Witness Accounts

Witness accounts have been valuable resources in efforts to raise awareness of the Holodomor, especially in the years before Soviet archives were open to research. Below is a list of online collections of Holodomor witness accounts, including audio and video recordings and written testimonies.

Prairie Centre for the Study of Ukrainian Heritage

In 1993-95, a group of Ukrainian scholars led by Dr. William Noll, undertook a large-scale research project to collect first-hand accounts of village life and community organization prior, during, and after collectivization of the Ukrainian farmers. Using an elaborate and carefully crafted questionnaire, the researchers recorded 429 interviews with elderly Ukrainian villagers across the country. The collected testimonies served as primary data for the analysis of dramatic sociocultural changes the Ukrainian rural communities were forced to undergo in the 1920-30s. Select interviews were eventually profiled, in part, in a monograph by Noll, that came out in 1999 in Rodovid Publishing House, The Transformation of Civil Society: Oral History of Ukrainian Peasant Culture of the 1920-30s.

Share the Story

The website was created on the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor, and highlights the stories of 80 survivors living in Canada. The short video clips and transcripts of the interviews are a valuable resource for researchers and students. The project was organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Ukrainian World Congress, and the Ukrainian Candian Research and Documentation Centre.

Holodomor Survivors Tell Their Stories

The website offers a register of survivors and victims of the Holodomor assembled by the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre in cooperation with the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. The information collected is intended for use by educational-academic purposes and for raising awareness about the Holodomor in both the Canadian and international communities.

Commission on the Ukraine Famine: Selection of Digitized Oral Histories

HREC worked with the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre (UCRDC) to digitize and preserve valuable oral testimonies collected by the U.S. Commission on the Ukraine Famine, which was established in 1986 under the direction of Dr. James Mace. Dr. Mace turned to UCRDC for assistance in gathering Famine testimonies in Canada. The entire set of 207 original recordings of oral histories was presented to the Verkhovna Rada (parliament) in Ukraine but subsequently has disappeared. The only surviving copies of the tapes are held in the archives of UCRDC. HREC funded the digitization of these tapes.

Oseredok Project

HREC is supporting the publication of 16 Holodomor memoirs from the archive of the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre (Oseredok) in Winnipeg. These were gathered as part of a competition held in the late 1940s for memoirs about the Second World War. The accounts are of particular value as they were written relatively soon after the Holodomor and reflect the experiences of Ukrainian intellectuals, teachers, and other professionals. Below are examples of some of the material found in the Oseredok collection regarding the memoir competition.

Maniak Collection

HREC’s Maniak Collection contains valuable witness accounts gathered in the late 1980s by journalist Volodymyr Maniak. Maniak received thousands of accounts from survivors of the Holodomor after he published appeals for memoirs in Ukrainian newspapers. The HREC collection contains scans of the original letters and accounts, most of which are accompanied by a transcript. A selection of the accounts have also been translated into English. The database offers an array of searchability options.