In memory of Olena Teliga


In memory of Olena Teliga

Photo-documentary exhibition

"The greatness and sacrifice of Olena Teliga"

  The exhibition is held

from February 21 till February 26, 2018


  National Historical and Memorial Reserve "Babyn Yar"


Administration premises of the National Historical and Memorial Reserve "Babyn Yar"

(Melnikov str., 48-B)



The name of the prominent figure of the Ukrainian national liberation movement, a brilliant poet, a passionate publicist, for which the words "life" and "struggle" were synonymous is returned to the public consciousness.

On the morning of February 9, 1942, Olena Teliga went to the Union of Ukrainian Writers, where the Gestapo was already waiting for her. The poetess and other nationalists were shot in Babyn Yar on the end of February.

They say that in the cell where Olena Teliga was imprisoned before she was shot, they found the inscription on the wall made by her hand: "Here  OlenaTeliga was locked up and  this cell she left  marching for death." Above this inscription, the Trident - Ukrainian nationalistic symbol was painted. One of prison guard said he had never seen a man died so heroically like this beautiful woman.

Olena Teliga's art  belongs to the so-called "Prague School" of Ukrainian poets, published in the journal "Literary and Scient "Visnyk (news)" (1922-1931), "Visnyk" (1931-1939), edited by Dmitry Dontsov, who was in Lviv and had enormous influence on the formation of the literary process of that time. The poems "Пломінний день" (Flaming day), "Поворот" (Turning point), "Засудженим" (To convicted) can form one of the small cycles, where there is her pronounced civic position.

The first of them, although marked by the trace of tragedy, is still optimistic. Manifesting her turbulent and violent nature: "I want to live, I will not break my life, Go up the hill, Or fly into the abyss," Olena Teliga brings the ideals of Ukraine to the height of self-sacrifice.

She was born in a small town near Moscow in an intelligent, semi-Belorussian-semi-Ukrainian family. Her mother was a daughter of an Orthodox priest, father - Ivan Opanasovich Shovgenov - was an engineer. When the girl was five years old, Shovgenov moved to St. Petersburg.


Since 1918 the family lives in Kyiv. In Kiev, Olena studied at the Duchynsky Women's Gymnasium; studying the Ukrainian language along with Russian, German, and French, studying also such disciplines as the Law of God, Russian grammar, history, arithmetic, geography, painting and drawing. In those years she was not a brilliant student. When the privet schools were closed, all students had to continue their studies in labour ordinary schools, so did Olena.


Father, a UPR official, along with his eldest son in 1920, was in exile in Czechoslovakia. In the spring of 1922, Olena's mother, together with her daughter and son, Sergey, managed to escape from Soviet Ukraine first to Poland, and in July 1922 she settled in Poděbrady in Czechoslovakia, where her husband was at the time the rector of the Ukrainian Academy of Economics. In the Czech Republic, Olena has graduated the Ukrainian Pedagogical Institute in Prague. Here she got acquainted with her loyal friend, Michael Teliga, married him and later together with him  she went to the prison and to death. It was in the Czech Republic that she became a poet, a writer, a literary critic.

In December 1939, in Krakow Olena Teliha joined the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN).

On summer, 1941, Olena Teliga among the small group of her allies left for Ukraine, for Kyiv.

Not sparing her time and health, O. Teliga with hundreds of her  comrades-in-arms  takes part in the organization of political, social and cultural life in  Kiev occupated by Nazi without Bolsheviks. O. Teliga is elected chairman of the Ukrainian Writers' Union, she participates in the founding of literary and artistic almanac "Lithavry", the newspaper "Ukrainian Word".

Such dedicated activity of nationalists yields results. For the first time in the long years of the Bolshevik enslavement in Kyiv, people openly began to talk about statehood, national symbols appeared, and the services of worship were started to held in Ukrainian churches.


The newspaper "Ukrainian Word" addressed a variety of issues. Constantly emphasized the differences of Ukrainian culture and spirituality from Russian. There were occasions when someone brought to the "Ukrainian word" or "Lithavry" articles, where the authors praised the Führer, his "new order". Teliga did not publish such reports, although this often became a reason for information the Gestapo.

A political life in Kiev also was very active. In particular, the Ukrainian National Council was created on the initiative of the actual OUN chairman in Ukraine O. Olzhich. Ukrainian National Council established a connection with all regions of Ukraine, with its assistance the work of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, Kyiv University and Kyiv Polytechnic Institute were restored, a network of primary and secondary schools, a cooperative movement was created, and regular delivery of food and firewood was carried out to the capital.

Of course, the activity of the OUN in Kiev for a long time could not be left out of the attention of the German authorities. The capital was living in a constant waiting of arrests. The first wave of repression swept the city in December 1941. There were arrested a number of nationalists. Among them were Ivan Rogachev, Yaroslav Orshan-Chemirinsky, Mykola Oliynyk, and other employees of the "Ukrainian Word". The almanac did not come out any more. Subsequently, the "Litavry" was closed.

Deadly danger hangs over Olena Teliga. She knew about it, but flatly refused to leave the city, and all their efforts concentrated on the work of the Writers' Union.

On the morning of February 9, 1942, Teliga went to the Writers' Union, where Gestapo waited for her in ambush.

According to historians, on February 22, 1942, a Ukrainian writer-patriot was shot at Babyn Yar with her husband and associates.

 On February 21, 1992, on the 50th anniversary of the murder of Olena Teliga and her associates, in Babyn Yar, a wooden cross was erected in memory of the executed members of the OUN.

On February 25, 2017, on the corner of Melnikova St. and Olena Teliga St. a monument to O. Teliga and her associates was unveiled.