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The War in Ukraine — Interwar Soviet Ukraine (1922-1939)

A guide to better understanding the current crisis


Following the First World War and the devastation of the Russian Revolution, lands that make up portions of the modern Ukrainian state were divided between a newly independent Poland, the new state of Czechoslovakia, an enlarged Romania, and as the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic after 1936) within the newly constituted Soviet Union. The Interwar period in the Ukrainian SSR was marked by a prolonged period of Ukrainization where Ukrainian language and culture were promoted within the boundaries of the SSR. This ceased as Josef Stalin, who eventually succeeded Lenin as the leader of the Soviet Union, instituted a period in the 1930s called the Great Terror, which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, millions of imprisonments and exiles, and a massive purge of the Communist Party in the name of combating counterrevolution. Even more consequential for Soviet Ukraine was the Great Famine (Holodomor) from 1932-1933 that killed millions of Ukrainians. Causes of the Great Famine are still debated by historians today, but include poor economic planning, collectivization, dekulakization, and a grain quota system that led to the depletion of not only grain reserves in Ukraine but also food for basic subsistence of the population.   

For more information on the history of Ukraine during this crucial period, navigate to the section on "History of Ukraine," beginning on page 185 and ending on page 189, from:

Kubijovyč, Volodymyr, ed. “H.” In Encyclopedia of Ukraine: Volume II: G-K, 108–293. University of Toronto Press, 1988.

For a brief overview of the Holodomor, see:

College of Liberal Arts, Holocaust and Genocide Studies. “Holodomor.” Accessed March 15, 2022.