Our research carried out in Sniatyn ended few months ago. We had enough time to rethink gained materials and distance ourselves from the things we had experienced there. But dealing with history, especially events that took place in the twentieth century, is never simple and free of strong emotions. Reading a lot, attending classes, visiting museums or watching films would never make me understand what experience of the resettlement really is. After a few hours spent with Ms Irena I thoroughly realized how it affected life of an individual.
Ms Irena was born in 1928 in Mikulincy - a village close to Sniatyn. She has - as many people in that area - Armenian roots but she was brought up in a spirit of fighting for independent Ukraine. Her uncle and older brothers were important actors in radical pro-independence movement (the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) in Pokuttya. I talked to Ms Irena few times. I was going back to her again and again to get more information and know more about her personal experience.
Her story is divided into two parts. The first one was happy childhood in multicultural community. Naturally, she did notice various tensions and incidents taking place between Poles and Ukrainians. But she didn't pay much attention to that. She focuses on the relationships within families - examples of mixed marriages from her close neighbourhood. The second part of her story consists of the war experience and years after. She talks about the persecution of Ukrainian activists and the resettlement of Poles - things that happened to her and her family after the Second World War. Her brother and uncle escaped to the United States. Her aunt was resettled to Poland.
But what touched me the most was an episode about her first love to a boy that left for Poland in 1946. She was grown up and could go with him but she didn't like to leave her mother unattended. All her life she has regretted this decision. Ms Irena read me a story about her romantic relationship she had published under a pseudonym in the local paper.
Picture taken by Tomasz Fedor