The foundation is currently actively engaged in a number of projects. The core activity is focusing on developing an Oral History Archive of Maidan, collecting personal stories of those who were involved in the events, from all sides, or whose lives were affected (e.g. relatives of those who were killed during the Maidan protests).

Maidan Oral History Program

Oral history is a research tool in historiography that started to develop seriously in the late 1960s and has since become a widely respected and important method of recording history. The essence is the understanding that oral testimony of witnesses to events are as important as documents, as reliable (or unreliable) but give an additional dimension that documents often fail to record: the history “from below” (the history of regular people and not only of rulers, corporate leaders and other VIPs) and the emotions that came with it. In oral history the meaning of events to those who lived it is as important as the facts themselves.
Interviewing people shortly after the events helps to record and save the emotions of the day. For that reason, we started our program already in February, focusing at first on the medical teams of Maidan. The main reason at that time was that members of the medical teams had an urgent need to “shed” their stories and get the horrors they had seen off their chests, and at the same time this enabled us to secure stories that otherwise might have been lost.

An important element in bringing about transformation in society towards a society based on the rule of law and with a vibrant civil society network of NGOs is to create a balanced historical conscience. In the post-Soviet world nuance is often lost in historiography, and especially in time of conflict positions harden and become either black or white. History becomes a tool of propaganda, and is bent in whichever direction is the most favorable or necessary at that moment. Historiography tends to record only the story of those who were victorious, who came out as heroes and found themselves on the “right side” of history.
However, for future generations it is important to see events from different sides, and thus it is important that we let all sides speak, including those who are now considered to be the enemy, or traitors, or proponents of past rulers. In our program we try to find examples of all these categories, even though at this stage it is excruciatingly hard to find people from the “other” side willing to speak out of fear that their testimonies will be used against them. The fact that we are a non-aligned NGO with a shadow archive outside Ukraine makes us more trustworthy, and our archive much more safe.

The development of our program

In March 2014 we started training volunteers from the Maidan psychological service, the Kiev Mohyla Academy and other institutions in order to stimulate interest in the program and to recruit collaborators. Negotiations with the National Memory Institute led to an agreement to train their staff and open a studio on their premises, while our foundation opened its own studio at the premises of the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association. By now over sixty persons have been interviewed, some for up to 9 hours in duration, and our waiting list contains over 200 persons who agreed to be interviewed. Unfortunately, a dozen of them were killed in action at the Eastern front and will no longer be able to share their stories.

The objectives of the program

The long-term objective of our program is to establish an oral history archive in Ukraine that provides a balanced collection of oral history interviews and transcripts on the events in Ukraine in the period November 2013 - February 2014 (later possibly expanded to the post-Maidan events). The archive are to be set up in accordance with international oral history standards, be fully accessible to researchers and interested parties, and be free from political pressure or coloring.
Within the framework of the program we will tape (audio and/or video) and collect as many oral history interviews with a wide variety of people directly or indirectly involved in Maidan; to have these taped interviews transcribed and prepared for use by researchers and others interested and to make sure that one copy of the archive is in safe hands outside the borders of Ukraine as security measure by having a copy of the archive stored at the Research Center Eastern Europe of the University of Bremen.
The archive will be a resource for exhibitions both in the country and abroad and will hopefully also be used by the Maidan museum that is being planned.


© Maidan Memorial