Sunday, January 31, 2016

Nashi Predky Spring 2016 conference: Sat. March 19th, 2016

The Ukrainian family history group Nashi Predky will hold its Spring 2016 conference
on Saturday, March 19th, in Somerset, N.J.  United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
staff members will present information on their oral history projects and research resources
at their museum, including the millions of documents in the archives of the International Tracing
Service. They will be bringing their computer terminals, and will devote the entire afternoon to 
one-on-one research sessions with conference attendees for no additional charge.

You can also visit their event page on Facebook for more information:

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Lemko Muse: A Travelogue and Biography

by Corinna Caudill

The following story is part travelogue and part biography.  The interconnected vignettes chronicle an October 2011 fieldwork trip to western Ukraine where my colleague Maryann Sivak and I interviewed ethnic Lemkos who were deported from southeastern Poland in the aftermath of World War II.   It was on this journey that we met the Lemko poet Kateryna Rusyn, who was eight years old when her family was deported from the eastern Lemko region in the spring of 1946.  Pani Kateryna charmed us with her wit and humor, overwhelmed us with her hospitality, and inspired us with her enduring love for her culture and homeland.  In the few short days we spent with her, she became much more than a research participant for our project.  She became our muse.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Memories of Husband and Homeland: Eva Kalymon of Jawornyk

by Corinna Caudill

Eva Kalymon Bridal Photo
Eva Kalymon, originally from the village of Yavirnyk (Jawornyk) in Sanok County, Lemko region (southeastern Poland) was once married to my grandmother's younger brother Petro Volians'kyi.  The young couple lived happily with Petro's parents Fedor and Maria in their nearby village of Vola Petrova (Wola Piotrowa), a typical situation for young newlyweds at that time.  Soon after their marriage, they were blessed with an infant daughter named Slava, whom Petro adored.  Life was difficult during the Second World War, but as the Germans retreated in 1944, it seemed that life would only get better for the young family.

It was not to be.  In the late summer/early autumn, Petro was forcibly conscripted by the Soviets as the Red Army made its onslaught through Poland in the final months of World War II.  Employing a strategy of "Total War"- and considering that the Soviets viewed Poland's Ukrainians as their "brethren" -  Soviet "recruiters" went to the church records and town mayors (vijt/wojt) to discover which men were of eligible age.  Petro was of age, and therefore received notice to report to a nearby training area for what would ultimately total only about a week of military training.  Eva begged him not to go, but the Soviets had threatened him: if he evaded, they would certainly punish his family.  (The typical threat was to send family members to Siberia.)  As he kissed his daughter, Petro told Eva to pray for him, because he could not bear to take such a risk.  

Petro Volian'skyi had never before carried a gun.  In the treacherous battleground of the Dukla Pass, near the border of Poland and Czechoslovakia, Soviet soldiers were easily targeted by experienced German snipers who awaited their advance.  Many were wounded or killed easily and not every soldier was even assigned a gun.  Troops who tried to abandon or run would be shot by Soviet officers, so there was no way out of the death trap.

Three weeks after Petro had left for the front, Eva still waited hopefully for her beloved to return to her.  One afternoon, Eva received a letter and certificate informing her that her husband had been killed "near Czechoslovakia."  

"The whole family went into mourning," she recounted many years later.  "It was as if a darkness had come over us.  We didn't want to live, but we had to go on.  I had to go on for my daughter."

Me with Pani Eva in 2009.
After the mourning period was over, Eva and Slava said their goodbyes to Fedor and Maria.  She left Wola Piotrowa to return to her native Yavirnyk, where she and Slava would live with Eva's parents.  Eva eventually remarried and tried to rebuild her life, but tragedy struck again in only a few years.  In 1946, the Volian'skyi family of Vola Petrova was forcibly deported to the Ternopil oblast in Soviet Ukraine, although in the chaos of the postwar period, Eva would not discover this until many years later.  In 1947, Eva, her parents, and young Slava were deported to western Poland during Operation Vistula (Akcja Wisla), the final operation to "cleanse" Poland of its Ukrainian minority.  Her village and many others were completely destroyed.  She and her new husband Petro Kalymon eventually immigrated to the United States, where she and her family settled in the Pittsburgh area.

On Thursday, May 14, 2015, Pani Eva passed away at the age of 91.  Vichnaya Pam'yat to a beautiful lady with a beautiful heart and soul.  May she rest in eternal peace. +

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Lemkos In Their Own Words: The Post-World War II Deportations (1944-1947)

SPEAKER: Corinna Wengryn Caudill
WHEN: Wednesday, June 25, 2014, 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Room 4130 Wesley Posvar Hall 
[formerly Forbes Quadrangle] 
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
COST: Admission is Free!

In the fall of 1944, the Soviet Union and their Polish communist cohorts began a population-exchange campaign that mandated the removal of Poland’s Ukrainian minority. What began under the guise of “voluntary” relocations soon escalated into terror and state-sponsored ethnic cleansing, fueling resistance from the rapidly expanding Ukrainian underground.  In the process, the unique regional culture of the Lemkos, who had inhabited the Carpathian mountains for centuries, was virtually destroyed in its original autochthonous form.

From 2010-2013, independent researchers Corinna Wengryn Caudill and Richard Garbera Trojanowski interviewed ethnic Lemkos currently living in North America, Ukraine and Poland who experienced the deportation campaigns, including people who were deported to Soviet Ukraine during 1944-1946, as well as those who were deported to Poland’s “Recovered Territories” during the 1947 “Akcja Wisła" operation. On Wednesday, June 25, 2014 at 6:30 p.m., Ms. Caudill will present a multimedia presentation featuring English-captioned film segments from the interviews. The first part of the presentation will focus on the experiences of Lemkos who were resettled to Soviet Ukraine between 1944-1946, and how the so-called “voluntary” resettlement program quickly evolved into a forced deportation campaign. The second part will focus on the 1947 resettlement operation known as “Akcja Wisła,” the final and most comprehensive campaign to deport the remainder of Poland’s Ukrainian population from their historic settlement territories. She will discuss: (1) the motivations and tactics used by the Polish government to resettle and disperse those who were deported; (2) the Lemkos’ experiences before, during, and after resettlement; and (3) the aftermath and impact of these events on the people who experienced them as well as common historical misconceptions about the nature of the resettlements. The presentation will be followed by a discussion and Q&A session with the audience.

SPONSORED BY: Ukrainian Cultural and Humanitarian Institute (UCHI), University of Pittsburgh Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies (REES) and the Pittsburgh-Donetsk Sister Cities Committee.