The Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center (UCRDC) announced the launch of its Children of Holodomor Survivors Oral History Project, funded by the Temerty Family Foundation. Interviews with children of the survivors of the Ukrainian Holodomor, the genocidal famine of 1932-1933, commence this month.
The project’s coordinator, UCRDC Archivist Iroida Wynnyckyj, stated: “The Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center has the experience and infrastructure needed to undertake an oral history interview project of this kind, and indeed, it will be the first such project about the second generation of survivors to be embarked on.”
The history of the Ukrainian Holodomor has been studied and amply written about. What is missing is a study of the second generation of Holodomor survivors, the survivors’ children, the UCRDC notes. Studies exist of the intergenerational transmission of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in children of Holocaust survivors and in studies of the Armenian and African genocides, with some of these studies reaching into the third generation. There is even an “International Handbook of Multigenerational Legacies of Trauma,” edited by Yael Danieli.
History according to successive generations, or the generational aspect of a legacy of survivorship, is highly valuable information to gather for further research. For example, a sense of longing, mourning, burden or distrust, degrees of communicativeness and coping, and the strength and resilience of survivorship all have an impact on the successive generation’s identity and feelings of cohesiveness with their communities.
“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,” stated the project’s interviewer, Sophia Isajiw. “The fact that the project is being done in North America is equally valuable because it will enable a discussion of how the Holodomor has become a diaspora marker of Ukrainian identity. Oral history interviews with the children of survivors – some of whom are themselves now in their 60s to 80s – will provide a springboard for this discussion and further research,” she elaborated.
The project has two objectives. The main one is to ascertain whether the knowledge of the parents’ having gone through and survived the Holodomor had any influence on the descendant. This can be physical, emotional or spiritual. How the participants have dealt with this is also an important question. The second objective is to learn about the respondent’s own life story in a description of his or her family, schools attended, work history, migration and the like
Respondents are chosen using the “snowballing method,” which is to interview as many of the children of Holodomor survivors as possible. The interview method of oral history allows for respondents to freely express themselves and draw on their memory as much as possible.
“If you or someone you know are children of Holodomor survivors and would like to be interviewed for this project, you are very welcome to contact the UDRDC office as soon as possible and let us know,” Ms. Isajiw said. Each interview is video recorded in English and transcribed, and will be accessible for further study in the UCRDC archives.
“By recording these participants, humankind will 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 will also add to a broader understanding of the Holodomor from many new points of view,” stated the project’s technical consultant, Andy Holowaty.
The Temerty Family Foundation’s operations consist primarily of researching programs and projects of various registered charities and donating funds to those registered charities carrying on research or projects of interest to the foundation’s board members in order to aid those particular registered charities in carrying out their charitable activities and mandates.
The Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Center is a community institution that collects, catalogues and preserves material documenting the history, culture and contributions of Ukrainians throughout the world. The UCRDC is a non-profit organization that produces documentary films, prepares educational materials, and sponsors lectures, conferences and exhibits on various topics related to Ukrainian issues.
For more information about UCRDC, readers may visit its website at …