Holodomor 1983 survivor testimonies and early Montreal presentations on the 1933 famine made available online

    The original 1983 Montreal crew following filming of Holodomor survivor testimonies. Front row, L-R: Volodymyr Hayduk, Yurij Luhovy (director), Marco Carynnyk (interviewer), Shane Wittney Back row, L-R: Petro Blysczak, Bohdan Kerechinsky, Natalka Stiletska, Anatoly Hayduk, Olya Katola, Zorianna Hrycenko, Christopher Hettel Photo: MML Inc

    Anna Bodnar, MML Inc., Montreal.

    The Montreal restoration project of Holodomor resource material for educators and the general public, undertaken by Yurij Luhovy and Zorianna Hrycenko, provides additional resource materials on the Holodomor.

    Filmed in 1983, the final two phases of a major three-part project, which began in May 2018 and completed by January 2020, has been put online. The Holodomor project, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the man-made Famine in Soviet Ukraine, leaves an important record of the work done in the diaspora to safeguard historical memory for future generations.

    Phase two of the project consisted of filming four presenters, in Ukrainian, at the 1983 Montreal Ukrainian community panel presentation on the man-made Famine. The four presenters were Prof. Yuri Sheveliov of Columbia University, Prof. Wsevolod Isajiw of the University of Toronto, Dr. Nina Strokata-Karavanska eye-witness to human rights abuses by the Soviet regime to 1979, and Prof. Bohdan Krawchenko of the University of Alberta. The panel was chaired by Prof. Roman Serbyn of the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). A question and answer period that followed.

    This event was held at capacity-filled (over 300) the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Ukrainian Catholic Church hall, on Saturday, March 26. It was organized by the Ukrainian Canadian Professional and Business Association of Montreal, the Montreal Foundation for Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1933 Famine in Soviet Ukraine, under the patronage of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Montreal Branch. Producers of the restoration phase were Yurij Luhovy, Zorianna Hrycenko and Volodymyr Hayduk. The four-person panel was organized following the First International Symposium, held March 25-26 at UQAM.

    Phase three of restoration project entailed the filming of famine survivor testimonies. In 1983, Montreal was one of the first in the diaspora to begin filming Holodomor survivor eye-witness accounts. The nine recorded interviews remarkably survived over 30 years of storage. These tapes recently underwent a restoration process consisting of color correction due to fading, sound improvement due to the deteriorating condition of the tapes, and editing. Originally filmed on U Matic ¾” videotape, the tapes were transferred to DVD and are being put online as of January 2020.

    The 1983 oral history project was spearheaded by the Montreal Foundation to Commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1933 man-made Famine. Committee members included chairperson Volodymyr Hayduk, with members Lili Mospan, Anatoly Hayduk, Olya Katola and others. Interviews with famine survivors were conducted by Marco Carynnyk. Directed by Yurij Luhovy, survivors were filmed by Concordia University film crew, headed by Petro Blysczak. The Montreal famine survivor testimonies were filmed at St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral Residence, with space graciously provided by Father Ihor Kutash. Having just viewed her father’s testimony online, the daughter of survivor Mychailo Hayduk wrote “I cried when I heard my father’s interview as a witness. It brings back memories of my father and mother (also a famine survivor), reminding us of these horrific events so we would never forget them and teach our children and grandchildren. My father, a true Ukrainian patriot, would have been proud of the work that has been accomplished so far, to bring the Holodomor to the world stage”.

    In the early 1980s it was most brave of survivors in the diaspora to be interviewed, as they feared reprisals to family members living in Soviet Ukraine by the communist regime. Speaking about the famine was forbidden. For this reason many did not give their real names during the interview but their names were written on a separate card to be revealed with Ukraine’s independence.

    The 1983 panel presentation, the survivors’ testimonies and the proceedings of First International Symposium on the Famine are available online at www.yluhovy.com. Also available are the award-winning documentaries, Ukrainian, English and French versions, of “Genocide Revealed”.