What was it like for five hundred men with sixteen machine guns, one cannon, and zero combat training to go out and occupy trenches here against five thousand men with an armored train, several batteries of guns, and Bolsheviks with considerable combat experience?
If you try hard enough, you can imagine what it was like for these twenty-seven people who, after the first battle in their lives, after the loss of their comrades, in ordinary student overcoats, in student caps, wandering at night through the same snowy Ukrainian fields, returned to this station where torture and death awaited them.
What was the purpose of all this?
What did the heroes of Kruty do?
Did they inflict serious enough losses on the enemy, about three hundred killed according to Muravyov’s reports? Yes, they did!
Did they stop the attack on Kyiv for a few days, let the defense prepare, let Konovalets strengthen the rear? Yes, this is a fact, definitely!
And Brest? Did they give the opportunity to sign the Brest Peace, to recognize Ukraine as a subject of international law? Yes, they did!
The main thing that they actually did was to fight not even Muravyov, not for practical things, but to preserve the honor of the Ukrainian state, while those who were sitting in warm offices in Kyiv, breeding corruption, degrading and demotivating the Ukrainian army, while they were trying to negotiate with the Bolsheviks in Kyiv, there were several hundred who understood that even in a hopeless situation one must fight.
They kept their honor. Preserved honor is a thing that is worth much more than the few days they were able to wrestle out of the defense of Kyiv; preserved honor is the example that led to the emergence of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, which was inspired by their example. Preserved honor is the thing that led Ukrainians in the fourteenth and fifteenth years to the front in the twenty-first century. This is what preserved honor is!
Mykola Mikhnovsky, the founder of the Self-Determination Movement, one of the creators of the Ukrainian army, prophetically said about people like the Krutyans before the First World War: “We are few, but our voice will be heard throughout Ukraine, and whoever has an enlightened heart will call to us; whoever has a burned-out heart will be called by us.”
These were the heroes of Kruty!