In Memory: Yaroslav Dashkevych
In his moving tribute to Yaroslav Dashkevych who died on 25 February 2010 in Lviv, historian Yaroslav Hrytsak writes “One wants to add “great Ukrainian historian”. However these extra words denigrate his significance. He was Ukrainian – and to the core, sincerely and firmly. Yet as about Ivan Franko one wants to say that he shone not only to all of Ukraine, but that his light radiated far further.
Yaroslav Dashkevych was born on 13 December 1926 in Lviv. After studying Ukrainian Language and Literature at the Lviv National University, he worked as a librarian. In December 1949 he was arrested by the KGB as politically unreliable and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. Following his release, with the stigma hanging over him of being politically suspect, he was unable to find work. His forced unemployment was to last 23 years. It was during that period that Yaroslav Dashkevych became a world-renowned expert on Ukrainian studies, a specialist on the history of the East, in particular, Armenia and the author of academic works on history, archeography and source studies.
During his long academic career, he wrote than 900 works on Ukrainian historiography, source studies and special historical disciplines, Eastern Studies, Ukrainian-Armenian, Ukrainian-Turkish, Ukrainian-Jewish relations, etc.
Yaroslav Hrytsak writes that he was one of the few Ukrainian historians known in the world, yet he himself consistently turned down any attempts to entice him to move to universities abroad, such as Harvard.
“He stayed and for this paid with imprisonment in Siberia and long years of forced unemployment. However through this price he created an island of personal intellectual freedom which nobody could deprive him of, and which was a source of envy to those many others scratching out a career under Soviet conditions, but never free”.
Hrytsak draws a comparison with “dazzling intellectuals of Central European origin, but world class – Leszek Kolakowski, Pope John-Paul II, Jan Patočka”. “There view on the world was broader since its roots went far deeper than could be provided by a normal secondary or higher education. Their intellect was sharpened also by the danger to life which were presented to Central Europe by Nazism and Communism. And that was one more university – and even a doctorate which they had to pass in the attempt to be truly great.”
“As once they did about Hercules, I refuse to think and write about [Yaroslav Dashkevych] in the past tense. I am happy to have been his contemporary and wish to thank him for that on behalf of all our generation.”
Вічна пам’ять Eternal Memory
Yaroslav Hrytsak’s tribute was published in full here: http://zaxid.net/blogentry/60324/ and information about Yaroslav Dashkevych is on the same site