Wednesday, August 24, 2016


After Auschwitz Visit, Russian Sisters Know What 'Holocaust' Means

Yevgenia Karatygina in front of portraits of Holocaust victims in a still from the trailer for the documentary "Holocaust -- Wallpaper Paste?"
Yevgenia Karatygina in front of portraits of Holocaust victims in a still from the trailer for the documentary "Holocaust -- Wallpaper Paste?"
By Robert Coalson
It was something of a wake-up call for many in Russia. In December 2011, a pair of pretty, articulate, 20-year-old twins from Vladimir Oblast were asked on a television game show, "What is the Holocaust?"

The two consulted together for a few awkward moments. One of them admitted frankly that the term "says nothing to them." Finally, with time running short, Yevgenia Karatygina turns to the camera and says, "We think that the Holocaust is wallpaper paste."

Video of the shocking scene was viewed hundreds of thousands of times online, and it provoked a serious discussion about how the Holocaust is taught in the schools of the country whose troops (along with those of other former Soviet republics) liberated the Nazis' largest concentration and death camp at Auschwitz in Poland.

The sisters -- Yevgenia and Ksenia -- appeared on RFE/RL's Russian Service in March 2012 with Holocaust Fund Chairwoman Alla Gerber. At the time, Yevgenia explained that they were taught a bit about the Holocaust in their school but that the sisters were more interested in other things.

"To be honest, such subjects in school were pretty dull. Not because the teacher was bad -- he knew what he was talking about. But I didn't want to devote my life to that -- I wasn't planning to study at some institute connected with history," Yevgenia said. "So during those lessons I was doing my own thing. I was writing poems. Now we are writing music -- we are into music."

Asked if they had heard of Auschwitz, Yevgenia said no, while Ksenia said: "It is something about some sort of civil war, I think."

In October 2012, with financial support from the Polish Cultural Center in Moscow, documentary filmmaker and former RFE/RL Russian Service correspondent Mumin Shakirov took the sisters on an emotional visit to the museum and memorial complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau in the Polish town of Oswiecim.

A film of the trip is currently in the works with the working title "Holocaust -- Wallpaper Paste?" and Shakirov discusses the project in the latest issue of "Sovershenno sekretno."

It was the sisters' first trip abroad.

Both were deeply moved by the experience. Yevgenia broke down into loud weeping as she stood in front of an enormous pile of children's shoes. Ksenia wept through a showing of the Soviet documentary film "The Liberation Of Auschwitz."

"By coming here, like it or not, we are now among those who know," Ksenia said afterward. "It is shameful that events of this scale [took place], filling a whole stage of history, where Soviet troops participated in the liberation of the prisoners -- and we knew nothing about it."

Shakirov asked the sisters if they would tell their friends and relatives about what they had seen at Auschwitz.

"Hardly anyone we know is interested in things that happened 70 years ago," Ksenia replied. "If they ask, we'll tell them and explain everything. But we won't raise the subject ourselves."
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Comment Sorting
by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 30, 2013 21:36
According to the Orthodox Jews the zionists collaborated with the nazis to bring about the Holocaust in order to form the so-called state of Israel.Do they teach this point of view in any school anywhere??? And does world history starts and ends with Holocaust???
In Response

by: John Savard from: Edmonton, Alberta
January 31, 2013 23:53
I certainly hope that such a point of view is not taught in schools anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, too, some schools fail to deal with the Armenian genocide in sufficient depth.

by: Jack from: US
January 31, 2013 04:33
in some NATO minions (like Germany, Austria) the freedom of speech means you will be imprisoned just for claiming some historical event did not happen. Welcome to mideaval inquisition and gestapo combined

by: Sey from: World
January 31, 2013 06:22
I am waiting for the next episode of these series, where Yevgenia and Ksenia find about the gulags, the Holodomor, the force resettlement and deportations, and so many other wonders that happened 70 years ago. Maybe they can even learn some recent history about the wonderful decade they were born into.
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
February 01, 2013 11:14
Godot will come sooner than that happening,dear Sey-its out of this world!!!

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 31, 2013 08:36
Finally the life of the two little sisters has acquired at least some sense! So, what's next on their agenda? How about visiting Guantanamo and learning the real meaning of the phrase "the US TORTURE CAMP". Or, maybe, visiting the GAZA STRIP and finding about the real meaning of the term "ISRAELI OCCUPATION". And finally, visiting BENGHAZI in Libya to find out what it means to live in a "free and democratic society liberated by NATO", from which, for some inexplicable reason all the NATO nationals are urged to leave immediately by their own govts.
So, have a nice trip, girls, and don't forget to fasten your seat-belts!
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
February 01, 2013 11:14
We all think the Vienna thing and JacKGB should get a life in Guantanamo,and we`ll keep our fingers crossed for that to happen!!!
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
February 01, 2013 16:52
Same to you, Camel, same to you :-)).
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
February 01, 2013 18:19
Thanks,EU.,I`ve been living in a gulag for most of my life,so american prisons for loonies like you hold no surprises for me.Keep up the Red Rotten Front,mate-No rest for the wicked!!!

by: Zygmunt Dzieciolowski from: Warsaw
January 31, 2013 14:02
This wonderful project is a work of Mumin Shakirov, a former Svoboda Radio Moscow Bureau journalist. While working for the radio he produced some broadcasts covering the TV incident with Karatygina sisters. Few weeks later in unprecedented purge he was fired together with nearly 40 other colleagues. Managers of Liberty Radio tried to justify their mad decision by their attempt to improve the quality of Liberty operation. Instead they the ruined the radio and its long human rights defender tradition and reputation. Fortunately Steven Korn, former RFERL president responsible for the mad September firings was asked to resign, the new one Kevin Klose has begun his work earlier this week. It would be best if he rehired fired journalists including the author of Karatygina sisters and Holocaust project Mumin Shakirov. This would guarantee Svoboda audience to find more about this and other Shakirov's projects directly from their author, and not via wire agencies or other Russian media.

by: Ben
January 31, 2013 16:36
Holocaust failed in the strict sense of the word, but the lesson to humanity failed too."Never again"- slogan is undestood and used by the small part of the Jews- some of Israelis- and by the Western minorities-pro-capitalist conservatives-Israel friends.Liberal(leftist) fighters for the justice and human happiness are prepeared to be terrified with the Holocaust 2.
In Response

by: Alex from: LA
February 03, 2013 10:40
Holocaust 2 is the Jewish one, Holocaust 1 is the Armenian one, that they so help Turks deny, including US, UK and other nations that prefer business/wealth over humanity. Bill Maher was laughing on the Armenian genocide on his last episode, saying that Armenian lobby doesn't intimidate, why would we with the truth on our side...

by: alex from: d
February 02, 2013 18:20
the girl who collects the money from russian tv and then from Shakirov

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