War in the West

Hrushevsky and the Ukraine's 'Lost' History

Will glasnost affect the view of non-Russian history in the Soviet Union? Thomas Prymak looks at Michael Hrushevsky, Ukrainian historian and nationalist whose reputation and life mirrored the ebb and flow in the fortunes of 'Kievan Rus'.

Michael Hrushevsky (1866-1934) is one of the most important Ukrainian figures of the modern era. Both for his admirers and for his detractors he was a legend in his own time. In the eyes of his supporters, this bearded and bespectacled professor was by far the greatest of modern Ukrainian historians, the author of a monumental ten-volume History of Ukraine-Rus which documented the history of the Ukrainian people from Kievan Rus to the dawn of the modern era. Hrushevsky was also known as the principal organiser of modern Ukrainian scholarship, the most celebrated spokesman for the decentralisation and federalisation of pre-revolutionary Russia, the first president of the short-lived but precedent-setting Ukrainian People's Republic of 1917-18, and one of the most influential historians living in the Soviet Union during the 1920s. In fact, as early as the revolutionary years of 1917-l8 his compatriots had already admiringly dubbed him the 'father' of his country.

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