German historian: There are many lies about the Ukrainian liberation movement

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German historians are researching the real history of Ukraine. Natalia Pysanska for radiosvoboda.org.

Berlin – There is a lot of false information about the Ukrainian liberation movement, stated historian and professor Martin Schulze Wessel in an interview conducted by Radio Svoboda. The professor noted that the Ukrainian liberation movement is comparable with any other liberation movement in Europe, and the history of Ukraine needs to be explored, studied, and promoted in Germany and elsewhere. This issue was tackled at the first conference of the German-Ukrainian commission of historians that took place in Berlin.
“The German-Ukrainian commission of historians has barely started its work, and yet there are so many issues and questions to discuss. I’d like to note that the participants at the conference were not just experts in the field, but regular people as well. So many people are ignorant of Ukraine’s history, so many are unaware that Ukraine must be researched as an independent entity instead of as an appendage to Russian and Soviet historiography. Naturally the correlation between Ukraine and Russia and the USSR has to be taken into account but Ukraine cannot be consigned to an inferior or less significant place in the historiography. Thus we are considering Ukrainian history within the European context.”

– Why is it that the experts have only now begun to consider studying Ukraine and not 25 years ago when Ukraine became independent? Has the conflict with Russia encouraged this new-found curiosity about Ukraine?

“Of course it could be explained that way. But it can be explained another way, too. Of course it would have been better to start doing what we’re doing back in 1991. But it is better to study and learn history than doing the opposite. That is why we are pressing ahead. Today it is important to understand that any policy concerning Ukraine must be based on the recognition that Ukraine is a sovereign nation with the right to freely and independently resolve issues such as foreign policy.”

– The stumbling block to exploring Ukrainian history has been the familiarity (or lack of familiarity) and interpretation of the complex issues, especially the Holocaust, and also certain allegations in regard to the national liberation movement. What are your thoughts on this?

“This is exactly why those issues must be thoroughly examined. But not in a way that would please the Germans or conversely, the Ukrainians. We must adhere to the objective historical truth and we must examine and study the most painful and distressing aspects of history. The same goes for the national liberation movement in Ukraine about which there is so much contradictory and often false information. It is comparable with any liberation movement in Europe, it is, after all, not an exclusively Ukrainian phenomenon. Ukrainian history has to be explored, it has to be promoted in Germany and elsewhere.”

– After the creation of the German-Ukrainian commission of historians Russian politicians claimed that the commission will be subject to political influence.

“Yes, I’ve read that in some of the Russian media. But we are academic professionals in the field of history and we are not subject to political maneuvering. We perform our professional duty: we seek out the truth in history.”

EMPR, O. R. contributed to this publication

Original article in Ukrainian is available on radiosvoboda.org

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