26 May, 2009

Tears, Blood and Ordeal

Ukraine had been struggling for independence for centuries. And at last the cherished idea was implemented on August 24, 1991. The USSR was ruining and Ukrainian politicians used the situation to proclaim independence. People confirmed their agreement through the referendum.

A lot of countries wanted to have Ukraine or a part of the country during its history: Poland, Lithuania, Bulgaria and Russia (which never give up trying to regain power over Ukraine). I cannot even imagine how many people perished, were killed, slaughtered or prisoned during time of war and “piece”. I am not a historian and my vision of Ukrainian history may be ridiculous for a professional historian but I can point out some crucial aspects of the country’s history a simple person like me sees them.

Well looking back the revolution of 1917 proved to be a mistake, heart-brake and disappointment. I understand that proletariat hated a lot those who owned something and could manage it to earn. The Russian tsar was about to introduce constitution and we could become one of those nice and neat European kingdoms. But this was not in God's plans for our country. The revolution occurred... The Red Army which consisted mostly of hoi polloi killed most of prosperous peasants, grand people, and the intellectuals. Those who were lucky enough managed to escape abroad and worked overseas to glorify other countries. Ukraine tried to proclaim independence but this led to armed conflict with the Bolshevik government in Petrograd. Thus the Soviet era began. The idea of implementing communism turned into a terrible experiment on millions of people. Almost all important property was expropriated from people to be owned by government. Kolkhozes and Sovkhozes (collective farms) were created. They used to say that the land belonged to every soviet citizen. But who cares about something which belongs to everybody? People living in villages had to work on land for all their lives to give almost the whole harvest to government. They had no passports and could not move to towns or cities. Anyone who made even a little try to show disagreement with the developing totalitarian system were arrested and killed in exile. A lot of wonderful writers, poets, politicians and other prominent people were murdered or died in Solovki prison camp and Gulag.

Ukraine was always a piece of cake for communists as it was the USSR’s “bread-basket”. Ukraine has the best black earth (chernozem soil) in the world and its fields yield enormous harvests. But it seems that Stalin needed this bread for other purposes then feeding people of USSR. He planned quick industrialization and his people took away all bread that they could found, every single wheat grain to sell abroad for money used for industrialization. If someone tried to hide something he/she was likely to be killed, if someone tried to “steal” a few ears of wheat or rye he/she was sure to be executed by shooting with no investigation or trial. This was the period of famine in Ukraine in 1932-1933 (Holodomor). Now imagine that you do not have a single bread crumb to eat. You were forced to give away all your food and cattle and you have small children who are begging you to feed them. It’s heard to realize for a modern person living in Europe or North America what it takes to survive in such situation. People had to eat grass, roots, leaves, dead animals; some people got crazy and ate other people. In institute I read a short story of a writer (whose works were prohibited during Soviet Union) about a mother who got crazy and boiled her child to eat. Oh, my God, it was terrible! More than 10 000 000 people died, 17 people every minute, 1000 every hour, more then 25 thousands daily. But this was only the beginning.

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