The End of „Divine Providence“: Ukrainian Nationalism in Subcarpathian Rus in the Context of the Czechoslovak Crisis of 1938

David Svoboda

The nationality policy of the First Czechoslovak Republic governments applied in the colourful conflict region of Carpathian Ruthenia was ambiguous and volatile until the late 1930s. The Prague governments did not manage to obtain sufficiently loyal sympathizers that would defend the interests of the state in this most eastern part of the country at times critical for it. In the end, it was the Ukrainephiles, whose power upsurge marked the history of the region in the post-Munich months, that became the most promising force. Avhustyn Voloshyn, Prime Minister of the autonomous governments, promised to preserve the bearable civilized conditions in the region, but at the same time a radical irredentist stream with a base in eastern Galicia, Poland, which considered Voloshyn’s regime to be a tolerated makeshift, started to emerge. This led to a certain “double government”, presented externally by prudent and cultivated Voloshyn, with the feverish efforts of the Ukrainian Nationalists Organization in the background. All this happened at a time when the Ukrainian question was in the banner headlines of the world press as a crucial ace in Hitler’s fight for Eastern Europe. At the same time, the Czecho-Slovak authorities joined forces with the radical armed Ukrainians concentrated in the Carpathian Sich to reverse the Polish-Hungarian sabotage operations, although their mutual relationship was characterized by a significant lack of trust. For the population of the adjacent Ukrainian areas in Poland, however, the Munich solution to the Czechoslovak crisis in 1938 was a welcome signal of fundamental changes in Central-Eastern Europe, from which also the long-suffering oppressed Ukrainians could benefit.

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