A unique quest reveals the history of Lviv during WWII to the Polish, German and Ukrainian youth

For the second year in a row participants of an international project “History begins in the family” are taking part in the unique historical quest. This year the urban game about Lviv during WWII took place on July 6 as a part of the first stage of the project with 23 participants from Germany, Poland and Ukraine.

Oleksa Stasevych, one of the project coordinators, said that the historical quest received a very positive feedback from the team as a creative means of learning about the living history of the city. That’s why the decision was taken to organize it again. «This quest is unique for Ukraine. First and foremost because of the people who were involved in its development, testing, and conduction. We have managed to cooperate with experts in public history, researchers from museums, public activists and professional tour guides. Everything was made from the scratch. Within a few months we have turned our idea into the final product which does not exist anywhere outside of Lviv» – said Oleksa Stasevych.

The quest consists of three routes, each allows to discover Lviv in several historical perspectives. The participants completed tasks, used special tags to navigate around the city, met with the guides and meditated around monuments.

“We have showed the youth the non-touristy Lviv. Lviv with its difficult history and memory about the war. We were able to do it by depicting lives of representatives from different ethnical groups that lived in the city, memories of the witnesses and family stories. Experts became a very important part of the quest, guiding the groups through places of key historical importance. That’s when the youth had the opportunity to dive into the history of the places experts were talking about and exchange thoughts on the received information. The quest became not just an adventure but a push to rethink the common past”. – said the a quest coordinator Liudmyla Levcheniuk.


According to one of the professional guides, the historian Ihor Dereviany, the quest has renewed interest in the lost face of the city, made deserted and less known places of memory enter the urban space, helped in understanding the reasons for the conflicts of the past. Dereviany observed, “The designed routes showed the history of the city during WWII in several dimensions. Through personal stories in the historical context of the war events, through information about policies of occupation and social changes, international relations, less known events in lives of the occupied citizens, connected with the objects of the urban space.”

For the historian and tour guide Roman Melnyk the end of the quest was the most important. He stated, “All of the teams have piece by piece gathered all sorts of information, got together, exchanged their impressions, having in that way collected a kind of puzzle. It helped the participants from other countries understand what has been happening here in 1940ies, and how our reality differed from theirs. That’s why this informational puzzle of things heard and seen at the final meeting was the most important for me. Otherwise, the quest would have just been a form of entertainment. Yet with us it was the best tool to learn: interactive, fun and useful”.



The last task of the urban game for all of the teams was to create a full picture from the life of one of the Lviv families during the Nazi occupation. As mentioned by Oleksa Stasevych, this is also one of the peculiarities of the quest: the participants have learned to cooperate during the game. Another benefit was the international environment as each team have developed their multicultural dialogue skills. 

Comments from the participants

I saw many historical sites in Lviv, learned interesting info about the WWII; was impressed by “The Citadel”, full of great unbelievable events, starting from the beginning of the 19 century. The history of the building is connected with the tragic events of the war period when it hosted a nazi concentration camp. It was also interesting to learn about the personalities who fought for the independence of our country. I was shocked by the history of the family who had to hide in the sewage system during the WWII. This way to discover the city is very exciting, modern and educating. I really liked our great teamwork and the mysterious atmosphere during the whole quest. – Vladyslav Kravtsev, Kharkiv, Ukraine.

My understanding of the Ukrainian historical background got much better. I have learned facts I didn’t know before, in Germany you never hear anything about those. Our own difficult stories striked me most, fates are so diffrent. I also liked the historical places, especially when we saw them unexpectedly. – Therese Maischak, Göttingen, Germany.


I have broadened my knowledge about many WW2 events, which used to appear very remote and not interesting to me. Sometimes I felt like I was taking a crash course in History, which helped greatly to catch up with many unknown facts. One of the most important moments for me was connected with the Jewish history in Ukraine. It was essential for better understanding of controversial issues of the past and rethinking our present. Thanks for the atmosphere of free thoughts, brave ideas and friendly support at all stages of interesting work. – Oleh Matsko, Sambir, Ukraine.

I have already known the story of a Jewish family hiding in the sewage system. The new and unexpected place was Citadel. I was shocked at the fact that there is a hotel at the execution site. The quest was an unusual form of exploring the city. We have seen less touristic places outside of the downtown. – Aleksandra Peisert, Wrocław, Poland.

I find the story of the concentration camp for military prisoners «Citadel» to be the most interesting. It was organized by nazies in 1994 and hosted over 280k prisoners of war. I have discovered Lviv as a key player of WWII. I was also deeply impressed by the story of the Jewish family that survived in the sewage system. – Anton Samoilenko, Mariupol, Ukraine.





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