Posts tagged Kharkiv

Eyewitness Account from Maidan

AftermathI can picture many things about what happened less than a week ago in Kyiv, Ukraine.  The other places like Kharkiv, Donetsk, Lviv, not so much. I lived for six years in Kyiv so I have many friends still living there.  An amazing account of what it was like that dark night of the 18th of Feb. I’m hoping that I hear from my former Ukrainian students. I taught writing and composition, I hope they know how important it is to write like this young person did in the example below.  Some of my students have temporarily shut down their Facebook accounts, others are giving me information in bits and pieces, mostly in Ukrainian or Russian.  Read on:

By Serhiy Suprun

I want to tell you about the night of February 19th, and what happened during the operation of “clearing the Maidan” by the Berkut police.

It was the toughest night of them all. The famed self-defense “hundreds” (“sotni”) were nowhere near us and neither were the guardsmen from “Svoboda.” The men holding up the front line of defense were badly organized and severely exhausted, at this point having to use their heads to prop up their shields against the oncoming assault, because their arms had no strength left in them. The stage provided them some confort, because it was free of the MP’s usual cheap pathos-filled and self-serving slogans. There was no one left. Parubiy (leader of people’s self-defense) declared that he suffered a stroke and went home. Turchynov (MP) requested a stretcher, announcing that he was hit by a sniper’s bullet.

Berkut continued with their constant attacks. The perimeter was being held up by 300-400 people, while the rest were just compassionate spectators. As morning neared, there were less and less people around. Khreschatyk become empty, and those of us who remained were either rushing about or nearly crawling, trying to drag to the frontline anything that could burn. After 5AM the situation became desperate, as the frontline of defense was being pressed back. The barricades on Prorizna Str. and in the Pasazh were left unguarded, several times messengers would come to us with the alarming reports of advancing Berkut forces and “titushki” coming at us from the side of Besarabka square.

We were anxious. We were scared. Everyone suddenly realized that we have no chance of holding on to Khreschatyk. After 8AM people began scattering more actively, there was hardly anyone coming in. Suddently, along Khreschatyk, from the side of Besarabka, we saw a large group of men armed with shields and baseball bats advancing upon us. It was the end.

We began grabbing bricks and lighting Molotovs. The running group was getting closer and closer and, as their faces became clearer, our dread was quickly replaced by sudden understanding – they were OUR GUYS! The expressions on their faces could only belong to OUR GUYS!

Men aged forty-fifty years old ran up to us, quickly lined up in columns of fours, and our frontline defense fighters collapsed to their knees with a hard clanking of shields against the ground. What we heard next exploded our consciousness. “Brothers! We are so sorry that it took us so long to get to you.” Everyone wept. Everyone. They were the Lviv “hundred” (“Lvivska sotnia”).

As they all ran to take places at the frontline, a few remained to tell us the long story of HOW they managed to reach us. I will not write about it here, but it is a long tale of their courage and unwavering will. Glory to the Lvivska Sotnya! An hour later Ternopil happened…

Source: FB

Translated by Natalia Ioffe, edited by Jana Kualova

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Reading “The Long Walk” by Slavomir Rawicz

My husband read this book titled “The Long Walk” written by Slavomir Rawicz when he was in 6th grade, it was published in 1956. It’s about a Polish army officer who was “sized up” as a spy for the Germans by the Soviets. The recent movie starring Ed Harris “The Way Back” is based on this book but leaves out all the torture and hardship Rawicz lived through as a 25 year old privileged army officer first in Kharkiv (Ukraine) and then in the terrible prison in Moscow.  That was almost two years worth before the agonizing one month train trip (3,000 miles) on the trans-Siberian. Prisoners were treated like cattle and then these “Unfortunates” were forced to walk in the deep snow with chains north to Camp 303 in the northern part of Siberia close to Yakutsk.  The film makers leave out many things but they DO portray other things quite accurately about the 4,000 mile walk.  I recommend seeing the movie if you don’t want to bother with the book.

The following is the description of what the inmates looked like based on their ages, according to 25 year old author Rawicz:

“And all the time my mind juggling with pictures of the stockaded camp…and always the men about me, the young ones like me who were resilient and quick to recover, the forty-year-olds who surprisingly (to me, then) moved slowly but with great reserves of courage and strength and the over fifties who fought to stay young, to work, to live, the men who had lived leisured lives and now, marvelously, displayed the guts to face a cruel new life very bravely. They should have been telling tales to their devoted grandchildren, these oldsters.  Instead they spent their days straining and lifting at the great fallen trees, working alongside men who were often half their age.  There is a courage which flourishes in the worst kind of adversity and it is quite unspectacular. These men had it in full.”

The same could be said of the “Enemies of the People” women who were depicted in what I have blogged about the last several days in “Till My Tale is Told.” Many women in ALZHIR prison camp should have been with their grandchildren instead of felling trees and being used as slave labor.

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