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Bad as domination by the Poles might have been, in 1939, as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, they were delivered up to the Soviet Union. Those were the circumstances in which Ukrainians, and especially West Ukrainians, welcomed the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, taking the opportunity for a mass killing of Poles and Jews which, so far as I know, was a new development in Lviv. (13) Radical antisemitism was certainly part of the old Cossack Ukrainian tradition but not, I think, of the Ruthenians under Austrian rule. I assume it was due to the widespread identification of Jews as supporters of the Communists. At any rate whereas in the nineteenth century, despite all that had happened, Ukraine had the largest concentration of Jews, it now has one of the lowest, through massacre and emigration to the United States and Israel.

(13) Described in some detail in John-Paul Himka: 'The Lviv Pogrom of 1941: The Germans, Ukrainian Nationalists, and the Carnival Crowd', Canadian Slavonic Papers, Vol.53, No.2/4 (June-Sept.-Dec. 2011), pp. 209-243.

The map shows the Reichskommisariat established in what had been the western part of Russian Ukraine. Galicia was part of the 'General Government' to the west, which covered Poland. The area to the east 'under German military government', was where the Soviet partisan movement was strongest.

The Nazi occupation saw, in the Reichskommisariat, a revival of the church, which had been heavily persecuted in the 1930s. Churches were restored, church festivals were again celebrated, Sunday was again respected as a holy day. In particular there was a revival of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church but it was challenged by what was called the Ukrainian Autonomous Orthodox Church which still saw itself as part of the much suffering Russian church. (14) With the Soviet restoration, the Autocephalous Church was suppressed, surviving in the Ukrainian emigration. Galicia was now firmly installed as part of the Soviet Union and in 1946, the Greek Catholic Church was suppressed and its buildings handed over to the revived Moscow patriarchate.

(14) Karel C. Berkhoff: 'Was There a Religious Revival in Soviet Ukraine under the Nazi Regime?' The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol.78, No.3 (July 2000), pp. 536-567.

At the end of the war, while many Ukrainians from Dnieper-Ukraine who had supported the Nazis, or used the Nazi invasion to oppose the Communists, were returned to the Soviet Union and ended up dead or in the camps, Galicians were able to persuade their American and British captors that they had only been incorporated into the Soviet Union as a result of the illegitimate Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and were therefore not really Soviet citizens. As a result they were able to continue living in the west, in particular in Canada where there was already a substantial Ukrainian emigré population following the Bolshevik takeover in the wake of the First World War. In many ways this Canadian Ukrainian body, militantly anti-Communist and identifying Communism with Russia, could be seen as the seedbed of the militantly anti-Russian Ukrainian nationalism of the present day. (15)

(15) Solzhenitsyn, during his period of exile from the USSR, met some of the Ukrainians living in Canada and left his impression of them (generally favourable despite their hostility to everything Russian) in his autobiography, Between two millstones. I give a brief account at

John-Paul Himka, himself a Canadian Ukrainian, specialist in the history of Galicia and Lviv and especially of the Greek (now 'Ukrainian') Catholic Church, is interesting in this respect. His father in law was the editor of a Ukrainian paper produced during the Nazi occupation, who emigrated to Canada. Himka maintains that: 'In Galicia, the Central European concept of national identity was reconstituted in the 1990s. I observed this as a frequent visitor to Lviv in 1989 and after, but the subject has yet to be researched by scholars ... Although the Soviet regime had been introduced into Galicia by tremendous violence, that violence ended in the 1950s and since then people had benefited from and grown used to the Soviet system.' He recognises that 'the resurgence of the Central European nationalism had many sources' but he attaches particular importance to the influence of the diaspora. The impetus did not come from the people of the area, it came from outside. (16)

(16) John-Paul Himka: 'The Basic identity formations in Ukraine: a typology', Harvard Ukrainian Studies, Vol.28, No.1/4, 2006, pp.483-500. Highly recommended.

I think we can see this also in the current controversy concerning the Orthodox Church. When the Soviet Union was dissolved in December 1991, following a vote in Ukraine in favour of independence, there was still an assumption that good relations would prevail in the successor 'Commonwealth of Independent States.' The Moscow patriarch (Alexei II) gave a large degree of autonomy to the Metropolitan of Kiev, Philaret. Philaret called a council of the church which resolved on a complete separation from Moscow, with himself as patriarch (there had never previously been a patriarch of Kiev). But my impression is that the priests and hierarchs of the time thought this was what Moscow wanted. When Alexei called another council making clear that autonomy, not autocephaly was the intention the great majority supported him, possibly more out of conservatism, anxiety that other churches might not recognise a church set up in opposition to Moscow, than any real enthusiasm. Essentially they didn't much care one way or the other, it didn't seem important to their role as an Orthodox priesthood.

Philaret then set up his own rival Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate. This was not recognised by any of the major Orthodox jurisdictions. So neither the UOC-KP nor the UAOC were recognised. It was in 2018 that the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, for essentially political reasons, asked the Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to bless a Ukrainian church independent of Moscow. Bartholomew had his own quarrels with the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, who had refused to attend the Great Council in Crete in 2016, an attempt by Constantinople to create a more unified Orthodox Church, a forum in which the many disputes among the different jurisdictions could be resolved. Bartholomew brought the Ukrainian Autocephalous Church and the Kyiv patriarchate together in a new Ukrainian Orthodox Church, or (for those willing to let the Moscow church continue to use the title UOC) Orthodox Church of Ukraine with a new metropolitan of Kiev - Philaret assumed the rather unusual title of 'honorary patriarch.' 

In establishing a 'new' metropolitanate of Kiev, Bartholomew wasn't admitting the existence of two metropolitans of Kiev. He was rescinding his predecessor's gift of the metropolitanate of Kiev to Moscow. The most interesting thing from his point of view was the assertion of his right to do it. In asserting that the metropolitanate of Kiev is still in his gift he is implicitly asserting that the patriarchate of Moscow is also still in his gift and that the long period in which Moscow acted without reference to Constantinople (in particular since Peter created the Holy Synod in 1721) could be regarded as illegitimate. I don't know if the title 'Patriarch of Kyiv' will continue in existence after the death of Philaret. Constantinople is geographically quite close to Ukraine and if the patriarchate of Constantinople could exercise direct power in Ukraine its position - so terribly weak in Istanbul - would be greatly strengthened.

The quarrel between Constantinople and Moscow is a remarkable development in the history of the Orthodox Church(es) worldwide. Whether it is of much benefit to the pastoral needs of the people of Ukraine is another matter. 

How this pans out will eventually depend on the outcome of the current Russian 'special military intervention.' The long term consequences for the Orthodox Church will probably turn on who is most blamed for the large numbers of Ukrainian soldiers killed in the course of it - the Russians for the invasion and seizure of territory, or the Ukrainian nationalists and their western backers for, over the course of the past twenty years, pushing ordinary Ukrainians into a confrontation which they didn't want and couldn't hope to win except, perhaps, at the cost of fearful sacrifices.