Hi Andy -
Don't forget too that during the Polish-Russian war the Ukrainians fought alongside and with Pilsudski's forces, at least for a time, due to their mutual "distrust" of Red Russia.
Of course when Kresy officially became part of USSR, all religion was "verboten," but Ukrainians are for the most part, Greek Catholics. Greek Catholicism recognizes the Roman Catholic Pope. I thought the Greek Catholic bishops' (?) chanting during John Paul's funeral was very stirring.
For what it's worth, I agree with Eve.
Basia, if you're hoping to find someone in Ukraine who can explain in
precise detail about the deportations, you'll be searching for a
Ukrainian scholar who has already published (but probably not in
English), and using Google or one of the "deep Web" search engines
(available in a public library) is a much more efficient way to find
what you're looking for. If I were you, I'd start with Mr. Gur'yanov
(sp?) at Memorial. That organization has already invested years of
research in the purges and other repressive tactics that went on in
the Soviet Union.
When I was in Ukraine last summer, while only for 3 days and we were
only interested in the Lwow/Rowne/Szubkow/Tuczyn areas, we met only a
handful of people who were old enough to remember the presence of
Polish people, pre-WWII. (Life expectancy, especially for males, is
somewhat lower than in the more-developed West.) Among several of
those old enough to remember the Polish era, I observed a certain
indifference; not surprising really, given that Pilsudski had sought
to eliminate the Western Ukrainian People's Republic beginning in
November, 1918. By July, 1919, with support from the recently-arrived
Haller's Army, the Western Ukrainian Republic capitulated. With the
exception of Lwow, Poles were a minority in that area, and they were
thought to be political interlopers.
One has to look closely to find Polishness (and Catholicism; all the
churches that my mother knew were demolished or abandoned) in western
Ukraine these days. After all, it's been more than 65 years since
most of the deportations. In Lwow, for example, all of the Polish
street and building names were changed. However, one of the hippest
restaurants in Lwow is based on the "old Polish" theme, and is
decorated with metal signs in Polish that were apparently salvaged
from dumps. Food was reasonably-priced and excellent. Slav knows
where it is.
By all means, go to Ukraine, but enjoy it for what it is now.
Andy (Andrzej Polewski) Bender