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Famine in Ukraine and Norwegian Aid. Academic seminar

28. mars 2019 kl. 10:00 - 15:00 Gratis inngang


2018 marks 85 years since the famine known as Holodomor ravished Ukraine, taking millions of lives in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, 16 countries, including Great Britain, Canada and the United States, recognize Stalin’s eradication-through-starvation policies in 1932-1933 Ukraine as a genocide. Researchers at the National Library of Norway have delved into the library’s archives to study the historical facts and domestic policy controversies linked to Norwegian aid to Ukraine during this period. In the 1920s, commissioned by the League of Nations and the Red Cross, Fritjof Nansen worked actively to bring assistance to the people of Ukraine. Nansen was a model example of a European politician who greatly contributed to help refugees and victims of the hunger disaster. One of his co-workers in the 1920s was Vidkun Quisling. Over the next decade, Quisling would reverse his position and begin to place blame on the victims of the famine. Leading up to his tenure as Minister of Defense of Norway from 1931-1933, he used pictures from Ukraine in his Nazi propaganda against the Bolsheviks, attempting to depict Ukrainians as lower race humans. Meanwhile, in 1933, the Norwegian Prime Minister Johan Ludwig Mowinckel worked to convince the League of Nations to take measures to assist the people of Ukraine. The seminar will offer a unique opportunity for academics from Norway and Ukraine, to enter into a productive dialogue around these burning issues, re-discovering Norwegian archives.



The theme of the re-construction of the memory about Holodomor will be taken up by Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko in her key-note lecture. Oksana Zabuzhko has authored over 20 books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, which have been translated into fifteen languages. Her works won many national and international awards, among others the ANGELUS Central European Literature Award (2013), for her book: The Museum of Abandoned Secrets (translated into English). Zabuzhko graduated from the department of philosophy of Kyiv Shevchenko University and obtained her PhD in philosophy of arts. She has lectured as a Fulbright Fellow and a Writer-in-Residence at Penn State University, Harvard University, and University of Pittsburgh.

Other speakers are: Stanislaw Kulchytskyj, History Professor, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences, author of the book: The Famine of 1932-1933 in Ukraine: An Anatomy of the Holodomor, 2018; Carl Emil Vogt, historian at the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies and author of the book: Nansen’s Fight Against Famine in Russia 1921-23, 2007 (in Norwegian); Hans-Fredrik Dahl, historian, prof. em., Oslo University and author of the book: Vidkun Quisling: A Leader Emerges, 1991 (in Norwegian); Harald Østgaard Lund, photo historian and research librarian at the National Library, co-editor of the book: 80 million images. Norwegian Cultural History Photography 1855-2005 (in Norwegian); Pål Kolstø, professor at the University of Oslo, author of the book Russia (in Norwegian), 2008; Lesja Onyshko, PhD, Coordinator of project in Holodomor Research and Education Centrum in Ukraine (HREC), Article author: “Why Holodomor is Recognized as the Genocide Against Ukrainians. Reflections on the Theme”; Jana Sverdljuk, Associate Professor, National Library of Norway, editor of the anthology Women and Politics in Ukraine: Benefiting from International Experience, 2006.

For more details: abstracts.


09:45 – 10:00 Coffee

10:00 – 10:10 Welcome, National Library of Norway

10:10 – 10:20 Jana Sverdljuk, Associate Professor, National Library of Norway: Introduction. Rediscovering Ukrainian Famine Archives in Norway – Recreating History

10:20 – 11:00 Key-note lecture:

Oksana Zabuzhko, Ukrainian writer: The Abandoned Secrets: Family Stories versus Memoricide Politics in Constructing Holodomor Narratives

11:00 – 11:30 Questions and answers

11.30 – 11:50 Stanislaw Kulchytskyj, History Professor, Ukrainian National Academy of Sciences: Why Moscow blocked foreign charity organizations to help starving Ukrainian peasants in 1921

11:50 – 12:10 Carl Emil Vogt, historian, the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies: The Famine of 1921: Fridtjof Nansen’s relief work

12:10 – 12:20   Questions and answers

12:20 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 13:20 Hans-Fredrik Dahl, prof. em. Oslo University: Useful Idiots? Nansen & Quisling in Ukraine in the 1920s

13:20 – 13:40 Harald Østgaard Lund, Photo Historian and Research Librarian, National Library of Norway: The Horror of Humanitarian Photography. Quisling’s Photographs from the Famine in Ukraine 1922

13:40 – 14:00 Questions and answers

14:00 – 14:20 Lesja Onyshko, PhD, Coordinator of project in Holodomor Research and Education Centrum in Ukraine (HREC): Holodomor-genocide vs Europe: humanity and double standards

14:20 – 14:40 Pål Kolstø, Professor, Oslo University: The Famine in Ukraine 1933-4

14:40 – 15:00 Questions and answers


The seminar is organized by National Library of Norway in cooperation with the Ukrainian Association in Norway and supported by the Fritt Ord (Free Word) Foundation, Oslo.

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