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Date and Place of Birth: 1949 in Hamburg, Germany

Date of Interview: October 27, 2015

Place of Interview: Toronto, Ontario

Interviewer: Sophia Isajiw

Length of Interview: 02:30:00 (raw)

Mother (Survivor): Laryssa Juchymenko (Maiden name: Szhuk) b. March 18, 1925(26?) in Krutyi Bereh, Poltava, Poltavska oblast, Ukraine


I: And how often did you talk with her about her experiences in Ukraine or about the Holodomor:?”

WM: “She doesn’t want to talk about it. We almost never talked about it. It’s only in these senior years, now that she’s in her 80’s that we can pry, because her younger children are of course very interested in this. So, Victor might dig out a piece of information that he’ll then phone me and share with me. Or I might dig something and tell him. I tell him, Vic, my strategy with the cat is working. She loves the kitten. You know, he says, ‘Congratulations! Well, how did you do it? How did you get by Jacob, you know?’ So, now we have a bunny and we have a kitten. They do not voluntarily, you have to pry it and even then you do not get the full picture. Possibly two reasons: one would be the repression of the thoughts, of the experience, of the child; they don’t want to relive it. You know, to talk about it is to, you have to relive those emotions. That’s one reason. The other reason is political environment. Ukrainians have always been - all that Russian, Soviet occupation. You don’t talk – your kids will report you, the kids will rat out the parents to the state, the state will come and put them in the labour camp, you know the gulags and all that garbage. You know, the Soviet Union was built by prisoners wrongly convicted on trumped up charges for saying something that should be a human right. But it’s not like that and you wind up in prison. When I went to Ukraine the first time, I was overwhelmed by that fact. People, neighbours, they would have get-togethers, they would invite you to sit down at the dining table, you know they love to eat and celebrate. And almost every time, conversation would go back to a time when somebody was in Siberia or had been arrested.


• Laryssa Juchymenko (Mother, Survivor) is interviewed by son Walter Melnyk relating to filling out a German pension form, which is the first time she told him much of this information. Walter has submitted 5 typed pages from this information to his UCRDC file.

excerpt from the Interview with walter melnyk

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