Culture and spiritual life of Ukraine in the years of the New Economic Policy

Dear friends,

Today, we will talk about an interesting point in history of Ukraine of the 20th century, namely culture and spiritual life of Ukraine in the years of the New Economic Policy. In the decade of the 1920’s Lenin instilled the New Economic Policy. This new policy greatly changed a failing nation after the First World War and revived the ailing economy.

In the early 1920’s the Ukrainian people enjoyed religious freedom however, by the late 1920’s religious persecution took hold due to government enforced atheism. Many priests, bishops, and religious followers were executed or arrested and sent to labor camps or prisons. The number of people murdered at this time was staggering and greatly exceeded the amount of people killed during the Holocaust.

ukraine culture

In the late 1920’s, the regime confiscated church property and destroyed or took over the majority of church buildings for secular use. The State claimed people were not being persecuted for religious reasons but for breaking the law or going against the state in an attempt to keep the religious persecution hidden. Underground churches were formed, called the “Catacomb Church”, which kept organized religion from being wiped out totally. These clergy members went around to villages impersonating workmen to spread their word.

It also became illegal to teach children in schools religion, and teachers were also arrested if they attempted to include religion in their teaching. Many of the churches intellectuals were also assassinated or imprisoned, church publications banned, and religious schools closed. In addition, anti religious propaganda was distributed among citizen claiming that only backward, mentally ill, or sick people believed in religion.

During the 1920’s religious freedom may not have been an option however culturally the government allowed varying trends. A great deal of experimentation was allowed in arts, music, and theatre, but perhaps the most freedom was allowed to filmmakers. Numerous films were made to educate an illiterate society. Artist began to experiment with abstract art forms and pretty much did as they pleased.


In the beginning of the 1920’s, the economy of the Ukraine was on the verge of collapse with out of work starving citizens. With the introduction of the New Economic Policy, the government began to provide universal health care, education and social security benefits for its citizens. Citizens also enjoyed economic freedoms which included a right to work, housing, and to sell their excess crops for profit.

Governments still controlled big business and banking, but more and more people ran their own small businesses or delved into entrepreneurial endeavors. Women also garnered some rights in this era including the right to divorce their husbands, obtain alimony, and to obtain legal abortions. Educating the masses was also paramount at this time, citizens were given free education, and its people were allowed access to books that were not just of a political interest.

However, it was not an enjoyable time for all citizens when farming changed from individual to collective farms, and millions of Ukrainians who fought against this change were starved to death by the government.

In short, the people in the 1920’s who did not go against the government and were not religious enjoyed numerous freedoms. On the hand, for citizens that opposed the regime in any way, this was an extremely deadly and dangerous time.

Citizens who were in agreement with the new regime enjoyed free education and numerous rights that they had not previously enjoyed. Under the New Economic Policy the Ukraine was seeing a shift from communism to socialism and enjoyed a more free and prosperous lifestyle.



Questions? Feel free to ask Krystyna, your Ukrainian dating expert 🙂 (s. here: Contact Krystyna)



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