On Feb. 18 our colleague, the famous scholar James Mace, would have turned 54. In his short life he managed to accomplish a great deal, serving as staff director of the US Government Commission on the Ukraine Famine. Thanks to him the world learned about this horrible tragedy. Mace was the author and compiler of a number of books, in particular three volumes of famine survivors’ testimonies entitled Oral History Project and The Harvest of Sorrow, which he researched with the author Robert Conquest, along with countless studies and articles, some of which appeared in The Day. Between 1998 and 2004 he also worked as a consultant and language editor of The Day’s English-language digest. After the book Day and Eternity of James Mace was launched at last year’s Lviv Publishers’ Forum, similar readers’ conferences have been held in Dnipropetrovsk, Kyiv, Ostrih, Cherkasy, and most recently in Lviv and Lutsk. It is important for us to know that the book is being read and cited. The following is a selection of the most interesting extracts from the discussion of our books, Ukraina Incognita, Dvi Rusi, Wars and Peace, Day and Eternity of James Mace, and Klara Gudzyk’s Apocrypha, at Lesia Ukrainka State University of Volyn.
Larysa IVSHYNA, Editor-in-Chief of The Day:
“At one time I took the risk of proposing a book project as an additional branch of our daily newspaper’s activities. For when the attempt to change the situation fundamentally during the 1999 presidential elections failed, I realized that the political elite is not the only thing that is wrong. Society is infected. Whether this can be cured by a simple airing out or whether a profound rehabilitation is needed is a debatable point. In my view, however, this cannot be done without curing ourselves by means of history. Our books are designed to activate society and enable our citizens to gain a deeper understanding of certain mistakes, in particular why Ukrainians’ attempts to win independence and build their own state suffered constant setbacks. It seems that everybody in Europe who wanted to had created their own states after 1913. Thus, perhaps some people will understand something new about their nation and its past. We offer history not as a baggage of dead knowledge but as an active way of thinking about the past, present, and future.
The book Day and Eternity of James Mace was destined to appear. We conceived it together with Mace, and it was published after his death, although it was created during his lifetime. It is a compilation of articles addressing not only the Holodomor but also other social problems that the author raised very poignantly and responsibly. I felt discomfort because of the way Ukrainians observed the 70th anniversary of the Holodomor. It created the impression of a certain degree of ignorance. Last year First National Channel made an attempt to hold a televised marathon. It’s a good thing they at least invited Myroslav Popovych, who managed to maintain this discussion at an appropriate level. I understand that when there were no sources, they could blame it on ignorance. But now that the book Day and Eternity of James Mace has been published, it is embarrassing for journalists not to know about the horrific tragedy of 1932-1933.
The president recently issued an order to popularize the journalistic heritage of James Mace. In fact, almost everything that he created when he was working on our newspaper represents his journalistic heritage. But for some reason it hasn’t occurred to the Ministry of Education to commission the publication of the book from The Day’s Library Series. It’s strange when the order to study the Holodomor is handed down first, and then teachers call in asking whose publications are to be used in the curriculum.
In 1995 Mace gave a speech to the Writers’ Union, in which he defended the need to establish an institute of genocide. Meanwhile, the issue of creating the Institute of National Memory remains undecided. Poland, for example, has its own Institute of Memory with its own investigative commission, and this institution receives government funding. In 2007 the Ukrainian delegation to the UN will raise the question of recognizing the Holodomor of 1932-1933 as an act of genocide. What must be done before that? In my view, Ukrainians themselves should know more about this issue, because ignorance is the result of a distorted system of coordinates. Several years ago James proposed an unfortunate diagnosis of our society, calling it post-genocidal. What does this mean? How can we cure it? At least The Day published a book, which will make it awkward for people to say that they did not know.”
Viktor SHOSTAK, assistant professor at the Department of Cultural Studies of Volyn University and member of the Lutsk City Council:
“I would call James Mace the most genuine Ukrainian of all Americans. He was a descendant of an Indian tribe, which has practically vanished off America’s ethnic map. James showed us by his own example what a journalist should be and how to build a civil society that we talk about so much. In his understanding, each of us should simply be a civilized citizen of his or her home country. When I watch Ukrainian television or read periodicals, I become convinced that there is no freedom of choice or European values. We talk about Europe, but nobody is showing it to us. We talk about a civilized society at a time when schoolchildren or university students often cannot afford to buy books. And politicians often talk about political reforms, democratic values, and democratic government only to get people to vote for them. Why is this happening? I simply recommend everyone to read the book Day and Eternity of James Mace. There you will find many answers to today’s urgent questions and intellectual food for thought.”
Iryna KONSTANKEVYCH, head of the Ukrainian Language Department at Volyn University:
“The book Day and Eternity of James Mace is interesting for today’s readers in many respects. Because of the important materials that it contains, this book fundamentally reconstructs the dramatic epoch of the 20th century and provokes readers into reexamining the historical past that one way or another is projected onto our time. I personally like the active civic stance of The Day’s staff, who published the book with their own funds, attesting to their care and responsibility for the axiological system of coordinates they created.”
The Day has learned that the Faculty of Journalism at Zaporizhia National University has included in its introductory curriculum Mace’s article “A Tale of Two Journalists: Walter Duranty, Gareth Jones, and the Pulitzer Prize.” According to Viktor Kostiuk, head of the Journalism Department at Zaporizhia National University, a question based on “A Tale of Two Journalists” of James Mace: A Perspective on Ukrainian History and Journalistic Ethics” was included in the exam written by journalism freshmen. Professor Kostiuk has also developed an optional course called “Book Projects of The Day Newspaper.” So far it has been approved only for part-time journalism students, but there are plans to introduce it next year for full-time students. “After all, part-time students have convinced us of their great interest in history and culture, even though many of them are not involved in journalism professionally,” Kostiuk says.
“I think that the people who loved Mace and learned from him will do a great deal more for the sake of historical truth and strengthen all things Ukrainian in Ukraine,” Ivshyna writes in her introduction to the book Day and Eternity of James Mace. She repeatedly emphasizes that his “Tale of Two Journalists” should be included in the curricula of all journalism faculties. Therefore, we cannot help rejoicing in the fact that the reading of James Mace’s works and other books from The Day’s Library Series at Zaporizhia National University is the first step toward implementing this idea.
Last week, on the eve of the 54th anniversary of our colleague, Professor James Mace, Kyiv-Mohyla National University hosted a roundtable discussion in his honor entitled “Ukraine as a Post-Genocidal Society: Realizing and Overcoming the State.” In his opening speech Volodymyr Morenets asked the question: “Who has the right to conduct moral diagnostics of the 20th century?” He went on to answer it himself: “Only he who sympathizes with the history of his people.”
The other speeches were further proof that Mace genuinely sympathized with the history of the Ukrainian people, who became his own people. Speaking of the recognition of the Ukrainian Holodomor at the international level, The Day’s chief editor pointed out that one of the proofs of the fact that our society is still a post-genocidal one is the lack of maximalism and excessive tolerance when it comes to defending matters of principle. Therefore, one of the main tasks is not simply to accumulate knowledge about the Holodomor years, but to decide what conclusion society must reach now that it possesses this knowledge. Another important task, which is linked to the previous task, is to overcome the lack of information (diplomat Yuriy Shcherbak also used the term “infocide”).
During the roundtable Mace’s widow Natalia Dziubenko-Mace presented a collection of books from her late husband’s home library, which she donated to Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. Read the report on this in one of the upcoming issues of The Day.