Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, has always remained an important part of the country’s history. Throughout events such as the Russian Revolution, World War I, World War II, and the declaration of Ukraine’s independence, Kiev has played a major role.
Russian Revolution and WWI
During the Russian Revolution of 1917 and World War I, Kiev once again changed hands multiple times. The city was shifted between Soviet, Anti-Soviet, and Nationalist governments. In fact, between 1918 and 1920, the city’s government changed sixteen times!
In 1921, Kiev officially joined the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. While the city was damaged, it was restored under Soviet industrialization. Once again it became an important center of industry and technology. Kiev, however, still suffered under Soviet control. The city was torn apart by the Great Famine and Stalin’s purges.
WWII and the Following Years
Kiev was crushed once again during World War II and the German invasion. The Nazis took over and destroyed much of the city in September of 1941. Before the war, about 160,000 Jews lived in Kiev, comprising about one-fifth of the city’s population. Roughly 100,000 Jews fled Kiev before the Germans arrived. Nazis decimated the rest of the Jewish population, forced other people into concentration camps, and left the city in shambles.
In November 1943, the Soviets recaptured the city. During the following fifty years, the city continued to improve its industrialization. Kiev produced machinery, steel, weapons, chemicals, food, and more. Kiev continued to make a name for itself by producing quality products that were exported around the continent. The city was even the location of a famous brand of camera, the Kiev, that is still sought after by photographers around the world.
When the USSR fell in 1991, Ukraine declared its independence. Like the rest of the region, Ukraine struggled through a major recession in the 1990s as the economy transitioned to capitalism under the fledgling government. The economy stabilized about a decade later, but is still continuing to develop. The country’s political scene also had its ups and downs. Kiev took center stage during the Orange Revolution when 500,000 people protested the 2004 presidential elections. Viktor Yanukovych had won, but there was also evidence of electoral fraud.
Today Kiev is still the country’s economic, political, and cultural center. The city has a variety of universities, landmarks, and more. The city’s resilience through the years is inspirational, both to the region and the rest of the world.