16 January 2013

The Prison on Lonts’kyi Street: Memory Dialogue or Memory Monologue?

Courtyard of the museum, photo by Uilleam Blacker

The Prison on Lonts’kyi Street: Memory Dialogue or Memory Monologue?

Uilleam Blacker

First published on the Current Ukrainian Politics Blog:

L’viv’s wartime history is complex, and demands sensitivity and an understanding that victimhood and guilt are not always exclusive categories. The history of the site of the prison on Lonts’kyi Street speaks to this complexity. It speaks of the Polish state that forcefully oppressed Ukrainian political and cultural aspirations, and also of the Poles tortured, killed and deported by the Soviets. It reminds of Ukrainian victims of the Soviets, but also of Ukrainians’ part in the L’viv pogrom of 1941; it speaks of the Jewish victims of that pogrom, and of wider anti-Semitic violence and murder. This site speaks to the history of interwar Lwów, where Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews failed to build a strong enough society to withstand the chaos that the war would bring. For these reasons, it is a good thing that there is a museum at Lonts’kyi. Its history of the tragic intertwining of the fates of various groups makes it a perfect location to examine that history and learn from it. Unfortunately, the current museum does not take advantage of this opportunity.