24.02.22, 5 am was a watershed for millions of Ukrainian people. On this day, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, declared the beginning of “military operation” and started a full-scale war with artillery shelling of cities, the invasion of armoured vehicles and the military. On 11.03.22, the UN estimated that more than 2.5 million people had been forced to flee their homes, and the lives of millions of others have been threatened. Residents of different parts of the country have mobilised – each in their activity area – to counter the invasion and help those in need. Research institutions in Ukraine, Poland, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom united their efforts in carrying out a documentation project with the title ‘24.02.22, 5 am. Testimonies from the War’. The project will comprise oral history interviews conducted by researchers at partner institutions.
As historians and social scientists, we are contributing to capturing this moment to document and record the human dimension of this war. With a team of partners from various countries, we start conducting interviews with individuals displaced by the Russian Invasion of Ukraine and those working to support them in Ukraine and other, especially neighbouring, countries. We also record the narratives of volunteers and those who defend Ukraine in various fields. The entire collection will be available at the Urban Media Archive of the Center for Urban History in Lviv and backed up at the Center of Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg. National project leaders locally archive the interviews conducted in their countries as well. Together we will create a collection that will help us to tell the story of our turbulent times.
The situation in Ukraine is changing quickly, and it is essential to capture a snapshot of human experiences now so that they can be archived and preserved from posterity. As oral historians and scholars of cultural memory have shown, personal testimony changes significantly over time, crystallising in institutional forms and formalising in practised verbal performance. Right now, there is an opportunity to preserve a historical record of mass human displacement, resistance, and volunteering provoked by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. At the same time, it is a state of lived experience. These testimonies must be archived for research, science communication, education, and exhibition purposes. There is right now a unique opportunity for the International Consortium to carry out this work.
The international consortium consists of the following partners and national project leaders:
- Center for Urban History, Sofia Dyak (for Ukraine)
- Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, Polish Academy of Sciences, Anna Wylegała (for Poland)
- Polish Oral History Association, Marcin Jarząbek (for Poland)
- The University of Saint Andrews, Victoria Donovan (for Great Britain)
- Center of Contemporary and Digital History, University of Luxembourg, Machteld Venken (for Luxembourg)
The Principal Investigator within the International Consortium is Natalia Otrishchenko.
The General Data Controller within the meaning of the GDPR within the EU is Machteld Venken.
Credits Cover photo: Shelter for refugees at the Center for Urban History in L’viv, March 5, 2022 / photo by Olya Klymuk