Zina Genyk-Berezovska was a Czech literary scholar, linguist and translator, who was born in a village outside Prague in 1928 into a community of Ukrainian émigrés. She was an important figure in the Ukrainian community in Prague, and was also integrally involved in the sixtiers movement, underscoring its transnational character. Genyk-Berezovska communicated regularly with Ukrainian literary figures and human rights activists, often putting her own self at risk by transporting samizdat from Ukraine to Czechoslovakia.
In 1953, Genyk-Berezovska completed her studies at Charles University in Prague, where she had focused on Slavic and Germanic Philology. Her research specialized on Ukrainian and Czech literature and the links between them, which helps situate Ukrainian literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries firmly in the European tradition. She also translated many works of Ukrainian baroque literature into Czech, including texts by Hryoriy Skovoroda, Ivan Kotliarevsky, Taras Shevchenko, Lesya Ukrainka, Mykhailo Kotsiubynsky and others. Often speaking on Czech radio, Genyk-Berezovska also regularly contributed to Ukrainian émigré journals “Duklja” and “Slavia” in Czechoslovakia, while also maintaining close ties to both the T.H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature in Kyiv and the Slavic Department of Lviv University.
Genyk-Berezovska was close to Lesya Ukrainka’s sister O. Kosach-Shymanovska, and also had friends and colleagues among the sixtiers movement, including Yevhen Sverstiuk, Ivan Svitlychny, Mykhailyna Khomivna Kotsiubynska and others. She played a crucial role in getting their materials published abroad in émigré journals, which allowed knowledge of the struggles of Ukrainian dissidents and human rights activists to circulate in the west. This Czech-Ukrainian corridor provides a unique window into the translational and multi-generational dimensions of cultural opposition to socialism in Ukraine and in Ukrainian émigré communities. It was thus fitting that the archive of Zina Genyk-Berezovska and her husband Kostiantyn Genyk-Berezovsky was transferred to the T.H. Shevchenko Institute of Literature in full in 2003, where it rests alongside the archives of her friends and fellow activists Vasyl Stus and Mykhailyna Khomivna Kotsiubynska.
Kyiv City, Kiev, Ukraine 02000
Praha, Prague, Czech Republic
- Solopysky, Sedlčany, Czech Republic
- Kulick, Orysia Maria
Burlaka, Galyna M., interview by Kulick, Orysia Maria, March 21, 2017. COURAGE Registry Oral History Collection