Pilot Youth Project by Memorial in Exile
Memorial International has successfully launched their first youth project in exile after being banned from Russia in December 2021.
From 1999 to 2021, the Russian NGO Memorial International had organised a national history competition in Russia, encouraging tens of thousands of Russian students to critically research their local and family histories. The competition project painted a diverse picture of the lives of people in the Soviet Union and the victims of past but even more recent state suppressions – an important supplement to Russia’s official politics of memory.
In winter 2021/22, Memorial International was formally liquidated by Russian authorities. Due to their ban in Russia and because of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine which Memorial has always condemned, Memorial relocated parts of their activities to offices abroad to work in exile. In recognition of their work, Memorial was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 2022.
On 16 May 2023, 15 Memorial institutions from 11 countries founded a new International Association Memorial in Geneva. This new association aims to integrate efforts and expertise of its members, and to work on the legacies of Soviet terror in a European context.
A Pilot Educational Programme launched in spring 2023, designed for the work with a European audience, was part of this process. The new educational activities are keeping the focus on grassroot history of both individuals and communities. The educational programme of 2023 encouraged young people to conduct oral history interviews and small research projects to reflect on new meanings of the (post)Soviet history today.
Participants of Memorial’s pilot project in 2023 were young people who are interested in Russian/Soviet culture and history and/or have a Russian family background. They currently live in countries such as Armenia, France, Germany, Georgia, Israel, Italy, or Switzerland. The project group started their work in April 2023. Their educational programme lasted six months and was organised in a hybrid format. Having started with intense online courses and remote collaboration, part of the group also met for a physical workshop in Prague which took place parallel to the EUSTORY Summit in autumn 2023.
The pilot project was organised by the newly founded International Association Memorial in exile and was supported by Körber-Stiftung. The physical workshop in Prague was organized together with EUSTORY and Memorial Czechia.
For more information about the history of Memorial’s History Competition in Russia (1999-2021) visit https://eustory.org/competition-topics-russia.