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“The Ukrainian World Will Not Be the Same as It Was”: Director of Polish Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum Gave an Exclusive Interview to the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation


The director of the Polish Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Piotr Cywiński, shared his thoughts on the war in Ukraine with the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation. The expert also explained how important it is to collect, document and preserve the accounts of eyewitnesses who are victims of the war...

“This is a war that has enormous significance on many levels. The Ukrainian world will not be the same as it was because that world has now been re-written anew,” says Mr. Cywiński.

The expert reminds us that Ukraine has a complex history, and those of its territories that were closer to Russia paid the highest historical price. However, for now, the positioning of Russia in the world has changed a lot. New countries joining NATO, certain threats regarding gas supplies — all this motivates Europe to unite. So the master line of various EU components and elements has never been so clear-cut. And against the background of what is happening, it is extremely critical to collect the stories of eyewitnesses.

“Collecting people’s testimonies is a very important work. Taking into account the evolution of trauma, we can see that such testimonies are easier to get immediately after some difficult moments. Or much later then,” Mr. Cywiński explains.

Many victims are just unable to tell us anything immediately after the horror they experienced, and after some time, the elements of the post-traumatic memory tend to be forgotten. Later in time, certain borrowing of facts or their interpretation may occur. That is why, the first, early records are very important and valuable not only for historians or teachers, but also for lawyers who will be dealing with this conflict.

Mr. Cywiński notes that those 35,000 stories (now this figure is more than 40,000) collected in the Museum of Civilian Voices of the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation are just the beginning. The expert emphasizes that recording a testimony and preserving what has already been recorded is the most important thing now.

“This has its value in terms of moral and educational evaluation. Ukraine and the world will still be looking for some mechanisms to demonstrate this. The quantity and quality of the material will play a huge role in the future,” Cywiński says.

Piotr Cywiński has no doubts that the war will be won not by the number of tanks, but by spirit. After all, the fighting spirit is much more valuable than tanks, [military] installations or warships in the Black Sea. The full interview is available for reading at the link

This exclusive interview with Piotr Cywiński has become part of the collection in the Rinat Akhmetov Foundation’s Museum of Civilian Voices. It is the world’s largest archive of stories from Ukrainian civilians who suffered from the war. The Museum’s collection already numbers more than 40,000 stories.

Every story matters. Share your story too! You can do it in one of the following ways:

— post your story on your Facebook page adding the hashtags #Civilian_Voices #share_your_story, and invite your friends to join in

— use the chatbot in Telegram

— visit the Museum’s portal at and click Tell a Story button in the top right corner of the website

— telephone our toll-free hot line: 0 (800) 509 001