On November 23, 2021, the «Territory of Terror» Museum in Lviv in cooperation with the Czech NGO Post Bellum, opened the exhibition «Lost Childhood – Stories from Ukraine» in Prague. The name of the exhibition is supposed to draw attention to Ukraine and the Ukrainian topic. This exhibition is dedicated to children who became victims of repressions, deportations, witnessed mass murder and genocides in the XX century in Central-Eastern Europe. The Ukrainian-English version of the exhibition has already been exhibited in the square next to «Territory of Terror» Museum, in Chornovola, 45g Street, Lviv, Ukraine, and now the stories of witnesses of Nazi and Soviet terror can be read in the Czech Republic, near the Ukrainian Embassy.
«The results of our yearlong work are presented abroad to the international public. This is an extension of the borders for our museum. And thanks to the visitors of the exhibition in Prague, we may be able to find new narrators and potential visitors of the museum in Lviv. It’s a presentation of the Ukrainian voices of the Second World War on the international arena. It is important, because nowadays we are giving new meanings to the Ukrainian experience», – says Olha Honchar, a director of the «Territory of Terror» Museum.
The opening ceremony was attended by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Czech Republic Evgen Perebyinis, Martin Krupa and Jan Blažek from Post Bellum, and Adam Hradilek who joined the project as a lecturer.
«Post Bellum is very pleased to be able to present the exhibition «Lost Childhood – Stories from Ukraine» to the Czech public. Among other things, it showed the Czechs that the sufferings caused by totalitarian regimes, as well as the struggles against totalitarian regimes, are universal. They are not limited by national boundaries or the generation gap. We hope that the exhibition will give a promising start to further cooperation between Post Bellum and our partners in Ukraine», – said Jan Blazek. This cooperation and the exhibition in Prague became possible thanks to the «Lost childhood» project, which is supported by the European Union under the «House of Europe» program.
«Open-air exhibitions in Lviv and Prague are the results of a sort of culmination of long-lasting on-line discussions and development. This is certainly a pleasant phenomenon for the project team, as well as for our co-authors, whose stories we publish. We hope for appropriate attention to these stories. It is important to understand that lots of our (Ukrainian) events and traumas are unknown or distorted for the Czech public. There was a serious discussion within the team about the story of Iryna Lukashevych: soviet authorities arrested her elder brothers Olexander, Myron and Ilarii, who were connected with the OUN (Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists) armed underground, accused of murdering communist writer Yaroslav Galan; her father Denys Lukashevych was sentenced to 25 years in prison; and her mother with small children was deported to Khabarovsk Krai. It was important for our team to include her story and on its example show the total nature of Soviet repressions against opponents, aimed in particular at children. Ms. Iryna’s story draws attention to the children’s fate – «guiltless of the culprit» and gives an opportunity to change the paradigm of the perception of history», –
mentioned a project coordinator Khrystyna Rutar.
Let us remind you, that the heroes of the exhibition had experienced growing up in camps, forced settlements, were born in the Gulag, or their childhood coincide in time with the human catastrophes, like the Holocaust, the Holodomor or World War II. For example, there is a story of Helena Esterkesova. She witnessed the Holocaust in Europe. Kalaidgy Gulnar was deported along with the Crimean Tatars. There are stories of people who suffered because their parents were members of the insurgent movement or supported it.
«There are stories of two daughters of priests, thus we also elucidate the experience of repressions against Greek-Catholic priests here. There is a story of Yurii Zirchenko. He and his parents witnessed several events at once. Nikolyn Yulia was already born in a family of repressed parents in a forced settlement, and there is a story of a man who was born in the Gulag camp», – adds Yurii Kodenko, a researcher of the museum.
One can see the photos of the narrators on the stands, their biographies and quotes, which often reflect not only the experience of one person, but can be common for many of those who experienced the terrible events of the XX century. There are also QR-codes, scanning them one can read the detailed story of each hero in the Memory of Nations international archive.