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ROMAN SERBYN


University Professor (Retired); Co-founder of the Ukrainian Jewish Dialogue
of Montreal (UJDM) with Dr. Victor Goldbloom

Date and Place of Birth: 1939 in Viktoriv, Ukraine


Date of Interview: June 11, 2017

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Sophia Isajiw

Length of Interview: 01:44:09 (raw)



(Excerpt):


In 1982, I happened to be having lunch with a colleague of mine, who was also the head of – we had sort of a centre for European studies, it was from 4 universities together, a study group – and he was a head of this. He was looking for programming and asked, “do you have any ideas what to do?” This was in 1982. And I said, “well, wait a minute, 1983 is when Ukrainians will commemorate the famine [50th commemoration]. How about if we organize a conference on the famine?” He said, well ok. So I got in touch with Bohdan Krawchenko [then director of the Canadian Institute for Ukrainian Studies] and got him interested. We collected a few bucks, I went to a former teacher of mine who was then teaching at Concordia, we got a few bucks here and there, and we organized the first international conference on the famine in 1983. We called it The Famine …. This was 1983, in Montreal.

We had Prof. [Bohdan] Bociurkiw come down, we had Prof. [George/Yuriy] Shevelov from the United States, your father, Prof. [Wsevolod W.] Isajiw came, and so on. This was a conference on the famine, but we didn’t feel that famine was enough, to have it just on the famine. We wanted to put it in a context.

So, we had your father spoke about the social [“The Impact of the Man-Made Famine on the Structure of Ukrainian Society”], we had Shevelov’s book about Ukrainianization, dealing with language and so on, Ukrainianization, and the rise and fall. Professor Bociurkiw’s spoke about religion, the closing of the Orthodox church and so on, see? [John] Mace was there, actually Mace had another conference after he went back to Montreal.

We had this very nice conference, but there was one thing that was missing: we didn’t have [Raphael] Lemkin’s concept. And Mace didn’t know about that, I’m sure that he didn’t because he would have used it if he had known. And of course, Conquest who wrote the book with Mace’s help and so on, also didn’t use that.

And the concept was that all these tragedies that we were talking about as separate issues – we used the term genocide, we applied it more to famine – Lemkin said no, all these things together were the genocide. And we just called the famine “genocide.” We were missing that.

And so anyway, I published a little book, because not everybody gave their conference paper, whatever we got we published, but we were missing that. During the 1980s, it’s only at the end of the 80s that famine was recognized, because at that time, the need was to prove that it was a famine, because the West would not recognize, the Soviet Union did not recognize, then when the West recognized that it was a famine, it was generally recognized, then it became necessary for Ukrainians to show that it was genocide, but within the Lemkin concept that included all these things and not just simply famine. 

That’s what I’ve been working on in the last years now.



CROSS REFERENCES:


  1. “The Holodomor: Reflections on the Ukrainian Genocide,” article delivered at the 16th Annual J.B. Rudnyckyj Distinguished Lecture, 2008 


  1. Famine in Ukraine, 1932-1933. Edited by Bohdan Krawchenko and Roman Serbyn, Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1986, 192 pp.  Ciuspress, Amazon


“In Memory of Dr. Victor C. Goldbloom,” Ukrainian Jewish Encounter website, who co-founded the Ukrainian Jewish Dialogue of Montreal (UJDM) with Professor Roman Serbyn (photo)


“A Conversation with Prof. Roman Serbyn,” by Franya Ponomarenko, Den [The Day] newspaper,'' Kyiv, Ukraine. July 18, 2006


excerpt from the Interview with ROMAN SERBYN
ORAL HISTORY OF UKRAINIAN CANADA

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