With Ukraine in our hearts

We are starting to publish a series of articles about architectural monuments that were partially or completely destroyed on the territory of Ukraine as a result of the attack of russian invaders.


Evil is destroying our villages and cities – not only infrastructure, office buildings, houses, but also historical monuments. The enemy set himself the goal of large-scale destruction – not only physical but also cultural. 

War and destruction

Theatres, museums, churches, parks, historic buildings, along with our history, are under severe blows, explosions and destruction. It is impossible to look at the piles of bricks, destroyed walls and windows, the remains of roofs, scattered fragments of such familiar buildings. 

However, no matter how much pain it causes, destruction not only hardens our memory, cements it, but also makes us want to remember everything that happened and is happening: we will never forget, and we will never forgive.

One of the first damaged architectural monuments was the Slovo Building (in Ukrainian 'слово' [slovo] means 'word'), The house has the form of the first letter 'C'. It for almost 100 years of history has experienced and seen various events: the metropolitan literary Kharkiv, Stalin's repressions, war, refugees, new residents, rehabilitation of convicts, decline and revival, restoration of memory and opening a literary residence. And now he is again facing war and destruction. 

Wandering ghosts

Most Kharkiv residents know the Slovo Building in combination with the generation of the ‘Executed Renaissance' and the story of Mykola Khvylovy’s suicide. Some have heard legends about wandering ghosts…

The idea of ​​building the Slovo Building arose in the late 1920s to provide housing for writers and litterateurs, who then became more and more numerous in the capital Kharkiv. After construction and settlement, the era of ruthless Stalinist repression of the 1930s began almost immediately. At one time, Volodymyr Sosyura, Mykola Kulish, Pavlo Tychyna, Ivan Bagryany, Ostap Vyshnya, and Mike Johansen, who were repressed by the Soviet authorities, lived here. In 1933, Mykola Khvylovy committed suicide in his office.

By the beginning of World War II, a wave of repression affected 40 of the 66 apartments in the Slovo Building. 33 people were shot, 3 were exiled for many years, 2 died in exile, 1 committed suicide, and another was killed or died under unknown circumstances.


World War II

In the first months of the war, Kharkiv became a refuge for evacuees and refugees from other cities, and people who came from occupied Kyiv also sought refuge here. Residents, who were not repressed and remained in the Slovo Building, hosted evacuated colleagues. But Kharkiv was also bombed, and residents of the house waited in the bomb shelter, some guarded the roof and made sure nothing hit the roof and the house was not occupied. During the occupation of Kharkiv, most of the apartments were occupied by German soldiers, who moved the few owners who did not have time to leave Kharkiv.

After the war, Kharkiv began to revive cultural life, writers returned to the house and settled in the premises of an almost empty house. The house was filled with different people, the old residents remember that you could then choose any vacant apartment.

The Slovo Building was not damaged during the war. In the 1950s, the Soviet government recognized the falsity of the verdicts. Most of the repressed were rehabilitated at the request of their relatives.


Literary family

In the early 2000s, the Slovo Building was an ordinary dwelling house whose inhabitants had nothing to do with the former families of the victims and writers.

The architectural residence GaliciaCult was founded in 2016. Architects from Galicia and Kharkiv region studied the history of the house, its architectural features, got acquainted with the current inhabitants, their problems. The purpose of the residence is to find options for restoring the memory of the house.

Thanks to patronage, the Kharkiv residence 'Slovo' was opened in the building in 2021. This is a project of the Kharkiv LitMuseum, which was joined by writer Serhiy Zhadan and other city figures. During the residency in one of the apartments (which became the residence) were regularly held creative events, literary readings, acquaintanceships, discussions and celebrations.

From the first day of the residence's opening, we attended events and meetings, made new acquaintances and spent cozy evenings with conversations over wine in the kitchen. The guests of the residence were a warm literary family who fell in love with the house, honored the memory, revived traditions. And most importantly, these people built bridges of memory, engraving honor and pride for our culture and history.


Ukrainians won't forget

In the Slovo Building in the residence, we celebrated the New Year 2022, made wishes, planned a peaceful and full of plans happy life. 

The war began in February 2022. This was a large-scale invasion of Russia into Ukraine's territory. Kharkiv was subjected to terrible air bombings, which continue to this day. 

On March 7, shells also hit the Slovo Building. Scattered bricks, crooked and twisted window frames and doors, broken glass, boarded up holes, cross-sealed remnants of windows… 

This is a new and terrible page of our history, our culture, our courage. 

Ukrainians can be left without windows and walls. Our roofs may also be demolished. But the Word, Memory and Culture will never leave us.

We will always remember. We will never forgive.

image: @dionisium

Author: Mariia Kotenko, resident of Kharkiv (for Teamwise)

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