Zina Genyk-Berezovska Collection
The Zina Genyk-Berezovska Collection at the T.H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature in Kyiv is crucial for understanding the transnational networks underpinning cultural opposition in Ukraine and the Ukrainian diaspora community in Prague. The latter was largely composed of anti-Bolshevik émigrés that had fled to Czechoslovakia in the 1920s, after their failed attempt to establish the Ukrainian National Republic amid the chaos of the First World War. Genyk-Berezovska was born and raised in this community, studied Slavic languages and literatures at Charles University in Prague, later teaching and translating Ukrainian literature into Czech. Through personal connections, Genyk-Berezovska was also deeply involved in the cultural renaissance in Soviet Ukraine known as the sixtiers movement.
In addition to the more than 800 letters Genyk-Berezovska received from her many correspondents in Ukraine, her archive contains her own works as a scholar of Ukrainian and Czech literature, translator, and prominent community figure, as well as those of her husband Kost’ Genyk-Berezovsky, a philologist who taught Ukrainian at Charles University in Prague. Their family archive served as a repository for materials about prominent members of the Ukrainian émigré community in Czechoslovakia, including the Ukrainian sculptor Mykhailo Brynsky, the Czech writer František Hlaváček, the Ukrainian chemist and statesman Ivan Horbachevskyi, and Petro Krytskyi, a former colonel in the Ukrainian National Republican army, among others. This unique collection highlights both the transnational and the intergenerational dimensions of Ukrainian cultural opposition to communism.
Name of collection
- Zina Genyk-Berezovska Collection
Provenance and cultural activities
The Zina Genyk-Berezovska Collection was brought to the T.H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature in Kyiv from Prague in stages beginning in 1993, two years after her death. That year, the Ukrainian ambassador to the Czech Republic Roman Lubkivsky helped transfer the Ukrainian writer Oleksandr Oles’s papers to Kyiv, which had been held in the personal archive of Genyk-Berezovska and her husband Kost Genyk-Berezovsky in Prague. In 1995, her son Marko transferred more than 800 letters sent to Genyk-Berezovska over her lifetime to the Institute of Literature’s archive. In 2003, the remainder of Genyk-Berezovska’s papers were transferred to the Institute of Literature. This last installment was the largest and most diverse, including documents, photos, academic works and articles, medical records and other personal papers belonging to Zina and Kost Genyk-Berezovskykh, as well as materials entrusted to them by the families of important Ukrainian cultural figures in Prague. These mini collections provide an invaluable perspective on this community of anti-Bolshevik Ukrainian exiles.
Much of Genyk-Berezovska’s archive is made up of letters written to her by numerous literary and cultural figures in Ukraine, who were also prominent members of the human rights movement in Ukraine. Among Genyk-Berezovska’s regular correspondents were Ivan Dziuba, Ivan Svitlychny, Nadia Svitlychna, Yevhen Sverstiuk, and her dear friend Mykhailyna Khomivna Kotsiubynska, who helped orchestrate the transfer of Genyk-Berezovska’s papers to Kyiv and catalogued them after their arrival.
The Soviet authorities and the KGB were certainly aware of these links between literary communities in Czechoslovakia and Ukraine and monitored their interactions, although not entirely effectively. Her correspondence with Kotsiubynska is particularly telling, as often one or the other asked whether a previously sent letter had in fact arrived. Even so, the authorities permitted Genyk-Berezovska to travel to Ukraine for conferences, meetings with colleagues and friends, and for her own private reasons. She regularly transported samizdat publications back across the border, giving voice to the struggles of Ukrainian cultural figures and human rights activists beyond the borders of the Soviet Union.
In the wake of the Prague Spring in 1968, the Soviet authorities became more concerned about this “channel to Prague,” according to Kotsiubynska, who spoke about it in an interview for the book Bunt Pokolinnia or Revolt of a Generation. For her, this channel was crucial both personally and professionally. In addition to Genyk-Berezovska, the linguist Andriy Kurymskyi and Mykola Mushynka, a Slovak folklorist with Rusyn roots, carried illegal literature with them across the Czechoslovak-Ukrainian border. In one instance, they transported Ivan Dziuba’s treatise Internationalism or Russification, which argued that the party’s mishandling of the national question in the 1960s was tied to a misrepresentation of Leninist principles. Dziuba wrote this work after more than 100 dissidents were arrested and imprisoned in 1965, following an intense campaign to suppress the Ukrainian national opposition after Nikita Khrushchev’s removal the previous year. Dziuba came under fire for this work and was forced to recant his argument, in part, which nevertheless did not have the desired effect of lessening the book’s impact. Kurymskyi and Mushynka were of course stopped and searched at the border. Mushynka was eventually kicked out of the Academy of Sciences in Czechoslovakia for his opposition to the Soviet incursion in 1968 and for his contact with dissident circles in Ukraine.
As the collection was transferred to Ukraine completely only in 2003, scholars are still in the process of discovering the richness and variety of its documentation. However, as Galyna Burlaka and Alla Ripenko from the Institute of Literature indicate, a bevy of riches and surprises awaits researchers who engage this collection. In addition to the rich epistolary materials and texts produced by Ukrainian dissidents, one will also find materials related to Genyk-Berezovska’s life and work. As Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska wrote in her recollections, Genyk-Berezovska was the embodiment of Ukrainian and Czech literary connections, having lived and studied them over her lifetime. She was not just an observer of the Ukrainian dissident movement, but through letters and personal contacts, also an active participant. Alongside the mini collections of anti-Bolshevik exiles, these materials enrich our understanding of multiple elements relevant to cultural opposition in Ukraine—among them the milieu of literary scholars in Kyiv and Prague and also the multigenerational and transnational character of resistance to Soviet rule. This collection points to a century of cultural opposition, reminding us that for some former socialist countries it was much more than post-WWII phenomenon.
Description of content
The Zina Genyk-Berezovska collection is interesting as a source of cultural dissent because it documents a multi-generational struggle against Bolshevism. Genyk-Berezovska was born into a community of Ukrainian exiles in Prague, who had fled in the 1920s with the intention of preserving an independent Ukrainian national republic in exile. Genyk-Berezovska and her husband clearly valued this chapter in the history of their community and, as a result, their personal archive also became a repository for materials about this early period from the 1920s through the 1940s, before communism was established in Czechoslovakia.
A lot of materials came into the possession of Zina and Kost’ Genyk-Berezovsky through their wide circle of friends and acquaintances. For instance, there is a subsection in Genyk-Berezovska’s archive titled “Documents relating to the cultural life of the Ukrainian community in Prague.” There are also a series of mini collections with documentation, photos and other materials relating to prominent members of the Ukrainian émigré community in Czechoslovakia, including the Ukrainian sculptor Mykhailo Brynsky, the Czech writer František Hlaváček, the Ukrainian chemist and statesman Ivan Horbachevskyi, and Petro Krytskyi, a former colonel in the Ukrainian National Republican army, among others. Brynsky’s materials include his passport issued by the Ukrainian National Republic (UNR) in 1919, Brynsky’s impressions of the competition to create a monument to Taras Shevchenko in Kharkiv, photographs from his time as a member of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, a Ukrainian unit of the Austro-Hungarian army during the First World War, photos of Simon Petliura and Volodymyr Vynnychenko, as well as images from his own funeral in 1956. The Horbachevsky archive consists of letters written to him in the years 1920-1945, photographs, as well as official documentation related to his work in academia and government. Petro Krytskyi’s papers include documents related to his UNR army service during the years 1921-1925, as well as materials about humanitarian work of Ukrainian organizations in Czechoslovakia and lists of interned officers, government officials and Cossacks from 1922. Genyk Berezovska’s collection also includes the papers of Platonida Shurovska-Rossinevych, a Ukrainian conductor who after completing the Kyiv Conservatory worked with the director of the Ukrainian National Republic’s cappella. She moved to Prague in order to continue her musical training, married an officer of the UNR Mykola Rossinevych, and taught many students the art of choral directing. Her husband was arrested by SMERSH upon the arrival of the Red Army in Czechoslovakia during WWII. He was sent to Kyiv, where he perished. In addition to Shurovska-Rossinevych’s memoirs, there is an article about her mentor with the UNR cappella Oleksandr Koshytsa, lectures about the folk songs of Carpatho-Ukraine, preparatory materials for the UNR cappella’s international tour in 1919, as well as documents belonging to her husband Mykola Rossinevych.
After 1948, valuable Ukrainian émigré institutions in Prague were dismantled, among them the Museum of the Ukrainian Independence Movement (1925-1948), created by a group of professors from the Ukrainian Free University in Prague. This museum was a cornerstone of the Ukrainian émigré community and a site of social and cultural resistance in the interwar period. Its earliest acquisitions included materials from internment camps for Ukrainian prisoners of war in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Austria, as well as ephemera related to the Ukrainian national movement, nearly a million documents and cultural artifacts. In 1948, the museum was liquidated, the majority of its holdings scattered across a number of archives in Russia, Ukraine, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Mykola Mushynka worked hard to track down materials from this museum and published his findings. This story underscores the value of Genyk-Berezovska’s archive, which preserved, in part, this period in this community’s early history.
Later materials were produced largely by Genyk-Berezovska herself, as a literary scholar, and husband Kost’ Genyk-Berezovsky, who translated and also taught Ukrainian at Charles University in Prague. One will find autobiographical materials and official documentation related to teaching and work, including for instance Kost’ Genyk-Berezovsky’s lesson plans, methodological interventions, and reports. One will also find his dissertation about dialectical elements in the works of Vasyl Stefanyk, defended in the 1950s at Charles University. Zina Genyk-Berezovska’s own academic works are also held in the T.H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature’s archive in Kyiv, among them her master’s thesis about Heinrich Heine in Ukrainian literature as well as her doctoral dissertation about Ivan Franko’s ties with the Czech literary world. She also studied Czech-Ukrainian literary ties more broadly, writing about various Czech figures whose interests were related to Ukraine. There are also speeches delivered at various conferences and cultural events in Prague and elsewhere.
As mentioned, letters figure prominently in Genyk-Berezovska’s collection, her correspondence with Ukrainian dissidents, literary figures and human rights activists spanning the 1960s-1990s. She also collected texts, poems and other literary works written by Vasyl Symonenko, Ivan Drach, Mykola Vinhranovsky, Lina Kostenko, and others. Placards, flyers and other materials relating to events organized by the Ukrainian community during the Prague Spring in 1968 and also in the 1980s are also interesting sources about cultural opposition, during times of tumult and reform.
- manuscripts (ego-documents, diaries, notes, letters, drafts, etc.): 1000-
- photos: 100-499
Stakeholder(s) of the collection
Geographical scope of recent operation
Date of founding
Place of founding
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
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Creator(s) of content
Important events in the history of the collection
- completely open to the public
Author(s) of this page
- Kulick, Orysia Maria
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Burlaka, Galyna, editor. Putivnyk po Fondakh Viddilu Rukopysiv. Kyiv: T.H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature: Vydavnychy Tsentr "Spadshchyna", 1999.
Burlaka, Galyna, and Alla Ripenko. "Materialy Ukrainskoyi Diaspory u Fondakh Viddilu Rukopysiv Institutu Literatury." Seriya "Istorichni Nauky" 23 (2015), 239-243.
Dombrovsʹka, H. M., and Zinaida Dombrovsʹka. Hryhorii Kochur: bibliohrafichnyi pokazhchyk: u dvokh chastynakh. Lʹviv: LNU im. Ivana Franka, 2006.
Dziuba, Ivan. Internationalism or Russification: A Study in the Soviet Nationalities Problem [By] I. Dzyuba. Pref.by M.I. Holubenko.[Transl.from the Ukrainian. 3d Ed.]. New York: Monad Press, 1974.
Dziuba, Serhiy. "Vnutrishnia svoboda Mykhailyny Kotsiubynskoyi." Khvylia Desny: Pohliad iz Chernihova (Chernihiv), January 3, 2013. http://www.hvilya.com/news/vnutrishnja_svoboda_mikhajlini_kocjubinskoji/2013-01-03-1697-987.
Kotsiubynsʹka, Mykhailyna. „Zafiksovane i netlinne”: Rozdumy pro epistoliarnu tvorchistʹ. Kyïv, 2001.
Kotsiubynsʹka, Mykhailyna. Lysty i liudy: rozdumy pro epistoliarnu tvorchistʹ. Kyiv: Dukh i Litera, 2009.
Kotsiubynsʹka, Mykhailyna. Moï obriï. Kyiv: Dukh i Litera, 2004.
Kotsiubynska, Mykhailyna. "Pam'iatka Ednannia Dvokh Kul'tur: Arkhiv Ziny Genyk-Berezovskoyi." Slovo i Chas: Naukovo-Teoretychnyi Zhurnal, no. 6 (June 2006), 82-86.
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Lavrinenko, Oleksandra. "Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska: "Lehshe zhytty todi, koly znayesh, shcho ye-taky u sviti shchos spravzhnye." Gazeta Den' (Kyiv), August 23, 2000. https://day.kyiv.ua/uk/article/osobistist/mihaylina-kocyubinska-legshe-zhiti-todi-koli-znaiesh-shcho-ie-taki-u-sviti-shchos.
Mushynka, Mykola. Muzeĭ vyzvolʹnoi borotʹby Ukrainy v Prazi ta dolia ioho fondiv: istoryko-arkhivni narysy. Kyïv: Derzhavnyi komitet arkhiviv Ukrainy, 2005.
Muzychenko, Yaroslava. "Tanky Proty Vesny." Ukraina Moloda, August 22, 2008. Accessed September 4, 2017. http://www.umoloda.kiev.ua/number/1231/196/43601/.
Ovsiyenko, Vasylʹ. Svitlo ljudej: Spohady-Narysy pro Vasylia Stusa, Yuriya Lytvyna, Oksany Meshko. Kyïv: Biblioteka Zhurnalu YRP "Respublika": Seriya: Politychni Portrety, No 4, 1996.
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Satzewich, Vic. The Ukrainian Diaspora. London: Routledge, 2002.
Stus, Vasylʹ, and Mykhailyna Kotsiubynsʹka. Lysty do druziv ta znaiomykh. Lʹviv: Vydavnycha spilka "Prosvita", 1997.
Siundukov, Ihor. "The “Sixtiers.” Looking into The Past and Future: Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky, Pavlo Tychyna, Vasyl Stus, and Borys Antonenko-Davydovych in the life of Mykhailyna Kotsiubynska,” Den’, Issue: №7, (2005). https://day.kyiv.ua/en/article/personality/sixtiers-looking-past-and-future.
TROMLY, BENJAMIN. "An Unlikely National Revival: Soviet Higher Learning and the Ukrainian “Sixtiers,” 1953-65." The Russian Review 68, no. 4 (2009), 607-622. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9434.2009.00541.x.
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Yekelchyk, Serhy. "The early 1960s as a cultural space: a microhistory of Ukraine's generation of cultural rebels." Nationalities Papers 43, no. 1 (2014), 45-62. doi:10.1080/00905992.2014.954103.Zhukovsky, Arkadii. "Government-in-exile of the Ukrainian National Republic." In Encyclopedia of Ukraine. 2008. Accessed September 15, 2017. http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages%5CG%5CO%5CGovernment6in6exileoftheUkrainianNationalRepublic.htm.
Burlaka, Galyna M., interview by Kulick, Orysia Maria, March 21, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection