Looted Scythian gold in the Melitopol Museum
Image: Arkhip Kuindzhi Art Museum
Damaged monuments, looted museums, burned archives: the destruction of Ukrainian cultural assets by the Russian army is massive. A panel discussion illustrates the damage – and reports on courageous rescue operations.
When the Kremlin announces that Ukraine could “disappear from the map”, there can be no doubt about the goals of the aggressive war. In terms of Ukrainian identity, Moscow has done the exact opposite since the war began. This should not distract from the fact that the list of destroyed or damaged monuments, theaters, libraries, museums, archives and churches in the contested areas is growing daily. More than four hundred historical sites have been destroyed or damaged since February 24, Andrii Portnov, head of the chair for “Entangled History of Ukraine” at the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), recently reported.
Entangled History? During a discussion at Berlin’s Robert Havemann Society on “Ukrainian cultural heritage in Russia’s war of aggression”, Portnov did not deny that the history of his country is thoroughly interwoven, even confused, after many political rewrites. According to Portnov, the Ukrainian culture with its multilingualism, its multi-confessionalism and its “spectrum of ideological preferences” is all too often reduced to ethnic nationalism in the German public. Instead of discriminating stereotypes about his country, Portnov calls for the “art of critical empathy” towards a nation that is now increasingly manifesting itself.