quite high output. Finland was on a position of a confederation subject within the Russian Empire, and a whole section of the publication is dedicated for Finland.

Another highly-industrialised area of Russia was Pre-Visla region with Warsaw as its centre.

The Southern region (IX) and Malorossia (XIII) with Rostov, Harkov and Kiev as their centres follow.

Note the railway, connecting Moscow and Simferopol in Crimea – it was built for the money that Russia received from the sale of Alaska to the Northern-American United States.

Even the contents at the top level of the Sections speaks volumes in that historical publication:

  1. Introduction and overview by D. Mendeleev
  2. Manufacturing industry
  3. Paper pruduction
  4. Leather production
  5. Rubber production
  6. Wood processing
  7. Manufacture of metal products
  8. Mechanical engineering
  9. Gglassmaking
  10. Ceramic production
  11. Chemical industry (this one is also written by D. Mendeleev)
  12. Match production
  13. Oil industry (also by D. Mendeleev)
  14. Cement production
  15. Sugar production
  16. Brewery and fermenting pruduction
  17. Tobacco produce
  18. Foods production (flour and oil)
  19. Shipbuilding and shipping
  20. Transportation production (incl. rubber tires)
  21. Overview of the Russian customs tariff system (by Timirjazjev)
  22. The foreign trade
  23. Domestic trade and fairs in Russia
  24. Fuel consumption for industrial purposes
  25. Wages and working hours in factories
  26. Industry Of The Grand Duchy Of Finland