THE WAR'S UNWOMANLY FACE
...All that we know about Woman is best described by the
word "compassion". There are other words, too-sister,
wife, friend and, the noblest of all, mother. But isn't compassion
a part of all these concepts, their very substance, their
purpose and their ultimate meaning? A woman is the giver of
life, she safeguards life, so "Woman" and "life"
But during the most terrible war of the 20th century a woman
had to become a soldier. She not only rescued and bandaged
the wounded; she also fired a sniper's rifle, dropped bombs,
blew up bridges, went reconnoitering, and captured identification
prisoners. A woman killed. She killed the enemy who, with
unprecedented cruelty, was attacking her land, her home, her
...On the morning of the twenty-second June, 1941, on one
of the streets in Brest, lay a dead little dirl with small
unplaited pigtails and her doll. Many people remembered this
girl. They remembered her forever.
What is dearer to us that our children? What is dearer to
To any mother? To any father? But who counts how many children
are killed by war, which kills them twice? It kills those
that been born. And it kills those that could, that ought
to have come into this world. In "Requiem" by the
Byelorussian poet Anatoli Vertinsky a children's choir is
heard across the field where the dead soldiers lay - the unborn
children scream and cry over every common grave. Is a child
going through the horrors of war still a child? Who gives
him back his childhood? Once Dostoevsky posed the problem
of general happiness in relation to the suffering of a single
child. Yet there were thousands like this during the years
1941 to 1945...
...The men and women who express their thoughts and experiences
in the following pages need no introduction -- they must speak
for themselves. The confusion and contradictions displayed
by some are as revealing as the honesty and insight of others.
As we listen to them, however, we need to bear in mind certain
aspects of Soviet life with no immediate parallel in the West.
To begin with, we may find it difficult to envisage the almost
complete ignorance in which the Soviet public was kept about
the war, at least until the advent of some measure of media
freedom(the celebrated glasnost) in the mid-1980s. The information
available to ordinary people amounted to a few pat phrases
about the 'limited contingent' of Soviet troops and the 'fulfilling
of international obligations', together with much anti-American
propaganda. True public debate and political opposition of
the sort which, at the very least, provides some counterweight
to the government version of events in more open societies,
simply did not exist...
Julia R Robin Whitby, translator
THE CHERNOBYL PRAYER
...Chernobyl is a mystery still. We are the first who have
touched it. Something has happened to us, something that is
unknown for all the rest of humankind, something that will
be a problem for the next millenium. For that something we
have no experience, no analogies, no words.
We cannot apply to that something our inner instruments and
our knowledge. Our vocabulary is too limited to describe this
something. Our sight and our hearing are insufficient. We
have reached a new borderline. Not only we Byelorussians,
Russians and Ukrainians, but all the nations of the world
are standing now near this new borderline. It will be naive
and maybe criminal simplification to think about Chernobyl
in terms of anticommunizm only. To think that the blame is
exclusively on communists because for them a human life is
worth nothing. There is also another simplified explanation
of the kind: stupid Russians are building bad and cheap atomic
power stations but our stations are good and reliable. But
this is very simple and very perfunctory way of thinking.
If we'll dig harder and dipper we'll see that the blow of
Chernobyl had our unprepared consciousness as a background.
Our technology has stopped into atomic age but our psychology
is in primary industrialization age still...