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06.10.2009

Lviv Museum – Prison “Tyurma na Lontskoho” must not be under the auspices of the SBU

   

 

 

Prominent Lviv academics, historians and public figures have signed an open appeal to the country’s leaders, the SBU [State Security Service] and the Lviv city authorities expressing their opposition to the creation of a Museum “Prison na Lonskoho” under the auspices of the SBU.

“Projects have been initiated in Ukraine concerning historical memory, the study of history and honouring of the memory of the victims of regimes pitched against human beings. The launching of specific actions by the State and local authorities in creating memorial museums and research centres can only be welcome.

However academic circles in Ukraine and abroad, as well as the civic community in Lviv, are concerned over the situation regarding the creation in Lviv of a memorial museum “Tyurma na Lontskoho” [the prison was at 1, Lontskoho St., now vul. Bryullova, or Bryullov St). This would be a research institution aimed at studying the history of repression and crimes against humanity which were directed against the Ukrainian, Polish, Jewish and other peoples of Halychyna, Volyn, the Trans-Carpathian region and Bukovyna during the First and Second World Wars, during Soviet and Nazi occupation and after the War.

The former prisoner on Lonskoho is a place of tragedy for many thousands of residents of Lviv. This place is testimony to the fact that in the twentieth century totalitarian and authoritarian regimes gave as “motivation” for mass murder racial, ethnic, political, social and religious “reasons”, directing their repression and crimes against various groups of people, which lead to the brutalization of society and its decay. The former prison at Lonskoho is a symbol of the tragic history of Lviv in the XX century and its significance for the city community cannot be overstated.

Our concern is aroused by the fact that the museum is to be a structural division of the Security Service of Ukraine. It is important that the Security Service is ready to promote the creation of a museum, in the first instance, by making access available to archival material. Such open cooperation is a significant move in the development of the Ukrainian State. Nonetheless it is inadmissible that the creation of the concept of the museum and its work should depend on political factors, ideological orientation and personal views of people in high-ranking public posts. The only way of avoiding this is to remove the museum from the Security Service’s jurisdiction.

The museum “Tyurma na Lontskoho” will be an important factor in affirming Lviv’s place as a European city and Ukraine as a European State. The Memorial should become a place of meetings, mutual understanding and recognition of the past. It is for this reason that Lviv which has huge cultural potential and long-standing international connections should be the main initiator and founder of such a museum. It is the Lviv community who are a reliable guarantor of the creation and stable work of the memorial museum. The State must in all ways support such initiatives by local communities, help Lviv in creating the Museum and promote its founding and developing.

We are convinced that only through the widest involvement of the public, including experts, academics and researchers, can the first Ukrainian Memorial Museum – Prison museum “Tyurma na Lontskoho” – be created, an important research and educational centre, a place to honour the memory of victims who suffered and died in this place.

The appeal has been signed by a number of prominent Ukrainians including the historians Tarik Syril Amar and Yaroslav Hrytsak, Myroslav Marynovych, founding member of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group and a former political prisoner, Taras Voznyak, political scientist, philosopher, founder and Chief Editor of the Journal “I”, and many others.

It is open for signatures at

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