In the early 1920’s, as the unsuccessful armed struggle against the forces of Bolshevism approached an end, members of the Ukrainian intelligencia recognized the need for continued resistance and for the preparation of a renewed effort to regain the independence of Ukraine. So began the Association for the Liberation of Ukraine (or CBY, its Ukrainian acronym). The CBY encompassed Ukrainians of all ages and of all geographic regions within Ukraine. With an emphasis on organizing students and young men and women in the battle to free Ukraine, from within the youth sector of the CBY was born CYM, the Ukrainian Youth Association. Begun as a secret organization by Mykola Pavlushkov, Borys Matushevskyi and others, CYM was organized into small anonymous groups of no more than 5 members so that if caught and interrogated, members could not identify more than a small handful of co-conspiritors. The main goal of CYM was the liberation of the Ukrainian nation from its occupiers and oppressors, and to form an independent democratic state.
Members of CYM in the early days worked actively in many ways. They melted into the political infrastructure, pretending to support the Soviet regime and communism in order to gain access to people, places and secrets, and to throw off the scent of those who might suspect their true revolutionary efforts. They worked within the educational system to ensure that children and youth were taught the truth about their history and their people. CYM members actively worked to influence the community from every facet that their positions afforded them, always living by the motto “God and Ukraine”, the two highest ideals and symbols that governed their lives.
Then, in 1930, a group of 45 leading members of CYM and CBY were arrested for their anti-Soviet activism and placed on trial in Kharkiv, then the Soviet capital of Ukraine. These 45 leaders of the Ukrainian struggle stood proudly and defiantly as 13 of them were sentenced to death, the others receiving various sentences of incarceration and imprisonment for their activism and love of their nation. Among the 13 were Mykola Pavlushkov, Serhii Yefremov, Volodymyr Chekhivskyi, and others who were considered by their peers to be the “conscience of Ukraine”. Every one of those sentenced that day, including the 13 whose death sentences were later changed to terms of life imprisonment, would later die in prisons, labor camps or other forms of forced isolation, while serving the sentences placed upon them for their beliefs and work in CYM and CBY.
After the liquidation by Stalin of these key players in the struggle for Ukrainian independence, for a number of years CYM continued to exist only in the hearts of those who believed in the cause.
Then came 1946. It was the year the next war ended. In Germany, Austria, France and Italy many thousands of Ukrainians who found themselves beyond the borders of their homeland decided they must remain beyond those borders, despite not knowing what tomorrow would bring. According to available statistics, in January of 1946 there were 102,000 Ukrainians in the English, American and French occupied zones of Germany and Austria. Among them, 44.1% were youths between the ages of 10 and 29.
Germany: Upon the initiative of a group of older activists, many formerly from eastern Ukraine, on July 6, 1946 a meeting took place in Munich of organizers wanting to create a rebirth of the CYM ideals. As a result of their work, by the end of July there were already 7 branches with over 200 members active in that community. With the goal of creating a constitution and bylaws, and a central body empowered to give direction to the organization, the Central Organizing Bureau was created. In 1947 the First Congress of the Ukrainian Youth Association approved the Constitution and program of CYM, the design of a flag and an organizational emblem, and approved guidelines for the further development of the organization. Local branches began to develop rapidly, and the formation of cultural, artistic and recreational groups began to appear in large numbers. The work of CYM was quickly becoming recognized among Ukrainian and non-Ukrainian communities, and the role of CYM in those communities became more important as time went on.
CYM branches quickly spread to several continents, branching out from Europe into North and South America, and Australia, and again found a home in the place of the organization’s founding – Ukraine. Today, CYM’s many thousands of members can be found not only in Ukraine but also in the Ukrainian Diaspora of many countries – Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, and the United States. Almost 75 years after its founding and 50 years after the rebirth of the Ukrainian Youth Association in the Diaspora, CYM works to afford to its membership the means of social interpersonal contact, mutual assistance, spiritual, mental, social, cultural, educational and physical welfare, within a patriotic context in step with the motto of Pavlushkov and his co-founders, “God and Ukraine”.