|Skoropadskyi in 1904|
1917 saw Skoropadskyi entrusted with the command of an army corps which was later to become the First Ukrainian Corps. The troops under his command were victorious in numerous engagement, earning particular praise for his successful defense against attacks on the Romanian front. However, that was also the year that the Russian Empire began to fall apart with the revolution that brought down the monarchy, replacing it with the weak and ineffectual provisional government that tried to keep Russia in the war. The empire was coming apart at the seams and Ukraine was no exception to this chaotic trend. That same year, radical elements began to separate the Ukraine from Russia, ultimately resulting in the declaration of independence of the so-called Ukrainian People’s Republic in 1918. It became clear to Skoropadskyi that Ukraine and Russia had enemies on the home front who were a far greater threat than that posed by the German Empire and Austria-Hungary. Ukraine itself was in chaos as rival revolutionary governments struggled for power while Russia itself fell prey to the machinations of the Bolsheviks.
|conversing with the Kaiser|
Naturally, because of this, his enemies on the left accused him of being a collaborator and lacking in Ukrainian nationalism. Needless to say, this was unfair as Skoropadskyi was never lacking in Ukrainian patriotism, however, he realized that Ukraine would be vulnerable alone and welcomed the cooperation of White Russian monarchists and pan-Slavic nationalists as well as the support of the Central Powers they had earlier opposed but all in order to save Ukraine from the revolutionary crisis. Despite his critics, Skoropadskyi responded in the best possible way; by delivering results. Order was restored across the Ukraine, government services began to function again, a peace was negotiated with Bolshevik Russia and diplomatic ties were established with numerous other countries which recognized the independence of the State of Ukraine. These were all things that none of the previous revolutionary governments claiming power had ever been able to achieve. He worked feverishly to build up the foundations of an independent Ukraine with infrastructure improvements and new educational institutions. Unfortunately, the time and breathing space needed to accomplish this was attained in large part due to the support of Germany and Austria-Hungary who, as 1918 wore on, were clearly losing the war.
While in exile, Skoropadskyi continued to work with fellow Ukrainian and Russian exiles toward the ultimate goal of seeing the Soviet usurper regime destroyed. He supported both Ukrainian independence as well as the restoration of the Russian Empire under the House of Romanov with Ukraine being a sovereign state within the framework of a broader Russian Empire, a goal not very different from that of the Russian Imperial Family today. He worked alongside various monarchists, nationalists and others of the exile community as well as maintaining contacts with various friendly factions in Germany. However, he refused to ever have anything to do with the Nazi Party which, of course, meant that this efforts would be suppressed once Hitler came to power. Still, he kept up his efforts as best he could, never relenting in his determination to see both the Ukrainian and Russian peoples freed from Soviet tyranny. In 1945, while fleeing before the advancing Red Army, he was wounded in an Allied bombing raid and died in Bavaria on April 26, 1945 at the age of 71. He was buried with the rites of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Oberstdorf and was succeeded by his son, Danylo Skoropadskyi, as leader of the Ukrainian monarchist group called the United Hetman Association. He lived in exile in Britain until he died in 1957, presumably poisoned by agents of the KGB. However, his other children have continued to carry the torch for a Ukrainian monarchy to the present day.