Learn to Remember

Dear visitors of our website,

On 16 November the Chernivtsi Museum of the History and Culture of Bukovynian Jews presented its project with the working title “A Children’s Book with Comics and Photos about the Holocaust in Bukovyna” within the framework of the opening of the exhibition entitled “The Workshops of Memory”. This exhibition was prepared by the Jewish Community Düsseldorf in cooperation with interested institutions and organizations from Ukrainian cities (Cherkasy, Chernivtsi, Kremenets, Kremenchuk, Kyiv, Lviv, Vinnytsia, Uzhhorod) with the goal of developing new forms and methods in the field of Holocaust education and memorial activities. As our idea awakened such strong interest and also a lot of questions, astonishment and in some cases even open rejection, we consider it necessary to provide explanations.

The idea to prepare such a publication, which might seem unusual at first sight, came to us long time ago and was the result of analysing our working experience with the youngest visitors – pupils. As we have understood that standard methods are often unsuccessful in explaining children the history of the genocide of the Jews in our region and city without hurting them mentally. The experience of museums and memorial sites in Western Europe (e.g. The Anne Frank House in Amsterdam) shows that the best way to explain it to kids is to use an understandable language of their peers and also a language of pictures and symbols. The genre of comics is widely used now to depict a certain historic narrative in a comprehensible way. Lately this genre has become popular in Ukraine as well. As an example, one can provide the project «Воля: Thе Will» http://www.ugar.com.ua/komiksy/komiks-volyathe-will/ .

But the case of our children’s book about the Holocaust, illustrated by the young and talented artist Anna Tarnovetska from Chernivtsi, is not about a caricature or funny pictures. Our idea is to create a collection of “graphic novels” – a publication in the genre, which became popular after Will Eisner’s “A Contract with God” which had been published in 1978.

The book will depict an absolutely serious and tragic storyline, based on life paths of real eye witnesses.  Some of them are still alive and gave consent graciously to share their memories for the collection. We are very grateful to them and hope that they will become our first readers and critics of the book. The authenticity of the depicted stories will be supported by photos and documents from families’ archives of our contributors, from holdings of the State Archives of Chernivtsi Oblast and other public and private collections. Except for the artist, the team, working on the book, also comprises of specialists of museum pedagogics, history, children psychology and didactics.

We expect that the e-version of the book will be completed in 9-10 months. We started to work on the book within the framework of the project “Learn to Remember” of the above mentioned Jewish Community of Düsseldorf (project coordinator Mr. Matthias André Richter).

We are looking forward to your reviews, ideas and suggestions.


Photo credit: Museum of Kyiv History.

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