In the memory of: Ukraine commemorate executions of prominent 20th century cultural figures

12:37 Apr. 8, 2016

Ukraine commemorate executions of prominent 20th century cultural figures

An old painting of Joseph Stalin (R) displayed alongside a red Soviet era flag with picture of Vladimir Lenin printed seen in the flea market on June 10, 2012 in Tbilisil, Georgia (Getty Iamges)

The Soviet purges destroyed a whole generation of Ukrainian culture

On November 3rd, 1937, Les Kurbas and Mykola Kulish, the two paramount Ukrainian culture figures, were executed by shooting. 

Both of them belonged to so-called "Executed Renessaince" elitist group that prompted a short but bright revival of Ukrainian culture in the 1920s and early 1930s. 

Mykola Kulish was glorified as one of the best Ukrainian dramaturgists of his time, and his works are now included in the school curriculum in Ukraine. Les Kurbas is still known as one of the most prominent theatrical directors of the 20th century. In their lives, they were good friends and praised their creations. 

In the culmination days of Stalin's Great Terror in mid-1930s, both of them were executed together with hundreds of thousands cultural, scientific and religious figures throughout the Soviet Union. 

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Kurbas and Kulish were executed exactly the way pictured in the drawing, with a single bullet simultaneously, to save ammo, a painter and caricaturist Yuriy Zhuravel says.  

"There were over 500 of such couples. The execution of The Renessaince was devoted to the 1917 October revolution anniversary", he adds on his Facebook page

After Stalin's death, both Kulish and Kurbas were immediately rehabilitated posthumously for the absence of corpus delicti. 

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