The final of the 11th International Contest of Creative Works “Lessons of War and the Holocaust – Lessons of Tolerance” was held on September 28th – 29th. It was organized by “Tkuma” Ukrainian Institute for Holocaust Studies and Museum “Jewish Memory and Holocaust in Ukraine” with support of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine. Throughout the year, pupils, students and teachers who have decided to participate in the Contest, sent their understanding of “lessons of war and the Holocaust” reflected in research works, development of multimedia, poetry, essays and pictures. 

This year 353 works were applied for the Contest, including 4 from neighboring countries. However, only 34 of them were recognized to be the best by the supervisory board and selected for the Final. The authors of these works were invited to Dnipropetrovsk, where they submitted their works to the highly competent jury. Dr. Tamara Bakka, Dr. Faina Vynokurova, Prof. Oleksandr Davlyetov, Prof. Tetyana Ladychenko, Dr. Tetyana Meleshchenko, Svitlana Piddubna, Dr. Igor Shchupak were to determine the winners, which was not an easy task to do. The guests invited from abroad also participated in the discussion, among them: Dr. Robert Tatoyan (Yerevan, Armenia), Prof. Malkhaz Tsirikidze (Telavi, Georgia), Dr. Irina Shikhova (Chisinau, Moldova), and others.

Participants noted that this year’s theme of the Contest became particularly acute. Today, during the war in Ukraine, it’s time to ask yourself: what lessons have we learned from the history of our people and what does tolerance mean to us? The issues of peace and war, sacrifice and betrayal, courage and cowardice are acute to every citizen of Ukraine, regardless of age and nationality. The finalists of the competition examined historical dilemmas of mutual understanding, indication of national heroes in the light of current events. So there was a lot of personal in the works. Strong emotions and deep feelings were particularly reflected in the creative works. Maybe that’s why the words of 9th grade pupil Anastasiya Protchenko sound so touching: “Now I know what the war is like”. That’s how she named her essay, that’s the way she feels. And this work has helped her take second place among pupils in the category “Artistic skills”. She shared second place with Anna Usik (10th grade, Dnipropetrovsk), with art project “We remember ...” The third place was taken by Oleksandr Lukin (10th grade, Kryvyi Rih), who wrote the story “To stay human” and Sofia Sokolovska (11th grade, Donetsk) with project “Artemivsk Tragedy in a Wartime”. The first place was shared among three participants. Svitlana Predko (10th grade, Dnipropetrovsk) has created an art project “The World is in Your Hands”. With the help of vytynanka in yellow and blue colors, the young master transmits the thoughts and emotions of awareness of the Holodomor and the Holocaust. Another winner, Anastasiya Pavlova (11th grade, Dnipropetrovsk), has created a series of paintings “We Remember”. There were 12 works depicting the history of a large Jewish family during the Holocaust. This collective image shows all the tragic moments through which the Jews had to pass – deportation, ghetto, and death camps. In pictures was also reflected the salvation of Jewish children by Righteous among the Nations. The first place was won by Veronika Kobzeva as well (10th grade, Kryvyi Rih). She named her artistic work “Destinies behind the Figures”. In the picture through the terrible figure of six million faces of the victims can be seen. The author embodies the concept of “humanization of istory” and shows that behind each soulless figure there are people’s lives.

In their works the contestants have done special emphasis on regional history, studied the memory of the war, the Holocaust and the Holodomor in the territory of their cities and villages, and collected memories. The first place in the category “Exploratory research” was shared between Yelyzaveta Bulala (10th grade, Donetsk) with the work “Through the Path of the Holocaust in Donetsk Region” and Ruslana Lysenko (11th grade, Stavy, Kyiv region) with a regional study “Ukrainian Ostarbeiters (based on materials of Kaharlyk district of Kyiv region)”. The second place was taken by Olha Lavrynovych (10th grade, Globa, Volyn region), with the work “Holocaust in the Territory of Kovelschyna: General Trends and Regional Peculiarities” and Yelyzaveta Bordunova (10th grade, Kryvyi Rih), representing the work “Formation and Development of Secondary and Higher Education of Jews in the South West Province of the Russian Empire (XIX – early XX century.)”. The third place in this nomination was taken Timur Gura (11th grade, Dnipropetrovsk), the theme of his work “Soviet Periodicals on the Establishment of Israel on Example of the “Pravda” Newspaper”; Mykhailo Bohun (10th grade, Kryvyi Rih), with the work called “Memories and Their Role in the Study of the Great Patriotic War”, Vitaly Nykyforenko (10th grade, Kryvyi Rih), the work called “The Fate of Yuri Sych”.

Students participating in this year’s Final presented really decent works. The third place was shared between Oleh Bozhkov (Kryvyi Rih) with the work called “Ways of Memorialization of Historical Memory (on the example of study of Kryvyi Rih at Afghan War (1979-1989)”; Daniil Melyushko (Kyiv) with the work called “Family History on the Background of Historical Age”, Valerya Pantyuhova (Kryvyi Rih) with the work called “Peculiarities of Constructing Historical Memory of the Holocaust”. The second place was taken by Maryna Strilchuk (Dnipropetrovsk) with the work called “The Experience in Preserving Memory of the Holocaust in Ukraine and the United States: a Comparative Analysis”. The first place was taken by Oleksandr Kovtun (Kryvyi Rih) with the work called “Problems of Defining the Legal Status of “Righteous Among the Nations” in Ukraine”. This work is not just a theory. The participant created his own bill to determine the legal status of Righteous Among the Nations and plans to promote it. Equally impressive was the work of another winner – Oleksiy Rudyi (Khmelnytsky). Last year he created the printed calendar of the Holocaust memory. This year at the Contest he presented multimedia development “Electronic Calendar of Holocaust Memory”, including commemorative dates of World War II and the Holocaust, description of significant events, biographies of famous political and public figures of this period.

Teachers also presented their multimedia developments. In the category “Multimedia Technologies” Oleg Rudyi (Khmelnytsky) took second place with his multimedia teaching aids “Victory Day. Liberation of Proskuriv. Part I”. First place was taken by Yuri Burdynsky (Sharhorod, Vinnytsia region) with his documentary “The One Who Saved One Soul – Saved the Whole World”.

In the category “Scientific research” the second place was taken by Tetyana Bandura (Dubrovytsya, Rivne region) with the work “Anti-Jewish Policies of the Occupation Authorities in Dubrovytsya in 1941-1942’s”. The first place was taken by Dmytro Hontar (Kryvyi Rih), the topic of the research “Young People of Ukraine in Soviet Resistance Movement during the Nazi Occupation”.

In the category “Pedagogical Skills” the third place was shared between Victoriya Matkobozhyk (Ingulets, Dnipropetrovsk region) with methodological development “Tragic Lessons of History” (children’s fate during the Great Famine of 1932-1933.)” and Susanna Havina (Kharkiv) with methodological development of extracurricular activities “Lessons of the Holocaust: Courage and Compassion”. The second place was taken by Vira Kapyltsova (Kryvyi Rih) with methodological development of student project “We are Against War!”; Tetyana Lanevska (Kupiansk, Kharkiv region) with the lesson plan “Holocaust: Memory that Resists Oblivion”; Svitlana Posmitna (Poltava) with lessons plan “There are no Ages to Drink the Lakes of these Tears... (Holodomor: A View from the Poltava Region)”. The winners in this category were Marina Curin (Przyslip, Transcarpathian region) with methodological development of extracurricular activities “Uncontrollable Winds of the Holocaust” and Olha Kucher with methodological plan of lesson “The Events of the Second World War 1941–1945 in the Destinies of People: Looking for Present in Past”.

Contest winners were awarded with valuable prizes. Although the very participance in the final event of the Contest can be considered as a reward. The organizers always plan interesting and rich program, including tours, round-tables and discussions. This year was not an exception.

The final of the Contest was commemorated to the Babi Yar Remembrance Day and was held on a single occasion with the commemoration ceremonies, which were joined by the Contest participants. 

Babi Yar Remembrance Day Ceremony, opening of the exhibition “Dictatorship and Democracy in the Age of Extremities: a Focus on European History in the XX century”, round table “Studying the History of World War II and the Holocaust in the Conditions of Current War against Ukraine”, the opening of the hall with a collection of clocks “Clocks Which Saw Time” – this is not a complete list of events that were joined by pupils, students and teachers, who came to the Final event of the Contest. Moreover they were not just witnesses of the events, but in fact active participants. They debated with famous historians from various countries, took a tour along with Detlef Voltaire, Consul General of Germany, joined the round-table, along with Refat Chubarov, the Head of the Crimean Tatar Mejlis.

So the finalists of the Contest did not lack of emotions. “I am shocked and amazed!” – the contestant writes in capital letters in her questionnaire. There’s no better gratitude to the organizers.