A Ukrainian almanac for 75 years ago : the January 2023 UL Slavonic item of the month

The book’s cover

As the first month of the new year draws to a close, it felt appropriate to look at Ukrainian kalendar’ al’manakh for 1948, 75 years ago.

On its title page, it describes 1948 as a jubilee year, and refers back to the three years of 1648, 1848, and 1918.  1648 saw the start of the Cossack uprising against the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth which would eventually lead to the creation of the Cossack Hetmanate state.  Two centuries later, Galician Ukraine was in the Austrian Empire, and 1848 saw the creation of the Holovna Rus’ka Rada (Supreme Ruthenian Council) in L’viv, which determined the blue-yellow flag Ukraine uses to this day and oversaw the publication of the first Ukrainian-language newspaper, Zoria Halytska (Galician Star, or Galician Dawn).  1918 saw immense changes in Ukraine, starting with the 22 January declaration of the independent state of Ukraine.

The 1948 almanac was published in Munich, and it makes sense that its editor wanted to push the jubilee year connections as much as possible.  Ukrainians in Munich in 1948 included many who had found themselves in Displaced Persons Camps at the end of the Second World War.  By recalling past Ukrainian independence movements under Polish-Lithuanian, Austrian, and Russian powers, the new Ukrainian émigrés – many of whom were likely to have fought in Ukrainian nationalist forces in the war – might have taken inspiration that a fully independent Ukrainian state would come one day.

Authorisation for publication, from the book’s colophon. EUCOM’s GEC-AGO was the US occupying force’s office dealing with “publications by or for displaced persons” (Augsburg and Munich, where the almanac was published, being in the US occupied zone).

What caught my eye in the almanac was something that I always find fascinating in older material and especially Ukrainian diaspora material – advertisements.  They provide such interesting views of the concerns and state of the community and a snapshot of the period, and the adverts covering many pages towards the end of the 1948 almanac are absolutely no exception.  Here are just a few:

  • Міжтаборова українська книгарня англійської зони в Німеччині (Inter-camp Ukrainian bookshop of the British zone of Germany)
    • Run by Hryhorii Vyshnevyi in the Lysenko Displaced Persons Camp in Hannover, who offers books published by the publisher Prometei “and other publishers of the American and British zones of Germany”
  • Артист-маляр Василь Петрук (Artist and painter Vasyl’ Petruk)
    • The artist (then a refugee in his sixties) offers all sorts of services from Büdingen, from paintings and portraits to book illustrations and expanded versions of photos
  • Кооператів “ПЛАСТ” (PLAST co-operative)
    • Based in Munich and Bayreuth but with branches in Regensburg, Passau, and Neumarkt, the co-operative provides various products, including magazines, that relate to Plast, the Ukrainian scouting organisation
  • Ресторан “Райнґольд” в аренді А. Синенка (Restaurant “Rheingold” under lease to A. Synenko)
    • The Regensburg restaurant offers “delicious breakfasts, lunches, dinners” and buffet and has a live orchestra playing every evening

For those would like to see all the adverts (and the whole book), there is a quite jaw-dropping amount of scanned Ukrainian diaspora material on this site: https://diasporiana.org.ua/ which includes this title.  There is no statement, though, on the site about copyright for any of these materials (which in the UK, at least, would often still be subject to copyright laws), which makes me hesitate to promote it with bells and whistles, so please bear that in mind.

The editor of the almanac, Teodor Kurpita (1913-1974), would himself move on to Chicago where he became the editor of the émigré paper Ukrains’ke zhyttia.  We also have his almanac for 1949 and his humorous book Karykatury z literatury (Caricatures from literature) written under one of his many noms de plume and published in Munich in 1947.  All three come from the amazing Peter Yakimiuk collection.

Mel Bach


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