Slovo Building
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Slovo Building

The building in 2008

Slovo Building (Ukrainian: ? «») is a residential multi-storey building located in the Shevchenkivskyi District of Kharkiv. The shape of the building reflects the letter C in the Ukrainian word ("slovo") which means "word". Thus, the form of the building symbolized that it was constructed specially for prominent Ukrainian writers, all of whom lived there in a total of 66 apartments. Built at the end of 1920s, it housed many Ukrainian writers and poets who later were murdered by the Soviet regime in Sandarmokh and better known as the Executed Renaissance.


During the mid 1920s, Ukrainian writer Ostap Vyshnya, asked the Soviet government for a housing complex that could accommodate the most important Ukrainian intellectuals in a decent manner. The idea was almost immediately approved by the Bolsheviks, as they saw it as a means to keep tabs on the Ukraine intellectual class who would all be contained within the same building.[1] The building was completed in a lavish fashion, each apartment having 4 or 5 rooms, something that was considered quite a luxury in post war USSR.[2] The house had five floors, fitted with 68 apartments, made with the best materials available at the time. Each apartment was equipped with a bathroom, central heating and telephones. The artists were given their own studios.[3]

Through the use of tapping telephone lines and spying on the occupants, many deaths and disappearances of the occupants were reported. Actress Galina Orlivna was the first to be arrested on 20 January 1931. She would be sentenced to 5 years imprisonment and would never be allowed to return to Ukraine. As the years progressed, more and more arrests were made, 1933 having the largest number of arrests. Ukrainian writer Mykhailo Yalovyi was arrested for "espionage" this year, the next day many Ukrainian writers came together to discuss how they could resolve the situation. At the time of the conversation a writer by the name of Mykola Khvylovy returned to the room and shot himself, highlighting the despair the occupants of Slovo house felt.[1] Not only were the occupants living under constant threat of arrest or death, they were also living through Holodomor, a Stalin made famine which killed four million Ukrainians, mostly peasants.[4]

All in all, 40 out of 66 apartments in Slovo house were effected. The number executed was 33, with 5 sentenced to long term imprisonment, one committing suicide and another killed under unclear circumstances.[5] Many were sentenced as spies, terrorists and conspirators against the regime. In 1934, the capital city of Ukraine were moved from Kharkiv to Kyiv, partly due to Holodomor and repression. Subsequently, the surviving writers were moved to RoLit house based in the new capital. During World war 2 when the Germans started to bomb Kyiv in 1941, the people said with bitter irony that "One bomb on Rollit is enough, and Ukrainian literature will cease to exist".[2]


In March 2017 the ProSlovo project was launched across Ukraine. The research project is dedicaticated to the Slovo House and its past residents. All results, memoirs and images being published on a web-page in interactive form. In English or Ukrainian the audience can observe the timeline of the building, 3D visualization of each apartment, photographs of each resident, maps and memoirs. During 2017, a documentary film were also released, directed by Taras Tomenko it was a walkthrough each apartment accompanied by memoirs and eyewitness accounts.

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