After visiting ten Polish cities last year, one of our #StolenMemory traveling exhibition containers is setting out on a new tour of Poland on March 1, 2023 – this year with new partners and new content. The German Foreign Office has provided funding for the Polish tour for a period of two years, and the exhibition now explicitly addresses Ukrainians, too.
Since 2016, we have found around 700 families all over the world, and mementoes that were stolen from their loved ones have been returned to them. We have found 159 families in Poland alone. Volunteers support the #StolenMemory campaign by helping us to search for the families. We use the traveling exhibition to provide information about the fates of individual victims of persecution and to invite people to help us trace their families.
New partners – new content
“After launching the Polish tour last year with support from the U.S. diplomatic missions in Germany and Poland, we are now very pleased to be able to continue the project in partnership with the German Foreign Office,” comments Floriane Azoulay, Director of the Arolsen Archives. “The feedback we have received on the traveling exhibition in Poland has been overwhelmingly positive, and we are very happy to have so many volunteers supporting us in Poland. This has encouraged us to continue our work and to add an important new focus by providing content in Ukrainian.”
The funding to the tune of €180,000 provided by the German Foreign Office was originally intended to enable the traveling exhibition to tour Ukraine for the first time in 2023 and 2024 in addition to touring Poland. This made sense, because we still have a lot of items that belong to victims of Nazi persecution from Ukraine. Although the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine makes it impossible to organize a tour there at present, we have translated the contents of the #StolenMemory website and the exhibition into Ukrainian in an effort to reach as many Ukrainians in exile as possible. Among other things, the exhibition focuses on the fates of two Ukrainians who were deported by the German occupiers as forced laborers. These two life stories alert us to the suffering experienced by thousands of Ukrainian victims of Nazi persecution, and we hope the exhibition will also help us find both families.
In order to give as many Ukrainians as possible the opportunity to see the traveling exhibition, we have organized stops near the Polish-Ukrainian border as well as in those Polish cities where large numbers of refugees have found refuge. In addition, our two new partners, the DEON.pl portal and Aktion Sühnezeichen Ukraine, are providing intensive support to enable us to engage in dialog with Polish civil society and local Ukrainian communities.
Floriane Azoulay explains: “For the past year, monstrous crimes against humanity have been taking place just beyond Poland’s eastern border. Once again, family histories are being disrupted; children and grandchildren will grow up traumatized. It seemed as if there could never be another war of aggression on European soil. But when Russia attacked Ukraine, it suddenly became clear that nothing is ever certain. Peace is not something we can take for granted any more. That makes it all the more important to keep the memory of Nazi crimes alive and to help both Ukrainian and Polish families fill in gaps in their family histories caused by Nazi persecution and World War II.”
The traveling exhibition will be on display in Słońsk until March 21. Afterwards, it will travel to Goleniów and Gdynia. Stops in Warsaw, Brenna, Rzeszów, Dębica, Mielec, Lublin, Pustków, Luborzyca, Duszniki-Zdrój, and Zamość will follow. To see all the dates and locations, go to our website stolenmemory.org/en.