A community of captured Ukrainian soldiers of the tsarist army in the Wetzlar camp, Germany (September 1915 – November 1916): according to the materials of TsDAVO of Ukraine
The article deals with the specifics of the functioning of the community of captured Ukrainians in the Wetzlar camp (Germany), September 1915 – December 1916, to cover which the authors used a large array of documents stored in the Central State Archives of Supreme Authorities’ and Administration of Ukraine.
The urgency of the study of this problem is primarily due to the need for a balanced and objective study of the history of the camp Wetzlar, which housed about 16 thousand captured Ukrainians from the tsarist army, as well as the importance of introducing into wide scientific circulation an array of new archival sources on this issue.
The aim of the article is a comprehensive analysis of the daily camp of Ukrainian soldiers of the tsarist army in Wetzlar (Germany) – from the beginning of its Ukrainization (September 1915), and to the delegation to the elected bodies of the Ukrainian camp community of the functions of managing the entire internal life of the prisoners in this camp (November 1916). The objectives of the article are to analyze the organizational and creative efforts of the members of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine, who pursued the goal of nationally informing the prisoners, and involving them in the work of Ukrainian groups and organizations – to instil in them the basics of the state worldview.
Conclusions. The beginnings of organized Ukrainian life in the camp were marked by great difficulties due to the opposition of the Black Hundreds, but thanks to the persistent efforts of the members of the Educational Department of the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine and the active prisoners in Wetzlar, several circles and institutions were created (folk theatre, choir, orchestra, folk school, cooperative, etc.).
Over time, the groups increased their number, in addition – all this time the activities of the Education Department and the commandant’s office removed the anti-Ukrainian element from the camp, which in turn expanded the field for national and organizational work. The Ukrainian asset of the camp, united in several societies, increasingly took over the management of various areas of cultural and educational work.
The social and organizational life of the campers was also quite developed – already in the spring of 1916 a number of societies headed by elected presidiums from among the prisoners operated in the camp. In Wetzlar, general camp central representations were established – the «General Council» and the «General Sergeant» of the camp, which allowed to unite the work of all institutions and strengthen their influence on prisoners. The camp organizations kept in touch with the work teams, sending «men of trust» to them with fresh copies of newspapers and books.
In the autumn of 1916, important changes took place in the life of the Ukrainian camp community, which were connected with the dissolution of the Education Department and the transfer of all the levers of management of intra-camp life to the elected representation of Ukrainian prisoners. This was a turning point in the history of the camp, testifying to the high degree of national consciousness of Ukrainian soldiers and their self-organization. Since then, the Ukrainian community has become a completely self-governing structure, the leadership of which independently regulated the internal life and way of life of the campers, turning in case of need to the German commandant’s office of the camp.
Prospects for further research are seen in the preparation of the synthetic history of the Wetzlar camp.
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