A ‘Holocaust Disneyland’? Historians Say a Controversial Film Director Wants to Turn a Ukrainian Museum into One.Breaking News
tags: Holocaust, memorials, Ukraine, historical memory
[Controversial Ukrainian film director Ilya] Khrzhanovsky is also, at least for now, the artistic director of a big Ukrainian Holocaust commemoration project: The Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, a museum that has cost millions and is still in the planning stages. It’s named after one of the worst Holocaust pogroms, in which Nazis and local collaborators murdered more than 150,00 people, including 50,000 Jews, at the Babi Yar ravine, also known as Babyn Yar, outside Kyiv.
The Ukrainian government has invested a million dollars in the project — more than they’ve put into any previous Holocaust commemoration.
Khrzhanovsky, who is Jewish, wants to bring his hyper-realistic cinematic style to the museum and make it, in the words of a former director of the project, a “Holocaust Disneyland.”
According to Karel Berkhoff — who was appointed chief historian of the museum in 2017 but has since quit — Khrzhanovsky told staff that he plans for displays “in which visitors would find themselves playing the role of victims, collaborators, Nazis, or prisoners of war who were forced to burn corpses.”
But the scandal over his latest film, “Dau: Degeneration,” has put Khrzhanovsky’s work with the museum in jeopardy. Dozens of Ukrainian artists and historians penned an open letter on May 1 demanding his dismissal from the Babi Yar project.
“Mr. Khrzhanovsky’s appointment as artistic director has already tarnished the Memorial’s reputation and is undermining the achievements of the previous three years of work, while the Center faces a brewing international scandal,” wrote the cosignatories.
In a responding statement last week, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center Charity Foundation said the “Dau” projects are practically irrelevant to Khrzhanovsky’s work at the in-the-works Holocaust museum.
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