Historical quest across the WWII memory places in Lviv

During 19-23 March 2016, Lviv saw the 3rd part of the History Begins in the Family international youth project. Halyna Stasevych (Bunio), project coordinator on behalf of the Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past programme, tells about a new format used to introduce the project participants to the history of Lviv city during World War II, new both within the project and the programme.

Participants of the historical quest in Lviv

The quest idea dawned on the project coordinator Oleksa Stasevych. However, at the very beginning we had a vague idea that the quest development process was going to be so challenging. One of the challenges was the size of the group of participants, the other one was the number of WWII memory places in Lviv and distances between them. In order to allow for the comfortable amount of quest participants and cover maximum number of places, I suggested the concept of three separate quest routes which meant dividing participants into three smaller groups. We also invited our colleagues from the Territory of Terror memorial museum to join the development process.

As a result, we have developed three quest routes for three teams, each consisting of participants from Ukraine, Poland, and Germany. The teams learned about the objects by reading QR-codes, performed tasks, and made selfies with the historical objects in the background. The quest tasks were diverse including the ones that demanded using analytical skills and creativity. Learning about the history of some parts of the routes was facilitated by expert guides. At the end of the quest, all team members pieced together the topic-related jigsaw puzzle out of the puzzle parts they found on their routes.

Developing the quest, we intended to focus on the stories of the witnesses and actors of the place-related events, representatives of different communities of the multicultural city of the time, and cover periods of occupation of both regimes, compared to predominantly Nazi perspective at the previous project meetings in Germany and Poland. The priority was set to submit this information without needless epithets, glorification or humiliation, and multilaterally, including the manifestations of love of freedom, resistance, and kindness, as well as issues associated with difficult moral choice and abuse not only on the part of the actors of the Nazi and Soviet totalitarian regimes but also by the representatives of the occupied population. Thus, participants had the opportunity both to add to the knowledge of the topic and to come to the level of human values, including family values, and, finally, take a fresh look at the past. They shared their discoveries and conclusions later at the presentation of their quest experience.

We keep the locations and other quest details under wraps, as we plan to continue holding this quest for new groups of participants within future international and all-Ukrainian projects, and particularly for Lviv school children and students in order to acquaint them with unfamiliar and interesting pages of the local history and bring about the following dialogue around these issues.

We would like to express our gratitude to all involved in the development and implementation of the historical quest in Lviv.

The quest developers: Halyna Stasevych (Bunio) (History Begins in the Family project coordinator, expert of the Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past programme), Liudmyla Levcheniuk (director of the department for information and education, the Territory of Terror Memorial Museum), Taras Martynenko (researcher, historian), Oleksa Stasevych (History Begins in the Family project coordinator, Ukrainian Action: Healing the Past programme manager). Invited expert guides: Ihor Derevyanyi (staff scientist, Lontskyi Street Prison Memorial Museum), Sister Volodymyra Maksymiv of the Order of Saint Basil the Great, Volodymyr Behlov (communications manager, Center for Urban History of East Central Europe), Liudmyla Levcheniuk. Advisor: Jarosław Kit (Doctor of Philosophy, scholarly assistant, Institute of Religion and Society, Ukrainian Catholic University). Translation or/and interpretation: Marichka Poliuliuk, Melana Lyvka, Oleksandra Kanafotska, Halyna Stasevych (Bunio).

Feedbacks of the Lviv quest participants

helena_circle_2The historical quest in Lviv was a great and completely different way of getting to know the city and its history. Not only working as a group and solving riddles to find our way through Lviv made it so special and interesting, but also how well organized and well prepared it was. It is hard to put the mix of excitement, curiosity and joy the quest evolved into words. Let’s just say it was awesome and probably the greatest and most interactive way of learning! I hope I will eventually get the chance to do something similar again – or even doing one of the other groups’ routes through the city. — Helena Pünjer, Germany.

lukasz_circle_2I enjoyed this way of learning about Lviv and its history, because if we wanted to continue our quest we had to focus on tasks, which were also teaching us interesting information about city and its citizens. In some locations, we could also learn about some places or buildings which don’t exist anymore. Beside this, doing quest with my friends in group made it enthusiastic and fun. Łukasz Kowalski, Poland.

lilia_circle_1It felt like you are Ben Gates acting in “National Treasure”, with the exception that instead of the U.S. Declaration of Independence with the secret code on the flipside you get old photos, and instead of the President’s diary uncovering the secrets of Air 51 and the assassination of Kennedy you read the message from the QR-code and try to use your brain for a moment in between hasty runs in Lviv. We would read the stories silently, get lost in the small Lviv quarters with laughter, hurry each time we realized that we needed to be the first to finish. We managed to understand each other even though speaking different languages. Thanks to the quest we could discover Lviv from the new perspective where each building represents a century-long history, the city which saw the Stars of David and the “Soviet liberation”. Apart from visiting the heart of the city, we could also seek an insight into it. Not everyone has such luck. Lilia Trubka, Ukraine.

philipp_circle_1It was a completely new experience for me. A combination of a group competition and a historical walk could awaken my attention much more than a normal sightseeing tour. Moreover, it made a lot of fun to investigate diverse parts of the history with the group. Also it was exciting to come in contact with the local residents, who helped us to find the right way. But most of all I liked to create the photo, where we needed to represent an ethical issue. That task established a connection to general problems also in nowadays life. Philipp Jüsten, Germany.

ksenia_circle_1I’m all for diverse ways of learning about history. It was the first guest experience for me and it turned out to be incredible! I’m glad that my foreign friends got to know Lviv this way. We really imagined ourselves to be researchers. This let us experience the city to the full, touch upon its history, and have fantastic fun! These are moments when language or any other kind of barrier faded away. We crossed the streets hand in hand, wondered at unfamiliar facts, and laughed wholeheartedly! Besides, it was the first time I found myself running across the city so fast. The quest showed us new sides of each other. My super active team was the best! Ksenia Voitiuk, Ukraine.

ola_circle_1The city sightseeing was much more interesting that way than just walking around with a guide. I got totally amazed by the view of Lviv from the hills. Everyone got so involved in the game! We had fantastic fun as a team because we all cooperated very well and everybody had something to do. If we hadn’t worked together, we wouldn’t have managed to finish the tasks on time. I can say it taught us not only about Lviv’s history and places, but also working in a team. — Ola Płonka, Poland.

anna-lena_circleThe historical quest we did through Lviv was great! We visited a lot of interesting places and thanks to the QR-codes we were always able to read some family stories connected with the places. This way of learning about the past was so fun but also so different from other ways. There was no one telling us a lot of facts but we found out about everything ourselves and in the end we knew as much as we would be able to learn listening to somebody else. Actually I would say we learned even more since we were able to not only get to know about the facts but to fill them with personal pictures by reading different fates of different people living with that facts and by visiting the places which made everything come alive. It was so fun! — Anna Lena Seeman, Germany.

grzegorz_circle_1It was a really cool experience for me. Evidently, it costed a great deal of effort to organise the event. As for me, it was a wonderful way of spending time and learning about the history. I liked it a lot and would eagerly participate in the suchlike activity again. I’m also grateful to my team for the good vibes which gave me much joy. This historical adventure will long be remembered by me. — Grzegorz Rusek, Poland.

lera_circle_1The quest was the high point of the entire project for me. I didn’t expect that we would manage to create such a united and strong team despite the fact that we are so diverse and speak different languages. This time Lviv manifested itself differently as compared to my previous experience of typical guided tours. Due to the quest, I got to know Lviv where people strived to survive and have a better life during WWII. Here no-one tells you about the history, you have the chance to discover it all by yourself. This motivated me to try develop such quests at the university, so that my friends, students and all interested could feel the thrill of learning and excitement I experienced myself. Very many thanks to all those who made this experience possible. — Valeriya Pavlysh, Ukraine.

You are welcome to read the feedbacks of other participants and the quest codeveloper Liudmyla Levcheniuk on our partners website.

Halyna Stasevych (Bunio),
History Begins in the Family project coordinator