Yavorsky, Matvii

Yavorsky, Matvii [Яворський, Матвій; Javors’kyj, Matvij], b 27 November 1885 in Korchmyn, Rava-Ruska county, Galicia, d 3 November 1937 in Sandarmokh, Karelia region, RSFSR. Historian; full member of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (VUAN) and the Belarusian Academy of Sciences from 1929. Yavorsky graduated in law from Lviv University (1910). A former officer of the Ukrainian Galician Army, he joined the CP(B)U in 1920. Although originally trained in law, he became a Marxist historian, much influenced by the Russian historian Mikhail Pokrovsky. He headed the historical section of the Ukrainian Institute of Marxism-Leninism (UIML) and, from 1926, Ukrholovnauka, a body that supervised all scholarly work in Soviet Ukraine. He was also a member of the VUAN Presidium and the secretary of its Historical-Philological Division. Among his major works are Narys istoriï Ukraïny (Outline History of Ukraine, 2 vols, 1923–4; repr, Adelaide, Australia 1986), Narysy z istoriï revoliutsiinoï borot’by na Ukraïni (Sketches of the History of the Revolutionary Struggle in Ukraine, vol 1, 1927; vol 2, pt 1, 1928), Ukraïna v epokhu kapitalizmu (Ukraine in the Epoch of Capitalism, 3 vols, 1924–5), and Istoriia Ukraïny v styslomu narysi (History of Ukraine in a Concise Outline, 1928). Veteran Ukrainian historians, such as Dmytro Bahalii, considered his work too dogmatic and marred by the subordination of facts to theoretical constructs. Stalinist Party leaders and historians, however, began to criticize his work at the end of 1928, by charging that he gave primacy to national concerns over class, and that he viewed Ukrainian history as a process distinct from Russian history. His theory of the origins of Ukrainian communism was criticized with particular severity. The 11th Congress of the CP(B)U, held in June 1930, condemned the ‘anti-Marxist theory of Yavorsky’ and equated it with the national deviations of Oleksander Shumsky, Mykola Khvylovy, and Mykhailo Volobuiev (see National communism). Yavorsky was purged from the CP(B)U in 1930 and arrested in March 1931 and charged with membership in a fictitious underground military organization. He was exiled to a labor camp on the Solovets Islands, where he was executed by the NKVD in 1937. He was rehabilitated in 1989.

John-Paul Himka

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

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