June 26, 2016 | Timothy Snyder: 'There is no national history of Ukraine without Jews'

‘The way Ukrainians speak about the Holocaust is what makes Europeans out of us, or not,’ Timothy Snyder, professor at Yale University said last Sunday in Lviv. He emphasized that experiences of the WWII are different in different countries. But the history of the Holocaust unites them all.

The meeting with the historian took place on June, 26, during the presentation of the project ‘Space of Synagogues: Jewish History, Common Heritage and Responsibility’ for the guests and the team of the Alfa Jazz Fest.

In his welcome speech, Lviv city mayor Andriy Sadovyi stated that the ‘Space of Synagogues’ makes Jewish history of the city visible again. The Mayor reiterated that multiculturalism, openness and tolerance have always been and are again becoming the main city making feature of the new Lviv.

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The idea of the project and its preliminary results were explained by Dr. Sofia Dyak, director of the Center for Urban History of East Central Europe. She told about the process of conservation of the ‘Golden Rose’ synagogue, marking the contours of the foundations of the Beth Hamidrash, and the memorial installation Perpetuation.

Moreover, Sofia Dyak also told about the second stage of the project, the site of the Great City Synagogue. The works on the site are to start in 2017. Presently, an international fundraising campaign is underway.

Timothy Snyder concluded the presentation. He mentioned that in many respects the way of thinking about others determine the nature of the entire nation. ‘If we perceive the Other one as a stranger, not as an equal, then we must remember that the Holocaust is an extreme example of thinking about Others as strangers.

Professor Snyder also reminded to everyone that in different periods of history Jews were an unalienable part of population of modern Ukraine. ‘There is no national history of Ukraine without Jews’, a researcher claimed.

Commenting the ‘Space of Synagogues’ project itself professor Snider accentuated on US and European representatives of Jewish community who often come to Ukraine as the land of their ancestors. He said that the commemorative projects like this one create favorable atmosphere to restore and write personal stories.

‘Memory and history are mutually related. They must correlate with each other. We would be real liars if there were no projects like the Space of Synagogues. After all, a barren ground in the place of the two synagogues and the House of Learning is all lies. You cannot claim there is nothing there and that there has never been anything there. On the other hand, it would be untrue to restore and rebuild the buildings, too, in which case it would not show the process of extermination of the entire community,’ professor Timothy Snyder made a special focus.

May we remind you that opening of the first stage of the Space of Synagogues takes place on September, 4, 2016, during the European Days of Hewish Heritage.