In July 1910, a teenager named Myron Surmach left his village in Ukraine, boarded the ship Atlanta with a third-class ticket and headed across the ocean to an improbably big city called New York. For 21 days, Mr. Surmach sucked on a lemon to stave off seasickness until he reached Ellis Island. There, he told an interviewer decades later, he was shocked to find an American guard welcoming him to the United States in perfect Ukrainian.
Mr. Surmach began his new life in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., but within a few years, he made it back to New York. Eager to preserve his native culture, he opened a small shop on Avenue A in Manhattan where he sold records, books, clothes and other Continue reading →
The following is an interview with George Liber, a professor of history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
MOTYL: Your forthcoming book, Total Wars and the Making of Modern Ukraine, 1914–1954, promises to revise much of the conventional wisdom about Ukraine. What are your main arguments?
LIBER: Between 1914 and 1954, the Ukrainian-speaking territories in East Central Europe suffered almost 15 million “excess deaths” as well as numerous large-scale evacuations and forced population transfers. These losses were the consequences of two world wars, the Holodomor, the Holocaust, violent upheavals, and revolutions. Continue reading →