National minorities of Southern Ukraine during the Second World War

  • Yurii Nikolaetz Doctor in Historical Sciences, Professor, Leading Research Scientist of the Department of National Minorities of I. F. Kuras Institute of Political and Ethno-National Research of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine.
Keywords: deportation, ethnic communities, national minorities, repressions, Second World War, USSR, Nazi Germany.


Second World War - the most massive military conflict that mankind knew, led to global transformations, which resulted in huge human casualties, material losses, and the redistribution of possessions in favor of the winners. Like most wars, the Second World War was a political act and was an instrument by which certain political goals were to be achieved. It was with the help of the weapons of the leaders of the dictatorial regimes of Germany and the USSR that their expansionist plans were to be implemented. At the same time, according to the classic of the German military thought of K. Klausevits, "the war in human society ... is not only a political act, but also a genuine instrument of politics, the continuation of political relations, the embodiment of them by other means". This definition of war emphasizes the original meaning of hostilities from political ones.

The fate of the representatives of national minorities during the war years largely depended on the ethnopolitical practices of the belligerents, the nature of ethnopolitical management, the specifics of interethnic interaction and ethno-cultural processes, primarily on lands where armed confrontation began. The polyethnic composition of the population of Ukrainian lands, their continued inclusion in the various states, the ambiguous nature of the interethnic interaction of the prevailing in the country, primarily Ukrainian, and, to a lesser extent, the Russian population with representatives of certain national minorities (primarily Poles, Jews, Roma), carried out large-scale hostilities an extracurricular catalyst that could contribute to a sharp aggravation of interethnic relations. This exacerbation, as evidenced by the experience of the First World War, could have caused massive violent actions against representatives of national minorities (for example, the persecution of ethnic Germans, although the absolute majority of ethnic Germans living in the Russian Empire, selflessly fought for the interests of Russia, and the proportion of traitors among the Russian Germans did not exceed the corresponding indicators of other ethnic groups).

The political goals of the countries that have shown the greatest interest in fueling the Second World War - primarily Germany and the USSR - were determined by the desire for repartition of the world. Subjects of the Soviet state tried to impose the idea of "international duties" to the people of their country, the execution of which could be secured through an offensive war. The Soviet country emerged as an international "machine for building a new world", for which any nation and ethnos - only material for such a construction [3, p.102]. In 1939, in the USSR, an "armed despot, whose servants rolled the forest, hand-picked pits in permafrost, mined gold, tin and other minerals, built companies, airfields, built highways and railroads", was arranged in the USSR, the operation of which was provided by personnel security officers.


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How to Cite
Nikolaetz, Y. (2019). National minorities of Southern Ukraine during the Second World War. HUMANITARIUM, 41(3), 133-143. Retrieved from