Emigration

Emigration. Socioeconomic conditions and political events in Ukraine frequently caused whole groups of the population or certain individuals to emigrate abroad or beyond Ukrainian ethnic territories.

The first documented significant political emigration from Ukraine occurred after Charles XII’s and Ivan Mazepa’s defeat at the Battle of Poltava in 1709. The so-called Mazepist émigrés were senior Cossack officers and political leaders (Cossack starshyna), such as Pylyp Orlyk, Andrii Voinarovsky, Hryhor Orlyk, and Hryhorii Hertsyk. They received asylum and continued their struggle in Turkey, France, Sweden, and Poland. They kept in touch with a group of Zaporozhian Cossacks who, as a result of Mazepa’s defeat, settled in the Crimea. In 1734 these Cossacks returned to Ukraine and recognized Russian sovereignty. When the Zaporozhian Sich was destroyed in 1775 some of the Cossacks fled to the Turkish lands around Dobrudja at the mouth of the Danube River. There they established what is known as the Danubian Sich. From there a few thousand moved for a period to the land of Banat. Cossack descendants still live in the Dobrudja region.

The emigration from central Ukraine in the 1870s of a small group of scholars and public figures (among them, Mykhailo Drahomanov, Mykola Ziber, Serhii Podolynsky, and Fedir Vovk) was essentially political. The political and journalistic activities of these men in Vienna, Geneva, and Lviv had a significant impact on Ukrainian political thought and national consciousness.

In the 1900s many political figures from central Ukraine (including Dmytro Antonovych, Volodymyr Vynnychenko, Yevhen Holitsynsky, Mykhailo Rusov, M. Kanivets, and Bohdan Yaroshevsky) emigrated to Western Ukraine and established a publishing base for Ukrainian political parties in the Russian Empire. When the tsarist regime became more repressive after the Revolution of 1905, another group of political émigrés moved to Galicia, Austria, Switzerland and elsewhere. Among them were the prominent members of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Workers' party (Dmytro Dontsov, Volodymyr Doroshenko, Andrii Zhuk, and Lev Yurkevych), the see Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (Mykola Zalizniak and Fedir Koroliv), and the Ukrainian Democratic Radical party (Vsevolod Kozlovsky). These émigrés were responsible for founding the Union for the Liberation of Ukraine in 1914.

The first documented socioeconomic emigration from Ukrainian territories (but within the same state) took place within the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the middle of the 18th century, when some inhabitants of the southeastern Prešov region emigrated to ethnic Hungarian territories around Bačka and the land of Banat. The Austrian government granted them unsettled lands, and the first Ukrainian settlements sprang up in what is today Vojvodina in Serbia. A century later new settlers from the northern Prešov region arrived in Srem. At the end of the 19th century about 10,000 Galicians settled in Bosnia. The government in Vienna encouraged this kind of internal migration in order to settle the fertile, uncultivated lands in the south and to relieve overpopulated, impoverished areas. In 1892–3 almost 15,000 peasants from eastern Galicia and Bukovyna emigrated to Russia, attracted by promises of free land, homes, and equipment. Most of them eventually returned disillusioned.

The mass emigration of Ukrainians began in the last quarter of the 19th century. Inhabitants of Russian-ruled territories migrated east, mainly to Central Asia and the Far East. Subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Empire migrated west, mainly to America. In both cases the causes were difficult social and economic conditions, primarily rural overpopulation, poverty, and industrial underdevelopment.

Eastward out-migration. In the first half of the 19th century emigrants from overpopulated areas in central and eastern Ukraine moved into the Black Sea steppe and the Sea of Azov steppe and then into Subcaucasia and the Don region. As a result of these migrations, Ukrainian ethnic territory expanded, because the colonized regions were adjacent to regions inhabited by Ukrainians to the present day. Only the settlers of the Volga region (in-migrations there began in the mid-18th century) were far removed from Ukrainian territories. In the 1860s–1870s there was a large migration into this region, particularly into the Samara, Saratov, Orenburg, and Ufa gubernias. Later, some of the settlers heading further east into Asia stopped and settled there. In the 1870s, when little free land was left in European Russia, Ukrainians emigrated to Asia, where they were met by previous settlers from Russian provinces. Ukrainians settled mainly in the Amur region of the Far East, in northern Turkestan, and in southwestern Siberia. In general, they sought climatic conditions similar to those of Ukraine and engaged in agriculture. Most of the immigrants came from Left-Bank Ukraine, from the densely populated Poltava region, Chernihiv region, Kyiv region, and Kharkiv region. Few settlers came from Volhynia and Podilia. Some came from the Kursk region and Voronezh region. During the period of migration (1894) there was already an excess of labor in the Ukrainian gubernias: 400,000 people in Voronezh gubernia, Kharkiv gubernia, and Poltava gubernia, and 130,000 in Volhynia gubernia, Podilia gubernia, and Kyiv gubernia. Land rent was high in these areas.

Intensive migration to Asia began in the 1890s. In the 20 years before the First World War two million Ukrainians out-migrated. The rate of out-migration increased during the construction of the Siberian railroad (1891–1905) and between 1894 and 1903 constituted 42,000 people annually. During the Russo-Japanese War (1904–5) it fell to 27,000, but rose sharply after the war when it became apparent that the Stolypin agrarian reforms would not improve the condition of the peasantry. In 1906–10 about 202,000 people left the nine Ukrainian gubernias each year; in 1909, 290,000 left, that is, 68 percent of the natural population increase. In 1911–14 the rate of out-migration again declined, because free land became scarcer in the Asian regions of settlement. During the First World War migration came almost to a halt. Some of the settlers returned from Asia to Ukraine: 480,000 in 1890–1914. The largest number returned in 1911–12, when most of the out-migrants found the conditions of settlement discouraging. About two million Ukrainians settled permanently in Asia by 1914.

At first most of the out-migrants were state peasants. After the abolition of serfdom various categories of peasants began to migrate. To emigrate, a peasant would sell his possessions and use the money for the trip, often saving some of it to set up a new home. The poorer peasants usually settled in the regions closer to Ukraine; the richer ones settled farther away. Out-migration to the East was only partly organized and planned by the government (mainly in those regions where land was scarce); it was mostly spontaneous. But the government tried to control it and even encouraged it, since it served the interests of the Russian Empire (relief of overpopulated areas, population of large, unsettled regions, the strengthening of the Far East against the Japanese threat, Russification of the indigenous populations). The government distributed the new lands: in the steppe belt it allotted 15 desiatyns per person and elsewhere 8 desiatyns (until 1897 up to 100 desiatyns per family in the Altai and Semipalatinsk oblasts). Settlers obtained other advantages: exemption from military service for three to six years, exemption from taxation for four years, help in obtaining seed and lumber, and so on. The government also provided some help to migrants at the transit stations, but most of them made their own way. Volunteer groups or whole communities sent out scouts (khodaky) to investigate new areas of settlement and then set out according to their reports. Others were guided by the letters of other settlers, and some even by rumors. The first Ukrainian out-migrants traveled by cart along dirt roads or by steamboat. In 1883–5, 4,668 settlers were transported by sea from the Chernihiv gubernia to the South Ussuri krai. The Siberian railway began to carry settlers only in the 1890s. Conditions during the trip were difficult: disease, famine, and death were always looming. A migrant aid society existed in Saint Petersburg, but its efforts, like the government’s efforts, were inadequate. Prince G. Golitsyn was one of the organizers of aid.

When the eastward migration became massive, the state tried to regulate it. In 1889 a migration law was adopted (until then only separate decrees dealing with individual regions had been issued). According to the new law, people had to have prior permission from the government to migrate. Those without permits were sent back. In 1897 a special migration agency was set up in the Ministry of Domestic Affairs (later transferred to the Administration of Land Tenure and Agriculture). But the agency could not control the whole migration movement, which continued to develop spontaneously. A committee of the Siberian railway also promoted and organized migration. In 1906 a new government regulation was issued to stimulate emigration to Asia.

In the Soviet period out-migration to the East began in 1925. It was organized by the Soviet authorities and was directed towards Siberia and the Far East, Kazakhstan, and northern Caucasia. Relatively few Ukrainians out-migrated in the 1920s. Only in the 1930s did Ukrainians out-migrate in large numbers because of collectivization and the famine. They settled usually in industrial regions such as the Kuznetsk Basin. Ukrainian prisoners in the GULAG concentration camps in the East were a category all their own. Of the large number of Ukrainians who were evacuated to the East in 1941–2, only a fraction returned home after the Second World War. Many of those who had been slave laborers (see Ostarbeiter) and were brought back from Germany and Austria in the repatriation campaign in 1945–6 ended up living permanently in Siberia. Some of the concentration-camp prisoners who were granted amnesty in 1955–7 did not return to Ukraine, but stayed in Soviet Asia. The last out-migration from Ukraine to the ‘virgin lands’ in the East occurred in the 1950s. It consisted mostly of young people who were sent out to build new industrial facilities. Most of them returned to Ukraine.

At the beginning of the Soviet period internal migration was supervised by the All-Union Migration Committee of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR. In 1930 the matter was put in the care of the People's Commissariat of Land Affairs and the corresponding republican agencies. Eventually, internal migration, particularly when it was connected with political exile, came to be viewed as a political matter and was put under the jurisdiction of the state-security agencies and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). Later it was under the State Committee for the Utilization of Labor Resources of the Council of Ministers of the Ukrainian SSR and the corresponding departments of oblast executive committees. The latter recruited migrants in an organized way. According to a 1973 regulation the government provided all kinds of incentives to the migrants at the point of departure and the point of arrival.

It is difficult to estimate how many Ukrainians settled in Soviet Asia. The 1926 Soviet census gave the figure of 2,070,000, but it could have been as high as three million. Later migration, including exile, could have increased the figure to six or seven million, although the census of 1959 gives the figure of 2,378,000 and the census of 1970 barely 2,275,000.

Transoceanic emigration before 1914. A mass emigration from Western Ukraine to the New World took place almost at the same time as mass out-migration from eastern and central Ukraine to the East. Western Ukraine, particularly eastern Galicia and the Lemko region, had long experienced rural overpopulation. In the 1900s there were 67 people per sq km in eastern Galicia who depended on agriculture for a living. The farms were very small: 3 ha on the average in 1880, 2.5 ha in 1900. According to the Polish professor Franciszek Bujak, 1,200,000 workers could not find jobs in eastern and western Galicia at this time. The region and the Austro-Hungarian Empire as a whole were industrially underdeveloped and could not provide work for so many people. Migration for seasonal work provided only a partial solution. Much of the population lived in poverty and suffered from malnutrition and a high mortality rate. The government made little effort to overcome the basic economic and social evils, apart from sporadic attempts like Edmund Egan’s relief program in Transcarpathia.

Under such conditions emigration was about the only solution. News of great economic opportunities in America reached the Ukrainian population in the 1870s. The stories were exaggerated by various shipping agents, who recruited scab-laborers for Pennsylvania’s coal mines. The year 1877 marked the beginning of mass emigration to the United States from Transcarpathia and the Lemko region. With time the movement embraced eastern Galicia and all of Transcarpathia and Bukovyna. Later it affected, to some extent, several Ukrainian territories within Russia—the Kholm region, Volhynia, and Polisia—from which by 1914 about 50,000 Ukrainians emigrated. Many Jews and several thousand Ukrainian Baptists (Stundists) emigrated from central and eastern Ukraine to the United States.

The emigrants were usually impoverished peasants, young people without families. Their goal was to earn enough money to pay for the voyage and any existing debts and to save enough to return to Ukraine, buy some land, and establish themselves as farmers. Later most emigrants expected to settle permanently in the new land; yet, a significant number of them returned. Yuliian Bachynsky estimates that of 393,000 Ukrainian immigrants to the United States 70,000 had returned to Ukraine by 1909.

In the early 1890s peasants from Western Ukraine began to emigrate to Brazil in substantial numbers, lured to its large tracts of uncultivated, tillable land by unscrupulous immigration agents who spread fantastic stories about its promise throughout the Galician villages. Concerned with the social impact of this ‘emigration fever,’ Dr. Osyp Oleskiv (Josef Oleskow) set off to Canada in 1895 on a fact-finding mission to establish its suitability for Ukrainian settlement (in comparison to Brazil). His efforts were instrumental in redirecting much of the emigration toward North America. Around the same time (1895–6) a smaller number of Ukrainians immigrated to Argentina and settled mostly in Misiones province. The emigration process itself was beset with various difficulties: most emigrants had little or no education, spoke Ukrainian only, and had no money. The Austrian and Hungarian governments did not encourage emigration and often administratively hindered it, because large landowners feared losing their cheap labor.

Ukrainian emigrants embarked on the ocean crossing from such ports as Bremen, Hamburg, Trieste, and Fiume. Emigrants from Russia left from Libau (Liepaja).

Under Austria there were no laws on emigration. The constitution provided for the freedom of emigration; hence it was difficult to prohibit or limit it. But in 1897 the Austrian parliament passed a law forbidding the solicitation of people to emigrate. Hungary, however, had detailed emigration laws. The law of 1881 regulated the activity of the agents of shipping companies. The laws of 1903 and 1909 accepted the principle of freedom of emigration, restricting it only for minors and military draftees. The government assumed responsibility for emigrants and set up an emigration fund and special agencies. Taking advantage of the law, residents of Transcarpathia emigrated in greater numbers than did those of Galicia.

Russia had no emigration laws. Freedom of emigration applied in practice, and it was mostly Jews who took advantage of it.

The immigration policies of the host countries were basically liberal: Canada, Brazil, and Argentina needed farmers, and the United States needed industrial workers. Nevertheless, public opinion in the United States was hostile to certain categories of immigrants, such as the Chinese (the immigration act of 1882 halted Chinese immigration), and some circles were hostile to East Europeans. Through the influence of the Immigration Restriction League in Boston and American labor organizations, federal laws were passed in 1891, 1893, 1903, and 1907 setting restrictions on the immigration of European workers. Anyone who might become a burden or threat to society (because of health, material circumstances, moral character, or political conviction) was rejected. From 1882 the Treasury Department and from 1906 the Immigration Bureau of the Department of Commerce and Labor supervised and controlled immigration.

The Canadian minister of the interior, C. Sifton, actively pursued a policy of settling the prairie provinces with immigrants and was favorably disposed toward Ukrainians. However, his successor introduced the Immigration Act of 1910 which made it more difficult for East Europeans to enter Canada. It required of immigrants certain skills, good health, literacy, and a certain amount of money.

Ukrainian society and its organizations had mixed feelings about emigration. At first their attitude was very reserved, but eventually they accepted it in spite of the fact that emigration weakened the national community. The newspapers generally expressed opposition to emigration. The Peremyshl Greek Catholic bishop called on the priests to dissuade the Lemkos from emigrating. The first wave of Ukrainian emigration (1880–90) received no special aid from the organized Ukrainian community apart from church circles and some members of the secular intelligentsia, who themselves emigrated voluntarily to work among the immigrants. Finally, reports of intolerable living conditions encountered by immigrants in Brazil (epidemics, high mortality, exploitation by plantation owners) compelled the Galician public and government to take an interest in their emigrants. In 1896 the Galician provincial executive sent a commission consisting of Rev Ivan Ya. Voliansky (representing the Ukrainians) and J. Siemiradzki (representing the Poles) to investigate the situation of the immigrants in Brazil. Their reports presented a bleak picture and for a time even discouraged emigration to Brazil. The Lviv Prosvita society endorsed Osyp Oleskiv’s efforts to investigate the circumstances for immigration to Canada. Having familiarized himself with the life of Ukrainian settlers who had emigrated to Canada in the early 1890s and their prospects, Oleskiv recommended that Ukrainians emigrate in large numbers to the prairie provinces. His two brochures O emigratsiï (On Emigration, 1895) and Pro vil'ni zemli (About Free Lands, 1895) counteracted the ‘Brazilian fever’ and stimulated emigration to Canada. Oleskiv also persuaded the Canadian government to hire Kyrylo Genik as an agent to assist incoming migrants.

Ukrainians in Galicia began organizing associations for advising and aiding emigrants relatively late. An attempt was made to set up an emigrant aid committee in November 1895 in the wake of Oleskiv’s trip to Canada, but the initiative floundered. It was only in 1907 that a Ukrainian branch of the Austrian Saint Raphael Society, the Saint Raphael Galician and Bukovynian Emigrant Aid Society, was established in Lviv. In 1911 it began publishing the guide Emigrant. In 1908 the independent Ukrainian emigrant-aid society Provydinnia was formed. In 1911 a third Ukrainian organization—the Ruthenian Emigration Society—was set up as a commercial company to provide emigrants with information, arrange their travel formalities, and find jobs for them.

Immigrants arriving in a new land were in particular need of help. In the United States various nationalities had their immigrant centers. Ukrainian immigrants usually went to Austrian, Hungarian, Polish, or Russian centers. Attempts at establishing a separate Ukrainian immigrant center ended in failure. In 1900–4 the Ruthenian People’s Emigration Home provided some aid to immigrants. Eventually, in 1907, Ukrainian immigrants, together with other nationalities, founded the Slavic Emigration Society. This organization cared for various Slavic immigrants from Austria with the exception of the Poles. A year later the Saint Raphael Ukrainian Emigration Society was formed in New York through the initiative of M. Pidhoretsky. The society had a free employment service.

The Austro-Hungarian consulates gave little legal and cultural support to Ukrainian immigrants. German, Polish, and Hungarian immigrants had more influence and got more support. Russian consulates and Russian Orthodox parishes showed an interest in Ukrainian immigrants. As more and more immigrants decided to stay permanently in the new countries, their contacts with the consulates of their mother countries became minimal. Most of the immigrants became citizens and participated in the political as well as the economic and social life of their host countries (see Naturalization).

On the whole, 750,000–800,000 people from Western Ukraine emigrated overseas up to the First World War. Over 500,000 were Ukrainians; the rest were Jews and Poles. Approximately 350,000 Ukrainians emigrated to the United States, 170,000 to Canada, and 50,000 to Brazil and Argentina.

Before the First World War seasonal migration from Western Ukraine to Germany (1907–12), involving about 75,000 people annually, and to a lesser extent to Bohemia, Romania, and Denmark took place. These migrants worked for short periods as farm hands and used their savings to improve their material condition after returning home.

Political emigration after the First World War. The First World War and the unsuccessful struggle for independence (1917–20) led to the first large-scale political emigration from Ukraine. It consisted mainly of military personnel and functionaries of the Ukrainian National Republic and the Western Ukrainian National Republic. In 1920–1 there were about 30,000 émigrés from central Ukraine in Poland. Most of them were soldiers interned in various internment camps. The Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic found temporary residence at Tarnów, Poland. Some of the soldiers of the Ukrainian Galician Army were interned in camps in Czechoslovakia. Other Ukrainian refugees settled in Austria, Germany, Romania, and Yugoslavia. The total number of refugees in the early postwar years reached 80,000–100,000. With time the number and location of the refugees changed: most of the refugees from Galicia returned home after the Conference of Ambassadors recognized Galicia to be part of Poland and Poland declared an amnesty (1923). A small number of refugees from central Ukraine and Galicia returned to the Ukrainian SSR during the ‘Ukrainization’ campaign. Many refugees left Poland and Austria to settle in France, Belgium, or the New World. In the main émigré centers—such as, Prague, Warsaw, Berlin, Paris, and Vienna—Ukrainian political and cultural life developed independently of the occupation regimes. The government of Czechoslovakia was particularly hospitable to Ukrainians and supported a number of scholarly and educational institutions.

Ukrainian political émigrés received asylum in the host countries. Unlike other immigrants, they had no right of protection by the diplomatic missions of their home countries. They were subject to the laws and regulations of the countries of residence. The League of Nations tried to regulate the status of political refugees. Treaties signed in 1922, 1924, and 1928 by most European countries recognized the refugees from Eastern Europe as stateless persons and provided them with Nansen passports (named after Fridtjof Nansen, the high commissioner for refugees at the League of Nations). The 1933 Convention on the International Status of Stateless Persons granted them many of the rights and responsibilities enjoyed by citizens or the most privileged aliens (the right to education, social security, employment, taxation). Most Ukrainians obtained Nansen passports, although the League of Nations did not formally recognize the category of Ukrainian nationality (the convention mentions only Russian and Armenian refugees). Ukrainians were not represented on the High Commission for Refugees at the League of Nations. Emigré organizations, particularly those in France, constantly demanded official recognition for Ukrainian refugees; the Council of the Union of Ukrainian Emigré Organizations in France had semiofficial ties with the League of Nations. In 1928 a Ukrainian representative, Oleksander Shulhyn, was a member of the Consultative Council of the High Commissioner for Refugees. In the 1930s a large number of émigrés, particularly in Czechoslovakia and Poland, became naturalized citizens in their countries of residence.

Economic emigration 1920–39. Between the two world wars emigration for economic reasons from Western Ukrainian territories under Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania continued. Except for a few cases at the beginning of the Soviet period, emigration from the Ukrainian SSR was halted. Most emigrants came from Galicia and western Transcarpathia, which were overpopulated. However, the numbers were much smaller than before the First World War. The largest emigration from Western Ukraine occurred in 1927–9. In 1931–4 emigration almost ceased because of the Great Depression. The United States, Brazil, and Canada passed new laws restricting immigration. This resulted in a sharp decline in the number of immigrants. In 1921 and 1924 the United States introduced annual quotas for immigrants from various countries; low quotas were set for immigrants from East European countries (eg, in 1930 immigrants from Poland were limited to 6,524 and from Czechoslovakia to 2,874). Canada, too, placed restrictions on Eastern Europeans in favor of Anglo-Saxons or immigrants from Western Europe. A 1923 amendment to the 1910 immigration law required immigrants to be literate and to pay for their own transportation. Canada severely limited the admission of non-agricultural labor. In spite of this over 70,000 Ukrainians entered Canada in 1919–39 (more than from any other country). Ukrainians from Romania emigrated almost exclusively to Canada. Argentina received the second largest contingent of Ukrainians—50,000. Up to 15,000 emigrated to the United States and almost 10,000 to Brazil. Several thousand emigrated to Paraguay and Uruguay. Of the European countries, France received the most agricultural and industrial workers from Galicia, and Belgium the most emigrants from Transcarpathia. The largest re-emigration took place from these countries, although a sizable number of Ukrainians remained in France.

Table 1 gives the number of Ukrainians who emigrated from and returned to Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Romania in 1919–35. Those who emigrated for economic reasons were under the legal protection of the Polish, Czechoslovakian, or Romanian consulates. Their cultural and spiritual needs were seen to by political émigré organizations and the various Ukrainian churches. Ukrainian society tried to influence the process and organization of this non-political emigration. The Ukrainian Emigrant Aid Society, headed by Mykola Zaiachkivsky, was formed in Lviv mainly to provide emigrants with information through its periodical Ukraïns’kyi emigrant in 1927–34. In 1923–4 the journal Emigrant appeared sporadically. Of the Ukrainian communities abroad, it was Canada’s that showed the greatest interest in immigrants. In 1925 the Saint Raphael's Ukrainian Immigrants' Welfare Association of Canada was founded in Winnipeg and headed by S. Savula. It helped many immigrants with information, legal advice, and material support, particularly in the years of intensive emigration to Canada (1925–30). The society published an almanac, Preriia (The Prairie). The Ukrainian Immigration and Colonization Society in Edmonton published the newspaper Novyi krai (The New Land) in 1929.

Political refugees after the Second World War. The Second World War and the subsequent Soviet occupation of all Ukrainian territories and the East European countries where many Ukrainian political émigrés resided led to another wave of emigration. After the war two to three million Ukrainians found themselves in Western Europe, mainly in Germany and Austria. Most of them had been shipped to work there during the war (see Ostarbeiter), but there were also forced evacuees, former prisoners of German concentration camps, prisoners of war, members of German military units, refugees from Ukraine, or political émigrés of the 1920s. Most of the forcibly deported workers returned home voluntarily or under pressure. The rest, together with the refugees from Ukraine, formed the core of the postwar political emigration. At the beginning of 1946 there were about 220,000 emigrants in West Germany (178,000), Austria (29,000), and Italy (12,000). All of them refused to return to the Ukrainian SSR. By demonstrating that they would be subject to religious, national, or political persecution in their homeland, they received asylum and then the opportunity to emigrate to various Western countries. Soviet missions conducted a propaganda campaign in favor of repatriation in these and other countries. They met with partial success in France, Belgium, and Argentina (7,000–10,000 returned). (The population exchange between Poland and the Ukrainian SSR and between Czechoslovakia and the Ukrainian SSR that resulted from boundary changes does not come under emigration and is treated separately; see Repatriation, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.)

At first most of the Ukrainian and other émigrés from Eastern Europe were recognized as displaced persons. Eventually all political émigrés obtained refugee status. For some time governments called them stateless persons, but the term was not used generally. Usually refugees were registered by country of origin. By identifying nationality with citizenship, the agencies of the Allies and the international administration of refugees often confused Ukrainian refugees with Poles, Russians, or Czechoslovaks. For this reason Ukrainian citizenship and Ukrainian relief organizations were not recognized in the British occupation zone. At the same time, the Soviet Union claimed that all Ukrainian emigrants were Soviet citizens and demanded that they be repatriated. The legal position of the postwar emigrants was defined by the occupation authorities, and after 1947 was determined by the international agencies of the United Nations. As the Allied occupation powers withdrew, those with alien status came under the regulation of the West German and Austrian governments. Material aid was provided by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA, 1943–7) and the International Refugee Organization (IRO, 1947–52). The IRO also provided legal aid and helped the refugees to resettle. UNRRA and then the IRO administered a network of displaced persons camps.

In 1947 the permanent resettlement of refugees began. The Ukrainian refugees attempted to organize themselves and to draw up their own plan of emigration, but failed. In 1947–8 the Central Resettlement Commission existed in Munich; its work was limited to providing refugees with information. Belgium and Great Britain were the first to admit refugees for work in industry, mining, and agriculture. Eventually, refugees began emigrating overseas to the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Australia, and elsewhere. Some countries adopted special laws or resolutions on the admission of refugees. Anthony Hlynka’s and Frederick Zaplitny’s interventions as members of the Canadian parliament on behalf of the Ukrainian refugees had some influence on Canada’s immigration policy. By 1 August 1948, 33,000 Ukrainians had emigrated from Germany: 14,000 to Britain, 9,000 to Belgium, 5,000 to Canada, and 1,000 each to the United States and France. In 1949–50 large-scale emigration overseas took place after the United States adopted special provisions for the refugees: the 1948 Displaced Persons Act allowed 220,000 people from Germany, Austria, and Italy to enter the country outside of the immigration quotas. In 1950 this number was increased to 415,000, and in 1953 the Refugee Relief Act admitted another 205,000 refugees. Resettlement became the basic task of the International Refugee Organization. Various countries, mainly the United States, established a fund to cover the costs of resettlement. Ukrainians in large numbers took advantage of the new opportunities. The Ukrainian Canadian Relief Fund, the United Ukrainian American Relief Committee, and the Ukrainian Relief Committee in Rome had representatives in Germany, Austria, France, Belgium, and Great Britain and did much to help Ukrainians emigrate.

In 1948 the Ukrainian Resettlement Center was established in New York with M. Demydchuk at the head. Some Ukrainians emigrated with the help of non-Ukrainian organizations such as the World Council of Churches and the Tolstoy Fund.

By 1957 the emigration of Ukrainians from Europe had halted almost completely, although small numbers continued to emigrate to the United States or Canada on their own initiative. In the span of 10 years the number of Ukrainians in Germany and Austria had declined to 22,000–25,000. Those remaining were either denied entry to overseas countries because of old age, illness, or some other reason, or had found jobs in Europe, or simply did not want to emigrate. Those who were not naturalized citizens remained under United Nations protection and specifically under the legal and material care of the United Nations high commissioner, who has representatives in various European countries.

The legal status of the political refugees in European countries was defined by the Geneva Convention of 28 July 1951. They have many of the same rights and responsibilities as the citizens of the countries in which they live or of the most privileged aliens (employment, social security, taxation, etc). Special travel documents permitted them to travel to all countries except the USSR. The large majority of Ukrainian immigrants entered the economic mainstream of the host countries.

The approximate number of Ukrainians who emigrated from Germany and Austria to various countries in 1947–57 is as follows: United States: 80,000, Canada: 30,000, Australia and New Zealand: 20,000, Great Britain: 20,000, Belgium: 10,000, France: 10,000, Brazil: 7,000, Argentina: 6,000, Venezuela: 2,000, and other countries: 2,000.

Many immigrants who settled in Great Britain, France, or Belgium in 1950–7 emigrated again to the United States and Canada. Similarly, a small number of postwar emigrants to South America and Australia resettled in North America at the end of the 1950s.

In the late 1960s and the 1970s a small number of Ukrainians emigrated on their own to Western Europe and North America from Poland, Yugoslavia and, after 1968, Czechoslovakia. By 1980, their number may have reached 2,000–2,500. A smaller number of Ukrainians was allowed to leave the USSR in the 1970s as individuals or along with Jewish emigrants. Some 120,000–130,000 Soviet Ukrainian Jews emigrated to Israel or the West by the mid-1980s.

Table 2 gives the total number of Ukrainians who emigrated to Western Europe, excluding Germany and Austria, and overseas between 1870 and 1955 (subtracting those who returned). For comparison, the approximate number of Ukrainians and descendants of Ukrainians living in the various countries in 1980 is also given.

Emigration since the 1980s. Emigration from Soviet Ukraine was highly restricted. A small number of Jews was allowed to emigrate to Israel or the West. An even smaller number of non-Jews managed to emigrate, most often in cases involving family reunion or some other mitigating circumstance. Ukrainians continued to move within the Soviet Union itself, although not in any discernable manner. Relatively more liberal conditions allowed Ukrainians in Poland to start emigrating to the West beginning in the early 1980s.

Emigration to Israel became a mass phenomenon in the first half of the 1990s. Ukraine emerged as the most significant source country for Israeli immigrants from the former USSR, providing an estimated 400,000 new arrivals during this period. The number included many non-Jews and individuals with only tentative Jewish connections. Emigration to North America also developed in the 1990s, with over 146,00 people from Ukraine arriving in the United States between 1993 and 2001 and about 30,000 coming to Canada from 1991 to 2003.

The most significant emigration trend in the post-independence period, however, has been the large number of Ukrainians seeking work as migrant laborers. Initially the euphoria of independence provided hope for better prospects in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the deepening economic depression in the country served to induce a search for emigration or temporary employment abroad. In turn, the recipient countries, which no longer viewed the migrants as political refugees, began to set increasing constraints on immigration. Reliable figures for the number of Ukrainian migrant laborers are not available, but the numbers run into the hundreds of thousands (if not millions). Main destination countries for Ukrainian migrant laborers (with broad estimations of their numbers ca 2003) include the Russian Federation (about 1 million, but up to 3 million at seasonal peak), Poland (300,000), Italy (200,000), the Czech Republic (200,000), Portugal (140,000) and Spain (over 100,000). Other, more distant destinations include the United Kingdom (up to 60,000) and Argentina (10,000). It is doubtful that all the migrant laborers will return. Many will remain as emigrants.

Emigration in Ukrainian literature. The phenomenon of economic and political emigration is reflected in Ukrainian literature. Ivan Franko included a cycle ‘Do Brazyliï’ (To Brazil) in his poetry collection Mii izmarahd (My Emerald). Vasyl Stefanyk treated the theme of migrant labor and emigration to the New World in his collection of short stories Synia knyzhechka (Little Blue Book) and the story ‘Kaminnyi khrest’ (The Stone Cross). The theme of economic emigration is treated in the works of Marko Cheremshyna, Arkhyp Teslenko, Stepan Vasylchenko (in his novel Na chuzhynu [To a Foreign Land]), and others. In his Russian stories, Vladimir Korolenko depicts the life of Ukrainian immigrants in Siberia and in the United States. Immigrant writers, particularly in the United States and Canada, have provided images of the immigrants in their poems, plays, and prose. Among them are Yu. Chupka, Nestor Dmytriv and Stefan Makar (in his play Amerykans'kyi shliakhtych [The American Noble]) in the United States; Teodor Fedyk (in his poetry collection Pisni pro staryi krai i Kanadu [Songs of the Old Country and Canada]), Honore Ewach (in his novella Holos zemli [Voice of the Land]), Illia Kiriak (in his novel Syny zemli [Sons of the Soil]), and Zygmunt Bychynsky (in his novels Emigranty [Emigrants] and Kliuch zhuravliv [The Flock of Cranes]) in Canada. The accounts of immigrants in Canada and Brazil by Petro Karmansky are well known. Of the post-Second World War émigré writers, Ulas Samchuk, Oksana Liaturynska, Teodor Kurpita, Dima, Emma Andiievska, and Oleksa Izarsky dealt with the subject of emigration in their Ukrainian works.

(For information on the life of Ukrainian immigrants abroad, see Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bačka, Banat, Belgium, Bohemia, Bosnia, Brazil, Canada, China, Croatia, Czechoslovakia, Far East, France, Germany, Great Britain, Kazakhstan, Paraguay, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Siberia, Turkestan, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia).

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Volodymyr Kubijovyč, Vasyl Markus, Ihor Stebelsky

[This article was updated in 2006.]




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