Borys Khandros

Borys Khandros (1923–2006) was a screenwriter, writer, Merited Culture Worker of Ukraine, a member of the National Union of Cinematographers and the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine.

Borys Khandros was born on 25 December 1923 in the village Ozaryntsi, then Podillia Province (today’s Vinnytsia region) to a family of a teacher (melamed). In Ozaryntsi, he finished a four-year Jewish labor school, where his father taught. During World War II, Borys Khandros volunteered for the Red Army. Then he was imprisoned in the Pechora ghetto and concentration camp in Bratslav (in Podillia) but escaped from there. Later on, he got gravely injured, again fought on the front and was among the Soviet soldiers who encountered the Allied forces at the Elbe River. After the war, Khandros graduated from Kyiv University and worked as a teacher in the Belarusian town of Narovlia. The writer died in Kyiv in 2006. 

Borys Khandros authored the scripts of documentary and popular science films: Homework for Tomorrow (1976), The Light Ahead (1979), The School of Happiness (1980), Loyal to Love (1984), Mother (1984), Dead Leaves (1991), film duology Mykhailo’s Mountain (1993), and others. He also published multiple articles in science magazines and other periodicals. Khandros is the author of the books Gazing into Faces (1980, 1990), Novelettes about Feat (1983), Mortal Letters (1993), and The Town That Does Not Exist (2001, 2002). 

Borys Khandros’s archival legacy consists of letters, documents, photos, manuscripts of writings, and printed works (overall more than 3,000 units of storage). 

His manuscript collection requires a thorough study as there is a great possibility that it contains the writings that were not published during his lifetime. Some pieces are available in various versions. Moreover, the archive holds drafts and preparatory materials, which allow carrying out various kinds of textological research.

Borys Khandros’s manuscripts are valuable information sources for scholars who research the history of the Holodomor and the Holocaust. Both tragedies of the twentieth century were central topics of his writings. 

The archive has a great amount of unique materials for those who are interested in the topic of shtetls. The history and daily life of small Jewish towns, and the fates of their inhabitants were subjects of Borys Khandros’s creative research. 

  Scholars who specialize in the life and work of Alexander Pushkin will find quite a lot of valuable information in Khandros’s articles dedicated to the poet. Other papers that are worth scholars’ attention are manuscripts and preparatory materials about Lev Pushkin, the poet’s brother. 

Literary scholars, historians, and those who are interested in biographies of remarkable women are encouraged to study the 1981 draft script of the film Loyal to Love as well as Borys Khandros’s articles and other documents about the princess Natalia Dolgorukova. Dolgorukova was a remarkable eighteenth-century memoirist and one of the first female writers in Russian literature, whose amazing life was closely connected with Kyiv. 

Historians and everyone keen on the figures of Decembrist movement, their wives, and descendants should get familiar with Khandros’s manuscripts and preparatory materials to the novel Cedar (1992) about the grandson of the Decembrist Sergei Volkonsky, as well as his script of the film Loyal to Love and the articles and materials about Sergei Volkonskii’s wife Maria Volkonskaia. 

Film scripts. The archive stores Borys Khandros’s manuscripts of film scripts. They can be of interest to film scholars who study Ukrainian documentaries and popular science films, as well as to researchers of Ukrainian cinema dramaturgy. This is especially relevant to the scripts of Mykhailo’s Mountain, Hello, Mother, Loyal to Love, The Road to Babyn Yar, and other films. 

Novellas: The Plague (Ukrainian, no date), Hunger (Ukrainian, 1990), A Novel about Sukhomlynsky (fragment, Russian and Ukrainian), Mortal Letters (Ukrainian, no date). 

Novels. None of these works has been finished, yet fragments, drafts, and preparatory materials have been preserved: Gazing into Faces (Russian, no date), Cedar (Russian, 1992).  

Short prose (stories, novelettes, and fairy tales). There are more than fifty manuscripts of Khandros’s short prose writings of 1951–2005 in the archive (in Ukrainian and Russian): Through the Thorns, At the Kremlin Dreamer’s, A Flag of the Regiment: Cavalryman’s Stories, Vaska, John, Bibi-Gul, My War, Chaliapin Is Singing Hatikvah, Return of a Mill, and others.  

Those who study the history of Ukrainian journalism can be fascinated with Borys Khandros’s articles, essays, and notes of 1952–2005 written in Russian and Ukrainian (overall around 400 units of storage, some pieces are in multiple versions).

Aside from that, the archive contains manuscripts of about ninety interviews Khandros got from famous figures of culture and science in 1985–2006. Among his interviewees were the writer and dissident Yevhen Sverstiuk, scholar Borys Paton, actor Bohdan Stupka, daughter of the rocket constructor Serhii Koroliov Nataliia Koroliova, historian Petro Tolochko, and others.

Correspondence. The archive holds more than 740 letters of 1953–2005 (in Ukrainian, Russian, German, and English). These are the letters sent to Khandros (from friends, relatives, colleagues, writers, and publishers) and from him (usually, when sending a letter, he would keep its typewritten copy in his archive). 

This correspondence can serve as a great source for research of biography and creations of Borys Khandros as well as Ukrainian cultural and literary life in the second half of the twentieth century. Especially fascinating is a letter of gratitude from Steven Spielberg. A considerable number of letters are without envelopes, hence it is difficult to identify both senders and recipients (often only names are written: “Sasha”, “Vova”, etc.). Therefore, another research subject comes out of this situation: determining Borys Khandros’s circle of correspondence.