German Consulate in Kyiv (1924–1938): Between Diplomacy and Politics

Iryna Matiash

Doctor of History, Full Professor, Leading Researcher, Department of History of International Relations and Foreign Policy of Ukraine, Institute of History of Ukraine of the NAS of Ukraine, Head of the Board, Scientific Society of the History of Diplomacy and International Relations
ORCID 0000-0002-7565-1866

DOI 10.37837/2707-7683-2020-2

Abstract. The article covers the activities of the German mission in Kyiv as a cultural, political, and administrative centre of the Ukrainian SSR in 1924–38 in the status of a consulate and consulate-general. The data about the following heads of the consular institution is provided: Siegfried Hey, Werner Stephanie, Rudolf Sommer, Andor Hencke, and Georg-Wilhelm Grosskopf. The legal basis for the establishment of consular relations between the Ukrainian SSR and Germany was the Treaty on Application of the Treaty of Rapallo signed on 16 April 1922 between the RSFSR and Germany to the Allied Republics of the RSFSR. The consular district of the first German mission covered Kyiv, Chernihiv, Podillia, and Volyn governorates. The mission of the consulate was to inform the government about the internal situation in the Ukrainian SSR, promote trade relations and cultural cooperation, and protect the interests of German citizens. The head of the consulate immediately came under close surveillance of the ODPU (United State Political Department) of the Ukrainian SSR on suspicion of conducting intelligence activities as well as collecting information about the economy, industry, and agriculture in the territory of his consular district. Subsequently, the ODPU increasingly introduced its own agents to the staff of foreign missions as service personnel, and NKVD agents in civilian clothing set up surveillance on the consulate’s premises. They accompanied the consul, the consulate staff, and even some visitors on their way out of the premises. Thus, the secret service collected compromising materials that gave grounds for accusing German diplomats of anti-Soviet activities and espionage. The consul’s correspondence was also under control. When A. Hitler came to power in Germany, the information confrontation between the USSR and the Third Reich began, but official diplomatic and consular relations continued. In his reports, the consul in Kyiv recorded the horrors of the Holodomor, the growing process of party ‘purges’, secret executions and suicides, coupled, from January 1937, with daily reprisals against intellectuals and workers in his consular district. The consulate-general in Kyiv ceased its operation in 1938, the official reason being the streamlining of the number of consular offices of the Third Reich and the USSR.
Keywords: German Consulate, Werner Stephanie, Rudolph Sommer, Andor Hencke.

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