"Memory Paths" is a two-year project of the Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History "Mnemonics". Within the project, we seek to revive the memory of World War II in Volhynia through the experience of (un)noticed by public history groups: prisoners of war, Jews, Roma people, Czech and Polish communities in Volhynia, Ostarbeiters, people with mental disorders, and women. We also want to present to the public unknown/little-known examples of saving victims of Nazism and interethnic conflict in Volhynia during the Second World War.
Rivne and Volyn regions, which are part of the historical Volhynia, occupy a special place in the history of Ukraine during the Second World War. In this area, the Nazis established more than 150 ghettos, and the number of victims of the Holocaust and the Roma genocide makes hundreds of thousands people. It was in this region in 1943-1944 that the Ukrainian-Polish armed conflict burst out, killing tens of thousands of people. In addition, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) appeared and was active in Volhynia ...

Because of the activities of local political elites, the UPA has taken a prominent place in the symbolic space of cities and towns in the region. At the same time, the unpleasant pages of the history are silenced, such as the participation of Ukrainians in the auxiliary police and their role in the Holocaust, the role of the UPA in the interethnic conflict in Western Ukraine ("Volhynian tragedy"). The fate of other ethnic and social groups in Volhynia often goes unnoticed and is out of memorial practices. The memory of them is on the margins of public attention.

This requires the development of new tools that will help spread knowledge about other aspects of World War II in the Ukrainian society and will promote the formation of new memory practices.

Therefore, an important component of the project is the promotion of public and historical tools in working with the memory of the Second World War in Volhynia. These tools include giving lectures, recording podcasts, creating a historical graphic novel, conducting a summer school, creating an interactive map with places of remembrance of World War II in Volhynia.

With this project, we intend to promote a critical approach to understanding the events of World War II by introducing the inclusive model of collective memory among local residents, the community of educators, civic activists and public opinion leaders living in the region. The inclusive model of collective memory, which is the main goal of the Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History "Mnemonics" activities, entangles the voices of different social and ethnic groups and provides a multifaceted picture. It is an alternative to the nation-centric model of memory.
We would like to teach people the culture of the memory that is inherent in Western Europe and North America. We offer the participants to implement micro-projects at their own places of residence. We will provide them with mentors, consultants, assistants and will finance the implementation of their ideas. In the end, we will visit these places, and will create a virtual map, which will be available on our website. It will be possible to watch this process in progress. This is the main idea of the "Memory Paths" project.
Maksym Gon, the head of the Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History "Mnemonics"
WE / Organizations involved in the project
The Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History "Mnemonics" is a public organization and community of researchers engaged in the theory and practice of memorial culture and policy, as well as in conducting public historical educational activities.
"Insha Osvita" is a public organization and professional community that develops curricula, works with culture and art as forms of collective learning, and creates mental and physical learning spaces.
The Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ Foundation) is a German organization that promotes human rights and mutual understanding between peoples in memory of the victims of Nazism.
"local.history" is a funding program of the EVZ foundation to support active local and regional initiatives in Central and Eastern Europe within projects dedicated to understanding and preserving the memory of the times of National Socialism and the Second World War.
Centropa is a non-profit Jewish historical institution that restores and preserves Jewish family histories and photographs of the 20th century from Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans and introduces modernity to the Jewish heritage through films, books and exhibitions.
we / project coordinators
Tetiana Vodotyka, a historian, editor-in-chief of the electronic journal of urban studies "City: history, culture, society", project coordinator of the NGO "Center for Urban Studies"
Taras Hrytsiuk, a project manager of the NGO "Other Education"
Nataliia Ivchyk, a historian, associate professor of the Department of Political Studies at Rivne State University of the Humanities, chairperson of the NGO "Mnemonics" board
we / project team
Maksym Gon, a historian and political expert, director of the NGO "Mnemonics"
Nataliia Derevianko, a historian, PR expert of the NGO "Mnemonics"
Olesia Bachynska, an artist, "Memory Paths" project designer
Artem Vyshnevskyi, a film director, screenwriter, playwright, author of the script for the graphic novel "Ornithophobia"
Yuliia Antonova, a designer, artist of the graphic novel "Ornithophobia"
Tymur Tymchenko, a director and cameraman of podcasts for the "Memory Paths" project
Навесні-влітку 2021 року ми провели серію публічних лекцій про події та пам'ять Другої світової війни на Волині розказану крізь досвід (недостатньо)помічених історією та істориками жертв: військовополонених, євреїв, ромів, волинських чехів, польських громад, остарбайтер/ок, психічно хворих пацієнт/ок, жінок та жертв гендерно вмотивованого насильства... Про війну, що велася повсюдно, а не лише на полях бойових дій під зливою куль.
How to classify totalitarian regimes and what are their fundamental features? What is totalitarianism? What is "Nazism" in terms of historical science? How did a political movement in the lower society layers become the ideological core of the totalitarian state of the Third Reich – National Socialism? What did people outside the bounds of ideological acceptance suffer from? Was the Nazi state unique in the twentieth century? What other ideologies are similar to National Socialism?

The lecture by historian Anatolii Podolskyi deals with these questions.

Ideology and practice of National Socialism. The brutal crime of a totalitarian state against humanity in the twentieth century

Why is it important to talk about not only war heroes, but also about the victims of war? The answer to this question will be presented using the examples of Nazi camps for Soviet prisoners of war in Volhynia, biographies of captured Red Army soldiers, their legal and social status during the Second World War and in the postwar period. During the existence of the Soviet Union, these men and women were called "traitors of the homeland" and until 1993 were controlled by the KGB. Today, when these victims of Nazism have been rehabilitated and archives have been opened, many questions still remain unanswered and require the diligent work of scholars. What was going on behind the barbed wire of the camps? Where were the dead prisoners buried? How many Ukrainians were among the captured Red Army soldiers?

The lecture by historian Tetiana Pastushenko provides answers to these questions.
Soviet prisoners of war. What do we know and why do we know so little about them?
Tetiana Pastushenko

Євреї - найбільша група жертв націонал-соціалістичного насильства в окупованій Україні. На прикладі подій у Західній Волині говоритимемо про способи реалізації Голокосту та стратегії виживання місцевих євреїв. Чи були спроби збройного спротиву зі сторони жертв? Хто такі місцеві винуватці Голокосту? Чому рятівників та помічників більше, аніж тих, кого офіційно визнали Праведниками народів світу? Які є джерела до історії Голокосту в Західній Волині і де їх шукати?

Відповіді на ці запитання – у лекції історика Андрія Усача.
It was like a nightmare: the Holocaust in Western Volhynia, 1941-1944
Andrii Usach
What do a few hundred victims mean compared to several hundred thousand victims? Such sad logic often serves as an answer to the question: why remember the mass death of a minority that was almost invisible and barely made up one percent of the population? The events in Volhynia during the Second World War resembled a "war of all against all", but our collective memory tends to preserve only the most large-scale and important for us facts. However, among the hundreds of thousands of different victims, there are those without the memory of whom our knowledge of those terrible times will not be complete. Professional historians understand this: the world of each person is unique, and so is the fate of each community, especially its tragic pages. We should learn it.

Historian Mykhailo Tiahlyi explains why the history of the Roma persecution, which looks like notes in the margins of "big history", is really important to remember.
The genocide of the Roma people in Volhynia: events and memory of them on the sidelines of "big history"
Mykhailo Tiahlyi
For centuries, representatives of various ethnic groups lived in Volhynia: Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, Germans and Czechs. The history and stories of the Czechs in Volhynia are lost against the background of Ukrainian, Jewish and Polish stories. In addition, there are more questions than answers.

Who were Volhynian Czechs and how did they settle in this area? Why do Volhynian re-emigrants call the time between the two wars "years of prosperity"? How did the assimilation policy of the Polish government affect the Czech community? How did the beginning of the Second World War affect the Czechs in Volhynia? Did Volhynian Czechs take part in the resistance movement? How did the Czechs survive in the fierce confrontation of the occupation period? Why did the Czechoslovak security authorities consider Volhynian Czechs dangerous?

Historian Svitlana Shulha answers these questions in her lecture.
To preserve lives and community: Volhynian Czechs during the Second World War
Svitlana Shulha
How did Volhynian Poles manage to survive during the Nazi and communist totalitarian regimes? What were the reasons for the bloody interethnic confrontation with Ukrainians in 1943 in Volhynia? Why are there terminological discussions about the definition of those events and estimates of casualties on both sides? Were there cases of mutual assistance and rescue? Historian Yaroslav Borshchyk tells about the political goals of Poles in the region, their strategies for survival and struggle against the Ukrainian nationalist underground, cooperation and relations with the German administration and Soviet guerrillas.

The Polish community in Volhynia during World War II: political goals and survival strategies
Yaroslav Borshchyk
The population of Ukraine during the Second World War, in addition to the heavy burden of hostilities, experienced a brutal occupation regime. One of its components was the export and exploitation of human resources in the Third Reich. After returning home to the Soviet Union, the fate of the "eastern workers" was different. However, social rejection was common to all of them. Because of this trauma, many participants of those terrible events were forced to erase several years from their lives, and at the same time to erase these years from the history of Ukraine.

How was the population deported from the territory of Rivne region to forced labor to the Third Reich and subsequently repatriated? What were the forms and methods of recruitment, dynamics and scale of deportation of Rivne region residents, their sex and age, living and working conditions, problems of social adaptation in Austria and Germany? What were the aspects of the repatriation of Ostarbeiters and their position under the Stalinist totalitarian regime? Historian Vitalina Danylchuk suggests her answers.

"Good-bye, my native land, we are going into captivity!": Rivne residents in forced labor in Germany
Vitalina Danylchuk
What forms of violence did the Nazis and their allies practice against men and women? What were the features of violence against men and women during the Holocaust? What was the impact of deliberate violence on the performance by Jews of their gender roles in extreme conditions?

Historian Nataliia Ivchyk will tell this in her lecture.

Outlines of gender-based violence during the Holocaust
Nataliia Ivchyk
The extermination of patients in psychiatric clinics, homes for the disabled, labor colonies and similar closed facilities in the occupied Ukraine began in 1941. According to various estimates, the Nazis killed between 7,000 and 9,000 patients with mental disorders in Ukraine, and a total of 17,000 to 20,000 in the occupied Soviet territories. We know very little about this crime. This category of victims of Nazism was silenced for many years, and the tragedy of these people was not studied.

Doctor in History Helinada Hrinchenko talks about unnoticed plots of the genocide of the mentally ill in the German-occupied Ukraine.

Mass killings of people with mental disorders in the occupied Ukraine during World War II: history and memory
Helinada Hrinchenko
The Nazi genocidal plan envisaged killing of all Jews, regardless of gender or age. During its implementation, both Jewish men and women suffered hunger, abuse and death. However, it was women who made up the vast majority of victims of sexual violence by the Nazis, their aides, members of guerrilla units and "ordinary" men during the Holocaust. Sexual violence took various forms and included forced nudity, genital injuries, sexual torture, rape and sexual slavery. Despite significant progress in the study of this phenomenon, many aspects of it remain poorly understood.

Why was sexual violence during the Holocaust long silenced and denied? What were the peculiarities of sexual violence during the Shoah? Can sexual violence be considered a genocide tool? What was the motivation of the sexual attackers? Did the victims resist? What were the consequences of violence for women, their loved ones, acquaintances and communities?

The answers to these questions are in the lecture by historian Marta Havryshko.

Body and power: sexual violence during the Holocaust
Marta Havryshko
What was happening in Volhynia during the Second World War? How many occupations did this land suffer? What did people feel before, during and after World War II? What "historical wounds" did the war cause? What were the strategies that allowed people to survive? What ethnic and social groups were silenced?

The lecture by historian Olena Stiazhkina deals with these issues.
World War II. Volhynians. Trauma of occupation
Olena Stiazhkina
The series of podcasts about the memory of the Second World War in Volhynia told through the experience of (un)noticed by public history victims: prisoners of war, Jews, Roma people, Volhynian Czech and Polish communities, Ostrabeiters, people with mental disorders, women.

The invited speakers are leading Ukrainian experts in the selected topics.
graphic novel
"Ornithophobia" is a historical graphic novel about the trauma in Volhynia during the Second World War and the Holocaust.

The Center for Studies of Memory Policy and Public History "Mnemonics" is going to release its first graphic novel, which aims to promote reflection and rethinking of World War II at the local level.

Artem Vyshnevskyi, a director, screenwriter and playwright from Rivne, and artist Yuliia Antonova from Severodonetsk worked on the comic. For Artem, Yuliia and NGO "Mnemonics", this is a debut graphic novel and the first cooperation attempt.

The graphic novel is based on real documented stories that took place in Western Volhynia during World War II. The mobile exhibition "Humanity over the Abyss of Hell" and in other documentary projects of NGO "Mnemonics" have already mentioned these stories.

"Ornithophobia" is a phobia associated with the fear of birds, as well as the name of the first graphic novel created by NGO "Mnemonics". The graphic novel brings readers to the imaginary world where the war goes between 'ornithos', bird-like creatures. 40 pages of the graphic novel tell about the events of one day, which, however, affected many lives.

With "Ornithophobia", we are trying to promote an important discussion and reflection on the legacy left by the Second World War to the inhabitants of Western Volhynia.
I am grateful for the opportunity to take part in such an important project, because the events in the west of Ukraine at that time largely resonate with the current ones in its eastern and southern regions. Paraphrasing a well-known saying, any coincidence with real people and situations, although accidental, but, unfortunately, very likely.
Artem Vyshnevskyi
The pilot version of the interactive map represents a part of the symbolic space of Rivne: it shows the monuments and memorials that commemorate those who participated in World War II or became its victims. Among them, there are Red Army soldiers, Soviet partisans, representatives of the nationalist Resistance, and soldiers of L. Svoboda's army. The map marks the initiators of the establishment of memorial places – the state bodies (USSR, Ukraine) and non-governmental organizations.

In this way, during the project, we will supplement the map with information that we will receive from both school participants and those interested in the topic of regional memory of the Second World War. Geographically, the map includes modern Volyn and Rivne regions of Ukraine.

We hope that work on this map will create a platform for interaction between those interested in the issue, and at the same time will provide an opportunity to identify the recent decades' trends of commemorating World War II participants and civilian casualties.
The research school "Memory Paths" will be held in two stages. During the first stage, we will introduce its participants to the theoretical foundations of memory policy, forms of commemorative practices, tools for influencing public opinion, and so on. With the acquired knowledge, the participants of the school will implement research projects in their places of residence, and NGO "Mnemonics" will provide them with mentorship and will support them in holding commemorative events in their home places. The materials developed by school participants will be presented during the second stage and posted on the virtual map. The memory tools created in this way in the communities, where the participants of the event live, will facilitate the fulfillment of the project goals and will be further used after project completion.
The gallery of our travels and presentations of project products to communities and schools of Rivne and Volyn regions.
July 3, 2021
Recording of podcasts about the Second World War in the Ukrainian Center for Holocaust Studies
November 9, 2021
Presentation of the products of the project "MEMORY PATHS", dedicated to the 80th anniversary of the execution of Rivne Jews at Sosenki forest
November 25, 2021
Presentation of the products of the project "MEMORY PATHS" at the conference "Actual problems of national and world history" of the Faculty of History, Political Science and International Relations of Rivne Humanitarian University
December 9, 2021
Presentation of the products of the project "MEMORY PATHS" in Hoshcha (Rivne oblast)
December 29, 2021
Presentation of the products of the project "MEMORY PATHS" in Luck