Friday, April 29, 2022

Memory, Dignity and Justice


April 28, 2022 is a Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Day

In 2022, the theme guiding the United Nations Holocaust remembrance and education is “Memory, Dignity and Justice”. Holocaust commemoration and education is a global imperative in the third decade of the 21st century. The writing of history and the act of remembering brings dignity and justice to those whom the perpetrators of the Holocaust intended to obliterate. Safeguarding the historical record, remembering the victims, challenging the distortion of history often expressed in contemporary antisemitism, are critical aspects of claiming justice after atrocity crimes. The theme encompasses these concerns.


Author: Erik Elman

In 1939, before WWII, there were 16.6 million Jews worldwide. Today, in 2022, there are still only 15.2 million Jews living on this planet - like in 1922. Sergio Della Pergola calculated, that, if not for Holocaust, the Jewish population of the world would be close to 40 million today.

So, here's your real number - it's not just 6 million. It's their unborn children, and their children's children, mighty and fruitful branches cut off from the trunk before they had a chance to grow, the echo of the slaughter, coming down to us, generation after generation, empty spaces in our collective conscience, erased genes that will never enrich our collective potential, friends we will never have, loves we will never celebrate, voices that will never be heard, ideas that will never be born.

People say, "yes, but Israel". Yes, but nothing. Israel is not "an answer" to Holocaust, American Jewish prosperity is not an answer either. We are still a remnant, all that is left. We have our triumphs, yes. We survive and thrive. But if you stop for a moment and comprehend what was lost, you understand how diminished we are. How wounded. How - beneath all this swagger and confidence - traumatized and broken.

This is what genocide does - it doesn't just destroy those it can reach. It stays with the survivors. It reminds them that they are the unworthy ones who got lucky, stoking their grief and guilt. And once it happens, the terrible marker goes down in history, a finger pointing out to the Jews, saying "IT CAN BE DONE", and what could be done once, can be done again. And everybody around us knows it. And we know that they know.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Mariupol before and after

 Before and after photos of Mariupol show devastation of city when “Russian World” came there to “save the people” from their elected government. Based on the latest estimates of April 11, more than 10,000 civilians have died in the Russian siege of his city, and that the death toll could surpass 20,000, with more detailed investigation, when the city will be liberated.

Not many words. Just pictures – before and after.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Love in Kyiv

 Written by Natalka Bilotserkivets and translated by Andrew Sorokowsky


More terrible is love in Kyiv than

Magnificent Venetian passions. Butterflies

Fly light and maculate into bright tapers –

Dead caterpillars’ brilliant wings aflame!

And spring has lit the chestnuts’ candles!

Cheap lipstick’s tender taste,

The daring innocence of miniskirts,

And these coiffures, that are not cut quite right –

Yet image, memory, and signs still move us…

Tragically obvious, like the latest hit.

You’ll die here by a scoundrel’s knife,

Your blood will spread like rust inside a brand

New Audi in an alley in Tatarka.

You’ll plunge here from a balcony, the sky,

Down headlong to your dirty little Paris

Dressed in a blouse of secretarial white.

You can’t discern the weddings from the deaths…

For love in Kyiv is more terrible than

Ideas of New Communism: specters

Emerge in the intoxicated nights

Out of Bald Mountain, bearing in their hands

Red flags and pots of red geraniums.

You’ll die here by a scoundrel’s knife,

You’ll plunge here from a balcony, the sky, in

A brand-new Audi from an alley in Tatarka

Down headlong to your dirty little Paris

Your blood will spread like rust

upon a blouse of secretarial white.

Natalka Bilotserkivets is an acclaimed poet, editor, and translator. Her poems have been anthologized and translated into a dozen of European languages.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

A Poem from Ukraine


Author: Vasyl Stus

Translated from Ukrainian by Artem Pulemotov


So many words; they are like crippled ghosts!

They strike, like bullets, far and close by

But always miss the essence of my life;

They come in rows.

Through these deceitful words I walk and shamble.

There is a fight; I’m on the battlefield,

Where all my soldiers are the words I wield,

And treason’s sown by memories that scramble . . .

Don’t end up fooled when in the good you trust,

And don’t get lost in your afflictions’ mire.

As one remembers things, one grows more tired;

The day I tire, I will die and thus

Hide in the hues of night unseen by most,

Where they don’t know happiness or wrath,

Where they don’t live but chew their own death.

So many words; they are like crippled ghosts!


Vasyl Stus (1938–1985) was one of the most significant Ukrainian poets of the second half of the twentieth century. A poet, translator, literary critic, and journalist, he was prosecuted by the Soviet government for his views on art and politics and died in a Siberian prison. His works have gained fame and popularity since the collapse of the Soviet Union, particularly in the twenty-first century.



Monday, April 18, 2022

No War

 Author: Halyna Kruk, March 17, 2022


You’re standing with a “No War” sign as if to redeem

the irreversible: this war can’t be stopped,
like bright arterial blood from an open wound
it flows till it kills,
it enters our cities with the armed men,
seeps into our courtyards with the reconnaissance units,
like deadly mercury beads that can’t be put back,
you can’t fix it, except to find and neutralize it,
these civilian managers, clerks, IT-guys and students,
life didn’t prepare them for street fights, but the war did,
on the frontline, in a painfully familiar landscape, in a hurry
at first they only recruit experienced combat fighters to the defense units,
after that gamers who play Dune and Fallout,
or maybe if you’ve had a short-course in Molotov cocktails from a bartender you know,
at the local club while the kids are asleep, the kids are crying, the kids are being born
into a world temporarily unfit for life
Out on the playground they’re assembling Czech hedgehogs,
and nuclear families are mixing deadly “drinks.”
whole families, finally enjoying a conversation
and a collective project—war shortens the distance
from person to person, from birth to death,
from what we never wished for—
to what it turned out we were capable of
“Mom, pick up the phone,” a woman’s been pleading for two hours in the apartment building basement,
stubborn and dense, she won’t stop believing in a miracle
but her mother is out of cell phone range, in the suburbs,
where the prefab collapsed like cheap Legos
from the massive strikes, where just yesterday broadcast towers
stopped connecting people, where the world got blown up into pre- and post-war
along the uneven fold of the “no war” sign,
which you’ll toss in the nearest trash,
on your way home from the protest, Russian poet,
war kills with the hands of the indifferent
and even the hands of idle sympathizers.

Translated from the Ukrainian by Amelia Glaser and Yuliya Ilchuk.


Sunday, April 17, 2022

War Crimes of the Russian Soldiers


All parties to the armed conflict in Ukraine are obligated to abide by international humanitarian law, or the laws of war, including the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions, and customary international law. Belligerent armed forces that have effective control of an area are subject to the international law of occupation. International human rights law, which is applicable at all times, also applies.


The laws of war prohibit willful killing, rape and other sexual violence, torture, and inhumane treatment of captured combatants and civilians in custody. Pillage and looting are also prohibited. Anyone who orders or deliberately commits such acts, or aids and abets them, is responsible for war crimes. Commanders of forces who knew or had reason to know about such crimes but did not attempt to stop them or punish those responsible are criminally liable for war crimes as a matter of command responsibility.


Just few facts with no comments:

In Irpin:

* 9 y.o. girl was raped by 11 (at least 11 sperm samples were found) soldiers, then they cut the letter “Z” on her chest and ripped her stomach open. Her parents were killed in front of her.

* Mother, father, 3 daughters 5, 8, 17 years old. Russians settled in their house. The father was shot dead the same day. They raped the children in front of the mother, she was raped too. Girls aged 5 and 8, died from rape and injuries. 17 years old daughter and mother survived, but they are in critical condition in hospital.

* Mother, father, 11 years old daughter and their shepherd. The father was shot. The dog was cut for 4 hours in front of the child and mother. During 1 week, the mother was raped in front of her child.

In Bucha:

* Mother, father, daughter 9 years old and son 5 years old. Soldiers from the Kadyrov brigade entered their private house. The father’s hands were tied, he was brought to his knees and shot in front of his wife and children. The next day, the boy's genitals were cut off, he died of bleeding. The mother and daughter were raped for 2 weeks.

* Mother, father, grandparents and 2 years old girl. They found all dead in the house. Father with their hands tied and shot. The child has a cut throat. Mother with torn genitals and slaughtered.

* 14 years old girl was raped by 5 Russian occupiers. She’s pregnant now. The laughed that now she will remember quite well the Russian World

* 11 years old boy was raped in front of his mother. She was tied to a chair to watch.

* 25 girls and women aged 14 to 24 were systematically raped in the basement. Nine of them are pregnant. Russian soldiers told them they would rape them to the point where they wouldn't want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children.

As individuals, Russian soldiers are no more brutal than any other. But they operate within an institutional culture that tacitly allows and actively encourages barbaric behavior. Radio intercepts reveal them discussing the killing of civilians as a deliberate tactic. Putin’s propaganda machine has dehumanized the Ukrainians, making it much easier for his troops to brutalize them.


Sources and Additional Information:

Thursday, April 7, 2022

Resistance by Simon Armitage

Here is the laureate’s poem about the invasion of Ukraine, written in solidarity with those under fire


Author: Simon Armitage, March 11, 2022

It’s war again: a family

   carries its family out of a pranged house

      under a burning thatch.

The next scene smacks

   of archive newsreel: platforms and trains

      (never again, never again),

toddlers passed

   over heads and shoulders, lifetimes stowed

      in luggage racks.

It’s war again: unmistakable smoke

   on the near horizon mistaken

      for thick fog. Fingers crossed.

An old blue tractor

   tows an armored tank

      into no-man’s land.

It’s the ceasefire hour: godspeed the columns

   of winter coats and fur-lined hoods,

      the high-wire walk

over buckled bridges

   managing cases and bags,

      balancing west and east - godspeed.

It’s war again: the woman in black

   gives sunflower seeds to the soldier, insists

      his marrow will nourish

the national flower. In dreams

   let bullets be birds, let cluster bombs

      burst into flocks.

False news is news

   with the pity

      edited out. It’s war again:

an air-raid siren can’t fully mute

   the cathedral bells -

      let’s call that hope.


Wednesday, March 9, 2022

A poem inspired by the war in Ukraine


On 24 February 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an invasion of Ukraine by Russian armed forces previously concentrated along the border. Russian soldiers indiscriminately kill civilians to break a spirit of the Ukrainian people, protecting their country from unprovoked invasion. Forbidden by the international community weapon is used, like vacuum and cassette bombs to increase the casualties. Due to the inability to capture the major cities, the Russian government became desperate, threatening to use chemical and tactical nuclear weapon, if the Ukrainian people will not lay their arms. More than 2 million people fled from the country.


A poem inspired by the war in Ukraine


By Daniel Pekker


you watch a snail, shell curled up like a sleeping child

wander the vast green of a leaf

little bites spot the waxy terrain, the world a feast

you place your index finger before the snail

not a demand, an invitation

and the snail sluggishly climbs aboard

the slime trail tickles as the frontier is crossed

and there’s a war going on

you watch the clouds and she watches too

she is close enough that you smell lavender

all the stronger when the breeze picks up

both chilly and unwilling to move

she points out an anteater wearing a hat

and you feel her fingers gently nudge yours

all the warmer between shivers

and there's a war going on

you sit on the floor, your back leaning on the front door

it’s late and you only hear the muffled highway

you didn’t even take your shoes off yet

the silence hums like a branch under the weight of its fruit

there’s nobody to watch, nothing to attend to

just the day seeping through your fingertips into the carpet

and there’s a war going on

you brush your teeth

and there’s a war going on

her laugh breaks your scowl

and there’s a war going on

you spot green mold on your toast

and there’s a war going on

you set the snail down on another leaf and wonder how it’ll get home

and then remember that snails carry their homes with them

and the snail will be okay wherever it ends up

and there’s a war going on

March 2022