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Victim Cinema Between Hitler and Stalin: Ukraine in World War II—The Untold Story John-Paul Himka This article explores the collective memory of World War II in the Ukrainian diaspora in North America, focusing on the construction of a victimization narrative. This is a topic I have already broached elsewhere , primarily on the basis of an analysis of texts appearing in The Ukrainian Weekly and E-Poshta.1 In the present study, I focus on a film about Ukraine in World War II that emerged from a much more liberal and much more intellectual milieu: Between Hitler and Stalin: Ukraine in World War II—The Untold Story. The 58-minute documentary was the product of Toronto-based intellectuals , members of the Ukrainian Canadian Research and Documentation Centre (UCRDC). The script committee included a number of academics : Wasyl Janischewskyj, professor of engineering at the University of Toronto; Jurij Darewych, professor of physics at York University; Andrew Gregorovich, former librarian at the University of Toronto; and Wsevolod Isajiw, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Toronto. The historical advisor to the film was Orest Subtelny, professor of history at York; other historical consultants were Peter J. Potichnyj , professor emeritus of political science at McMaster University; Wolodymyr Kosyk, professor of history at the Sorbonne; and Roman Serbyn, professor emeritus of history at Université du Québec à Montr éal. For the most part these are scholars who have made significant contributions to the articulation of the collective memory of World War II in Ukraine. Subtelny is the author of a survey of Ukrainian history that was influential not only in North America but also in Ukraine, where its “Ukrainocentric”2 account of World War II had a major impact in the immediate aftermath of independence. Subtelny has also used his historical knowledge to aid the defense of Wasyl Odynsky, a Ukrainian Canadian accused of war crimes.3 Potichnyj is coeditor of Litopys UPA, a multivolume collection of sources on the Ukrainian Ukrajna V:Ideologies minta 10/17/08 4:10 PM Page 211 Insurgent Army (UPA). He also gave the University of Toronto Library about one hundred thousand pages of documents relating to the UPA (The Peter J. Potichnyj Collection on Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency in Ukraine).4 Kosyk has published two volumes of documents on Ukrainian-German relations during the 1930s and the war.5 Serbyn has been speaking in North America and Ukraine for some years about the need to develop a more Ukrainian-oriented perspective on the Second World War, one that would discard the Soviet concept of the Great Fatherland War and would refuse to acknowledge the reconquest of Ukraine by the Red Army as a victory.6 Subtelny, Potichnyj, and Serbyn also contributed to the landmark collection on Ukraine during World War II prepared in response to the formation of the Deschênes Commission , whose mandate was to investigate and prosecute war criminals in Canada.7 Thus the film under analysis here is not the expression of a haphazard historical viewpoint but of one that flows from a larger, loosely collective project of narration. The director and producer of the film is Slavko Nowytski, who also directed what was probably the most successful historical documentary produced in the diaspora, Harvest of Despair: The 1932–33 Famine in Ukraine (1984).8 Between Hitler and Stalin is not as well crafted as the earlier film. A reason for this is that Nowytski was able to work full time on Harvest of Despair but could only work evenings on Between Hitler and Stalin. He worked on it for about ten years (1993–2003).9 As is typical of Nowytski’s style, the World War II film contains some powerful interviews with eyewitnesses. The narration is by the veteran Hollywood actor of Ukrainian origin, Jack Palance. The initial script was written by Kristi Wheeler of Macalester College (St. Paul, Minnesota ). The musical selection and mix, which some will find irritating, are the work of Toby’s Tunes (Minneapolis). A rather unexpected credit is the postproduction by an outfit called Left of Center Productions Inc. The film premiered in Toronto on 28 September 2003. Two days before the premiere, more than four hundred people attended a fundraising prescreening.10 Since then the film has been shown to many Ukrainian communities in North America, from Edmonton, Alberta, to North Port, Florida.11 It has also been shown at the fourth International Documentary Film Festival—Humanity in the World (Stockholm, 2005), where it...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9786155211553
Print ISBN
9789639776265
MARC Record
OCLC
317551846
Pages
320
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
N
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