Mapping Memories, Logo, Dossierbild

Most people in Central Europe still primarily associate the National Socialist mass murder of the Jews with the death camps in occupied Poland. The Germans had consciously situated these away from major conurbations. However, one of the largest individual massacres of the Second World War on the territory of the conquered Soviet Union was committed by German police, SS, the Wehrmacht and local militia on the immediate outskirts of a large city – in a suburb of Kyiv. The area of Babyn Jar, translating as "Old Womens’ Ravine", is only four linear kilometres west of the Ukrainian capital’s central railway station. Within two days in September 1941, more than 33.000 Jews were shot there.
The German Wehrmacht invaded Kyiv on 19 September 1941. Barely two weeks later, on 29 and 30 September 1941, SS and police units, supported by local militia, massacred 33,771 Jewish men, women and children in the ravine of Babyn Jar on the outskirts of Kyiv. According to various estimates, in the following months and years between 50,000 and 100,000 people were murdered there, including Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, communists and Ukrainian activists.

The 75th anniversary celebrated last year created greater public awareness in the West of Babyn Jar as a place of commemoration of the Holocaust in Eastern Europe and the Nazis’ racially motivated politics of extermination. At the same time, many sites of mass shootings in Ukraine and on the territory of the former Soviet Union have remained virtually unknown – both in terms of geography and commemoration.

The Hitler-Stalin Pact of 23 August 1939, the occupation of Poland by German troops only a few weeks later, the annexation of the three Baltic States and parts of Romania by the USSR in 1940, the Third Reich’s invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, the terror of occupation, millions of dead soldiers and civilians, and the collaboration of local people with the Nazi regime – all of these represent contested, controversial and complex issues that continue to divide Central and Eastern European countries both politically and socially.

The conference provided an overview of the current state of research, historical discourses and current lines of conflict in political-historical debates. It also provided an opportunity for networking and exchange between actors working in the field of remembrance. Last but not least, the conference asked how discourses of remembrance influence political decisions at the local and international level and vice versa, and what forms a critical transnational engagement with the past in Eastern Europe might take.

Pre-Conference "Mapping Memories"

Kyiv, 13-15 October 2017

The Mapping Memories Pre-Conference encouraged networking and the development of a transnational, multi-perspective dialogue between civil society initiatives and actors from Eastern Partnership countries and Europe.
Historical reflection and commemorative practices are significantly influenced by civil society initiatives, remembrance at the individual and collective level and local perspectives on historical events. Prior to the conference "Babyn Jar and other ‘forgotten’ sites of the Holocaust", this pre-conference invited actors from civil society to network and exchange methodological and historico-political knowledge. A particular aim was to become more aware of pitfalls, blurring and colouring within one’s own commemorative work and to test methods that could facilitate transnational collaboration based on multiple perspectives. The results of the discourse will be interrogated with respect to options for their implementation in daily practical work, but also form a basis for discourse for the subsequent conference from a civil society perspective.

Kyiv not only intended to serve as a venue and place of dialogue, but also as a place of exploration and interactive experience. Local discourses of commemoration were examined as an example, leading to a critical exploration and expansion of civil society’s integrative and interactive spaces.

Find the Event documentation of the Pre-Conference here.


date and venue

Kyiv, 15-17 October 2017

Conference 15 - 17 October 2017
Radisson Blu Hotel
Yaroslaviv Val St, 22
Kyiv 01054

Pre-Conference 13 - 15 October
Naberezhno-Lugova St, 8
Kyiv 04071


The conference is a project of the German Federal Agency for Civic Education (bpb), supported by the German Federal Foreign Office. Scientific advice: Uwe Neumärker, Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.


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Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
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