The exhibition of the history of Stalag 325is an attempt to remind us about the key human values: life, freedom, dignity, sanctity of international treaties and inviolability of borders, the rule of law, freedom of conscience, 75 years since the end of one of the bloodiest wars in history. These undoubted achievements of European civilization, which in the twentieth century suffered through the virus of racial domination, hypocrisy, and collaboration with the evil, are important today more than ever before, when Ukraine must overcome the "expansionist infection" spreading from the Kremlin.
The history of the Nazi camp in Rava-Ruska is one of the episodes of European collective memory of World War II. Its main formula is that remembering these events brings painful, sometimes uncomfortable, but valuable lessons, full of traumatic experiences that need to be discussed, realized and accepted in order to establish humanistic ideals and values towards the development of civil society and democracy.
After the outbreak of the war in Western Europe in 1940, about 2 million French and Belgian combatants were captured. However, even behind barbed wire, they tried to resist, so in 1942 some of them were transferred to Stalag 325 in Rava-Ruska in the Lviv region, where the influence of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the statements of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War was limited. Due to the appalling conditions of detention, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Winston Churchill called the place “the camp of a drop of water and a slow death."
The documentary and narrative basis of the exhibition are unique photos, documents, awards from the collection of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War, the “Territory of Terror” Memorial Museum of Totalitarian Regimes", the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Arolsen Archives, the Central State Archives of Public Organizations of Ukraine, the State Archive of Lviv region, private collection of Dmytro Pirkl, as well as materials from open sources.
The semantic refrain of the exhibition consists of drawings by Eugène Vanderheyde, a former prisoner of Stalag 325.
World War II until today remains the most global human-made apocalypse in history. It confined the general humanistic dimension to the space of concentrated violence and the negation of the inherent value of life. At the same time, it has rallied the world into an all-embracing counterstand to such a radically distorted value system, forcing the international community to seek mutual understanding, unity and cooperation.
Despite the fact that Ukrainians chose different political landmarks and life strategies at that historic period, they became an integral part of this international and interstate consensus. Wearing uniforms of the Red Army, the Armed Forces of the United States, Canada, Great Britain, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia, and other states, more than 7 million of our compatriots fought against Nazism in the ranks of the United Nations, they fought on all fronts without exception, participated in all major battles of World War II. At the same time, a large-scale armed movement for national statehood was an essential component of the struggle of our people in the Ukrainian lands.
Numerous Ukrainian communities joined physically, materially, culturally and spiritually in providing comprehensive assistance to those who shed blood on the battlefields. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians joined the resistance movements in the west, north, south and center of the European continent. Our compatriots fought even in the concentration camps, resisting with humanity and compassion.
Furthermore, Ukraine became an enormous bloody battlefield and the scene of humanitarian catastrophe, and the multimillion nation was put on the edge of survival: from 8 to 10 million died, the economy and social infrastructure were destroyed.
Finally, the mass losses suffered by Ukraine, as well as the military and socio-economic efforts of Ukrainians, provided formal grounds for becoming a United Nations co-founder.
The exhibition “In the ranks of the United Nations”, using the museum's authentic language, represents the large-scale canvas of events and the multicolored life palette of our people, which had its own significant contribution to the victory over Nazism and fascism.