Today marks 100 years since the Kholodny Yar rebels’ final battle for the freedom and independence of Ukraine. The Ukrainian World Congress and Ukrainian communities worldwide honor the memory of Ukrainian heroes.
Kholodny Yar was a large forest area in Central Ukraine, an epicenter of a powerful and organized Ukrainian national uprising against the Bolshevik regime in 1919-1922. On February 9, 1923, rebel commanders and Kholodny Yar Cossacks, imprisoned by the occupying Soviet authorities, started a riot in Kyiv’s Lukyanivska prison. A battle between fervent Ukrainian patriots and Russian Bolsheviks lasted for 4 hours. In this battle, the last 38 defenders of the Ukrainian state lost their lives but did not surrender to the invaders.
Since the Ukrainian National Republic‘s occupation by Soviet Russia in 1921, for almost two more years, Kholodny Yar remained an unconquered island of Ukrainian national statehood. The February 9, 1923, battle was the last chord of the Kholodny Yar Uprising and marked the final establishment of Soviet power in Ukraine.
These simultaneously tragic and majestic events of Ukrainian history significantly impacted the formation of the Ukrainian national character. The uprising in Kholodny Yar became one of the national legends, passed from generation to generation during the decades of Russian-Soviet rule and preserved in the diaspora until the restoration of Ukraine’s independence.
The slogan of the Kholodny Yar rebels – “Freedom of Ukraine or death!” – became one of the slogans of Ukrainians’ fight for freedom and independence in the 20th century. Since the start of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine, these words have become a life credo for all Ukrainian defenders. It is symbolic that even today, Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces’ warriors – the elite of the Ukrainian military – take a solemn oath of loyalty to Ukraine in Kholodny Yar in memory of their ancestors’ heroism.
The history of the Kholodny Yar rebels reminds us that even in the most desperate times, Ukrainians do not give up and continue the fight. Such history shows us how vital it is today to defend the independence and freedom of Ukraine in the war with the Russian aggressor so that the next generations of Ukrainians no longer have to experience the horrors of the Russian occupation.
Today, we must be more united, focused, and purposeful than ever in supporting Ukraine and its people in the face of the genocidal Russian war of aggression.
Glory to Ukraine!