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In 1947 the Ukrainian Cultural and Educational Centre (Oseredok) in Winnipeg sponsored a memoir writing competition. Participants were invited to submit memoirs related to the major events of the first half of the twentieth century in Ukraine. The memoir competition or “Konkurs Spohadiv” was announced in the Winnipeg weekly newspaper Novyi Shliakh (The New Pathway) which undertook to publish the winning entry. More than 60 memoirs were entered into the competition, the vast majority submitted by Ukrainians residing in Displaced Persons (DP) camps in Germany and Austria.
The memoirs submitted as part of the competition constitute an important supplement to our knowledge of twentieth century events, especially the immediate pre-war and World War II era. They represent one of the earliest collections of Ukrainian memoirs concerning World War II, the closest in time to the events depicted. Written shortly after the war, most of the memoirs were produced by authors who had already spent about two years in DP camps. The camps were a place of intense interaction among Ukrainian refugees and forced labourers, a place where they could tell stories to each other and work out narratives together. The displaced persons were also aware that they were being screened to determine their activities during the war, and that many, especially former Soviet citizens, faced the prospect of forced repatriation to the Soviet Union.
The winning entry, Fedir Pihido-Pravoberezhnyi’s “P-iat’ rokiv: ‘Velikaia Otechestvennaia Voina SSSR,’ roky 1941-45-yi" has been published twice:
Fedir Pihido-Pravoberezhnyi. Velyka vitchyzniana viina. Politychno-vyzvol’na biblioteka, ch. 2 (6). Winnipeg: Vydannia “Novoho shliakhu,” 1954. 229 p.;
Fedir Pihido-Pravoberezhnyi. Velyka vitchyzniana viina: spohady ta rozdumy ochevydtsia. Kyiv: “Smoloskyp,” 2002. 287 p. (With an introduction and annotations by Roman Serbyn and Iurii Shapoval).
For more information about the “Konkurs Spohadiv” and an analysis of some of the memoirs see John-Paul Himka, “Ukrainian Memories of the Holocaust: The Destruction of Jews as Reflected in Memoirs Collected in 1947” in Canadian Slavonic Papers LIV (3-4) (September-December 2012), 427-442.
Memoirs primarily assembled, by the authors, mostly in Europe.
Long term repository of the 57 memoirs is Oseredok, Winnipeg.
Functions, occupations and activities
Oseredok aimed at extracting vital information related to the major events of the first half of the twentieth century in Ukraine from the first hand sources in order to preserve these memories. The topics include, but are not limited to exile, German work camps, conditions under the Soviet regime, famine, the Holocaust, and childhood experiences.
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Created March 2021