Pavlo Skoropadsky

From Kaiserreich


Pavlo Petrovich Skoropadskyi (bor on May 3 1873 in Germany) was an aristocrat and decorated Imperial Russian Army general and the current Hetman of Ukraine.

Early Life

Pavlo Skoropadsky was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, on May 3 1873. He grew up on his father's estate in Trostianets (at that time part of Russia, now in Ukraine), studied at the Starodub gymnasium, and graduated from the elite Page Corps cadet school in Saint Petersburg. He served in a cavalry guard regiment and commanded a company of the Chita Cossack Regiment in the Russo-Japanese War. He was appointed aide-de-camp to Emperor Nicholas II in 1905, a colonel in 1906, commander of the 20th Finnish Dragoon Regiment in 1910, and a major general and commander of a cavalry regiment in the emperor's House Guard in 1911. During the Weltkrieg he commanded the 1st Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Guard Division, then the 5th Cavalry and 1st Cavalry Guard divisions, and the 34th Army Corps (at the rank of lieutenant general).

Activities in Ukrainian Nation-building

After the February Revolution of 1917 Skoropadsky oversaw the Ukrainization of the 34th Corps as the 1st Ukrainian Corps. He was elected honorary otaman of the Free Cossacks at their first congress in October 1917. In October–November of that year the disciplined 60,000-man First Corps and the Free Cossacks under his command controlled the Vapniarka–Zhmerynka–Koziatyn–Shepetivka railway corridor. It disarmed and demobilized pro-Bolshevik military units returning from the southwestern and Romanian fronts and thereby prevented them from attacking Kiev and plundering Ukraine. As an opponent of the Central Rada's socialist policies (especially its agrarian reforms) Skoropadsky initiated a right-wing conspiracy known as the Ukrainian People's Hromada, consisting of his fellow noble landowners and loyal officers. Its plans gained not only the support of the Ukrainian Democratic Agrarian party and the All-Ukrainian Union of Landowners, but also of the Germans who pushed him in the power struggle with Austria-Hungary for the control of Ukraine.


Despite the Germans' efforts, Emperor Karl I of Austria decided to trust Wilhelm Habsburg-Lothringen and succeeded in having him installed as King of Ukraine, thanks to the support he had among the peasantry. With Germans' help, Pavlo Skoropadsky succeeded in being appointed as Chief of the Ukranian Armed Forces.

The situation changed in 1927, when Austria-Hungary asked German's mediation in the renegotiation of the Ausgleich. From this position, the Germans were able to successfully request the transfer of power in Ukraine from the King to Skoropadsky, who became Hetman of Ukraine. The Hetman is not only the military chief of the armed forces, but also the head of the civil government. Thanks to German investment and favouritism in trading arrangements and the support of Ukranian landowners, Skoropadsky has been able to turn Ukraine into an agricultural giant, even if at the expenses of the peasantry.

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