Snyder in Lviv meets with UCU students and one very special graduate

March 27,2023 555
Snyder in Lviv meets with UCU students and one very special graduate

Last week, renowned American historian and Yale University professor Timothy Snyder visited Lviv, where he read a lecture for students of the Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU).

According to, he also met with one of UCU graduates, Oleksandr Shyrshyn, a soldier of the 80th Air Assault Brigade. Oleksandr’s photo, in which he reads a book by Snyder, “The Road to Unfreedom,” in a trench, became viral in January after Timothy Snyder posted it with the caption, “The highest honor for the author is the reader.”

In the photo from the frontline, Oleksandr reads the book in English. He keeps the same book translated into Ukrainian in the photo from their meeting in Lviv.

Below are the key takeaways from the lecture as compiled by the UCU:

  • The best thing that will happen to Russia is defeat in the war.
  • One of the EU’s narratives about Russia’s war in Ukraine is not about defeat but peace. We all want peace. But the question is, how can we achieve it? Peace is not the same as surrender. Sometimes peace means defeat for one side and victory for the other.
  • Ukraine has ensured the safety of life in Europe. Because it has actually restrained the entire war on its territory.
  • Just Ukrainian resilience may be a prerequisite for a peaceful world. I think you themselves sometimes do not fully realize how impressive you are with your self-sacrifice in this struggle for freedom and democracy.
  • My work as a historian is now directed against the narratives of the EU because their narratives are now about peace rather than defeat. Although I believe defeat is very important. What happened to the Germans in May 1945 was not peace but defeat. The Germans say, “It is important for empires to be defeated, as our country has been.” This is the lesson we should learn from this war.
  • University education is not about forcing students to agree with professors. The role of universities is to make students capable of making decisions. Not just in the technical sense of their careers and such but decisions about what life is all about. University education is always about what life will be like, what your life will be like. So, in times of war, universities must do their job well.
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