What is happening in the Ukraine ?

Lately the media was  full of news from the Ukraine. People in the 1532 years old city of Kiev demonstrated on Kiev’s Independence Square,  only to be shot at by security forces. On Saturday, the 22nd of February former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko was released from the prison hospital and appeared in front of the demonstrators at Independence Square.


When I saw her there, with her traditional hairdo, I was reminded of the occasion I saw Ukrainian women for the first time in my life.

This happened at the beginning of April 1945. A beautiful sunny spring  Sunday invited my Mum and me for a walk in the nearby “Viktoria Park”. And lo and behold, when we turned  the first street corner  on the way to the park an amazing sight awaited us. Like a swarm of  the most beautiful butterflies we saw dozens and dozens of young woman in traditional Ukrainian dresses wearing their hair in a braid around their heads like a crown, indeed this style  is called “Crown of the Peasants”. The very style of hairdo Timoshenko wore when she addressed the people on Independence Square.

This fresh sight jarred my memory. The clothes these women wore on that day were all embroidered  with beautiful flowers. When they were talking to each other it sounded to me like birds chirping. I was astounded and asked my mother, “Mum, are they angels?”

“No, Peter, these women are Ukrainians!”

When I heard this I decided that Ukrainian women must be some kind of angels. These young females worked in Berlin at the time. Coerced or voluntarily, it does not matter now. They had their day off and they all went to the park to enjoy  the first sign of the coming spring.  What they were not doing, as I know now, was looking forward to the Red Army coming to Berlin. People of the Soviet Union who were found in Germany after the war,  be it as prisoners or workers, were not liberated but treated as traitors. Women suffered the indignity of being raped and then sent off to a labour camp in Siberia.

Ukrainians had a special relationship with Germans at this time of the war, as they saw Russians as their common enemy. And in the present struggle they look  to Germany for help in achieving their goal of joining the European Union.

We live in Australia now and we have met many former Ukrainians here at work and in a family way. Two of my grandsons had Ukrainian grandparents on their father’s side.  Later this year they will travel to the Ukraine. Little did they know, when they made their travel arrangements, that they were heading towards a country in the midst of a revolution.

The Ukrainian women I saw in the Spring of 1945 must be, if they are still alive, in their late eighties now. I wonder what they would still remember of what happened to them then. Perhaps they don’t want to remember.

None the less they are being remembered for having brightened a nine year old  boy´s day in early April of 1945.


8 thoughts on “What is happening in the Ukraine ?

    • Indeed, what has happened on the Maidan (Independence Square) is very much in line with what happened at Tiananmen Square, maybe not in scope, but in intent.

      Ukraine is important in geopolitical terms and the big powers should take a step back from the brink.

    • will have to google and read, and i agree with you, the bigger powers should intervene! but they have a strange practice of staying silent sometimes… like in case of Tibet.

  1. Thanks for the link to the video of Victoria Park in Kreuzberg. The pictures of the park and of Kreuzberg (Cross Mountain) are magnificent. 🙂
    I bet the park would have looked a bit different in 1945, but still a beautiful place to enjoy a walk through in spring time or any time really.

  2. Reading your link to Yulia Timoshenko, I can’t really get a grip on what she stands for. She likes the Ukraine to turn towards Europe but is also fiercely Ukrainian. She is rich and seemingly a great believer in capitalism. I know she wears a cute traditional hairstyle but what is her aim as a leader? What does she stand for?
    The Ukraine is at a cross road but has been in turmoil for the last few decades.
    Hopefully the country will remain as one. It is now divided.
    A good article Peter. Thank you.

    • Hi Gerard, thanks for commenting. You are right in your assessment of Timoshenko. She is not that popular in the Ukraine. I think nobody is so popular that he or she will win a large majority at the next election. The people are divided by geography, language, culture and religion. In size it is comparable with France. It could be the food bowl of Europe.

      Timoshenko has confidence in herself. Klitschko is very well educated. Russia and the USA have to play their cards right to avoid a catastrophe.

  3. Hi Berlioz!
    I have been thinking about my past as I read this post of yours from 9 years old. It made me think of what I was doing instead of watching what was going on. I had a few health problems that would stop me from just sitting so much when I was a kid. I’m sure you have read the posts I put on there that keep me thinking about sports & how active I was then. I used to watch like that, but never had any thoughts about anybody else as I would have been in limbo & fell asleep & forgot about what I was thinking then. thanks for bringing back the memories from 35 years ago.

    • Hi Rodney, thank you for commenting.

      First, I want to tell you, that we are all different. Recognising this fact is the first step to understand that we are all the same at the same time. It means we all encounter problems thrown at us by life. We are not the centre of the universe and we are not clones of anybody. But what we are, are vessels made of material from our parents (DNA) and put in a certain environment. This environment acts upon our psyche.

      It was given to me to be an observer of life, even at an early stage of my life. The war years and it’s aftermath gave me the opportunity to observe people from other nations (ie Russians and Americans). I have not forgotten what I was thinking then. But today I forget easily.

      I wrote a blog about the Americans in Berlin


      As a child I did not participate in organised sport very much. I always liked running but took it up in earnest only at a 43 year old to lose weight. I think running is very beneficial to health.

      Call me Peter if you wish.

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