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Meetings and communication with extraordinary personalities and special guests in a "living library" format continue at LNTU.

Today we met a German journalist who presented his own book about the history, politics and struggle of our people "Understanding Ukraine".

Journalist Steffen Dobbert described our struggle for freedom and identity in his book, after having been in Ukraine for a long time and experiencing real historical events with our people. In this way, he is trying to open Ukraine to the world, to Europe, and to Germany.


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By the way, the first presentation of the book "Understanding Ukraine. History, politics and the struggle for freedom" took place in November of this year at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. Currently, the author presented the book to the Ukrainian audience in Kyiv, Zhytomyr and Lutsk National Technical University. The meeting with the journalist took place thanks to Mykhailo Kostiuk, Associate professor of the Department of Social and Humanitarian Technologies, who has been actively researching German national minorities in Ukraine and Volyn for many years and maintains contacts with representatives of Germany.

Rector Iryna Vakhovych personally welcomed the honoured guest at LNTU, expressing her admiration for his professional activities and efforts that he makes to popularize Ukraine in the world, how he defends the thirst of Ukrainians for freedom, forces Europe to rethink our identity and calls for the providing the necessary assistance in joint resistance to the enemy.


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Nadiia Kovalchuk, the First Vice-Rector, introduced the foreign speaker to the audience and noted: "We have a guest today who protects, represents and loves Ukraine as a Ukrainian does. Steffen Dobbert is a journalist who has lived with Ukraine in his thoughts and heart since 2011, and today we have the opportunity to talk with the person who wrote the book "Ukraine verstehen". We all know very well that abroad we are supported and admired, but the enemy also has various tools and elements of propaganda directed against us. Thanks to people like Steffen, in Germany everyone has the opportunity to hear about Ukraine, to hear about us, and it is extremely pleasant when Steffen says in his book that Ukraine is the most beautiful country in the world."


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Taking over the welcome speech, firstly, the German journalist apologized that he does not know enough Ukrainian to communicate fluently with the audience, so he continued his speech in German with the help of an interpreter.

In his speech, Steffen Dobbert emphasized that a kind of world premiere of his book is currently taking place as it was published only a few months ago in Germany and was presented there: "... but this book is about Ukraine. This book describes people who live in Lutsk, Kyiv, Odesa, and Zhytomyr... I am very happy that I had the opportunity to present this book here, at your university."


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The German journalist visited Ukraine for the first time in 2011 when he got a scholarship and had the opportunity to study in Kyiv and Odesa. He was in our country during Euro 2012, during the Euromaidan and the Revolution of Dignity, and he especially remembered one of the last 50 trips to Ukraine, which took place in March of last year, when our country was surrounded by a terrible war.

"In March 2022, I wanted to go to Kyiv, but I could only go to Lviv and Ternopil. At that time, I was shocked because there were roadblocks at almost every crossroads, documents were being checked, and returning to Germany, I did not know whether I would be able to come here again or whether the country would survive. Today, I am proud and happy that both thanks to the soldiers at the front and because of the civilians, Ukrainian society did everything possible and returned life to the state. And today there is light and warmth and we can meet and discuss books in this cosy hall," Steffen notes.


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In the book "Understanding Ukraine", the author actually describes the general history of Ukraine from the time of Kyivska Rus to the present day. It is about Shevchenko and Hrushevskyi, Bandera, Zelenskyi and many other outstanding figures of Ukraine. The author's main goal is to familiarize German society with Ukraine, and its authenticity, and remove the stamp of belonging to Russia and the former Soviet Union.

The author shared real stories about meetings with various Ukrainians who surprised him, inspired him, and left an impression on his heart. He talked about how he found himself in the vortex of the Revolution of Dignity and how he wrote a book about it. The journalist shared the experience of disputes with German colleagues, who then, in 2013, were convinced that our Maidan was organized by the Central Intelligence Agency, and how he tried from the source of the events to prove to the whole world the Ukrainian people desperation and thirst for the liberty.

"I was here myself and saw those students and pensioners, people who stood on the Maidan voluntarily and fought for their freedom and independence. The current war, which brings a lot of grief, is of course terrible, but there is one positive point in the fact that due to this heated phase of the war, Putin took off his mask and the whole world saw the true face of the enemy, the wall of Russian propaganda is crumbling and I am sure that it will be completely overthrown ... I am sincerely grateful to fate that I had the opportunity to get to Ukraine and be here at such an epochal time,  to experience together with you those events that change history, and this remained in my heart," adds Steffen Dobbert.


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The journalist also answered questions from the audience, spoke about the fight against propaganda, about professional activity and work during the war, about the desire to convey to the world the truth about our country and its history, about the effort to open people's eyes to those historical events that testify to the goal of destroying our people. And finally, he shared only a short phrase about what impresses him the most in Ukraine: "Everything is very simple - the courage of society"!

After an interesting meeting and many questions from the audience, in memory of Steffen Dobbert's visit, several joint photos were taken, and then LNTU students-journalist had the opportunity to discuss Steffen's journalistic activities at a round table, gain his professional experience and hear valuable advice.


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For reference:

Steffen Dobbert was born in Wismar in 1982, lived in Odesa and Kyiv in the framework of being awarded a grant from the International Journalism Program (IJP). Totally he had more than 50 scientific trips, visiting different parts of Ukraine. He studied in Vaasa, Finland, Lübeck and Berlin (he has got a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in European studies). Since 2007, he is the author and editor of ZEIT ONLINE and DIE ZEIT. In 2017, he received the award "German Reporter".

Book description:

Why did we not understand Ukraine's struggle for freedom for so long?

Steffen Dobbert answers some of the most topical questions of our time: Why does Ukraine fight so fearlessly for self-determination and freedom? Where does the national consciousness of the Ukrainian people come from? And why is the European post-war order also at stake in Europe's largest country? This book is a journey through the colourful history of Ukraine, currently the bravest country on our continent.

The destruction of the Cossack state, the Holodomor, bloody revolutions and Putin's invasion - Ukraine had to go through a lot, probably more than any other nation in Europe. For too long, we did not understand Ukraine and did not know what to do with Kyivska Rus, Ivan Mazepa, the Holodomor or the Budapest Memorandum. Steffen Dobbert describes the brutal path to freedom and the development of Ukrainian national consciousness - from the origins of the first Cossack state, through the proclamation of the Ukrainian People's Republic and to the current defensive war. It is a brief overview in an accessible language that provides the knowledge necessary to understand what is happening in Ukraine.