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ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UKRAINIANS ASSISTING JEWS DURING THE HOLOCAUST
RECENT PERSPECTIVES
on ukrainian-jewish
relations

The goal of this project is to identify and recognize Ukrainians who took great personal risks in hiding or otherwise helping Jews to survive during the horrific years of World War II. Recognizing the actions of such individuals would make salient their personal heroism, but also the existence of positive interaction and relations between Christian and Jews even during a period of deep crisis and pervasive violence.

Project coordinator and UCRDC Archivist Iroida Wynnyckyj states:
In October  of 2009, І was approached by Leonid Finberg of the Center for Studies of the History and Culture of East  European Jews, National University of “Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, to collaborate on a project on Ukrainian-Jewish relations, titled “I am my brother’s keeper” I presented the proposal to UCRDC Board for approval and volunteered to coordinate the project. The project: Ukrainians assisting Jews during the Holocaust was launched in May 2010.

This project builds on existing research and cases that have already been documented in Ukraine, at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, and at the Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles, but also conducts research to identify cases not known or publicized to date. The UCRDC focuses on identifying and documenting cases that have a Canadian connection.

This project is an ongoing effort and the UCRDC asks that the community provide any information which might be helpful in identifying new cases. In particular, the UCRDC continues to be interested in suggestions of individuals who should be interviewed regarding their own experience or that of their family members.

The researcher Orest Zakydalsky has said: 
The work done to date highlights the common humanity between our two peoples; indeed, when Christian Ukrainians who helped their Jew friends were asked why they decided to assist, despite the danger to themselves, the most common answer was, “they were my neighbours. How could I turn them away when they needed help?” Often people helped those who they did not even know, from a conviction that what was being done to Jews was wrong, and that they were duty-bound to help them, because of either their Christian convictions, or simply human kindness (and, as a rule, particular bravery). Through the work done to date, we have been able to document the positive relationships that existed between our two peoples.

The UCRDC also maintains an archive of textual and photographic resources on this topic. Researchers, students, and others who are interested in accessing these resources are asked to contact UCRDC by phone at 416-966-1819 or by email to office@ucrdc.org to arrange an in-person viewing.

The following clips, both audio and video, provide a sample of the materials produced by the oral history project. These interviews and other materials can all be found in the UCRDC Archives. A short description of each interview and relative biographical information of each interviewee is provided.

The UCRDC would like to thank all the heroic witnesses who have shared their extraordinary stories with us so far. 

LIST OF interviewEES

Eva Andermann


Date of birth - 19 October 1939

Place of birth - Przemysl, Poland

Date of interview - 5 October, 2010, Montreal, Quebec

Video interview

Language - English


Mrs. Andermann describes how her parents approached a wealthy Ukrainian farmer, Kukurudza, for help to hide their family. Mrs. Andermann describes Kravchuk going into the forest to retrieve her aunt, uncle, and 8 year-old cousin Philip, and the subsequent year and a half they spent hiding in the Kravchuk Family's bunker.  Kukurudza and Kravchuk families were recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations".


Anna BuriJ (nee Bulelyk)


Date of birth – 8 May 1925

Place of birth – Zarichchya village, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 26 February, 1992, Toronto, Ontario

Audio interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language – Ukrainian


Anna Burij describes how her neighbour hid two Jews in her barn through the winter and explains the necessity of their flight the next year as rumours of their presence spread. Mrs. Burij also recalls and describes the mass executions of Jews in the nearby town of Delyatyn.


Myron Chabursky


Date of birth – 7 July, 1931

Place of birth – Lviv, Ukraine

Date of interview - 17 August, 2016, Toronto, Ontario

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Mr. Chabursky describes how his father, a priest, helped Jews by issuing them baptismal certificates and recording them as his parishioners. Mr. Chabursky tells the story of someone seeking to inform on his father, writing a letter to the Gestapo and how that letter was intercepted and disposed of by a Ukrainian interpreter.


Jurij Darewych


Date of birth – 17 February, 1939

Place of birth – Sukhorichchya village, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 30 March, 2017, Toronto, Canada

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Dr. Darewych relates how his aunt, Maria, and her husband, Father Vasyl Davydovych, hid a Jewish girl during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine. He describes how the girl lived with their family until the second occupation of Ukraine by the Soviet Red Army when she eventually fled to Israel in August 1944.  He recalls how his family maintained contact with her for some time after her departure. He then briefly addresses German actions towards Ukrainian and Jewish populations in general. 


Daria Derbish


Date of birth - 1923

Place of birth - Ternopil, Ukraine

Date of interview - 5 July, 2010, Toronto, Ontario.

Video interview

Language - Ukrainian


Mrs. Derbish recalls how her mother and other village ladies would provide food for Jews hiding in a nearby forest. She goes on to describe the 'cleansing' of the nearby village of Mykulyntsi including one incident where a Jewish woman found hiding in an oven was spared by a Ukrainian officer turning a blind eye.


VALENTIN DROBNER


Date of birth – 1928

Place of birth – Zhmerynka, Vinnytsia oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 18 August 2011, Toronto

Video interview

Language – Russian


Valentin Drobner describes relations between Jews and Ukrainians in Zhmerynka before the German invasion. He describes life in the Jewish ghetto in Zhmerynka where his family lived for over two years during the Romanian occupation. Mr. Drobner recalls the systemic murder of Zhmerynka’s Jewish population by German police and the help he and his family received from a local German woman and a Ukrainian family. Finally, Mr. Drobner describes the liberation of Zhmerynka. 


Michael Friedland


Date of birth – 7 March 1926

Place of birth – Kalinovka, Vinnytsia oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 17 February 2006, Toronto, Ontario

Audio interview

Language – Ukrainian


Mr. Friedland describes how the Morozovsky Family assisted him by giving him their son Michael’s passport which allowed Mr. Friedland to assume Michael’s identity through the War. Mr. Friedland has kept the name “Michael” as a token of appreciation. Mr. Friedland also tells the story of a Polish train conductor who hid him from a German officer on a train. 


Maria Holod (nee Prokopovych)


Date of birth – 16 January 1917

Place of birth – Lviv, Ukraine

Date of interview - 18 May 1995, Toronto, Ontario

Audio interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language – Ukrainian


For part of the War, Maria Holod lived in Rohatyn, a small city outside of Lviv, with her mother. She describes how her neighbours in Rohatyn – Nahorniak and Dr. Melnyk – helped to hide Jews. She recalls that her mother helped these men and that her neighbour, Nahorniak, was arrested and tried by the Germans. She explains that it was generally well known amongst the townspeople that Jews were being hidden, but that it wasn’t talked about because of the danger of being arrested and imprisoned. Mrs. Holod describes the German efforts to root out hiding Jews, in particular the efforts of policeman Devyante in Rohatyn.



Katrusia Hodyk


Date of birth – 1920

Place of birth – Stefkowa, Poland [formerly Ukraine]

Date of interview - 4 December, 2010, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Audio interview

Language – Ukrainian


Mrs. Hodyk recalls feeding a Jewish man who would seek her help, despite such assistance being strictly forbidden. She recounts one incident when the Gestapo came to the house whilst the man was eating soup in plain view of the door. Mrs. Hodyk describes how hungry Jewish children would cry for food under her window.



Maria Horban (nee Senyshyn)


Date of birth – 31 August 1919

Place of birth – Drohobych city, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 22 June 1995, Toronto, Ontario

Audio interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language – Ukrainian


Maria Horban describes having documents made for two Jewish co-workers in Lviv so that they could escape being sent to the ghetto. She describes helping a young neighbour, Witman, find his aunt on the other side of town after his family had been arrested and a chance meeting with him two years later while he was still in hiding. Mrs. Horban tells the story of how she got word to a friend in the ghetto, Anna Aysen, through a policeman and the story of her relationship with Anna, who had helped Maria and her husband hide during the Soviet deportations two years prior. Mrs. Horban tells the story of how, using fake documents and bribing a ticket agent, she helped Anna and her mother escape to hiding in Germany.


Sister Khrysantia (nee Maria Hnativ)


Date of birth – 10 February 1924

Place of birth – Yaktorev village, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 2 June 2004, Lviv, Ukraine

Audio Interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language – Ukrainian


Sister Khrysantia descirbes living and working in a Lviv orphanage during the War. She tells the story of how Hegumenia Yosyfova (head of the convent of nuns) hid Jewish children from the Germans in the orphanage where she worked, as well as, another makeshift orphanage organized by the Ukrainian Social Service Organization.  Sister Khrysantia recalls the stories of two girls in particular, Anna Khomenko and Dusha Filipina. She also recalls the story of Rabbi Kahane’s wife, who, during the War, hid in an orphanage for infants on Ostrovska Street in Lviv.


Hanna Kontsevych


Date of birth – 1934

Place of birth – Berezhany city, Ternopil oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 31 January 1997, Berezhany city

Audio Interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language – Ukrainian/Russian


Hanna Kontsevych tells of how her mother hid two Jewish families – a boy named Shimon and his mother, and a man named Vova and his wife - in their root cellar and attic. She describes the details of their life in hiding – where they slept, what they ate, etc., during the two years they spent under her mother’s protection.


Krystyna Korpan (nee Sikorska)

Date of birth – 17 December 1933

Place of birth – Pidhaytsi city, Ternopil oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 12 May 2010, Toronto, Ontario

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Krystyna Korpan describes how her mother, Kateryna Sikorska, hid their neighbour’s two sons, Anatoliy and Leonid Kresel, and Klyar, a photographer, from June 1942 to March 1943. She tells how her mother assisted in obtaining fake documents helping Jews escape from the ghetto. Mrs. Korpan describes the eventual arrest and execution of her mother and the three men she hid after they were betrayed to the Germans. In 1995, Mrs. Korpan’s mother and sister were recognized as “Righteous Among the Nations”.


Volodymyr Kotsiubskyy


Date of birth - 20 September, 1939

Place of birth - Kyiv, Ukraine

Date of interview - 19 August, 2010, Toronto, Ontario

Video interview

Language - Ukrainian


Mr. Kotsiubskyy describes how Jews were ordered to assemble in his city and were taken to Babyn Yar. He tells the story of how one girl, Maria Lvivna, escaped the massacre and came to hide with Mr. Kotsiubskyy's family, later moving to Moscow with her husband after the War.


Brother LaWrentiJ Kuzyk

Date of birth – 10 November 1912

Place of birth - Turya, Starosambir, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 23 June 1981, Ukrainian Studite Monks Monastery, Woodstock, Ontario.

Audio interview

Language – Ukrainian 

(Published, edited transcript in Ukraina Moderna, Nos. 4-5, Ivan Franko University, Lviv, 2000)


Brother Lawrentij Kuzyk describes how he and other priests and monks in the City of Lviv hid Jews in the city’s monasteries and churches. He details a network of priests in the areas surrounding Lviv who helped Jews go into hiding, often baptizing Jews in order to save them from the Germans. Brother Kuzyk specifically tells the story of his involvement in the baptism of two sons of the Head Rabbi of Lviv, Kurt Lewin, in order to hide them from the Germans and how Rabbi Kahane hid and worked in the Studite Library at St. George’s Cathedral. He describes the work of Metropolitan Sheptytsky who helped hide and save over 200 Jewish children. 

(Published, edited transcript in Ukraina Moderna, Nos. 4-5, Ivan Franko University, Lviv, 2000)


AnastasiJa Lebid (nee Wawryshchuk)


Date of birth – 1906 (d. 1999)

Place of birth – Matijiw city, Volyn, Ukraine   

Date of interview - 2 February 1982, Montreal,Quebec

Audio interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language – Ukrainian


Anastasija Lebid describes the efforts of the Ukrainian administration and clergy of the City of Matijiw to prevent the mass executions of the Jewish population. She describes how, despite their efforts, the German authorities found and executed the Jewish populace of Matijiw and neighbouring villages, as well as, the families who hid them. 



Nadia Olynyk (nee Khmara)


Date of birth – 2 January 1926

Place of birth – Sokil city, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 11 April 2005, Montreal, Quebec

Audio interview (hard copy transcript available)

Language – Ukrainian


Nadia Olynyk describes the relocation of Jews to the ghetto in Sokil in 1941. She recounts witnessing Jews jumping off of a truck in an attempt to escape and being fired upon by German soldiers. Mrs. Olynyk recalls meeting her best friend from school, Deborah Gilbert, on the street in Sokil as Jews were being forced into the ghetto.  She also tells the story of her parents hiding a group of Jews in their barn.


Irene Pawliw


Date of birth – 1 September, 1931

Place of birth – Zbaraz, Ternopil oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 1 June, 2016, Toronto, Ontario

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Irene Pawliw tells the story of a Jewish tailor who showed up on her family’s doorstep asking to work for them, a request which her family granted. She recounts one incident where Germans came to the house looking for Jews and her family protected the tailor by hiding him in the yard. 


Father SeBastian Sabol


Date of birth – 7 December 1909 (d. 20 February 2003)

Place of birth – Pryashiv, Austro-Hungarian Empire (now Slovakia)

Date of interview - 17 May 1989, Warren, Michigan.

Audio interview

Language – Ukrainian


Father Sebastian Sabol describes how Catholic priests in Carpatho-Ukraine hid Jews by issuing baptismal certificates for them. Father Sabol estimates that between himself and Father Huchko approximately 50-60 such certificates were issued.  He recalls giving baptismal certificates to Dr. Gottlieb and his wife, Miriam Schonfeld, as well as Alexander Milkh, without actually performing baptism.  He explains that permission to do so was given by Bishop Goydech of Pryashiv. Father Sabol explains how, under his instruction, the cleric in the church in Prayshiv replaced the names of deceased Christians with the names of Jews. Father Sabol also tells the story of Father Huchko’s eventual arrest, and how he approached Dr. Gottlieb for help but was refused.


James Kurt Schiller


Date of birth - 6 February 1936

Place of birth - Chernivtsi, Ukraine

Date of interview - 5 May, 2016, Toronto, Ontario

Video interview

Language - English


Mr. Schiller describes his family’s life in a camp in Mogilev. He speaks about a woman he met at the camp, Ksenia, who would warn Ukrainians when Germans were coming. He describes the treatment of Ukrainian and Jewish prisoners at the hands of Romanian guards. Mr. Schiller describes meeting Stepan Bandera, leader of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, in Molodiia, and his family’s history with Bandera’s followers. He also tells the story of his cousin, Jusef Kiningsberg, who worked for the Germans as a telephone operator.


Zenon Tatarsky

Date of birth - 27 February 1930

Place of birth - Sadova Vyshnia, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 29 June 2010, Toronto

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Mr. Tatarsky tells the story of how his father gave three Jews a ride from Bilgoray to Novi Sanchi in 1943.  He also recounts how his mother fed a Jewish man hiding as a garden guard and an old Jewish woman living in the Sambir ghetto. 


Martha Trofimenko


Date of birth – 8 February, 1933

Place of birth – Krosno, Poland

Date of interview - 26 August, 2016, Toronto, Ontario

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Martha Trofimenko describes the relations between German soldiers and the Jewish population in the City of Ryashev. She tells the story of concealing the identity of a Jewish woman who worked in her parents’ store where German soldiers would come on a regular basis. She recalls how her family’s Jewish neighbours were persecuted by German soldiers; the wife was eventually arrested and the husband, with help from her parents, was smuggled into Hungary. Mrs. Trofimenko describes witnessing, as a little girl, German soldiers trying to incite Ukrainians against Jews by compelling Jews to break eggs and spill milk sold by Ukrainian women in the local marketplace.


LYdia TyckYJ and Alexanda Hryhorijiw


Dates of birth - 23 May 1922, 22 May 1925 (respectively)

Place of birth - Cherche village, Rohatyn, Ivano Frankivsk oblast, Ukraine  

Date of interview - 29 November, 2015, Toronto, Ontario.

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Mrs. Tyckyj and Mrs. Hryhorijiw, sisters, tell the story of how their father, who was head of the county police force, helped save Jews during the War. They describe the ethnic cleansing of Jews in the City of Rohatyn and their saving of Roza, a Jewish girl from the ghetto, by having her work for them as a seamstress. Mrs. Tycka describes how she gifted Roza a Ukrainian embroidered blouse before leaving Rohatyn, and of how, years later, Roza told her that she still had the blouse and would like to be buried in it. Roza eventually moved to the United States and came to Montreal to attend the funeral of Mrs. Tyckyj's and Mrs. Hryhorijiw’s mother, Mrs. Bachynskyj.


Aharon Weiss


Date of birth – 28 December, 1928

Place of birth – Boryslaw, Lviv oblast, Ukraine

Date of interview - 30 June, 1988, Munich, Germany

Audio interview

Language – Polish


Mr. Weiss tells the story of a Ukrainian woman, Mrs. Lasotova, who would warn his family of impending danger and hide them in her attic. He recounts how his family, after escaping the ghetto, asked to live with Mrs. Lasotova who agreed and even took care of their house. Mr. Weiss describes submitting Mrs. Lasotova's name to Yad Vashem and how she came to be recognized as being one of the "Righteous Among the Nations". 


anhelyna Yatsyshyn (nee Kotsaba)

Date of birth – 1932

Place of birth – Kotsaby Farmstead, outside Zahirya, Poland (on the Polish-Soviet border)

Date of interview - 29 June 2010, Toronto, Ontario.

Video interview

Language – Ukrainian


Anhelyna Yetsyshyn describes German mistreatment of Jews in forced labour camps.  She recalls how her mother gave her food to pass along to Jewish prisoners. Mrs. Yatsyshyn tells the story of her two brothers, Mykhailo and Volodymyr, who helped the daughter of a local Jew, Brandt, cross the River Syan into Soviet territory.  She describes how they were betrayed and arrested by the Germans. She explains the cost of her family’s sympathy for Jews; both Volodymyr and Mykhailo were sent to Auschwitz.  While Volodymyr eventually escaped Auschwitz, Mykhailo, as the family found out years later, was murdered there.

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

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