THE EXAMPLE OF PUBLIC MEMORY VS. ARCHIVAL DOCUMENTS BASED ON THE ACTIVITY OF AN ORPHANAGE IN NOGAISK, ZAPORIZHZHIA REGION
The problem of analyzing the correlation between national, collective and public memory is interdisciplinary and attracts the attention of psychologists, political scientists and historians. Scientific research of orphanages is not surprisingly new for historical science. Taking into account the special features of Soviet sources, it is a common occurrence that archival documents are often followed (or rather “are dramatically complemented”) by narrative and oral sources in this kind of researches. In particular, in our own scientific paper, there are some sources to be “complemented” exclusively by narrative sources and oral interviews. However, it may be the first time we had an opportunity to compare the informational potential and reliability of these types of sources on the example of one particular orphanage. Thus, the aim of our research is to analyze archival documents, narrative sources and oral histories, which describe the activity of the Nogaisk orphanage during the Holodomor of 1932-1933. Therefore, the research objective is to compare the three kinds of historical sources which contain information about the foundation and activity of the Nogaisk orphanage.
In order to comprehensively analyze the issue, we expand the chronological frames of this study to the period from 1925 (when the orphanage was founded) to 1939 (when it was moved from Nogaisk to Preslav).
Analyzing oral histories and archival documents, we immediately pointed out the significant difference between them. There is dramatic fatalism in the documents of the Central State Archives of Supreme Authorities and Governments of Ukraine, which are reports of members of the Ukrainian public organization “Friends of Children”. Its employees were shocked by the neglected condition of the Nogaisk orphanage. However, there is a completely opposite point in the interview: a former inmate remembers the orphanage and its internal structure with nostalgia and admiration. We are fully aware of the subjectivity of the source. Nevertheless, we have no scientific right to ignore it. We are trying to explain his point of view by the following: firstly, since this is the time of his childhood and youth, he remembers it to be the best period of his life (owing to the fact that most people consider their youth to be the most romantic time); secondly, we can sense the author’s fears in such idealistic attitude, which was carved out by totalitarian pressure. After all, any mention of Holodomor in the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic had been forbidden from the second half of the 1930s. Everything, contradicting to the concept of a “prosperous Soviet country”, was erased from the memory of the people. Totalitarian ideology imposed the hypocritical idea of a happy Soviet childhood.
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