Research School » Research School PLUS » Funded Projects » VIPs » VIPs - Grinchenko/Plaggenborg

Post-Socialist Oral History

Prof. Gelinada Grinchenko
Karazin National University, Ukraine


Prof. Stefan Plaggenborg
East European History

April 18-27, 2016
The first part of the intensive oral history course

During her first stay as a Visiting International Professor at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum in April 2016, Prof. Gelinada Grinchenko conducted a workshop on the topic “Ostarbeiters of the Third Reich in Ukrainian and European public discourses: restitution, recognition, commemoration”. The aims of the workshop were to introduce participants with oral history as method and source and to reflect on what makes oral history different, to get acquainted with online oral history collections, where interviews with victims of WWII are placed, and to practise working with interviews with people who were forced to work for Nazi Germany on the base of online interview archive "Forced Labor 1939-1945". During workshop students interpreted interviews from this archive with special focus on two main perspectives: the past/history as it was lived (i. e. on facts), and the past/history as it was told (i. e. on meanings), in particular – where in interview the influence of historical or political narratives are noticeable, how the narrator connects his individual experience with “official” version of history, what are the examples for gender-specific experience or narration, etc. The best results were achieved in the discussion of oral history as narrative with exacting interest on such point as how the narrative is organized? In other words – what stories and subjects were chosen by interviewee to tell us her/his story? And what was the general ‘formula’ of inscribing the forced labour experience into the overall autobiographical narrative?
Furthermore, on April 26th 2016 Prof. Gelinada Grinchenko gave a guest lecture on “Forced labourers of the Third Reich in Ukrainian public discourse: between hidden guilt and prescribed victimhood”. In this lecture in first introductory part the general information on who Soviet forced labourers were and how many of them were deported to the Third Reich was given, then the lecturer focused on three respective main figures in Soviet memory about forced labour: the captive girl (polonianka), the antifascist fighter (that was the main men image), and enslaved child. The second part of presentation addressed contemporary Ukrainian culture of memory and main transition in forced labour image: from their hidden guilt in Soviet time to prescribed victimhood nowadays.
The next workshop and guest lecture will take place in January 2017. Preliminary title of lecture and topic for workshops is “War, People, and Catastrophe in the Video Testimonies of Ukrainian Holocaust Survivors”.