Ukraine

Full Name Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic
Alliance Soviet Union - Minor Member Nation or Possession
Possessing Power Russia
Population in 1939 40,000,000
Military Deaths in WW2 1,400,000
Civilian Deaths in WW2 7,000,000
 - Civ Deaths from Holocaust 500,000

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

In late Dec 1917, the Ukrainian People's Republic was declared; on 10 Mar 1919, the name was officially changed to the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic. The Crimea region, within Ukrainian borders today, was a part of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and not a part of Ukraine during this era; Crimea was transferred from Russia to Ukraine on 19 Feb 1954. On 30 Dec 1922, Ukraine was absorbed into the Soviet Union. On 5 Dec 1936, the VIII Extraordinary Congress Soviets renamed the nation the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, which was ratified in Ukraine on 31 Jan 1937. In Sep 1939, as a member of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian troops participated in the joint-invasion of Poland together with Germany, and gained the territories of Eastern Galicia and Volhynia from Poland. Nationalistic morale was at a high, as this represented the first time that all regions with a significant Ukrainian population were simultaneously under the Ukrainian rule for the first time. As the result of the Second Vienna Arbitration in Aug 1940, Romania was forced to cede Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to the Soviet Union, much of which was given to Ukraine by the leadership in Moscow, Russia in exchange for Ukrainian territory to be given up to the newly formed Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in the west. On 22 Jun 1941, German troops invaded Ukraine as a part of Operation Barbarossa against the Soviet Union. Between 15 Aug and 19 Sep 1941, the Ukrainian capital of Kiev was under siege; despite fierce defense, it fell under German control, leading to 665,000 Soviet troops being captured.

With the Soviet massacre of intelligentsia and the great Holodomor famine of the 1930s still fresh in mind, there were large elements of Ukrainians who welcomed the Germans as liberators, especially in western Ukraine. Some volunteered and joined the Schutzmannschaft, a German-controlled auxiliary police unit that helped guard concentration camps and fought against resistance elements in Ukraine and Byelorussia. Early in the Russo-German war, about 4,000 Ukrainians operated under German orders to aid the German war effort. On 28 Apr 1943, a Ukrainian SS unit was formed, which later became a part of the Waffen-SS as the SS Division "Galizien" and then the 14. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS; there were claims that these volunteers actively participated in atrocities of the Holocaust.

Anti-Semitic and anti-Slavic Nazi German philosophy prevented any true collaboration, however. Ultimately, the Germans only wished to use Slavs to fight against other Slavs; German leader Hermann Göring went as far as suggesting all Ukrainian men should be killed, and the SS men be sent in to re-populate the land with German blood - a treatment Göring and other Nazi leaders wished to impose on all conquered Eastern European nations. Erich Koch was appointed as the German governor of Ukraine, carrying out such policies. Among the atrocities committed against the Ukrainian people, perhaps the most infamous was the Massacre of Babi Yar, which took place shortly after the arrival of the Germans; in two days in late Sep 1941, 33,771 Ukrainians were killed by Germans. The city of Kharkov, too, suffered dearly during the war, not only from German occupation but also from the four battles between the Germans and the Soviets that saw the destruction of most of the city. As the war went on, while some Ukrainians continued to side with the Germans, more and more turned to the Soviets, with thousands joining the Soviet military; in fact, as the second-largest member nation by population in the Soviet Union, Ukrainians made up a large portion of the Soviet military, and thus sharing a proportional lost in the Russo-German War that lasted between 1941 and 1945: during the war, about 4,500,000 Ukrainians served with the Soviets, and 1,400,000 were killed in service.

After the war, Ukraine faced the daunting task of rebuilding from the heavy damage sustained during the war; 700 cities and towns and 28,000 villages had the bulk of its structures destroyed. In 1946 and 1947, a serious famine took place, which furthered the country's suffering. Between 1945 and 1953, over 650,000 people, most of whom Germans and Crimean Tatars, were forcibly deported from the country under Stalinist policies. The situation finally began to improve after 1953 after Nikita Khrushchev's rise to power, who had a history as the leader of Ukraine and gave the country much more attention. Ukraine became an important industrial and scientific center of the Soviet Union during the Cold War. As noted above, on 19 Feb 1954, the Crimea region was transferred from Russia to Ukraine; it was made an autonomous region in 1991.

Source: Wikipedia

People

Derevyanko, KuzmaKubijovyč, VolodymyrTimoshenko, Semyon
Dolina, MariyaPavlichenko, Lyudmila
Kovpak, SydirRybalko, Pavel

Events Taken Place in Ukraine

Soviet Demands on Romania and the Second Vienna Arbitration27 Jun 1940 - 30 Aug 1940
Operation Barbarossa22 Jun 1941 - 30 Sep 1941
Siege of Odessa8 Aug 1941 - 16 Oct 1941
First Battle of Kharkov20 Oct 1941 - 24 Oct 1941
Second Battle of Kharkov12 May 1942 - 28 May 1942
Third Battle of Kharkov16 Feb 1943 - 15 Mar 1943
Fourth Battle of Kharkov12 Aug 1943 - 23 Aug 1943
Battle of Kiev3 Nov 1943 - 10 Dec 1943
Operation Bagration22 Jun 1944 - 29 Aug 1944
Discovery of Concentration Camps and the Holocaust24 Jul 1944 - 29 Apr 1945

Photographs

German soldier sleeping near his R75 motorcycle, Crimea, Russia (now Ukraine), May 1942Nikolai Vatutin

Maps

Map depicting German and Russian maneuvers at the Third Battle of Kharkov



Ukraine in World War II Interactive Map




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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Anonymous says:
    7 Feb 2012 08:00:05 AM

    ukraine was part of the USSR?
  2. mintaka says:
    25 Oct 2012 08:47:48 PM

    This website is realy helpful especially due to lack of resources about WW2 in my country, I really appreciate.
    I'd like to know if it is possible, the name of the division of the Crimean Tatars under German army so that I can look for more information.
    The only thing I know about them, after the war they had sent back to Soviet Russia via Turkey and all of them were executed included their families on the Russian border.
    I am looking for more information but cannot find it much.
  3. Andrew Dany says:
    20 Feb 2014 11:28:02 AM

    In 1941 September our caravan attempted to evacuate East from Deptovka, Dmitrievka rayon, Chernigov oblast, Ukraine. Next day the news was that Wehrmacht is already East of us. We turned North, reached a place in the woods called Torforazrabotki and camped there until 1943. Our camp became medical camp for Kovpak partisan formation, located in Putivl area. Our commander was Naum Aronovich, the doctor was Natalia Buseva, feldsher was Claudia Buseva and a number of nurses. We were accepting wounded partisans, mostly from Kovpak formation, cared for them until they could be evacuated to Bolshaya Zemlya by aircraft (U2).
  4. Andrew Dany says:
    20 Feb 2014 11:34:13 AM

    Naum Aronovich was a commander of a medical camp in the woods in vicinity of Deptovka, Dmitrievka rayon, Chernigov oblast, Ukraine...
  5. Andrew Dany says:
    6 Mar 2014 11:14:39 AM

    With German occupation, many families took to camping in the woods. The number of people hiding in the woods was so great, that Hitler, probably, needed another couple of armies to search the woods. The unimproved roads in the woods were often swampy, not usable by trucks or tanks. The woods usually provide some food, very dependent on the season. Wild apples and pears, berries and birds nests all supply a little of food - requires much of effort with small results. And requires knowledge, some armies have survival training... Rural people since ancient times supplemented their food by gathering. (Ancient cultures sometimes are referred to as gathering cultures).

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German soldier sleeping near his R75 motorcycle, Crimea, Russia (now Ukraine), May 1942
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