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VALENTYNA KURYLIW


Date and Place of Birth: 1945 in Mannheim, Germany

Date of Interview: October 29, 2015

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Sophia Isajiw

Length of Interview: 02:38:41 (raw)


Mother (Survivor): Nadia Mychajlowskij (Maiden name: Menko) b. January 25,1922 (during the first Famine) in Ichnya, Chernihiv oblast, Ukraine. Ukrainian citizen, d. February 4, 2013


Father (Survivor): Ivan Mychajlowskij, b. January 28, 1911 in Bilohorodka, Kyiv oblast, Ukraine, d. November 20, 2000



(Excerpt):


It was interesting because you know, every time there was something happening and the Soviets did something else or whatever, the first group of people to go on demonstrations were these people from this parish. And of course we kids went along as well. And how that influenced me, you know I went to university at McGill, I studied history. And part of that is because I was fascinated, not fascinated, it was an emptiness, I couldn’t put the pieces together as to what happened. My father always felt, I felt his pain, in a very indirect way. He would not talk about it; he was a very quiet and peaceful man who dealt with his trauma in a way of sort of trying not to project it on others, but internalizing it.


But I felt his pain. And when I used to ask him, I said, tato [father] why don’t you tell me about what happened to you? And I was only about 7-8 years old. He would say: “тобій не треба,” you don’t need to know these things, you’re just lucky that you never had to experience this and I don’t want you to experience it. But he used to speak to our adopted grandfather – the family that brought us over from Germany – they used to talk together and they used to come into the kitchen, they’d have a few drinks, they would sit down and they would discuss the past. And of course, I would sit in the corner and listen. Or I would sit under the table and listen, as a kid. And they’d say, “well, get lost, get lost, you don’t need this,” but I would come back. I needed to know – I felt this need, it was almost like a compulsion: ‘I have to find out.’ And that led me to history. I loved history, it was my favourite subject at school, I excelled in it; when I graduated I had one of the highest marks in the school in history, which I was pleased with. So when I went to university it was a natural fit for me to study history. And so that’s what I studied at McGill.



CROSS REFERENCES:


• Valentina Kuryliw is interviewed in UCRDC Archive File #362 Video CD. Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych on April 9, 2012 for the “Share the Story” project


• Valentina’s mother Nadia Mychajlowska, is interviewed in UCRDC Archive File #264 (video). Interviewer: Ariadna Ochrymovych for “Share the Story” project (“Nadia’s Story”; ”Share the Story” project webpage)


  1. Valentina’s father Ivan Mychajlowskij, is interviewed in UCRDC Archive File #325 (Audio CDs: 6CDs, 6 hours). Interviewed by Victor Susak on Dec. 27, 1995 about his time in the Belomor Canal Ukrainian concentration camp in the 1930s and time spent as a forced labourer in Germany


• Article on Valentina Kuryliw by Sophia Isajiw from the Children of Holodomor Survivors Speak oral history project for the Canada Race Relations Foundation online project "Our Canada – 150 Stories: Celebrating Canada's Sesquicentennial"


The interviews can be accessed at the UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org

excerpt from the Interview with VALENTINA KURYLIW
CHILDREN OF HOLODOMOR SURVIVORS SPEAK