Recognising Vasilis Vasilas' Work

Hard Work is Paying Off for Sydney Historian 

April 2, 2016

Well-known Sydney historian, Vasilis Vasilas, yesterday participated on a discussion panel at the Newcastle Writers Festival with the topic, ‘Castaways of Chaos: Ukrainian Migration to Australia and its Impact on the Hunter Region.

On the discussion panel were also Dr Wolodymyr Mortyka, Dr Sonia Mycak and Alex Burns.

Above; From right are Vasilis Vasilas, Dr Sonia Mycak, Dr Wolodymyr Mortyka and Alex Burns. 

In his talk, Vasilas used the personal narratives and photographic material from his various books, Across Lands and Freedom Vols 1 and 2, and In Search of Hope and Home, to capture the circumstances and experiences that forced Ukrainians, and Estonians, to become displaced during the Second World War. He also drew upon personal narratives and photographs from his forthcoming books on the Greek war veterans of World War II and the Korean War and the journey of Hungarians, of Jewish background, to Australia.

As the writer stated himself, ‘Through people’s personal narratives, we get a better understanding of historical events. After all, history occurs as a result of the human experience.’

Throughout his talk, the large audience were treated to personal story after personal story which depicted the desperate struggle of people trying to overcome war and loss to survive. One member of the audience stated after the discussion panel, ‘The personal narratives were presented in such an interesting way that I could have listened to Mr Vasilas all day,’ while Father Paul Berezniuk, of the local Ukrainian Catholic Priest said, ‘His speech was truly inspiring, as these personal stories clearly show the strength of the human spirit, their Faith, and, their determination and will to survive.’

It was announced, after the discussion panel, that Vasilas has already begun collecting material for a second volume of Ukrainian stories and the Ukrainian community is happily awaiting its completion. 

Vasilis would like to thank Dr Wolodymyr Mortyka for initiating and inviting him to be on the discussion panel.