On January 14 – 15, 2016 in Lviv International Conference of German-Ukrainian Commission of Historians “Reconciliation in Post-Dictatorship Societies in the 20th and 21st Centuries: The Ukraine in an International Context” was conducted.
Scholarly forum was held at the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), which is one of the leading classical universities not only in Ukraine, but also in Central and Eastern Europe. The conference became possible as a result of fruitful cooperation between German and Ukrainian academic and research institutions, among which the central role was played by the UCU and the German-Ukrainian Commission of Historians. “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies joined the organization of this event and was represented by Dr. Igor Shchupak, “Tkuma” Institute Director and permanent member of the German-Ukrainian Commission of Historians and Dr. Yegor Vradiy, “Tkuma” Institute Research Programs Coordinator.
Dr. Yuri Ruban, Head of the Department of Humanitarian Policy of the Presidential Administration; Dr. Oleksandr Zinchenko, Advisor to the Head of the Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance; Vakhtang Kipiani, journalist, Chief Editor of the popular Internet resource “Istorychna Pravda” and other representatives of national academic and scientific public, religious and ethnic communities, the media, etc. participated in the conference.
The conference began with a welcome address to the participants and guests by Prof. Yaroslav Hrytsak (UCU, Ukraine), Prof. Martin Schulze Wessel(Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich, Germany), Prof. Myroslav Marynovych (UCU, Ukraine). The main focus of the welcome address was the current problem of our country – social reconciliation as well as strategies and models of coexistence of society with its past. For academic historians and public intellectuals it is obvious that the successful way out of the world outlook conflict is impossible without consideration of the Ukrainian situation in the broader context of European and global experience of finding a compromise in the historical memory.
Philosophical and sociological nature of European reconciliation, German and Hungarian experience of dealing with the tragic consequences of Nazi and Communist dictatorship, consequences of the “classic” version of social compromise with heritage of civil conflict in Spain - this is a list of issues which were covered by the reports of researchers from Germany, Poland, Spain, the USA, and Ukraine. The event was moderated by famous historians – Prof. Martin Schulze Wessel, Prof. Yuri Shapoval (National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine), Prof. Jutta Scherrer (School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences, France) and others.
The session on Ukrainian experience of reconciliation drew the greatest attention of public. Renowned Canadian historian Prof. Frank Sysyn (University of Alberta, Canada) analyzed the features of the historical memory of Ukrainian American diaspora and its impact on the national historiography; Prof Oksana Shevel (Tufts University, USA) attempted to determine the nature of various historical memories in Ukraine and made the optimistic conclusion about the possibility of reconciliation of Ukrainian society with its controversial past; Prof Yaroslav Hrytsak in his unique scientific and popular style showed the dynamics of Ukrainians’ attitude to the problems of the past, independence, and historical heroes. The session was professionally moderated by Dr. Igor Shchupak. Long and most importantly qualitative discussion left none indifferent.
Reports by world-class scholars became a kind of scientific outcome of the conference; these were reports by Prof. Mark vonHagen (Arizona State University, USA), Prof. Dariusz Stola (Museum of the History of Polish Jews Director, Poland) and Prof. Jan Kubik (SSEES/University College London, Great Britain). Their perspective on processes of formation, transformation and transmission of historical memory, the interaction of its various elements, people’s ability to selectively remember and forget historical experience was so interesting for the audience, that the organizers were forced to extend the work of the Conference, given the number of people willing to ask questions to the respected researchers and hear their arguments.