Ukrainian Cultural Center of New England

Our Life Behind Barbed Wire: Photography from Ukrainian Ostarbeiters in Nazi Germany


Monday, April 15th, 2024    
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm


CGIS North (Knafel building)
1737 Cambridge St, Cambridge, MA

Event Type

This talk will open an exhibit at the Fisher Family Commons (FFC) Gallery (CGIS Knafel) dedicated to the photography and correspondence of Ukrainian forced laborers (“Ostarbeiters”) in Nazi Germany. These letters and photographs will be discussed as testimonials of everyday life that formed a comprehensive portrait of exile and rupture, but also served the Nazis’ propaganda purposes by promoting the idea of Nazi “benevolence” and the laborers’ “wellbeing” in Germany. The materials will be considered as transmitters of news and secret messages, and as attempts to creatively escape totalitarian control. The exhibit will emphasize the historical significance of the firsthand accounts of war powerfully present in such correspondence and photography, and will complement existing scholarship, which typically stands at a distance from the Ostarbeiters’ overall creativity, as if these captives left no textual or visual traces.

Following the lecture, guests are invited to view the exhibit and join in a small reception in the CGIS Knafel Cafe.