The little-known story of Ukrainian children torn from their homes in the crush between the Nazi and Soviet fronts in World War II. Spending their childhood as refugees in Europe, these inspiring individuals later immigrated to the United States, creating new homes and communities through their grit, faith and deep belief in the importance of preserving culture.
Baba Babee Skazala [Grandmother Told Grandmother] tells the little-known story of Ukrainian children torn from their homes in the crush between the Nazi and Soviet fronts in World War II. This film preserves and shares the ancestral legacies of American immigrant post-WWII Ukrainian Displaced Persons, whose stories manifest individual and community resilience in the journey to find “home” when their homes, and often family, were taken from them. Baba Babee Skazala tells the stories of this group, through their own words, as they created “community” in the DP camps that supported their efforts to create new homes in America.
“Ukraine” translates as “borderlands.” Ukraine’s borders are often challenged, as they currently are by Russia’s annexation of Crimea and ongoing disputes along the eastern border. The last war that massively displaced Ukrainians from their homes was World War II. Ukraine was not then a sovereign state, but approximately 2 million Ukrainians were stranded in Western Europe by the war’s end. Though many were returned to Ukraine, often forcibly, approximately 200,000 ended up in Displaced Person (“DP”) camps, later immigrating to the Americas and elsewhere. Their challenges, in the DP camps and in establishing new “homes,” help us better understand how immigrant experiences influence American society.
The experiences of these children, now senior citizens, are not well-known outside the Ukrainian diaspora; Baba Babee Skazala seeks to change that. This documentary is the culmination of over 30 oral history interviews uncovering the experiences of these survivors; some of them have passed away since the making of this film. Baba Babee Skazala includes previously unseen archival materials from the National Film Archives in Ukraine as well as material from the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute collection. Rutgers University professor, Dr. Alexander Motyl, a renowned expert in this field, provides historic background for the film.
The current displacement of Ukrainians due to events in eastern Ukraine, and Europe’s challenges in responding to an influx of refugees from other countries resonate, reminding us that “history repeats itself.” Baba Babee Skazala shares the legacy of these WWII DPs, whose oral communications contributed to community resilience in times of adversity, experiences that are particularly salient given current conversations about immigrants, refugees, race and culture. 69 minutes, for ages 13 & up.