Successful Russian History Competition Despite Adverse Circumstances
Despite difficult political circumstances, the 22nd edition of the Russian History Competition organised by Memorial International counted 1,096 entries from 76 regions – a tremendous success!
In a festive award ceremony on 15 May 2021, the winners of this year’s Russian History Competition titled »Man in History – Russia in the 20th Century« were honoured. For the second time in a row, the ceremony was held online. The jury selected the 40 best research projects of high school students and for the first time, also awarded prizes in the category “New Format” that includes podcasts, comic strips and cartoons.
Irina Sherbakova, head of competition’s team, congratulated the winners and stressed how challenging the conditions for the participants were this time, since accessing archives and getting into direct contact with elderly contemporary witnesses was difficult this year. Sherbakova said that the 20th century had left us with many historical questions, mysteries and graves without names. She remarked that according to Andrei Sakharov, who co-founded the Memorial organisation 30 years ago, the organisation’s main goal is to comprehend and retrace individual lives and fates, in particular the ones of those people who never returned from camps or whose traces were lost in the Second World War. Therefore, it is important that the participants deal with those individual stories.
Lyudmila Ulitskaya, chairwoman of the jury and writer, emphasised that the projects realised by the young participants tell true stories of Russian everyday life. The stories are not rhetorical or full of false pathos about patriotism, but important works aiming to restore historical justice for those who died in big and small wars, were dispossessed and deported or became victims of state terror.
The competition’s winners explored a wide variety of topics. For example, two students investigated which impressions the Holocaust has left in people's minds and how it is portrayed in cinema, books, comics and literature. They conducted interviews with children and teenagers in a summer camp to determine their level of knowledge about the Holocaust.
Another participant from Sevastopol in Crimea researched the life of Ukrainians who settled in Crimea after the Second World War. The region was empty at that time after Crimean Tatars, Greeks and other minorities were deported and after devastating battles on the peninsula. The work was presented in a cartoon. It concentrates on the feelings and sentiments of Ukrainian peasants who entered those territories and established new communities.
Thanks to the superb moderation by Natalia Kolyagina and Sergej Bondarenko, the many video clips and digital project presentations as well as the participants who were present digitally, the ceremony was a festive and lively event. Congratulations to the winners, Memorial International and everyone involved for their great work despite the challenging circumstances!