|Born||July 21, 1906|
Ilyinskoe (near Moscow), Russia
|Died||February 21, 1942 (aged 35)|
Kiev, Ukrainian SSR
|Occupation||Poet and writer|
Olena Teliha was born Elena Ivanovna Shovgeneva (Russian: Елена Ивановна Шовгенева) in the village of Ilyinskoe, near Moscow in Russia where her parents spent summer vacations. There are several villages by this name in that area, and it is unknown exactly which one of them is Olena Teliha's birthplace. Her father was a civil engineer while her mother came from a family of Russian Orthodox priests. In 1918, she moved to Kiev with her family, when her father became a minister in the new UNR government. There they lived through the years of Ukrainian War of Independence. When the Bolsheviks took over, her father moved to Czechoslovakia, and the rest of the family followed him in 1923. After living through the rise and fall of Ukrainian National Republic, Olena took an avid interest in Ukrainian language and literature. In Prague, she attended a Ukrainian teacher's college where she studied history and philology. She met a group of young Ukrainian poets in Prague and started writing poetry herself. After her marriage, she moved to Warsaw, Poland, where she lived until the start of the Second World War. In 1939, like many of the young Ukrainians with whom she associated, Olena Teliha became a member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, within which she became an activist in cultural and educational matters.
Fingers breaking – long and slender, To tear up habits like old cats, To take up weapons from your hand And strike hard where a hard strike is needed.
O. Teliha, "Answer"
In 1941, Olena and her husband Mykhailo Teliha (whom she met and married in Czechoslovakia) moved back to Nazi Germany-occupied Kiev, where she expanded her work as a cultural and literary activist, heading the Ukrainian Writers' Guild and editing a weekly cultural and arts newspaper "Litavry". A lot of her activities were in open defiance of the Nazi authorities. She watched her closest colleagues from the parent-newspaper "Ukrainian Word" ("Ukrayins'ke Slovo") get arrested and yet chose to ignore the dangers. She refused to flee, declaring that she would never again go into exile.
She was finally arrested by the Gestapo and executed, aged 35, in Babi Yar in Kiev along with her husband. In the prison cell where she stayed, her last written words were scribbled on the wall: "Here was interred and from here goes to her death Olena Teliha".
On 25 February 2017 a monument to Teliha was unveiled at Babi Yar. The monument was consecrated by head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Kyivan Patriarchate Patriarch Filaret.
- Ukrainian poet-heroine Olena Teliha, 1906 – 1942, Brama (July 20, 2006)
- Life is not to be sold for a few pieces of silver – The life of Olena Teliha Archived August 14, 2007, at the Wayback Machine by Ludmyla Yurchenko, CYM, the Ukrainian Youth Association
- 1942: Mykhailo and Olena Teliha, Ukrainian artists, ExecutedToday.com
- Jubilee Coin "Olena Teliha" Archived January 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, National bank of Ukraine
- (in Ukrainian) Babi Yar monument in Kiev opened OUN activist, poet Olena Teliha, Radio Free Europe (25 February 2017)
- Olena Teliha's poems. (in Ukrainian)
- Life is not to be sold for a few pieces of silver – The life of Olena Teliha, CYM, the Ukrainian Youth Association