“I don’t think it is right to present the Battle of Kruty as a tragedy, and especially as a defeat. It is obvious that the death of people, especially young people, is a tragedy, but we don’t consider the battle a defeat,” says Volodymyr Viatrovych, Head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance.
Historians at Ukraine’s Institute of National Remembrance suggest up to 100 Ukrainian fighters were killed. At least two were students of the Przemyśl school, now modern Poland. On the 100th anniversary, representatives of the school came to Kruty to honor the defenders’ memory.
“Two of our students died in this battle: Hryhoriy Pipskyi and Ivan Sorokevych. They are now on our wall of honor. We are proud of them. This pain and this history lives on in our families,” says Anna Leskiw, Head of Ukrainian school in Przemyśl, Poland.
Oleksiy Chudchenko was born and raised in Kruty, but he learned of the historic battle only after Ukraine gained independence in 1991. In Soviet times, the topic was taboo:
“At first, there was a birch cross here. Back then, there were no official events like now. Lately, I started coming to commemorate the date. I am overwhelmed with pride for these people, for the students who died defending Ukraine.”
In January 1918, Ukrainian defenders delayed the advance of Bolshevik invaders on their way to Kyiv. This was a decisive moment for Ukraine’s struggle for independence. The Ukrainian People’s Republic went on to sign the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, recognizing the Republic’s sovereignty.
Ukraine’s war veteran Volodymyr Zhemchuhov came to Kruty for the first time. He compares the battle to Russia’s military intervention in eastern Ukraine:
“In 2014, Russian occupants were also met by young people. Most of the soldiers I saw were around 19 or 20 years old. They also came out to defend their land.”
Tags: Battle of Kruty, Bolsheviks, History, Kruty