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Chernobyl Memory Tour

06.06. - 29.08.2023

Photographers: Susanne Schattenberg & Michael Rochlitz

About the exhibition

Entitled Chernobyl Memory Tour, the exhibition features photographs taken by Bremen-based scientists Susanne Schattenberg and Michael Rochlitz during their 2019 and 2020 trips to the restricted zone. The images illustrate the devastation around the reactor and tell the regional story, but also show how the horrible past is handled in the present. In this way, Chernobyl was both a place of remembrance and a vacation destination in 2019 and 2020.

Opening: 06 June 2023

On June 6 we celebrate with you the beginning of the photo exhibition with this program::

  • 18:00 Uhr - Welcome & keynote speech
    - Welcome in the name of Cologne/Bonn Academy in Exile - Prof. Dr. Johanna Hey, Universität zu Köln
    - Cecture & Talk "Tschernobyl 1986 - health consequences and societal impac"
       Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Christoph Reiners, Nuklearmediziner, Universität Würzburg
       Prof. Dr. DDr. h.c. Angelika Nußberger, Universität zu Köln
    Place: Akademie für europäischen Menschenrechtsschutz, Kerpener Str. 30, 50937 Köln
  • 19:15 Uhr - Vernissage mit kalten Getränken und Snacks
    Place: Foyer der Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln, Vitrine vor der Kaffeebar, Universitätsstraße 33, 50931 Köln

Photos of the exhibition (selection)

This train stands abandoned at Yaniv station. This station enabled the supply of Prypyat. Since 1986 Yaniv is closed for passenger traffic.
The Ferris wheel became a symbol of the disaster. It can be seen in movies, music videos and on posters.
The most important accessory for all tourists: The Geiger counter shows the radiation level. If it is too high, visitors must turn back.

Cooperation & Contributors

The University and City Library presents the photo exhibition "Chernobyl Memory Tour" in cooperation with the Akademie für europäischen Menschenrechtsschutz der Universität zu KölnCologne/Bonn Academy in Exile, Zweigstelle Köln/Bonn der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde (DGO) & Regionalgruppe Rheinland der Jungen DGO. We also thank Marga und Kurt Möllgaard-Stiftung for their kind support. The exhibition was put together by members of the Bremen regional group Junge Deutschen Gesellschaft für Osteuropakunde, Josephine Assmus, Mareike zum Felde, Caroline Finkeldey, Olga Masyutina & Mariia Shkolnykova.


On April 26, 1986, the most serious accident in the history of nuclear power occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. One of the plant's reactors exploded, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake: a radioactive cloud drifted over Europe, 300,000 people were forced to leave their homes, Prypyat, located near the nuclear power plant, became a ghost town, and many of the children at the time contracted cancer. Since then, a 30-kilometer-wide exclusion zone has surrounded the site of the accident. But the region around the nuclear power plant is not as deserted as it seems: the neighboring reactor units continued to produce electricity until 2000, and former residents are returning to their abandoned villages. In addition, the site of the disaster became a popular tourist destination, attracting tourists from all over the world until the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The abrupt evacuation of Chernobyl in 1986 also created an unintended museum of life in the Soviet Union.


As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chernobyl has gone from being a place of remembrance to a theater of war: Fighting broke out around the destroyed nuclear reactor at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, and the site was temporarily occupied by Russian troops. The events make clear once again how fragile nuclear safety is and how much it affects our lives.

The film "Nuclear Power Plants at War" by Reinhart Brüning explores the question of how safe the nuclear power plants in war-torn Ukraine are.
Here the link to the contribution in the ARD Mediathek: Atomkraftwerke im Krieg.


In 2016, the United Nations declared April 26 as the official day of remembrance of the Chernobyl disaster. On this day, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus also commemorate the accident and, above all, the victims. Politically, the disaster in Belarus and Ukraine was an occasion for independence movements to rebel against the Soviet Union. The narrative that emerged around the accident resembled in many aspects that of a war story: the place of the explosion became a theater of war, the first responders became fighting heroes. It is to these people and to the social consequences of the catastrophe that the local commemoration is primarily directed. Monuments and plaques commemorate those who had to flee from the radiation or who were first responders. Thousands of firefighters and soldiers, as well as medical and craft personnel, fought as liquidators against the radiation and the destruction on site after the explosion. In addition to the official state authorities, relatives and colleagues also contributed to the financing and construction of the memorials.

Touring exhibition

The traveling exhibition was conceived by the Bremen regional group of the Young DGO in 2021 on the occasion of the 35th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident and was on display in Dresden in 2022 as a cooperation of the Leipzig regional group.

  • 2021  "Haus der Wissenschaft Bremen" : Link
  • 2022  "Weiterdenken - Kraftwerk Mitte 32" gezeigt worden: Link


Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek Köln
Red showcase in the foyer
Universitätsstraße 33, 50931 Köln


Monday to Friday from 9 am to midnight - Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 9 pm.


Dr. Philipp Budde / Universitäts- und Stadtbibliothek / Stabsstelle Marketing, Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit

Laura Jäckel - Cologne/Bonn Branch of the German Society for East European Studies (DGO) at the Institute for East European Law and Comparative Law, Academy for European Human Rights Protection, University of Cologne