24.02.2022, 5 am: Testimonies from the War

On 24 February 2022 at 5am, Russian forces launched an invasion of independent Ukraine, an unprecedented event in post-war European history, which is still ongoing. The goal of our project is to record testimonies documenting the experience of Ukrainian citizens affected by the war. Accounts are being recorded in Ukraine, Poland and in other countries where Ukrainian refugees have arrived – at this stage in Luxembourg and the UK.


The project was initiated by the Centre for Urban History of East Central Europe in Lviv, which records interviews in Ukraine. In Poland, the project is being implemented by the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, where interviews will be archived, while the Polish Oral History Association, which brings together those who practice oral history in their research, acts in an advisory capacity. Our other Polish partner is the Mieroszewski Centre. Methodological and technical support is also provided by partners from Luxembourg and the UK: the Center of Contemporary and Digital History at the University of Luxembourg and the University of St Andrews.

In Ukraine, our interviews primarily focus on the experience of living in a country at war and on internal displacement and relief. In Poland, we focus on what the refugees living in our country have experienced and are experiencing. We try to reconstruct the situation immediately before the outbreak of war, the time just after the incursion of Russian forces, the decision to leave the country, the journey, the process of crossing the border and the first period after arrival in Poland. We also ask about how the adaptation to the new living conditions proceeded, including the search for work, housing, educational and childcare facilities, about the refugees’ contacts with relatives remaining in Ukraine, as well as their relations with Poles.

In our project, we try to capture different types of refugee experience. Out of the almost 6 million Ukrainians who have entered our country since the beginning of the war, significant numbers have moved on to other European countries, while some have chosen to return to Ukraine. Refugees have reached Poland directly from Ukraine, but also through Romania and Slovakia. These refugees also represent different social groups and backgrounds, although they are mostly women with children as men of conscription age are forbidden from leaving the country. Our project also aims to gain a better understanding of the situation of this internally diverse group.

Initiating reflection on the ethics and methodology of documentation, research and archiving projects of an interventionist nature is an integral part of the project. We organise seminars and open meetings for interested people from outside the team and look for ways to cooperate with other similar projects, also outside Poland.


Ongoing projects