Lviv, Ukraine – Holocaust Film and Jewish Organization Banned from Schools

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    The Lvov Opera and Ballet Theater during the Second World War Lviv, Ukraine – A documentary film about the Holocaust has incited the wrath of the Ukrainian nationalist organization Freedom.

    The film, an amateur production entitled Two Tangos, was shown once in Lvov to older Polish-speaking school children at a state school at the end of last year. The showing was sponsored by the Jewish NGO Chesed Aryeh as part of a program in the local schools to encourage tolerance.

    Local Freedom leader Ivan Grynda sent a complaint to the city prosecutor, claiming the showing constituted anti-Ukrainian activity. Grynda was offended by historical footage in the film showing women in traditional Ukrainian dress welcoming Nazi soldiers with flowers.

    After a month’s investigation, the prosecutor found that there was no criminal element in the showing of the film. Local authorities pressured schools to avoid the film in any case. The intervention of Polish diplomats was necessary to save the director of the Polish school from dismissal.

    Freedom then insisted that a commission, made up of city officials and Grynda, be formed and that it send the film to educational experts. The experts commented that the film was inappropriate for young children due to its violent content. As a result, Chesed Aryeh was banned from conducting any activities in the Lvov school system.

    Freedom gained attention last month after it financed a campaign of posters praising the local Waffen-SS Galicia division. The large posters depicted the emblem of the division with the words “They defended Ukraine” written on them in Ukrainian. Freedom also successfully pressed for a plaque to be erected to the memory of that division.

    Lvov (Lviv in Ukrainian) is an ancient city in the west of Ukraine with a population of almost three-quarters of a million people. It had large Jewish and Polish communities before the Second World War. Those communities were nearly completely annihilated.


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