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Tuesday, July 30: Day 99 – It’s a Miracle

We took a subway to the Motherland Monument. This is the Soviet answer to the Statue of Liberty. It is made of stainless steel and was completed in 1981. It has the Soviet symbol on it. Decommunization had all Communism symbols, street names and monuments removed. WWII monuments are excluded. It’s prominence is daunting. Locals would like to remove it and use the metal for other purposes.

At the base of the monument is the World War II Museum, but it was only renamed that in 2015 from the Museum of the Great Patriotic War. (Soviet)

Each room in the museum had a theme with an artistic composition in the center of the room with supportive displays along the perimeter. The audioguide was very informative.

The initial room had images of the ongoing struggle with Russia. (Does it ever end?) There is fighting every day and they believe that they are holding to line to prevent Russia from invading Europe.

In World War II, Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union so they served in the Red Army. That must have been extremely difficult. The Soviet induced artificial famine, Babi Yar massacre, murder of innocent blind Bandura players etc. It’s a miracle that the Ukrainians still exist!

Of the Soviet Red Army, twenty-three percent were from Ukraine and of those that served only fifty percent survived. I am sure Ukrainians were put on the front lines.

The exact numbers of Ukrainians that died is unknown but is estimated between 8-10 million.

Approximately, 800,000 women served in Red army, many were decorated snipers.

When a person came to a POW camp, they were given a number. When they died, it was erased. This dehumanized the person and the act.

This is the first time that I saw a bone crusher. It was used to eliminate the need to bury and cremate those that died. The result was used as fertilizer. This was used on the exhumed bodies at Babi Yar.

Often, when a POW was forced to work in German factory, he was later tried as a traitor by the Soviets.

In Ukraine, Jews were shot in place by the Germans and not transported to death camps.

Ukrainians are the largest people group that assisted the Jews during the Holocaust. Two thousand five hundred names are listed in the Righteous Among the Nations.

Germans did not feel obligated to treat Soviet POWs humanely since Russia had not signed the Geneva Convention of 1929.

Bloodlands by Timothy Snyder is a book that I want to read about Hitler and Stalin. The Soviet atrocities equal Hitler’s deeds and the people in Communist countries were forbidden to talk about it. As Americans, this seems unreal. Once the Soviet satellite countries became independent, the word was out!!

Resistance had a common enemy but were divided:

  • Soviet partisan movement $$
  • Ukrainian national movement who fought two enemies for Ukrainian independence

Ukrainian resistance greeting is Slava Ukraini which means Glory to Ukraine. (We even use that today!!)

Blue Handkerchief is a famous Russian WWII song. Only Russians could produce a romantic song with machine guns in the lyrics!! The singer was compared to Marlena Dietrich.

When a death notification came, sometimes it would list a burial site located 1km out of town. For every one who dies, someone is notified. In 1948, all of the widows in a village gathered for a picture to illustrate that many are left behind when a soldier dies.

WWII objectives:
West: Humanitarian and stopping a mad man’s grab for power and lands
Soviet: Victory and gaining more power and land. They were liberating people from the Nazis but actually taking more land for the Soviets.

May 8 is a day of reconciliation in Ukraine. The poppy flower is a symbol of a bullet hole in the heart.

There is a poplar poet who wrote of a free Ukraine. His words are still revered today as poignant. There are 20,000 with the name Shevchenko that died in WWII.

A Ukrainian* signed the acceptance of Japan’s surrender aboard the USS Missouri. He died in 1954 due to radiation exposure from the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Here is a signature list of the Allies:

Chinese General Hsu Yung-Ch’ang British Admiral-of-the-Fleet Sir Bruce Fraser
*Soviet Lieutenant-General Kuzma Nikolaevich Derevyanko
Australia General Sir Thomas Blamey
Canada Colonel Lawrence Moore Cosgrave
France Général d’Armée Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque
Netherlands Vice Admiral Conrad Emil Lambert Helfrich
New Zealand Air Vice Marshal Leonard M. Isitt.
USA Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur

Kiev Monastery of the Caves

A lavra is a type of monastery consisting of a cluster of cells or caves for hermits, with a church and sometimes a refectory at the center. It is erected within the Orthodox and other Eastern Christian traditions.

This monastery in Kiev began in 1051 and today has over 100 monks.

Our guide had her head covered. My hat was okay but I was wearing shorts so I was ask to put on this “skirt”. What a get-up!

Before our descent into the caves, we talked about Biblical doctrine and theology. She impressed upon us that we only had our lifetime to confess sins because once you die, it is too late and you are in purgatory. I agree that confession should be uttered immediately in order to have a spirit filled life.

We lit candles made of beeswax and carried them between our fingers with the palm up.

She was happy to learn that we were Christians but was a little confused when I told her that Protestants don’t do the “actions” but profess the Trinity. We were the last to enter the caves and did so in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

She led us through caves where many saints were buried and lived their lives as hermits and had miracles associated with them. There were lots of coffins and people were kissing them.

I certainly can’t judge or deny these miracles. The book that I base my life on, the Bible, is full of them.

My favorite miracle story happened one Easter when a hermit was in the dining room surrounded by coffined saints. He excitedly exclaimed, “He is risen!” And all the dead saints responded, “He is risen, indeed!” I exclaim this each Easter as well and I am sure to remember this story.

For many years, the monastery bell tower was the highest point in Kiev since nothing could be higher than religion.

Here is the view from the top.

The Last Barricade

We went to the pro-Ukrainian Restaurant. It’s a miracle that we could even find it…even with Google maps.

It was underground (of course). One must give the password to enter. Rob found the password online: BORITESYA E POBORITE. These are the classic words of the Ukrainian nationalist poet, Shevchenko: Keep on fighting and you will fight anything.

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