Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance

Ukrainian National Democratic Alliance (Українське національно демократичне об’єднання; Ukrainske natsionalno demokratychne obiednannia, or УНДО; UNDO). The main legal Galician Ukrainian political party of the interwar period. Established on 11 July 1925 by a merger of the Ukrainian Labor party, the Ukrainian Party of National Work, and the Ukrainian deputies and senators from Volhynia, the Kholm region, and Podlachia, the party emerged as a broadly based centrist group and successor to the National Democratic party. Its founding convention called for a struggle for the unification of Ukrainian lands into an independent state, demanded the right to self-determination for the Ukrainians in Poland, and rejected international decisions (from 1919 to 1923) concerning Galicia. It criticized the Soviet system but treated the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic as ‘a stage in the development of a single independent Ukrainian state.’ It also supported the émigré representation headed by Yevhen Petrushevych.

The program prepared at the second UNDO convention on 19–20 November 1926 contained no positive statements about Soviet Ukraine and Yevhen Petrushevych; instead it proclaimed the conviction that the best orientation for Ukrainians was a belief ‘in their own strength.’ The program defined the system of the future independent Ukrainian state as a parliamentary democracy and announced policies regarding a redistribution of land (without redemption) among Ukrainian peasants, the development of national industry, trade, and co-operatives, and the recognition of equal rights for all religions. At the same time it noted Christian morality as the spiritual foundation of the Ukrainian nation.

In the 1920s UNDO refused to recognize the legality of Poland’s annexation of Ukrainian lands and opposed Polish settlement in the eastern regions of Western Ukraine, the school and language laws passed by the Sejm (July 1924), and the principles of the Polish land reform (July 1925).

The highest body of authority in UNDO was the People’s Convention, held every two years, which elected a central (people’s) committee whose work was directed by a presidium. The chairman of UNDO was Dmytro Levytsky (to 1935), the secretary was Volodymyr Tselevych, and some of the most important figures were Volodymyr M. Bachynsky, Mykhailo Halushchynsky, Ivan Kedryn-Rudnytsky, Kost Levytsky, Ostap Lutsky, Vasyl Mudry, Stepan Vytvytsky, and Volodymyr Zahaikevych. The official UNDO organ was Svoboda (Lviv), although the party also received support from the papers Dilo, Rada (Lviv), Ukraïns’ke slovo (1922–5), and Novyi chas.

Legalism and organic work were key characteristics of UNDO’s approach to politics. As a result it spread its influence over a broad spectrum of Ukrainian life in Galicia. It developed strong links with the majority of cultural-educational societies (Prosvita societies, Ridna shkola society), co-operatives, credit unions, and economic institutions (the Audit Union of Ukrainian Co-operatives, Tsentrosoiuz, Silskyi hospodar), and even the sport association Sokil. It was active mainly in Galicia but also had support in the towns of Volhynia.

UNDO considered itself to be the representative body of the entire Ukrainian community in interwar Poland, and did not co-operate with other Ukrainian parties (apart from early contacts with the leaders of the Ukrainian Military Organization). That self-perception, though somewhat inflated, was not entirely off base: UNDO enjoyed mass support and remained by far the strongest legal Ukrainian party. It also dominated the Ukrainian Parliamentary Representation in the Sejm and Senate from 1928. In 1928 and 1930 UNDO took part in elections as a member of the Bloc of National Minorities.

Several splits occurred within UNDO before 1930. They established splinter groups but did not affect the main body of the party. In December 1926 a Polonophile group led by Volodymyr M. Bachynsky left the party; it was followed in April 1927 by supporters of an understanding with Soviet Ukraine, who founded the Ukrainian Party of Labor.

In the summer of 1930, in connection with a campaign against the anti-Sanacja opposition and with the Pacification, the Polish authorities took repressive steps against UNDO. In September a number of UNDO deputies were imprisoned in the Brest fortress, and in October a new wave of arrests (Dmytro Levytsky, Vasyl Mudry) took place. The government’s hard new line and a perception that the tactics pursued up to that time had been futile prompted the leaders of UNDO to consider a compromise with the Sanacja regime. Negotiations between the Ukrainian Parliamentary Representation and Non-Party Bloc for Co-operation with the Government (February 1931) were, however, unsuccessful.

The desire of the UNDO leadership to recognize the reality of the incorporation of Ukrainian lands by Poland without dismissing a pro-independence stance became a major item of party discussion in the first half of the 1930s. The representatives of one current of thought developed a minimal program of autonomy for Ukrainian lands. The chief opponents of a rapprochement left the party in July 1933 and founded the Front of National Unity. Nevertheless the shift in UNDO policy continued, influenced now by dramatic new developments, such as the Polish-German agreement of January 1934, the denunciation by Poland of the Minorities Treaty in September 1934, and the repressions in Soviet Ukraine. It resulted finally in an agreement with the Polish government in the spring of 1935, the so-called Normalization. The policy proved contentious among UNDO members and supporters. In October 1935 Dmytro Levytsky and Milena Rudnytska were expelled from the central committee, and Vasyl Mudry became the new head of the party. The opponents of the tactics of the party gathered around the daily Dilo, and Novyi chas became the main periodical of UNDO.

Normalization proved to be an absolute debacle for UNDO, and by May 1938 its Central Committee had largely abandoned the policy. It once again demanded autonomy for Ukrainian lands. In December 1938 an understanding with Dmytro Levytsky’s group ended the split within the party.

In October 1938 UNDO welcomed the Munich Agreement as a sign of the creation of new national states in Europe. But in the following months it became discouraged by the German policy with respect to Transcarpathia. On 24 August 1939, a day after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was signed in Moscow, the UNDO Central Committee passed a resolution in which it proclaimed that despite unsolved political accounts with Poland, Ukrainians would defend the Polish state in case of war. After the takeover of Western Ukraine by the Soviet Army and the signing of the German-Soviet convention of 28 September 1939 UNDO was forced to cease all activity.

Feliński, M. Ukraińcy w Polsce Odrodzonej (Warsaw 1931)
Holzer, J. Mozaika polityczna Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej (Warsaw 1974)
Kedryn, I. Zhyttia-podiï-liudy: Spomyny i komentari (New York 1976)

Andrzej Chojnowski

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]

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