«If We Don’t Collect at Least 10,000 Signatures, Then Our Whole Venture against the Muscovite Will Be for Nothing…» (Participation of Ukrainian Captives of Rastatt Camp in the All-Russian Revolutionary Movement, 1917)
The relevance of the paper is in the need to show objectively the course of the signature-collecting campaign to authorize O. Skoropys-Yoltukhovskyi to represent the rights and interests of captive Ukrainian soldiers of Rastatt camp (Germany) before the Russian Provisional Government. The goal of this paper is to describe the organizational efforts of the «Independent Ukraine» camp community in that case, as well as to identify the factors that, on the one hand, contributed to that campaign, and on the other hand, complicated it significantly.
The objectives of the paper are to determine the peculiarities of the camp prisoners’ reaction on collecting signatures initiative; establishing the forms and methods of communication of prisoners with the Ukrainian camp activists; evaluating the effectiveness of the subscription campaign, which directly correlated with the level of national and social awareness of various groups of captive Ukrainians.
While analyzing this problem, it should be born in mind that the February Revolution in Russia destroyed most of the internal barriers that prevented prisoners from joining the Ukrainian cause. Besides, it had become a powerful factor in spreading the national consciousness of prisoners not only in the camp but also in the work teams, influencing even those who initially kept aloof from cultural and educational activity in the camp. Consequently, a large number of camp prisoners showed a high degree of national and civil consciousness, having successfully passed that «test» for their political maturity.
However, it should be noted that the impact of the revolutionary events in Russia had only a superficial influence on the significant number of prisoners, and led to their decisive unwillingness to break off with the dead heritage of the «Russian world». Their malorosiistvo (Little Russia mentality) could not be quickly changed, so all efforts of the Ukrainian camp activists to reach their hearts remained in vain. But, even in this case, the members of the «Independent Ukraine» camp community did not cease their activities aimed at the national and political enlightenment of this part of Ukrainian captives. After all, the further development of the Ukrainian national liberation movement induced most camp prisoners to make their conscious choice for the Ukrainians and support the UNR slogans.
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