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The groundbreaking oral history project Children of Holodomor Survivors Speak consists of interviews with children of the survivors of the Ukrainian Holodomor (genocidal famine) and is the first such project to address its impact on the lives of the second generation of survivors in the diaspora.


Studies of the intergenerational transmission of trauma and of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in children of Holocaust survivors and the Armenian and African genocides exist. The generational aspect of a legacy of survivorship, is highly valuable information to gather for further study and understanding. For example, a sense of longing, mourning, burden or distrust, degrees of communicativeness and coping, of the strength and resilience of survivorship, all have an impact on the successive generation’s identity and feelings of cohesiveness with their communities.


Project coordinator and UCRDC Archivist Iroida Wynnyckyj states: “The Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre has the experience and infrastructure needed to undertake an oral history interview project of this kind.”


The project’s Interviewer, Sophia Isajiw has said: “The purpose of this oral history project is not to record the history of the Holodomor’s genocidal trauma, but rather, what became of the children of the survivors of the Holodomor and what do they see as the Holodomor’s legacy for Ukrainians? The fact that the project is done in North America is equally valuable because it enables a discussion of how the Holodomor has become a diaspora marker of Ukrainian identity. Oral history interviews with the children of survivors, who are themselves now in their late 40’s to 70’s, provides a springboard for such a discussion and its further research.


The project has two objectives. The main one is: has the knowledge of the parent’s experience and survival of the Holodomor had any influence on the descendant? This can be physical, emotional or spiritual; and how have the participants dealt with this? The second objective is: what is the respondent’s own life story in a description of his or her family, schools attended, work history, migration, community attachment and the like?


Eleven of the 21 respondents were chosen on the basis of UCRDC having previously conducted archival interviews with their Holodomor survivor parents. The remaining 10 respondents were the result of the "snow ball method" of selection. The funding provided in this phase of the project allowed for 21 respondents.  The oral history interview method allows for respondents to freely express themselves and draw on their memory as much as possible. Each interview was video recorded in English, transcribed and is accessible for further use in the UCRDC archives.


The project's technical consultant, Andy Holowaty adds: “By recording these participants, humankind will now have more data available for wide distribution to researchers, academics, journalists, teachers, and the general public, to help prevent a similar atrocity from ever happening to innocent victims again. The opportunity to hear a new generation's interpretation and analysis of their relatives' testimonies and its legacy in their lives will also add to a broader understanding of the Holodomor from many new points of view.”


THE CHILDREN OF HOLODOMOR SURVIVORS ORAL HISTORY PROJECT IS FUNDED BY THE TEMERTY FAMILY FOUNDATION.


We are grateful to the Temerty family for their gift of support which made this project possible.


The recorded video interviews are stored as part of the Oral History Archives at UCRDC. Please contact us at: office@ucrdc.org


The 21 interviewees for this project are:


Olena Bulat

Walter Daschko

Natalia Diduch

Luba Goy

Miroslawa Hec

Alexander Ilchenko

Alexander Jemetz

Tamara Koszarny

Victor Koszarny

Valentina Kuryliw

Victor Lahoda

Dr. Alexander Melnyk

Walter Melnyk

Mykola Moros

Valentina Noseworthy

Iryna Revutsky

Natalia Shchturyn

Rev. Peter Shumelda

Wasyl Sydorenko

Ludmilla Temertey

Olexander Wlasenko


SOME REFLECTIONS FROM THE INTERVIEWEES:


“I felt very honoured to have been able to tell my story as a child of a Holodomor survivor. Apart from supporting my mother, I think it is the most important contribution I have, so far, made to preserve the true story of the Holodomor.”

Fr. Peter Shumelda


“I was more than happy to share our family history…

I found myself telling stories that had long been buried in the deep recesses of a mind tired of the atrocities being perpetuated in every corner of the planet to this day. I have given my dearly departed mother and father a voice.”

LudmillaTemertey


“This is valuable data which must be brought to light regarding a horrific event, not only in Ukrainian, but in world history. Official documentation, important as it is, cannot reveal the scope of this tragedy in the same way as eyewitness or secondhand accounts.”

Natalya Horlatsch-Schturyn


“I am glad that my point of view got included. It is kind of self-validating. I felt I was communicating at last things that I wanted the whole world to hear. I think that some of my own conclusions could help other people deal with their own experiences.

Maybe some of my self-analysis would help someone who felt they were a victim of parents with PTSD.”

Wasyl Sydorenko


“All around a great project contributing to the knowledge base of the Holod. At times enjoyable, at times not so much, it was consctructive overall – it’s best to talk about it.”

Olexander Wlasenko


“I found the interview enjoyable, because I was thrilled to finally have an opportunity to share my family’s history, as I have worked on the topic of the Holodomor for years but usually in the capacity of an educator/historian. The emphasis on family history made it more of an emotional experience which affected me to my very core. The emotional experience itself helps to bring about a form of closure. My parents, both survivors of the Holodomor and USSR prison and concentration camp, have passed on - but their stories will now live on for future generations because of this interview. Hopefully, it will serve as a resource for future researchers on the Holodomor and validate the historical facts that have emerged about this horrific period of the Soviet occupation of Ukraine. Oral history, even second hand accounts, has a place in the annals of history.”

Valentina Kuryliw


“The interview was cathartic, empowering. It's a means of further legitimating, on my family’s behalf, a historical occurrence that is still not fully comprehended in terms of its geo-political and cultural impact on Ukraine and its peoples. It’s also a means of dispelling – on their behalf – some of the guilt and potentially shame that accompanied their survival of this tragedy.”

Olena Bulat


“What should the Ukrainian community do about the Holodomor now? Well, what you’re doing. Certainly capturing every single memory that we can. The Jews have done an excellent job making sure the world knew about their holocaust and we should do no less with the Holodomor because that was the Ukrainian holocaust.


Why do we need these oral history interviews? Well, as a manager, one of the interviewing skills I was taught was that one of the best predictors of a person’s future performance is their past performance, so when you’re interviewing people, always find out about their past. Something they succeeded in. And yeah, we succeeded. We lived through the terror of Stalin, to take us to where we are today.


Think of it, we could have easily a thousand times been part of Russia, we never were, and to this day. That’s why I say with positive affirmation, Україна / Ukraine will be a part of Europe, perhaps a part of NATO. And Russia, I have faith in the Russian people, primarily because there’s a lot of intermarriage with Ukrainians, so they will stand on their own two, and they will have their Maidan. From my mouth to God’s ears.”

Natalie Diduch


"This has been quite an experience for me."

Victor Koszarny


"What should the Ukrainian community do about the Holodomor now? I think what is happening with this recording and documentation is extremely important. This is good work."

Dr. Alexander Melnyk


"I think it’s important to record these stories because I think we’re filling in blanks. I don’t think my parents ever gave the full story on things, so we’re piecing together the stories for our community to fully understand our community. And without fully understanding our community, we can’t possibly have any insight into ourselves, because that’s how we were raised. And everybody thinks that they’re an island, but sort of just comparing notes [and realizing the commonalities] helps."

Alexander Ilchenko


"I think what you’re doing is what should be done, interviews with the people who lived it, and of what from them was passed on to their children, because this is another major failing of Ukrainians. I guess they don’t want to relive this, they want to shield their kids from it perhaps, or they’re afraid of political consequences, right? Even in Canada, they pass that on. So it’s sad that they still have that mentality and you’re doing the research that brings to light what is happening with the information being transmitted or not, you know? So, it’s very, very important what you’re doing."

Walter Melnyk




Some related literature for further reading:


Brent Bezo, Stefania Maggi, Living in “survival mode:” Intergenerational transmission of trauma from the Holodomor genocide of 1932-1933 in Ukraine


Brent Bezo, The Intergenerational Impact of the Holodomor Genocide on Gender Roles, Expectations and Performance: The UkrainianExperience


Farrah Kaplan, Holocaust Survivors and Their Children: A Search for Positive Effects


Heide Rieder and Thomas Elbert, Rwanda – lasting imprints of a genocide: trauma, mental health and psychosocial conditions in survivors, former prisoners and their children


Judith Shulevitz, Is Trauma Genetic? The Science of Suffering article


Darren J. Sush, A “Final Solution” with No End? The Transgenerational Effect of the Holocaust


Rachel Yehuda, et. al., Relationship Between Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Characteristics of Holocaust Survivors and Their Adult Offspring


Amina Umarova and Claire Bigg, Chechnya's Forgotten Children of the Holodomor


Oksana Zakydalsky, "Oral history project focuses on children of Holodomor survivors." Ukrainian Weekly, Sunday April 12, 2015, Vol. LXXXIII No. 15: 1 and 13. Online PDF.

CHILDREN OF HOLODOMOR SURVIVORS SPEAK

The UCRDC depends on voluntary donations – both individual and institutional - for its financing.

It provides receipts for tax purposes.

Olena Bulat

Urban Planner, City of Toronto

Born in 1955 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Date of Interview: August 4, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Nina Bulat, b. 1922 in Kystolovo, Novi Sanzhary, Poltovska Oblast, Ukraine

Father (Survivor):  Yurij Bulat, b. 1915, in Vesele, near Khortytsia and Bilenky, Ukraine.


Walter Daschko

Architect

Born in 1953 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada


Date of Interview: April 7, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour and 35 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Tina Daschko, born 1924 in Krasnosilka, Ukraine


Natalia Diduch

Retired government consultant, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Born in 1955 in Montréal, Québec


Date of Interview: Nov. 10, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours

Mother (Survivor): Ewdokia Trokhymovna Myronenko Opariek

  1. b.March 3, 1925 in Kotelva, Poltavska oblast, Ukraine


Luba Goy

Actor, Royal Canadian Air Farce, CBC TV

Born in Hälter, Germany


Date of Interview: Dec 17, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours and 3 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Olga Iwaniuk (maiden: Sczerbatska), b. February 29, 1923 in village of Vinnytsia, Ukraine


Miroslawa Hec

Chemical & Industrial Engineer

Born in 1937 in Nizhen, Chernihivska oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview: April 21, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours

Mother (Survivor): Olha Mak, b. 1913 in Kamyanets-Podilskyi, Ukraine


Alexander Ilchenko

Lawyer

Born in 1966 in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada


Date of Interview: Oct. 8, 2015

Length of interview: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Olga Mucha, b. 1923 in Mushyna Hreblya, Novosanzharskyi district, Potavska oblast, Ukraine


Alexander Jemetz

Trader at RBC Capital Markets

Born in 1967 in Newark, New Jersey, USA


Date of Interview: August 6, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Father (Survivor): Iwan Jemetz, b. 1930 in Tsariczanka, Ukraine


Tamara Koszarny

Teacher

Born in 1945 in Salzburg, Austria


Date of Interview: Nov. 17, 2015

Length of interview: 40 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Akilina Huzenko, b. July 17, 1912 in Dibrivka, Donetsk oblast, Ukraine

Father (Survivor): Fedir Podopryhora, b. May 3, 1912 in Ukraine


Victor Koszarny (Sidelnyk)

Engineer and Business Development Manager

Born in 1942 in Artemove, Donetsk oblast, Ukraine


Date of Interview: Nov.17, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Olena Hayworonska (maiden name) Koszarny-Semeniuk, b. 1923 in Kryshtopivka, Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine, d. 2015

Father (Survivor): Hryhoriy Sidelnyk  (changed to Koszarny while in Germany to avoid being sent back to eastern Ukraine), b. in Kryshtopivka, Kharkiv oblast, Ukraine, d. 1978


Valentina Kuryliw

Educator, Department Head of History, Toronto District School Board

Born in 1945 in Mannheim, Germany


Date of Interview: Oct. 29, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours and 40 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Nadia Mychajlowskij (Maiden name: Menko) b. January 25,1922 in Ichnya, Chernihiv oblast, Ukraine; d. February 4, 2013


Victor Lahoda

Occasional Teacher

Born in 1956 in Toronto, Canada


Date of Interview: Nov. 26, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours and 52 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Oksana Lahoda (maiden: Pushko)  b. January 25, 1919 in village of Khutir ‘Yar’ (Deikalivka), Zinkivskyi raion, Poltava oblast, Ukraine

Father (Survivor): Michael Lahoda b. May 31, 1922 in village of Khutir ‘Yar’ (Deikalivka), Zinkivskyi raion, Poltava oblast, Ukraine


Dr. Alexander Melnyk

Professor of Chemistry

Born in 1946 in Ellwangen, Germany


Date of Interview: Nov. 23, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Anna Melnyk (Maiden name: Lysenko) b. July 14, 1914 in Sumy, Kariolske selo, Chernihivshchyna, Ukraine

Father (Survivor): Wasyl Melnyk b. March 20, 1901 in Sumy, not far from Pilypne.



Walter Melnyk

Educator, former School Trustee

Born in 1949 in Hamburg, Germany


Date of Interview: Oct. 27, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours and 30 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Laryssa Juchymenko (Maiden name: Szhuk) b. March 18, 1925(26?) in Krutyi Bereh, Poltava, Poltavska oblast, Ukraine


Mykola Moros

Structural Engineer

Born 1945, Heidenau, Germany


Date of interview: April 28, 2015

Length of interview: 55 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Kateryna Mochnushko, b. 1924 in Mykhailivka, Burynskiy rayon, Sumska oblast, Ukraine


Valentina Noseworthy

Educator and Middle Years Initiative Consultant with Manitoba Education and Advanced Learning

Born in 1951 in Winnipeg, Manitoba


Date of Interview: Nov. 5, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour 55 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Anna Shewel (maiden name: Fursa), b. 1925 in Bereza, Hlukhiv, Ukraine, d. 2009

Father (Survivor): Oleksa Shewel, b. in Bereza, Hlukhiv, Ukraine, d. 1982


Iryna Revutsky

Lawyer

Born in 1954 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Date of Interview: August 20, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour and 5 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Valentyna Revutsky, b. 1923 in Proskoriv city, Khmelnytska oblast, Ukraine

Father (Survivor): Valerian Dmitrovich Revutsky, b. 1910 in Irzhavets village, Poltava gubernia [now Chernihiv oblast], Ukraine


Natalia Shchturyn

Pharmacologist and Mother of 5 Homeschooled Children

Born in 1966 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Date of Interview: June 2, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour

Father (Survivor): Stephen Horlatsch, b. 1921 in Zaporizhia Oblast, Ukraine


Rev. Peter Shumelda

Ukrainian Catholic priest, St. Demetrius Parish, Toronto

Born in 1949 in Rochdale, Lancashire, England


Date of Interview: Nov. 24, 2015

Length of interview: 58 minutes

Mother (Survivor): Olia Honcharuk, b. December 26, 1926 in Topory, Zhytomyrska oblast, Ukraine


Wasyl Sydorenko

Librarian, Reference Specialist, Musicologist, Composer

Born in 1960 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Date of Interview: May 5, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour and 40 minutes

Father (Survivor): Petro Sydorenko, b. May 1926 in Ternovatka, (Kryvyi Rih), Dnipropetrovsk


Ludmilla Temertey

Visual Artist

Born in 1944 in Kosice, Slovakia


Date of Interview: July 30, 2015

Length of interview: 2 hours

Mother (Survivor): Raissa Maximovna Novikov, b. 1921 in Novoteretsk, Donetsk, Ukraine


Olexander Wlasenko

Visual Artist and Gallery Curator

Born in 1977 in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada


Date of Interview: June 9, 2015

Length of interview: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Father (Survivor): Serhiy Yakovich Wlasenko, b. 1927 in Lubny, Poltava Oblast, Ukraine





Excerpts from the interviews
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT

The first IN THE WORLD public monument to
the Holodomor


was erected and dedicated in 1983 outside City Hall in Edmonton, to mark the 50th anniversary of the famine-genocide.

It was created by
Ms. Ludmilla Temertey


Photo credit: Venera Kinda