Upon arrival, [Oleksandr] Korniychuk started a very active propagandist activity. He concentrated on writers first. He arranged the first convention of Ukrainian writers of the Western Ukraine in the premises of the "[Shevchenko] Scientific Society." It was attended by 32 people, men and women, i.e. all writers of Galicia and Volyn, and even more. The meeting had people no one heard about as writers, or rather hardly ever heard of. The non-political journalists clung to the writers, too, as they immediately figured out the journalism enterprise could not rely on good prospects. "Oh, those Ukrainian journalists! They have done a lot of harm to our cause. Soviet authorities will never forget it! "
At the meeting, there was Korniychuk, Panch, Bazhan, and Malyshko, and also Dovzhenko, the a film director.
Korniychuk opened the meeting by with a well elaborated speech about the fate of Ukrainian writers in under Polish rule. He praised Franko, Stefanyk, Kobylianska (he had never heard of Fedkovych, though). He said he was sorry that the writers of the Eastern [*Obviously, had to be: Western] Ukraine were separated by Chinese walls from the parent stem. Therefore, they were not able to know the grand Soviet Ukrainian literature. Finally, it was over, and now they would all work together for a good cause of the working masses ... And all this will happen under the sun of the Stalin constitution, in a country he takes care of as a father, the greatest, and most brilliant, and so on.
[Oleksandr] Dovzhenko followed. He was a man under forty , very energetic, resolute, blond, and fiery, with an American rather than Ukrainian appearance.
In his very clear Ukrainian, he spoke about his trip around Galicia, about filming villages burned out by Poles, and about murdered or tortured Ukrainians.
— I will try hard, — added he, — to make sure it isn't lost as it has often been lost in our history. I have filmed every atrocity, and it will for ever and ever testify what the nobility-titled Poland did to you!
The mentioning of Ukrainian Nationalists and the leader Stalin (each speech had such excerpts repeated!) did not blunt the effect of his speech.
Afterwards, one of the writers wanted to expres his internationalism:
— As to me, comrades, I have no hatred for the Polish people. The people are not to blame, it is gentry who are to blame, the bourgeoisie and their henchmen!..
He believed he had touched on the best string, so he was greatly pleased with his speech.
But the poet Bazhan rose and set at him very severely:
— I am surprised to hear you, comrade, babbling such nonsense. There is feebleness in your arguments. You must and ought to feel hatred to all who contributed to your anguish, who burned villages, tied hands with barbed wire, cut tongues, poked eyes out...
The speech sounded chauvinist, while the final phrase about the sun of the Constitution and the genius hardly had any link to the rest of the speech.
Neither Panch, nor Malyshko joined the discussion. [Andriy] Malyshko, a small, plain boy, curiously eyed the faces of the writers present, while Panch, a skinny 45-year-old brunet kept sitting with his eyes down, hardly moving at all. Some imperceptible, mysterious smile wandered on his face. One could hardly say whether he was sneering at Galician writers, or the Korniychuk's words, or even at the whole situation.
During this first meeting, Korniychuk informed that the election would take place soon to the Board of the Committee of Writers of Western Ukraine, and asked to nominate and submit Ukrainian candidates. He concluded: "We do not have any party keys, instead we have the most democratic (they indulged into using this word) kind of choice — by majority vote.
— Well, then, comrade, — some of Galicians claimed, — "Zhydy"... "Yevreyi" (Jews), — he recovered, — and Poles will outnumber us.Let's see, — smiled Korniychuk. — Say, there should be nine members of the Board. Well ... Let's see, there will be five Ukrainians, two Poles and two Jews ... And comrade Panch will go there as the chairman, representing the All-Ukrainian Union of Writers! ...
During one of such talks, a question was brought forward.
— Comrade, where is a poet Zahul now?
Korniychuk lazily lifted his eyelashes and cast a glance at the person asking the question:
— Zahul died.
— What about Savchenko?
— Which one?
Korniychuk now turned his head to the speaker too.
— Well, Savchenko, does not live as well.
— What about a poet Bobynskyi?
— Bobynskyi ... Never heard of him.
— How come? He even got the state award for his poem "Frankova smert" (Franko's Death).
— Never heard... Why are you asking? — Korniychuk asked this time and widely opened his eyes.
The eyes sparkled so that the interlocutor was confused completely.
— I ... randomly only asked of those who are gone or have gone
somewhere. But I also know others, such as Zerov, Fylypovych, Tychyna, Rylskyi,
— But you should not put them together. Tychyna, Rylskyi, Bazhan — they all are working, they have been awarded with orders, while Zerov and Yakubskyi left for Russia. They are completely inactive now.