“Chronicles of the Unknown Superheroes/Ukrainians” presented in Hamburg

In the summer of 2023, when the B50 team was still developing our international media project Chronicles of the Unknown Superheroes Ukrainians, the idea of a photo story about the consequences of the russian invasion and how ordinary Ukrainians are helping affected communities clean up and rebuild their destroyed homes was already appreciated and picked up in Hamburg.

Our project was noticed by the St. Nicholas Memorial in Hamburg (Mahnmal St. Nikolai), located in a former church that was destroyed after the bombing of the city during World War II. Only the tower and the outer walls of this 19th-century neo-Gothic church survived the events. Today, these ruins serve as a memorial in honor of those killed and persecuted during the war.

The idea of displaying the consequences of the war’s destruction in Ukraine resonated with the Memorial’s team. So they responded to our proposal to hold the exhibition and suggested opening it in February 2024, on the second anniversary of the full-scale invasion.

Preparations for the opening began in December 2023. Our team worked for several months to adapt the exhibition previously developed for other locations to the format of banners on which the Memorial offered to place our photographs.

Along with the redesign of the photo story, it was also expanded, as the Memorial team appreciated our other media project to promote volunteering, the Interviews #B50heroes, and suggested adding several quotes from interviews with our active volunteers to the free banners, which would serve as a good addition to our story, an additional example of the resilience of Ukrainians. Thus, one banner featured excerpts from quotes by our coordinators Polina Koruts and Oleksandr Tishura, and the other by Svitlana Rudokvas and Yuliia Horbasenko. For the exposition, we chose answers about how they faced February 24, 2022, and how they chose to volunteer in this difficult time.

The exhibition “Chronicles of the Unknown Superheroes of Ukrainians” was also expanded with an opening banner, where we told about the village of Moshchun, the heroic shield of Kyiv, where the events of our photo story mostly take place, and where the Clean Up! project has been working for many months.

The Memorial invited representatives of the B50 community to the opening of the exhibition so that the volunteers could personally share their experiences with the guests of the event. The B50 representatives at the opening were the active B50 volunteers depicted on the banner, Yuliia Horbasenko and Svitlana Rudokvas, who joined the community in the summer of 2022 and have since made more than 160 trips together and are involved in the development of the B50 in various ways.

The photo exhibition “Chronicles of the Unknown Superheroes Ukrainians” is a collaboration between the B50 community, Mahnmal St. Nikolai, and the logistics company Hamburg Harbor and Logistics AG, which financed the production of banners for the exhibition.

The official opening of the exhibition took place on February 23, 2024. Prior to the opening, our representatives Yuliia and Svitlana gave interviews to the local media and conducted a tour of the exhibition. The opening of the exhibition began with the sound of the church bell playing the Ukrainian anthem.

The opening ceremony was attended by guests and representatives of the organizers. Dr. Martin Vetter, Chairman of Mahnmal St. Nikolai, and Angela Titzrath, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hamburg Harbor and Logistics AG, addressed the guests. Vice Mayor of Hamburg Katharina Fegebank emphasized the importance of not forgetting about the war in Ukraine and supporting Ukrainians in their struggle. Dr. Iryna Tybinka, Consul General of Ukraine in Hamburg, thanked organizations such as B50 for creating islands of humanity in the midst of violence.

Yuliia and Svitlana addressed the guests of the opening with ten-minute speeches in English, which were dubbed on the screen behind them in German.

“With this project, we want to show that Ukrainians do not give up. […] We are acting now, during the war,” Svitlana Rudokvas emphasized at the opening.

Both Svitlana and Yuliia shared their own stories about how volunteering helps them not to despair, not to give up, and gives them the strength to fight.

“Through the prism of a journey through the usual day of our organization’s volunteers, we want to show the desire of Ukrainians to help each other and to do everything possible to remove the consequences of the war and bring the Victory closer. This is how people in all corners of our country look like, each one of them, like us – is a small brick in the wall that the enemy has not been able to cross.,” Yulia said in her speech.

On February 24 and 25, the anniversary of the invasion, our volunteers also gave small tours of the exhibition in English, illustrating the photos with stories from their own experience.

Photo: Mahnmal St. Nikolai

On February 24, our representatives had the opportunity to take part in a march in support of Ukraine organized in Hamburg, visit the church bell tower, and try their skills at carillon, which tourists and residents of the city come to listen to when they gather on the square near the Memorial.

In addition to the tours, on February 25, Svitlana and Yulia also gave an interview to a representative of the Memorial and shared their volunteering stories.

On February 26, our volunteers made a presentation about the work of the B50 community, telling about the organization’s various projects and our achievements. The presentation consisted of photos and videos from the everyday life and work of the volunteers, their own stories, stories of the homeowners we help, and a demonstration of several things that volunteers find under the rubble of destroyed houses.

We are pleased that our exhibition resonated with visitors to the Memorial. Our representatives in Hamburg saw with their own eyes how visitors were looking at the impressive photographs of the destroyed Moshchun, following the photo story of the volunteer day with interest, and reading personal stories on the banners.

The photo exhibition “Chronicles of the Unknown Superheroes Ukrainians” in Hamburg will be open until the end of June. You can see it at your convenience in front of the St. Nicholas Memorial at: Willy Brandt-Strasse 60.

We thank the project team for creating this exhibition:
  • The idea, concept, and administration of the project was carried out by Yuliia Habdulova;
  • Layout design by Denys Herasymov;
  • Photos by Ivan Yershov, Dima Badahos, Iryna Rehesha, Nataliia Hryniuk;
  • Translations by Anastasiia Lypchak, Anna Strashnenko, and Bohdan Holovchenko;
  • Assistance in organizing the exhibition at this location by Bohdan Holovchenko.

We would like to thank the B50 volunteers whose tireless work in eliminating the consequences of the invasion and helping the affected communities served as the inspiration for the photo story “Chronicles of the Unknown Superheroes Ukrainians”.

Special thanks to Hendrik Stille and the Mahnmal St. Nikolai team for their concern for Ukraine, for the opportunity to tell our story and show the devastating consequences of russia’s invasion.

We would like to thank Yuliia Horbasenko and Svitlana Rudokvas for the successful presentation of the exhibition and B50 community. Their experiences of this trip and participation in the exhibition opening will soon be available on our website.