“Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies and Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” receive many letters and messages, in the center of which are family histories of World War II period. All of them are the human dimension of the tragedies that unfolded in our country in the turbulent XX century. Each testimony, and sometimes an inquiry, a request for help in finding relatives and friends is a unique source that serves to reconstruct the most difficult pages of the past – the Holocaust, the Holodomor, the deportation of Crimean Tatars and other Crimean peoples, Soviet repressions and the fight against dissent in the USSR. Incoming materials are becoming part of the common cultural heritage accessible to a wide audience. “Tkuma” Institute scientific publications, seminars, video presentations and Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” (Dnipro) exhibitions are not a complete list of forms for preserving and popularizing family memory of the past of Ukraine.
Recently, Marcin Maryszczak (now a resident of Warsaw) turned to “Tkuma” Institute. Mr. Maryszczak is looking for a Jewish woman named Mila, whom his family rescued in Zhytomyr during the Nazi occupation. We present the story, keeping the style:
“My grandmother and grandfather, father and his sister, who have already died, were born in Zhitomir and survived the occupation there. They were Ukrainians. From old stories, I know that during the occupation they hid Mila and her small child from the Germans. When the Soviet Army liberated Zhitomir, they left Ukraine, lost contact with Mila and never met again. I only know that this woman was called Mila. My grandfather was called Petr Sekmedinov, and my
grandmother was Maria Sekmedinova (nee Litvinchuk). They lived on 22 Sennaya Street (this is the pre-war name of the street) in Zhitomir. My grandfather worked as a car mechanic at the Department of Roads in Zhitomir, in addition, he was engaged in the manufacture of leather. My grandmother worked as an assistant accountant at the Stalin factory. They had two children – my dad Georges (Zhora), 1938, and his sister Neonil (Nile), 1935. My relatives left Zhitomir just
before the liberation of the city. They were afraid of repressions from the NKVD, since they [authorities - translator's note] did not manage to mobilize my grandfather in the Red Army when the Germans arrived. Thus, they remained in Zhitomir, and fate pushed them to Mila. I would really like to know if Mila survived and whether there was an opportunity to find her or her relatives. I would be grateful for any help".
May 18, 1944 – the beginning of the deportation of Crimean Tatars and other peoples of Crimea.
The deportation of Crimean Tatars – forced eviction of the Crimean Tatar people outside the Crimean Autonomous Republic, carried out on May 18-20, 1944.
Explained by Soviet authorities as the punishment for “collaboration” of Crimean Tatar.
On May 12, a museum webinar, organized by “Tkuma” Institute and “Orion” Ukrainian Educational Publishing Center together with Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” and Dnipropetrovsk National Historical Museum named after D.I. Yavornitskiy, was held. This time the event was dedicated to International Museum Day, so the broadcast topic - “MUSEUM LESSONS”, “NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM”: WHERE YOU CAN CONDUCT HISTORY LESSONS FOR STUDENTS AND ADULTS – was not chosen by chance.
The speakers were the leading museologists of the region and teachers-methodologists:
- Yehor Vradii, candidate of historical sciences (Ph. D), deputy director of Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” and “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for
Holocaust Studies scientific work, member of the Ukrainian-Polish Committee of Experts on Improving the Content of Textbooks on History and Geography (Dnipro);
- Natalia Diordiieva, teacher of the highest category, teacher-methodologist, High Achiever of Education of Ukraine, history teacher at Zaporizhzhia multidisciplinary lyceum No 99 (Zaporizhzhia);
- Valeriia Lavrenko, candidate of historical sciences, deputy director of Dnipropetrovsk National Historical Museum named after D.I. Yavornitskiy scientific work (Dnipro);
- Iryna Piskarova, teacher-methodologist, co-author of history textbooks for grades 5-7, head of “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies educational programs (Dnipro);
- Liudmyla Sandul, chief custodian of Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” funds (Dnipro).
Dr. Igor Shchupak, candidate of historical sciences (Ph. D), director of Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine, “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies, Honored Educator of Ukraine was the moderator of the event.
Live, the speakers, along with spectators – history teachers, university professors, museum workers and a wide range of people who love and appreciate museums – were looking for answers to a number of, first of all, practical questions of museum pedagogy: what do museum programs exist for teachers and which for students? At what age is it worth starting an acquaintance with a museum? What are the work specifics of museum workers with primary school children and preschoolers? How to tell children about the tragic pages of our past – the Holodomor, the Holocaust, World War II, avoiding the potentially traumatic effect on children’s psyche? How to interest non-historians in history or what to do in a museum at night?
The webinar participants shared their own experience of using the school curriculum potential in the museum space: these are museum lessons and thematic excursions on various historical topics with further reflection, as well as lessons in funds on creating their own mini-exhibitions, “memory lessons” and extracurricular activities, lessons on education of tolerance. Museum workers also practice field trips to rural schools, whose students and teachers cannot come to Dnipro.
By the way, we note that in the framework of the project with Yad Vashem “Holocaust studies in Ukraine for the formation the atmosphere of tolerance”, Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” is implementing a program for students of rural schools, which allows to cover part of the financial costs of coming to Dnipro. Therefore, dear teachers, if you have a need to come to our Museum for a thematic excursion or a museum lesson, welcome! Please send us your applications, and we, in turn, will try to help you. After all, a visit to a modern museum is not only a great opportunity to receive new knowledge and impressions, but also to find a source of inspiration for your pupils’ creativity to study and comprehend the events of the past.
The webinar participants did not ignore those cultural and educational offers that a modern museum can provide to adults. Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” has many years of experience in organizing training courses for the universities of internal affairs cadets, officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the National Guard of Ukraine on the basis of Museum. This topic is extremely important because “people in uniform” were directly related to the events of World War II, the Holocaust, the Holodomor and other tragic pages of the past.Therefore, it is very important to talk with current and future defenders of Ukraine, law enforcement officers about those terrible events, about hate speech, about ordinary executors of 20 century crimes and about the positive exceptions to the rule of the “banality of evil” periods – to prevent the recurrence of those terrible events in the future.
Of course, the limited time of the webinar does not allow to answer absolutely all questions. However, we guarantee that none of them will be left without attention. In the near future, detailed opinions of the speakers on issues posed by the audience in the chat will appear on the website of Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine”. In the meantime, we would like to recall that the records of all webinars, including museum one, are available on “Tkuma” Institute’s YouTube channel.
On May 8–9, traditionally Ukraine honors the Remembrance and Reconciliation Day and Victory Day over Nazism in World War II. These days, the world community commemorates the tragic events of this bloodiest global military conflict, during which, according to various estimates, from 50 to 85 million people died.
April 27 (4 Iyar, according to the Jewish calendar) - Yom HaZikaron, Memorial Day for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terrorism, which is celebrated annually on the eve of Independence Day of the State of Israel.