MEAN WAR-2022:  MONOLOGUES & PICTURES

War Pictures Song for Ukraine poster

Summary of the Week V: March 24 – March 30, 2022

A CATASTROPHE AND A TRAGEDY

Inna Rogatchi ©. Sketch of Rain II. 2022.

Usually, there are a few categories of people who are occupied by the difference in semantics amidst their daily life. A writing folks, of course, then professional historians, and philosophers, always. For example, what constitutes a catastrophe, and what constitutes a tragedy?  But sometimes, there are moments which compulses practically every thinking and feeling human being to stop for a while, to think, to compare, and to make his or her conclusion. As it is now, because of the Mean War. 

The President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky has made his concern on this topic public recently, in his interview to four Russian journalists, most of them being outside their country. The interview is long, one hour and 32 minutes in its published version, and in fact, is longer, as I was privileged to know.  Zelensky speaks there in his native language which is a colossal factor because he speaks and thinks naturally, organically there.  His interlocutors also speak and think in an organic way. The whole conversation is special and seemingly and understandably very important for both the interviewers, the leading men of free-thinking media in Russia who had to leave the country under the circumstances, and for the president of Ukraine, not only because of a direct possibility to address the Russian audience. Those who are interested in hearing what he has to say do it in any language provided. But mainly because of a rare for him nowadays opportunity to express himself freely, organically, in the natural for him way. This factor is impossible to overrate. 

There are many things to be said about this rarely open conversation. But summarising the fifth week of the Mean War which turned to show not only Russia’s wickedness, but Russia’s weakness,  I would like to emphasise the difference between a catastrophe and tragedy which was brought as a very important matter by President Zelensky during this fifth week of the Mean War. 

“ We are living through a tragedy here in our country” – president of Ukraine said. – “Believe me, we are not showing all the footage from our destroyed to the ground cities and towns and villages. We are not showing it because it is impossible to show, for the sake of our Ukrainian population, for our people here in Ukraine. We cannot do it. It is that horrendous”.  Russia as a state, its leadership and its military has caused a tragedy for Ukraine and its people. 

But there is yet another dimension originated by the Mean War. And the President of Ukraine had the intelligence and vision to note it and to speak about it publicly. 

“What has happened during just one month, would not be repaired in generations. It is not just a military conflict. Everything is much more serious, far reaching, and worse. For just one month, this war has brought a global, fundamental schism between our two people, the people of Ukraine and the people of Russia. This is a fundamental, huge, painful problem. Which will be going nowhere”. 

And if the Russian invasion and the character of the occupation which Zelensky characterised as ‘the worse one then it was during the WWII here, on our territory’, brought a terrible tragedy for Ukraine, the schism which it brought in between two neighbouring nations, he qualified as a catastrophe. 

“The Russian authorities have invoked a catastrophe upon their own people, it is obvious and it will continue for a long while” – said president Zelensky. But not only that. “What has happened now between Russian and Ukrainian people is more than tragic. I can tell you that not only dreadful decisions of the Russia’s leadership, not only horrendous actions of the Russian army, but very importantly, unwillingness of the large part of the Russian society to find out the truth, to succumb to an information bombardment of their official media, that indifference of the large part of the Russian public has become the most terrible disappointment here in Ukraine, not only my personal, but also of our people. This deep, shocked disappointment was transformed into hatred, as concerning, as it is. But this is reality. I can tell you that the adult population of Ukraine won’t be able to forget or forgive the crimes of the Russian side during their aggression on our land.  Simply won’t be able to. We only can think with this regard on the generation of our children and grandchildren and hope for the best. Without much assurance, I must admit”. 

Never before in my life, in the life of the grandchildren of the generation of WWII, the semantic differences were so graphic. And so irrefutable. 

Day 35: March 30, Wednesday

KADDISH IN THE OPERA: ODESSA

Michael Rogatchi(C). Kaddish. Oil on canvas. 90 x 88 cm. 1995. 

Odessa is a very special place not in Ukraine, not in the South-Eastern Europe. In the world. It is a unique universe. There are many books, and some movies depicting it, but none of it is not enough. Nothing is encompassing. In my modest view, it is easier and certainly quicker to describe and present New York and Paris than Odessa. Maybe, I am subjective. A large part of my immediate family is from Odessa, and I am lovingly proud of it. 

It is a warm, chic in its own way and hilariously funny, in its absolutely unique way, rich culturally, colourful, extremely potential, talented, very human, with all our shortcomings seen always through that one and only prism of a suburb irony which is first of all a self-irony, place of immense inner freedom and followed awesome tolerance which has been inherited there from the times of introducing the place as the porto-franco zone in the Russian Empire, the only one, and actually solely because of it. It is the place of great culture and architecture which has suffered a lot, and a lot, and a lot in various periods, but always tried to smile.  

I always remember the scene which was imprinted in my head from the late 1990s. I was  walking through rather sad and severely impoverished Odessa visiting the city’s places special for my family. All of the sudden, among that rather drubby landscape, both literally and metaphorically, I heard the singing of a rare beauty. First, I thought that I was mistaken. The singing was too good. Superb opera voice. Superb masterly performance. I stopped under the rain on the main Odessa boulevard, Primorsky boulevard, close to the sea and the monument of the Duc, as the Duc de Richelieu is known there in the city which he has made that unique place on the earth, and tried to find the source of that heavenly-like singing looking to all sides from my wet umbrella. 

Soon, I saw the woman who was staying there in the middle of the boulevard under the cold autumn rain, without an umbrella, and singing one opera aria after another, with a very tired mid-aged face. Very very tired face. More than twenty years passed from that meeting, but for some reason, I do remember that woman’s coat of an uninteresting olive colour. How come? She had very little money in front of her, and it was clear that she was staying there singing for a long while. I became paralysed. I came closer. I wanted to do everything for that woman, but I was cautious not to interrupt her. So we stand nearby. She stayed  singing  heavenly, in Italian, wet, without an umbrella.  I stayed fully numbed, under an umbrella, waiting for her to have a pause. 

She stopped after some while, as she noticed me. I approached, trying to formulate in my head the most delicate way of speaking with her. Without letting me open my mouth, the woman said very simply: “ I am working there – nodding to the side of the world-famous Odessa opera house. – Sorry, I was. Now I am ‘working’ here’. She tried to smile. I tried not to cry. I invited the Odessa Opera soloist to come with me to my hotel which was very near, to get dry and to have some rest. I was already planning how I will invite her to the late lunch and will give her my room to relax a bit. She thanked me but nodded in a rejecting gesture. “No, thank you. I am OK. Honestly. And I will be going home soon, anyway, on the tram’. We both looked at the Odessa tram moving nearby. I asked her again. She nodded negatively again, smiling, This time, without effort, with a very nice, relieving smile. Of course, I gave her all the money which was in my purse. Valentina, it was the singer’s name, as she introduced herself, thank me and said that now, really, she can return home at once. Believe it or not, the rain stopped. We laughed together, and departed. I remember her and her singing ever since. 

Twenty three years later, the Odessa Opera Orchestra  lives through the war, the Mean War. To mark the first month of the Mean War, the Odessa Opera Orchestra created a very memorable performance. It can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZG67zginkCA 

Unlike many musical renditions, which  are perfectly audible, this one is necessary to watch. The people from the Odessa Opera Orchestra took their live performance dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust in January 2020, and combined the record with the current pictures of the Mean War. The outcome is very powerful, with amazing harmony between the terrible current  visual with highly dramatic music by a highly dramatic composer created in 1991. Everyone participated in this heart-wrenching experience created by the Odessa Opera House musicians and directors of the video, the composer, and the conductor of the orchestra deserves a closer look. It is incredible how so many different dramas have amalgamated into the one shown in the video from the Odessa Opera House and dedicated to the memory of the victims of the first month of the Mean War. 

Back in January 2020, commemorating the International Holocaust Memorial Day, the Odessa Opera Orchestra played parts of the Mieczyslaw Weinberg Symphony No. 21, namely Kaddish. Weinberg composed the 21st from his 26 symphonies in 1991, five years before his death. For some reason, this very symphony is regarded among contemporary musicians as the one of the most enigmatic works of Weinberg. 

 The Symphony No. 21 and in particular its part called Kaddish, is great, heart and mind haunting music by the composer with a truly tragic destiny.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg was known in the Soviet Union as Moisei Samuilovich Vainberg. He spent there all his life after he managed to get there running from the Nazis being just 20 year old, just him alone from all his family. All his life was the chain of incredible coincidences which of course were nothing of the sort. 

He was a musical prodigy from Warsaw, his family did not manage to get out of occupied Poland in the autumn  1939. His parents and younger sister perished in the ghetto there in Poland. 20-year old Mechek, as Mojse Wainberg was known to his friends, miraculously managed to get to Minsk, graduated from conservatory there a day before it was still possible to be evacuated from there, and he found himself in Tashkent where he became a close, a life-long friend of Dmitry Shostakovich. He moved to Moscow in the middle of the war, and since then was living and composing there, becoming the author of music of such legendary anti-war movie as The Cranes Are Flying which was the first Soviet film ever that received the Golden Palm Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. 

His first wife whom he met and married in evacuation in Tashkent was nobody else but Natalia Vovci, the daughter of the great Soviet Yiddish actor Solomon Michoels who was viciously murdered on the Stalin’s order in the most resonated crime of the regime soon after the WWII. Vainberg himself was arrested in the anti-Semitic Stalin’s purge in the early 1950s, and only Stalin’s death in March 1953 released him from the Gulag. 

Stalin’s death, which was a real gift of life to the millions in the USSR, has also saved my husband who was born in Gulag as well, and was just a two month old baby when it happened. Thanks to the happy fact of the deceased monster, Michael’s father was released from Gulag eventually, and the family was able to move to a less deadly place than the Valley of Death where my husband was born, to Kazakhstan. Michael’s father with tuberculosis contracted in the Gulag, died very prematurely, being only 39. 

Metsek Weinberg, as the composer  insisted to be called because ‘this is how my name was written in my birth certificate and how people knew me in Poland’ survived his short imprisonment in the Gulag better, but still always did bear its indelible marks, both in extra- and introvertive ways. The genius was thoughtful and very shy. 

Samuil Vainberg, as we know the composer’s name back in the USSR, was very productive, but virtually unknown behind the Iron Curtain. He has become not just known, but phenomenally popular in the mid 2000s, after the international premiere of his now famous The Passenger opera in Poland. Poor Metsek never knew the success his name and legacy enjoys now. 

His enigmatic Symphony No 21 is dedicated to the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto. Meaning : to his family, his both parents and little sister Esther. The Kaddish part of the symphony is extremely dramatic, but at the same time is contained. Those who would watch the video, would see that. It speaks straight to one’s soul. 

Musicians’ faces on this video are also very telling. Rarely one can see so many emotions and such dedication among the experienced orchestra members. But Odessa is Odessa, and everything is special about this place. 

The orchestra of Odessa Opera House is led at this performance by Hobart Earle, the conductor of American origin who was born in Venezuela and who studied in Vienna. His case is also very special. Hobart Earle came to Odessa by chance , being a 31-year old fine musician and singer working in Vienna. Earle fell in love with Odessa and its Opera House ( which is legendary, indeed), and started to work there as musician director and conductor for the $ 50 a month salary. 

It is Hobart Earle who did make the orchestra fit, its instruments as it should have been, its sound of a world class. He cared about the musicians, and he brought the orchestra to the world. Hobart Earle deserves serious recognition for his dedication and the results of it. 

I do not believe in coincidences. Hobart Earle decided to work and live in Odessa and to lead its Opera House Orchestra in the year in which Miezyslaw Weinberg created his Symphony No 21 with its Kaddish. In January 2020, Odessa Opera Orchestra performed this Kaddish under the baton of Hobart Earle and with incredible, personal dedication by them all in the memory of the victims of Holocaust. The Shoah in Odessa was horrendous. 

Just one year on, in the midst of the terrible Mean War, the Orchestra created a special video interacting their performance of Weinberg’s Kaddish with the war pictures of the day, dedicating this special musical video to the victims of the first month of the war against their country in 2022. 

As far as I can judge, Metchek Weinberg, as well as his most important friend and inspiration figure Dmitry Shostakovich would not be able to comprehend the reason for the re-dedication of his Kaddish piece. It is still hardly comprehensible for many of us. 

But the fact is that in March 2022, Weinberg’s Kaddish sounds in Odessa in memory of our contemporaries in Ukraine today. After this Mean War will end, this video will stay as one of the most tangible, tragic commemorations of so many afflicted souls. So many. 

Day 34: March 29, Tuesday

PARENTS AS HOSTAGES

Inna Rogatchi ©. Waltz in Yellow. Tunes about Ukraine. 2022. 

Every day of the Mean War brings something hardly believable. We have learned, in a real-time mode, about the trend of abductions carried on by ‘the liberators’ in Ukraine. Not as a separate case, but as a trend, in fact, as a method of war applied by the Russian army consistently. We know about fourteen mayors of Ukrainian cities who were abducted and moved away by ‘the liberators’. We also know that 

at least two of them are confirmed dead. This means murdered. Mayors are civilians, and have an extra responsibility at the time of  war for providing and maintaining a full spectrum of life supporting services and materials for their civilian population. The Ukrainian authority does not know, cannot find out as of today, about the destiny of a dozen of their abducted mayors. To which legal authority should they appeal? To the UN? The Hague International Court of Justice which has no jurisdiction over any Russian official whatsoever?  The International Criminal Court, which is in the same legal position? Just wonder. 

But today, we have learned something new on the theme of an abduction during the Mean War.

There is a town of Primorsk near Zaporizzha, a nice resort town, with just over 12 000 people living there. The town’s history goes back to the Napoleon invasion of Russia, and it also has to do with a legendary Duc de Richeliue,  the Frenchman who made Odessa a pearl of the Black Sea. But who cares in that army of Z-liberators? So Primorsk resort town has a mayor, until recently. 

We were informed that after entering the town as occupiers, ‘the liberators’ were looking for the mayor of Primorsk, Alexander Koshalevich. They were looking for him specifically. The mayor is popular and engaging. When they were unable to find the mayor, they arrested his father. Simple. And working. 

Mayor Koshalevich, who seemingly has a clear understanding about life, unlike the humanoids who occupied his town, decided to give in and to release his father. After the swap and release of the Mayor’s father, ‘the liberators’ moved Alexander Koshalevich towards Berdjansk which is nearby and which they control currently. 

The locals are terrified. And everyone who learns about this, too. Ironically, Alexander Koshalevich is a member of the Opposition Platform party which has been pro-Russian all the time. But some of its members, as the Mayor of Primorsk, dared to believe that they are citizens of a sovereign country. 

The lessons of the war are always painful. The lessons of the Mean War 2022 are barely believable. It is an ongoing surrealist show at large. 

Day 33: March 28, Monday

 MUSIC  & ITS PEOPLE

Maestro Evgeny Kissin is a world star of piano. Plus a very interesting composer. Plus a very good poet in Yiddish, the language which he learned to the degree to become a poet of it, out of his tender and deep love to his grandparents. Plus a courageous defender of democracy and humanity always ready to give and to participate in meaningful concerts-actions in support of the victims of unjust repressions and cruelty. Plus generous supporter of former Soviet dissidents who were selflessly fighting for justice all their noble lives. 

Zhenja, as maestro Kissin is known in his family and among his friends, is also a dear friend of ours. We have known him since he was a seven-year old prodigy, and we have been closely friendly for the last decade. We love Zhenija and his family. Love never looks for an explanation. But one can add some rationale to one’s love, and in the case of Kissin, we are proud of the human stand of our friend. 

Maestro Kissin made his statement, his The Note of Protest against the Mean War on the day when it was started, on February 24th, 2022. The link is here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F3ode9TuDic

Evgeny with his wife and friends participated in the public protests in Prague against the Mean War there. 

On Sunday, March 28th, 2022, Maestro Kissin played at the special event, solidarity with Ukraine musical fundraiser organised by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany Walter Steinmeir. It was a very special event indeed. A part of the great orchestra of the Berlin Philharmonic was playing at the President of Germany residency together with Maestro Kissin and the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. 

Naturally, during the last 43 years of knowing the great pianist and following his concerts in many places world-wide, from St Petersburg to New York, we have heard him playing thousands of times. It was always great – and this is undeniable the mark of genius in this simple fact. But never have I heard among those thousands of times Evgeny Kissin playing in the way in which he did while performing the movements from Shostakovich’s Piano Trio 2. That piece was composed by Shostakovich in Leningrad in 1944, just after the siege of the city. Shostakovich composed that deeply painful great music in memory of his close friend  composer Ivan Sollertisky who died in evacuation at the midst of the war at the age of 41. 

That rendition was a very rare moment in meloman’s life when you are privileged to hear, to witness a phenomenon when a musician’s soul is shared with an instrument on which he performs, thus making his instrument personified and literally speaking to us. The link to that very special, very thoughtful, very moving concert is here https://www.bundespraesident.de/SharedDocs/Berichte/DE/Frank-Walter-Steinmeier/2022/03/220327-Friedenskonzert-Berliner-Philharmoniker.html?nn=9042654

In the audience at the German President’s residency, in the first row, was sitting a man. He was dressed not up to the protocol. It was 84-year old well-known composer from Ukraine Valentin Silvestrov. His music for the great films of famous movie director Kira Muratova is the serious part of the fame of these movies. His Silent Songs is a modern classic. Mr Silvestrov in his age had to run from his home, very reluctantly, as we know. He was on the road for three days and nights, and  arrived in Berlin with just one suitcase. The suitcase was full of sheet notes with his music. Nothing else. 

Inna Rogatchi ©. Silent Notes of War. War Posters. 2022. 

Maestro Silvestrov approached the grand-piano in the presidential residence hall in his casual great sweater instead of a concert dress, sat in his understated manner, and started to play. For some reason, I could not turn my eyes from his glasses which an 84-year refugee composer placed on the instrument. These glasses were so helpless. Silvestrov’s music was so gentle. We, the musicians, the public, all tried not to cry, the same as the composer, who was moved by everything which cannot be expressed by words, but can be by music.

Returning to our dear friend, Maestro Evgeny Kission, his concert in solidarity with Ukraine, Kissin and Friends for Ukraine, with participation of the great modern musicians, such as  violinist Gidon Kremer, cellists David Geringas and  Giedre Dirvanauskaite, will  happen at the famed Tonhalle in Dusseldorf on Saturday, April 2nd, 2022: 

https://www.tonhalle.de/veranstaltung/sternstunden/8740-kissin-friends

The same Shostakovich’s Piano Trio 2 which Kissin played with an open heart at the Presidential residence on Sunday March 27th, 2022, will be the focus of the Kissin & Friends for Ukraine concert, according to the organisers. And the piece by Ukrainian composer Valentin Silverstrov, his Concert for Solo Violin, will be played at the concert by great musician and great man with a big heart, Gidon Kremer. 

Who said that muses are silent when canons speak? I always found this truism very shallow. Of course, muses can speak at such time, and they are – when they are tuned by the heart of a fair people. 

Day 32: March 27, Sunday

FUEL-CIDE

Inna Rogatchi ©. The Essence of Darkness II. War Pictures. 2022.

The aggressor in the Mean War does not spare their missiles to fly from the Black Sea all the way to Lviv to bomb it. Our friends in the middle of Ukraine are also telling us regularly about constant sirens warning people to get into the shelters as those missiles fired by ‘the liberators’ from their ships in the Black Sea are getting into  the various places inside the territory of Ukraine which are very far from the current warfront. Initially, people under the attack in Ukraine did not understand the purpose of those far-range missile attacks. Now we do. Their target? Fuel storages. In Sumy, Rivno, Lviv, and many other places, the fuel storages has become the targets for the massive and intensifying  ‘liberating’ bombing.  

The phenomena has escalated against the news about the critical situation with regard to fuel resources of Ukraine, with some of them currently having fuel storage enough for several weeks only. 

Additionally, at the time of the start of the sowing campaign in the country which under normal circumstances exports between 12 and 17% of various grain crops in the world , such attacks are focused and predominated. What planned killing of the future harvest 2022 has to do with ‘demilitarisation’ of Ukraine declared as the main purpose of the Mean War? Yes, I know how highly declarative this question is. 

When missiles hit such targets as fuel storage, especially big ones, the fires caused are of such scale that despite all the effort, they cannot be extinguished for many days, and sometime, more, as we are seeing it in Ukraine these days. 

To purportedly hit fuel storages, including the places which are off military zone, in the country many places of which civilian population suffers from a siege, with heat, water and electricity cut off, to endanger the existing catastrophic situation further on, is intentional and conscious, planned barbarian way of conduct. No surprise though, but all this should be registered and reacted upon. 

There is an essential teaching in world philosophy and mysticism in the form of a question: “What is the essence of darkness? – Light”. Too bad that the basics of civilization are seemingly not taught at the military academies of the huge country of self-proclaimed Z-liberators. 

Day 31: March 26, 2022, Saturday

VICTOR, VISIT YOUR EMBANKMENT IN BUDAPEST

NEW DIVISION OF EUROPE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE EMBANKMENT IN BUDAPEST 

Inna Rogatchi ©. Danube Perspective I. 2016. 

 We are privileged to see the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky daily, with various speeches and addresses. Ukraine as a country is truly lucky to have such an energetic young man as its leader at this direst hour. One needs quite a strength to be able to act in such a rhythm for more than a month non-stop. But the Zelensky’s addressing the Council of Europe was something special among many of his various speeches. 

With dubbing in English, you can watch and hear it here.  The President of Ukraine in that particular speech was having all the heads of the European states sitting around that huge oval table, in front of him. He chose to address them not in the capacity of a collective leadership of Europe, but individually. It was the right approach. Because being addressed individually, they were still facing each other around that huge table. So, Zelensky was speaking to them in the way a kindergarten teacher speaks to the senior group of children. Composed, without a slight hint of a hysteric, but knowing, naming and addressing  the faults of each of the children in front of a teacher. 

Such a pedagogical method does exist. I am referring to that, as my mom was a legendary teacher in Ukraine for over 40 years of an extraordinary career there. She never did raise her voice to any of her pupils for all these years, always spoke with them or their parents individually, in order not to humiliate any of them. Until the point when a child continued to misbehave despite many attempts to correct his behaviour. To speak about a pupil’s incurable behaviour in front of a class was, according to my mom, the last resort. Often, it worked. 

In the Volodymyr Zelensky’s family, there are two generations of teachers,  his father is a university senior teacher, and his paternal grandmother was a highly appreciated teacher as well.  So, he knows something about pedagogics, it seems. 

In his interaction with the leaders of Europe, Volodymyr Zelensky decided to make very clear and public who from the European countries are with Ukraine and support her, and who is in the middle, and who is not. He started with praise of Lithuania, and his face, generally concerned, was enlightened, with a good reason. He was happy and grateful to Latvia and Estonia, to Poland and Finland, to Chezh Republic and Slovakia, to Italy and Slovenia. He turned personally to the President of France Macron with yet another effort to convince him to be more articulate in the position of his country, as he was towards the Netherlands. There were countries towards which the President of Ukraine was both diplomatic and clear which is also an interesting expression of his youth dream to become a diplomat – “Luxembourg, we understand each other, Portugal, almost there, Spain, we hope  you will be fully with us soon.” 

After that detailed round touching ground with every single head of a state around the huge table, just two countries left. Those for which Volodymyr Zelensky prepared his most serious addressing. Germany and Hungary. With Germany, there was nothing unexpected in what the majority of people in Europe, including the majority of Germany itself,  think about their just impossibly weak position and policy in that deadly Mean War. No rationale can justify this kind of behaviour by the country which has caused such an unspeakable tragedy for so many hundreds of million of people in the XX century, twice so. 

And today, on the 31st day of the Mean War, I have at least 31 times asked myself: where on earth is Madame Merkel? She made a generalised one-phrase statement on the second day of the invasion, after which she disappeared from the horizon as if she never was there. I find her public absence appalling, to stay on a diplomatic tune. 

But – Hungary. When speaking about that country’s position in the tragedy unfolding in the centre of Europe, just on and next the Ukrainian border , the personality of President Zelensky has become open, and his appeal to Victor ( Orban) was powerful, engaging and very honest. Not often in politics, we are witnessing this kind of honesty, this kind of personal involvement, and this kind of open nerve. Victor had no chance against humanity and justice brought by the President of Ukraine to the table of the Council of Europe. 

Volodymyr Zelensky spoke about beautiful Budapest. Very beautiful city indeed. About special Hungarian people. Very true. It spoke to our hearts as well, with my husband’s ancestry right from the Pest bank of the Danube river, from the family of the noble Jewish military and engineers. So, we understood and knew what Volodymyr Zelensky was talking about while praising Budapest and its people. He was sincere. 

And then he remembered about the place in that beautiful city which shocks anyone who was there ever once. Especially if one visits there for the first time. The President of Ukraine was telling the prime-minister of Hungary how he  visited the Budapest embankment with his family. “With my family – repeated it twice, emphatically. – With-my-family-I-was-there!”  Those shoes at the Budapest embankment, they chills one’s heart for once and for good. Those bronze shoes. That incredible, one in the world memorial to the victims of the Holocaust in Budapest who were throwned into the Danube from that very embankment , many of the alive, in one of the horrendous crimes of the Holocaust committed by the Nazis together with their Hungarian collaborators. Not for once. Repeatedly so. Such was the fashion of that crime which was committed in Budapest repeatedly from November 1944 through January 1945, with up to 15 thousand people murdered in this way. 

As president Zelensky was speaking about the one of the kind of the Shoes Memorial on the Danube river, he became really emotional. And I was proud of him. His personal, human engagement into the horror of our both people and its memory, has become the strongest reasoning in appealing to organically pro-Moscow  Orban, and it brought it to a different level altogether. It was not about gas, not about tanks. It was about human lives. And in the way Zelensky spoke about it, one cannot fake it. 

“Victor, do visit your embankment in Budapest again. And think about what kind of destiny can fall upon your people again’. Not only was it the best possible reasoning in the Ukrainian leader’s effort to bring at least some justice in international politics, with regard to Hungary. And actually, anyone else’s position in the current Mean War. It was also the most human, powerful, strong message that one can produce in the midst of irrational vicious aggression allowed to go on in the centre of Europe for over a month. 

Whatever will happen as the Mean War is still going on, Volodymyr Zelensky did show many admirable qualities, defined, in my opinion, by his own personal humanity. 16 years of Madame Merkel in power has been nullified by her appalling silence during the first month of the Mean War. 14 years of Victor Orban experience as the strong man of Hungary has been publicly put in question thanks to very timely reminding about it to all of us by the inexperienced politician and young enough 44- year old man who leads Ukraine today. 

The whole Europe has been divided anew, because of the European countries’ individual reaction towards the Mean War and their response to it, as it has been vividly and very convincingly illustrated for us all by President Zelensky. This division goes through the most important of lines, through the line of morale. And it will get into the history book exactly as portrayed by the President Zelensky at the recent meeting of the Council of Europe, on March 25th, 2022. 

Go visit your embankment in Budapest, Victor. And Angela, whichever monument you, dear Madame Merkel, would prefer to visit. Your country happens to have too many of them. And all those who need any additional convincing, practically all European countries have places of conscience-refreshing visits. It might be useful. 

Inna Rogatchi ©. The Step. Budapest. 2016. Holocaust Album. 

Inna Rogatchi ©. Danube Step I.  Holocaust Album. 2016. 

Day 30: March 25, 2022, Friday

REPLACED CHILDREN

Inna Rogatchi ©. Border-Crossing. Europe 2022. War Pictures series. 2022. 

So, we know this boy by now, many of us, from Melbourne to Berlin. He goes alone, sobbing, with that plastic bag in his hand. He is stumbling. He is in agony, actually – which is obvious for anyone who saw the video. The boy is crossing the border. In the centre of Europe, in the XXI century. I am angry at myself for this cliche in my war diary, ‘Centre of Europe, the third decade of the XXI century’. But I am also defiant in reminding this fact in many of my observations of the Mean War. Until the moment when our all collective appaulment would transform into something more practical. 

According to UNICEF, the result of the first month of the Mean War, from February 24th through March 24th, 2022, resulted in the replacement of over four million three hundred thousand children in Ukraine. 4 300 000 replaced kids in one month. Two and half million of them were replaced within the border of Ukraine, with 1 800 000 children becoming refugees beyond the Ukrainian border. Can we, adults, really understand the meaning of this terrible maths?

The figure of 4 300 000 replaced children of Ukraine is compatible with only one period in human history, with the 1940s. 

Before the Mean War, Ukraine had  7, 500 000 children. After one month of the war, 4 300 000 of them were replaced. It is 57%. War figures must be precise. 

For those who understand Ukrainian and Russian, here is a priceless video made and published by Nastojashee Vremja decent media about some of these small and young Ukrainian refugees. Some of our friends have mentioned that to watch it is even more difficult than to see the reports of the shelling. I disagree. My husband has noticed for a while now, ever since we are seeing some of the Ukrainian children coming how different and good they are. It does tell about the country and its people. It always does. Please watch it – https://www.facebook.com/shablovioni/posts/5217307008281645

Day 29: March 24, 2022, Thursday

GRAVES AT THE CHILDREN’s PLAYGROUNDS

Inna Rogatchi(C). Graves at the Children’s Playgrounds. Ukraine 2022. War Pictures series. 2022. 

When you do not see it, it gets into your mind, but because of human self-defence sub-conscious mechanisms, it stays compartmentalised. I mention this as an educated biologist and dedicated psycho-physiologist. When you see it, it gets into your conscience for good. If you have it. 

People, civilians, are murdered in the Mean War daily, for over a month by now. Because of continuing shelling, there is no possibility to bury them properly in many places of Ukraine. Lucky ones are buried in the courtyards of their houses, if their neighbours manage to do it. We have already seen large mass graves in Mariupol with many corpses of the murdered civilians placed there, in a horrendous videos and photos. 

The evidence of the crimes against humanity – because the crimes against civilian population are qualified by the international law as a crime against humanity  – are amassed daily. What a terrible catalogue. 

We have the evidence. We have those photos with corpses of the civilians laying on the grounds of Ukrainian cities, towns, villages, and roads. The most impossible is the photo of the fresh grave at the children’s playground, with a child playing so near to it. What else symbolises the vicious character of the Mean War  that any Kafka of his or her time can imagine? But the point is that we are seeing the document, it all is for real. 

And yet horrific is that the graves at the children’s playgrounds in Ukraine today are regarded as ‘a consoling’ feature  – due to the fact that so very many people who were murdered in the war, had no chance to be buried at all, even in a mass graves. This deprives me of sleep. 

Just yesterday, I saw the story about a very good Ukrainian doctor, well-known paediatrician from Kharkov, the head of the department of a hospital there, who saved during the 40 years of his career thousands children. He was proposed to be evacuated, but refused, because he knew that he was needed there. When he was murdered, there was no chance to bury him, his daughter has told to their friends. Now, that family has to live with it. Instead of burying their father, the doctor’s children are collecting any memories about him by anyone who would like to say a couple of words. That would be his memorial, the family says. 

I know personally about several other cases when family or friends cannot bury their loved ones murdered by ‘the liberators’. I cannot imagine how people who were attacked in this way, can live the rest of their lives. 

Graves in the children’s playgrounds, mass graves, no graves at all for hundreds of innocent people. I am at a loss that the sun rises from the east in the business as usual motto amidst this amok.  

Inna Rogatchi ©

FINLAND

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