Dedicated to the 80th anniversary of beginning of the mass shootings of the Jews by the Nazis on the territory of Ukraine and the 80th anniversary of the Babyn Yar tragedy.
The Holocaust was one of the largest humanitarian catastrophes of the XX century. More than 6 million Jews lost their lives during the Second World War, due to the persecutions and systematic murders, that Nazi Germany committed together with its allies. Every fourth victim of the Holocaust came from Ukrainian territories. Ukraine lost more than 60% percent of its pre-war Jewish population and an entire world of its cultural diversity.
With the help of museum artifacts, project’s primary targets are to demonstrate the peculiarities, scale and tragic aftermaths of Holocaust for Ukraine, to reveal complicated, painful and controversial questions, to create a basis for visitor’s empathy toward the victims of genocidal practices, to actualize this dramatic page of our history in the collective memory of Ukrainians and residents of other countries, to stimulate the feeling of responsibility for its preserving.
Core part of the exhibition contains six thematic sections.
With a help of original materials from the Museum collection, as well as from the collection of the Sheremetiev Museum, the project reveals the mechanism, process and consequences of the ghettoization of European and Ukrainian Jews, the unique features of Nazi camp system functioning, the mass shootings of Ukrainian Jews in cities and villages, fields and ravines. Among the exhibits, the especially notable ones are yellow “Star of David” badges of Leon Buchholtz donated to the museum by his grandson Philippe Sands.
The chapters about the perpetrators and saviors highlight the duality of opposite experiences, motives and life principles of ordinary representatives of the non-Jewish population who faced the main Choice of their lives: to join the perpetrators, to sacrifice own life for others or to stay away. Their own choice in favor of rescuing 8-year-old Veniamin Boryskovskyi was made by the Ukrainian family of Oleynychenko from the city of Mariupol. They set up a shelter for him inside of old piano which recently became the “golden” part of the Museum collection.
The chronological “Curve of Holocaust”, created on the basis of documentary and photographical historical sources, will help the visitor to trace the key events of the European Holocaust and relate them with genocidal events in Ukraine. This is the method to attract attention to the fact that such wounds of Holocaust as Kamianets-Podilskyi, Berdychiv, Babyn Yar, Sosonky, Drobytskyi Yar, Bohdanivka, Janowska concentration camp, were inflicted on Ukraine during the Second World War and for many years were obscured, unspoken and omitted from the social memory by the Soviet authority. At the same time, Auschwitz and Warsaw ghetto became well-known symbols of the tragedy of the Jewish nation.
Composition “Destruction” is the titular and dominative artistic part of the exhibition. It is replete with artworks of famous artists Zinoviy Tolkachov and Isaac Tartakovskyi. Placed on the yellow planks, they are permeated with a hopelessness and despair of the victims of Nazi racial policy. At some point it seems that triumph of evil was absolute. But Memory became the sort of life-saving Ariadne’s thread from the labyrinth of Holocaust. It was Memory which led millions of forgotten names to liberation from such chimeric and ephemeral traps of Soviet definitions like “peaceful Soviet citizens” and “victims of fascism”.
The historical past and the memory of it are not similar. The clashes for truth about the Holocaust lasted after the end of the Second World War. The silence became the main syndrome of the totalitarian model of remembrance. That is why in the exposition, along with the dozens of stories of the Ukrainian Righteous among the Nations, the voices of the Holocaust witnesses, victims and rescuers sound. The incredible stories of escape of Genya Batashova, Ruvim Stein and Fedir Zavertanyi from the Babyn Yar are demonstrated for the first time.
The Ukrainian–American exhibition project entitled Forever Free Ukraine! Features unique artifacts from 20 museum, archive and library institutions from Ukraine as well as the United States. It explores the impressive and little-known pages of the Liberation Struggle for independence from 1917–1921, in particular, the history of the Ukrainian Army’s uniform of the early 20th century.
For the first time since Ukraine’s independence, and over a century of Ukrainian diaspora history in the United States, five leading scientific, museum and cultural-educational Ukrainian institutions in the U.S. will take part and help curate the exhibition.
250 artifacts covering the period of 1914–1923 focus on the history of the Ukrainian Army’s uniform from the period of the Ukrainian Sich Riflemen, the Ukrainian Central Rada, the Ukrainian National Republic, the Western Ukrainian Republic, Hetman Pavlo Skoropadsky’s reign, and the Directory of the Ukrainian National Republic. Most of the objects are unknown to the general public, and are familiar to only a narrow circle of specialists.
Three galleries harmoniously complement the overall layout and flow of the exhibition.
This museum exhibition underscores the historic connection between the current generation of Ukraine’s defenders and those who participated in the Liberation Struggle for the independence from 1917–1921. It honors the armed forces of Ukraine – a key guarantor of Ukraine’s independence. The topic is particularly relevant and poignant for a country currently at war, on the eve of its 30th anniversary commemorating independence and freedom.
The Ukrainian East ... A painful wound that hurts daily and nightly with mourning for the dead ones, makes us search for the answer to the question: was it possible to prevent disaster? How to distinguish who are ours and who are strangers and (not) strangers in conditions of a hybrid war? And how, without losing ours, to get victory in it?
“Ukrainian East”... This is the name of the museum project which uses authentic materials to tell about the war that broke out in the center of Europe in the 21st century.
The aggression of the Russian Federation against the state of Ukraine, which arose on the ruins of the Soviet empire, exercising the sovereign right to self-determination provided for by the UN Charter, began with the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. Subsequently, the flames of the conflict spilled over to Donbas, where the Russian-Ukrainian war has been lasting for more than five years. It took lives of about 13 thousand military personnel and civilians, broke families, destroyed many infrastructure sites and caused enmity between the two peoples who were destined to be neighbors.
All these years, the museum team follows the events in the east of Ukraine, collects the authentic materials related to them in all regions of the country, including the area of fighting, creates thematic exhibitions and conducts educational and communication activities. During this time, the fund collection has been replenished with more than 10 thousand museum objects, which are the evidences of the valor and sacrifice of Ukrainian soldiers who protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our state in its eastern territories. At the same time, they reveal the realities of the lives of civilians who are suffering, surviving, struggling, as well as socio-humanitarian problems caused by hostilities and temporary occupation. The museum project “Ukrainian East” is an exhibition reminding to our fellow citizens that there is war in the country and every minute it can take one’s life. It is also exhibition warning the whole global community, because who will become the next victim of the aggressor?..
Factual and statistical information for the preparation of the exhibition is taken from the official sites of the state institutions: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, Security Service of Ukraine, National Guard of Ukraine, Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine, Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine, National Institute for Strategic Studies, Ukrainian Center for Economic and Political Research named after Alexander Razumkov as well as official correspondence and publications: White Book of Antiterrorist Operation in the East of Ukraine (2014 – 2016). – K., 2017; Surviving Hell: Testimonies of Victims on Places of Illegal Detention in Donbas. – K., 2015 and others.
Photo: Ruslan Borovyk, Artem Hetman, Maksym Dondiuk, Oleksandr Klymenko, Stanislav Kozliuk, Serhii Loiko, Yefrem Lukatskyi, Anton Naumliuk, Pavlo Netosov, Maks Rokotanskyi, Anatolii Stepanov.