My scheduled book review has been moved to tomorrow, because I want to share this story!
A couple of decades ago, a woman masquerading as a Ukrainian published a book that became an overnight sensation, a multi-award-winning book that allegedly was a mostly-true story about Ukraine in the Second World War, based on “her family history”.
It was all fake. The woman’s family is 100% British, and her parading around in traditional Ukrainian dress, with a fake Ukrainian name, was such an offensive, gross appropriation of a culture.
Her real – non-Ukrainian – name was eventually revealed to the press, and her lies about all Ukrainians being Nazis crumbled around her.
However, a lot of damage was already done (I tried to discuss this at university a few years later, and got attacked by a know-it-all Anglo-Australian man who’d done his thesis on this particular book – and believed every word of it). The Kremlin has been running that particular Nazi propaganda line since WW2 began.
For the record: Unlike many of its neighbours, Ukraine NEVER collaborated with Nazi Germany.
My grandmother was taken by the Nazis in their invasion of Ukraine in Operation Barbarossa in 1941. She was taken to Germany, stripped naked, hosed down, and literally sold on a slave market. She was a teenager at the time, and ended up trapped in Germany for eight years.
My grandfather – a resistance fighter against both Russia AND Germany – was finally captured by the Nazis in 1944, beaten badly, and put on a train to a concentration camp. He and a friend managed to escape, and spent the rest of the war in hiding in record-low temperatures. His health issues from that time killed him early. I never met him.
Because America dominates the media, everyone (especially younger people who live on sites like Tumblr) see cultural and race relations *only* as how they relate to the United States. This is dangerous – and WRONG. Every part of the world has different, specific issues.
Everyone forgets the hate crimes being committed against Eastern Europeans on a daily basis in Britain (one of the main reasons for Brexit was to keep us out!). The ethnic cleansing in Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine happening *right now*. The Holodomor. The way my non-Ukrainian relatives still refer to us by the racial slur “wogs” (I was told recently that “wogs” shouldn’t be allowed to finish school, because we might bring the scores down!).
I’m glad this horrendous author is in trouble for something else. If she’d slandered another ethnic group the way she’d slandered Ukrainians, she’d be hated a great deal more than she is.