The Museum tells the fate of the civilian population of Ukraine during the Second World War in the broad context of the history of the 20th century.
In the Ukrainian language, the word “family” means more than just a nucleus family and covers several generations of blood relatives; it can also be used allegorically to mean an entire ethnic or social group. “Family” is the key metaphor to explain the main idea of the exposition: through difficult biographies of ordinary people, through family-preserved memories, they tell the story of participants and witnesses of World War II events in Shostka and the surrounding villages.
The history of the city of Shostka is directly related to the construction and operation of the military powder and capsule factories and the film factory better known by its post-war name – Svema. During the Nazi occupation, approximately 8,000 residents of Shostka and the surrounding villages worked at Nazi military enterprises, more than 700 people labored at the Eibia GmbH powder plant between the villages of Steyerberg and Liebenau in Lower Saxony. This enterprise operated until the early 1990s, and even now virtually all the war-time production sites stand completely preserved in its territory. Martin Guse’s historical research, his many years of searching for witnesses and working in the archives, made it possible to collect a lot of interesting and valuable materials. This is how the idea of creating a museum about the victims of Nazism in Shostka came into being and united many in Ukraine and Germany. Funding from the German Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future helped bring these ideas to life.
The memorial and educational complex was created in the administrative building of the former Svema factory, the largest film making factory in the USSR. It is located right next to the burial sites of Nazi victims, mostly Jews and Soviet activists.
The exposition takes two floors, covering an area of over 700 square meters. The structure of the museum has five major thematic sections: the history of the region in the 1930s; the outbreak of World War II and the Nazi occupation; deportation and forced labor of the local population in Nazi Germany; participation of the residents of Shostka city and district in the fighting and the war aftermath; the end of the war in Europe, the return of former victims of Nazism to their homeland and their post-war destinies.