Surviving through shadows: the London & Kyiv metro during war

Photographs from the Second World War era are recognized to remind us of the horrors of war. It’s hard to fully grasp what, for example, Londoners had to endure in the 1940s. However, as war has taken on modern forms, old photos acquire new meanings and pain—this is exactly what a new exhibition at the London Transport Museum is about.


The exhibition has gathered 70 historical photos from the London Underground, where city dwellers hid from bombardments, and 38 contemporary shots—from the Ukrainian metro of our days. After the war with Russia started in 2022, residents of Kharkiv and Kyiv have been forced to take shelter in tunnels, which were specifically dug deep in the Soviet era to protect against bombs from the west, but now people are using them to save themselves from the threat from the east.



Both the old photos and the new ones show how people were forced to organize their daily life in a place not suited for it: children play games, adults read newspapers or scroll through news feeds on their phones with horror, musicians give concerts, sleeping places are arranged in tents, on mattresses, and even in bunk beds.



The juxtaposition of these photos has an unexpected effect, bringing the past to life and making it possible to understand, by the resilience of the Ukrainian people, what Londoners had to go through in the 1940s. The exhibition is open at the London Transport Museum until the spring of 2025—details and tickets at the link.



Cover photo: TfL, Serhii Korovayny, n-ost




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