Monthly Archives: May 2015

Gorlovka or what is left of it

Last week I was planning to write about Gorlovka, one of many friendly places I visited during the summer of 2012. Not a big city with flair and extravaganza and no ambition to become such a place. Just a typical town for this region. Schools, small and large businesses, students, bars, restaurants, churches, a famous cathedral. Nothing out of the ordinary and still very special. Special because the place is filled with friendly people. Or to be more precise, was filled with friendly people. Since the uprising in South-East Ukraine against the regime in Kiev, Gorlovka has been the center of war. Shelling of houses, buildings, infrastructure and even churches has become an almost daily routine. In the past days, the violence against this once peaceful town has escalated again and lives were lost, again. Children died and others were badly wounded.

I wanted to call a friend’s friend of whom I know he still has family living in Gorlovka but then my blood froze and I feared to hear bad news again. During my trip in 2012, I met so many friendly people of whom I don’t even know now if they are still alive. One evening, we ended up in a bar and watched the football game of the European Championships. We had a couple of beers, we ate some local food, we talked with many people. About the game, about the weather, about my wheelchair, about music. Smiling grim looks when I told them my father was Czech because the Czech Republic won the finals from Russia in hokey, followed by becoming “nascha Pavel” and a round of free beer when I added that my mother was Russian. Explaining that some day I will learn to speak Russian and the challenge to start right there at that moment. My friend from Moscow and our exchange student from Lugansk joking that they should learn to speak proper Russian themselves first and as always the classical joke “visit Russia before Russia visits you”.

Continue reading Gorlovka or what is left of it

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War in Ukraine | The July 15 Airstrike on Snizhne: Who to Blame?

This is still an unanswered question about the war in Ukraine, as so many other questions. The suffering of civilians is part of a blame game. The real blame lays with all that do nothing to stop these war crimes!

boommarter

Local news: An airstrike in Snizhne destroyed a house. There are victims among the civilian population.

On Tuesday July 15, 2014 a warplane attacked the rebel-held town of Snizhne (Snezhnoye, Snezhnoe, ‘Snow’) in eastern Ukraine. Its rockets shattered an apartment building and a tax office. At least 11 people were killed.

Who was responsible for this attack? But first, who was blamed right after it?

(Pro-) Kiev & Western media

Dmitry Tymchuk (a member of the Ukraine parliament, military expert and blogger) blamed Russia for the early morning strike on Snizhne. “It must have been a Russian aircraft”, Tymchuk wrote on Facebook.  This message was spread by Ukrainian media and social media, like by Euromaidan on Twitter.

Interfax Ukraine reported that Andrey Lysenko, spokesperson of the National Security Council (NSDC) in Ukraine, had said the damage was caused by an unknown aircraft to discredit the Ukrainian military. Source:

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‘No promises’ on EU membership for Eastern states at Riga summit

http://rt.com/news/261029-eu-membership-ukraine-problems/

It doesn’t come as a surprise that the EU isn’t making any solid commitments to former Soviet and East Block states. The path of conflict with Russia that the EU has chosen has shown a negative impact in the already challenged European economy. With Italy, Portugal and others struggling to survive, Greece at or over the edge of default and Britain openly flirting with Brexit, the EU is on overload with homemade problems.

By pushing Ukraine in 2013 to decide between Russia or a potential EU membership, it pushed Ukraine into a conflict in which it lost 80% of this business with the Russian and affiliated market. EU countries have seen the growing Russian market decline to below 40% of its 2012 value. So what should EU commit to? More problems, declining exports to Russia and China, and a roadmap for conflict?

Turn back to your traditional and cultural partner! Sit down with your Russian partners and work out your problems! Don’t focus on EU to lead you to become a subordinate of the USA by becoming a subordinate of the EU.

When Crimea is a problem for you, please remember that you used Article 72 of the Soviet Constitution to establish your independence and you were entitled to do so by that same Soviet Constitution. Crimea was deprived of that Constitutional Right and you know that very well. The Constitutional Right which gave you your independence is the same Constitutional Right which legalizes Crimea to determine their own future as part of Russia. Remember that when you decide who your real partner is!

Kind regards,
Pavel

Novorossiya – The unkept promise!

During his televised annual Q&A on 17 April 2014, Mr. Putin spoke about the transition of Crimea to Russia and appraised the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation for their role in securing the referendum on the Autonomous Republic. By this statement, Mr. Putin openly admi antted what everybody already knew, the “little green men”, by the Russian majority of Crimea affectionately called Polite People”, were Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and Mr. Putin was very proud of them, grateful for their contributions to bringing Crimea back home. Back from Stepmother Ukraine to the loving arms of Mother Russia.

In that same televised session, which had a record length of almost 4 hours, Mr. Putin also addressed Novorossiya. The south-eastern area of Ukraine with their historical and cultural ties to Russia. The population of Novorossiya feeling, breathing, thinking, speaking and even dreaming Russian. The Russians in Ukraine, Donbass and beyond. Mr. Putin spoke about them, spoke to them, spoke with them. During days filled with fear for what would come from the nationalist who seized power in Kiev, Mr. Putin spoke to them. Mr. Putin, the President of Russia, much more their President than anyone in Kiev can and will ever be.

Mr. Putin also addressed Russian’s right and obligation to protect those who feel Russian, no matter if they are living within the borders of the Russian Federation or not. All this, in one moving televised interview, changed fear of what would come from Kiev in to hope of what would come from Moscow. The message that the population of Novorossiya understood was crystal clear: “Say the word, express your wish and we will protect you. Just like we did in Crimea.”

Continue reading Novorossiya – The unkept promise!

Divorcing my best friend

For Elvira

We signed the papers today and will close this final chapter of our common book. New books of our own will be written and we will always be part of each other’s book but no longer as the main character. New chapters with new people will be created for both of us and every now and then a few paragraphs will be written by us about us. No longer as wife and husband but as friends and joined partners to take care of our sweet adopted Leia.

You were proud of me when I was a career officer and miraculously was able to hide your fears when I was send on missions. Until it happened what you feared all these years. You were at my side when I wasn’t able to accept what was left of me after this and my only wish was to end it all. You motivated me, stimulated me, never allowed me to give in to my dark thoughts. You were there when I fought my way back, there with me every time I saw no progress and wend in to deep depressions. You told me you married a commando and expected me to fight this in the same manner as how I fought when I still had my legs. You were my energy, my compass, my anchor and my sail.

Always setting aside that you had also lost the ability to fulfill your biggest wish, a wish we both decided to postpone as long as I was active. Due to your worries and fears and typical for you because you didn’t want to burden me with another life while I was away. Your biggest wish never left you, always burned inside your heart. So many nights you cried, so many days you suffered.

There is a beautiful new life growing inside you now, something I was no longer able to give you. A few more months until your biggest wish will come true. Your beautiful smile is shining so bright. Your happiness is such a gift. I am happy for you, so very happy for you. And I am very happy that we will continue to take care of our Leia together.

You are no longer my wife, I am no longer your husband. You are and will always be my best friend. This is not a sad day, this is a new beginning, my best friend.

Interview with the son of an Holocaust survivor (final part)

This is the third and last interview with children of survivors of the Holocaust. The Jewish community was whipped almost completely by the Nazi occupiers, 90% of the community which believed to be living in freedom in The Netherlands was murdered systematically. These interviews are intended to register the memories of the children of the view Jewish Dutch people who survived the Holocaust in The Netherlands.

All interviews are with close personal friends, people I have known for many years and are part of me. They have contributed to who I am today and who I was in my past. And they will hopefully continue to contribute to my life for many more years. These are my friends! This interview is particularly difficult for me, because this man has been part of my life ever since the day I graduated and I am proud to have him as a friend. He literally saved my life and motivated me to never give up after my incident which changed my life so much. These interviews and especially this interview, make me realize that the intention of Nazi Germany was to murder the parents of these friends before my friend were born. It is a fluke of fate that their parents survived the Holocaust and thanks to that fluke I am honored to know these people. Nazi Germany did not succeed in terminating the parents who enriched my life with the love and friendship of my friends, especially my best friend.

I am impressed (and also slightly confused) by the calmness in which my friend speaks about this. There is forgiveness in his words, a strong warning and a commitment to never let this happen again. This interview is not for the faint at heart. There is tremendous suffering during World War II and the Holocaust and a eyeopening link to the current developments.

Continue reading Interview with the son of an Holocaust survivor (final part)

A proposal for Ukraine

Dear Ukraine,

I have a constructive proposal for you and I would really like you to consider this. Why don’t we talk about this as grownups and make this happen.

Since your last revolution, you have turned away from your past as the second largest Soviet Republic in the Soviet Union. Taking down Soviet Memorials and Monuments, you want to show the world that is not how you want to be seen by your new partners. That is ok in a democratic world, every country has the right to work on their image and decide for themselves how they want to present themselves.

And it is nothing uncommon. The United States don’t want to be reminded of the atrocities they committed in the Vietnam War, for example. The Netherlands dissociate themselves from being the inventor of Slavery and Apartheid. Modern Germany has worked hard to move away from their past as starting 2 World Wars and being responsible for the Holocaust. So you too have the right to move away from your recent past and history.

In your current narrative, you were forced into being the second largest Soviet Republic and you honor those who fought side by side with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union as Heroes of your Nation. That is how strong you want to dissociate yourself from your Soviet past. So why don’t we do this completely, Ukraine? We free you from your past as Soviet Republic.and those who don’t want to be part of you are freed from you in the same deal. That is a Win-Win for all involved!

Continue reading A proposal for Ukraine

Interview with the son of an Holocaust Survivor

This is the second of 3 interviews with personal friend, the children of Survivors of the Holocaust. These interviews are devoted to the memories and our obligation to remember so we can tell the following generations of the horrors inflected by Nazi Germany and their Allies of Evil. Entire generations and families have been wiped out. These are the stories of the children of the survivors. So some day we might forgive but we may never forget!


How was your family impacted by the Holocaust?

Both my parents are Jewish and at both sides most of the families were murdered in concentration camps. My mother had the luck of being on an excursion with school when the Nazi’s raided their house and took my grandparents and uncle away. A teacher understood what happened and brought my mother to a farm in the south. The farmer family took her and organized false papers. My mother stayed there in hiding throughout the occupation and after that she was officially adopted by the family, now my family. All family member of my mother were killed by the Germans.

My father was 11 when the war started in Holland. His family was spread between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. My grandfather brought the children in hiding with brave families, his brother did the same. I am sad to tell you that most of the family members were captured by the Germans and they also executed the families who tried to hide them. My father, my uncle and aunt barely survived in camps where they were abused as workforce. A few months after the war, my uncle died. His body was weakened from all the beatings and lack of food and he couldn’t recover anymore.

So my mother, my father and my aunt are the only survivors. Before the war, the families of my mother and father were over 100 people and they even knew each other. A cousin of my father was engaged to the niece of my mother before the war broke out. Only 3 survived. Only 3! That is what the Nazis did to my family.

How has the Holocaust impact you personally?

I have no family besides my sister and my parents. My aunt died before I was borne. The family which adopted my mother are very loving, very special. The bravery they showed during the war is still with them in everything they do. I consider them my family and with saying that, I again realize that they are not my real family. I can start crying when I see family gatherings in the park. Since I was a kid, I am aware that my family was taken away from me. It has impacted my personality and emotions, it gave me long depressions. I am not able to bond, I fear that it will be taken away from me. All the therapy didn’t change that.

I am alone, I can’t accept people close to me. I tried to have a relationship, I really tried. But I can’t, I run away and destroy everything. My family was taken away from me and I feared it would happen again, I still do. Now it is too late for me, I am old.

How do you feel about the current events in Ukraine and the open glorification of Nazi collaboration?

I don’t understand how anyone in his right mind can do this. Are they blind and deaf? Or do they know and approve? The Ukrainians were very active in the Holocaust and the concentration camps but I was hoping they would all have been punished for their crimes or dead. As it turns out, the next generation is maybe even worse and they don’t even hide their preferences.

The criminal Bandera is seen as a Hero by many, even by the state! Can you image that NSB’ers would be declared Hero’s of the Nation in our country? I know there are neo-nazis everywhere but not as part of the Government as far as I know. In Ukraine they are the Government! I shiver when I see them in television or internet. I fully understand that the Russian population is afraid of them and wants to defend themselves. After all, they have done it before, what would keep them from starting the next Holocaust? They are the Hero’s of the Nation…

Interview with the daughter of an Holocaust Survivor

This is the first of 3 interviews with personal friends who are all children of survivors of the Holocaust. These publications are a dedication to the millions of victims of the Holocaust, killed soldiers and veterans who fought to liberate Europe from the most destructive and industrialized genocide this world has ever seen. 70 years after the victory over Nazi Germany and its allies of evil, we owe it to never stop telling these stories about the Holocaust, about the wars and about the lost lives.


How was your family impacted by the Holocaust?

At first my grandparents from my mother’s side were in hiding but somehow the Germans found out and they were “arrested” by Gestapo and Wehrmacht. My grandfather was shot immediately, my grandmother and her children were thrown into a truck and brought to a police station. From there they were brought to a transfer camp. My grandmother was picked out and was ordered to be a translator and clerk. My mother, still a baby, was allowed to stay with her. Both my uncles, the older brothers of my mother, were taken away from her and a few days later they put on a transport. They both died during the transport.

My grandmother and my mother survived because my grandmother was seen as “useful workforce”. Other members of the family from my mothers have been “arrested” by the Germans earlier and were all send to death camps where they were murdered by Nazi’s. My grandmother and my mother were the only survivors of my Jewish family.

My father wasn’t Jewish but his older brother was shot by Germans when he tried to help a neighboring Jewish family. My grandfather died during the end of the war because of the Hunger Winter, caused by the Germans. My aunt was raped by a German SS and when she found out she was pregnant, she took her own life.

How has the Holocaust impact you personally?

When I was a little girl, I didn’t understand why my parents hated Germans so much and I was sometimes confused about the way my parents spoke about them. Until history class in school had the topic Holocaust. I rushed out of class and ran home to ask my mother if I am Jewish. Until now I don’t understand why I have suddenly come to this conclusion. My mother told me that she was Jewish and that this means I am also Jewish.

I don’t know what got into me but I asked my mother why she survived the Holocaust, I was only 8 at that time. My mother just looked at me and replied “because we were lucky”. I asked my mother if Germans would also kill me now and I will never forget my mother’s answer “I don’t know, they killed all the others so they might also kill us”. From this moment on, I have been living in fear for many years. And to be honest, I still get nervous when I hear someone speak German in an unfriendly manner.

My parents have told me all they know about the fate of my family and I visited the camps of which we know that my family died there. I joined my mother in a Holocaust survivor help group for many years and later became one of the volunteers there myself, which I still do. There are barely survivors left but still many children of survivors seek help with us. I do my best to teach my own children and grandchildren to be tolerant and forgiving.

How do you feel about the current events in Ukraine and the open glorification of Nazi collaboration?

It is frightening! Very frightening to see how this is possible and even more frightening that Neo-Nazis have become members of the establishment and government. Swastikas and other Nazi symbols are shown publicly without any actions against it. Nazi glorification isn’t even covering the load completely, they are acting on it and the government allows it. I believe they even actively support it, otherwise they would not pass a law which would assign Nazi collaborators as “Heroes of the Nation”. What worries me most is that there isn’t an European politician who is making a big crisis over this. How can this be tolerated? Have they all forgotten what happened to us? SHAME!

Coming up: interviews with children of Holocaust survivors!

In the coming days, starting tonight, I will publish 3 interviews with children of Holocaust survivors. They will tell us the heartbreaking stories about how their families and themselves were impacted by the Holocaust.

These persons are close friends and have all played a role in my life and still do. During these interviews I became very aware that it is just a matter of luck that they are part of my life. Nothing but luck and I can’t imagine which void they would leave if they would not have been born.

At the end of these interviews, I asked my friends what they think of the current situation in Ukraine and open herofication of the Nazi collaborates and neo-nazis in the current environment. Their answers are even honest and moving.

Coming Saturday the world marks the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany. These interviews also mark the end of the Holocaust with this Victory.

Although these interviews were done in Dutch, I decides to translate them to allow my international friends to read this.

Kind regards,
Pavel