24.02.22, 5 am: Testimonies from the War
March 2022 – present
On February 24, 2022, at 5 a.m., the life of people in Ukraine got divided into "before" and "after." On this day, Russia's President, Vladimir Putin, announced the beginning of a "military operation" and launched a full-scale war with the bombing, rocket attacks, artillery shelling of cities, invasion of armored vehicles, and the military. The war caused terrible destruction, death, and suffering. Millions of people were compelled to leave their homes (according to the estimates of the UN Refugee Agency, it is one-third of Ukraine's population), and millions found themselves under occupation or had to survive in close proximity to the battlefront. Residents of different parts of the country braced themselves, each in their own activity, to counter the invasion and help those in need.
At the beginning of March 2022, academic organizations in Ukraine, Poland, Luxembourg, and the UK joined their efforts to implement a documentation project named "24.02.22, 5 a.m.: Testimonies from the War." The situation in Ukraine was changing rapidly, and we set ourselves the goal of recording human experiences so that they could be archived and preserved for the future. We understood a number of security, ethical, and methodological challenges associated with this type of project. At the same time, as oral historians and memory scholars have shown, personal testimonies change over time, crystallizing in institutional forms and ways of expression. Together with colleagues who have experience of research in situations of extreme violence, we have developed a highly flexible guide and protocols for dealing with complex emotions; we minimized the risks of including vulnerable narrators and conducted interviews only where it was justified from the point of view of safety. With each storyteller we recorded for this project, we agreed to meet again when the active phase of the war is over.
As part of our initiative, we conduct weekly methodological seminars for interviewers with scholars and researchers working on the topics of trauma, violence, and war in a global context. Regional teams are involved in weekly supervision meetings; project participants also receive psychological support.
The international network of institutions that joined the documentation initiative includes the following partners and national project managers:
- Center for Urban History, Dr. Sofia Dyak (for Ukraine)
- Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Dr. Anna Wylegala (for Poland)
- Polish Oral History Society, Dr. Marcin Jarzabek (for Poland)
- University of St. Andrews, Dr. Victoria Donovan (for the United Kingdom)
- Centre for Contemporary and Digital History of the University of Luxembourg, Prof. Dr. Machteld Wenken (for Luxembourg)
The project's Principal Investigator is Dr. Natalia Otrishchenko.
The General Data Controller within the meaning of the GDPR in the EU is Prof. Dr. Mahteld Wenken.
The Ukrainian team involved at different times the following members: Oksana Dudko, Mariia Gryshchenko, Yevhen Horb, Artem Kharchenko, Myroslava Liakhovych, Roman Moldavskyi, Serhii Pakhomenko, Viktoriia Panas, Iryna Pyatnitskova, Valentina Shevchenko, Diana Vonnak, Dana Yakovenko, Nataliia Zinevych.
- Lukasz Biedka (Clinical Psychologist)
- Hana Kubatova (Charles University)
- Daria Mattingly (Cambridge University)
- Ivana Maciek (Stockholm University)
- Stephen Naron (Yale University)
- Victoria Sereda (Institute of Ethnography of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)
- Nerina Weiss (Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research)
- Natalia Chernysh (Ivan Franko National University of Lviv)
- Yevhen Holovakha (Institute of Sociology of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine)
- Maryna Hrymych (writer, anthropologist)
- Barbara Engelking (Polish Center for Holocaust Research)
- Olesya Khromeychuk (Ukrainian Institute London)
- Kateryna Kralova (Charles University)
- Dariusz Stola (Institute for Policy Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences)
- Maciej Wyrwa (Mieroszewski Center)
- Tetiana Zhurzhenko (University of Vienna)
The documentary initiative is supported by Körber Stiftung, Richard Langstaff's donation, Lund University (Einar Hansen's Research Foundation).
In the autumn of 2022, the initiative received support from the House of European History and the Foundation for Polish Science.
- The first seminar of the initiative at the German Historical Institute Warsaw / 27-28.05.22
- The second seminar of the initiative at the Centre for Contemporary and Digital History at the University of Luxembourg / 23-25.11.22
Presentations under the initiative:
- Facing Violence: When and Why to Document War Experiences?, 27.5.2022, The German Historical Institute Warsaw / zoom
- 24.02.2022, 5 am: Testimonies from the War, 22.6.2022, online / zoom
- "Who and Why Collect War Testimonies in Ukraine?” (Хто і навіщо збирає свідчення про війну в Україні?), Kyiv School of Economics / 22.08.22
- The Reconstruction of Ukraine: Ruination / Representation / Solidarity, 9-11.9.2022, online / zoom
- "Voices and Testimonies," EHRI Workshop “War Documentation. The Past and Present,” Center for Urban History / 06.10.22
- Narrating the War Everydayness, 11.10.2022 / Harriman Institute at Columbia University, Нью-Йорк
- “24/02/22, 5 am documentation initiative”, The Danyliw seminar on Contemporary Ukraine / 15.10.22
- "Researching the Impact od War on Society: Methodological Seminar" (Дослідження впливу війни на суспільство: методологічний семінар), CEDOS / 19.10.22
- Documenting War Experiences: Oral Testimonies and Social Media Archives in Ukraine, 31.10.2022 / Russian and Eurasian Studies George Mason University, online / zoom
- "Testimonies from the War. An International Project at Center for Urban History in Lviv", Den Krieg dokumentieren: Ukraine 2014-2022 / 18.10.2022
- "Russian War Crimes – From Documenting To Punishnent"("Російські воєнні злочини – від документування до покарання"), Ivano-Frankivsk, 2-3.12.2022
- "Social studies in wartime: an open seminar", CEDOS, Lviv / 26.11.22
- Podcast “Research in Ukraine: Where has it gone?”, series “Ukrainian Scholars in Times of War”, 8.4.2022
- Podcast “Emergency Archiving in Ukraine”, 13.4.2022 / ZZF
- “We Fight for the Preservation of Memory,” ("Ми боремося за збереження пам’яті"), 20.5.2022 / Detector Media
- “Speaking and Keeping Silent, and Speaking Again", 8.2022 / Dwutygodnik / (in Ukrainian) / (in Polish)
Cover Image: George Ivanchenko