NESTOR MAKHNO AND THE UKRAINIAN REVOLUTION
Controversy has surrounded the person of Nestor Makhno from his first appearance as an insurgent commander in the summer of 1918. Was he an ideological anarchist struggling for a new order or a cutthroat profiting from the turmoil of the Civil War? Was he favourably disposed to the Jewish population or a pogromist? These and other issues have been disputed from the turbulent years of the Civil War to our own day. Lack of concrete information has served only to increase interest in the legendary Batko (Father) Makhno, and it is not surprising that he figures prominently in many literary works, the most recent being Oles Honchar’s Sobor (Cathedral). Interest in Makhno also has been revived by the New Left, especially by Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, who see in Makhno a model for the young revolutionary for whom Communism is irrelevant.
For all the interest that Makhno has evoked, remarkably little scholarly work has been devoted to him or to the movement he led. The problems of separating truth from legend and of gathering the extremely dispersed source material have presented considerable obstacles. Furthermore, very little documentation concerning Makhno (newspapers, proclamations, personal papers) has survived or is available in the West. Because of the controversy surrounding Makhno and the lack of scholarly studies about him, it has been difficult to evaluate his relationship to the Ukrainian Revolution. This study will focus on the most crucial issue – Makhno’s perception of the Ukrainian question.
There is no definitive biography of Makhno and no thorough evaluation of his movement. A general outline of his life, however, has been established. He was born in 1889 into a poor peasant family in Huliai-Pole, a rural centre in the southern Ukraine not far from Zaporizhzhia. During the 1905 Revolution, Makhno joined an anarchist group in his native town. This terrorist group of anarchist-communists was tried for the assassination of a police official in 1908, and Makhno was sentenced to life imprisonment in Moscow’s Butyrki prison. There he received further instruction in anarchism from Petr Arshinov, a Russian worker from Katerynoslav (Dnipropetrovsk). The February Revolution of 1917 freed Makhno from prison, and he returned immediately to Huliai-Pole, where he revitalized the anarchist group and became active in the revolutionary events of village life. The German and Austro-Hungarian occupation of the Ukraine in the spring of 1918 forced Makhno and his anarchist comrades to flee to Bolshevik Russia. From March to July 1918, he wandered through revolutionary Russia and met with Lenin and the famous anarchist, Prince Peter Kropotkin. In July, Makhno returned to Huliai-Pole and launched a guerrilla war against Hetman Skoropadskyi’s government and the forces of the Central Powers. Peasant discontent in the Ukraine provided a favourable environment for the growth of Makhno’s anarchist-influenced insurgent movement, and the overthrow of the Hetman’s government left him in a position of considerable power in Katerynoslav gubernia and the surrounding areas.
Makhno proved to be a brilliant military leader for his peasant army. After December 1918, he sided with the Bolsheviks, whose invading Red Army was struggling with the Directory for the control of Kiev. In February 1919, Makhno negotiated an alliance with the Bolsheviks, who in turn called for the subordination of his “Insurgent Revolutionary Army of the Ukraine” to the Red Army Command. This alliance was soon strained because the Bolsheviks attempted to assume command of Makhno’s forces as well as the territory that he controlled. Further dissension with the Bolsheviks in the spring resulted from the agreement for mutual cooperation between Makhno and the major anarchist group in the Ukraine, the Nabat, led by Vsevolod Eikhenbaum (Volin). The Nabat group saw in the Makhnivshchyna (Makhno movement) an opportunity to put theoretical anarchism into practice, and it greatly strengthened anarchist influence on the Makhnivshchyna by providing the necessary ideological cadres. The threat of a common enemy, Otaman Matvii Hryhoriiv, improved relations between the Bolsheviks and the Makhnivtsi (supporters of Makhno), which by the spring of 1919 had deteriorated to the point of open hostility. Hryhoriiv presented a far greater threat to Bolshevik rule than Makhno did. Makhno refused to join Hryhoriiv’s revolt, and during a meeting on July 27 assassinated him.
The mounting Denikin offensive in August and September 1919 swept both the Bolsheviks and Makhno from Left-Bank Ukraine. Makhno retreated as far west as Uman, where he came into contact with the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen (Sichovi Striltsi) and Petliura’s forces. Makhno and these Ukrainian formations, faced with the threat from Denikin, agreed to tactical military cooperation on September 21, 1919. However, four days later, Makhno moved alone against Denikin and broke through the White Army’s encirclement. In lightning raids throughout Left-Bank Ukraine, he wrought considerable damage on Denikin’s rear forces and was thus instrumental in halting the White general’s advance on Moscow. With the defeat of Denikin, the Makhnivtsi reached the height of their power. By the fall of 1919, they occupied the large cities of Oleksandrivsk (Zaporizhzhia) and Katerynoslav and were able for a short period to concentrate on ideological work and the reorganization of their territory.
Early in 1920, the Bolsheviks re-established their control of the Ukraine and initiated hostilities against the Makhnivtsi. Only Wrangel’s autumn offensive caused a brief change in the situation. The Bolsheviks formed a new alliance with Makhno. This agreement was the final factor precipitating a break by most of the Nabat group with Makhno. Following the surprisingly easy defeat of Wrangel, the Bolsheviks renewed hostilities, and by November the Makhnivtsi were hard pressed by the Red Army. In August 1921, the remnants of the Makhno forces fled across the Rumanian border.
After detention in Rumania and a trial in Poland for “fomenting rebellion,” Makhno went to Paris. He remained active in anarchist circles, but he was troubled by the poverty and tribulations of exile, and the accusations by certain Russian anarchists that he was an anti-Semite. Despite these problems, before his death in 1934, he wrote numerous articles for the Paris journal, Delo truda, and he completed three volumes of his memoirs – a narrative of the Makhnivshchyna to December 1918.
This brief outline suggests Makhno’s importance in the history of revolutionary events in the Ukraine. Yet, if little has been done to research the life and thought of Makhno and the history of the movement that he led, almost nothing has been done to discuss his relation to the Ukrainian national reawakening. The standard histories of the Makhnivshchyna by Petr Arshinov and Vsevolod Eikhenbaum (Volin) included only a few perfunctory remarks about Makhno’s attitude toward the Ukrainian question. The matter is given a little more attention by the Soviet historian M. Kubanin, whose work is interesting chiefly for its assertion that Makhno converted to Ukrainian nationalism in 1920-1921. The only work that deals specifically with any aspect of the problem is Lubomyr Wynar’s short article, “The Relationships between Nestor Makhno and the Army of the Ukrainian National Republic, 1918-1920”; it does not, however, treat in any detail Makhno’s thinking on the Ukrainian question.
Makhno and the Makhnivshchyna have often been viewed as being totally divorced from the Ukrainian national revival. This may partially be due to our own preconceptions of the 1917-1921 period. The relationship of a given historical figure to the Ukrainian question has been evaluated largely by his support of or opposition to a Ukrainian national state. In focusing attention on Ukrainian political movements, we have often overlooked a post-1917 “revolution” of even greater importance. This “revolution” was the acceptance of the idea of an entity with fairly well-defined borders called the “Ukraine,” and the self-identification of the masses living in this area as “Ukrainians.” This was a revolution in perception, and it brought about a general recognition that Ukrainians were a separate nation. Even the Russians or Poles, who had hitherto viewed Ukrainians as merely a part of their own nations, came to accept this new view. Although the degree to which the Ukrainian masses were nationally conscious before 1917 is debatable, and although many Russians and “Little Russians” (Ukrainians who believed that they were the Little Russian branch of an “All-Russian” nation) questioned the existence of a Ukrainian nation, by the 1920’s the concepts “Ukraine” and “Ukrainians” were almost universally accepted and had become analogous, for instance, to “Armenia” and “Armenians.’ The dynamics of the awakening of Ukrainian consciousness can be understood only by studying the countless individual experiences that composed it.
Makhno is an interesting subject for a number of reasons. First of all, whatever his own national self-identification, his ideological commitment to anarchism meant that he could never accept the philosophy of groups seeking to set up a state (including a national state). Secondly, he was a peasant with little formal education who was catapulted to a position of power as a leader of the peasant masses. Hence, a study of Makhno may help our understanding of the peasantry’s relationship to the national awakening. Finally, Makhno allowed himself to be Russified in his youth, at least linguistically, and spent a good part of his life in Russian revolutionary circles. Thus, at an early stage in his career he allied himself with the dominant Russian culture and group. Obviously, all these factors greatly affected Makhno’s attitude on the Ukrainian question.
Little is known of Makhno’s early life or of the Huliai-Pole environment. The town was overwhelmingly Ukrainian in population, but also included a substantial number of Jews and a small number of Russians, most of whom held government positions. However, Huliai-Pole was located near the Russified centres of Katerynoslav and Oleksandrivsk, a factor of considerable importance for Makhno’s future development. It is clear that the increase of political activism aimed at the Ukrainian countryside did not bypass Huliai-Pole. The first event of significance in Makhno’s career was his politicization – conversion to an anarcho-communist group that had been established in Huliai-Pole by anarchists from Katerynoslav. In this way, Makhno and a number of other Ukrainian youth were brought into contact with the urban anarchist movement. Makhno’s adherence to anarchism was to be of central importance throughout the rest of his life, and in order to understand his actions, as well as the major influences upon him, the relationship between anarchist theory and nationalism must be discussed.
In anarchist theory, the solution of national problems is achieved with the overthrow of the state. In a stateless society, the bourgeoisie is no longer able to oppress the workers by playing on their nationalism. Also, the abolition of the state ends national oppression and allows the free development of all nations. Classical anarchism does not recognize national questions.
Though most Russian anarchists in the pre-revolutionary period dismissed the question of nationalism as irrelevant, a minority thought that greater attention should be devoted to this issue. In 1910, Maksim Raevskii wrote in Burevestnik that “it is even possible to say that the national factor in the life of mankind is studied less in our literature than are all other important questions of social and political life.” Raevskii and the dean of Russian anarchists, Peter Kropotkin, attempted to bring about a change in Russian anarchist attitudes toward the liberation struggles of the Poles, Georgians, Jews, and other minority groups. However, the prevailing tendency in the pre-1917 period was either lack of attention to the national factor, or, when it was alluded to, a simple denunciation of nationalism as a bourgeois manifestation. For those anarchists interested in the nationality issue, the limited literature on the subject gave little guidance.
Anarchists were very active in the Ukraine after the 1905 Revolution. Their activity, however, was centred in the Russified cities of Katerynoslav, Kharkiv, Odessa, and Kiev. Given the ethnic configuration and cultural-linguistic characteristics of these centres, it was possible for the anarchist movement in the Ukraine to be culturally “Russian” and thus to avoid the national problem. It is impossible to estimate the number of Ukrainians in the anarchist movement. However, the lack of special Ukrainian anarchist groups or of periodicals in Ukrainian suggests that the number of Ukrainian-speaking or nationally conscious anarchists was not large. The lack of evidence of Ukrainian activity in the anarchist movement is in marked contrast to the considerable material on the participation of Ukrainian Jews in the movement. Even Raevskii, an anarchist interested in the nationality problem and a native of the Ukrainian city of Nizhyn, made no mention of Ukrainians in his discussion of the nationality problem in the Russian Empire. A measure of the anarchists’ lack of perception of a Ukrainian problem is revealed by the local reports, or “chronicles,” in the pre-1917 anarchist press. A study of these “chronicles” shows evidence of anarchist activity in twenty-five Ukrainian cities and villages. In only six cases (all from northern Ukraine and not including a single major city) is there evidence of consciousness of the existence of a Ukrainian nation. Thus, the pre-1917 anarchist movement in the Ukraine had neither contact with nor great awareness of the Ukrainian national movement. Linguistically and culturally, it was predominantly a Russian movement of the Ukrainian cities.
Makhno’s anarchist leanings placed him in the world of Russian revolutionaries, a world that, though not Russian nationalist, was Russian in outlook and that viewed any “localist” or nationalist movement as a hindrance to the social revolution. Makhno’s entrance into this “Russian” environment was reinforced by his confinement in Moscow’s Butyrki prison, where he came under Arshinov’s tutelage. It was probably his long confinement there that linguistically Russified him.
The Makhno who returned to Huliai-Pole in March of 1917 was not interested in a search for national identity but in social revolution and cooperation with anarchist forces. “Ukrainianism,” a concept that he may well have first encountered at that time, was to him a bourgeois political movement of the village intelligentsia and merely another ideology to be combated. The distinction between political activity on behalf of a Ukrainian state and the assertion of one’s linguistic-national identity as a Ukrainian was still very vague. This was especially true in Katerynoslav gubernia, where Ukrainian political and cultural life were particularly underdeveloped. To increase their strength, the Ukrainian political factions in the area cooperated in joint activities. The more rightist groups devoted their efforts to cultural work. The weakness of the Ukrainian political movement caused others, including Makhno and the anarchists, to consider “Ukrainians” as merely an amorphous political faction.
The young anarchist’s entrance into the political life of the Huliai-Pole of 1917 meant a struggle with Ukrainian forces. Makhno and his group of anarcho-communists soon attained dominance in the Huliai-Pole Soviet and successfully opposed the activity of the major Ukrainian party, the Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionaries. Makhno carried on a bitter struggle against the “Ukrainians,” or, as he called them, the “socialist chauvinists,” and contacts with urban anarchists only strengthened the Huliai-Pole group’s antipathy. Marusia Nikoforova and other Oleksandrivsk anarchists visited the town and counselled the use of terror against Ukrainian parties. Local anarchists responded by assassinating the major “Ukrainian” leader in the village, Semiuta-Riabko. Makhno’s deep antagonism to the Ukrainian movement was one of the factors leading to his cooperation, in January 1918, with Bolshevik forces in Oleksandrivsk against the forces of the Rada. He viewed the Rada’s invitation to the Central Powers to enter the Ukraine as the final betrayal of the revolution.
Even before Makhno launched the guerrilla movement that was to become the Makhnivshchyna, and before the Nabat group of anarchists had any influence on him, the outline of his policies had emerged. This anarcho-communist peasant, who no longer had command of his native language, was suspicious of “Ukrainianism” (ukrainstvo) in general and was vehemently opposed to Ukrainian political formations. His anarchist persuasions made the culturally Russian anarchists of the Ukrainian cities his cohorts, and he felt comfortable working within this non-Ukrainian milieu. Finally, like so many other anarchists, he saw the Bolshevik movement as revolutionary and was willing to cooperate with it against what he viewed as the forces of reaction.
Soon after Makhno returned to Huliai-Pole from Moscow, in July 1918, he launched the guerrilla movement that was to be the basis of his power. Peasant resentment against the conservative regime of the Hetman as well as the German and Austro-Hungarian occupation was widespread. In the northern and western areas of the Ukraine this discontent was utilized by the Ukrainian political forces of the Directory. At the same time, Makhno became a major leader of the anti-Hetmanate rebellions in the steppe areas of Katerynoslav and Taurida gubernias. But already, from the first contacts between the Directory forces of Otaman Havrylo Horobets and the Makhnivtsi, it was evident that Makhno was bitterly opposed to groups attempting to establish a Ukrainian state. Any hope that he could be won over to the Ukrainian national cause was destroyed by Chubenko and Myrhorodskyi, Makhno’s emissaries to Horobets. One of the Directory officials present at this meeting described it in the following manner:
They [the Makhno delegates] spoke Russian and under the slogans of battle with the “counterrevolution,” “bourgeoisie,” etc., did not want to hear of anything else. To the proposition of the Ukrainian Command that they enter into a common struggle for the resurrection of the Ukrainian state, they announced that they considered the Directory a counterrevolutionary force and that for them, revolutionaries, mere was no common path with the Ukrainian nationalist bourgeoisie. In general their phraseology did not differ at all from that of the Bolsheviks.
There was almost no common ground between Makhno, who stressed the needs of the revolution, and the Ukrainian forces, who emphasized Ukrainian cultural and national aspirations.
Throughout the complex political events of 1919-1920, Makhno’s policy toward the Ukrainian problem was consistent. After the Nabat group of anarchists joined Makhno, several publications propounding ardent internationalism were founded. Ukrainian nationalism, as well as nationalism of any sort, was condemned in the movement’s major organ, the Russian-language newspaper Put k svobode. When Otaman Hryhoriiv rose in revolt against the Bolsheviks under the banner of Ukrainian nationalism and called for Makhno’s assistance, the Makhnivtsi issued a condemnation:
What does Hryhoriiv say? From the first words of his “Universal” he says that the people who crucified Christ rule the Ukraine, that they have come from rapacious Moscow. Brothers, is it possible that you do not hear in these words the dark call to the Jewish pogrom? Is it possible you do not feel the aim of Otaman Hryhoriiv to tear asunder the living brotherly link of revolutionary Ukraine from revolutionary Russia?
Not only was the movement as a whole opposed to Ukrainian nationalism, but those both favourable and hostile to Makhno testify to his lack of nationalist feeling. The degree of Makhno’s hostility to Ukrainian nationalists is illustrated by Fotii Meleshko’s account of his meeting with Makhno in 1919. Meleshko recalls that Makhno asked him whether he was afraid, since the anarchist leader was rumoured to murder all “nationally conscious” Ukrainians.
Makhno consistently refused military cooperation with Ukrainian nationalist forces. Only once did he come to an agreement with Ukrainian military groups. First contact was made with the “foreign” Galician Sich Riflemen near Uman at the height of the Denikin offensive in late September 1919. Although an accord was reached and the Petliura forces accepted a group of Makhno’s wounded, the agreement was in effect only four days. The Makhno camp issued a pamphlet denouncing Petliura and later charged that he planned to betray them to the Whites. Subsequently, Makhno was charged with having planned to deal with Petliura as he had with Hryhoriiv.
It would be a mistake, however, to label the Makhnivtsi as “anti-Ukrainian.” Although they opposed the political goals of most “svidomi ukraintsi” (nationally conscious Ukrainians), they accepted the existence of a Ukrainian nation and used the terms “Ukraine” and “Ukrainians.” Opposing Denikin’s restrictions on the use of the Ukrainian language in schools, the Cultural Enlightenment Section of the Makhnivshchyna issued the following order in October 1919, on the pages of Put k svobode.
In the interest of the spiritual development of die people, the language of school instruction ought to be one to which the local population (teachers, students and parents) naturally inclines. The local population, not the authorities and not the army, ought to decide this question freely and independently.
The need to communicate with the peasant masses led to the foundation of a Ukrainian-language newspaper, Shliakh do voli. Specifically Ukrainian themes, such as historical subjects and literary allusions, were mentioned frequently in Makhnivtsi publications during the later phases of the movement’s existence.
The increase of Ukrainian-language materials in the Makhnivshchyna was a result of the work of a small group of Ukrainian intellectuals. The most important of these was Makhno’s wife, Halyna Kuzmenko, a former teacher of Ukrainian language and history in the Hulaia-Pole Gymnasium. Halyna used her influence to Ukrainianize the cultural milieu of the Makhnivshchyna. In the summer of 1919, a group of Ukrainian intelligentsia gathered around her in an attempt to convert the Makhno movement to the Ukrainian nationalist cause. The available information is incomplete, but a plan may have been afoot to overthrow Makhno himself, and discovery of this probably was the factor precipitating his anti-Petliura pamphlet. One former supporter maintained that, after Makhno discovered these plans, he easily dislodged the Ukrainian nationalists from the movement. Yet, the fact that he allowed Ukrainian nationalists to work in his camp at all illustrates the need for Ukrainian cultural workers. The purported plot to convert the movement into an instrument of Ukrainian nationalism failed, but the need for cultural workers continued. Halyna, whom Makhno does not seem to have suspected of plotting against him, did not cease in her attempts to Ukrainianize the movement. The activity of Ukrainian intellectuals, however, was merely a minor current in the Makhnivshchyna.
In fact, anarchists, many of them Russian and Jewish, provided the basic cadre of the movement in 1918-1919. The slogans of the movement were internationalist, and Ukrainian nationalism was opposed, though the latter was considered only a peripheral problem. Nonetheless, some Soviet historians have claimed that both the movement and Makhno turned to nationalism during the 1920-1921 period. M. Kubanin asserted that many of the ideological anarchists departed from the Makhno camp and that, under the influence of Halyna and a “chauvinistic” group, the peasant leader’s pronouncements became more and more nationalistic. He also charged that Makhno cooperated with Petliura units in “mutual non-aggression pacts and joint action against Soviet power,” and that Makhno’s final transformation into a Ukrainian nationalist came just before his flight to Rumania, when he drew up a universal calling for the liberation of “Mother Ukraine” – Nenka Ukraina. In 1928, Makhno wrote a rebuttal to Kubanin in which he totally dismissed the charges. He also asserted that Kubanin distorted anarchism’s espousal of local autonomy so as to create trumped-up charges of nationalism. Unfortunately, he did not provide any substantial information on the period, and his assertion that Halyna did not even wish to win him over to nationalism does not coincide with what is known about her.
There is considerable cause to doubt Kubanin’s charge of Makhno’s conversion to nationalism. The nationalist papers and pronouncements he refers to are never cited or quoted in his work. Moreover, a Bolshevik proclamation issued sometime after November 1920 – that is, after the Wrangel defeat – asserted that, unlike Petliura, Makhno was not a nationalist and did not appeal to nationalist sympathies. Kubanin’s statement that the number of anarchists with Makhno decreased considerably between 1919 and 1920 is, of course, correct. The increasing dissatisfaction of Nabat with Makhno led to a final break in November 1920, but this was not over the national question. The alleged “truce, non-aggression pact, and joint action against the Soviets” with the Petliura bands is contradicted by Kubanin’s own citation of his major informant on the period: “There was no official link with the Petliura detachments, excluding certain chance meetings, since the Petliurivtsi feared us as an opposing camp and avoided contacts.” It is true, but hardly significant, that on occasion there was cooperation between elements of the two groups, because both were so hard pressed by the Bolsheviks. Of more importance is Makhno’s own admission that during 1920 former Petliura units joined his camp and introduced a nationalist element into his forces. However, he claimed to have resisted this influence. The projected universal that Kubanin charged Makhno as planning to issue is discussed by a former Makhno supporter, Teper, in the following manner:
Shortly before the flight to Rumania, Makhno decided to put into the archives all prior declarations and to take upon himself the composition of a new declaration in a completely different vein. Basically he proposed in it a project for the national liberation of the Ukraine…. But a part of the commanding staff protested strongly against this declaration, and he was forced not to push it any further.
Far from seeing this declaration as the culmination of a process, Teper views it as a desperate, last-minute effort to secure Ukrainian nationalist support. Thus, he contradicts Kubanin’s allegation of a steady process that culminated in this proposed manifesto. The problem of Makhno’s conversion can be resolved only on the basis of new evidence.
Whether or not Makhno considered issuing a call for the liberation of the Ukraine as a last-ditch effort, the charge that he went over to the nationalist camp in 1920-1921 seems improbable. What is possible is that the virulence of his opposition to Ukrainian nationalism decreased in the face of what he saw as even greater enemies. Also, the triumphs of Russian forces in the Ukraine (Bolshevik or White) and the increasing self-identification of the masses as Ukrainian may have led him to think in Ukrainian terms. It is significant that in the anarchist émigré press, in which Makhno was so often held responsible for the Jewish pogroms, no mention was made of any Ukrainian nationalism.
The problem of Makhno’s relationship to the Ukrainian question appears to be simple. A Russified Ukrainian peasant led a movement ideologically opposed to Ukrainian nationalist forces and staffed by a culturally Russian anarchist elite. From what is known of his life in emigration in Paris, his contacts were with Russian anarchists, not with nationally conscious Ukrainians. He contributed to Russian anarchist publications and journals, and it would appear that his relations with his major Ukrainian contact, his wife Halyna, were strained.
All the evidence is consistent, with one exception – Makhno’s own history of the movement in his memoirs. Composed in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, his writings reveal a man very much aware of his own Ukrainian identity and the appeal of Ukrainian nationalism to the masses. He even displays a considerable degree of Ukrainian patriotism.
The memoirs contain numerous texts of speeches, purportedly made by Makhno, explaining the bankruptcy of Ukrainian nationalism. Long passages assert the correctness of Makhno’s and other anarchists’ programs for the liberation of the Ukraine and Ukrainians. He describes the events of 1918-1919 as a process in which the “Russian Revolution in the Ukraine” became the “Ukrainian Revolution.” One of the speeches quoted in the memoirs from the Revolutionary period includes a passage predicting that “Even should the Revolution in the Ukraine appear to be a continuation of the Russian Revolution, it will in its character and anti-state feeling be a Ukrainian Revolution.” Makhno also included passages extolling the special qualities of the Ukrainian soul. He thus describes his feelings while addressing a meeting in Huliai-Pole:
I began to lose my equanimity and almost cried for joy at the breadth of development of the Ukrainian workers’ and peasants’ souls. Before me arose the peasants’ will to freedom and independence, which only in the width and depth of the Ukrainian soul could so quickly and strongly manifest itself.
In the memoirs, Makhno’s interest focuses not only on the Ukrainian revolutionary soul, but also on Ukrainian culture. Although he wrote in Russian, Makhno prefaced the first volume with a note:
One thing alone must bother me in publishing this outline, and that is that it does not come out in the Ukraine and in the Ukrainian language. The Ukrainian nation is advancing culturally step by step toward a full definition of its own individual essence and this [the memoirs, F.S.] could be important. That I cannot publish my writings in the language of my people is not my fault but that of the conditions in which I find myself.
The degree of Makhno’s Ukrainianism even led Volin, the anarchist who edited the last two posthumous volumes, to attempt to tone down what he saw as ideological failings. Volin’s commentary appended to the second volume asserted that “along with a fanatical faith in the peasantry (namely, in the Ukrainian peasantry) there existed in him [Makhno] a guarded, untrusting, suspicious relation to everything non-peasant (and non-Ukrainian).”
There are numerous factors that may have led Makhno toward interest in the national question and national consciousness. The manifest rebirth of the Ukrainian nation, the influence of his wife, the growing acceptance of the Ukraine as an entity in the 1917-1921 period, the bitterness of the struggle against the Russian Bolsheviks and the Russian Whites, all may have been contributing factors. However, the fact that he threw in his lot with the Russian anarchists of Paris illustrated that in emigration he was far from being a nationalist or anti-Russian.
The real explanation of Makhno’s Ukrainianism lies in an article he published in 1926 in the anarchist newspaper, Delo truda, entitled “A Few Words on the National Question in the Ukraine.” Makhno emphasized the great changes that the Ukrainian masses had undergone during the years of Soviet rule. He maintained that the Bolsheviks and their Moscow-based power had betrayed the Ukrainian labourer and had thus given him a great distrust of the prishlie (the outsiders, newcomers, or foreigners). Makhno asserted that, although during the Revolution the Ukrainian labourers had not sympathized with or followed those who put forth the ideas of Ukrainian “self-determination,” they later came to view this concept favourably. Accordingly, Makhno advised his anarchist brethren:
The working masses sympathize with the idea of self-determination. At times they even affirm it in their life style. Thus, for example, they uphold their language and their culture, which in pre-revolutionary times were in the position of step-children. They keep up their life style, their customs, accommodating them to the achievements of their new life. The gentlemen state-builders have nothing against using … all these natural manifestations of Ukrainian reality, against which the Bolsheviks would be powerless to struggle, even if they wished … for their goal of the creation of an independent Ukrainian state.
He saw the Soviet Ukrainianization policy of the 1920’s as an attempt by the Bolsheviks to reverse their original error and to harness Ukrainian nationalism in their service. Thus, Makhno asserted that even the anarchists’ bitter enemy, the Bolsheviks, had to come to terms with a renascent Ukraine.
Makhno also warned anarchists that they must adjust to the new situation in the Ukraine in order to convince the labourers that not only foreign government but all governments were the source of oppression. Drawing upon the lessons of the past, he recalled that during the period of his activity:
There was no time to scrutinize, and there was never any examination of all the “aliens” in our ranks. Faith in the Revolution took precedence over any discussion of who those “aliens” might be, and whether they were not our enemies.
Makhno stressed that “much has changed in the psychology of the Ukrainian labourer,” and because of the great attraction that Ukrainian self-determination had for the masses, he suggested that the anarchists’ major task was to explain that an independent Ukrainian government would be as oppressive as alien rule. In order to fulfil this task, he warned anarchists that they must take into account the following:
The Ukraine speaks Ukrainian, and because of this nationalism at times it does not listen to strangers who do not speak Ukrainian. One ought to consider this practically. If until this time anarchists have exerted a weak ideological influence on the Ukrainian village, it is because they cluster in the cities and do not take into consideration the national language of the Ukrainian village.
In order to rectify this failing, he called for the formation of a Ukrainian anarchist organization to prepare to work under these conditions.
Makhno thus proposed Ukrainianization of the anarchist movement. The importance of this stand is obvious in view of the hostility and the lack of attention given by anarchism to the problems of nationality. Not even in the 1917-1921 period did the very active anarchist movements in the Ukraine begin to “Ukrainianize.” The Nabat group chose the Ukraine as its field of action not because it had strong local roots, but simply because it saw greater potential for real revolution there. Anarchist newspapers, manifestoes, and pamphlets were predominantly in the Russian language and at times reflected pre-Revolutionary Russian views toward the existence of a Ukrainian nation.When Bolshevik victory forced most anarchists to leave the Ukraine, they emigrated essentially as Russian anarchists. Thus, the émigré anarchist movement of the 1920’s was no better equipped to operate in a Ukrainian environment than was the anarchist movement of 1905. But now, as Makhno pointed out, the Ukraine was a definite entity and nationalism was a vital issue.
Those Russian anarchists who noticed the change in the Ukrainian mentality were hardly prepared to understand or analyze it. Their concern for the world or, at least, the all-Russian revolutionary movement evoked little interest in the Ukrainian question. Even Volin and Arshinov, who begin their works with almost romantic descriptions of the Ukrainian people, in practice recount the history of the Makhnivshchyna as a Russian movement.Makhno, no matter how Russified he was, had strong attachment to his native Ukrainian countryside, and consequently took notice of the changes.
Even though the continuance of Bolshevik rule meant that anarchism was never put to the test in the Ukraine, Makhno’s fear that the movement was too “Russian” for the new situation seems correct. His appeal seems to have had no effect, and there is certainly no indication that he formed a group of Ukrainian anarchists. There is some evidence of Ukrainian anarchist activity in the Americas, but it was not the result of Makhno’s activities. A few anarchist publications in the United States showed a distinct Ukrainian consciousness and engaged in the formidable task of trying to win over the largely Galician Ukrainian workers from the nationalist camp.
Makhno’s memoirs must be understood in terms of his new perception of the Ukrainian problem. The long passages recounting ideological sparring with Ukrainian nationalists were an attempt to convince the “Ukrainian labourers” that the nationalist philosophy was still bankrupt. The apology for the Russian text of the memoirs is understandable in view of his recognition that to influence the Ukraine the Ukrainian language was indispensable. Perhaps to make his own former indifference to Ukrainian language and culture more palatable, he recounted the following incident. Returning from Russia to the Hetman-ruled Ukraine, he was rebuffed by a railwayman whom he had addressed in Russian, and he was forced to speak in Ukrainian.
I was struck by this demand, but it couldn’t be helped, and I, not having proper command of my native language, Ukrainian, was forced to disfigure it … I put a question to myself – in whose name is this demanded of me … such a butchering of a language when I don’t know it. I understood that this demand did not originate with the Ukrainian working people.
I was convinced that for such Ukrainians [the Hetman supporters] only their Ukrainian language is necessary, and not the full freedom of the Ukraine and of its working people.
Makhno was thus interested in presenting himself and the anarchists as the only true purveyors of freedom for the Ukraine. The nationalists were not the only group he took to task on the Ukrainian issue. He was also intent on exposing what he saw as the hypocrisy of Bolshevik Ukrainianization policy. This is evident from his own account of the famous encounter with Lenin. Makhno claimed to have said to Lenin: “Anarcho-communists in the Ukraine (or, since you Communist-Bolsheviks attempt to shun the word Ukraine and call her ‘the South of Russia’) – anarcho-communists in this ‘South of Russia’…” Later, when Lenin informed Makhno of the border between Ukraine and Russia (post-Brest-Litovsk) Makhno gibed: “… and you still consider the Ukraine ‘the South of Russia’?” Lenin answered “… to consider is one thing, comrade, to see in life another.” Makhno uses this technique of emphasizing his own acceptance of the Ukraine, as opposed to the Russian chauvinist attitude of his enemies, in recounting conversations with Iakov Sverdlov. Sverdlov: “So you, comrade, are from the South of Russia.” Makhno: “Yes, I’m from the Ukraine.” In view of Makhno’s contention that the Bolsheviks had embarked on the Ukrainianization policy of the late 1920’s as an attempt to counteract their initial mistakes, the memoirs should be seen as an effort to make the public aware of what he saw as the hypocrisy of Bolshevik attitudes toward the Ukraine.
Not only ideological enemies came in for attack on the Ukrainian issue; Makhno also settled scores with his anarchist enemy, Alexander Shapiro. Shapiro charged Makhno with anti-Semitism in numerous articles in the émigré anarchist press. Thus, Makhno’s description of a conversation about the Ukraine to which he adds the comment ” (according to Shapiro, the South of Russia),” is in fact a counterattack charging his anarchist enemy with anti-Ukrainian Great Russian chauvinism.
The vehemence with which Makhno criticized his enemies for anti-Ukrainianism merely emphasizes the development of his own Ukrainian national consciousness. The direction of Makhno’s thinking is in fact a testimony to the triumph of the Ukrainian national revival in the years after the Revolution. For large segments of the Ukrainian population, the 1917 period and the revolt against the Hetman were crucial for the formation of a Ukrainian national consciousness. For Makhno, however, the crucial stage appears to have been the final imposition of Soviet rule. All the evidence supports the assertion that Makhno and the Makhnivsti carried on their struggle in an area where the Ukrainian issue was not of major importance. However, even in this area the influence of the Ukrainian revival was felt. In order to communicate on a large scale with the Ukrainian peasantry, the Makhno movement required Ukrainian-speaking cultural workers. Above all, the presence of a nationally conscious Ukrainian, Makhno’s wife, introduced a limited Ukrainianization. The emergence of a nationally conscious Ukrainian nation in the 1920’s, which prompted the Communist Party to introduce Ukrainianization, was the final decisive influence on Makhno’s thinking. While he never became a nationalist, he did to a degree become a Ukrainian anarchist.
The evolution of Makhno’s thought on the nationality issue was particularly complex because of his involvement in the “Russian” anarchist movement. The dilemma of the Ukrainian radical in the pre-Revolutionary period was to integrate Ukrainian national aspirations, which often seemed provincial and minor to the revolutionary youth, with the more important “All-Russian” or universal problems. The sons and daughters of the Ukrainian intelligentsia faced this problem early in their development. But, Makhno, who emerged from the nationally amorphous mass of peasantry, initially paid little attention to the implications of the Ukrainian revival in the Russian Empire. This was especially true because the anarchists, the group with which he identified, were antagonistic to nationalism and isolated from those segments of the population most influenced by the rise in national consciousness. Like many of his contemporaries during the Revolution, Makhno viewed “Ukrainian” as more a political than a national designation. By the 1920’s, however, “Ukrainians” had emerged as a full-fledged nation, and one that could contain all shades of political thought – from legitimate monarchist to communist. “Ukrainianism” was no longer identified with agrarian populists. Consequently, the Ukrainian nation could even contain an anarchist element. Just as there were French, Spanish, and Russian anarchists, who were by no means nationalists, there could also be Ukrainian anarchists. Makhno’s thinking and writings reflected this emergence of a modern Ukrainian nation.
1. The range of opinion has been extreme. For example: “In the Ukrainian liberation struggle, Makhno’s role was so negative and destructive that he deserves only to be ignored.” F. Meleshko, “Nestor Makhno ta ioho anarkhiia,” Novyi shliakh (Winnipeg), December 18, 1959, p. 3; “Batko N. Makhno was a capable leader of the Zaporozhian faction of our National Liberation Movement and led an unceasing struggle against the enemies of our people, without surrendering under any circumstances, without betraying his people and without sparing his own strength or life.” Vasyl Dubrovskyi, “Batko Nestor Makhno – ukrainskyi natsionalnyi heroi,” Chornomorskyi zbirnyk, Vol. VI (Hertzfeld, 1945), p. 5. For disputes on other issues, see the newspapers Delo truda (Paris) and Volna (New York). The ardour with which polemics on Makhno have continued may be seen in the recent exchanges in Novoe russkoe slovo (New York), January 23, February 2, March 2, March 15, 1969.
2. Aleksei Nikolaev, Zhizn Nestora Makhno (Riga: Izdevnieciba ‘Obshche dostupnaia biblioteka,’ n.d.); Aleksei Nikolaev, Batko Makhno (Riga: Izdevnieciba ‘Laikmets,’ n.d.); Aleksei Nikolaev, Pervyi sredi ravnykh (Detroit: Izd. Profsoiuza, 1947); Vasyl Chaplenko, Ukraintsi (New York: All-Slavic Publishing, Inc., 1960); Oles Honchar, Sobor (Kiev: Radianskyi pysmennyk, 1968); Klym Polishchuk, Huliaipilskyi ‘Batko’, 2 vols. (Kolomyia: Vyd. Oka, 1925-26); Iurii Ianovskyi, Vershnyky, in Tvory, Vol. II (Kiev: Derzhlitvydav, 1958), pp. 169-257.
3. Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit, Obsolete Communism, the Left-Wing Alternative (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1968), pp. 220-234.
4. The New York Public Library has one proclamation and three issues of Put k svobode (Huliai-Pole), Nos. 1-3; two other issues are in European libraries. L. J. van Rossum, “Proclamations of the Makhno Movement, 1920,” International Review of Social History, XIII, Pt. 1 (Amsterdam, 1968), p. 249. Van Rossum’s publication of eleven proclamations from the archive of the Italian anarchist Ugo Fedeli adds greatly to the fund of documents. A proclamation of the Makhnivtsi against anti-Semitism was published in Volna (New York), No. 58, October, 1924, pp. 39-42. Other proclamations are quoted in Petr Arshinov, Istoriia makhnovskogo dvizheniia (1918-1921 gg.)(Berlin: Izd. ‘Gruppy russkikh anarkhistov v Germanii,’ 1923). Selections from the protocol of the second meeting of the Huliai-Pole District Conference (February 12, 1919) are published in Petr Struve, “Ideologiia Makhnovshchiny,” Russkaia mysl, No. 1-2 (Sofia, 1921), pp. 226-232. Three copies of the Kharkiv Makhno group’s newspaper Golos makhnovsta are in the Soviet Union; they are cited in S. Semanov, “Makhnovshchina i ee krakh,” Voprosy istorii, No. 9 (Moscow, 1966), p. 57. The Ukrainian-language newspapers Shliakh do voli (Huliai-Pole) and Anarkhist povstanets (Poltava) are unavailable.
5. The outline given here includes the barest essentials to provide the reader with necessary background. A general sketch is found in David Footman, Civil War in Russia (London: Faber, 1961), pp. 245-303. See also Max Nomad, “The Warrior: Nestor Makhno, the Bandit Who Saved Moscow,” in Apostles of Revolution (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1939), pp. 302-342, and Victor Peters, Nestor Makhno: The Life of an Anarchist (Winnipeg: Echo Books, 1970).
6. The most authoritative study of the 1906-1909 activities of Makhno and the Huliai-Pole group of anarchists is by G. Novopolin, “Makhno i guliai-polskaia gruppa anarkhistov (po ofitsialnym dannym),” Katorga i ssylka, No. 34  (Moscow, 1927), pp. 70-77. Novopolin’s work is based largely on the Odessa prosecutor’s indictment of December 14, 1909, which charged fourteen people.
7. The most thorough scholarly study of anarchist tendencies in the Makhno movement is by Romuald Wojna, “Nestor Machno: anarchizm czynu,” Z Pola Walki, No. 2  (Warsaw, 1970), pp. 45-76. See also “Anarkhizm i makhnovshchina,” Anarkhicheskii vestnik, No. 2 (Berlin, 1923), pp. 27-37. Attacks by anarchist enemies of Makhno such as Mark Mrachnyi and Aaron Baron can be approached through a study of Makhno’s answers, published in the Paris anarchist paper Delo truda during the mid-1920’s. An enlightening, but unfinished, discussion of the relationship of anarchism to the Makhnwshchyna (chiefly a history of the Nabat group) is the study of D. Ierde, “Politychna prohrama anarkhoma-khnivshchyny,” Litopys revoliutsii, IX, 1-2 (Kharkiv, 1930), pp. 41-50.
8. Considerable attention is given to Hryhoriiv’s revolt in Arthur Adams, Bolsheviks in the Ukraine: The Second Campaign, 1918-1919 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963).
9. Makhno’s role in the struggle against Denikin is the basis of Nomad’s epithet: “The Warrior: Nestor Makhno, the Bandit Who Saved Moscow,” in Apostles, p. 302.
10. For contemporary accounts of this very confusing period in Makhno’s life, see Kazimir-Valerian Tesliar, “Pravda o muzhike-anarkhiste Makhno i anarkho-makhnovshchine,” Volna (New York), No. 34-35, October-November, 1922, pp. 21-25; Gr. Anar. Molodezhi Varshavy, “Sud nad N. Makhno,” Volna, No. 45, September, 1923, pp. 45-46.
11. Nestor Makhno, Russkaia revoliutsiia na Ukraine (Paris: Federatsiia anarkho-kommunisticheskich grupp Severnoi Ameriki i Kanady, 1929), Pod udarami kontr-revoliutsii (Paris: Izdanie Komiteta N. Makhno, 1936), Ukrainskaia revoliutsiia (Paris: Izdanie Komiteta N. Makhno, 1937). These three volumes are hereafter referred to as Makhno I, II, III. The last two were issued posthumously under the editorship of Makhno’s major anarchist colleague, Volin (Vsevolod M. Eikhenbaum).
12. Arshinov, Istoriia makhnovskogo dvizheniia; Voline [Vsevolod Eikhenbaum], La revolution inconnue (1917-21) (Paris: Les Amis de Voline, 1947), translated into English as The Unknown Revolution (Kronstadt 1921, Ukraine 1918-21) (London: Freedom Press, 1955).
13. M. Kubanin, Makhnovshchina (Leningrad: Priboi, 1927). Early Bolshevik accounts vary in scholarly level. Many are mere propaganda tracts against an all-too-popular foe. Those which the contemporary Soviet historian Semanov describes as written “in the hot aftermath of the events” are Ia. Iakovlev, Russkii anarkhizm v velikoi russkoi revoliutsii (St. Petersburg: Izd. Kommunisticheskogo internatsionala, 1921), M. Ravich-Cherkasskii, Makhno i Makhnovshchina (Katerynoslav, 1920), R. Eideman, Ochagi atamanshchiny i banditizma (Kharkiv, 1921), D. Lebed, Itogi i uroki let rnakhnovshchiny (Kharkiv, 1921). Semanov’s “Makhnovshchina i ee krakh” is one of two Soviet studies in recent years and is the only substantial discussion of the Makhnivshchyna which makes no use of Makhno’s memoirs. Semanov’s only comment is in note 81, p. 52, which mentions the first two volumes of memoirs and ascribes their editorship to Volin. This would lead one to believe that Makhno’s writings were unavailable to Semanov, since he reveals no knowledge of the third volume and since, in fact, Volin did not edit Volume I, as is explained in detail in the introduction to Volume II. He and Makhno were having personal difficulties at the time. The other Soviet work is P. Kh. Bilyi, “Rozhrom Makhnovshchyny,” Ukrainskyi istorychnyi zhurnal, XIV, 5 (Kiev, 1971), pp. 10-21, which is devoted to a narrative of die last phase of the Makhnivshchyna. It is especially valuable for information on early Bolshevik literature dealing with Makhno. Of considerable value is the account of the former Makhnivets anarchist I. Teper [Gordeev], Makhno: Ot “edinogo” anarkhizma k stopam rumynskogo korolia (Kiev. Molodoi rabochii, 1924).
14. Liubomyr Wynar, “Zviazky Nestora Makhna z Armiieiu U.N.R. (1918-1920),” Rozbudova derzhavy, No. 3 (Montreal, 1953), pp. 15-18. Wynar has also contributed another article that contains useful information on the relationship between the Makhno movement and the Ukrainian national movement: “Prychynky do rannoi diialnosty Nestora Makhna v Ukraini (1917-18),” Rozbudova derzhavy, No. 2 (Montreal, 1953), pp. 14-20.
The article by Dubrovskyi, “Batko Nestor Makhno,” is an important work that contains a positive evaluation of Makhno’s role in Ukrainian history. It is strictly a narrative, however, and does not analyze Makhno’s thought on the Ukrainian question. The most useful commentary by a member of a Ukrainian political faction is Isaak Mazepa, Ukraina v ohni i buri revoliutsii, 3 vols. (Munich: Prometei, 1950-51). A nearly contemporary account of the Makhnivshchyna, and at the same time a particularly interesting Ukrainian political commentary on the movement, is A. S., “Makhnivshchyna,” Kalendar ‘Hromada’ dlia robitnoho naroda v nisti i seli na rik 1926 (Lviv, 1925), pp. 105-109. The best work in English is Nestor Makhno, by Victor Peters, especially for its eyewitness accounts gathered on the Makhnivshchyna.
15. For Makhno’s discussion of his Russification, see Makhno II, pp. 153-154.
16. For a description of Huliai Pole, see Natalia Sukhogorskaia, “Vospominanie o makhnovshchine,” Kandalnyi zvon, No. 6 (Odessa, 1927), pp-37-38. [English translation]
17. The general trend of anarchist thinking is outlined by P. Kropotkin, “Natsionalnyi vopros,” Listki “Khleb i Volia” (London), No. 16, June 7, 1907, pp. 2-4.
18. Raevskii viewed this lack of attention as the inevitable result of anarchism’s development in uni-national states – above all in Western Europe. He maintained that anarchists in the multi-national Russian Empire must devote more attention to nationalism, citing two articles by Kropotkin as one of the few anarchist attempts to study and explain the growth of nationalism among the non-Russians of the Empire and above all among the working class. M. Raevskii, “Natsionalnyi vopros s tochki zreniia kommunisticheskogo anarkliizma,” Burevestnik (Paris), No. 19, February 19, 1910, p. 13.
Kropotkin attributed the lack of anarchist discussion on the nationality question to the influence of French anarchist theorists, who looked on nationalism as a prop of the state and of reaction. He maintained that, although this view was correct for the French and other dominant nationalities, it did not apply to oppressed ones. He generalized from the history of the nineteenth century that no social revolution is possible while a nation is struggling for its liberation. Thus, it would follow from his argument that the success of the struggle for national freedom was a necessary precondition of the struggle for social revolution. Indeed, he believed that if each nation developed its own language and culture it would contribute to the progress of anarchism. Kropotkin, pp. 2-4.
Raevskii commented on the considerable criticism levelled against Kropotkin in anarchist circles because of his favourable attitude toward nationalist movements. He also called on anarchists to formulate tactics for dealing with nationalism among the workers of the oppressed nationalities of Russia. However, Raevskii challenged Kropotkin’s assertion that nations struggling for national freedom could not enter the path of social revolution. He cited the Jews, Poles, and Georgians as examples that the struggle for national freedom is an integral part of the struggle for social freedom. Thus, Raevskii saw the reawakening of oppressed nationalities and their struggle for freedom as a positive phenomenon in which anarchists should play a role.
19. Interest was centred on Jewish nationalism, a very atypical form, given the Jewish minority status and the Zionist movement. Kropotkin’s articles on the nationality problem were prompted by the inquiries of Marc Jahrblum, a Zionist anarchist. M. Raevskii (L. Fishelev) was Jewish.
20. The formation of a specifically Ukrainian group of anarchists was announced in 1914. Its goal was to issue propaganda in the Ukrainian language. Nabat (Geneva), No. 1, July, 1914. There is no indication that this group undertook any activity.
21. Paul Avrich, The Russian Anarchists (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967), pp. 43-49.
22. Ibid., pp. 62-63.
23. Katerynoslav (Dnipropetrovsk); Odessa and Balta (Odessa oblast); Cherkasy, Smila, Shpola, Zvenyhorodka, Uman, and Zolotonosha (Cherkasy oblast); Elizavethrad (Kirovhrad oblast); Vinnytsia and Pohrebyshche (Vinnytsia oblast); Melitopol, Oleksandrivsk (Zaporizhzhia) and Huliai-Pole (Zaporizhzhia oblast); Romny (Sumy oblast); Nizhyn (Chernihiv oblast); Zhytomyr and Berdychiv (Zhytomyr oblast); Lutsk (Volyn oblast); Novopavlivka (Voroshylovhrad oblast).
Newspapers consulted: Listki “Khleb i Volia” (London), No. 1, October 30, 1906, through No. 17, June 20, 1907; Nabat (Geneva), No. 1, July, 1914; Nos. 2-3, May-June, 1915; No. 4, April, 1916; Anarkhist (Geneva), No. 1, October, 1907; No. 5, March, 1910; Burevestnik (Paris), No. 1, July 20, 1906, through No. 19, February, 1910; Buntar (Geneva), No. 1, December, 1906; No. 1, May 15, 1908; Khleb i volia (London), No. 1, August, 1903, through No. 25, November, 1905; Khleb i volia (Paris), No. 1, February, 1909; No. 2, July, 1909; Almanakh, No. 1 (Paris, 1909).
24. A report from Shpola mentioned the necessity for anarchist newspapers and leaflets in Ukrainian in order to work among the peasants and workers. A report from Chyhyryn informed of conversions to anarchism from the Revolutionary Ukrainian Party, while another from Romny (northern Poltava gubernia) told of the conversion of that city from a centre of the Ukrainian “Spilka” to anarchism. Anarkhist (Geneva), No. 1, October 10, 1907, p. 33 and No. 2, April, 1908, p. 29.
One informant from Nizhyn wrote of distributing leaflets in the “Little Russian language.” Khleb i volia (London), No. 11, September, 1904, p. 4. Another article outlined the beginnings of the anarchist movement in the Ukraine, including developments in Nizhyn; it also contained information on Ukrainian parties and stressed the paucity of anarchist literature (only in Russian) as opposed to Social Democratic literature (in three languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Yiddish). L. Pridesnianskii, “Pervye shagi anarkhizma na Ukraine,” Almanakh, No. 1 (Paris, 1909), pp. 117-125.
Finally, a report from Chernihiv gubernia discussed the work of the Ukrainian Social Democrats. It mentioned the lack of influence of the Russian Social Democrats, referred to the activity of the Bund and commented on the large number of Jews among the “progressive” proletariat. Khleb i volia (London), Nov. 13-14, October-November, 1904, p. 8.
25. Arshinov joined the anarchist movement in 1906. From 1911 until 1917 he served with Makhno in Butyrki. Contacts between them were renewed in 1918 during Makhno’s trip to Moscow. In April 1919, Arshinov joined Makhno and remained with him until the beginning of 1921 as a member of the Cultural Enlightenment Section and editor of Put k svobode. Volin, “Predislovie,” in Arshinov, pp. 12-14.
26. Mykola Irchan asserts that he was told this by Makhno. M. Irchan, Makhno i Makhnivtsi (Kaminets: Vyd. “Striltsia,” 1919), p. 19. Makhno later admitted that by July 1918 he was no longer in command of his “native language.” Makhno II, pp. 153-154.
27. Mazepa discusses this weakness and illustrates it by pointing to these facts: (1) the first city election in Katerynoslav, in which Ukrainian parties won 9 out of 113 seats, was considered a victory; (2) throughout Katerynoslav gubernia, Soviets and dumas were almost never controlled by Ukrainian political groups; (3) in the whole gubernia Ukrainians were able to publish only one weekly newspaper, and this was the result of a collective effort by all parties. Mazepa, Vol. I, pp. 25-26.
28. B. Belash, “Makhnovshchina (otryvki iz vospominanii B. Belasha),” Litopys revoliutsii, VII, 3 (Kharkiv, 1928), p. 194. Makhno makes mention of a visit by M. Nikoforova on August 29, 1917. Makhno I, p. 62. In discussing the events of January 1918 and cooperation with the Bolshevik forces, Makhno mentions Nikoforova’s role as a delegate to the Revolutionary Committee. Makhno II, p. 116.
29. Makhno I, pp. 189-191.
30. Ibid., pp. 107-127.
31. Ibid., p. 181.
32. See Avrich, pp. 122-203, for a general discussion of the Bolshevik-anarchist relationship. It must be remembered that, while the Bolshevik “purge” of anarchists ended cooperation between the two, the Bolshevik regime continued to hold a fascination for anarchists, since they often continued to view it as “revolutionary.” While Makhno was, of course, aware of the “purges,” his subsequent alliances with the Bolsheviks must be placed in the context of the temporary weakness of Bolshevism in the Ukraine and the great strength of the “reactionary” forces represented by Denikin.
33. The importance of the anti-Hetman movement in fomenting Ukrainian national consciousness and serving as a vehicle for the Directory’s bid for power is asserted by Mazepa: “Discounting its eventual failure… the anti-Hetman rebellion played a historic role in the Ukrainian liberation struggle. It awoke Ukrainian consciousness in the people.” Mazepa, Vol. I, p. 59. While this assessment is essentially true in the north and west, the anti-Hetman movement did not have a similar effect in the east and south. Petr Arshinov, who throughout his work shows the usual anarchist lack of concern for the nationality issue, asserts that: “The rebellion did not everywhere retain its revolutionary popular essence, its faithfulness to the interests of its class. At the same time that the rebellion in southern Ukraine took up the black banner of anarchism and went down the path of anarchy and self-rule for labourers, in the western and north-western parts of the Ukraine, after the overthrow of the Hetman, the rebellion fell under the influence of elements of democratic nationalism, foreign and hostile to it (Petliurists)… In this manner, the uprising of the peasants of Kiev, Volhynia, Podillia, and a part of Poltava gubernias, although it had common roots with the other uprisings, in its later development did not find within itself its true historic tasks or its own organized force. It fell under the control of the enemies of labour and thus became a blind instrument of reaction in their hands.” Arshinov, p. 48. Thus, Arshinov sees peasant rebelliousness as a tremendous force that could be harnessed and shaped by the politically conscious.
Others have attempted to explain on socio-economic grounds the difference between the area of the Makhnivshchyna and the territory controlled by the nationalists. “From one side the closeness of major working centres, and from the other the German and Greek colonies surrounding the Ukrainian peasantry, erased that with which the Ukrainian intelligentsia later tried to inoculate the Makhnivshchyna.” Teper, p. 48. M. Kubanin has discussed this difference as the result of the national compactness of the village in the nationalist region, which gave a nationalist hue to the hatred of the city, the greater percentage of trade carried on by Jews, and the high percentage of Polish landlords. Kubanin, pp. 29-30. Certainly more careful socio-economic analysis is necessary. Yet the role of the leader must not be underestimated. Thus, it would be interesting to see to what degree the regions held by Hryhoriiv and Makhno differed, and how much the direction of the movements they led was dependent on their leadership.
34. Mazepa, Vol. I, p. 63. Makhno’s reaction to proponents of Vynnychenko after the Directory’s assumption of power was similar. In his memoirs he claims to have duelled verbally with the Ukrainian forces: “Where, I ask you, friend, in the revolutionary Ukrainian villages and cities, will you find among the workers such fools as to believe in the ‘socialism’ of the Petliurist-Vynnychenkist Ukrainian government or ‘Ukrainian Directory’ as it styles itself?” Makhno III, p. 154.
35. For example, the issue of May 17, 1919, carried slogans such as: “Is it possible you do not know that all workers are equal, that the revolution does not know national enmity?” Arshinov, p. 204, quotes an October 1919 statement of the Makhno forces that independence for the Ukraine exists only in terms of the “self-determination of the labourers.”
36. Put k svobode (Huliai-Pole), No. 1, May 17, 1919, p. 3; and Arshinov, p. 112. The above newspaper issue also includes an article, “Grigoriev – Novyi Petliura,” warning that Hryhoriiv wished to assist the bourgeoisie to enter the Ukraine with “fire and sword.”
37. Even Teper, who charged Makhno with having embraced Ukrainian nationalism just before his flight into Rumania in 1921, writes that: “Makhno himself was as far from nationalism as from the anti-Semitism, which so many people ascribe to him.” Teper, p. 50. And, in discussing Ukrainian attempts to take control of the Makhnivshchyna, he says: “It would be comic to maintain that Makhno and the basic cadre of the Makhnivshchyna originating in Zaporizhzhia might sympathize with these national reformers.” Teper, p. 49. Dubrovskyi, who casts Makhno as a Ukrainian national hero, nevertheless admits his inattention to the national problem, pp. 21-22. See also Arshinov, pp. 203-213; Semanov, p-40; Kubanin, pp. 163-165.
38. Meleshko, December 25, 1959, p. 3. The degree to which “Ukrainian” was a political and socio-cultural term, not a national designation, is shown in a note from Halyna Kuzmenko that Meleshko cites: “My husband wishes to see you. I pledge nothing will happen to you. Nestor treats Ukrainians well!”
39. For accounts of this agreement, see Arshinov, pp. 137-138; Dubrovskyi, p. 12; Mazepa, Vol. II, pp. 112-113. The Galician Sich Riflemen were the major proponents of an alliance with Makhno. For their answer to Ukrainian critics of such an alliance, see Irchan, pp. 27-32.
40. Dubrovskyi, p. 12, cites 3,000 as the number of wounded.
41. Arshinov, p. 137. This evaluation of the Petliura forces’ policy is also put form by Kubanin, p. 109, who sees it as an attempt to buy off the Denikin forces; and by V. Rudnev, Makhnovshchina (Kharkiv: Bibl. “Oktiabria,” 1928), p. 49. Mazepa, Vol. II, p. 113, contests this accusation, claiming that the declared war between the Directory and Denikin made it impossible. Meleshko, February 19, 1960, p. 3, sees the Petliura forces’ inaction as a lost opportunity.
Wynar maintains that Makhno betrayed Petliura by abandoning the Ukrainian National Republic’s forces, and he dismisses as spurious any allegations that Petliura planned to sacrifice Makhno to Denikin. “Zviazky,” pp. 16-17. That the Petliura forces were far from satisfied with Makhno as an ally is evident from several proposals in an intelligence report of the Petliura counter-intelligence, dated October 4, 1919: “…3) Makhno himself and his unit do not recognize any authority and are against it by its nature. They are incapable of being subject to the government and command of the Ukrainian National Republic even if they wished to; 4) As a major armed group of bandits, the Makhnivtsi are a constant and major threat to our front and rear, and therefore: 5) When military circumstances permit, it would be best to squeeze the units of Makhno into Denikin’s rear where they would be a constant, solid threat for Denikin. For the liquidation of Makhno’s banditry with his system of mobility, it would be necessary for the Denikinites to use three times as many forces as Makhno commands.” “Makhno ta ioho viisko,” Litopys chervonoi kalyny (Lviv, 1935), pp. 16-17.
Although this report does not indicate a plot to sell out Makhno to Denikin, it illustrates the potential danger of the Makhno alliance for the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR). Also, Makhno’s flight to Denikin’s rear forces, far from being an unexpected betrayal of the UNR forces, may have taken place through their influence (the discrepancy in dating may be a lag in recording the document). A final reason for Makhno to have distrusted the Petliura forces is that his emissary to them was both a Ukrainian nationalist and the leader of a plot against him (cf. footnote 50).
42. This is undoubtedly one of the most perplexing aspects of the Makhnivshchyna. The first major allegation appears to be that of die former Makhnivets, Teper: “Whether this plan became known to Petliura even at present is unclear; in any case, the latter, a few hours before the appointed meeting-time, left Uman and in this way escaped the fate of Hryhoriiv.” Teper, p. 51.
Another source of evidence for such a plot is F. Meleshko, a Directory proponent who spent some time among the Makhnivtsi in the summer of 1919. Meleshko, February 19, 1960. It is unlikely that knowledge of such a plot existed in the Petliura camp. It is known, however, that a group of dissatisfied Galician Sich Riflemen conspired to assassinate Petliura and that this group was later in contact with Makhno. Letter to the author by Zenon Jaworskyj, January 15, 1971. See also K. V. Gerasimenko, “Makhno,” in Denikin-Iudenich-Vrangel: Revoliutsiia i grazhdanskaia voina v opisaniiakh belogvardeitsev, Vol. V (Moscow-Leningrad: Gosudarstvennoe izd., 1927), pp. 236-238.
43. The movement even seems to have contained a strain of attachment to the Ukraine and the Ukrainian nation. A poem by “Staryi Makeich” in Put k svobode (Huliai-Pole), No. 1, May 17, 1919, p. 3, contains a tinge of Ukrainian feeling. In an appeal for revolutionary action, it concludes:
And the brave ones went out,
Bidding adieu to their families,
To chase the oppressors from
Thus, segments of the movements, while not nationalist, saw the Makhnivshchyna as their revolution in their native land. The role of the “newcomers” (prishlie) is illustrated by a poem in Put k svobode (Huliai-Pole) No. 3, June 4, 1919, entitled, “To Ukraine… from the North,” by Chashcharin, and asking that the Ukraine accept them in a brotherly manner.
44. Arshinov, p. 204. Denikin protested the assertion that his movement was directed against the minorities by claiming that only the publicly supported schools were required to instruct in the “state” language. A. Denikin, Ocherki russkoi smuty, Vol. I (Berlin: J. Povolozky & Cie, 1926), pp. 142-144.
45. Both Volin and Arshinov estimate that the Makhnivshchyna was overwhelmingly Ukrainian, with six to eight percent of its participants Russian, and substantial numbers of Greeks, Jews, and Caucasians. Arshinov, p. 203; Volin, The Unknown Revolution, p. 221.
46. This is based on the observations of Iwan Majstrenko, Borotbism: A Chapter in the History of Ukrainian Communism (New York: Research Program on the USSR, 1954), p. 104, who had Shliakh do voli at his disposal. V. Holubnychy maintains that, while the Makhnivtsi literature was primarily in Russian at the beginning, it was later for the most part in Ukrainian. He also mentions the existence of a Makhnivtsi Ukrainian paper in Poltava (Anarkhist-Povstanets). V. Holubnychy, “Makhno i Makhnivshchyna,” Entsyklopediia Ukrainoznavstva: Slovnykova chastyna, Vol. IV (Paris, Munich: Vyd. “Molode Zhyttia,” 1962), pp. 1493-1494.
47. Halyna, the daughter of a police official, was from Pishchanyi Brid, Elizavethrad (Kirovhrad) county, Kherson gubernia. She studied at the Women’s Seminary in Dobrovelychkivka (Elizavethrad county) and in the fall of 1918 accepted a position in the newly opened Ukrainian State Gymnasium in Huliai-Pole. Her reasons for becoming one of a long string of Makhno’s wives are reputed to have been her fears of the Denikin forces. The couple are reported to have married in her native village church during the summer of 1919. Meleshko, December 18, 1959, and December 21, 1959. Halyna later denied that there had been any religious rites. See her “Vidpovid na stattiu ‘Pomer Makhno’ v ‘Novii Pori’ vid 9-ho serpnia 1934 roku, hor. Detroita, Mych.,” Probuzhdenie (Detroit), No. 50-51, September-October, 1934, p. 17. Another source maintains that the church wedding was necessary to please Halyna’s parents, who were Old Believer peasants, and attributes her hatred of Denikin’s Whites to their murder of her parents. Sukhogorskaia, p. 55. There is a rumor that she and Makhno were not on good terms in the emigration, but it is known that Halyna attended her husband’s funeral in 1934 with their daughter. Meleshko, February 26, 1960, p. 3.
Teper, p. 44, describes Halyna as a person “who until 1922 remained of a rather strong chauvinist viewpoint.” On the other hand, Nikolaev, in his novel on Makhno, Pervyi sredi ravnykh, based largely on the author’s acquaintance with Halyna in Paris, writes with apparent total oblivion of the existence of a Ukrainian question. One may suppose that by the 1920’s and 1930’s Halyna toned down any Ukrainian nationalist sympathies.
48. Sukhogorskaia (pp. 48, 53-54), a Russian teacher in Huliai-Pole, describes Halyna as the self-proclaimed patroness of education and the intelligentsia, as well as an organizer of cultural events.
49. Halyna’s role in the Makhnivshchyna was of considerable importance. She was her husband’s constant companion even in battle and appears to have served as head of the movement’s Punitive Commission. Dubrovskyi, p. 15.
50. Teper, p. 51, is the major source. He charges that a group of Ukrainian intelligentsia became active in the Makhnivshchyna and were accepted by the Batko because of his need for cultural workers; that this group began to feel stronger, especially because it attracted Makhno’s wife to its side; and that they sought to take over the Makhnivshchyna when it was in close proximity to die Petliura forces at Uman. He maintains that they were easily defeated by the anti-nationalist Secretariat of the Makhno movement. Teper further asserts that Makhno’s plan to kill Petliura originated from his reaction to this plot. While these charges can be properly evaluated only after closer study of the material on both sides, they would appear to be correct.
M. Irchan, who served as a press-attaché for the Galician Sich Riflemen and who visited the Makhno camp in mid-September 1919, reported: “There are two parties, the nationalists, that is the Ukrainian, and the apoliticals, that is, those indifferent to the national question. The first group is constantly growing. The Army has a relatively large percentage of educated people – doctors, teachers (male and female), and people well-known even from pre-war Ukrainian literature.” Irchan, pp. 17-18.
The growth of Ukrainian cultural forces is also indicated in die memoirs of F. Meleshko, who relates that after being cut off from the Directory’s forces he received a note from Halyna inviting him and some of his cohorts to the Makhno camp. Makhno proposed that they embark on cultural work with the implicit understanding that they would serve as negotiators with the Petliura forces if the need should arise. Meleshko, V. Nadaikasa. L. Voitsyk, T. Berezhniak, and T. Moldovanenko accepted, but they bolted from the Makhno forces within a month. Meleshko reports that Volin and Arshinov were absent from the camp and that one of the twelve members of the Revolutionary-Military Soviet was an ardent Ukrainian. Meleshko, however, gives no indication that his stay with the Makhnivtsi was occasioned by anything more than chance, or that there was a Ukrainian plot against Makhno. Meleshko, December 18, 1959, and February 29, 1960.
The most important indication that an attempt was made to overthrow Makhno and utilize his forces in cooperation with the Ukrainian National Directory is offered by an informant of Dubrovskyi, R. Kupchynskyi. He states that Makhno’s emissary, Shpota, who “spoke often with us on Ukrainian themes” and who “disliked Makhno’s anarchism,” conspired with F. Shchus, one of the Makhno’s major “generals,” against the Batko, but that Makhno discovered the plot. He relates that Makhno’s wife did not want to see the end of the agreement with the Ukrainian People’s Republic and “would have been happy if Makhno’s whole army had gone over to Petliura.” Dubrovskyi, p. 12.
51. Both Arshinov and Volin are silent as to the question of Ukrainian influence in the Makhno camp. Arshinov’s discussion of cultural and educational activities makes no mention of even using the Ukrainian language. Arshinov, pp. 175-179.
52. Kubanin, pp. 165-166.
53. Nestor Makhno, Makhnovshchina i ee vcherashnie soiuzniki-bolsheviki (Otvet na knigu M. Kubanina) (Paris: Izd. ‘Biblioteki Makhnovtsev,’ 1928), pp. 26-27. For an example of the Makhno movement’s anti-centralism (used in this case against the Bolsheviks), see Roshchin, “Dukha ne ugashaite,” Put k svobode (Huliai-Pole), No. 2, May 24, 1919, pp. 1-2.
54. It is, of course, possible that what Majstrenko sees as an increase in Ukrainian themes, Kubanin views as nationalism.
55. “Makhnovshchina, petliurovshchina, banditizm, antisemitizm i borba s nimi,” Volna (New York), No. 58, October, 1924, pp. 37-39.
56. As early as February 1920, the Nabat had expressed concern over Makhno’s methods of leadership. In April, a new concordat was reached when Baron and Sukhovolskii were sent as emissaries to Makhno. After Makhno’s new alliance with the Bolsheviks, only Volin, Arshinov, Berkman, and Goldman remained faithful to the Makhnivshchyna. Aaron Baron and Mark Mrachnyi became especially virulent enemies of Makhno. Ierde, pp. 52-54.
57. Kubanin, p. 111. Vynar, “Zviazky,” p. 17-18, also asserts that cooperation between UNR and Makhno forces was of a local and minor character. Elsewhere, he maintains that Makhno’s antagonism to Ukrainian forces had diminished considerably in this period. “Prychynky,” pp. 17-18.
58. Nestor Makhno, “Makhnovshchina i antisemitizm,” Delo truda (Paris), No. 30-31, November-December, 1927, p. 16 [English translation]. It appears that in April 1920 a group of Ukrainian Socialist-Revolutionaries joined the Makhnivtsi, and one of their number became a member of the Revolutionary-Military Soviet. R. Ivanenko, “Pro shcho ne vilno zabuvaty (Makhnivshchyna),” Ukrainskyi holos (Winnipeg), August 29, 1962.
59. Teper, p. 114.
60. Another indication that Makhno had not espoused Ukrainian nationalism in 1920 is that, when Wrangel called on him, in the summer of 1920, to join the struggle against the Bolsheviks, he did so in the name of Russian nationalism. Arshinov, p. 168.
61. See Makhno’s answer in Makhnovshchina i ee vcherashnie, as well as “Makhnovshchina i antisemitizm.”
62. Meleshko, December 18, 1959, asserted that Makhno “was not able to gather around himself and his idea even ten Ukrainians in the emigration” (presumably he means nationally conscious Ukrainians) and that at his funeral there was only one Ukrainian, his wife.
63. Mrs. Ida Mett, an acquaintance of Makhno from 1926 to 1929, confirms that relations were strained between Nestor and Halyna Makhno in that period. Letter of January 7, 1971, to author.
64. The only work that has noticed the tone of Ukrainian patriotism in Makhno’s memoirs is that by Max Nomad. He commented that: “Makhno was particularly bitter when writing about the Ukraine, his homeland, whose liberator he had hoped to become … Unwittingly he gave vent to the nationalistic longings of his countrymen.” Nomad, p. 340. In fact, Makhno’s commentaries are not as “unwitting” as Nomad presumed.
65. See, for example, Makhno I, pp. 98, 104-105, 109-114, 157, 185; II, pp. 7, 72, 84; III, pp. 17, 155-156, 172-173.
66. Makhno III, p. 59. Makhno’s theory of a Ukrainian Revolution developing out of a Russian Revolution is illustrated in the titles of his memoirs. The first volume is entitled, “The Russian Revolution in Ukraine,” while the third is “The Ukrainian Revolution.”
67. Makhno I, p. 185.
68. Makhno I, p. 6.
69. Makhno II, p. 159. Volin’s discussion is devoted to two major attacks by Makhno on other anarchist movements. The first is Makhno’s attack on urban anarchists for their ineffectiveness and their failure to give assistance to rural anarchists. Volin asserts that the urban anarchists were tremendously understaffed even for the needs of the cities. The second is Makhno’s attack on the anarchists of Russia and their ineffectiveness compared to those of the Ukraine. Volin explains this in terms of the very different conditions existing in the Ukraine and Russia during the 1917-1921 period. He stresses the speed with which Bolsheviks assumed control in Russia and the degree to which the peasant disturbances against the Hetmanate created a favourable climate for anarchists in the Ukraine. Makhno’s attacks were largely prompted by his resentment of what he saw as the half-hearted and tardy support of anarchists from the cities and from Russia for his movement. Of course, in the Ukraine, where the concepts “Ukrainian” and “peasant” were almost coterminous, Makhno’s pro-rural disposition implied a pro-Ukrainian stance. That Makhno’s memoirs go beyond this is testified to by Volin’s emphasis on Makhno’s “fanatic belief” in a “Ukrainian” peasantry. For examples of Makhno’s disparagement of the Russian Revolution in comparison to the Ukrainian, see Makhno II, pp. 39, 142, 150.
70. Nestor Makhno, “Neskolko slov o natsionalnom voprose na Ukraine,” Delo truda (Paris), No. 19, December, 1926, pp. 4-7 [English translation].
71. Ibid., p. 5.
72. Ibid., p. 5.
73. Ibid., p. 7.
74. When the Nabat group met in Kursk in November 1918, it proclaimed that it would concentrate its work in the Ukraine, because there was a chance for a new “October” that might not fall under Bolshevik control. Ierde, p. 50.
75. The resolutions of the conference of Nabat in Elisavethrad show no evidence that the group was taking into account the non-Russian composition of the area. Rezoliutsii pervogo sezda Konfederatsii anarkhistskikh organizatsii Ukrainy “Nabat” (Buenos Aires, 1923). As late as July 21, 1919, a conference of Kievan anarchists made a proclamation to the “Russian peasant and worker.” “Vozzvanie kievskikh anarkhistov,” Nabat, No. 25, July 21, 1919, pp. 1-2. A study of the issues of Odesskii Nabat, Nabat and Kharkovskii Nabat during the 1919-1920 period shows almost no awareness of the Ukrainian revival. Though the Kharkovskii Nabat carried frequent notices of the formation of a specifically Latvian language group of anarchists, no analogous Ukrainian group appears to have existed. A Ukrainian language journal was planned for village consumption, though it appears never to have been published. P. Rudenko, Na Ukraine (povstanchestvo i anarkhicheskoe dvizhenie) (Argentina: Izd. Rabochei gruppy v Resp. Argentine, 1922), p. 25.
76. Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, American anarchists who remained Makhno supporters even after the Russian anarchist movement turned against him, sensed this change and mentioned it in the accounts of their travels in Soviet Russia and Ukraine in 1920. “In Soviet institutions, as among the people at large, an intensely nationalistic, even chauvinistic spirit is felt. To the natives, the Ukraine is the only true and real Russia; its culture, language, and customs are superior to those of the North. They dislike the ‘Russian’ and resent the domination of Moscow. The imported officials, unfamiliar with the conditions and psychology of the country, often even ignorant of its language, apply Moscow views to the population with the result of alienating even the more friendly disposed elements.” Alexander Berkman, The Bolshevik Myth (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1925), p. 163. See also Emma Goldman, My Disillusionment with Russia (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page and Co., 1923), pp. 211-241.
77. Volin begins his discourse on the Makhnivshchyna in terms that might well have served as an introduction for a nationalist publication: “Relatively cultivated and refined, individualistic and capable of taking the initiative without flinching, jealous of his independence, warlike by tradition, ready to defend himself and accustomed for centuries to feel free and his own master, the Ukrainian was in general never subjugated to that total slavery – not only of the body but also of the spirit – which characterized the population of the rest of Russia.” Volin, The Unknown, p. 76. Arshinov, p. 41, in discussing the reasons why events in the Ukraine and Russia had taken such different courses, wrote that “A second still more important side in the life of the Ukrainian peasantry and workers (the local, not the alien – the prishlie) were the traditions of free life retained from bygone times.” Despite these introductions, both authors actually proceed to describe the Makhnivshchyna as part of the Russian revolution and Russian anarchism. Arshinov states that: “The Makhnivshchyna is a revolutionary movement of the masses, prepared for by the historical conditions of life of the poorest strata of the Russian peasantry.” Arshinov, p. 214. See also pp. 24, 33.
78. One indication of this failure was Makhno’s promise that he would republish his memoirs in Ukrainian as soon as a translator could be found, thus indicating the scarcity of culturally Ukrainian anarchists. The memoirs were never published in Ukrainian. Nestor Makhno, “K russko-ukrainskoi rabochei kolonii v Sev. Amerike i Kanade,” Delo truda (Paris) No. 29, October, 1927, p. 20. The only translation of Makhno’s writings into Ukrainian was his “Zapysky,” a short commentary on the movement, in Volia Ukrainy (Newark, N.J.), No. 2, 1923, pp. 2-3.
79. See Vilna hromada (New York, 1922) and Volia Ukrainy (Newark, N.J., 1923). While these groups were not founded by Makhno, they had great respect for the Batko. On October 20, 1923, Arshinov wrote to Volia Ukrainyrequesting financial support for the defense of Makhno, who was being tried in Poland for supposedly fomenting disturbances among Ukrainians in Eastern Galicia. Volia Ukrainy (Newark), No. 2, 1923. For an example of their adulation of Makhno, see “Buv chas borotby i na nashom grunti,” Volia Ukrainy (Newark), No. 2, 1923.
80. Just how formidable this task was is obvious from reading the article by A. S. “Makhnivshchyna,” pp. 105-109. “It appears that, under anarchism, there will be communes of nations: Polish, Ukrainian, Muscovite, that create one great union (association) of nations. But are we Ukrainians sure that the Muscovite commune will give up Ukrainian wheat from the rich fields of the Dnieper-Ukraine, or the Polish commune, Galician oil? No, we are not sure. Imperialism (the tendency to exploit other nations) has been formed in Poles and Muscovites for centuries, this spirit of rule is passed at birth from father to son.” (p. 108).
81. Makhno’s recognition that knowledge of the Ukrainian language was necessary for any future anarchist work in the Ukraine is confirmed by Mrs. Ida Mett. She writes in a letter of January 7, 1971: “Je me souviens qu’un jour il m’a dit que s’il retourne en Ukraine un jour, il faudrait sans doute apprendre la langue ukrainienne tout simplement comme necessite.” Mrs. Mett’s commentary lends support to the possibility that perception of new realities, and not an active self-identification as a Ukrainian, was the cause of Makhno’s Ukrainianism in his memoirs.
82. Makhno II, pp. 153-154.
83. Makhno II, pp. 134-135.
84. Makhno II, pp. 121.
85. For a discussion of Shapiro’s attacks on Makhno for anti-Semitism, see “Dlia chego sushchestvuet anarkhicheskaia pressa,” Probuzhdenie (Detroit), No. 14, November, 1930, p. 62.
86. Makhno II, p. 100. He also uses this tactic in describing a conversation with the anarchist Lev Chernyi. He reports that they discussed the anarchist movement in the Ukraine, “which he never recognized and called the ‘South of Russia’.” Makhno II, p. 96.
This text is taken from Taras Hunchak, ed., The Ukraine, 1917-1921: A Study in Revolution, 1977, obtained from the Digital Text International website. The Nestor Makhno Archive has modified some spellings and corrected some typographical errors. The author has adopted Ukrainian names throughout; as Russian version are often more familiar, the Nestor Makhno Archive has added the following glossary:
Katerynoslav – Ekaterinoslav
Halyna (Kuzmenko) – Galina
Hryhoriiv – Grigor’ev
Huliai-Pole – Gulyai-Pole
Kharkiv – Khar’kov
Makhnivshchyna – Makhnovshchina
Nizhyn – Nezhyn
Oleksandrivsk – Aleksandrovsk
Otaman – Ataman
Zaporizhzhia – Zaporozh’e
Source: http://www.ditext.com [Taras Hunchak, ed., The Ukraine, 1917-1921: A Study in Revolution, 1977]