On February 14, 2023, a discussion was held at the Jewish Museum in Berlin on the issue of the impact of the Russian war against Ukraine on the politics of European historical memory and the instrumentalization of the past by Putin’s regime.

The participants of the panel discussion were: the German State Minister of Culture Claudia Roth, the Head of the EVZ Foundation (“Memory. Responsibility. Future” Dr. Andrea Despot, and the Director of the Arolsen archive Floriane Azolai. The Leading Researcher of the Department of ethnopolitics of the Kuras Institute of Political and Ethnic Studies of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Candidate of Historical Sciences Anatoliy Podolskiy took part in the discussion (online).

During the discussion, it was emphasized that since the end of February 2022, Russia has been waging a war of aggression against Ukraine. In the shadow of the acute humanitarian disaster in Ukraine, another threat arises: the fundamental instrumentalization of history. The questions that were the focus of attention of the discussants: what does the war in Ukraine mean for the German, Jewish and Ukrainian cultures of memory? What reflections – such as the avoidance of guilt and the relativization of the Holocaust and Nazi injustice – can be seen in the German public debate, and how can they be countered?

During the discussion

During his speech, Anatoliy Podolskiy drew attention to the fact that the memory of the past today, during the war, is an important factor of the identity of modern Ukrainian society. Commemorating the victims of the Holocaust during the full-scale Russian invasion is also our weapon in the war against the enemy. We are capable of honest historical reflections. Ukraine will never return to the empire and will never be a Russian colony. A. Podolskiy also noted that European countries, in particular Germany, should help Ukraine finally defeat Russian totalitarianism. The democratic world is used to concessions to dictators, the time has come to break this cycle of impunity.

More than a hundred participants took part in the discussion – German politicians, scientists, journalists, as well as Ukrainians who are now forced refugees from Russian military aggression. The audience expressed absolute support for the struggle of Ukrainians against the Russian invaders.

The panel discussion was organized by the Berlin Jewish Museum in cooperation with the Memory, Responsibility and Future Foundation Fond (EVZ).

More about the discussion 

Video recording of the discussion 

Fragment of the A. Podolsky’s speech