Exhibition "Ukraine: The Cost of Freedom",
Auckland War Memorial Museum
Curator's Speech, 24-August-2022
Kia ora koutou!
We are standing at the doors, doors separating peace and war… 10,000 miles away from here people of Ukraine are fighting an invasion at the Gates of Europe, an invasion of Good by Evil.
Before you enter this portal, we encourage you not to fall into the deceptive comfort of perception that what you see is some distant crisis or localised conflict. Ask yourselves, from the height of history, would you now call the events of September 1939 a ‘Poland crisis or conflict’? – Dreadfully, history is repeating itself, and the walls of this very building stand here for everyone not just to hold memories, but to equip us with precious knowledge of what consequences isolationism, appeasement and inaction might lead this world to. “Neutrality does not serve righteousness; for to be neutral between right and wrong is to serve wrong”, - Theodor Roosvelt.
The war unleashed against Ukraine, the state with a thousand-years history of building, fighting and reborning, today is a bursting security threat to the whole of Europe, as it is a threat of starvation, shortages of vital supplies and nuclear disaster to many on the whole planet, including Kiwis. It is a critical test for the democratic unity of the whole free world. For if Ukraine did not resist fiercely, but yielded, as so many mistakenly predicted, the russian yoke would spread, and predators alike elsewhere on the planet would be encouraged by impunity. “We all detest war, but we do not want peace unconditionally” were the words of then-Prime Minister of New Zealand Bill Massey.
Some argue that New Zealand is too far and too small to do much about that. In truth, it is also “small every-day deeds of ordinary folk that [help to] keep darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love”, like those which enabled this exhibition to happen. There is no help which is insignificant for Ukrainians these days.
With that we would like everyone visiting to decide for themselves whether to stay neutral in opinion and deeds, after what they see and learn, or do something to help. “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give” - Winston Churchill.
#StandWithUkraine! Make a life!
Thank you and welcome!
Kyrylo Cyril K.