Saving Ukraine's art and soul

Helen Fitzwilliam on frantic efforts to protect cultural treasures from Russia’s onslaught

The World Today Updated 31 March 2022 Published 1 April 2022 3 minute READ

Helen Fitzwilliam

Journalist and filmmaker

‘Time is running out!’ tweeted Sebastian Majstorovic, a German digital historian who is one of a group of volunteers working frantically to digitally upload archives from Ukrainian libraries, museums and other cultural institutions while the country is under attack.

More than a thousand academics, librarians and computer programmers have joined a campaign, called Saving Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Online, to record and preserve a culture they fear Vladimir Putin’s Russia wants to erase. For Majstorovic, one of the organizers of the initiative, the invasion recalled the Serbian shelling of Sarajevo’s National Library in 1992 which destroyed more than two million books during the city’s siege. ‘That irretrievable loss of cultural heritage in my father’s home country has had a profound impact on me,’ he said.

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