The Second Battle of Kyiv (Kiev), Ukraine concluded in freezing conditions on the 22nd of December, 1943, when the Red Army defeated the occupying Germans.
The first battle took place as part of the infamous Operation Barbarossa in 1941, when the Soviets were defeated, and over 600 000 were killed or captured in the Ukrainian capital. Comparatively, around four-thousand Ukrainians were recorded as dead or missing in the second battle.
I can’t wait to read this one. Ukraine suffered more death and destruction in the 1930s and 1940s than any other country in the world, and I’m so glad to see some mainstream publishers picking up books (also this one) with these themes.
Love can’t be defined by war. Watching the Red Army withdraw from Ukraine in the face of Hitler’s relentless advance, Natasha Smirnova realises her life is about to change forever.
As Kiev is cast under the dark cloud of occupation, Natasha falls in love with Mark, a Hungarian soldier, enlisted against all his principles on the side of the Nazis.
But as Natasha fights to protect the friends and family she holds dear she must face up to the dark horrors of war and the pain of betrayal. Will the love she and Mark share be strong enough to overcome the forces which threaten to tear them apart?
Here’s your Monday reminder that Russia is still actively invading and committing acts of war against Ukraine, and that tweets from Trump’s toilet aren’t the most important thing happening in the world right now…
(Post from Friday night):
I was going to start this post with some flippant comment, but instead, I left Canberra for Sydney this morning, only to discover that a massive bushfire is about to hit my part of town (much like in 2003), along with a severe heatwave and huge winds. After I arrived in Sydney I heard from my father that houses in my own suburb have had trees fall on and crush them. Other – massive – trees have fallen and blocked major roads. The fire is still out of control, and getting closer.
It’s raining in Sydney. I wish they’d send some of their rain to us.
I am flying to China in a few hours, so I guess I just hope for the best…
But – hey – climate change doesn’t exist, right?
Halloween indoors because it was too hot outside!
On Wednesday we booked tickets to travel to a few countries next year. I’m going back to Ukraine for several weeks, and then on to Romania (I’ve been to the border on the Ukrainian side before, but never actually to Romania!), and to Georgia. So: to two of the countries currently being invaded by Russia, and one neighbour!
In a centuries’ overdue move, and one that is going to lead to more Russian aggression in Ukraine, the Constantinople Patriarchate approved Ukraine’s split from the Russian Orthodox Church overnight. It is being called the biggest split in all of Christianity in a thousand years.
Russian Orthodoxy was forced on Ukrainians over several centuries, finishing with the forced conversion of my family’s Ukrainian Catholic villages in the west of the country when Churchill gifted the country to Stalin after the Second World War (thanks for that, Winston!).
What will happen now? Well, in anticipation of this move, the Russian military has already stepped up attacks in Ukraine’s east, with people being killed in record numbers again. It has to be understood that Russia’s Church – in the past decade or so – has become a weaponised political party that effectively runs the country, behind only Vladimir Putin.
Additionally, experts are predicting staged attacks on Russian churches, so that Putin can blame them on “fascist Ukrainians”, and attack and invade even more.
What I’m worried about is attacks on the thousand-year-old Orthodox monasteries and cathedrals in Ukraine, such as the Lavra complex in Kyiv. I sure hope they’ve stepped up security at those locations.
This move removes a major aspect of Russian colonialism from Ukraine.
I’m not sure why Russia never comes up alongside the likes of France and Britain and Spain in discussions about colonialism and cultural appropriation (because people think Russia is romantic?). The Russians were just as brutal as anybody else (see the Holodomor). And – unlike other nations – their behaviour is ongoing (see the annexation of Crimea, the invasion and occupation of eastern Ukraine, the ongoing invasion and occupation of one-fifth of Georgia, and the illegal occupation of Moldova).
The next few weeks are going to be chaotic for Eastern Europe.
Ukraine is basically the forgotten country of the twentieth century. Before the Second World War arrived on its doorstep it had already suffered a genocide at Stalin’s hands that killed at least as many as the Holocaust. More people died on Ukrainian soil than anywhere else in the war, leading to historians calling Ukraine the Bloodlands.
My Real Name Is Hanna appears to be well-researched, and I hope to read and review it soon. Of course, it’s going to be a touchy subject for me, as both my mother’s parents were taken prisoner by the Nazis, and my family still lives on Ukrainian land full of WW2 craters.
Hanna Slivka is on the cusp of fourteen when Hitler’s army crosses the border into Soviet-occupied Ukraine. Soon, the Gestapo closes in, determined to make the shtetele she lives in “free of Jews.” Until the German occupation, Hanna spent her time exploring Kwasova with her younger siblings, admiring the drawings of the handsome Leon Stadnick, and helping her neighbor dye decorative pysanky eggs. But now she, Leon, and their families are forced to flee and hide in the forest outside their shtetele—and then in the dark caves beneath the rolling meadows, rumored to harbor evil spirits. Underground, they battle sickness and starvation, while the hunt continues above. When Hanna’s father disappears, suddenly it’s up to Hanna to find him—and to find a way to keep the rest of her family, and friends, alive.
Sparse, resonant, and lyrical, weaving in tales of Jewish and Ukrainian folklore, My Real Name Is Hanna celebrates the sustaining bonds of family, the beauty of a helping hand, and the tenacity of the human spirit.
Inspired by real Holocaust events, this poignant debut novel is a powerful coming-of-age story that will resonate with fans of The Book Thief and Between Shades of Gray.
Edit: R.I.P. to John McCain.
What an absolutely stupid week in Australian politics. We seem to change Prime Ministers faster than Donald Trump changes staff!
Weirdly, on Thursday afternoon, right after some of the worst drama in Parliament here in Canberra unfolded, I stepped outside and a group of fighter jets flew straight over me. (I’ve been around them many times before, but GOD, those things are loud). People in Canberra were joking that a military coup had begun.
Maybe we need one!
Celebrations in Luhansk in 2013. The city has since been invaded and occupied by Russia.
It’s a bit of an ironic holiday when huge swathes of southern and eastern Ukraine are currently occupied by the Russians and their enormous military, but today is Ukrainian Independence Day.
Vladimir Putin can’t live forever, so maybe there’s hope for the future. If only Kremlin propaganda wouldn’t live on after him…
The 22nd of August, 1914 saw the passing of Canada’s War Measures Act. The act would result in government-sanctioned human rights abuses against Canadians of largely Ukrainian origin.
Ukrainians were declared “enemy aliens” and thousands were put into concentration camps to be used for slave labour across Canada. They were seen as enemies because the western regions of their homeland were under Austro-Hungarian rule at the outbreak of the First World War.
Some 80 000 Ukrainians who weren’t imprisoned were still required to register as enemy aliens and barred from leaving the country.
Plaque and statue at Castle Mountain near Banff.
The infamous Castle Mountain Internment Camp in Alberta saw prisoners used to work in the national parks, where they established the groundwork for the massive tourism to Banff and Lake Louise seen today.
Abuses at the camp were widespread, and were reported as far away as Britain.
Internment continued for two years after the war ended.
Ukrainian cemetery at the Kapuskasing Internment Camp in Ontario.
The internment of ethnic groups was widespread across many countries in both the First and Second World Wars, including in Australia and the United States, though the internment of Japanese Americans in the 1940s is generally the only instance most know of.