Memories of Ethnic Diversity in Local Newspapers: the 600th Anniversary of Chernivtsi

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Niklas Bernsand: In 2008 the city of Chernivtsi in Ukrainian Bukovina celebrated its 600th anniversary. The greetings to the city and its inhabitants, calling for myths to become reality, from long-time mayor (1994-2011) Mykola Fedoruk, were published in full in some local newspapers. As could be expected from an anniversary speech the mayor sought to establish continuity between the present city and its past and explain how the city can join the future. Considering the dramatic ethno-demographic ruptures in the city during the 20th century, with the virtual disappearance of large urban communities associated with the lives and times of earlier periods, such as Jews and Germans, there were serious narrative choices involved in making local history meaningful in the anniversary greetings.

©Niklas Bernsand,
Coordinator for the Centre of European Studies at Lund University

“I know that Chernivtsi people will not allow the city
to be transformed into a greyish iron-concrete monster
with glass windows, but will safeguard the historical
elegance of the city’s parks and squares, and verdure and
flowers will flourish on the streets and in every inner garden,
the fountains will sing and Chernivtsi musicians will play their music.
Architects of world fame have left their immortal autographs
in Chernivtsi. In their creations where the unique Chernivtsi soul
is alive one can hear the multilingualism of Chernivtsi’s streets,
therewander the memories of our honoured predecessors.
And we will do everything to protect this most valuable heritage
and to bring the uniqueness of the historical,
cultural and architectural environment
and its extraordinary aura to our descendants”.
(Let us honor native Chernivtsi! Let myths become reality.
Mayor Fedoruk’s greetings to the city and its inhabitants
during Chernivtsi’s 600th anniversary in 2008)


In 2008 the city of Chernivtsi in Ukrainian Bukovina celebrated its 600th anniversary. The greetings to the city and its inhabitants, calling for myths to become reality, from long-time mayor (1994-2011) Mykola Fedoruk, were published in full in some local newspapers. As could be expected from an anniversary speech the mayor sought to establish continuity between the present city and its past and explain how the city can join the future. Considering the dramatic ethno-demographic ruptures in the city during the 20th century, with the virtual disappearance of large urban communities associated with the lives and times of earlier periods, such as Jews and Germans, there were serious narrative choices involved in making local history meaningful in the anniversary greetings. By using the word poperednyky (predecessors) rather than, for example, predky (ancestors) for the earlier generations of town-dwellers, the speech marked the ruptures in the make-up of the population, with most contemporary inhabitants (or their parents or grandparents) having settled in the city after 1945, while the earlier populations were to a large extent dispersed through population exchange, deportation, genocide or migration. The next generations, on the other hand, were defined not as successors but as descendants (nashchadky), thus implying an expected genealogical connection between contemporary and future inhabitants of Chernivtsi. In this way Fedorukwas able toput the city’s past potentialities to use without denying the partial ethno-linguistic and religious otherness of previous generations of city-dwellers. There wasno explicit discussion in the speech of the ethnic make-up of previous city-dwellers, but the mayor’s list of important writers, poets, musicians and actors connected to the city included Jewish (Celan, Steinbarg, Schmidt), Romanian (Eminescu) and Ukrainian (Kobylians’ka, Ivasiuk, Mykolaychuk) names. Fedoruk expressed his hopes that the “Chernivtsi spirit” shaped by the predecessors would reach also the housing complexes of the Soviet and Post-Soviet era, in the outskirts of the city. Simultaneously the mayor underlined that there are still strong links between the city and its former inhabitants in various corners of the world, and that “there are no former Chernivtsi people”.

Given the focus of the present volume on how the present population in Central and Eastern European cities has experienced population transfers, exodus or genocide in the 20thcentury, this chapter looks at anniversaries as a possible catalyst for memory discourses in news media. Representations in news media of ethnic groups that lived and worked in the city can be an important source of information about narratives and perspectives relevant for the local memory culture. If following the notion of Berger and Holtom (2010) that anniversaries can be seen as “rich in representations of community and allegations of shared pasts, values and ideals”, an analysis of the media coverage of Chernivtsi’s 600th anniversary could, considering the city’s dramatic historical discontinuities in terms of state-belonging and ethno-demographics, indeed provide material for an interesting case study.

The week-long festivities in October 2008 were a major theme in local news media, and the chapter analyses the media coverage of the anniversary in five local Ukrainian-language newspapers from the weeks surrounding the festivities. The newspapers include Molodyi Bukovynets’, a daily with the city’s largest circulation, Bukovyna, in the preceding eracalled Radians’ka Bukovyna (Soviet Bukovina), but now owned by journalists and editors, with three editions per week, the weeklies Chas (an important forum for social discussions in the 1990s, gone right-wing populist), Doba (“the newspaper for the intellectual minority” in the words of editor-in-chief Vasyl’ Stefanets’, interview June 4, 2011), and Chernivtsi (the organ of the city council). The analysis is based on the electronic versions of the newspapers, notwithstanding the limitations of such an approach in terms of content coherence with the printed editions and context of the published material. The websites of the newspapers have reasonably (although varying) large electronic archives and they include, to a various extent,coverageof the Habsburg, Romanian and Soviet eras. In addition to the newspaper texts, interviews were made in Chernivtsi in June 2011 with editors and journalists of the included newspapers.

After a brief discussion on memory discourses in news media the subsequent analysis of the local newspapers is contextualized in relation to other venues and domains of memory politics in Bukovina and Ukraine, and in the light of local Bukovinian intellectual discourses on cultural diversity. The chapter firstly seeks to analyze how and to what extent the anniversary triggered media coverage of the pre-WWII ethno-cultural diversity of Chernivtsi, and how specific ethnic groups were represented. Secondly it looks into how the city and its history in articles and news items are placed in wider identity discourses on,for example, Ukraine and Europe, and to what extent the city’s multi-ethnic past is related to in such operations. Thirdly the chapter pays attention to important tenets of local multicultural discourse and their possible reflection in the anniversary text corpus.

Memory discourses in news media

News media, unlike other media genres, such as film, literature and music, is considered by several researchers (for example Edy 1999: 72) to be understudied as sources for memory studies, particularly in post-Soviet memory studies (Kulyk 2011), and in studies of the memory of the deportations and resettlements in Eastern Europe in connection with the Second World War (Röger 2008). This is all the more surprising since, as argued by the Ukrainian political scientist and media scholar, Kulyk (2011: 289), media is perhaps not a “primary producer of what gets socially accepted as historical knowledge”, but considering its potential mass reach “mediates the communication for the academic producers with the general population and, unlike education, does so for people of all ages”. In our material the most extensive texts on the city’s multi-ethnic past were indeed written by scholars who in some cases were long-term contributors to the papers.

According to Le (2006: 709) “events are remembered when refashioned and made meaningful in a contemporary context”, which for American media scholar Edy (2006: 8) often “involves a struggle over how to frame something that has many potential and divergent meanings”. Edy (1999: 73) argues that journalistic accounts of the past can have wide implications for collective memory, even to the extent that we remember a certain event at all. Thus, it might further affect how collective identities and societal cohesion are formed by reflections on the past. News media can be especially significant when society is in a state of flux and is perceived to lack stability and common ground, and there is no clear hegemonic view on a certain issue about the past (ibid: 83). Edy further reminds us that “stories and values cannot simply be imposed on an audience that actually resists them, and personal memories of social conflict create favourable conditions for such resistance” (Edy 2006: 13), and that journalists’ need for credibility and good relations with politicians and civil servants might ensure that “collective memories of social conflict are more likely negotiated than imposed” (ibid). Memories in news media are thus not only remediated from other domains but are shaped by journalistic and editorial processes of selection and interpretation, in which some mnemonic actors might more easily have their voices heard than others (Huyssen 2003). As Edy (2006: 12) argues, the influence of a certain media perspective is not only determined by the outcome of power play between various actors but also by the ability of media actors to produce good, coherent and interesting narratives.

Röger (2008), in one of the few studies of how memories of expulsions and ethnic cleansing are covered in news media, discusses the factors that trigger the publishing of news material on such matters. Her study on the coverage of the expulsion of Germans from the newly-gained Polish territories in the aftermath of the Second World War, in a German and a Polish news weekly, shows that among the factors were contemporary political events connected to the historical events, and presentations of high-profiled new artistic and sometimes scholarly works in books or film. Furthermore, in the Polish case academic conferences sometimes triggered publications. Most importantly, Röger (ibid: 193) argues that there must be a reason for news media to write about historical events, and that only rarely a publication is triggered by the mere wish of an author to reflect on past events.

Berger and Holtom (2010) have studied the coverage in Russian and German mass media of the 750th anniversary of Kaliningrad/Königsberg in 2005. Although their study mostly draws on media sources for information on the celebrations, their German media corpus is arranged thematically and in terms of positions taken by various newspapers and authors. They argue that anniversaries are “important moments for the crystallization of collective identity discourses, as they are rich in representations of community and allegations of shared pasts, values and ideals”, and that they culminate in, and at the same time express, forms of memorialization which shape and give meaning to collective identity construction”, through the acceptance or rejection of established narratives, and therefore often become sites for ideological contestation between various actors (2010: 17). Anniversaries can therefore be useful objects for a study as, in Röger’s sense, they seem to carry a potential for triggering historical reflection and collective identity discourses in news media.

Edy (1999: 74) has proposed a wider discussion of commemorations as one of the basic forms for how stories about the past enter news media. Since commemorations are usually officially sanctioned, the person or event remembered is often either uncontroversial, something around which authorities want to create social consensus, or difficult aspects of the past that are commemorated because the authorities cannot avoid them. In the case of the Chernivtsi anniversary the two first reasons clearly prevailed. There was to our knowledge no serious contestation of the anniversary itself, although there were different views on the priorities made by authorities in connection with the celebrations. For the city’s leadership the anniversary was an opportunity both to achieve social cohesion and to attract attention to the city in Ukraine, the wider Europe and further away.

To Edy, news media coverage of commemorations has different appearances, all of which were encountered in our material from the Chernivtsi anniversary. In event-oriented commemoration the object of commemoration is often briefly portrayed, sometimes only with a few words, while in fact rich anniversary stories of the past are invoked to make the past come alive to the audience, both for those who witnessed the commemorated events and for newer generations, potentially actualizing prosthetic memories (Landsberg 2004). For those who have no personal experience of the events, anniversary stories might be the most influential appearance of media commemoration, not the least since the stories tend to connect the past with the present more explicitly than when the texts are shorter and more formal. Finally, in what Edy calls chance commemoration, something actualizes the memory of an event in a news story on a different subject. It should be said that a city’s anniversary can potentially trigger stories from any period of the city’s existence, which provides a rich but simultaneously much less focused setting for anniversary stories than in cases of commemoration of a single event.

Context I: Chernivtsi and Bukovina

The city of Chernivtsi (appr. 240,000 inhabitants) is today the main city in the Ukrainian part of the historical region of Bukovina. The southern part of Bukovina, with Suceava as the main city, belongs to Romania. Chernivtsi, which during the interwar years as Cernăuţi formed part of Romania, was after the Second World War together with northern Bukovina incorporated in the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. However, the emergence of the city is associated with the Austrian era (1774-1918), when the city under the name of Czernowitz became an expanding, dynamic and increasingly multiethnic center for industry, trade and administrationof the Habsburg Kronland Bukovina.

Bukovina has historically emerged as a Christian Orthodox Ukrainian-Romanian borderland (if one is to use the modern ethnonyms), but since the Middle Ages Orthodox Jews and German settlers have also lived in the region. Contemporary Chernivtsi has its roots in an old Moldavian toll station and was until the Habsburg takeover a relatively insignificant market town. The multiethnic city was created by the Habsburg Empire in the 19th century as part of a political and economic modernization project to reshape newly conquered areas into dynamic parts of the empire. Czernowitz was thus built as a Viennese outpost in the East, which still is notable in the well-preserved, largely Habsburg, architecture of the city center.

Apart from Ukrainians and Romanians, the fast-growing city became the home for large and culturally heterogeneous groups of Germans and Jews, as well as for a large Polish and a smaller but viable Armenian community. Relative numbers have varied between the groups, but at several points up until and including the interwar years Jews (German- or Yiddish-speaking) and Romanians were the largest groups in the city itself, while Ukrainians were the largest group in the northern and Romanians in the southern Bukovina region. German was the most important language in the city, not only for business and administration but also as Umgangssprache across the ethnic boundaries, and it kept this informal role until the Second World War.

In connection with and after the Second World War large-scale ethno-demographic changes took place in the city. Many Poles had left the city already during the Romanian interwar era, while most ethnic Germans were moved to Germany after an agreement between Germany and the Soviet Union, which overtook northern Bukovina from Romania in 1940. Only about half the city’s Jews survived the Holocaust, and the majority of survivors moved to Israel, Western Europe or the USA soon after the war (Frunchak 2010). Many Romanians and Poles fled or were deported eastwards by the Soviet power, a fate they shared with many peoplefrom the politically active part of the Pre-Soviet ethnic Ukrainian population.

After 1945 Soviet Chernivtsi,like many other cities in Central and Eastern Europe, was, to a large extent, re-settled with a new population.Only a minority of today’s inhabitants has roots in the city for three generations, and the ethno-demographic and socio-economic make-up of the population has continued to change after the war. The remnants of the pre-war local Jewish population were supplemented mostly by Russian-speaking Jews from other parts of Soviet Ukraine or from Russia, which meant that Jews in the end of the 1950s still formed as much as 20% of the city’s population (Kruhlashov 2009). At the same time Ukrainians became the majority ethnic group in the city through migration from the surrounding countryside. For the first time a significant Russian population settled in the city (although since the 18th century a Russian Old Believer community lives in the village of BilaKrynytsia near the border with Romania).

Parallel to the ethno-demographic changes, a Soviet Ukrainian identity narrative was transferred backwards to the region’s history and simultaneously projected into the future (Frunchak 2010). Soviet victory against fascism was portrayed as the most crucial object for remembrance, and the contribution of pro-Soviet partisans with Slavic-sounding names were emphasized over local Jewish resistance. Memories from pre-war Czernowitz that were difficultto assimilate into this Soviet narrative (expressed in Ukrainian or Russian) were ignored, although the city retained a significant and socially active Jewish population for a long time after the war. In this atmosphere, and until the 1980s, the remaining pre-war ethnic Germans often downplayed their German identity in interaction outside their homes (Interview with Alexander Schlamp, head of the Society for Austro-German Culture in the Czernowitz Region, May 31, 2011).

During post-Soviet times a large-scale out-migration of younger and well-educated inhabitants has taken place, to Kyiv or abroad, and only small ageing remnants of the Jewish and German groups remain in the city. Many Bukovinians are guest workers abroad, often in Italy, Spain or Portugal, and their economic transfers are important for the local economy. At the same time migration of Ukrainians and Romanians to Chernivtsi from the surrounding countryside has continued, not without social tensions between them and more established urbanites (Kruhlashov 2009). The city today is ethnically dominated by Ukrainians (79.8% according to the 2001 census), with Romanians (6%) and, during the Soviet period immigrated Russians (11.3%) as the largest minority groups, while Romanians and Moldovans form about 20% of the entire region’s population. During Soviet and post-Soviet times the city thus has become far more ethnically homogenous than before the Second World War. Simultaneously, though, in this period another multiethnic Chernivtsi emerged, in which Germans, Jews and Poles, who once made up the bulk of the population of Czernowitz, are not numerically superior to new groups that arrived in the Soviet or post-Soviet periods, for example Belarusians, Azeris or Koreans.

Context II: Chernivtsi in post-Soviet Ukrainian memory politics

Several contextual factors underline the specificity of Chernivtsi in the context of post-Soviet Ukrainian memory politics. While the Bukovina region is not irrelevant for the political, identificational and moral conflicts concerning activities of UPA (Ukrainian Insurgent Army, viewed by virulently opposing ideological camps in Ukraine as Ukrainian freedom fighters that struggled against Soviet and Nazi German occupiers, or as war criminals collaborating with the Nazi regime), this factor does not have the same crucial role for those and other present Ukrainian memory debates on the events of the Second World War as for other Western Ukrainian regions, such as Galicia or Volhynia. The local historical rivalry between Ukrainian and Romanian ethno-national projects does not attract as much attention in nation-wide Ukrainian narratives as the Ukrainian-Polish competition in other regions. The region is also relatively economically and politically insignificant in an all-Ukrainian context. While in Galicia the interplay of local, national and international actors and discourses sometimes stir up memory conflicts with repercussions beyond the region, in Bukovina memory conflicts so far have not showed the same potential, in spite of the region’s not less profound, complex, and disrupted multi-ethnic history and borderland geopolitical dynamics. The past potentialities all being there, the level of tension in Bukovinian memory politics in the 2000s arguably is generally much lower than in Galicia or Crimea (but see Kruhlashov 2009 for the Ukrainian-Romanian tensions in the region in the 1990s).

Local memory culture is more ambivalent than in neighboring Galicia, as the city’s symbolic landscape is characterized by compromise and avoidance of conflicts within a general direction of simultaneously recognizing and emphasizing the city’s Ukrainian identity and a multi-ethnic past with a “European” touch. Street names inherited from the Soviet period represent various ideological layers and several monuments in the city centerdedicated to the victory of the Red Army in the Great Patriotic War coexist with street names inspired by national Ukrainian history and monuments to Ukrainian military units (Bukovyns’kyi Kurin’). Apart from its most controversial expressions (Lenin, Dzerzhinsky etc.) the Soviet narrative has not been erased from the urban semiosphere. Rather some symbolic expressions of the Ukrainian national liberation narrative (for example a monument to the Greek-Catholic Metropolitan Sheptyts’kyi) have been added to the cityscape, also with the exception of its most controversial potential components such asthe leaders of the UPA Bandera and Shukhevych (although there is a small street named after the latter far from the city center). Writers and poets like Shevchenko and Kobylians’ka, who were also included in Soviet Ukrainian narratives, are preferred to the integral nationalist tradition, which also points to continuity and reinterpretation rather than a sharp break. Some post-Soviet street names and monuments exhibit traditions outside of the Soviet Ukrainian vs. Ukrainian-national-rebirth frameworks (for example Sholom Aleykhem, Romanian poet Eminescu, Emperor Franz-Josef II) – artefacts related to the city’s Austrian and Romanian past. Some monuments and memory plaques in the latter category (for exampleto Paul Celan and Roza Ausländer) also express the claim of the contemporary city to be a contributor to the wider European cultural heritage. In this way, a more complex and multifaceted pre-Soviet Czernowitz has come to the surface in the cityscape than that which was remembered in the hegemonic Soviet Ukrainian narrative. The ambivalence and coexistence of different narratives in the symbolic landscape make Chernivtsi also in this regard closer to Kyiv than to L’viv where the symbolic cityscape is comparatively more nationalized.

In some instances, relations between (neo-)Soviet and nationalist Ukrainian historical narratives are characterized neither by continuity or reinterpretation, nor by a distinct break.They rather compete for attention within the same space without much explicit contextualization. In the Museum of Regional Culture (Kraieznavchyi Muzei) in 2011,the room exhibiting the events of the Second World War in Bukovina mostly shows the story of anti-fascist struggle and the liberation by Soviet forces, while in one corner of the room a few photographs and newspapers are shown that celebrate the struggle of the UPA. There is no explanation or attempts to construct a wider narrative that would explain the relations between these competing narratives that are placed next to each other. This narrative diversity in the context of avoidance of conflict and lack of conceptualization strikes me as an important local mode for dealing with potentially divisive memory politics. Rather than a “politics of regret” (Olick 2007), emphasizing questions of justice and accountability, local memory politics seems to be characterized by incomplete, haphazard and quite elusive politics of recognition. Outside of this framework there are the partisan discourses themselves (for example “Ukrainian nationalist”, “neo-Soviet”, the positions of the ethnic minority organizations).

Interesting for this study are the references to the multi-ethnic past and Central Europe in monuments and decorations – whichare still in place – from the celebrations of the city’s 600th anniversary in 2008.The monument specifically dedicated to the anniversary, sponsored by the well-known accordionist and Party of Regions politician Yan Tabachnyk, shows the city’s coat of arms and the inscription To my native city in Ukrainian, Rumanian, Russian, German, Polish, Hungarian, English and Yiddish, with the words “600 years” written in large Ukrainian letters. Another statement of the “Europeanness” of the post-Soviet city, through references to the Habsburg period, is the monument to Austrian Emperor Franz Josef II (the work on which had begun during the celebrations) and the presentation by the grandson of the last Austro-Hungarian Empire of a monument to the proverbial “roses with which the streets of Czernowitz once were swept” [1], with an inscription in Ukrainian and German. Another subdivision of monuments remembers the Habsburg times with the “pop-cultural” touch so popular in many post-Soviet cities in the 2000s, for example the monument to the arrival of the city’s first bike on the Turkish Square. In terms of the urban landscape, the multi-ethnic past and the Austrian period were thus explicitly drawn upon by local authorities in connection with the anniversary.

Context III: “Bukovinian tolerance” and non-transformative multiculturalism

Chernivtsi has long been the object of multiculturalist discourses celebrating the city’s ethnic and religious diversity. Both in the Bukowina-Mythos of German-speaking Central Europe and in contemporary local intellectual discourse about Bukovinian tolerance, the origins and flowering of local diversity and inter-ethnic tolerance between Ukrainians, Romanians, Germans, Jews and Poles, as well as Armenians of various religious denominations are first and foremost historically located to the years 1774-1918, when the city as Czernowitz was part of the Habsburg Empire. In contrast, the nationalizing politics of Romania in the interwar era is often portrayed as running counter to those (idealized) previous tendencies in local ethnic relations. The Bukowina-Mythos sees the radical ethno-demographic changes during and after the Second World War in connection with the Holocaust, population transfers, large-scale out-migration and Soviet deportations as the end of a legendary multi-ethnic Central European city. Local discourses, on the other hand, often try to connect to the Austrian period as a way for contemporary Chernivtsi to claim its own unique status as a European city. The cultural diversity of old Czernowitz could in this respect be viewed both as a rhetorical and commercial asset for various stakeholders in the city, and as a potential challenge to today’s post-Soviet Ukrainian- and Russian-speaking city with a strong ethnic Ukrainian majority.

In local political, medial and intellectual discourse the notion bukovyns’ka tolerantnist’ (Bukovinian tolerance) is often used. The notion is in fact so established that an Internet site on ethnic relations in Bukovina run by Ukrainian ethno-nationalists is called Bukovyna tolerantna ( Bukovinian tolerance underlines the harmonious relations between a large number of ethnic and religious groupsduring Austrian times, and constructs the Austrian period as a golden Central European age for the city. The notion was generously embroidered on by all my interviewees from the media outlets. While some respondents took the notion as self-evident and provided exhaustive narratives on friendly ethnic relations, others (for example journalists at the newspaper Bukovyna) pointed out that this is rather a myth (in the sense of being untruthful) and that real historical relations were much less cordial, and not only during the Romanian era. Yet others described it as a positive myth in the sense of a useful narrative for achieving good ethnic relations in a modern Ukrainian Chernivtsi of today, no matter its inherent truth value.

The notion of Bukovinian tolerance is also frequently drawn upon by various actors for city-branding. The city’s tourist portal, offering city walks in the city’s multiethnic past under the headline ”Chernivtsi – city of tolerance”, informs visitors that ”Many years of coexistence in this multitude of nations, cultures and religions shaped a particular kind of Europeans: a proud community that called itself Chernivtsi people”. It is not clear from the text what happened to this diversity or whether contemporary city dwellers also form part of such a community. Contemporary Ukrainian Chernivtsi thus, like many other cities, seeks to promote itself to tourists and investors by emphasizing tropes like cultural pluralism and tolerance and connecting them to claims of Europeanness. Bukovinian tolerance is here strongly connectedto the ethnic diversity in the past. Talk about diversity here serves the purpose of self-branding, a profiling strategy for local actors to create a clear image for and a narrative about a city with a feeling of place and tradition. In this context the Bukowina-Mythos is alluded to with code words such as diversity and tolerance and its rootedness in a Central European context. In some intellectual discourse (for example Voznyak 2009),Bukovinian tolerance and the Bukowina-Mythos come together as the city’s multi-ethnic, Central European past, contrasted with the cultural degradation following the Soviet take-over, while in more official use such harsh positioning vis-à-vis the Soviet period is often avoided.

This local multiculturalist discourse can be drawn upon by liberals and nationalists, ethnic Ukrainians and representatives of ethnic minorities alike. The notion of Bukovinian tolerance can be used both to establish the contemporary city as a part of “emerging tolerant, multicultural Europe”, and to point to, for example, Romanian rule in the interwar era as being comparatively less tolerant, i.e. the notion of tolerance can be used against would-be less tolerant competitors in nationalists discourses aboutcontrol over territories.

The notion of Bukovinian tolerance tends to be more conservative in terms of values and perspectives than many Western multiculturalist discourses. It mostly focuses on ethnic cultures and traditional religions, while for example gay rights or feminist positions are generally not expressed. It also does not seem to be particularly involved in discussions about migration, or focused on the presence of new immigrant groups in Bukovina, who have no historical roots in the region, although groups that settled in small numbers in the city during Soviet times, such as Belarusians or Koreans, can sometimes be included in local celebrations of ethnic diversity. But although in contemporary Chernivtsi Georgians and Azeris might be more numerous than the dwindling Jewish and German communities, they have so far not been included in the master narrative of Bukovinian multiculturalism.

To a certain extent, Bukovinian tolerance might be described by what I refer to as a non-transformative multiculturalism, since it recognizes ethno-cultural diversity as an intrinsic value which is good and self-obvious, while celebrating cultural diversity is not seen as a tool for the moral transformation of the majority population (or any other group), for example in a post-ethnic or post-national direction. It celebrates and perpetuates ethnic communities rather than deconstructs them. Ukrainian, Romanian, Jewish, German and other cultures can thus flourish individually while living together in harmony. Intermarrying and intermingling are seen as natural processes, as are occasional inter-group conflicts, while the normal state is that the various communities live together and interact while preserving their distinctiveness.

Preceding official Soviet varieties of multiculturalism were clearly transformative, both because of the ideologically expected future dialectic trajectory of nations and ethnic groups as humanity finally reaches the ideal world of communism, and because of the increasing association of Soviet modernity with a “new historic community” of a Russian-speaking Soviet people whose significance was increasingly emphasized while the state continued to support the titular languages and cultures of the Soviet peoples. While one can find morally transformative elements in modern local notions of what being European means (for example fighting corruption, transparency, Yevroremont), these are rather seen as matters of systemic or individual improvement, not primarily as something pertaining to manage ethno-cultural diversity [2].

Chernivtsi’s 600th anniversary in local newspapers

While there are otherlocal Ukrainian-language newspapers and aa few Romanian-language editions in this comparatively small city, the five selected editions are the most important in terms of circulation, local impact and (to some extent) ideological diversity. The position of the chosen newspaperson the local media market differs. If the weeklies and Bukovyna all focus on current events, politics, society and culture, the daily Molodyi Bukovynets’ publishes more “light” material, with a special four-page section devoted to cultural issues every Friday (interview with Oleksandr Boychenko, literary scholar, blogger and editor of the cultural section June 3, 2011). The newspaper Chernivtsi is an official organ of the town council, although itseditor Vasyl Babukh (interview June 7, 2011) emphasizes that editorial decisions are made independently by the newspaper, and that there are plans for cutting the ties to the city council in the future. Being a newspaper of the city council, Chernivtsi is obliged to publish the council’s decisions, and it is less likely to take a critical stand onthe actions of the city authoritiesin its articles. Since Chernivtsi is not dependent on the market in the same way as other newspapers in our corpus it can more easily provide space for extensive articles on specific cultural and intellectual themes, which is more difficultfor the commercially oriented newspapers (interview with Boychenko June 3, 2011). It is therefore not surprising that what Edy calls anniversary stories were most extensively featured in Chernivtsi,with more attention paid to the city’s history. Molodyi Bukovynets’, the local newspaper with the largest circulation, covered the festivities extensively but generally in a much briefer and significantly lighter, less reflective style of writing. It focused on events of a more popular character, the event-oriented commemoration in Edy’s terminology, on individual memory rather than collective, on popular rather than high culture, and on celebrities rather than politicians and civil servants.

In the following, I will divide the newspapers’ coverage of the anniversary into fivelarger themes: critical writing on the authorities’ handling of the celebrations, the anniversary as a trigger for collective identity discourses (with a focus on medialized political and academic discourse), articles on historical themes, representations of current ethnic diversity, and memory as popular culture (interviews with and articles about celebrities and ordinary citizens and their participation during the festivities).

Criticizing the celebrations

Although Chernivtsi portrayed the authorities in a positive light during the celebrations, some newspapers took a critical view ofthe preparations and priorities of the city in connection with the festivities. Here the authorities’ handling of the architectural heritage was an important theme. While Chernivtsi featured an article (Kukurudz 2008a) with a positive view of the authorities’ efforts to repair streets and buildings, Bukovyna criticized the quality of the restoration of the city’s architectural heritage, arguing that “the central part of the city /…/ is losing its authenticity” (Isak 2008a). Ethno-nationalist Chas portrayed the architectural heritage from the Habsburg times as a crucial part of the city’s history and present image, and under the headline “The city that lost” complained that the old buildings were allowed to fall apart and that the authorities spent huge sums on the wrong things. The mayor’s office was criticized for not caring either for the old cultural heritage or for the modern green areas or the quality of the roads, and the author expressed hope that not all the city’s wealth went to a one-day celebration (Virna 2008). The newspaper’s editor and nationalist politician Kobevko (2008) further pointed to an alleged misuse of resources for the celebrations while victims of the floods in 2008 had to beassisted by the Austrian twin city Klagenfurt.

The Molodyi Bukovynets’ published a critical note on the police closing the entrance to the Town Hall for city dwellers, although during “two world wars, three colonial regimes and Ukrainian independence no inhabitant of Chernivtsi has ever attacked a single member of an official delegation – from the Austrian emperor, Romanian king to presidents, prime ministers and other important and less important persons” (Militsiyaperekryla…2008). Seemingly, Habsburg rule is referred to as colonial alongside the Romanian and Soviet periods.

Chernivtsi, Ukraine, Europe: the anniversary as a trigger for identity discourses

Berger and Holtom’s (2010) “crystallisation of collective identity discourses” triggered by anniversaries was in the corpus, realized partly in quotes from politicians and high-ranking civil servants that placed historic and contemporary Chernivtsi into larger identity narratives with local, national and European components. In the identity discourses an emphasis on the city’s multi-ethnic past competed with narratives drawing on Bukovina as a site for strong Ukrainian ethno-cultural traditions, most notably as the pisennyj kray (“land of songs”), since the region is known as the home of several beloved composers and performers.It also hosted the first Chervona Ruta Ukrainian music festival in 1989 which played an important role in the Ukrainian national “rebirth” in the last Soviet years (see Wanner 1998). Simultaneously, while some politicians draw on notions of Bukovinian tolerance, often to establish Ukraine’s European belonging, there are also in the corpus elements of radical nationalist contestation seeking to undermine those interpretations to the benefit of a more nativist (Mudde 2007) Ukrainian narrative.

Local and national politicians who visited or sent their greetings to the city were quoted by all newspapers, although the coverage of their speeches and utterances varied in terms of extent and perspective.  Some of the local newspapers published the speeches and greetings to the city of key politicians and civil servants in connection with the anniversary. Mayor Fedoruk’s speech, for example, was printed in its entirety by the city council’s newspaper Chernivtsi,as well as by Doba and Bukovyna, without further contextualisation or comment. Molodyi Bukovynets’ only featured a few articles quoting the speeches of politicians, and much less extensively than other newspapers. Characteristically, its event-oriented and largest article on the celebrations paid more attention to the invited Italian singer Toto Cotugno and the bad weather than to president Yushchenko, although Fedoruk was awarded somewhat more space. The newspaper taking the most critical stance towards local leaders was ethno-nationalist Chas, a persistent critic of “communist” Fedoruk. There were no prints of the speech of the mayor or other civil servants in the web editions of this newspaper, and even in short news items it approached official policies in a critical or sarcasticmode.

Apart from Fedoruk’s speech, greetings from the political and administrative leaders of the Chernivtsi region, recalling the “unique spirit” of Chernivtsi and the “many generations that lived, worked and were inspired” by the city, appeared in Bukovyna(Dorohi Chernivchany 2008). The greetings focused on how Chernivtsi is transforming into a city on a “European level”, resurrecting the unique architectural, cultural and historical heritage, repairing the streets, financing new houses and parks. Here the message was generally focused on contemporary material issues and no real connection was made to the earlier inhabitants.

The greetings of President Viktor Yushchenko, who visited Chernivtsi during the celebrations, were cited quite extensively in Chernivtsi and Doba. Although the president’s speech in Doba (Shvedak 2008) included a reference to the city as a “unique space of Ukrainian, European and world culture”, the quotes from this national actor on the local memory stagedid not emphasize the multi-ethnic heritage. Rather, a distinctly Ukrainian Chernivtsi, “a unique pearl in Ukraine’s crown”, symbolizing the country’s inherent European belonging and destiny, came forward. Yushchenko was cited in Doba as underlining the significance of the Chervona Ruta music festivals, thus connecting to the ethno-cultural pisennyikray tradition. Notably, the president’s speech differed from Fedoruk’s as the prominent artists, singers, writers and researchers mentioned were all ethnic Ukrainians. Chernivtsi cited the president praising the city’s Ukrainian spirit and Europeanness referring to it as “Ukraine’s open gate to a united Europe” (Mistovdiahlosia…2008). In the rendering of Yushchenko’s speech the region was therefore significant rather for its contributions to Ukrainian ethno-culture than for its multi-ethnic past and present, and Europeanness was claimed for the city and for Ukraine without references to the notion of Bukovinian tolerance.

Then primeminister Yuliya Tymoshenko did not visit Chernivtsi for the celebrations, but her greetings to the city were published in Bukovyna in its entirety. In her message Bukovyna’s Ukrainian song tradition and the Chervona Ruta festival again appeared, but was paralleled by a positive reference to the preservation of the “ethnic polyglossia” of Chernivtsi (Yuvileyni pryvitannya 2008). Tymoshenko referred to development, self-improvement and progress, but did not connect this explicitly to anykind of European idea.

An exclusively Ukrainian focus emerged from the coverage of the visit of another national-level actor, Patriarch Filaret of the ethno-linguistically Ukrainian-dominated Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Kyivan Patriarchate). He blesseda cross where a medieval wooden church destroyed by Soviet power once was located. This is actually one of the few references to pre-Austrian Chernivtsiin the corpus. Doba cites Filaret claiming that since Bukovina found itself under godless (Soviet) power for a shorter time than did central, eastern and southern Ukraine, the people’s spirituality had suffered less. Filaret was also convinced that the celebrations wouldraise the spirits of Ukrainians and “remind us about our history”.He expressed support for the Ukrainian entry into the EU and NATO “in spite of Europe’s losing its spirituality” (Botiuk 2008). The quotes from Filaret portrayed local history and the celebrations as strictly Ukrainian matters.

Several newspapers mentioned ArsenyiYatseniuk, who as the then speaker of the Ukrainian parliament and a native of Chernivtsi was portrayed as both a national and a local actor. His speech at the festivities was extensively quoted in Chernivtsi, focusing on a liberal rendering of Bukovinian tolerance in which cultural diversity is naturalized to the verge of invisibility, paving the way for individual self-improvement and self-realization, as

“people do not take notice of nationalities or languages and confessions, here people respect each other and give the opportunity for everyone to develop himself/…/Everyone has a chance here and it is the task of everyone to use it” (Artemenko 2008a).

Yatseniuk also figured in local media discourse in connection with the founding of a city monument to Austrian Emperor Franz-Josef II, around which ethno-nationalist contestation of official uses of Bukovinian tolerance for producing discourses on European belonging was played out. In an article headlined “The Emperor returns to Chernivtsi” the newspaper Chernivtsi lets the speaker recall the civilizational progress and interethnic harmony of the Habsburg times and reminds readers that an earlier statue of the Emperor in the city was “ruined by the previous regimes”. The guest of honor atthe celebrations Karl von Habsburg is quoted saying that the monument shows the spiritual closeness of the Austrian and Ukrainian peoples (Tsisar povernet’sia…” 2008). The newspaper further emphasized that the Austrian ambassador to Ukraine held a speech in Ukrainian. In a separate interview, Karl von Habsburg argued that Ukraine is “moving in the direction of the European community” – a statement which was put in the headline – and that the task of the Habsburg family is to show that Ukraine is part of the Western world (Artemenko 2008b). Drawing on the Bukowina-Mythos, in Chernivtsi Ukrainian “pro-European” politicians were thus supported by the old dynastic family whenusing the Austrian past in Bukovyna for claiming UkrainiannessforChernivtsi and Europeanness for Ukraine. In Molodyi Bukovynets’, which generally paid little attention to history in its articles on the celebrations, such claims came out much weaker.The monument was mentioned in a very short article with brief quotes from Yatseniuk about “respecting traditions and history” (Yatseniukzaklav…2008).

Harsh criticism of interpretations represented by Yatseniuk and von Habsburg was offered by ethno-nationalist Chas, which republished an article from the Kyiv news site by publicist BohdanChervak called “A monument to an occupant” (Chervak 2008). The author attacked Bukovinian and Galician “memory mania” concerning the Habsburg Empire and its late Emperor. Far from seeing developments in the Austrian period as a useable resource for claiming Europeanness for Ukraine, Chervak questioned the positive contribution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy to the life of the Ukrainian population in Galicia and Bukovina, which arguably suffered from ethnic and social discrimination and a poorly run economy. The decision to honor the Emperor with a monument was compared to the raising of a monument to Russian Empress Catherine II in Odesa. According to the author,it would have been a better choice to honor the Ukrainian resistance of UPA. This nativist reading thus denied a beneficial view on the region’s Austrian past providing material for contemporary claims of Europeanness, as Ukrainians were presented as having been equally subjugated by the Habsburg and Romanov empires.

Molodyi Bukovynets’ (Chernivtsi znovu…2008) and Doba (Mykolaychuk 2008) also featured von Habsburg’s participation in the inauguration of a memory plaque which directly expressed the Bukowina-Mythos, celebrating the famous poetic lines from Austrian times, rendered in the German original and in Ukrainian translation, about “the roses that once swept the streets of Chernivtsi” and about Czernowitz as a city with more bookstores than bakeries. von Habsburg here talks about the unforgettable Chernivtsi legends and the impossibility of forgetting history.

Some controversy seems to have been provoked in the selected media by the inauguration ofa monument to the city’s 600th anniversaryfinanced by Yan Tabachnyk (see above), and sculptured by the famous Russian-Georgian artist Tsereteli. In Molodyi Bukovynets’ Tabachnyk is quoted as being pleased that the inscription To my native city was written in eight languages, since those languages (apparently English included) were spoken during his childhood in the city (Vidkryly…2008). Bukovyna featured an opinion piece juxtaposing this monument to the non-existence of a monument to OUN leader Stepan Bandera. The author did not question Tabachnyk’s monument as such, but rather lamented the absence of a monument to “the great freedom fighter” (Kytsiak 2008). Chas also presented a short notice on Tabachnyk’s monument, noticing the inscription and the monument’s design, purportedly “reminiscent of a sheet of papyrus (or a Torah)”, which probably alluded to the Jewish origins of Tabachnyk. According to Chas, the monument lacked any historic or cultural significance toanyone but Tabachnyk (Azh z Moskvy…2008). Thus the anniversary monument that markedthe city’s multi-ethnic past through linguistic symbols, aroused discontent in two local newspapers, albeit for various reasons. In a similar vein,Chas was upset by the mayor’s granting the status of honorary citizen to a Russian-born veteran of the Red Army, which the newspaper interpreted as a sign of hostility to the heroes of the UPA tradition (Bambulyak 2008).

Reflections on Ukraine’s historical and present belonging during the celebrations appeared in a debate covered by Bukovyna between a panel of local researchers and activists on the European perspectives of Ukraine and Chernivtsi. Detailed and extensive narratives on Ukraine and Europe were presented to the readers under the headline “Chernivtsi on the road to Europe” (Cherniak 2008). The author’s introduction argued in strong terms that Ukrainians have “not overcome our own stereotypes and have not adopted European life standards”. All cited participants were in favor of Ukraine’s Western orientation and warned against the country turning to Russia. Well-known historian and columnist Ihor Burkut argued that Ukraine was geographically but not politically part of Europe, that civil society needed to be strengthened and that Ukrainians had to change their everyday behavior (for example to stop littering the streets). Europe thus came forward as a geographical fact, a political necessity and a challenge for an individual and social, however not necessarily ethno-identificational, transformation (ibid).

Thus, the anniversary triggered collective identity discourses placing Chernivtsi in various narratives of Ukraine and Europe, but the past potentialities of the city’s multi-ethnic history were not always awarded a prominent place. References to Bukovinian tolerance were generally part of efforts framing the Habsburg past as useable for Ukraine’s European integration today. Some national-level politicians focused strongly on the Ukrainianness of the city and region, and some local newspapers featured nativist criticism of aspects of the celebrations that in their view too strongly emphasized the multi-ethnic past or the benefits of Austrian rule at the expense of showcasing Ukrainian Chernivtsi.

Remembering Czernowitz

Apart from explicit identity discourses, local newspapers dealt with specific historical themes in connection with the anniversary, although there were significant differences in the scope and interpretations offered. The whole year of 2008, Chernivtsi published more extensively on the city’s history than the other newspapers.IIn some articles during the celebrations the ethnic groups prevailing in the city before the 1940s were described to the readers. Molodyi Bukovynets’ paid less attention to the city’s history, with articles that for the most part lacked serious attempts at reflection, which also can be said about Bukovyna and Doba. In the Chas corpus, on the other hand, there are a few lengthy anniversary stories from a nationalist perspective. As has been shown in stories from the inauguration of the monument to Emperor Franz-Josef II and Tabachnyk’s anniversary monument, some historical themes emerged in the newspapers through coverage of the activities of visiting or local politicians. Other stories on the city’s past were inspired by the publishing of books or the opening of exhibitions during the celebrations.

Most remarkably, during 2008 Chernivtsi published a series of lengthy and detailed articles depicting the life of streets and squares in the urban geography of various periods in the history of Chernivtsi, with much attention being paid to the shops, manufactures, cafés, restaurants, municipal buildings and private houses, as well as its German, Jewish, Romanian, Ukrainian and Polish inhabitants, civil servants, customers and owners (Nykyrsa 2008). It is notable that the author, historian and archivist Mariya Nykyrsa, was officially rewarded for the articles by the city during the celebrations. Thus, in the city council’s newspaper, the multi-ethnic past of Chernivtsi appeared most vividly during 2008.

Chas also featured a small series of articles written by another local historian, Volodymyr Staryk, who also heads a number of political and cultural organizations with aUkrainian ethno-nationalist profile. The articles criticized the official presentation of local history manifested in the choice of portraits of the city’s historical mayors in the town hall. Staryk argued that while there were portraits of all communist chairmen of the city council, several prominent patriotic Ukrainian mayors and some important Romanian mayors were missing from the pantheon. For Staryk this represented manipulation of history on the part of the present mayor, and the city council was asked by the author to correct these mistakes (Staryk 2008).

Most remarkable of the individual texts inspired by events on the city’s cultural scene was perhaps an extensive article in Chernivtsi (Nove vidlunnia…2008) on two books by literary scholar Petro Rykhlo.The books both celebrated aspects of the multi-ethnic past: one on Jewish identity as reflected in Bukovinian German-language poetry, and one anthology on local interwar German-language poetry. Interestingly, Ukrainian translations of several poems by local Jewish poets (including Celan and Ausländer) were printed in their entirety. The selected poems depicted the city, its inhabitants and urban landscape, including specific loci such as the Jewish cemetery and the “Jewish quarter”, and did so in a way that made the urban landscape appear in a darker mode generally not characteristic of the corpus. Not only did the urban geography thus appear in a distinctly pre-Soviet version, it was also emphasized that some of the translated local German-language poets were included in “world literature”.

Chernivtsi also presented Homo Czernoviciensis, historian Serhiy Osachuk’s photo-chronicle of old Czernowitz and its inhabitants, the title strongly connecting it to the Bukowina-Mythos. The newspaper quoted extensively from the author’s foreword, in which the ethnic heterogeneity of the city is emphasized, and Romanian, German and Soviet lists of deportees are mentioned – a very rare recollection in the corpus of the actual fate of many previous inhabitants. The article’s headline assumes that “(T)here is such a community – “homo czernoviciensis”, but there were no efforts to conceptualize what such a designation might mean or how the present community might relate to former generations of city-dwellers: historical reflection is provided in the quotes, not by the journalist (Artemenko 2008c). Bukovyna calls it “the edition of the millennium” since local history is shown in “private, even intimate photos” from family albums (Havryliuk 2008). The journalist paid special attention to the faces of former inhabitants: “well-known faces and unknown, what unites them is their common body, the painfully recognizable corners of Chernivtsi”. While no further reflections on the book and its theme were presented, the juxtaposition of the unknown faces of former inhabitants with the intimately familiar cityscape creates a quite effective dissonance.

A more down-to-earth approach to the previous inhabitants of the city was expressed in an article in Chernivtsi on an exhibition about Paul Celan, arguing that a permanent museum devoted to the poet might attract Western European devotees, which would enhance the touristic image of the city. Interestingly, the author notes that Celan was unknown to city-dwellers before his work was popularized and translated by local intellectuals in the post-Soviet period (Skyba 2008a) [3].

If the old Jewish and German-speaking community was remembered through its famous poets, or as in Doba, through a story on the video-presentation on the Philharmonic Square of Josef Schmidt, a singer from the interwar yearsoften referred to asthe “Bukovinian Caruso”, the pre-Soviet Ukrainian community was described from a  purely ethnographic point of view by Chernivtsi. The paper reprinted two articles from Ukrainian-language newspapers of the Austrian period, instructing readers about traditional Bukovinian folk medicine and how to look after one’s horse.

Ambivalent interpretations of the Austrian period were featured in Bukovyna’s theme issue of a local anniversary journal. Readers were told that while the Austrians brought education to the city they also sought to hinder a specific Ukrainian education. The “Austro-Hungarian and Romanian occupants” were mentioned in passing, in connection with the break-up of the Habsburg Empire, while famous German, Romanian and Jewish writers from local history wererecalled in a positive light (Lazaruk 2008).

Thus, apart from stories on the inauguration of monuments, only Chernivtsi paid any significant attention to the city’s history during the celebrations, while the other newspapers mostly published isolated items. Some of these articles brought forward the life and contributions of previous inhabitants from various ethnic groups.However, Jewish themes were privileged probably because of a focus on literature and the arts.

Contemporary ethnic diversity

The city’s contemporary ethnic diversity appeared in the corpus mostly in connection with ritualized showcasing of ethnic music, dance, and cuisine during the celebrations, in which the theme of Bukovynian tolerance was often actualized. Such representations were featured quite frequently in Chernivtsi, but more sporadically in the other newspapers. In Chas, apart from the already mentioned articles by Staryk and the innuendos in some of the reporting from the celebrations, ethnic groups other than Ukrainians were rarely represented, except for a feel-good interview with a Jewish former wrestling champion who had returned from New York to his native city for the festivities.

During the days of celebration, Chernivtsi published articles on the present minority communities. It can perhaps be said that the articlesportrayed Polish culture through food, Romanian culture through music and Jewish culture through history. Ukrainians were portrayed as equal participants in the ethno-cultural shows, but also at times as hosts, inviting other ethnic collectives to their city. Bukovinian tolerance is said to have encouraged Ukrainian musicians and dancers to invite Romanian and Jewish colleagues for the celebrations, during which the dance groupswalked through a rainy Chernivtsi in “the costumes of their nationalities” (Artemenko 2008d). In Doba Polish emigrants from Bukovina initiated the Bukovinian meetings, a folkloric festival where local and exiled Bukovinian collectives celebrated local ethnic traditions (Rypta 2008b). Bukovinian tolerance was again instantialized in an article in Chernivtsi called “When borders disappear”, in connection with a Romanian folkloric event. Here, Romanians are said to be an “inseparable branch of the ethno-cultural tree called Bukovina” (Skyba 2008b). In Bukovyna an exhibition of Ukrainian and Romanian artists that portrayedthe Bukovinian landscape was presented as a gift from Romania to the anniversary of the city. Openness is also said to have characterized the Polish community’s culinary celebration together with Ukrainians and Jews. The permeability of boundaries between distinct and essentialized ethnic groups was again stressed in an article on the Jewish community, spectacularly headlined “The hermetical Jewish culture has opened up a bit”, informing about the opening of the Museum of Jewish History and Culture in the Jewish national house (Kukurudz 2008b).

Bukovyna described how the Jewish charity organization HesedShushana helped Bukovinian victims of the 2008 floods. It was not stated explicitly that the organization is Jewish, a fact thatperhaps was deemed self-evident. The helpers were presented in vague terms as “emigrants from our land who in different times and for different reasons left permanently to other countries” (Isak 2008b). The helpers were portrayed as fellow Bukovinians helping their former compatriots. As in the case of the Polish exiles organizing the Bukovinian meetings,no effort is made to contextualize or explain the continuous waves of ethnic out-migration from Bukovina.

It is noteworthy that the traditional ethnic groups of the city were mentioned in reports from the festivities, while Soviet and post-Soviet era newcomers did not enter the news pages. Ethnicity (or for that matter culture) is presented here as something set apart from daily life, organized and performed in specific circumstances by professionals who represent their wider ethnic groups. Notions of Bukovinian tolerancecame forward clearly, expressing intimate collaboration, mutual assistance and openness among the distinct ethnic groups who constitute the ethnic diversity of the region (here Ukrainians, Romanians, Jews and Poles). The common Bukovinian identity of the distinct groups, represented in this specific domain of stylized ethnic cultures, is implicitly played out against the background of everyday life of an overwhelmingly Ukrainian- and Russian-speaking post-Soviet city that emerged after the calamities of the Second World War.

Memory in popular culture

The more commercial newspapers devoted much attention to interviews and stories that featured foreign and Ukrainian artists during the celebrations. Many articles dwelled on  well-known pop singers of the region, such as Ani Lorak and Katia Buzhyns’ka, and Chernivtsi included short quotes from celebrities who sharedtheir personal memories of the city. To some extent the same competing identity narratives emerged here as in the quotes from official discourse: if politician Yan Tabachnyk called the city a crossroads of Europe and recalled its many nationalities, a television presenter rather saw it as the song capital of Ukraine (Feshchuk 2008b). In Molodyi Bukovynets’, personal memories and impressions of the city were shared by a diverse group, including an American congressman, a Ukrainian diaspora director of the Petliura library in Paris, a representative of the Belarusian philatelist association, pop stars Lorak and Buzhyns’ka, a historian and journalist, and an explorer of the Antarctic, as well as the son of the celebrated Bukovinian folk-schlager singer Yaremchuk (Hostisviata 2008). Chernivtsi featured a lengthy article on the concert of Toto Cotugno, whose repertoire reportedly triggered personal memories of middle-aged citizens (Feshchuk 2008a). The same concert was covered from the audience’s perspective by Doba, headlined with a quote in Russian, straight from the crowd (Danylyuk 2008: to create the desired effect it was printed using Ukrainian orthography).

During the celebrations, most newspapers also covered other, lighter commemorationevents . For example, Chernivtsi, like several of the other newspapers, reported on a philatelist exhibition offering stamps to the visitors with their own personal portraits besides the name of the city in an unexpected flirtation with postmodern identity construction (Babukh 2008). Doba reported that no song was considered worthy as the hymn of Chernivtsi, and that artists were dressing haute-couture models in clothes with the Chernivtsi coat-of-arms,inspired by the city’s “narrow streets, old-style buildings, small gardens and the combination of different architectural styles” (Rypta 2008a). Molodyi Bukovynets’ showed interest in the more pop-cultural monuments erected in the city for the celebrations, for example the bronze carriage placed on Kobylians’ka Street in front of the wedding registration house, intended, among other things, as a place where newly-weds could have their picture taken (Bilyapalatsu…2008). Similarly an article was published about blacksmiths presenting a monument at the Turkish Square. A link was established to late Soviet popular culture in the coverage of the local KVN (Klub veselykh i nakhodchivykh) comedy competition, with teams joking about the unfinished restoration of the city for the celebrations.

Chas published two ironic depictions, contesting both the arrangement itself and the city leadership hosting the anniversary (Bambulyak 2008; Kobevko 2008). Editor Kobevko (2008) pointed to the mayor’s communist pastin his overview, as well as to his connections to former communist journalists and to a businessman and leader of one of the Jewish organizations, who presented a 300 kilogram cake in the shape of the city’s architectural outlook “with churches and synagogues” for the anniversary. After the city in this form had been finished off by ahungry crowd, the consumers switched their attention to the fireworks and to Toto Cutogno. Here the ethnic innuendos were combined with a vivid portrayal of the ritual lustful annihilation of the city by its inhabitants, orchestrated by the would-be communist mayor and his wealthy Jewish friend.

Thus, the lighter items of the corpus presented the celebrations from many different angles, sometimes touching the same identificational schemes that were identified in more explicit and extensive identity discourses during the festivities. The Soviet heritage in popular culture as well as the frequent use of Russian by city-dwellers at times came forward, together with references to the multi-ethnic past and Europeanness,and the ethno-cultural Ukrainianness of the city and the region.


Is it fair to say that Chernivtsi’s 600th anniversary triggered memory discourses in the five local newspapers on the city’s multi-ethnic past and on the city-dwellers that had inhabitatedthe city before the ethno-demographic changes in connection with the Second World War? On the one hand, the corpus certainly included quite a few historical representations of especially the Austrian period (but fewer on the Romanian interwar period) and of the ethnic groups that previously co-inhabited the city. This was evident, both in quotes from official speeches and in a few lengthier essays, as well as in the actual reporting from the festivities. On the other hand, with the exception of some speeches printed in their entirety and a few more extensive anniversary stories, there were little extensive reflection and interpretation of what the past might mean for the present-day inhabitants of the city. Collective identity discourse, placing the city within Ukrainian and European identity discourses, was to some extent realized in short quotes from politicians and officials.

When the festivities showcased the present city’s ethnic diversity, the newspaper discourse pointed to the open and tolerant co-operation of distinct Ukrainian, Romanian, Polish and Jewish communities native to Bukovina, but the near-exclusive exile status of the two latter groups was alluded to rather than being explained to the readers. Concepts such as Bukovinian tolerance were briefly touched upon, rather than being problematized or historically contextualized. The publishing of articles and news items on the multi-ethnic past seems to have carried a bias towards literature and the arts, with the coming of new books and exhibitions triggering event commemoration. This probably had the effect of privileging the memory of the German-speaking Jewish culture, since the representations high-lighted writers and poets from this milieu. Much less historic information was transmitted on the Polish, Romanian, German, or, for that matter, pre-Soviet Ukrainian communities. Romanians and the small Polish community were showcased more frequently in materials on the contemporary ethnic make-up of Bukovina. Notably, the contemporary Russian community, the second largest in the city, was not mentioned in the portrayal of the celebrations, although, at times, the significant everyday presence of the Russian language was pointed out.

It is noteworthy that the corpus does not include one single article or news item that discuss what actually happened to the old multi-ethnic past and the earlier inhabitants of the city. Such a discussion was not triggered bythe newspapers, although there were hints in Chernivtsi via quotes from Osachuk’s book Homo Czernoviciensis and in published poems from Rykhlo’s anthologies. Mayor Fedoruk’s widely printed speech included German- and Yiddish-speaking Jewish, Romanian and Ukrainian writers and artists of the city’s creative pantheon. He expressed the contemporary city’s indebtedness to the “architects of world fame”, who constructed buildings where the soul of the city lives and the proverbial multilingualism can still be heard. However, it was not explained why the pre-WWII generations were “predecessors” and not “ancestors” to contemporary city-dwellers. No issues were raised regarding the politics of regret, characteristic of contemporary Western Europe memory politics that is moving eastwards in the wake of EU enlargement. There was no effort to raise consciousness or draw moral lessons from the calamitous events of the 20th century, perhaps with the exception of Patriarch Filaret’s critical statements on Soviet power.

Partly, this lack of reflection might be endemic to commercial news media memory discourses. Especially in the private newspapers event-oriented commemoration with less room for reflection and less attention to historical themes was the most frequent way to cover the anniversary. It is no coincidence that the multi-ethnic past was awarded most space in the articles of the city council’s own paper Chernivtsi. The newspaper is not dependent on market success and could allow the publication of lengthier pieces, such as Nykyrsa’s articles. It also featured more texts that touchedupon the pre-WWII ethno-cultural diversity, in various contexts, than the other newspapers. The city council’s newspaper perhaps also reflected the local administration’s use of the Bukovinian tolerance discourse to highlight historically oriented tropes of cultural diversity and tolerance and the city’s unique Central European past, materialized, for example, in the monuments presented in connection with the anniversary. The celebration of the achievements of earlier inhabitants was also in Chernivtsi paralleled with a seeming lack of interest in their actual fate. In such discourse the multi-ethnic past is not being ignored – it is recognized and, when mentioned, portrayed in a rather positive light. But the ruptures that separated Czernowitz from contemporary Chernivtsi remain invisible. Recognition of diversity and its simultaneous lack of contextualization seem to enable local mnemonic actors in Chernivtsi to regard the multi-ethnic past of the old Czernowitz as an asset rather than a challenge.

In the printed speeches and in short quotes from politicians, officials and experts, the Habsburg past of Chernivtsi most often came forward as useable for Ukraine’s European integration. This view was expressed both by national and local actors and was symbolically reinforced by the visit of Karl von Habsburg. This view of the Habsburg past was challenged by an oppositionist ethno-nationalist strand, most clearly expressed in Chas, that was ambivalent to the pro-European discourse and forwarded strongly nativist narratives. President Yushchenko’s speech referred to the city as Ukraine’s gate to Europe without making any references to the city’s multi-ethnic past, while then prime minister Tymoshenko’s greetings included a short reference to the multi-ethnic past without any explicit mentioning of Europe.

While the multi-ethnic past and the historical bonds with the Habsburg Empire is one possible frame for collective identity discourses on the Bukovina region, a recurring parallel frame in the media coverage of the anniversary, frequently referred to in quotes from both politicians and artists, was the ethno-national and rural pisennyikray (land of song) narrative, portraying Bukovina as a cradle of Ukrainian folk music and singing. Even though the frames are not mutually exclusive, the pisennyikray frame places Bukovina firmly within a native Ukrainian context with no necessary relations to the Drangnach Westen often implied in uses of the first frame.

1. The inscription on the plaque quotes the poetic words of contemporary Austrian writer Georg Heinzen about Old Czernowitz where there, in the author’s mind, were more bookshops than bakeries and where the streets were swept with dried rose bouquets. This is an example of how the Bukowina-Mythos has shaped the present urban mythology of post-Soviet Chernivtsi.
2. See, for example,  comments by historian and columnist IhorBurkut in Cherniak 2008, referred to further on in the text.
3. During an interview, historian and columnist for Chas Ihor Burkut recalled a tram trip through the city,during which two young boys, whennoticing Celan’s monument, loudly asked whether this in fact was a monument to OUN leader Stepan Bandera (author’s interview with Burkut, June 3, 2011).


Artemenko, Larysa (2008a): ”Dumayu, chym nam treba nehayno zaynyatysia, to tse pidhotovkoyu do 700-richchia”. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Artemenko, Larysa (2008b): Karl fon Habsburg: ”Vy rukhayetesia u bik evropeys’koyi spil’noty – tse odnoznachno”. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Artemenko, Larysa (2008c): Ye taka spil’nota– ”homo czernoviciensis”. Unikal’ne vydannya malo vsi shansy buty bahatotomnym.Chernivtsi, October 3, 2010.

Artemenko, Larysa (2008d): Doshch ne zupynyly navit’ tsymbaly “Pysanky”. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Azh z Moskvy vezly pam’iatnyi znak iz bronzy (2008). Chas, October 9, 2008.

Babukh, Vasyl’ (2008): Yak ya stav vlasnykom imennoyi marky. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2010.

Bambulyak, Illia (2008): 600 rokiv slavy ta odyn den’ han’by. Chasб October 9, 2008.

Berger, Stefan/Holtom, Paul (2010):  Locating Kaliningrad and Königsberg in Russian and German Collective identity Discourse and Political Symbolism in the 750th Anniversary Celebrations in 2005. Journal of Baltic Studies Vol. 39 No. 1 pp. 15-37

Bilya palatsu urochystykh podiy vstanovyly kovanu karetu (2008). Molodyi Bukovynets’, October 2, 2008.

Botiuk, Volodymyr (2008): Patriarkh Filaret osviatyv u Chernivtsiakh pam’iatnyi chrest. Doba, October 9, 2008

Chernivtsi znovu pidmitayut’ troyandamy (2008). Molodyj Bukovynets’, October 4, 2008.

Chernyak, Liudmyla (2008): Chernivtsi na shliakhu do Evropy. Ukraina shche ne mozje staty chlenom evropeys’koho soyuzu, bo my ne sformuvaly hromadians’ke suspilstvo, ne podolaly vlasni stereotypy i ne perejnialy evropeyski standarty zhyttia. Bukovynaб October 3, 2008.

Chervak, Bohdan (2008): Pam’iatnyk okupantovi. Chas.

Danylyuk, Anna (2008): “Vanya, dlya tiebya poyot Toto. Pid chas kontsertu Toto Kotun’yo led’ ne zadavyly dvokh zhynok. Dobaб October 9, 2008.

Dorohi Chernivchany (2008). Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Edy, Jill (1999): Journalistic Uses of Collective Memory. Journal of Communication Vol. 49 Issue 2 pp. 71-85

Edy, Jill (2006): Troubled pasts: News and the Collective Memory of Social Unrest. Temple University Press

Feshchuk, Natalka (2008a): Trishky Italiyi v tsentri Chernivtsiv. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2010.

Feshchuk, Natalka (2008b): Z ridnym mistom u sertsi. Chernivtsi, October 3, 2008.

Frunchak, Svetlana (2010): Commemorating the Future in Post-War Chernivtsi. East European Politics and Societies. Vol. 24 No. 3 pp. 435-463

Havryliuk, Yana (2008): “Homo Czernoviziensis” – to lyudy z “oazy dyvyny”. Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Hosti sviata (2008). Molodyi Bukovynets’, October 7-10, 2008.

Huyssen, Andreas (2003): Present Pasts: Urban Palimpsests and the Politics of Memory.Stanford University Press.

Isak, Anatoliy (2008a): Cherez avral misto ne povynno vtratyty unikal’nist’. Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Isak, Anatoliy (2008b): Beztsinnyi toy dar, shcho nadkhodyt’ vchasno. Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Kruhlashov, Anatoliy (2009): Chernivtsi – spadshchyna versus spadkoyemtsi in: Ї, No. 56, 2009, pp. 36-51

Kobevko, Petro (2008): Shche ne v mera Ukraina. Chas, October 9, 2008.

Kukurudz, Valentyna (2008a): Kadentsiyi mynayut’ – spravy zalyshayut’sia. Chernivtsi, October 3. 2008.

Kukurudz, Valentyna (2008b): Hermetychna yevreys’ka kul’tura pryvidkryvalasia. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Kulyk, Volodymyr (2011): The media, history and identity: competing narratives of the past in the Ukrainian popular press. National Identities, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 287-303.

Kytsiak, Nestor (2008): Znak mistu chy pam’iatnyk Banderi? Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Landsberg, Alison (2004): Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture.  Columbia University Press.

Lazaruk, Myroslav (2008): Yuviley ochyma ”Bukovyns’koho zhurnalu”. Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Le, Elisabeth (2006): Collective Memory and Representations of National Identities in Editorials. Obstacles to a Renegotiation of Intercultural Relations. Journalism Studies. Vol.7, No. 5, pp. 708-728.

Militsiya perekryla pidkhody do ratushi vid chernivchan (2008). Molodyi Bukovynets’, October 4, 2008.

Misto vdiahlosia v sviatkovyi shati – u nyoho siohodni dzvinkyi yuviley (2008). Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Mudde, Cas (2007): Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe. Cambridge University Press

Mykolaychuk, Anna (2008): Za troyandamy, yakymy kolys’ pidmitaly Chernivtsi, teper mozhna potrymatysia rukamy. Doba, October 9, 2008.

Nove vidlunnia “zahublenoyi arfy” (2008). Chernivtsi, October 3, 2008.

Nykyrsa, Mariya (2008): VulytsiaRatushna. Chernivtsi, October 3, 2010.

Olick, Jeffrey (2007): The Politics of Regret. On Collective Memory and Historical Responsibility. Routledge

Rypta, Alla (2008a): Do dnia mista bukovyns’ki modelieri prykrashaly odiah herbom Chernivtsiv. Doba, October 9, 2008.

Rypta, Alla (2008b): Jak ”Zrudielko” u Chernivtsi z Pol’shchy Banyliv vozyv. Doba, October 9, 2008.

Röger, Maren (2008): Medien als Diskursive Akteure: DiePolnischenNachrichtenmagazine “Wprost” und “Polityka” über den ”Vertreibungskomplex” 1989-2003 in Haslinger, Peter/Franzen, K. Erik/Schülze Wessel, Martin (2008): Diskurse überZwangsmigrationen in Zentraleuropa. Geschichtspolitik, Fachdebatten, literarischesund lokalen Erinnernseit 1989. R. OldenbourgVerlag München

Shvedak, Volodymyr (2008): Viktor Yushchenko nazvav Chernivtsi ”vynyatkovym fenomenom”, a Arsenyi Yatsenyuk zaklav u fenomeni pam’yatnik imperatoru Avstro-Uhorshchyny. Doba, October 9, 2008.

Skyba, Yuriy (2008a): Dovira – slid zhyttia. Tozh vchysia zhyty. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Skyba, Yuriy (2008b): Koly znykayut’ kordony. Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Staryk, Volodymyr (2008): To khto naspravdi buv hospodarem v mis’kyi ratushi? Chas, October 9, 2008.

Tsisar povernet’sia do Chernivtsiv (2008): Chernivtsi, October 10, 2008.

Uslavlyuymo ridni Chernivtsi! Khai mify staie real’nist’iu (2008). Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Vidkryly pam’iatnyi znak na chest’ 600-richchia Chernivtsiv (2008). Molodyi Bukovynets’, October 4, 2008.

Virna, Nadiya (2008): Misto, jake prohralo. Chas, October 2, 2008.

Voznyak, Taras (2009): Chernivtsi: Dukh dykhaye tam de khoche. Ї, No.56, 2009, pp. 2-3.

Wanner, Catherine (1998): Burden of Dreams. History and identity in Post-Soviet Ukraine. Pennsylvania State University Press.

Yatseniuk zaklav kamin’ pid pam’iatnyk Frantsu Iozifu (2008). Molodyi Bukovynets’, October 4, 2008.

Yuvileyni pryvitannya (2008). Bukovyna, October 3, 2008.

Cited interviews

Vasyl’ Babukh, editor of Chernivtsi, June 7, 2011

Oleksandr Boychenko, editor of the cultural section of Molodyi Bukovynets’, literary scholar, blogger, June 3, 2011

Ihor Burkut, historian, columnist for Chas, June 3, 2011

Alexander Schlamp, Head of the Society for Austrian-German Culture in Czernowitz Region, May 29, 2011

Vasyl’ Stefanets’, editor of Doba, June 4, 2011

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