Ukrainian WWII narrative is mostly about Ukranians: historian

The Ukrainian perception of WWII depends on which region you’re from, to a large extent for a start. Regional differences play an important part in how Ukraine sees its history.

See full interview here.

PolandIN followed up the May conference organised by the Museum of Polish History “The Burden of Victory” and examined the Ukrainian perspective somewhat further. Professor Georgiy Kasianov, a modern historian at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences was the guest on the programme.

He explained the eastern European model of public memory; an ethnocentric concept centred on dual victimhood. The peoples of the region were double victims of Hitler and Stalin. It’s an inward looking way of seeing - Poles see Polish victims; Ukrainians, Ukrainian. It can cause, in the popular domain at least, ethic groups to auction off who suffered the most; my suffering is greater than yours!

Ukrainians see themselves as on the winning side - they were part of the victorious Red Army. But they were victims of German policy as well as cooperators within it. This is where the debate becomes more subtle, as Professor Kasianov outlined.

The question of the 1943 Wołyń, Volhynia, massacres was also raised. This is an issue that still contaminates Polish-Ukrainian relations. Poles remember their victims, but to a Ukrainian from the east or south of the country it’s an issue of lesser importance. It’s a Polish - western Ukrainian problem.

Scholars may debate freely on these matters, the population at large less so perhaps but as ever, it is the politicians who have a major say in the shaping of historical policy. The recent meeting between heads of state of the two countries and their positive joint statement about reconciliation may advance the improvement in relations so that ‘my suffering will become the same as yours’.

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