In my reading and studying about the Holocaust, I came up with images that would form in my mind that were horrific, and would comfort myself with the thought that “this cannot ever happen again. I feel so badly for the people who suffered, but it cannot ever happen again. It’s the most terrible thing that life can ever be and we cannot ever go there again.”
Growing up, my grandfather, may his memory be a blessing, would tell me that the story of the Holocaust needed to be told and retold so that it never happened again. I listened very carefully as I grew up, and I have told the story over and over. I have read chronicles and I have taken those stories into my world and shared them. People laughingly call me the Holocaust Scholar, and asked why I bothered, it was never going to happen again, and I would smile and say, “From your lips to G-d’s ears.”
Well, another millenium has arrived, one that I always pictured as refined and full of beauty and art and great new inventions; one where we would fix the environment that we have damaged to the point where the Earth is now fighting back to rid herself of this destructive creature known as Man.
Instead, in 2022, we have a War where a large country with nuclear capabilities has gone to war against a small, independent sovereign country for no legitimate reason. Putin’s War started out more or less as a genteel war, at least when compared to his War today, a mere 41 days since since his first illegal incursion into Ukraine.
There were skirmishes in the beginning, tanks shot at, stray bullets that hit civilians, and some very young Russian soldiers knocked on Ukrainian doors, asking for food. There were protests in Russia against the war, quickly stamped out by Putin’s troops. Russia was making no real inroads and whatever Putin’s plan had been, it wasn’t working.
Putin appeared to get angry — as dictators are wont to do — and suddenly we began to hear news of the war that was the kind of news that we heard about World War II.
I was horrified because we have not listened to history and we have come full circle. It had become clear that Russian troops were aiming for not just the normal targets of war — military installations, government buildings — but were deliberately aiming for civilian targets. There are stories of hospitals being bombed, orphanages, bomb shelters, even the Holocaust museum was damaged by Russian mortar fire. All of these places are far removed from what armies consider military targets. These were no “accidental strikes”. These were — and are — war crimes.
This past Sunday was another turning point. The Russians bombed a Children’s Zoo. Cages were damaged, food destroyed. Animals will have to be put down because there is not time to rehouse them before they could become a danger to civilians and military personnel alike. Animals that are critically endangered, and part of a breeding program for repopulating endangered animals, have all been destroyed thanks to Putin.
Prisoners of war, on both sides, have been exchanged. One Ukranian gentleman who told the Russians to go “F*** themselves” was one of the returned. I understand that prisoners of war are not going to treated to spa days at the Ritz, but there are internationally accepted rules of behavior for prisoners of war. Captured Ukrainian men and women alike were stripped of all clothing, not allowed to use bathroom facilities, forced to squat naked in close quarters. Their heads were shaved, and they were barely fed, and in contravention to international law
The civilians population of Ukraine has been targeted for what can only be called atrocities. Some were done on military orders, others were just committed by soldiers because they could.
One woman has told Ukrainian officials of being in her home, with her husband and child, and Russian troops came into their yard, shot her husband in front of both her and their four year old son. According to the woman, the soldiers were drunk and continued to drink whatever they could find in her home. Then, they repeatedly raped her in front of her four year old son while he wept.
Other atrocities include raping children. The proof is finding their little dead bodies with tears in the vagina and rectum, their hands tied behind them obviously after the rape, and then the children were shot. Old women are tortured, beaten, and then murdered, and branded with a swastika on their hip or thigh.
Just when you think you have heard the most awful thing possible, Russian soldiers are cutting out people’s tongues. When I read that, I got immediately nauseated and almost vomited. There is nothing human beings aren’t capable of, great beauty and compassion, and clearly great evil.
For the sake of the world, and the sake of the Ukrainian people, i pray that this war ends now.