Executed Renaissance

Mykola Khvylovy
Mykola Kulish
Mykhaylo Semenko
Les Kurbas
Mykola Zerov

The term Executed Renaissance (Ukrainian: Розстріляне відродження, Rozstrilyane vidrodzhennya) is used to describe the generation of Ukrainian writers and artists of 1920s and early 1930s who were performing in the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic and were executed or repressed by Stalin's totalitarian regime. The term was first suggested by Polish publicist Jerzy Giedroyc in his letter to Ukrainian literature researcher Yuriy Lavrinenko, who later used it as a title for the collection of the best literary works of that generation.


The downfall of the Russian Empire after the First World War, the resulting abolition of imperial censorship, the establishment of an independent Ukrainian state, and the relative leniency of the Soviet regime in the 1920s all led to an astonishing renaissance of literary and cultural activity in Ukraine. Scores of new writers and poets appeared and formed dozens of literary groups that changed the face of Ukrainian literature. These processes were supported by politics of nativization (in Ukraine it was called Ukrainization), New Economic Policy (state capitalism) and elimination of illiteracy.

Literary process[]

Writers mostly were consolidated into literary organizations with different styles or positions. The period between 1925 and 1928 was characterized by "literature discussion" on the initiative of Mykola Khvylovy. An object of the discussion was ways of development for new Ukrainian Soviet literature and role of writer in society. Khvylovy and his associates were supporting an orientation towards Western European culture instead of Russian, they were rejecting "red graphomania" (though they weren't rejecting Communism as political ideology).

The main literary organizations of that time were:

Repression, Arrests and Executions[]

In late 1920s Stalin abolished the New Economic Policy and returned to forced collectivization. In this context changes in cultural politics occurred as well. An early example was the Union for the Freedom of Ukraine process in 1930, a show trial of 474 people (mostly scientists), 15 of whom were executed and 248 sent to prison.

The campaign was concentrated in the years from 1934 to 1940, reaching a peak during the Great Purge of 1937-1938. Overall, 223 writers were subjected to harassment, arrest and in a number of cases imprisonment and execution. Almost three hundred representatives of the Ukrainian renaissance of the 1920s were shot between 27 October and 4 November at Sandarmokh, a massive killing field in Karelia (northwest Russia).[6]

Some important representatives of this generation survived. They remained in the Soviet Union (Oleksandr Dovzhenko, Pavlo Tychyna, Maksym Rylsky, Borys Antonenko-Davydovych, Ostap Vyshnya, and Mykola Bazhan), or emigrated (Ulas Samchuk, George Shevelov, and Ivan Bahrianyi).

A few representatives[]

See also[]