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Our project : 'living memory'

Our work

          Our purpose is to create a quaint pedagogic tool aiming to deepen the knowledge and understanding of Ukraine and its history. We are in Lviv for six months in order to collect various means, all informations useful to build this tool of transmission of the 20th century memory to the current and future generations.

        We address ourself to all generations, to all social classes, at all level of knowledge. We attach a particular importance to the youth as the future bearer of the memory. We are convinced of its dynamism and it ability to correctly use the past to build the future.

        The chosen subject for our work is the Jewish Lviv in Galicia in the 20th century. We collect testimonies of survivors of the Second World War, Jews as well as Ukrainians and Poles, witness of the Holocaust in the region. Our collect also include interviews of specialists, various actors of Jewish Lviv, as well as young opinion on this topic, what they know, what they learn, what they do not know...

        Then, we are particularly interested in the current state of the Jewish life memory in Lviv, 64 years after the Second World War and 18 years after the Soviet time. Our experience, testimony and reflexion will be presented under various modern forms of expression and the most accessible possible (exhibitions, movies, books...)

How do we carry out the project?

         Our ambition is to collect in Lviv two different kind of material. On one side, we aim to gather a maximum of knowledge, testimonies and interviews. On this other side, we want to create a photographic and audiovisual database in order to shape the message we would like to pass on : the drama of the Holocaust lays more in the cultural life it annihilated than in the number of victims, its atrocity in the industrialization of the extermination as well as in the implication, by manipulation, of oppressed and poor populations in this grievous enterprise.

        The most important part of our project in Lviv is to collect interview of survivors, specialists, young. A reflection by the image, people talking, telling, explaining, asking, laughing, crying... Humans to whom everyone could to identify or identity their parents, grand-parents. Those interviews will be simple, human, 'enough' touching to spark off a reflection without falling in the emotional voyeurism.

        On other conceptual part will take place after Ukraine. It is about the restitution of our work in Ukraine : reflection on the interactive mean enabling the public to be concerned, to become actor of what he is discovering (quiz, use of map...).

        For all those tasks, we are working with historians and specialists of the Jewish culture, as well as young Ukrainian, Polish and German volunteers and students.

Who are our partners in Lviv?

         Our first partner is the Academy of Ukrainian Youth, which integrated us to the Lviv's life since our arrival. Agnieszka Kania (Polish volunteer and student of the Ukrainian Philology), gave us he opportunity to quickly start our project by giving us valuable contacts :

        Our main partner is the Union of Councils for Jews of the Former Soviet Union (www.ucsj.com). Its director in Lviv, Meylak Sheykhet, a eminent rabbi, is a important actor due to the remarkable work of archaeological researches he carry out on Jewish religious places destroyed during the war, forgotten or vandalized during the Soviet time. In addition to his witness and teaching on Jewish memory, we follow him on the hollows and various cemeteries and we discover the relation he has with the local population.

        The research center Petryakova give us contacts of Survivors, specialists and access to their library. The aim of the center is to restore the flat of a Jewish writer, Faina Petriakova, to open it as a museum and to organize seminars on the history and memory of Jewish people. We work with them to create a photographic repertory of current mark of Jewish life in Lviv. We try to institute a collaboration between this center and French organizations working on the same topic.

        We are also in contact with the center Hesed Arieh, Jewish charitable center in Lviv. We also work with few Professors of Lviv universities, Ivan Franko and the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU).

        Two Ukrainian students are essential for our project as they help us for translation (written and oral) : Natalia Ivanusa and Khrystia Dubnyska. Others young help us in English, German or Polish translation.

What to do with all this material?

         After the collect of material, the newt step will be the shaping of the restitution in Ukraine and in France... The stake is big. It is about to pass on our work, our experience, our discoveries as young European, involved in this topic. Who say young say dynamism, novelty, concerned, engaged, et maybe in better situation to address to the young generation.

        We have to find various, modern, gripping means of eduction non formal, resolutely new in the approach, as well as in the shape.

What to we suggest : our concrete solutions

        We are preparing several means adapted to the different part of our work.

        We want to publish a book (approximately 50 pages) on the Jewish history in Galicia. The content and the layout are on progress but will come up to our will of dynamism and alternative.

        We are planning photographic exhibition gathering the following themes :

  • Presentation of Ukraine as an European country, of its socio-political situation, its international role, its history and especially history of the first half of the 20th century in order to settle the context and to introduce the topic.

  • They saw! Portraits of Jewish, Polish and Ukrainian Survivors of Lviv and its neighborhood, witness of the disappearing of one nation. As well as portraits of the second and third generation who are confronted to this period.

  • Fight against the time of oversight. Following of a Rabbi archaeologist in Ukraine. Report on the Rabbi and a movie composed by ourself.

  • Forests of Ukraine, memory under silence : artist's vision of the common graves without tombstone, forgotten, ignored, silent et still here, 68 years after the way of the Einsatzgruppen.

  • The Jews memory and the Soviet time : deep reflection on the Jews' life evolution in Lviv, the management of the Jewish inheritance by the Soviet authorities and the resulting aberrations.

  • Independent Ukraine facing its past : young generation, public management...

We plan various interventions and exhibitions in the museum, city halls, pedagogic centers, cultural and historical center, hosting and sending organizations, local associations... We also foresee to contact few medias.

            We are finishing our voluntary service and journey in Ukraine at the end of October. We need few months of preparation, partnership research, funding raising during which we plan many presentations, conferences with the material already gathered and prepared. A second working phase will then start in November 2009 and is about shaping and preparing the restitution of our experience in Ukraine. It will finish in the course of the year 2010 by the presentation of exhibitions and the advertisement of our book.

            This blog is our first mean of expression and promotion of our project. It allows us to structure our work and to gather advises to achieve our ambitious project.


Matthias Crépel


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  • : Mémoires Vives
  • Mémoires Vives
  • : Ce blog vise à faire découvrir l'Ukraine, ses paysages, sa culture et sa mémoire - notamment celle de la communauté juive de Lviv. This blog aim at the discovery of Ukraine, its landscapes, its culture and its memory - especially the one of the Jewish Community of Lviv.
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