Showing posts from 2016

Holodomor Memories

My paternal grandmother was from central Ukraine, which for centuries was under the Russian Empire, and then from 1922 the Soviet Union. As such, unlike the rest of my ancestors who lived in western Ukraine (under Austria and then Poland), they experienced the Holodomor (Famine-Genocide) in 1932-3, a man-made famine which left millions of people in Soviet Ukraine dead.

Five years ago I traveled to Kamianske (until a few months ago Dniprodzerzhynsk) to meet my grandmothers sisters who were still alive. It was a very interesting experience, as it was my first encounter with relatives who were not from Galicia, and thus with relatives who had a different history, language, and culture. They shared with me stories and old photographs of my ancestors.

To commemorate the victims of this horrible tragedy, I want to share my family's account of their experience of the Holodomor, for it's these personal stories which should never be forgotten. Below is an excerpt about the Holodomor fro…

Abandoned Kościółs in the Galician Countryside

The makeup of the population of Galicia changed drastically after WWII, one reason being the Soviet-Polish population exchanges in the years right after war, during which most of the Poles that lived in Eastern Galicia moved or were deported to the territory of current day Poland.

The traces of these Polish communities can be found in the countryside, where abandoned Roman Catholic churches (kościół in Polish or kostel in Ukrainian) can be found in many villages.

Under the Soviets, churches and synagogues were re-purposed, used often as warehouses, stables, museums, etc. While some of the Greek Catholic churches were renovated and today are used by the communities for worship, very few kościółs were resurrected as there are few practicing Roman Catholics in the villages.

A kościół in a village near Zolochiv
St. Maria Magdalena Kościół (built in 1924) in Vovkiv During Soviet times the church served as a mineral fertilizer warehouse. In 1993 the first Ukrainian detective series "Zloc…

Searching for Traces of the Lipińskis in Oleskiy Region

My great (x5) grandparents Feliks and Tekla Lipiński moved to the village of Koltiv (Kołtów) from Lviv in 1811. Feliks was invited by Count Józef Baworowski to his estate in the countryside to conduct his court orchestra. The former landlords, the Starzeńskis, built a beautiful garden house on a high hill where the court orchestra would often play. Feliks and Tekla's son, the famous violinist and composer Karol Lipiński, often visited them in the village.

Nothing of the garden house, the palace, the graves of the noblemen or my relatives, or any other traces of these times remain. Much was destroyed during WWI, and in WWII Koltiv found itself on the front. While Brody is remembered for the "Brody Cauldron" when in 1944 the Red Army encircled Brody and destroyed the German forces, the neighboring region was called the "Koltiv Corridor," due to the fact that the German front in the Koltiv area was shattered by the Soviet army, which broke through a narrow gap in …

Horse Stable in Lviv

A former horse stable found in a courtyard, in one of Lviv's central neighborhoods.

Mysterious Umbrella Holder

My best guess is that this mysterious cement bowl-like contraption found in the corridor of one of Lviv's old buildings is an umbrella holder...

Dakha Brakha: Ethno-Chaos Band

DakhaBrakha is an "ethno-chaos" band from Kyiv, created in 2014. They have gained a following around the world, have toured extensively, and have even performed an NPR Tiny Desk Concert and as well as on KEXP.

"Having experimented with Ukrainian folk music, the band has added rhythms of the surrounding world into their music, thus creating bright, unique and unforgettable image of DakhaBrakha. It will help to open up the potential of Ukrainian melodies and to bring it to the hearts and consciousness of the younger generation in Ukraine and the rest of the world as well," from their website.

One of the songs that stands out most to me, due to the music as well as the lyrics, is the song "Ванюша" (Vaniusha), the events of which take place during the Seven Years' War (1754-1763). I wonder whether this song was truely passed down for two and half centuries. The lyrics are quite dark and gruesome, however, so it is hard to believe it is documenting true ev…

Burdon Folk Band

Burdon, formed in 2002 in Lviv, is a great example of a band that preserves and promotes folk music, allowing a new generation of people to enjoy and cherish the music of their ancestors.

"We're using acoustic folk instruments for the best reproduction of atmosphere of old dances which didn't change through centuries. But our music is not a real authentic reflection, we play modern folklore. We don't invent any new tunes, we play old and often very famous ones, with our own arrangement and modern influences." from their website.

In additional to more common instruments such as the fiddle, double bass, accordion, they also incorporate many other interesting instruments such as the lira (hurdy-gurdy), bouzouki, and moraharpa. In addition to traditional Ukrainian and Carpathian songs, they also play Romanian, Hungarian, Balkan songs.

Warsaw Village Band: Preserving the Folk Music Culture of Poland

"Presenting six young people who have created their own version of Polish folk punk! This band has found a welcome in the homes of elderly village musicians who see their traditions disappearing before the onslaught of urban life. They have taken these youngsters under their wing and have taught them the ancient repertoire. The band describes "Cranes" as "an anarchistic protest song; a classic example of defiance and disobedience and a lesson for contemporary societies...Go back home children and be nobody's servants."" from Link TV.

"In other moments, the Warsaw Village Band finds comic contemporary possibilities in older tunes. The liner notes to People's Spring describe "Who Is Getting Married" as "a feminist composition, an example of contemporary ideas on emancipation, which apparently existed in the former Polish countryside.

"The song's female protagonist sings a tale of not wanting to be married, because "…

Tem Eyos Ki: 'Cruithne'

when it comes the day that I'm spit out what have I learned?  what folklore will I keep?  could it be that I shared thoughts with my progenitors?
did as they did, kissed words they've kissed

intrinsically chaotic dependent attracted, suspended to understand to allow the stories to sink deep when it comes the day that I'm spit out what have I learned?  what folklore will I keep?  could it be that I shared thoughts with my progenitors?  did as they did, kissed words they've kissed
cruithne cruithne cruithne  could it be cruithne...

<a href="">Tem Eyos Ki-- LP (remixed/remastered) by Tem Eyos Ki</a>
scarred warrior throats long winded legends familial lines  faces etched in skies co-orbital motion forced thousands of years 
listening, they're listening, i'm listening listening, they're listening, i'm listening listening, they're listening, i'm listening..…

Rail Yard Ghosts: 'Call of the Void'

can you hear their voices now the songs of our dead alive only in the stories and the bones we carry their ashes tattooed on our faces whispers of our scattered tribe on this earth they ramble on and we ramble on to unearth the songs from the void

finding depth in empty spaces
and life in the complexity of silence the beauty and sadness of fleeting time and all that we cannot hold we've rebuilt with worn hands using the dirt from underneath our fingernails
and other remnants of the past we've collected to help tell the tale of ourselves as the pieces escape our grasp we sleep in a bed of memories for the people and places we love that we can no longer reach an insatiable desire within us for the intangible the bricks are each other yet ever fading we feel the ground beneath our feet so vividly only to watch it diminish and see it was never there suspended above all we cherish as it fades away like we must onto our own singular journey into the unknown

Hiræth by Rail Yard Ghosts

chasing remnants…

Plant Hangers in Lviv

These metal curiosities found on many of Lviv's balconies are plant hangers. Most remain unused these days, but some people still use them to decorate their balconies and courtyards with beautiful flowers. Others have found new purposes for them.

Repurposed to dry shoes