USC Shoah Foundation Mourns Loss of Dmytro Groisman, Interviewer and Ukrainian Activist

Thu, 08/08/2013 - 11:28am

Dmytro Groisman, human rights advocateUSC Shoah Foundation is saddened to learn of the untimely passing of Dmytro Groisman, Ukranian human rights activist and USC Shoah Foundation interviewer. Groisman died Monday of a heart attack after a long illness, according to his colleague Maksym Butkevych. He was 41.

Groisman conducted 315 interviews of Holocaust survivors and other witnesses (a total of 625 hours) for USC Shoah Foundation from April 1997 to November 1998. The interviews were conducted in the Vinnytsya region of Ukraine, in Russian and Ukrainian.

His interviews—from Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, Roma survivors, rescuers and aid providers— are being used in USC Shoah Foundation’s educational work in Ukraine, including the multimedia teacher’s guides Ukrainian Famine of 1932-1933: Human Dimension of the Tragedy in 2010 and Exploring the Intersection of Holocaust and Human Rights Education – A Pilot in Ukraine (currently in progress; to be published in the autumn of 2013).

"We at USC Shoah Foundation are deeply grateful for the hours of testimony Dmytro Groisman contributed to the Visual History Archive," said Inna Gogina, coordinator of international programs. "Dmytro was a great humanitarian and dedicated advocate for equality and justice. He will be missed."

Dmytro was a meticulous interviewer. He always strived to capture every bit of information and was a great listener

Mikhail Tyaglyy

Mikhail Tyaglyy, Ukrainian Holocaust scholar and co-author/ historical expert of USC Shoah Foundation-produced educational resources, was Groisman’s fellow interviewer for USC Shoah Foundation during the interview collection phase in Ukraine.

“Dmytro was a meticulous interviewer. He always strived to capture every bit of information and was a great listener,” Tyaglyy said. “Interviewing Roma eyewitnesses was particularly challenging. Due to the Roma interviewees’ historical memory specifics, constructing a linear narrative of Nazi occupation-related experiences proved to be more difficult than with other eyewitness groups. The interviews conducted by Dmytro Groisman are a source of great value for scholars.”

Anna Lenchovska, USC Shoah Foundation regional consultant in Ukraine, said Groisman told her the last time they met, at a roundtable discussion about refugees in Ukraine, “Interviewing people for the Shoah Foundation was the best project of my life.”

Students in Ukraine will continue to learn from the testimonies Groisman collected, Lenchovska said.

“As part of our educational outreach in Ukraine, we will continue to use the many testimonies that Dmytro conducted. And we have seen the impact they have on students and teachers throughout the country,” Lenchovska said. “We express our deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of Dmytro Groisman, one of our most dedicated interviewers, whose contribution to the Visual History Archive will continue to benefit the global learning community.”

Groisman was well-known as one of the leading human rights advocates and influential figures in post-Soviet Ukraine. Groisman founded the Ukrainian branch of Amnesty International and the Vinnytsya Human Rights Group, where he lobbied for refugees and against capital punishment, torture and discrimination. He also worked with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Radio Free Europe, Warsaw Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, and other human rights groups. Groisman was a clinical pathologist and had a degree in law.

Read the Washington Post's coverage of Dmytro Groisman