Between oblivion and remembrance: the representation of the Holocaust in Soviet Ukrainian fiction and non-fiction of the 1940s –1960s

Date

2023-10-05

Authors

Protasova, Hanna

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Abstract

The following thesis examines the representation of the Holocaust in Soviet Ukrainian fiction and non-fiction of the 1940s through the1960s – namely, in the journalism of Iaroslav Halan, Iurii Smolych, and Iurii Ianovskyi, prose works by Varvara Cherednychenko, Iurii Smolych, and Iurii Ianovskyi, Mykola Bazhan’s poetry, as well as in the memoirs of Iryna Khoroshunova and Dina Pronicheva. It also analyzes Ivan Dziuba’s speech delivered by him during the commemorative gathering in Babyn Yar in September 1966. The first two postwar decades in Soviet Ukraine were a crucial period that laid a foundation for the future commemoration of the Holocaust victims, in particular, of those who perished in the Babyn Yar massacre in Kyiv in September 1941. Such a representation was influenced by the Soviet policy on nationalities (both before and after World War II), the aesthetics of socialist realism, and, to a certain degree, by the subjectivities of the Ukrainian journalists and writers who oscillated between compassion and indifference towards their neighbours – and, consequently, between remembrance and oblivion. Drawing on the theoretical approaches of literary scholars (Mikhail Bakhtin, Katerina Clark, Evgeny Dobrenko) and memory studies scholars (Jeffrey Alexander, Aleida Assmann, Cathy Caruth), this study shows that the bottom-up approach to the formation of memory is no less important than the top-down approach and that the individual efforts of the writers and civil activists can go a long way even under the unfavourable political circumstances.

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Keywords

Soviet Ukrainian literature, Ukrainian literature, Holocaust, Ukrainian non-fiction, Memory, Representation

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