In these recollections of mine, I wish first of all to present to that part of the world which believes in truth and justice, the struggle of the Ukrainian nation for its own national existence – obviously within the framework of my familiarity with circumstances of that struggle, and my insignificant part in it.
It is a fact that during the entire struggle for independence I was a front-line soldier, far removed from internal political interplay, and not fully cognizant of the unfavorable external political circumstances affecting Ukraine, and hence the activities within our higher political circles were not always completely clear to me. Certain events which took place within our Government during the 1917 to 1920 period in particular were, to myself and many of my front-line colleagues, to say the least, not understandable. We were surprised at many happenings, and as we learned later, they were indeed not justified by reasons of state.
All these events, and others in which I took a personal part, are presented by me the way I knew them for fact, or as they appeared to me under the then existing circumstances, or finally, as they exerted an influence upon my work. I try to comment upon my work. I try to comment upon the results and their significance.
In these recollections I make no claim or emphasis to the importance of my role which, incidentally, was not clothed in high responsibility in the events herein discussed. I am, however, fully aware at all times that I never hesitated to give my life for my Country. Neither did I evade, in spite of being fully aware of the consequences, assumption of political responsibility for heading the Ukrainian National Committee and the Ukrainian National Army at the close of World War II.
It is quite obvious that neither the prominent personages of the Ukrainian political and community life, nor my own experiences or moves, but rather the results of their activities and mine, could be of interest to the world and to students of the history of the liberation struggle of the Ukrainian nation.
The background of my recollections is to be an analysis of circumstances which were favorable or hostile to our cause, and an illustration of world conditions in relation thereto, in order to provide a possibly lucid and impartial picture of political ignorance and politically unjustifiable tendency to refuse to come to Ukraine's aid. In spite of proclaimed ideas of the right of nations to self-determination, the Ukrainian nation bathed in blood was refused material, technical, and even medical aid, and this was one of the main causes of the enemy's victory over us; not our own lack of faith in victory, nor unwillingness to make sacrifices.
One of the problems which I would particularly like to illustrate in my recollections is the matter of mutual relations between our Government and Army with the national minorities in Ukraine, and especially the Jewish minority. Due to the then existing chaos of the revolution, and provocation on the part of the Bolsheviks and their fellow-travellers as well as of the adherents of the Black Hundred, this matter has become highly controversial, particularly in the democratic world which was completely uninformed and detached from Russian reality. On this the Bolsheviks based their assassination of Simon Petlura and Evhen Konovalets. All their ideological adherents and well-paid agents based their provocative propaganda against the Ukrainian nation on this misconception, against its liberation struggle, and even against its high cultural development. The Ukrainian past, its statehood and political power is unblemished, both during its flowering as well as its enslavement. Thanks to numerous books, primarily by Jewish authors (see Arnold Margolin "From a Political Diary" – Russia, Ukraine and America, 1905-1945, New York 1946), there has recently been a certain amount of sobriety introduced into this controversy, with a cooler appraisal of events, albeit these events are not yet in sufficiently distant historical perspective. The main sobering factor has been, however, the policy of the Bolsheviks themselves, aimed at destruction of the non-Russian nations, first of all the Ukrainians and Jews. This very steadfast policy line of theirs was and is the outcome of the policy of all preceding Moscow governments. During the first years of the Bolshevik revolution, this policy feigned to favor the Jews who were assigned to numerous state positions in which they proved to be unfaltering adherents of great-power imperialist Moscow ideology. This was a surprise to all Ukrainians without exception: how could the Jews, with their great cultural, religious, and historical-political experience fall into the trap so slyly laid for them by Moscow? Trotsky, Kamenev, Kon, Dan, Uritsky, Kaganovich, Yakovlev, Litvinov, Yoffe, Rapaport, Rukhimovich – these are but a few names among those who held responsible positions in Moscow, and who were, in their activities, openly hostile to Ukrainian statehood.
In the text of my recollections, I cite concrete facts of pogrom provocations, the reaction to them, and the truth about the attitude of our Government and Army toward the Jews. I am not trying to conceal sporadic episodes of pogroms staged by our own irresponsible leaders, so-called "otamans," who were immediately punished (often by death) for their misdeeds. I am not silent, however, also about known to me personally facts of provocative behavior on the part of some Jews who were often the cause of our tactical defeats, leading the Bolsheviks onto our trail in surprise military action. Later they admitted that they were agents of Bolshevik intelligence. The basic policy line of the Ukrainian Government toward the Jews is best proved by the fact that Jews were members of the Central Rada and of the Government. The Minister of Jewish Affairs P. Krasny and his subordinates. Director Bagrad and Mr. Abba Lerner (the latter was my high school classmate), frequently visited our front-line positions where they were received with all honors due cabinet members, and always thanked us for the peace and order behind the front lines.
I shall be extremely happy, if my recollections will form another link in the erection of a complete understanding between the Ukrainians and Jews, two nations severely punished by fate, which made the greatest sacrifices in the struggle for nationhood, and even for the right to be called nations. And who, particularly in Russia, made individual and mass sacrifices on the altar of an alien revolution, and sometimes to the benefit of Moscow imperialism which is hostile to both nations.
Relations with other minority groups in Ukraine were quite smooth.
I hope that my old friend. Professor O. Ya. Choulgine, as member of the Central Rada and Foreign Minister of Ukraine, will clarify this problem completely satisfactorily in his forthcoming book "Ukraine against Moscow."
An encouraging impulse to write these recollections was provided, on the one hand, by this crucial period for all mankind, and particularly for the Ukrainian nation which, in my opinion, should bring the realization of the aspirations of all nations visited by fate; and on the other hand, in supplement of valuable material written by Ukrainians about our liberation struggle, to shed some light on certain fragments of that struggle and circumstances under which it was waged, unknown not only to the world, but even to many Ukrainians. At the same time I wish to note the work and role of our prominent political and military leaders who took part, and are still active in the political and military struggle against red and white Moscow.
I must state with great regret that in spite of extremely careful collection and preservation of numerous historical documents pertaining to the liberation struggle, I lost nearly everything at the beginning of World War II when, on the denunciation of "our own people" I was imprisoned by the Nazis, and when the Gestapo wrecked my home in Skierniewice (Poland). Other documents and notes were lost in my many wanderings after the war, and some I had to destroy myself, in good conscience.
I wish to thank here all my good friends who helped me in this undertaking, and whose names are listed in the index. I also wish to thank Mr. Roman Olesnicki for graciously taking upon himself the difficult task of translating this volume into English.
I am particularly grateful and happy to note that Professor Roman Smal-Stocki consented to provide a foreword to these recollections. A Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and for many years Minister of Culture of the Ukrainian National Republic who was in charge of our foreign policy, the organizer of the Prometheus League of Nations enslaved by Moscow and its permanent President over a period of 22 years, President of the Supreme Council of Shevchenko Scientific Societies, at present Professor of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Professor Roman Smal-Stocki is exceptionally well acquainted with the circumstances accompanying our liberation struggle. He was also persecuted by the Gestapo. He knows all the people who worked and work for the Ukrainian cause, he also knows well my work and the course of my life with its bitter moments. His highly objective and accurate appraisal of events and people most certainly adds to the value of my recollections, and should contribute to a deeper and more lively interest of Western readers in the Ukrainian problem.
Lieutenant-General General Staff
Trenton, New Jersey