HREC Grants 2014

In 2014, HREC held its first grants competition, with a focus on support of research and preservation of materials related to the Holodomor. Grant applications were considered in amounts up to $5,000. Submissions were evaluated for their relevance to the stated aims of the competition, which is to support research on the Holodomor and preservation of materials; soundness of the proposal, including methodology; and preparedness to undertake the proposal (based on CV, letters of recommendation and demonstrated preparedness).

HREC awarded eleven grants for a total of $33,300, ranging from $993 to $5,000. Two grants for $5,000 were awarded to Canadian institutions engaged in projects to preserve rare witness testimonies.

Natalia Bem

The Government and the Ukrainian Peasantry during the Collectivization of Agriculture and the Holodomor: Politics and Mass Consciousness

This project will result in the completion of a manuscript and the publication of a monograph, to be completed by spring 2015, about the relationship between the government and the Ukrainian peasantry, including political attitudes during the collectivization of agriculture and the Holodomor.  Chronologically, this study will focus on the period from 1928–33.  The following research tasks are planned: researching the political attitudes of different segments of the Ukrainian peasantry (‘kurkuls’, middle peasants, poor peasants) at different stages; determining the dominant forms of protest by the peasantry during the forced collectivization; ascertaining female perceptions of the political and economic campaigns in the village, and the motivation behind their behaviour; analyzing the moral and psychological consequences of the Holodomor on the Ukrainian village.

Relying on a rich base of evidence, primarily archives and oral histories, the research will examine not only the historical facts, but attitudes towards these facts and reactions to them, recreating the perceptions of peasants to Stalin’s policies.

Olga Bertelsen

A Social History of the Holodomor: Voices from Kharkiv Oblast, 1926–1934

The purpose of the study is to recreate the scale of personal human tragedies under Stalinism, as well as the transformation of individuals under the threat of state violence. Through the voices of the peasants from Kharkiv oblast, the study will analyze a spectrum of human behavioral traits, from individual heroism to violence, including psychological and psychiatric transformations, before, during and after the Holodomor. The Holodomor amplified and exacerbated Ukrainians’ distrust of Soviet power. It could be argued that precisely this factor determined the scale and nature of subsequent Soviet repression in Ukraine. The project will also contain an analysis of new demographic data that will shed light on human losses during the Holodomor in the villages of Kharkiv oblast. Most important, the study will examine the dynamics of population losses in the context of political and social developments at the time. The significance of this study lies in the nature of the sources, which can contribute to a social history of the Holodomor that reveals behind statistics the real people who fell victim to the practices of the Soviet regime

Serhiy Bilivnenko

An Oral History of the Holodomor on the Ukrainian Steppes: Eyewitness Accounts and the Reflections of Descendants

Zaporizhia National University and other nearby academic and civic organizations have for some years collected oral histories from the Ukrainian steppes, accumulating a vast amount of empirical material on the Holodomor and its significance to Ukrainian society.  This project will create a thematic collection of their interviews of residents of southern Ukraine, to be released in a special edition of series The Oral History of the Ukrainian Steppes entitled Life and Death in the Time of the Holodomor, dedicated to the famines of 1921–23, 1932–33 and the 1946–47.  A documentary film with analogous material is planned.  Student will be active in the recording and preserving these materials and promoting them via social media, web streams and video hosting.

Valentina Eremenko

Holodomor in the Soviet Policy of “Forced Amnesia” and its Memorialization in Contemporary Ukraine

This research project will determine the characteristics of the Soviet policy of amnesia and contemporary memorialization policies of the Famine of 1932–33.

The project will produce and prepare for print an archeographic study with annotations of a coherent set of little-known or completely unknown historical sources about selected issues – documentaries, images, materials from periodicals, oral histories, and narratives. Additionally, the project will create a database of facts concerning places where the Holodomor took place in Ukraine. The database will be made available to scholars and the general public and will serve as a resource for developing relevant geo-informational systems on the Holodomor.

Tatiana Yevsyeyeva

The Liquidation of Ukrainian Orthodox Culture under Stalin’s “Revolution from Above” and the Holodomor

The ethnic identity of the vast majority of Ukrainians was tied to the distinctiveness of Ukrainian Orthodox culture. The Russian communists aimed at transforming the multicultural Russian Orthodox empire into one, artificially unified, atheistic, communist nation, which they pursued with success in 1928 to 1932. The tasks of this project include establishing similarities between political systems and cultures of the Russian Orthodox empire and the internationalist USSR by identifying the mechanisms used to form and transmit church stereotypes about political culture, as well as the effects on the formation of political consciousness in Russian and Ukrainian subjects; examining the preconditions, causes and effects of the conflict between national identities in the Orthodox part of the Russian empire; determining the process of confiscation of church property, elimination of churches, communities, and the clergy during the famines of 1921–23, the “Godless Five Years” of 1928–32, and the Holodomor of 1932-33; exploring the relations between the state and the church and the impact on the liquidation of Ukrainian Orthodox culture in the 1928–33; and determining the place of the ethno-religious factor in the Ukrainian Genocide of 1932–33.

Svitlana Kostilieva

Students of the Kiev Polytechnic during Stalin’s Military-Industrial Modernization and the Holodomor of 1932–1933

The purpose of the project is a historical reconstruction of everyday student life at one of the leading universities in Ukraine-—Kyiv Polytechnic Institute—during the forced military-industrial modernization and the Famine of 1932–1933. Based on thorough analysis of hitherto unknown archival materials, periodicals, and personal documents, the researchers will demonstrate the ambiguity of the role and place of students in Stalin’s “revolution from above” and during the Holodomor. On the one hand, students were actively used by communist authorities to promote the official political line, and students were actively involved in virtually all campaigns in the country, including grain procurement, dispossession and more. On the other hand, students themselves were subject to considerable pressure from the government and “cleansing” of “disloyal,” “kulak Petliura” “religious” elements, including expulsion from the school of those whose parents were “kulaks.”

Nataliia Levchuk

The Demographic and Medical Effects of the Holodomor in Urban Areas of Ukraine

This project examines mortality differentials by causes of death for urban populations of Ukraine in the pre-Famine, Famine and the immediate post-Famine years. Three particular questions will be addressed: what causes of death accounted for most of the excess mortality in 1933–34?; how did the composition of causes of death for the urban population change before, during and in the immediate post Famine years?; were there any variations in the levels and patterns of cause-specific mortality between large cities and small towns? The proposed work will be based on data from archival sources and the collection of all available aggregated statistics on death by sex, age and cause of death for urban populations of the Ukrainian SSR in 1931 and 1933–38, organized into a database so as to determine patterns of cause-specific mortality associated with the Famine, especially the increase in the contribution to total mortality of certain diseases and the diminishing importance of others. Although there are concerns about the quality of cause-of-death statistics this data offers an important resource for estimating cause-specific mortality changes in urban areas during the crisis toward a deeper understanding of the demographic and the medical impact of the Holodomor. Ultimately, this study will contextualize and substantiate two very important issues related to the famine of 1932–33: the intentionality of the state’s actions in Ukraine, and the national element of the famine.

Daria Mattingly

A Study of Perpetrators in Three Villages

This project is an interdisciplinary examination of the cultural memory of the Holodomor. It focuses on the rank-and-file perpetrators of the famine: their identities, activities and the traces they left in the cultural and memorial texts. While Stalin and his functionaries in the Kremlin organised the 1932–33 famine in Ukraine and loom large in memorial and historical discourses, the party plenipotentiaries who made it possible faded into obscurity as did the local activists and petty officials who assisted them. By looking at the personal narratives of the lower-rung perpetrators from published memoirs and testimonies of their descendants as well as those of survivors, this project seeks to reconstruct the fragmented memory of the perpetrators, whose numbers had to be proportionate to the starvation of millions. More specifically, the perpetrators to be studied are from three villages in Ukraine identified from the memoirs of Victor Kravchenko and Lev Kopelev. Archival data to complement their testimonies is essential. This micro-historical analysis seeks to cast what took place in the rest of the country in greater relief.

Hrehoriy Papapkin

“The Black List” in 1932–1933 Ukraine: Documentary Evidence

The purpose of this project is the collection of documentary evidence and oral histories regarding the Ukrainian famine-genocide of 1932–33. In particular, it examines the blockading of economic life in Ukrainian locales deemed to have not fulfilled their required grain requisition quotas; all means of commerce and survival were deliberately expropriated for the state and then repressed. By examining state archives in both Ukraine and in Moscow, this project aims to show the national character of the Holodomor in Ukraine and the aims of the regime in implementing a “black list” policy towards Ukraine. Ultimately, this project will result in publication of a collection of documents entitled “The Black List: The Years 1932–33 in Ukraine.”

Natalia Khanenko-Friesen

Collectivization, Holodomor, and Oral History: Bringing Peasant Testimonies of the 1930s to the English Speaking Audiences

This project will digitize and preserve the extremely valuable oral history project conducted in 1992–95 by a group of Ukrainian scholars on the transformation of civil society in the Ukrainian countryside that resulted from collectivization of Ukraine’s agricultural communities in the 1930s. The goal of the project was to collect first-hand accounts of the village life and community organization prior, during, and after collectivization of the Ukrainian agriculture. The researchers recorded 450 interviews with elderly Ukrainian villagers across the country. The testimonies served as primary data for the analysis of dramatic sociocultural changes the Ukrainian rural communities were forced to undergo in the 1920-30s, resulting in the book edited by William Noll, Transformation of Civil Society: Oral History of Ukrainian Peasant Culture of the 1920-30s (1999). It wasUkraine’s first monograph on collectivization and its aftermath that relied on oral history methodology and first-hand unabridged and unedited testimonies and witness accounts. The proposed project will ensure that the rich oral history data collected by the researchers is preserved, properly archived, and accessible to future researchers, both in Ukraine and elsewhere. Given the deteriorating state of the audio recordings and general inaccessibility of all project data to all interested researchers, a full digitization of all of the original interviews is underway, and a web portal for the project is being created where project data will be presented and profiled, and project documentation upgraded and translated into English to build a safe electronic home for the entire project collection at the University of Saskatchewan, in the Digital Research Centre.

Restoration of Outtakes of Harvest of Despair Interviews

In preparation of the film Harvest of Despair, which was produced by the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre, the interviews taken from witnesses, victims, scholars and journalists were quite lengthy (1–3 hours). Only a small portion of the filmed interviews was used in the film. The outtakes, which have been kept in the UCRDC archives, include invaluable and irreplaceable material, including interviews with such well -known witnesses as Malcolm Muggeridge, Petro Grigorenko, Olha Mak, and Vasyl Sokil and scholars such as James Mace. But the material exists in formats from the technology of the time, i.e. on 16 mm celluloid film. Accessing that material today is problematic as equipment and technicians able to do this are disappearing, to say nothing of the deterioration of the film stock over time. All the same, there is substantial interest in accessing the full interviews.

In 1980s filming, the images and sound were captured on separate channels and then synchronized. Furthermore, in the case of Harvest of Despair, the parts used in the finished film were cut out of the originals; for synchronization they have to be edited back into the originals and then transferred to new film that can be digitized for accessibility and long-term preservation. Yurij Luhovy, the editor of the original film, has helped the UCRDC examine the outtakes of the interviews and determined that such a restoration can be done. The material is irreplaceable. Harvest of Despair interviews were done with witnesses who had been adults during the Holodomor and are now deceased. Any interviews done more recently had to rely on the testimony of those who had been children in 1932-33.

In preparation of the film Harvest of Despair, which was produced by the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre, the interviews taken from witnesses, victims, scholars and journalists were quite lengthy (1–3 hours). Only a small portion of the filmed interviews was used in the film. The outtakes, which have been kept in the UCRDC archives, include invaluable and irreplaceable material, including interviews with such well -known witnesses as Malcolm Muggeridge, Petro Grigorenko, Olha Mak, and Vasyl Sokil and scholars such as James Mace. But the material exists in formats from the technology of the time, i.e. on 16 mm celluloid film. Accessing that material today is problematic as equipment and technicians able to do this are disappearing, to say nothing of the deterioration of the film stock over time. All the same, there is substantial interest in accessing the full interviews.

In 1980s filming, the images and sound were captured on separate channels and then synchronized. Furthermore, in the case of Harvest of Despair, the parts used in the finished film were cut out of the originals; for synchronization they have to be edited back into the originals and then transferred to new film that can be digitized for accessibility and long-term preservation. Yurij Luhovy, the editor of the original film, has helped the UCRDC examine the outtakes of the interviews and determined that such a restoration can be done. The material is irreplaceable. Harvest of Despair interviews were done with witnesses who had been adults during the Holodomor and are now deceased. Any interviews done more recently had to rely on the testimony of those who had been children in 1932-33.