Baba Interview Bloopers

These are just a couple of snippets from the oral interviews about WWII and sexual violence I conducted in Ukraine. Sometimes, the interviews are hilarious, though I think the transcription and translation sometimes makes it even funnier, and also because of how the Babas would repeat themselves as they spoke. Below are some of the funny moments, and some thoughts I have had along the way while going through them.

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Baba: When Bydoni came in they hid this Vasilina in the nettles. They hid her in the nettles because when Bydoni came into our village…Maybe I’m not telling you everything in order.

A: That’s all right, that’s all right.

W: What did she say?

A: She said that maybe she’s not saying everything in order.

W: Not in order.

Baba: Not in order.

A: Without chronology.

W: That’s not important.

A: Not important?

W: I didn’t hear, what’s your name? 🤣🤔😆

Oral interviews about WWII and sexual violence

In the middle of this interview with an ancient, super sweet old lady all stooped over, some big fly was trying to get me so I was squirming in my seat…

A: You got some things from her?

Baba: Yes, that was mother’s.

W: SQUIRMING IN CHAIR Fly? (I wasn’t sure of the word in Russian, but wanted to explain my movements.)

Baba: Fly.

W: LAUGHING There’s a fly there.

A: Yea, it’s bothering you?

W: No, I think it flew away.

A: Flew away.

W: Yea, it did. Excuse me.

Baba: So, all the farm got burned. So they built another farm. [!]

OMG, a vegetarian

As we sat in his kitchen eating some lunch, I remember telling my interpreter I was vegetarian. He literally choked on his food he laughed so hard and so spontaneously. It was hilarious. 1998. Ukraine. (I had a hard time in Latvia, Ukraine, and Estonia being a vegetarian. Even the McDonald’s in Latvia didn’t have even a salad.)

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I interviewed maybe four men. It is interesting how easily they talked about sexual violence, using the word rape, while the women side-stepped the word, used words like “abused,” and were often less generous with details. I am only doing preliminary cleaning up, and got to my first man. As a child, he saw the Germans rape his mother, who subsequently died. It was a short and sad interview. I remember he gave me some newspapers he had.

Oral interviews about WWII and sexual violence

And my interpreter kept telling the village people, “and this girl is writing a doctoral dissertation about…” I was thirty or so. I really don’t care now and didn’t understand then since it was in this Ukrainian dialect, but laughing now. Without him, I never would have gotten these interviews. He could talk to these people because he was one of them and get them to share their memories in front of me.

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I had a really good interpreter who encouraged the elderly to speak.

Baba: So father sat down in the weeds. So I came home and even during the night they tried to catch father to see if he was there or not…Oh I shouldn’t tell all this.

A: You may, and you should.

Oral interviews about WWII and sexual violence

B: And how old are you?

W: Thirty-one.

B: Thirty-one. And what is your name?

W: Husband? Yea, I have.

B: Wie heissen Sie?

W: My husband, Roger.

B: And you?

W: Wendy. Good.

* * * * *

Some more bloopers/snippets from the oral interviews about WWII and sexual violence.

The dissertation for which I used these interviews, along with many other sources from archives around Europe and in Washington D.C.

Free photo of Ukrainian Babas, but not the Babas I interviewed.

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