Exhibition in Augsburg explores last 100 years of Jewish life in Ukraine

An exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Augsburg Swabia explores Ukrainian Jewish life from the 1920s to the present, examining the unspeakable suffering of the Holocaust and antisemitic Soviet policies as well as the rebirth of Jewish life in independent Ukraine.

The curators aim to give voice to Ukrainian Jews who have variously spoken Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish over the past century.

It begins with insights into the intercultural relations and community life in the pre-war shtetl  before reflecting on the near-destruction of this community under two totalitarian regimes.

Contemporary voices also speak to Ukrainian Jewish emigration abroad from the 1990s through to the current Ukraine war — 50% of today’s Jewish community in Augsburg, for example, has Ukrainian roots.

With the Jewish Museum in Augsburg unable to transport exhibits from Ukraine due to the war, the museum decided to include more oral histories from contemporary witnesses — including survivors of the Shoah — that were conducted by Reznyk and Shestaliuk.

Also helping to collate material for the exhibit is the Lviv-based organization “After Silence,” which archives the testimony of victims of the Nazi and Soviet regimes, as well as the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center in Kyiv, which commemorates the victims of the 1941 massacre of Jews in the Ukrainian capital.

Among the 16 people who tell their very personal stories are Ukrainian Jews who emigrated to Germany. Photographs taken throughout the past century also complement the multimedia exhibits.

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