Named “Ukraine – Crucifixion”, this initiative of the Museum of the History of Ukraine in the Second World War brings together authentic objects, collected between April 4 and May 5, in particular in the “liberated” region north of kyiv.
It was inaugurated on May 8, its assembly in record time having been made possible by close cooperation with the army, the presidency, the Ukrainian government and regional authorities.
In the entrance hall, military boots gathered in the center of a large red star on the floor.
The personal notes and credit cards of Russian soldiers killed at the front are presented under showcases.
On passports, the dates of birth testify to their youth, while a smashed plate, registered in Siberia, proves that some come from afar.
The large jars of borsch – a traditional Ukrainian soup prepared in several Slavic countries – are also available in a halal version, to suit the Chechens enlisted by their leader Ramzan Kadyrov.
Missiles are embedded in a window, blackened and half melted from an explosion, evoking bombardments and massive destruction of houses.
“Here you can see and touch the war with your finger,” Commissioner Yuri Savtchouk told AFP. “That’s also the goal: to shock people into realizing what’s going on.”
In the cellars of the museum, a makeshift shelter has been reconstructed identically from photos.
It housed dozens of civilians for 37 days, including several children and a six-month-old infant.
Bricks placed on the ground materialize the loss of two people, who died in this unhealthy and humid underground, while on a television screen hanging on the wall, the infant’s mother delivers her chilling testimony.
“In fact, it’s really very hard to see that,” says Zoïa Didok, 26, a visitor who works in the banking sector.
“Luckily I didn’t live in one of those villages when the Russians were there.”
On the first floor, the portal of a church ripped open by shrapnel opens onto a room devoted to compositions.
Ukrainian artists have seized on these materials to express their pain.
Thus, burnt candles, gathered at the foot of a painting representing Christ and hit by shrapnel, pay homage to the many dead and to the damaged religious heritage.
A grenade concealed under a toy in a sandbox recalls the stolen childhood of millions of young Ukrainians.
A shattered World War II memorial in the commune of Gostomel gives a terrible sense of deja vu and draws a parallel between the two wars, with today’s invaders being the descendants of yesterday’s heroes.
“We also want to respond to the Russian propaganda which has set up an exhibition in Moscow on the so-called fascism that should be fought in Ukraine”, explains Yuri Savtchouk.