A YEAR OF THE MEAN WAR
One February morning
On February 16th, 2022, I published one of my artworks. I am producing many of them, and have a habit to publish at least one almost daily, as my friends know. The themes vary, often depending on my exhibitions, projects and other cultural events, but as a rule, I try to publish the works which project hope and counterbalance the environment at a given moment, like sunny picture on a rainy day, and cool ones when a heath is around, to put it simply.
But that particular day, on a February morning last year, I’ve published an atypical for my oeuvre picture. I love to work in black & white, but just because of it, I do it rarely, trying to avoid banality, existing images or expected solutions there.
A year ago, on that February 16th morning, I published that black and white picture in a completely intuitive mode, without any clearly formulated thoughts, knowledge or understanding. I just felt like that.
Premonition, I know. We all have them. Just who would have thought that the life of all those millions of people, both in Ukraine and elsewhere for whom this Mean War means a personal pain, would turn into the black & white mode and that it would last a year by now, with all existing signs telling that it would continue for a long time ahead.
To me, this work looks like a sort of a map of emotional intelligence picturing what has happened: life was transformed to its opposite, interconnections ensuring normality of existence were severed, and a joy has disappeared altogether. All this was done by an evil impulse of brutal barbarians whose IQ is pathetic, to put it diplomatically.
While the world paid an emphasized attention to the fact of a year anniversary of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, I am thinking that after February 24th, 2023, there will be 366th day of committed military crimes and crimes against humanity. The 366th and counting.
Pinky Hats, Lost Eyes
There are so many aspects of this war: military, energy, infrastructure, environment, medicine, culture, education, not to mention a giant psychological trauma which is not going away as a hangover, but stays for years, decades, or forever.
But one aspect of the Russian crimes committed in real-time in front of the world is children. There are too many sub-aspects with children regard, apart from murdering them at maternity wards: making them orphaned, making them invalids, depriving them from food, warmth, water, medicine, depriving them from education, eradicating them from their homes. What, children also have human rights, really? – morons in Russia in the position to decide on their destiny would be genuinely surprised. This is this kind of country.
During that first year of their Mean War, all 365 days of it, from day one, they were kidnapping those children from the occupied territories of Ukraine. There are several serious dossiers about, official and thoroughly verified data in the special-task reports conducted by the UN, the UNICEF, the Yale University, not to speak about the grim task of the Children Ombudsman of Ukraine Office.
We know some figures now. At least 6 000 children were kidnapped by the Russian forces and forcibly moved to Russia. There are also conservative figures of 10 000, 14 000 and 16 000. The Ukraine Children Ombudsman Office cites ‘at least 20 000’. We know the places of the camps where those kidnapped children were held by the Russians, with names, regions and exact addresses, from Far East and Chechnya to the occupied Crimea and Moscow region, including central Russia and Karelia.
The act of forced detention followed by forced repatriation qualified as a crime. It is a crime against humanity. As such, it has no statute of limitation. Committed during a war, this is also a military crime. Don’t they know that there is a country which massively and methodically kidnaps kids from their neighbors in the 21st century? Of course, they do. Do they care? They never did.
What is going on with the kidnapped and thus intentionally, criminally orphaned children from Ukraine in Russia today, is literally the same what was going on with the kids from Spain in the Stalin’s Soviet Union in 1937 when hundreds of the children were in the similar way kidnapped by the Soviet representatives in the midst of bloody Civil War in Spain which was to the large extent instigated by the Stalin’s script, and for their own benefits, including received ships with gold, as it is very well known to the historians and is fully documented.
The Kremlin is sustainable in its traditions, as we know. They take special care of orphans. Hundreds of thousands of them who were orphaned during their cursed bolshevik revolution and followed the Great Terror. It was done under Lenin, and Stalin, and now it is done again. As we watch it.
The time around marking the first year of the war in Ukraine is commemorated in Russia too, naturally, in a series of their typically uber provincial staged mega-events. And what an utter shame it was.
I am not going to observe many of those low boasts of barbarity in big and small, in so-called poetry, so-called music, so-called celebration – of what? Of barbarity, cruelty, and applied hatred all around. The creatures belonging to that category do not deserve a second of public attention. They have extracted themselves off the sphere of a civilized world and decent peoplehood.
But there was one episode in those disgusting celebrations of their Mean War in Russia which screams out for its blatant cynicism and criminal exploration of defenseless kidnapped children.
The humanoids scripted the celebrations in Moscow forced a dozen of children kidnapped from Mariupol, on the stage of their moron feast of evil in their Luzhniki stadium, which was carried on under the open air in -15C which felt like -30C, and made them to thank ‘the hero’ who according to the Moscow script ‘saved them’. The children were of different ages, from six to sixteen, girls and boys. They were forced on the stage. With cheery smiles on the mugs of the adults who commanded them. Those poor children forgot what they had to say. One of the girls was heard saying “Oh, I forgot the lines”, and helplessly cried on that cold stage of that frozen stadium filled with thousands of stupid young idiots brought there to support the inhuman regime of morally illiterate creatures.
Here are the faces of those children from Mariupol who were used so cynically once again by the Kremlin, you have a look.
I know GULAG first-hand, by my family story and many of my friends’ stories. I remember how my husband who was a child of an exiled family, who grew up in Karlag, the largest by size and most severe by condition part of GULAG, saw the open trucks moving those poor doomed Gulag prisoners, his father was one of them, in – 45C, as slaves, for their slave labour in the Soviet paradise. “The dogs, those dogs next to those poor people, it was a total chilling nightmare,” – Michael remembers all his life. And the open riffles. So close to the prisoners’ faces. And the hands that kept those rifles. And the men whose hands it were. Child’s memory is a powerful thing, as we all know.
I know the Holocaust, also first-hand, also due to the family story, and many stories of the friends and relatives. And I know it professionally, in detail, being immersed into that for over 30 years.
I know the Laogai, the system of Chinese labor and other camps, also first-hand, from a dear friend, a hero, who has brought tons of chilling evidence of that horror to the West, and who paid with his life for that.
And what I saw with regard to those thousands of kidnapped children from Ukraine is not far from these repressive machineries. To see it happening and thriving today is totally surreal. And absolutely abhorrent.
I completely understand why president Zelensky is so concerned and, honestly, suffers over the destiny of those thousands of kidnapped children, all that year long.
333-morons & ‘Russian-specific’ DNA
Everything we saw during the feast of evil in Moscow and Russia these cold February days a year after the start of their criminal war in the way of its celebration was simply disgusting. Lies upon lies, stupidity over stupidity, bragging over killing and more killing. I do not know which other nation that regards itself as belonging to a civilized humano-sphere allows itself to be so brutally ecstatic practicing their cult of force of cannibals and enjoying it so much. Or to fake that joy so diligently.
What other normal nation will perform publicly and will air nation-wide a crazy musical rap-chat that contain only phrase moderating ‘333’ in Russian words: ‘day-and-night 333’, ‘in-and-out 333’, ‘333 always’, ‘333 only, ‘we are the best in 333’, and so on.
Do you know what ‘333’ is? It is a new Russian military jargon, meaning simply and banally ‘fire!’ command. It has started from their military exercise in Syria, and now it is used very widely by the Russian army in their Mean War in Ukraine. Why ‘333’? – one might ask. Because they have decided that many ‘r’ letters present in that ‘trista-tridzat-tri’ in Russian wording are like ‘lion-roar’, especially if a commander would force that ‘r’ while shouting the command out, believe it or not.
How one can classify the statement by the other Russian soldier on the scene of that cheap and arrogant celebration of a year-long ongoing state-orchestrated murder in Ukraine who very proudly declared: “There is an important proverb in my native Abkhazia (another occupied territory by the ‘liberators’): “The earth which is not soaked in blood cannot be regarded as one’s motherland”. It was met with a dutiful hysteric cheering from the audience.
Or, as they boast in their new part of a patriotically enforced curriculum for the universities, ‘As the Russians, we do have our own Russian-specific DNA’. You bet, they are. They are demonstrating it daily.
In their arrogant ignorance, they do not even realize how genuinely deeply racist they are. Anyway, they do not care. Neither should we to take their ‘specific’ DNA into any serious consideration, apart from realizing adequately whom the world has to deal with.
Incurable Empire, or What’s Left of It – Lessons in History and Geography
There is no wonder that from the mid-1950s onward and until early 1990s, the rest of the world badly needed scores of Sovietologists, the experts who could decipher and explain all those mysteries of the black cat in a dark room which the Soviet totalitarian system sealed off the outside world.
After the collapse of Absurdistan, the world outside was so overwhelmed with relief that it was assumed that no expertise of this opened post-Soviet place was needed any longer. Some of them even spoke English, you know, so they would tell us things as they are, it was widely assumed. I am not joking. This is what I literally was told by one of the serious and experienced Westerners in a top decision-making position.
I also remember one of my conversations with Lady Thatcher who was looking at me being seemingly puzzled when I mentioned that the post-Soviet Russia and its people ‘must be comprehend thoroughly’ before any further decision-making proceeded. “Mrs Rogatchi, – exclaimed the Baroness in her rather straightforward manner looking at me with a genuine surprise, – what do you mean: to comprehend?” – I was not shunned by the UK Prime-Minister’s slight rebook, and continued to look her straight in the eye, saying: “Yes, dear Lady Thatcher, this is exactly what I am saying. One needs to comprehend them thoroughly before doing, planning, deciding, conducting anything with regard to them. Without it, nothing would succeed”. It was from that moment when the recently retired UK Prime Minister got really interested in our conversation, and we became good and understanding of each other’s friends for years ahead.
By analyzing the history of that country through objective data one comes to the conclusion which was formulated by my dear friend, the great Soviet dissident and outstanding figure in general, late Vladimir Bukovsky very laconically: “This empire or what’s left of it is incurable. They simply cannot think, wish, or see in any other way than the vast majority of them do, especially the ruling elite. There should be no illusions with this regard”. I cannot agree more.
Just one sample, the fresh one: the speech of the Russian leader in his much anticipated address to the Federal Assembly of the country at the moment rounding the first year of their war against its neighbor. The speech lasted one hour and 35 minutes. It was obviously difficult for that man to deliver it in an uplifting way. There was nothing to celebrate, and he and everyone in the huge hall knew it. So they all fell asleep, in a highly amusing show for which poor TV cameramen now are punished, for having a pleasure to fix it and to show it to the world. In that hour and a half long-mumbling, he even spoke about ‘the necessity to clear out our old dumping places all over the country, and to do it efficiently and quickly, as soon as possible’. In the 21st century. In what they insist to be a super-power. The boss urges them in his annual address to the nation in the midst of war to clean their old dumping places. Hilarious is not a word. I can only imagine a roaring laugh at many serious capitals, especially, say, in the Forbidden City area. With a good reason.
And what assembly it was, from a view of physiognomist specialists, hundreds of people, many of whom looked like real-life personages of Bertolt Brecht’s grossly exaggerated fictional characters – desperate, ugly and pathetic at the same time.
That ugly feast of mediocre characters was not amusing, not for a bit. One of my historian colleagues from Germany did compare the texts of two speeches, the one mumbled by the tired and visibly disappointed (his Sarmat latest missile’s test with which he meant to send the signal to the president Biden and president Zelensky who were walking together at that very moment in the centre of Kiyv, failed spectacularly a day before his national address ) boss of Russia on February 22nd, 2023 in Moscow, with another speech of the upset leader who also frantically believed in his own delusional version of history, and who was very upset by the ‘hostile West’, in that case exemplified in the Versaille Treaty. That other speech was delivered on September 1st, 1939, at the extraordinary plenary session of Reichstag. The speech is part of the Yale University Law School Avalon Project, and it is easily retrievable on the net. Anyone can read both speeches and compare them. Highly recommended. The comparison is stunning.
But what really is incredible, and what is highly important to understand here is that by no means did the people who have prepared and have written that speech for the current leader of Russia did not mean to repeat or to borrow anything from Adolf’s too well-known address breaking the Second World War into the world. The last thing they wanted was any comparison like that, or any thought in that direction. It is also well-known that the boss always reads the prepared speeches for him and gives them his final personal editing, leaving off or adding things, he does not read it from the script without approving it in his own way. Nobody from them did not borrow a thing from a scandalous and extremely well known document of the speech with which Hitler justified the Nazi Germany’s actions and plunged the world into the horror of the Second World War.
The thing is that they, those who prepare the speech, those who wrote the draft of it, those who edit it, those who inspire its ‘historical’ review part, and that one who delivered it, after his own considerations, contributions and overview, do think this way genuinely. And this is a horrific and very sobering outcome. As objective, as it gets.
Geography always dictated the strategic and any thinking of the leaders of that huge country, as it did indeed for the other mighty empires, with one difference – all those mighty empires came and went, but one. The people who are leading this last one in its modern half-gone and seriously malfunctioned mode, do not allow themselves for a second to assume that the way of imperial form of state includes in itself an empire’s collapse, inevitably. They just refuse to think this way, a priori.
So far, it was the problem for most of their many neighbors, and it still is. But there will be a day when it will become a problem for themselves. The problem with the leaders in that part of the globe is that they traditionally refuse to see things as they are instead seeing them, almost genuinely, as they would like them to be. That’s why the last Russian Emperor and his circle of decision-makers lost their country to the blood-thirsty Bolshevik savages, to the savages’ complete surprise. A century on, the last Russian Tsar’s infamous ‘influencer’ Rasputin, as if had his re-incarnation in the face of the obscure professional hater who calls himself a philosopher and preaches today, in a way very close to how Rasputin did it a century ago.
It was for the same reason that Stalin was only so trying and so happy to court Adolf for years in all and every way, from military to agriculture, before getting into the full-scale partnership with him in 1939, to bring his own country to the brink of existence just in eighteen months after the happy hugs in Moscow and joint crimes in Poland.
It was despite Stalin, not because of Stalin that the Soviet people prevailed over the Nazis. They were fighting for their life, their families, their homes, they were invaded and about to be destroyed brutally. My husband’s step-father, Jewish boy from Belarus, alone with three of his friends, all aged 16, attacked the small labour camp in Oshmjany, surprised the German guards there, overcoming them in a severe hand-fight, and liberated the prisoners, including his mom. They were fighting on their own, as it happened.
It was for the same reason, in the memory of our generation, the fiasco in Afghanistan has happened, which went for almost a decade, claimed so many lives, practicing cruel razing down a half of a country which had nothing to do with the USSR, and resulting in what? We all see it in front of us for decades by now.
I am positive that before the Russian society at all its levels, starting from the school, will receive the truth about the Second World War in all of its aspects and detail, this country will be doomed. The same goes for all the truth regarding the revolution and post-revolution and GULAG before and after the Second World War. One cannot build anything stable, let alone decent, on lies and lacunas of withdrawn knowledge which has accumulated for a century by now. There is one thing: a personal knowledge of an individual, and another thing is a publicly recognized knowledge on what had happened in one’s country.
The official version of history in USSR and post-USSR was always outcry false, with two breaks, both of eight years each, in between 1956 and 1964, some while after Stalin’s death, and in between 1992 and 2000, after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But those two breaks happened to be not thorough ones, and the truth went out fragmentary. Now, the revision of Russian history in a whole is applied feverishly there, upon the Kremlin demand, on many levels and in many ways. The result of the spread in their country this ‘new historical narrative’ of Russia injected with its ‘Russian-specific’ DNA, will be worse than Homo Soveticus formed by the communist totalitarian regime in the USSR.
Geography still commands the thinking of the decision-makers in that violent and dangerous country. One had to look on the map a year ago, in February 2022, to realize that the goal of the Russian unprovoked aggression against Ukraine is to establish the control over both Sea of Azov and Black Seas, and that means a half of the Ukrainian territory. Fortunately, and thanks to everyone helping to Ukrainians to withstand the aggression heroically, they did not achieve their goal in full after a year of devastating aggression .
But one has to realize that those people, their leadership in the first place, just cannot lose. They are stubborn and will not be ordered by reason. That’s why today, a year since the beginning of the Mean War, one has to look on the map again to realize that the possible new directions of the Russian military offensive might come both from the territory of Belarus which is the official part of the official union of the two states, and also from Pridnestrovie ( Transistria) region in Moldova. Just look at the map – and do provide Zelensky with as much military aid as possible. Now.
‘Nuremberg Had No precedent, Too’
When one plunges into the Holocaust crimes as I did, being busy with the theme for over 30 years, one must train oneself to control one’s emotions, in order not only to be able to work productively with this kind of material: to process it, to go through that, to analyze it, but just to bear on. Every Holocaust historian knows it, it is a precondition for this occupation. That’s what Elie Wiesel had in mind when he said that ‘his own character prevented him from becoming a Nazi-hunter’. And we know it from Elie’s books.
I worked and was friendly with Simon Wiesenthal very closely for years, and remember how he told me about the episode in which he, very recent prisoner of Mauthausen (and before that, several other camps), who lost his entire family in the Shoah, and who was helping the US Army in Austria immediately after the end of the Second World War, went with them to arrest one of the senior Nazi officers who was identified. ‘When we came to that house, two of us, an American officer and I, I just could not force myself to touch the door handle of that house. I just could not. After some time, an American soldier who was with me, did it instead of me. Then, having that senior Nazi arrested, and I knew what he did, we transported him to the prison. He was put in the car, in handcuffs. I sat next to him, guarding him, with the American in the cabin, driving the car. I could kill that Nazi with my bare hands’ ‘ – Wiesenthal told me not in a way of a distant recollection, but in a way of living the episode through again, in a full emotion, fifty years after it had a place. Fifty years.
It was always like that regarding some episodes of his extraordinary life, with those particular moments staying within him emotionally intact, does not matter how many years passed. Some of them can be seen in my film The Lessons of Survival which is a series of our conversations with Simon Wiesenthal.
He did not kill that Nazi in Linz in 1945 although he was remembering that episode all his life. “Why?” – I asked, not as a journalist, but as a fellow Jew. “Because this car was bringing him to justice” – answered Simon to me looking at me emphatically, and added, customarily: “( Do) you understand? ” It was important for him that people would really understand what he had to say to them.
Many, many times in our conversations during the years, this matter resurfaced. He formulated it famously: “Justice, not vengeance”. We talked a lot about it. He was adamant on that principle. ‘Yes, one could kill a lot of the Nazis after the war ( and it was done, as we know – IR). But it was absolutely clear to me, maybe not from the very beginning, understandably, but I did come to that conclusion and that principle that those criminals should be not only killed in a revenge, absolutely justified revenge, but still. They should be brought to justice. There should be a trial. The trials. Hundreds of trials. Not ‘as many as possible’, but as many as the crimes and their perpetrators require. In a given case of a concrete person who committed a war crime, the crime against humanity, his crimes should be brought to trial, publicly, with the evidence. That’s why I and my people, tens of them, during so many years, collected this evidence, every bit of it, at every place possible and impossible, as you know. This evidence must be not only registered by and for juridical officials. This evidence must become public knowledge – in the process of public trial. So the people would know. And then, in the process of a trial and as a result of it, the war criminals should be convicted. Their punishment must go through and become a result of the judicial process. Then it would become our all’ insurance against future crimes”, – Simon Wiesenthal told me in the mid-1990s. He believed in this as firmly, as it is humanly possible. It was one of his most essential convictions throughout his long and far from easy life.
He had a perfect point.
I am deeply convinced that if the crimes and the criminals of the Great War were convicted in the series of public trials, the chances of the Second World War would be diminished very seriously.
Between the two devastating wars of the 20th century, there was a very short, time-wise, distance, only 20 years, less than one generation. It is like between now and the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the US. Just think about it. The outcome of the First World War, the Great War, was absolutely devastating – and just 20 years after that full-scale horror the world gets itself into the similar, but yet worse carnage again, started by the same player, after several years of the worst pogroms, racial laws, first concentration camps in their own country while the world tried to appease the beast to their very best. How come?
Because of the military crimes of Germany in the Great War, its crimes against humanity – such as the attack in Yupre, the first major attack with a lethal chemical weapon in history, the crimes of the late-period Second Reich’ decision makers were left unpunished juridically.
There was no independent, nor international tribunal. Instead, it was a mockery process in Germany itself, acquitting, expectedly, 99% of the German military personnel brought to that so-called trial. None of the politicians was ever taken responsible. That’s why the Versaille Treaty was regarded as ‘oh-so-humiliating’ and ‘oh-such-an-injustice’ in Germany. That’s why the vermin of Nazism developed in such a suitable environment.
If the German army’s horrendous crime in Yupre would be convicted publicly and internationally, with all coming legal consequences, the producing and use, most importantly, of Zyklon-B might be far more problematic and questionable. I am absolutely sure about it.
The failure of the world community to bring the Second Reich, their leaders, their decision-makers and their military to justice resulted directly in emboldening the Nazis in their gruesome crimes against humanity.
There is nothing new in this world, not in the 20th, nor in the 21st century, nor, as it happened, from the time of King Solomon, in the mid-900s BCE, when the phrase was coined. Crime must be punished. Responsible people must be taken responsible. Otherwise, the society would plunge into cannibalism, both literally and metaphorically.
From day one of the Mean War, the matter of justice became a front-line of it. A colossal amount of work is done during all the time of the first year of this Mean War by many professionals in the international effort to make the special tribunal on the crimes in Ukraine viable and efficient. After all, ‘ After all, the Nuremberg had no precedent, too’ , – as one of the top international lawyers has mentioned to me recently. Indeed.
We owe it to the victims of the Mean War, both military and civilian ones. To their families. To orphaned kids whose only dream and only purpose in life now is to be able ‘to erect a good, very good gravestone to mama’. To the parents who saw their ten-year old daughter headless. To the country where a vast part of a territory, including entire cities, are ruined to the ground. To the boy from Dnipro in this photo, and multitude of boys and girls like him.
And, actually, to us ourselves. Those of us who value life and light, in defiance of bullying mediocre losers who might cause a lot of incurable damage on their hysterical march to the abyss.
February 24, 2023.