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Alexander Shumsky
Олександр Якович Шумський
Shumsky in December of 1920 (photo from Newspaper "Den")
People's Commissar for Education

In office
10 July 1919 – August 1919
Prime Minister Christian Rakovsky
Preceded by Mykhailo Panchenko
Succeeded by Volodymyr Zatonskyi

In office
29 September 1924 – February 1927
Prime Minister Vlas Chubar
Preceded by Volodymyr Zatonskyi
Succeeded by Mykola Skrypnyk
Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland

In office
April 1921 – February 1923
Leader Feliks Kon (acting)
Dmitry Manuilsky
Preceded by Mieczysław Łoganowski
Succeeded by Grigory Bessedowsky
Full member of the 3rd, 4th Politburo

In office
23 March – 23 November 1920
Full member of the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th Orgburo

In office
15 April – 23 November 1920

In office
20 June 1923 – 3 March 1927
Full member of the 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th Central Committee

In office
17 March 1920 – 13 December 1921

In office
16 May 1924 – 3 March 1927
Candidate member of the 7th Central Committee

In office
10 April 1923 – 12 May 1924
Director of Agitprop

In office
May – September 1924
Personal details
Born Oleksandr Yakovych Shumsky
(1890-12-02)December 2, 1890
Turchynka, Volhynian Governorate, Russian Empire
Died 18 September 1946(1946-09-18) (aged 55)
near Saratov, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Nationality Ukrainian
Political party CP(b)U (1920-1933)
UKP (b) (1918-1920)
UPSR (1914-1918)
Spilka (1908-1914)
Alma mater Moscow Veterinary School
Shanyavsky Moscow Free University
Occupation revolutionary, politician, Communist ideologist
Military service
Allegiance Russian Empire (1916-1917)
RKKA (1918-1921)
Years of service 1916-1921
Commands South Western Front (Russian Empire)
12th Army (RKKA)

Alexander Shumsky or Oleksandr Shumskyi (Ukrainian language: Олександр Якович Шумський , Russian: Александр Яковлевич Шумский) was a popular Ukrainian-Soviet politician and activist of the 1920s.


Earlier period and 1905 Revolution[]

Shumsky was born in the village of Turchynka,[lower-alpha 1] Volhynian Governorate (today Zhytomyr Oblast) in a family of foresters.[3] Himself, Shumsky wrote that he was born in a family of "batrak" (poor farmer-serf).[4][5] In his article Yuriy Shapoval indicates that Shumnsky was not fully truthful about his origin possibly due to the practice of posing oneself in early Soviet history as of lower class.[4] In reality father of Shumsky Yakiv Danylovych worked as a forester for big landowner Mikhail Muravyov.[4] Muravyov was the one who established the train station in Nova Borova which originally was known as Turchynka.[4] The State Archives of Zhytomyr Oblast showed that Yakiv Danylovych was married to his wife Yeva.[4] Further study of archives discovered that his grandfather Danylo Yakovych was a second generation of priests and in 1862 he was specifically assigned to the village of Turchynka.[4]

In 1906 he finished a five-year public school in a village Saly.[3] There is also information that Shumsky finished only two-year church parish school.[4][5] After the school, he worked at sawmills, in land improvement (amelioration), as a surveyor assistant.[3] In 1908 he joined workers' movement and the Ukrainian Social Democratic League ("Spilka").[3][lower-alpha 2] In 1909 he participated in a strike at local sawmill.[5] Since 1911 Shumsky attended the Shanyavsky Moscow People's University, but never finished.[3] During that period he joined the Ukrainian socialist club in Moscow.[3] In 1915 Shumsky received the certificate of matura through expedited testing and enrolled in the Moscow veterinary school.[3] Since 1914 he already was a member of the Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries (UPSR) and participated in "revolutionary activities".[3] In 1916 Shumsky was arrested for spreading "revolutionary literature" and sent to serve military duty at the South Western Front (World War I).[3]

Ukrainian revolution and war with Soviet Russia[]

At the frontlines Shumsky continued his revolutionary activity and after the 1917 February Revolution in Russia, he was elected as a delegate of soldiers' congress at various levels, corps, army, and front.[3] In April 1917 Shumsky already was in Kiev where he became a member of the Kiev Governorate Land Committee (in preparation to upcoming land reform).[3] At the 3rd Congress of UPSR (November 1917), he was coopted to the Central Committee of UPSR as one of leaders of the party's left wing and on the party list of UPSR he entered the Ukrainian Central Council (Ukrainian parliament).[3] In the parliament he advocated left radical views on social and agrarian matters similar to those of the Bolsheviks.[3]

In 1918 Shumsky was elected to the Ukrainian Constituent Assembly from the Volhynian Governorate.[3] He also became one of authors of the Law of Ukraine about land adopted by the Ukrainian Central Council on 18 January 1918.[3] On 29 January [O.S. 16 January] 1918 Shumsky was arrested after he with a group of left Ukrainian SRs and Social-Democrats attempted a coup-d'état to dissolve the parliament (see January Uprising), but was freed by advancing Red Russian detachments of the Muravyov's troops which eventually sacked Kiev.[3]

At the 4th Congress of UPSR (May 1918) after his active support, the party's left wing announced liquidation of the party and transferring it underground.[3] Shumsky defended the course to unfold the struggle against Hetman Pavlo Skoropadskyi, and later the Direktoria, rapprochement with Bolsheviks, establishing in Ukraine Soviet in its form, but nationalist in its composition state.[3] During 1918 he headed Volhynian Governorate Land Committee, member of the UPSR gubernatorial committee, member of underground revolutionary committee that was preparing anti-Hetman uprising in Zhytomyr.[3] In the beginning of 1919 after his speech at the Labor Congress of Ukraine, Shumsky was arrested again, sentenced to death, but escaped out of escort.[3]

Soviet regime and Russian civil war[]

From Spring of 1919 to March 1920 Shumsky was a leader of the Ukrainian Communist Party (Borotbists).[3] His initiated attempt to created national communist party that would have been associated with Russian Bolsheviks through Communist International and become alternative to Party-Soviet system that was developing, failed because of its rejection by leadership of RKP(b) and personally by Lenin.[3]

Following establishment of the Soviet regime in Ukraine, Shumsky was added to collegium of People's Commissariat of Education of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic (headed by Hnat Mykhailychenko).[3] Soon in the summer of 1919 after the occupation of Ukraine by the Armed Forces of South Russia he had taken part in underground struggle against the Russian Whites and was a member of Galician Bureau at the Central Committee of the Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) of Ukraine.[3] From under the pressure of Bolsheviks, the Ukrainian Communist Party (Borotbists) was dissolved and in March 1920 Shumsky was added to the Central Committee of the Communist Party (of Bolsheviks) of Ukraine as well as its Political and Organizational bureaus where he headed department in people relations with rural areas.[3] In March 1920 he also was added to the Russian Communist Party (Bolshevik).[1] In May – June 1920 Shumsky was a governor of Poltava region (head of Poltava gubernatorial committee and presidium of Poltava gubernatorial executive committee), in July – August 1920 he was a head of Odessa gubernatorial revkom.[3] In September 1920 Shumsky was in political administration and the Revolutionary Military Council of the 12th Army.[3] After defeat of Pyotr Vrangel, Shumsky was a head of Kiev gubernatorial revkom, member of the Soviet delegation at the Riga talks with Poland.[3]

In April 1921 – February 1923 he was plenipotentiary representative of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic to Poland (he left for Warsaw in October 1921).[3] At that position Shumsky was actively requesting liquidation of Ukrainian emigrant organizations and internment camps for the Ukrainian People's Republic Army detachments.[3] He was let go after separate embassies of Ukraine were replaced with one of the Soviet Union.[3] Soon after being appointed to the position of ambassador, in May 1921 Shumsky also participated in show trials that took place in Kharkiv against the Central Committee of Ukrainian Party of Socialist Revolutionaries where he served as a witness.[7] Since 1922 Shumsky was a member of the Ukrainian Central Executive Committee.[3]

Commissar of Education and conflict with Kaganovich[]

Following return to Kharkiv (then, capital of Ukraine), Shumsky is at party work and at trade union work.[3] In 29 September 1924 – February 1927 he served as People's Commissar of Education of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic.[3] About that time he also served as a chief editor of a political magazine Chervonyi Shlyakh.[3] At his commissariat position he actively was implementing reform of system of education institutions, policy of revival of national culture (Soviet policy of "Korenizatsiya") in educational institutions and state offices, supported development of Ukrainian culture and literature, particularly writer Mykola Khvylyovy.[3] On the issue there took place a conflict with general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine Lazar Kaganovich who was appointed back in April 1925; Shumsky was requesting to replace him with Vlas Chubar.[3] The argument was intervened by general secretary of the Central Committee of the Russian Communist Party (Bolsheviks) Joseph Stalin who in his letter to members of Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine laying on Shumsky responsibility for spreading anti-Russian sentiments in Ukraine.[3] In May 1926 at a plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine, Shumsky was forced officially recognize his mistake, but it did not save him.[3] In 1927 he was removed from office in accusation of disruptive activities in the People's Commissariat of Education of the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic.[3] In February–March 1927 the plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist Party (Bolsheviks) of Ukraine ascertained existence of the Shumsky's "national deviation" (Shumkism).[3] In protection of Shumsky reacted leading representatives of the Communist Party of Western Ukraine which led to the party's split and later its liquidation.[3] After that, Shumsky was forced to leave Ukraine.[3]

Exile and further persecution[]

In 1927–33 he was a rector of the Leningrad Institute of National Economy, Leningrad Polytechnic Institute, a deputy head of mass agitation department of the Central Committee of All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks), a head of the Central Committee of Trade Union of Education officials, a Presidium member of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions.[3] Shumsky expected to return to Ukraine, but in Ukraine he continued to be persecuted; in 1930 at the 11th Congress of CP(b)U it was mentioned about defeat of Shumskism, in November 1933 at plenum it was talked about anti-party Shumsky group and "counterrevolutionary" essence of its national deviation.[3] On 13 May 1933 he was arrested on charges in fabricated "UVO case" and sentenced to 10 years in prison.[3] After spending 2 years in Solovki prison camp of special assignment by decision of Special meeting at the NKVD of the Soviet Union on 10 December 1935 he was sentenced on charges in leadership of "counterrevolutionary borotbist organization" to 10 years exile to Krasnoyarsk.[3] In 1936, demanding acquittal, Shumsky announced a hunger strike.[3] In October 1937 he was accused in belonging to another nationalist organization of former Borotbists and was arrested in place of exile.[3] Only in November 1939 the case due to lack of evidences was closed which did not become a reason for his acquittal.[3] After the end of his sentence term (13 May 1943), Shumsky was left in Krasnoyarsk "on a treatment".[3] Throughout his time of imprisonment, he did not stop fighting for his public rehabilitation, did not admit to any of allegations, repeatedly was appealing to the Central Committee of VKP(b).[3] In his letter to Joseph Stalin on 18 October 1945 Shumsky sharply criticized the national policy of the Soviet Union, in particular exaltation of the Russian people as "senior brother".[3]

In the exile he was writing a monograph "Malorosy" (Little Russians), but destroyed it because of the impossibility of publishing.[3]

After release[]

In 1946 Shumsky twice unsuccessfully tried to end his life in suicide.[3] In September 1946 on his way to Ukraine, he was killed by special group of the Ministry of State Security of the Soviet Union on personal order of Joseph Stalin.[3]

On 11 September 1958 Shumsky was rehabilitated.[3]


  1. Some records indicate that he was born either in Borova Rudnya, Volhynian Governorate[1] or Borova Rudnya, Kiev Governorate.[2]
  2. political party of 1905 Russian Revolution and in association with the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party[6]


External links[]

Government offices
Preceded by
Mykhailo Panchenko
People's Commissar of Enlightment
Succeeded by
Volodymyr Zatonskyi
Preceded by
Volodymyr Zatonskyi
People's Commissar of Education
1924 – 1927
Succeeded by
Mykola Skrypnyk
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Mieczysław Łoganowski
Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland
1921 – 1923
Succeeded by
Grigory Bessedowsky
as provisional representative
Party political offices
New political party Leader of Ukrainian Communist Party (Borotbists)
(Ukrainian Party of Socialist-Revolutionaries left wing)

1918 – 1920
Party dissolved

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