Talking about Holocaust is not welcomed at public schools in Lviv, Ukraine


Banderites in Ukrainian national attire smacking the head of a Jewish man against a broken Lenin statue in Lviv

April 22, 2015

Lvov City Blog

Originally published April 9, 2012

Translated from Russian by Dvadjsidva

The Lviv regional Jewish charitable Foundation “Hesed Aryeh” (Mercy) is officially prohibited from talking about the Holocaust in the local schools of Lviv. This was announced by the Director of that Lviv Fund, Ada Dianova. Lviv officials claim that the film “Два танго” (‘Two to Tango’), which was shown during these meetings, contains “scenes of violence,” and does not contribute to any “mutual understanding”.

Ada Dianova had stated that on the 18th of December, the representative of Ukrainian political party “Svoboda,” Ivan Grinda sent a request to the Prosecutor’s office, in which he accused the charity fund “Hesed Aryeh” of anti-Ukrainian activities. And the reason of the scandal was the Foundation’s project “Hand in hand”, in which the charity Fund “Hesed Aryeh” told Lviv school students about the Holocaust in Lviv. 

Here is a short excerpt from the parliamentary inquiry that characterize the style of the document: “In November 2008, on the premises of Public school No. 10, with instructions in the Polish language at the address of: Lviv, General Chuprinka st. #1, was held an infamous anti-Ukrainian and anti-state provocation organized by the Jewish society “Hesed Aryeh”, the headquarters of which is in our city, Kotlarevsky Street, #30″

“The Meeting, which was attended by about 90 pupils and teachers, was dedicated to the Holocaust of the Jewish population of Lviv during the Second World War.

“The project “Hand in Hand” was scheduled to go through seven schools in Lviv: three Ukrainian, three Russian and one Polish. Pupils of 6th-11th classes were offered to view the exhibit “Lviv Holocaust during WWII” and the amateur documentary “Two to tango” about the tragic annihilation of the Jewish community in Lviv during the Nazi period. A conclusion to this program would be a small concert. 

However, members of the Ukrainian political party “Svoboda” did not like stills from the movie feature, the part where Ukrainian girls welcomed the Germans with flowers. This was the first claim they made to us about the program.

The second claim, is about a line from a poem about the Holocaust; “Crying Tarasik, Bogdanchik, Andriy, in Babiy Yar – Yevrei (Jew)”.  This poem was interpreted by the members of “Svoboda” as follows; “Bogdanchiks and Andriys are alive and fine, and why is it my fault, the Jew, that I was killed at Babiy Yar?”

The third claim, concerned the complaint of one of the representatives of “Hesed Aryeh” to the teacher of the school regarding memorial plaques of Roman Shukhevych on school buildings. We conducted an internal investigation and found that the incident indeed occurred; this was a man who was hired as a photographer by us, of Ukrainian ethnicity. Seeing a plaque of Shukhevych on the Polish school, he expressed surprise, saying is it hanged since he fought against the Poles. 

The photographer said that, as a Ukrainian to Ukrainian, and not like a Jew to a Ukrainian. Our project of tolerance “Hand in Hand” did not mention Shukhevych at all,” – said Ada Dianova.

A month later the Prosecutor’s office closed the case due to lack of evidence. But the case continued at the level of the regional Department of Education, and a special commission was established. Simultaneously with the work of the Commission, which “Hesed Aryeh” was not invited to attend, due to pressure of the Director of the Polish school No. 10. According to Ada Dianov, the director of this school was criticized for allowing the Jews to come in without the consent of the Department of Education. This case came close to the dismissal of the personnel responsible. The woman was left alone, only after the intervention of the Polish diplomats.

A special committee studied the projects of the group “Hesed Aryeh,”  they observed a school lesson about the Holocaust from the project “Hand in Hand.” “We asked the people, why are you doing this investigation? This investigation lasted very long. And on top of that, we have not received any response,” added Ada Dianov.

However, very soon the Lviv City Council and “Svoboda” political party initiated another investigation. It was conducted by a Manager of the Affairs of the Executive Committee of the Lviv City Council, M. Litvinuyk, Director of Administration and City Chairman, Oleg Berezyuk, the Deputy Mayor for Humanitarian Affairs, V. Kosiv, Director of the Department of Humanitarian Policy, O. Poburko, head of the Legal Department, G. Pinkevich, MP of LGS, I. Granda, and others. They held three meetings. During the second meeting, the Commission viewed the film “Two to tango”, and invited other viewers. “What was their reaction is not know. But they decided to send the film for an examination to the Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education. Why to that particular department, I do not understand, because there is already a special Commission with the legal authorities. In March we received a letter stating that “Hesed Aryeh” in particular, was banned from holding any events in Lviv schools. It stated that the film contains scenes of violence, so it is inappropriate to show students of junior and middle school age. So numerous thrillers, and God knows what else you can find on everyday television is fine, yet the truth about the Holocaust – is inappropriate,” – said Ada Dianova.

The head of BF had intended to save the project. So Ada Dianova wrote a letter to the head of Lviv Regional State Administration N. Kmit, head of the Lviv Regional Council Miroslav Senecu and mayor of Lviv Andriy Sadovy. But no reply was received.

“If Mr. Tyagnibok proved to me that without the “Jews” and “Muscovites” Ukraine will become a blossoming rich country, I would be the first to take my stuff and leave. But I’m sure salvation is in something else – in the love of others, no matter what nation they represent. I was born in Lviv, this is my homeland. I have lived here all my life. But if you say get out, since you’re not Ukrainian, you don’t belong to the titular nation, and without you we will live richly, it is terrifying,” – said Ada Dianova.

In a situation when the Lviv authorities actually banned the project of tolerance “Hand in Hand”, Ada Dianova had the intention to contact Oleg Tyagnibok. “I want to finally figure out what does the patriot Mr. Tyagnibok do specifically for Ukrainians. Here, our charitable foundation for eleven years has helped five thousand people in Lviv and Ivano-Frankivsk regions. It’s not only Jews that are helped, there are also relatives of Jews, which as a rule, are not Jews. We also do not take money from the city budget. We started our operations in 1998, when older people were rummaging through trash bins in search of food. We specifically do something: feed, heal, and care for them. We have projects of tolerance, cultural projects. In our children’s clubs for Jewish children, there are also Ukrainian children. We specifically do something for Ukrainians on a daily basis. But what has Mr. Tyagnibok really done for Ukraine, except sow dangerous slogans of hate and fear? Which of us is really the patriot of Ukraine?” – asked Ada Dianova. 

[Sowing hatred, fear, enmity in people is easy to do when there is economic and political discord, to use the people for personal and political goals. But to do something that actually helps the poor and distraught and change the direction a country is headed to make the citizens happy and prosperous is tough work, indeed – D]

She stressed that during the existence of the charity fund “Hesed Aryeh” in Lviv, this is the first occasion that the relations between the city authorities and the charitable foundation have hit a wall. “During anarchy, a permanent electoral crisis, and economic crisis, there are people who are speculating on national feelings. And this is dangerous”, concluded the head of the charity fund “Hesed Aryeh”.

In comments of the Director of the Institute of Postgraduate Pedagogical Education, Roman Shiyan noted that the recommendations of the Institute about the film “Two to Tango” does not have a recommendation of prohibition. The conclusion of the examination was to set limits for age groups of children, because in the film there are scenes of violence. However, the Institute did not categorically object to showing the film in schools.

But the Deputy Mayor of Lviv for Humanitarian Affairs, Vasyl Kosiv said: “The fact remains that the claims were not about the stories and lectures, but about the film. The film was not recognized as being fit for the age category of the children, the curriculum and did not promote tolerance and mutual understanding”.


In January 2000, Stockholm hosted an international conference in which Ukraine joined to the Declaration on the preservation of the memory of the Holocaust in the contemporary world through the study and teaching of the subject.

More than ten European countries, including France, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland have criminal liability for public denial of the Holocaust. In Austria, Romania, and the Czech Republic, denial of the Holocaust is punishable by a jail term of 6 months to 10 years. In Germany and Israel, the punishment can be up to 5 years in prison. In Romania, a special punishment for civil servants is up to 5 years imprisonment.

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