I. The territory of modern Cherkassy Region was settled in the epoch of Paleolithic some 40 thousand years ago.
Nomad Iranian-heathen tribes of Scythians occupied a great part of the territory of steppe districts in the Ukraine in the VII-III century B.C. (among them the Cherkassy Region).
In the same distant days direct descendants of Eastern Slavs were already leading a settled life farming on the land. They were growing crops and raising cattle. Ironmongery and bronze-casting workmanship, weaving, pottery, processing bone and wood were developing. This is testified by materials found while excavating settlements (VI c. B.C.) near the village of Trakhtemirov (Kanev District). There are implements of labor and objects of everyday life: sickles, knives ceramics, and bracelets bronze pins handicrafts made of bone.
II. The territory of the present day region was a part of the land of Pridneprovye (Dnieper area) where the main body of Eastern Slav tribes was formed, out of which Kievan Rus – mighty feudal state originated. The economic basis of the ancient Russian state consisted of highly developed agriculture and handicrafts. There are agricultural implements of labour, and articles of blacksmith, ceramic, jewelry and other workmanship: sickles, knives, axes, stirrups, locks, bracelets, pendants, ceramic found in the district of Kanev and near the village of Sakhnovka (Korsun-Shevchenkivsky District).
The growing class of feudal lords of Kievan Rus needed a new religion, which would strengthen its power over the population. The paganism of the feudal satisfied them no longer. In the year of 988 Christianity was introduced under prince Vladimir. The Orthodox Church enriched itself rapidly, gained power and influence. The Zarubsky Monastery and Georgievsky Cathedral in Kanev were built on the region.
III. Having taken advantage of the Mongol-Tatar invasion and feudal scattered position of Rus in the XIV-XVI cent., the territory of the Cherkassy Region was captured by Lithuanian and Polish feudal lords. The history of this period characterized by further increase of feudal landownership and strengthening of serf oppression. The landlords’ economy was based on cruel exploitation of the peasants who had to pay quitrent and metayage, do corvee service, and serve compulsory duties for the government and church. The toiling masses suffered from humiliation and lawlessness.
The hard social and national oppression by the foreign landlords, the frequent enemy raids caused the appearance of Cossacks in the Ukraine. The first Cossacks settlement was set up in the area in the XV c., and Cherkassy (founded in the end of the XIII c.) became their stronghold in the struggle against the Polish gentry, the raids of Turks and Crimean Tatars. The Castle (present day Kholm Slavy (Glory Hill) stands on its side now) was erected for defense against the enemies.
An important place is devoted to the Cherkassy area in the Liberation War of the Ukrainian people in 1648-1654 against the Polish magnates. Documents and exhibit items tell about the events in the region in the liberation struggle under Bogdan Khmelnitsky. In the Cherkassy Local Lore Museum are exhibited weapons, Cossacks gunpowder-flasks, and a map of military actions of the people in the uprising. In the center of the hall are a bust of the hetman, Cossacks flags and a copy of the Bogdan Khmelnitsky’s first letter to the Russian tzar Alexei Mikhailovich making a request for reuniting Ukraine with Russia, written in Cherkassy on June 8, 1648.
On January 8, 1654 the Pereyaslav Rada (Council) adopted the historic decision of reuniting Ukraine with Russia.
At the end of the XVII c. and during the XVIII c. feudal and serfdom dependence increased, the cruel national oppression continued growing. All this aggravated class antagonism, promoted expansion of uprisings of the peasantry.
One of the greatest uprisings of the XVIII c. on the Right bank Ukraine was when Cherkassy peasantry came out against the oppression by Polish gentry, it was called Koliivshina.
The Ukrainian people together with Russian took an active part in the 1812 Patriotic War.
IV. The Cherkassy area was closely associated with the activity of the Decembrists of the Ukraine. One of the centers of the movement was Kamenka. Displayed are the Cherkassy Local Lore Museum’ photographs of the “Decembrists’ Mill”, Pushkin’s Grotto, where secret meeting of the Decembrists were held. Located there are photocopies, programmed documents of the Southern Society, portraits of the leaders of the Kamenka town council Colonel V.L.Davydov and Major General S.G.Volkonsky, and and also of the Decembrists’ wives, who shared with their husbands the years of exile in Siberia: M.N.Volkonskaya, A.G.Muravyova and A.I.Davidova.
The 1861 bourgeois reform gave an impulse to the rapid development of capitalism. In the second half of the XIX c. the leading position in the area was occupied by the sugar refining industry. 26 million roubles worth of sugar was produced here annually.
Large sugar-refineries were functioning in the towns of Cherkassy, Smela. Shpola, Gorodishche.
Together with the development of the industry of the working class also formed. In 1885 210 factories and plants employing 18 thousand workers were operating on the right-bank part of the Cherkassy area.
In the end of the XIX c. and the beginning of the XX c. capitalism developed in agriculture as well. The landlords introduced new technique on their farms. Cruel exploitation was the fate of the village poor and their children.
The struggle against tsarizm was led in the 70s of the XIX c. by Narodniki (Populists) who strove to raise peasantry to capturing the land and become free.
Marxism became the scientific theory of the emancipating movement of the working class reflecting its vital interests. One of the first propagandists of Marx’s economic teaching in the Ukraine was S. A. Podolinskiy (a native from the village of Yaroslavka, now Shpola District). The germ of the proletarian revolutionary party was the Petersburg “League of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class” founded by V. I. Lenin in 1895.
In 1900 V. I. Lenin founded the newspaper “Iskra” which played a decisive role in creating in revolutionary party of s new type.
In 1903 the 2nd Congress of the RSDLP(B) took place.
In 1903 – 1904 the unification of the social-democratic circles began in the Cherkassy area. In the summer 1904 they united into social-democratic group and linked up with the organizations in Kiev.
In 1905 powerful revolutionary activities spread all over the country.
In March 1905 the workers of the Uman printing-houses, bakeries, iron foundry went on strike, in May-July followed those of the Shpola and Cherkassy sugar-refineries.
In February 1917 the Bourgeois-Democratic Revolution won in the country. The struggle against the autocracy in Petersburg our townsmen from the Cherkassy Region also took part that is proved by photographs and documents of A. P. Khomenko, Ya. I. Shkirya, I. S. Zaslavsky.
In May – June 1917 the activity of the Bolshevik organization in the Cherkassy area grew more intensive.
On October 25 (November 7) 1917 the Great October Socialist Revolution was accomplished.
The 1st All-Ukraine Congress of Soviets was held in Kharkov in December 1917, which declared Ukraine a Soviet Republic and formed the first Soviet government of the Ukraine.
In January and February 1918 Soviet Power was reinstated in most of the towns and villages of the Cherkassy area.
In November 1922 the Smela sugar-refinery renewed operation, in another year ten more refineries were put into operation.
In 1940 there were 1039 schools with 229600 pupils in the region.
Preparation of specialist for agriculture began widely. In the area there were trained by the Uman Agricultural Institute, 11 agricultural schools and technical secondary schools.
Cherkassy Region within the years of the Great Patriotic War.
The main program document in the beginning of the war was the Directive of the USSR Council of Nation Commissars and the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party (B) dated June 29, 1941 to the Party and Soviet Organization in the front lines areas.
Local residents filled up the numbers of soldiers of Red Army, participated in defensive fights and self-denyingly worked in rear.
Meetings were held all over the region at which the participant declared their readiness to defend their Soviet Motherland. Already the first period of the war against the German fascist aggressors the citizens of the Cherkassy area displayed staunchness and heroism. Among the defenders of the Brest Fort were also our countrymen Ya. S. Kryuk, I. D. Kodatsky, S. P. Khutoryan. In the defensive battles for Odessa our countrymen, pilot, senior political instructor S. A. Kunitsa made 150 flights over the enemy positions and destroyed a lot of enemy soldiers and military equipment. From the middle of July 1941 the territory of the Cherkassy area became an arena of bloody battles. The 26th, 6th, 38th, 12th armies and the Dnieper detachment of the Pinsk military flotilla led the defensive battles on this field of the front. The army’s commanders and the Pinsk military flotilla were Colonel-Generals F. Ya. Kostenko, I. N. Muzychenko, D. I. Ryabyshev, Major-General P. G. Ponedelin and Rear-Admiral D. D. Rogachyov.
Taking advantage of superiority in number of troops and armaments the aggressors captured the whole Cherkassy territory in August and September. The fascists established a regime of terror and violence. Near Uman the enemy set up a concentration camp of death for Soviet prisoners of war, in which tens of thousands of people languished. The majority of them were murdered. The famous poet E. A. Dolmatovskiy, whose book “One Destiny” and “The Green Brama” tell about the atrocities of the fascist invaders was one of the prisoners in the “Uman Pit”.
On June 18, 1943 the hitlerites surrounded the village of Buda (Chihirin District) and set fire to it and then raised a savage reprisal upon the residents. Babies were thrown alive into the flames; the old people and women were driven into the volley and shot down. There were 82 people killed then.
The Soviet people who had remained on the temporary occupied territory rose for a sacred struggle against the hitlerite invaders. Three secret Party district committees, patriotic groups, more than 30 partisan units and formations functioned in the Cherkassy area.
After fierce battles Cherkassy was liberate from the German fascists occupants on December 14, 1943 by the armies of the 2nd Ukrainian Front. Motherland saluted the liberators with 12 artillery volleys from 124 field guns.
The Korsun-Shevchenko was one of the outstanding military operations in the Great Patriotic War. The hitlerite forces had fortified their position on the Korsun silent and were preparing for a counter-advance towards east. The Soviet headquarters elaborated a plan of surrounding and destroying the fascist troops. The armies of the 1st and the 2nd Ukrainian Fronts took part in the battle, which ended in a complete route of the enemy.
149 Soviet Army men (born in the Cherkassy region) were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union, two of them – I. D. Chernyakhovsky and I. N. Stepanenko – were awarded this title twice.
The Cherkassy Region is the youngest one in the Ukraine. It was formed in January 7, 1954.