On 17 January, the premiere of a documentary film directed by Tomasz Grzywaczewski entitled ‘Erasing the Nation’ was held at Kultura Cinema in Warsaw. ‘Erase the Nation.’ Commissioned by the National Heritage Institute, the film depicts Russian crimes against Ukraine’s cultural heritage and the methods of securing and attempting to protect the destroyed items. The event was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Culture and National Heritage – Professor Piotr Glinski, and the Ukrainian Ambassador to the Republic of Poland, H.E. Vasyl Zvarych.
Since the first days of the war, priceless monuments, sacred buildings, museums, and archaeological sites of exceptional importance to Ukraine’s history and the entire multicultural region of Central Europe have fallen victim to the Russian invaders. The documentary “Erase the Nation” directed by Tomasz Grzywaczewski, shows the destruction that the troops of the Russian Federation have wrought on Ukraine’s cultural heritage since 24 February last year. The documentary depicts the human harm and the deliberate destruction of museums, churches, and libraries by the Russian army as if meant to guarantee that the Ukrainian nation would not be reborn.
Before the premiere screening, held at the capital’s Kultura cinema, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Professor Piotr Glinski, emphasised that we would be celebrating the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in just one month.
One of the obvious aims of this onslaught was to negate and erase the Ukrainian nation. So not only [to destroy] the Ukrainian society, the nation physically, and the buildings – materially, but also [to ruin] the Ukrainian culture and identity. (…) I don’t know if paradoxically – I think in a natural and very wonderful way – it has turned out that it is the strength of the nation and that of the community, and the identity has proven decisive here. As a modern nation, Ukrainians are capable of defending themselves and Europe and the whole civilisation,” said the Minister of Culture.
The Deputy Prime Minister also pointed out that on the eve of the outbreak of the war, a team responsible for supporting Ukraine was established in the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. He recalled that it was transformed into the Polish Support Center for Culture in Ukraine, which operates within the National Institute of Cultural Heritage.
The Center’s operations primarily consist in creating a network of institutions and people of goodwill who are involved in this support. The key is liaising with our Ukrainian partner – the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy – and other Ukrainian institutions. I am in constant contact with Minister Oleksandr Tkachenko. Our previous experience is beneficial, as we have cooperated well on the issue of Polish heritage in the East for years. Our archives, museums, or galleries cooperated [before the war]” said the head of the Ministry of Culture.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Poland, H.E. Vasil Zvarych, thanked the documentary makers and noted that the film shows the realities and the steadfastness of the Ukrainian people.
Russia, Putin from the beginning wanted to destroy us as a nation, to destroy our identity. But in fact, what he has beaten is the Russian culture. To our minds today, the Russian culture is associated with bestiality, brutality, barbarism, rape, theft, and terrorism.
The film “Erase the Nation” directed by Tomasz Grzywaczewski, shows the deliberate destruction of Ukrainian monuments, from Chernihiv, Ivankiv, Kyiv, and Kharkiv to Izium and Bohorodychne in eastern Ukraine – the crimes committed against secular and sacred cultural heritage, from archaeological monuments to modern libraries and schools. The words spoken by representatives of the Ukrainian artistic circles paint a picture of a deliberate battle of the barbaric invaders against the Ukrainian identity.
Tuesday’s screening was coupled with a panel discussion entitled. “Saving Ukraine’s Culture” participated by:
- Anastasiia Cherednychenko, deputy head of ICOM Ukraine
- Piotr Ługowski, Head of the Preservation Programme at the POLONIKA National Institute of Polish Cultural Heritage Abroad
- Marek Lemiesz, an expert at the National Institute of Cultural Heritage and the moderator, Katarzyna Zalasińska, director of the National Institute of Cultural Heritage
The film ‘Erase the Nation’ was commissioned by the National Institute of Cultural Heritage as part of the activities of the Polish Support Center for Culture in Ukraine and funded by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
The film is available on the Institute’s TV NID channel on YouTube.