Hanna vid konstverket utanför Humanisten i Göteborg
Hanna Filipova has fled the war with her mother. She says you can't imagine war unless you experience it yourself. "The ground is shaking, you can't sleep because you hear the shelling all the time. Outside my window I saw the missiles in the sky".
Photo: Cecilia Sjöberg

Visiting researcher from Ukraine keeps a war diary


Her thoughts are with those who remain: her mother’s parents in Kyiv, her friend in Kharkiv and colleagues from the university and museums who have now joined the Ukrainian army. Hanna Filipova, a visiting researcher from Ukraine, has kept a diary since 24 February. She hopes that the diary can be used in the future for research.

"We had many beautiful flowers in Kyiv. The photo is from the World Heritage area, where I worked in a museum", says Hanna Filipova.
Photo: Hanna Filipova

“I write about Russia’s invasion and the impact it has on my life. I try to focus on what I do best, being a historian,” says Hanna Filipova, who has worked as a visiting researcher at the University of Gothenburg since mid-April.

She stayed in Kyiv for a month while the bombs were falling. Now she

suffers nightmares, is afraid of loud noises and feels guilty because she is safe.

“Many of we Ukrainians who are safe at the moment suffer from a sense of guilt. As if we are not doing enough. As if we do not have the right to a normal life while Russian barbarians torture and rape peaceful people in Bucha or wipe Mariupol off the face of the earth. I have had severe anxiety about this. However, I am beginning to realize that I should do what I am best at and my work as a historian helps me to continue during this difficult period.”

She started to keep her diary on 24 February, when the war began. She wrote about Russia’s invasion and the impact it has on her life.

“Of course, it is also about the experience of moving to Sweden. I remain a historian to the end, so I hope that this diary will one day serve as a source for someone’s research.”

Dashed plans

Hanna Filipova had made many plans before the war. She wanted to publish a monograph on Prince Alexander Menshikov’s land holdings and political activities in the Hetman State, (a Cossack government that included large parts of modern Ukraine), attend conferences in Košice and Oxford, and organsze a conference in Kyiv on the role of Ukraine during the Great Northern War.

“Overall, I hoped that 2022 would not be as ‘unfruitful’ as the two previous years, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But life has proven that things can always get worse.”

Hanna Filipova holds a PhD from the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. She has also studied at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv. She worked at the National Preserve “Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra” (museum), at UNESCO World Heritage Site. Her research has focused on the Great Northern War, refugees and prisoners of war.

Many of her colleagues from Ukrainian universities and museums have taken up arms and are now fighting the Russians. Some continue to work if they have the opportunity to do so. Others, like Hanna Filiopova, continue to work in educational institutions around Europe.

Prisoners of war and refugees project

Her work at the University of Gothenburg consists of a project studying Ukrainian prisoners of war and refugees in Sweden during the Great Northern War. She will explore some of their biographies and compare data from Ukrainian and Swedish archives.

“I also believe, considering what I and my fellow Ukrainians are experiencing, that this can prove to be a very relevant and interesting study. For example, I have even travelled from Kyiv to Sweden on a route similar to that used by people from Ukraine three hundred years ago. In addition, I will participate in conferences in Sweden and other countries and generally participate in university life.”

It was difficult to make the decision to leave Kyiv. Her grandparents did not want to go with her and her pets remain with them. She had to leave her books and her collection of photographs and art collection behind. But her mother accompanied her to Gothenburg.

“Every day, I read the news and think of my family and friends. One of my close friends lives in Kharkiv. I get so worried if she doesn’t respond to my messages every day.”

While Hanna Filipova was waiting for a decision on her immigration application, she decided to get to know Sweden better. In addition to exploring Gothenburg, she traveled to Stockholm, Varberg, Ytterby and Uddevalla and visited museums and places that were relevant to her research.

“I really want to emphasise that Sweden gives me ideal conditions for my work and my life. I won’t have these in Ukraine for a long time because of the war,” says Hanna Filipova

Navigate to video: See the video from The National Preserve «Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra» where Hanna worked before the war
Video (3:00)
See the video from The National Preserve «Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra» where Hanna worked before the war
Before the war, Hanna Filipova, worked at the National Preserve “Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra” (museum), at UNESCO World Heritage Site. The video shows the area and is produced by the museum.

Av: Cecilia Sjöberg

About the research project

Hanna Filipova is employed in the project entitled “Humanitarian Great Power? The Local Reception of Refugees in Sweden, 1700–1730”. The project is administered by Sari Nauman of the Department of Historical Studies. The project studies how Baltic and Finnish refugees who came to Sweden during the Great Northern War were received by various local communities, with a particular focus on how the refugees themselves participated in negotiations for protection.

Hanna Filipova will work as a project assistant and will examine literature and sources in Russian. She also has the opportunity to develop her own project for new applications, thanks to guest researcher funding from the department.

About Kyiv
The capital of Ukraina. Also called Kiev.