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On the Forced Ukrainization - 1926 Yuri Larin

About perversions in the conduct of national policy - 1926

Yuri Larin

(LARYN Yury (Mikhail Zalmanovich Lurie) (1882 – 1932) – a member of the RSDLP since 1900, arrested by the authorities (1903, 1913), exiled, escaped from exile, a participant in the revolutions of 1905 – 1907 and 1917, a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Ukraine (since December 1917)

According to the mentioned publication of the UkrNKVD, out of 91 cities of Ukraine, only 40 cities (mostly small ones) have a Ukrainian majority (see "National Composition of Sov. Ukr." pp. 119-121). The cities with an overwhelming predominance of Russians and Jews include Kyiv, Kharkov, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Nikolaev, Lugansk, Mariupol, Berdyansk, Stalin (Yuzovo), Zhytomyr, Melitopol, Uman, Zinovievsk (Elisavetgrad), Kremenchug, Berdichev, Chernigov and many others, Ukrainization of city councils in which would therefore be completely inappropriate. Published in the magazine of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, No. 23–24, 1926. No. 1 1927

The congress recommends that the members of the Party, as practical measures, achieve that. . . special laws were issued to ensure the use of the native language in all state bodies and in all institutions serving the local national population and national minorities,—laws persecuting and punishing with all revolutionary severity all violators of national rights, and especially the rights of national minorities.

Resolution of the Twelfth Party Congress on Comrade Stalin's report.

1. General setting

“How many times have they told the world” that there is a difference between the development of the national culture of a people and national violence against another people or a part of the same. That the perversion of Soviet nationality policy towards violence is the worst enemy of healthy Soviet construction. 

That language is not an end in itself, regardless of the desire of the population, but a means.

That violence against the language of the working masses inevitably causes the growth of chauvinism on both sides, and thus must lead to definitely counter-revolutionary consequences.

That, under the guise of an overzealous superconduction of a national-cultural policy distorted in the direction of violence, elements of disintegration, both objective and subjective, are introduced into our ranks and into our apparatus. And so on. And yet it is still not particularly rare to find well-grounded complaints of undoubted perversions in this respect. The editors of Pravda handed over to me a number of relevant materials, of which some typical cases are given below.

Until now, the Party's opposition to such perversions has been limited to correcting individual cases of distortions, since they drew attention to the propaganda of correct views and to the adoption of general directive resolutions (for example, by the last, third, Congress of Soviets of the USSR). Something essential has also been achieved by these methods, but apparently they are insufficient. From "persuasion" we must obviously move on to "use of power", party and Soviet, against the continuation of such distortions of national policy, which in the final analysis may cost us too much and are unacceptable for us in general. This is provided for by the resolution of the Twelfth Congress of our Party, adopted on April 23, 1923, on the report of Comrade Stalin and given in the title.

2. Forced Jewishization

In the Odessa "Izvestia" dated July 27, 1926, under the title "Translate the work into the native language", signed "Khotimlyansky", the following note was printed:

“The district committee of the Komsomol set out to translate the work of the Komsomol cell of the 1st state canning factory into Hebrew. During the year, the secretary of the cell was called several times, offered to Jewishize all the work, he fought, fought, but nothing came of it. And yet, this question undoubtedly needs to be resolved. In the cell, the vast majority of the members are Jews, but they absolutely cannot read or write Hebrew, they even speak badly. The cell asset does not speak its native language. All work is carried out in Russian. The district committee of the Komsomol needs to take into account the ethnic composition of the cell and take measures to translate its work into Hebrew.”

This typical note is extremely characteristic in terms of the outlook expressed in it. Both the author and the district committee of the Komsomol, apparently, sincerely believe that the native language is the one that is not understood. Among the people (including Komsomol members) it is necessary to conduct social work in the language that they understand. Otherwise, they will not benefit from newspapers that cannot be read, written circulars that remain inaccessible, and oral reports whose contents are not deciphered. But the worldview of the district committee of the Komsomol is better prepared to harm agitation, propaganda and all public work, if only to deprive these Jews of the right to use the Russian language.

Through language, people connect with the culture of their class and with the entire world culture. The Jewish workers of the 1st State Canning Factory, as Odessa Izvestia reports in this article, are connected with culture through the Russian language.  On the other hand, they can neither read nor write. They are people of Russian culture, although of Jewish nationality. But the district committee of the Komsomol in determining whether a person belongs to Russian or Jewish culture is guided not by a modern fact, but by the religious beliefs of their ancestors.

This forced "Jewishization" of people who do not know the Hebrew language (Jews by nationality) causes especially many just complaints when it is extended to schools. Here, in addition to everything else, there is a lag in learning due to the difficulty of assimilating science in an obscure language (“native”, according to the definition of the district committee of the Komsomol and bodies similar in mood).  In Pravda we have already cited a similar example (after which the matter was corrected in this city, but a number of the same reports are received from other places).

The roots of forced Jewishization are twofold. First, chauvinistic Russophobia. Secondly, anti-Semitism directed against "competitors". A completely subordinate role is played by the “zeal beyond reason” encountered here and there by individual Jewish communists who carry out special Jewish work and, in an effort to expand it, sometimes fall into a kind of “Jewish Petliurism”. The situation is more serious with regard to the other two sources of forced Jewishization.

Zoological Russophobia - a literary example of which can be Khvilovy's articles "Away from Moscow" and others, criticized by Comrade Skrypnik in No. 1 of "Ukrainian Bolshevik" for 1926 - exists not only in literature. In part, it is an uncritical transfer to the Russian people of the hatred that Russian tsarism aroused against itself on the part of the oppressed nations. But to a much greater extent, its cultivation is a deliberate means on the part of covert counter-revolutionary elements to weaken Soviet power through the greatest possible hostile isolation of the individual peoples that make up the USSR. On this basis, it is easier for them to try to group and lead the unconscious patriots of their nation, who are inclined to see in them only more zealous, more enthusiastic preachers of their national culture.

But in fact and objectively, the matter boils down to subversive work against the Soviet system as a whole, with the choice of the least protected place for this work.

In states young in terms of Soviet national cultural work, such as Ukraine, for example, the very composition of the state apparatus serving cultural work is inevitably recruited to a certain extent from members of the former bourgeois nationalist chauvinist parties, from people who once sympathized with the Petliurists, etc. This, of course, facilitates the appearance of corresponding perversions. Inasmuch as we are not yet able to make up the entire apparatus of cultural work from reliably educated Party people—and we will not be able to for a very long time yet—special attention is needed to decisively and quickly eliminate the perversions that are detected by intervention from above. Not a single complaint from below should be left without careful investigation, since objectively there are some prerequisites in life for the emergence of such distortions.

The Russophobic (anti-Russian) idea behind the forced Jewishization of Jews who know Russian and want to use Russian is very simple: since they do not speak Ukrainian, then do not let them at least use Russian - let them switch to Jewish or, if they themselves prefer then, to Ukrainian.

To eradicate the Russian language in the cities of Ukraine by forcibly weaning the Jews from it, who make up a very large part of the urban population there, who are accustomed to it and want to use it further - this is the objective meaning of the forced Jewishization of those Jews who “completely cannot read or write Hebrew is even spoken badly.”

The second point is the striving of the petty-bourgeois commercial, handicraft and service elements to weaken the competitor. A Jewish merchant, a Jewish artisan, a Jewish employee, since he speaks Russian, is understandable to the entire urban and most of the rural population of Ukraine.

If Jewish children are forced to be taught in schools in Hebrew from childhood, social work in the Komsomol, etc., “taking into account the national composition of the cell” (in the words of the district committee of the Komsomol), translated into Hebrew, etc., then the future Jewish artisan , a trader (cooperative) and an official will not be able to communicate with the vast majority of the population of Ukraine.

Forcibly Jewishizing in the Ukraine, in Belorussia, or in the RSFSR the now Russian-speaking part of the Jews means to a large extent getting rid of them as competitors in the service of the city and countryside with handicrafts, trade and public service. This, by the way, explains the sharp nature of the protests of the Jewish population against cases of forced Jewishization.  It understands perfectly well that with one Jewish language you will not go far even in the economy, not to mention science. It goes without saying that since for the Jews, due to their small number, it is impossible to create in the Jewish language, for example, universities of all kinds that exist in Russian and Ukrainian (and to translate all scientific literature), then the forced Jewishization of Jewish children, pioneers and the Komsomol means cutting off Jewish workers in the future the opportunity to use universities in all their diversity along with the Russian and Ukrainian population. This moment is also perceived as extremely painful.

In such ways, a peculiar combination of Russophobia and anti-Semitism turns into a forced Jewishization of Jews "who do not speak their native language". The need for the elimination of such distortions everywhere is indisputable, and ways to guarantee it in practice must be developed.

3. Forced Ukrainization by trade unions

In the materials on various manifestations of distortions in the field of national policy, attention is drawn to the data presented at the meeting of the Presidium of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions by the official speakers on the issue of the activities of the trade unions of Ukraine.

We quote these reports from the report in Trud of June 13, 1926.

The first report was made by the chairman of Ukr(aine) TsSPS, Comrade Radchenko On the question of interest to us, he stated:

“Ukrainian unions have to devote a lot of space to work related to Ukrainization. The percentage of Ukrainians working in trade union organizations has increased. As for members of unions, according to unconfirmed records, Ukrainians in trade unions account for 49%, and only 17% who can speak Ukrainian, these statistics are currently being specified.

The point of view of the trade-union organizations on the matter of Ukrainization boils down in general to the fact that no one can be forcibly Ukrainized, but all employees of state institutions must know the Ukrainian language."

 The point of view of the trade union organizations, as we see, is absolutely correct.

It cannot be otherwise, since in Ukraine only one-sixth of trade union members can speak Ukrainian (even according to "unconfirmed" statistics). It is necessary to especially emphasize the difference between the national composition of trade unions and the distribution of their members according to their use of this or that language.

Until recently, a telegraph message from Kharkov went around the press that in Ukraine almost half of trade union members - as much as 49% - were Ukrainians. Data were provided for individual unions, groups, etc., and only one thing was not reported - that two-thirds of these Ukrainians cannot speak Ukrainian.

Such a statement of information by the public opinion agency in connection with the issue of nationalization cannot be considered conscientious. When it comes to whether all the work of trade unions in Ukraine should in fact be translated into Ukrainian, the decisive factor is not how many people have a surname ending in “ko”, but how many people use Ukrainian as a spoken language.

We have to insist on this point all the more vigorously since, unfortunately, the correct point of view of the Ukrainian trade unions is accompanied by an erroneous practice that diverges from it. At the same meeting of the Presidium of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, the report of a special commission of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, which examined the districts with more than 50% of the members of the unions of Ukraine, was heard. The reporter of this commission, Comrade Klimovitsky, “noted a number of abnormalities in the national work of the Ukrainian trade union organizations. So, for example, even in those areas (mines, enterprises) where the vast majority are Russian workers, mainly Kursk, Oryol provinces, meetings are held in Ukrainian” (I quote from the same No. 134 of Truda).

Here we have a "series of abnormalities", checked on the spot by the commission of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, officially certified and not refuted by anyone.

Below we will give the quite correct explanation given later at the same meeting of the Presidium of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions by the workers of the trade unions for such a blatant discrepancy between "point of view" and practice.

If we recall that in general in the trade unions of Ukraine (even according to "inaccurate-unconfirmed" statistics) only one sixth of the members can speak Ukrainian, that a significant part of this sixth is, of course, in the village unions, as workers of the land and forests, as sugar workers, etc. etc., then the Ukrainian language cannot be recognized as the normal language for conducting meetings, protocols and the press - in general in the city trade unions of Ukraine.

In the cities and specially industrialized settlements of Ukraine (Donbass), even fewer trade union members usually speak Ukrainian than in Ukraine as a whole.

Of course, this part, although it is less than 15%, must be served in Ukrainian. But it does not follow from this that it is permissible to impose on the remaining 85% at meetings, in the press and in minutes a language that they do not speak.  And how far violence against the language goes in practice is evident from the fact that not only in general, but even in those mines and enterprises where workers come from or are newcomers from the Oryol province, “meetings are held in the Ukrainian language.”

Such a mode of action can be called - in Russian, and in Ukrainian, and in any other way - only violence against the language.

To act in this way means to tear the mass away from the union. When a meeting is held and a report is made in an incomprehensible language (for five-sixths of the members), then attending meetings turns into a bureaucratic duty.

Under such conditions, there can be no real, unostentatious revival of the trade unions, which the Party demands. This aspect of the matter is of the greatest importance, and one cannot ignore the danger of the degeneration of the trade unions into bureaucratic organizations without the public initiative of the members. This danger can be created by the mandatory use in their reports and office work of a language that is incomprehensible to the vast majority of their members in the given area. Secondly, the mode of action indicated by the AUCCTU commission (“a number of abnormalities in national work”) leads to a decrease in the general level of culture in the working environment.

 “They made me illiterate from a literate person,” writes a metal worker from Ukraine in a letter sent to me by Pravda. 

Fifteen years of my conscious life, writes this proletarian, I participated in party organizations on the territory of Ukraine, listened to reports and spoke at meetings, read a newspaper, I live among Russian workers, and suddenly we immediately ceased to understand reports, newspapers, etc. even inscriptions in the cinema,” he writes and asks:

 "Does this sound like Lenin's national policy?" No, of course it doesn't.

According to Lenin, it was necessary to eliminate the slightest trace of an obstacle to the development of Ukrainian culture - this is true.  But in no way should a large number of Russian or Russian-speaking workers be deprived of the opportunity to use the Russian language when hearing reports, in the paperwork of their organizations, etc.

Such a "series of abnormalities" cuts off these workers from further cultural and social development, stops them at the level they have reached, as long as they could be served in social work in a language they understand. 

And since the Ukrainian language in Ukraine is not spoken by five-sixths of the working class, here we will face a very serious problem if the practice described by the commission of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions is not decisively eradicated, but will be further disseminated due to insufficient attention to this matter and the lack of opposition to the perversions noticed.

Thirdly, coercion in the matter of changing the language cannot give us lasting results.

When responsible professional workers report that some local trade union organizations of Ukraine conduct meetings of their bodies in Russian, and then the manager or secretary draws up minutes of the meeting in Ukrainian in case of an audit to check the language of office work, then there is something to think about.

Since the overwhelming majority of union members do not speak Ukrainian, such attempts to reduce Ukrainization to something ostentatious, shallow, to decorations are inevitable. In such organizations, the Ukrainian language is for the masses and activists the subject of study or learned, and not spoken. If in such organizations they begin to use it even at meetings, and not only in minutes, then it still does not become colloquial in everyday life, in thinking, in everyday comradely communication. 

People get acquainted with the Ukrainian language, the result of this  is not Ukrainization, but the result of forced one, is irritation against Ukrainization. And this irritation undermines the basis for the real growth of Ukrainian culture.

Irritation is not due to the obligatory familiarization with the Ukrainian language, but due to the simultaneous forced removal of the Russian language from public life for people who have Russian as their spoken language.

The obligation to familiarize the workers of the trade union movement and the entire working class in Ukraine with the Ukrainian language is undeniable. Not to take care of this would mean not to take care that in the Ukraine the worker understood the peasant.  In addition, it is necessary to know the Ukrainian language in order to be able to serve that one-sixth of trade union members for whom Ukrainian is colloquial.

But from the obligatory acquaintance in Ukraine with the Ukrainian language in no way follows the translation into Ukrainian of all the work of trade unions, their reports, office work, etc., because for the vast majority of their members, according to Ukrainian statistics, the Ukrainian language is not colloquial.

You need to know the Ukrainian language in order to be able to communicate with the peasants, with the Ukrainian government agencies, with the Ukrainian-speaking part of the workers. But by no means in order to force the workers from the Oryol Gubernia to listen to reports in Ukrainian, and their trade union organizations to translate their internal office work into a language that is not spoken to them.

Meanwhile - and this is the fourth negative consequence of the "series of abnormalities" established by the commission of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions - meanwhile, the addition of the absolutely abnormal elimination of the Russian language from public work and life to the necessary obligation to study the Ukrainian language artificially sows and intensively grows the seeds of Great Russian nationalism and chauvinism in Ukraine.

News from the Ukraine (like the cited report of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions Commission) and people leaving the Ukraine (like the aforementioned worker, who did not want to "turn into an illiterate") then spread the germs of such sentiments throughout the RSFSR.  It is known that notes were submitted at Moscow factories: “Is it true that in Ukraine they want to count all Russians at factories and replace them with Ukrainians” etc. wild fabrications, supported by inquiries with references to the fact that such and such an acquaintance of a worker in the Ukraine ordered “Poor Nota” from Moscow, because the local Russian newspaper was “banned” there, or sent a letter complaining about the elimination of the Russian language, etc. Here we are dealing with a phenomenon that, for all its insignificance its size at the present time, with further development, the possibility of a serious crack.

Therefore, preventive measures are needed already in the bud. In other words, it is necessary to put into practice (and oversee the implementation), that the necessary obligatory acquaintance with the Ukrainian language is in no way addressed and accompanied by the establishment of a forced monopoly of the Ukrainian language in those apparatuses (trade union, cooperative, Soviet, etc.) that serve the population in non-Ukrainian spoken language.

By the way, sometimes it was reported to public opinion that only "officials" were interested in the Russian language in Ukraine. The official report of the chairman of the VUSPS puts an end to this tale, for it directly establishes that in Ukraine only one-sixth of the proletariat can speak Ukrainian. 

And the survey commission of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions says exactly the same thing about Russian workers in the mines and in enterprises. The elimination of the Russian language from the reports and office work of local trade union organizations in those cases where it takes place, it is precisely this part of the population that makes them feel like "second-class citizens."

For what reason, then, does the practice established by the AUCCTU commission diverge from the correct point of view of the Ukrainian trade unions set out by Comrade Radchenko? To this, replying to the commission's report, at the same meeting a well-known professional worker Comrade Ugarov gave a quite correct answer. I quote from the same Trud report, No. 134: Comrade Ugarov notes that VUSPS and unions are least of all to blame for the shortcomings of Ukrainization: Trade union organizations are forced to keep pace with other organizations and general sentiments there.

It cannot be said more clearly. This is where you need to pay attention. 

"General sentiments" are by no means, of course, the sentiments of those five-sixth workers and employees of Ukraine who cannot speak Ukrainian.

Perhaps the transition of the trade unions to the Ukrainian language, as a monopoly in a number of cases, with the complete elimination of Russian, is demanded by the peasants and one-sixth of the workers and employees who can speak Ukrainian.? It is unlikely, judging by the following report by the commission of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions that examined Ukrainian organizations on the spot:

“In areas with a Ukrainian population, it is not uncommon for Ukrainians to ask to conduct meetings in Russian, because the language of meetings, reports, etc. is usually not colloquial Ukrainian, but literary, the so-called Galician, incomprehensible to the broad masses” (“Trud” No. 134 of June 13, 1926).

We are not going to enter here into research on the difference between Shevchenko's language and "Galician", but simply register this factual report, since the Trud report on the meeting of the AUCCTU Presidium does not indicate that the report of its commission was disavowed either by the AUCCTU Presidium itself or by representatives of the Ukrainian Unions.

"General sentiments" should be reduced as closely as possible to the sentiments of those "other organizations" with which the Ukrainian trade union organizations are "forced to keep pace." To put it simply, it is necessary and time to say this frankly - the "shortcomings of Ukrainization" are explained by the fact that some local party and state bodies went too far.

This excess was expressed, firstly, in the creation of such an atmosphere of Ukrainization, in which it is considered possible to read Ukrainian reports to workers who do not understand them from the Oryol Guba, and in which, after a meeting in Russian, the local trade union draws up a Ukrainian protocol to avert their eyes without the need for themselves.

This excess was expressed, secondly, in the absence of a bright, open and decisive struggle against attempts to impose on the non-Ukrainian part of the population the elimination of the Russian language from public life (from meetings at “mines and enterprises” to the language of inscriptions in films).

This excess of the stick must be recognized and corrected, otherwise the growth of Ukrainian culture will be accompanied by the growth of an undesirable attitude towards it on the part of the Russian workers and peasants and the political disintegration of the proletariat.

4. The excesses of nationalization and the austerity regime

The Kiev regional branch of Izvestia of the Central Executive Committee and the All-Russian Central Executive Committee, No. 3629, writes on July 2, 1926, to the main office of Izvestia in Moscow:

“In connection with the decision of the Commission on Ukrainization, we need to add signboards in Ukrainian. In view of this, we ask you to allow us an excess expense in the amount of at least 50 rubles. Due to the lack of a signboard in Ukrainian so far, the head of the Kyiv branch has been brought to criminal responsibility ”(sent by Izvestia TsIK, department of distribution, No. 2181).

By itself, taken separately, the fact may seem small, it is about some 50 rubles. But there are a lot of facts of such “excessive expenses” - as many as there were signboards in Ukraine that were not in Ukrainian.  This decision alone on signage means an overhead expense of millions of rubles. Let's dwell on its benefits and meaning.

Public institutions within Ukraine must have signs in Ukrainian and, since there is a foreign-speaking population, in another language, the most common in the area.

This should be the correct line.

It would be absurd if on the railroad. station within Ukraine, the peasant could not understand the inscriptions on which platform to go to, etc. But it is just as unacceptable to forbid making signboards in state institutions of Ukraine, in parallel with Ukrainian, signs, for example, in Russian, because it is the most common language there after the Ukrainian language (and in some places Jewish, Greek, Polish, German and others).

 It must be remembered that in Ukraine as a whole, counting both the city and the countryside together, about a quarter of the population does not speak Ukrainian.  To allow signboards of state institutions, as well as posters, inscriptions in cinemas, etc., only in the Ukrainian language would mean trampling underfoot the rights of a very large part of the population (and in cities - the majority of residents).

Why in Odessa, where the vast majority of residents speak Russian, and not Ukrainian, the post office has a sign “on demand” only in Ukrainian and French? This was installed at the Odessa post office in November 1926 by a member of the Central Control Commission of our party. There is something crooked in this manner of Ukrainization.

This can be limited to the signboards of public law bodies of the state: both the Ukrainian language and a parallel text for the non-Ukrainian-speaking population are needed here. A different procedure is unacceptable for institutions to which a citizen must apply, such as council, court, zhel. road, etc. Another thing is such institutions where no one is obliged to apply: a hairdresser, a photograph, a newspaper office, etc. These institutions themselves are interested in attracting haircuts, filming, subscribing to a newspaper, etc. 

Therefore, if the interests of attracting the population served require it, they will nail a sign not only in Ukrainian, but also in Chinese.

And if they don’t demand, then why force them to throw money away? In the name of the austerity regime, we are compelling all organs and enterprises to reduce expenditures even on such obviously useful purposes as the maintenance of workers' holiday homes, and to transfer these houses to Tsustrakh. And here the Ukrainian authorities are forcing them to increase expenses that are unnecessary for the enterprise and institution. Indeed, the Moscow Izvestia is printed in Russian and can only have subscribers who read Russian: in the name of what “principle” should they be obliged to have a Ukrainian sign at the Kiev branch of the office? This means not acting according to the slogan:  “For the economy mode”, but according to the caustic “crocodile” parody: “Slaughter the economy”.

The only point of this is to create an external appearance that Kyiv, Odessa, Kharkov, etc. centers are entirely Ukrainian cities in terms of language. But what is the price of such a “Potemkin village”, apart from supporting the historical tradition of Potemkin, who created his cardboard scenery for Empress Catherine right along the Dnieper in Ukraine? 

Before us is the publication of the Ukrnarkomvnudel, edited by Deputy People's Commissar Comrade Cherlyunchakevich, specifically on the issue of national zoning of Ukraine.

There are official Ukrainian figures that in Dnepropetrovsk and Odessa there are less than five percent of Ukrainians each, in Kyiv there are less than fifteen percent, etc. In short, in the largest cities of Ukraine, Ukrainians are only a small minority.

What is the basis then to demand obligatory parallel signs in Ukrainian at such enterprises and institutions where no one is obliged to go and which serve only this urban population? Meanwhile, for failure to comply with this order on unnecessary waste, as we have seen, in Ukraine they are brought to criminal responsibility. We repeat: if a cooperative canteen or newspaper serves Ukrainian-speaking population, then it will hang such a sign, and if there are no Ukrainian speakers among the clients, then there is no point in carrying out forced “Ukrainization of signs”.

It would be much better for the growth of Ukrainian culture to spend on new educational books in the Ukrainian language, to spend on new higher, secondary and other Ukrainian schools that big money that is thrown away for ostentatious “Ukrainization” by the forced production of signboards with translations at those institutions and enterprises that do not have the nature of public law. Spending money on improving Ukrainian schools, on a wider supply of Ukrainian-speaking population with literature that they understand is the Soviet method (method) of Ukrainization.

And to force, under the threat of a criminal court, to make unnecessary expenditure on a new Ukrainian sign serving the department of a Russian newspaper, i.e., only those who read Russian, this means - you can’t throw out the words from the song - imperceptibly slipping into the Petliurist method of Ukrainization, i.e. e. to care not about the growth of culture, but about appearance, about decoration. Such decoration obscures the real task before us of promoting the growth of Ukrainian culture - the appearance that everything has already been Ukrainianized, as if the task has been solved.

It turns out a double harm for the development of Ukrainian culture:

1) diverting attention from it to the forced implementation of outwardly ostentatious measures of bureaucratic well-being (signs, posters, etc.),

2) incitement of dissatisfaction among the non-Ukrainian population against the Ukrainian culture, as connected with the national deregulation (for example, the prohibition of posters in the non-Ukrainian language) of the rest of the population.

Enforcement in the issue of learning the Ukrainian language by employees of the relevant public law bodies of the state (courts, railways, etc.) is not only not harmful, but necessary. Employees who do not wish to know the language of the population they serve cannot and should not be tolerated. On the contrary, coercion is unacceptable and harmful where and when it constrains the population in the use of a non-Ukrainian language or imposes Ukrainian necessarily on them (and even under pain of criminal punishment).

Therefore, state bodies are obliged to respond in a non-Ukrainian language to relevant appeals from the population; they cannot assign a monopoly to the Ukrainian language in city theaters and in the matter of posters, inscriptions in cinema, etc.; should not require Ukrainian or only Ukrainian office work in public organizations in which non-Ukrainian-speaking members predominate, etc., etc.

Therefore, the regulations on signboards existing in Ukraine should also be revised and clarified. It is time to start the work of nationalization more attentively and seriously, with greater responsibility for the distortion of the correct line, and thus with more realistic results in terms of durability.

(.. Billboard statistics)

5. Labor school language

At the autumn session of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee in 1926, a report was delivered by the People's Commissariat of Education on the implementation of universal primary education. The same question was discussed in other union republics.

Among the tasks arising in connection with it is also the task of ensuring the correct solution of the question of the language of instruction in the labor school.

In principle, the program of the party and the Soviet constitution resolved the issue long ago: it is necessary to teach in the language that is understandable to children, which is spoken for them at home, because it is easier to learn in it, it is more possible to learn something. But the fundamental requirements of our program and constitution are not so easy to put into practice all at once. Remnants of the past, the low level of general political culture, the poverty of the country, the inevitable presence in the state apparatus for a long time to come of many elements alien to our views, some clumsiness and insufficient development in the initial implementation of new principles, and a number of other reasons - all this has taught us not to be surprised in various areas of life the presence of partial perversions of a correct policy. Moreover, given the present totality of relations in the USSR, the emergence of such individual perversions is inevitable, and special attention must be paid to their eradication.

This is especially true with regard to the use of a particular language as the language of instruction in schools. Our Union consists of several dozen national republics and national autonomous regions. In each of them there are large national minorities in relation to the predominant nationality of the given republic or region.

The people, in one republic or region constituting the majority of the population, in another is a minority.

In this regard, the Jews, who are in the minority in all the republics, are hardly the only exception among the larger nations.Under such conditions, every people of any size in the USSR, in some republics or regions, is interested in the firm protection of the rights of national minorities, while in others it may overlook or allow perversions in the national school policy, since proletarian party control over the machine of state administration is still insufficient and because it is precisely in the field of the language of the school that the pressure of non-proletarian nationalist elements is especially strong. The apparatus of the Enlightenment is basically an apparatus of the intelligentsia, moreover, for the time being it is predominantly an intellectual apparatus of petty-bourgeois and middle-bourgeois origin.This stratum has always and everywhere been the most zealous representative of chauvinist-nationalist tendencies.  For the national intelligentsia of any people, the question of expanding or narrowing the use of its language is a question of bread, a question of fighting competitors to serve the same needs in another language.

In addition, all our national republics and regions must first of all take care of the development of local national cultures, which were suppressed before the revolution by tsarism.  The natural focus on this task weakened attention to the possibility of underserving the national minorities of a given republic or region, and sometimes even caused outright excesses in places. And the need to turn to the local national non-proletarian intelligentsia, widely saturated with nationalist sentiments and some of which had previously been directly involved in bourgeois-chauvinist organizations, in order to implement the development of local national culture, further increased the possibility of turning these "excesses" into outright perversions.

That is why among the various complaints received by Pravda (and not only by Pravda) in connection with the implementation of nationalization in the localities, in the part of the complaints that are justified by the check, there are especially many complaints about the use in schools of a language of instruction that is not colloquial for the children of the local population. Neither parents nor children want to use an incomprehensible or obscure language that is not their normal spoken language. And it is sometimes forcibly imposed on the school for falsely understood "national" reasons, which in fact turn into nationalist deprivation, which is in blatant contradiction with our program and constitution.

Either the children of Ukrainian Cossacks in the Kuban are taught in Russian, or children with spoken Russian are forced to study in Belarusian, etc., etc. Understandable harm from these perversions and for the success of teaching and political. Of the materials handed over to me by Pravda, I will cite as a sample only an excerpt from one letter (quite typical). He writes, in view of the beginning of the new school season, a member of the union of water workers from a very large Ukrainian city (who accurately indicated his address, etc., and made it possible to check the data he reported).

And he writes like this: “My daughter is studying at a labor school (such and such) in the outskirts of the city (on such and such a street). According to official data, the composition of the children of this school is as follows:

Russian,  337 people, 70 percent

Jews, 75 people, 15 percent

Ukrainians, 46 people, 9 percent

Other, 29 people, 6 percent

The overwhelming Russian majority is not some unearned element. According to the same data, almost half are the children of workers, somewhat less are children of employees, and only one tenth of Russians are children of non-trade union members. And yet the school is completely Ukrainianized. The request of the parents to be allowed to meet to discuss the petition for the abolition of Ukrainization was rejected. Parents are indignant individually, and children cry. What will come out of their classes if teaching is conducted in a foreign language for them, incomprehensible to 91% of students.  As an argument, (such and such an official) told the parents that they and their children do not know the Ukrainian language due to the forced Russification of them by the former tsarist government. But we were never Ukrainians, and most of us were born outside of Ukraine.For example, I was born in the Vologda province and came here 25 years ago. When my children appeared and began to grow up, they grew up right there in the city among Russians. I am not a merchant or a landowner, and the workers and employees did not have enough money to send their children to the Ukrainian countryside for the summer. My children are not to blame for not knowing the Ukrainian language. They say that only three Russian schools will be left in our city. What are we Russians to do?  I ask the editors to help our parental grief.

Any complaints remain without results here, persistent rumors circulate among the parents, thanks to the influential inspector of the people's education, a former Petliurist.

We deliberately quoted this passage in its entirety, next to the presentation of the message about the forced Ukrainization of the Russian school, “rumors” about the power of the “inspector of the people’s education”, etc., in order to give an example of the political refraction of such facts. It can also be added that we are talking about a city with hundreds of thousands of inhabitants, of which, according to Ukrainian official statistics, Ukrainians account for less than a tenth. "Kharkiv Proletary" dated October 17, 1926 about the whole of Ukraine as a whole reports: 

"According to the People's Commissariat for Education, the schools of the socialist community have already been Ukrainianized by 87.8%."

This means that 12.2% is left for all non-Ukrainians. Meanwhile, the non-Ukrainian population in Ukraine, according to official figures, is almost twice as large. This means that the Ukrainization of schools was carried out so intensively that half of the non-Ukrainian population is already deprived of schools in their native language. Such overzealousness is clearly wrong.

In order to ensure in all republics the elimination of all distortions in the field of the language of labor schools and in relation to school services for national minorities in general, it is necessary to carry out a number of specific practical measures everywhere. Some time ago, a special commission consisting of comrades. M. I. Kalinina, Yu. Larin, Broido and Dimanstein outlined the following measures for this purpose:

"1. The language of instruction for children in schools is set regardless of their confession and (national) origin, on the basis of what language the children use in the family.

2. At the request of the parents, separate schools or separate classes of national minorities must be organized or transformed in relation to the language in all cases when the number of children for education in this language is at least 25 people.

3. In cities (and other settlements) with a multilingual population, the number of schools in different languages ​​should be determined by the number of multilingual children of school age in a given city (or settlement), determined according to the statement of their parents about the language used in home life.

4. The material supply, budgetary appropriations, the provision of premises, the proper number of teaching staff and school allowances and organizational services (for example, the creation of pioneer detachments) of all schools with different languages ​​of instruction located in the same city or in one place or in one village."

The carrying out of such measures in all the Union republics and the application in practice of criminal penalties for their violation, together with drawing the attention of the proletarian public to this aspect of the matter, will be a significant step towards eliminating possible distortions in school policy and will help to painlessly get rid of frictions and complications in national relations between all peoples inhabiting the USSR.

The elementary correctness of these measures is beyond doubt from the point of view of our program and constitution. The October session of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of the RSFSR, in its resolution on universal education, specifically discussed the question of the language in the spirit of the resolution of the said commission, in accordance with the proposal of its members approved by the presidium.

6. Nationalization and administrative zoning

For the last one and a half to two years, at almost every session of the Central Executive Committee and the Congress of Soviets, the question of the sufficiency of practical ensuring the implementation of those national rights that are granted to national minorities by the fundamental laws of the Union of Soviet Republics has been discussed again.

The last (third) Congress of Soviets of the USSR in 1925 directly decided to oblige all union republics to strengthen measures to ensure the rights of national minorities, such as the formation of national councils, etc. and serving national minorities in Ukraine.

In both cases, these resolutions were preceded by a very lively discussion, which clearly showed the sufficient importance of the issue.

Something has been accomplished over the years and in practice.

For example, parts of the Kursk and Voronezh provinces inhabited by Ukrainians were transferred to Ukraine from the RSFSR, and the Great Russian Taganrog district passed to the RSFSR; the organization of Ukrainian schools in the Kuban has begun; Gomel with districts was transferred to Belarus; several hundred Polish, German, Russian, Jewish and other non-Ukrainian village councils were established in the Ukraine in the villages, etc., etc.

But the main part of the work is still ahead, and it is moving extremely slowly, especially in the cities of Ukraine.

It is enough to indicate, for example, such centers as Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk (Ekaterinoslav) or Kyiv. According to official Ukrainian statistics, only 2.9 percent of Ukrainians live in Odessa, in Dnepropetrovsk 4.7 percent, and in Kyiv 13 percent.

For nine-tenths of the population of Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk, Russian and Jewish are spoken languages ​​(according to the tables published in 1925 by the Ukrnarkomvnudel under the editorship of Deputy People's Commissar Comrade Cherlyunchakevich).

If we take Kyiv, then, for example, there is a part of the city called "Podol", territorially separated from the rest of the city and exceeding many provincial cities in terms of the number of inhabitants. Podol is inhabited almost exclusively by Jews, and the spoken language of Podolsk Jews is usually Jewish. It is clear that there must be a Jewish district council in Podil, Russian district councils in some other parts of Kyiv, etc.,and the citywide council should use Russian, Hebrew, and Ukrainian.

It would be absolutely absurd to remove Russian and Jewish languages ​​from the city institutions of Kyiv and use exclusively Ukrainian, since only a relatively small part of the inhabitants speak Ukrainian in the city.To act in this way would mean, as far as language is concerned, to tear the councils away from the population. It would not turn out that the councils elected by the population serve the population in a language they understand, but, on the contrary, that the population must relearn and adapt to the council that uses a language unknown to it. This would mean a complete perversion of "Soviet democracy" and a "bureaucratic command" that is clearly contrary to the general Party directive.

Odessa is in a similar position, which should have district councils with Russian or Jewish languages ​​and a citywide council with both. Dnepropetrovsk and a number of other cities are in the same position. Meanwhile, such a practice is not seen to be carried out in the cities on any appropriate scale.

It goes without saying that the district institutions located in these cities serving the district populated by Ukrainian-speaking peasants must work in the Ukrainian language. Since their district also includes district units that operate in a different language due to the special composition of their population, the district office must have translators to be able to communicate with them.

After all, in Ukraine, in different districts, there already exist in rural areas district councils of non-Ukrainian nationalities:  Polish, Russian, Jewish, German, etc.

Since the right of the population of these districts to have a district council in their own language has been recognized, the district office must attend to the possibility of being understandable for this district council. And equally for the city councils of those cities of the given district, whose language is not Ukrainian, but some other. 

In turn, the city council should be obliged to serve in their language as many residents of the city as possible. Some kind of minimum limit is inevitable here. If one Japanese comes to Odessa, then the Odessa Council cannot be obliged to translate into Japanese the clerical work of its courts, the police, all departments and city institutions.

But if in a city out of every hundred inhabitants at least a dozen speaks one language (for example, Ukrainian in a city of Ukraine where the vast majority of the population does not speak Ukrainian and where the council therefore should not be Ukrainianized), then there should the possibility of using the corresponding language in local Soviet bodies should be ensured. Inadmissible are the occasional cases where employees are prohibited from serving the population orally and in writing in the language in which the population addresses them and which they know in order to "nationalize the apparatus" for the purpose of "nationalizing the apparatus".

By no means should one think that shortcomings in our national-administrative geography exist only in Ukraine.

We take the example of Ukraine only because all these inconsistencies are more striking there due to the great diversity of the population, thanks to the developed city life, thanks to the comparative culture of the inhabitants, etc. Partly due to greater pressure on the part of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia towards the forced Ukrainization of the non-Ukrainian population than in other national republics, where the national petty-bourgeois intelligentsia is much smaller than in Ukraine. Insufficient rebuff to this pressure in the Ukraine on the part of our party organization must be eliminated.

This insufficiency itself has enough explanations in the history of Soviet construction in Ukraine. As a continuous and not in the conditions of war and the fight against banditry, it began a number of years later than in central Great Russia. Just a few years ago, many members of other parties (for example, the Borotbists) joined our Ukrainian organization, among whom the great difficulty is objectively understandable in the very first years of completely eradicating to the end all the moods that previously separated them from the Bolsheviks, etc.

But now it is time to move from historical explanations to changing practice. Go honestly, in the Bolshevik way, without evading and twisting, without bureaucratic excuses, without a false understanding of "prestige".

Just Ukraine, as the most advanced and largest of the national Soviet republics, should serve as an example to all of them in this respect. In those parts of the RSFSR which are not included in the autonomous republics or national regions, but are distinguished by the diversity of the national composition, — the chauvinistic tradition of the old Great Russian bureaucracy plays the role of pressing the young rising national petty-bourgeois intelligentsia. Therefore, certain guarantees in the field of national-administrative geography must be made for the entire USSR, and not only for the national republics and regions.

Translation of all Soviet archives by members of MLDG unless otherwise noted.

Note; Larin was one of the founding members of the Supreme Soviet of the National Economy (Vesenkha) - 1918.

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