Friday, 11 March 2022 — Investigating Imperialism

By William Bowles

The power of symbols

Ukrainian Neo-Nazis (note the Flags of nATO and the Azov Battalion and of course, the Swastika)

No, I don’t think it’s nostalgia and it’s not Andrei Tarkovsky’s stunning movie, ‘Nostalghia‘ either, it’s the image below, one of the 100s of Russian military vehicles in Ukraine, they are after all, One People and somehow, it makes sense. I view it as a tribute, or perhaps acknowledgement of the 27 million Russians who died in the Great Patriotic War (WWII to you and me), including virtually all of the Russian side of my family, made all the more hurtful by the presence of these Neo-fascists, openly celebrating the Ukrainians who sided with Hitler’s Germany and exterminated 100s of thousands of Jews, Roma and Slavs in Ukraine during the war. Perhaps I should have called this, ‘Lest we Forget’ instead because clearly we have forgotten or been made to forget.

V tank ussrRussian armoured vehicle flying the Soviet Hammer & Sickle
Babi yarThe Ravine  of Babiy Yar

Perhaps Yevgeni Yevtushenko’s poem on the slaughter by the Nazis (both German and Ukrainian) of thousands of men, women and children, will give you some idea of the depth of feeling involved. It’s reckoned that 100,000 Jews, Roma and Slavs were executed and dumped in the ravine called Babiy Yar in Ukraine. And how apt his poem is, as if it were written yesterday for precisely, now.

Babiy Yar

Over Babiy Yar
There are no memorials,
The steep hillside like a rough inscription,
I am frightened.
Today I am as old as the Jewish race.
I seem to myself a Jew at this moment.
I, wandering in Egypt.
I, crucified. I perishing.
Even today the mark of the nails.
I think also of Dreyfus. I am he.
The Philistine my judge and my accuser.
Cut off by bars and cornered,
Ringed round, spat at, lied about;
the screaming ladies with the Brussels lace
poke me in the face with parasols.
I am also a boy in the Belostok,
the dropping blood spreads across the floor,
the public-bar heroes are rioting
in an equal stench of garlic and of drink.
I have no strength, go spinning from a boot,
shriek useless prayers that they don’t listen to;
with a cackle of ‘Thrash the kikes and save Russia!’
the corn chandler is beating up my mother.
I seem to myself like Anna Frank
to be transparent as an April twig
and am in love, I have no need for words,
I need for us to look at one another.
How little we have to see or to smell
separated from foliage and the sky,
how much, how much in the dark room
gently embracing each other.
They’re coming. Don’t be afraid.
The booming and the banging of the spring.
It’s coming this way. Come to me.
Quickly, give me your lips.
They’re battering in the door. Roar of the ice.

Over Babiy Yar
rustle of the wild grass.
The trees look threatening, look like judges.
And everything is one silent cry.
Taking my hat off
I feel myself slowly going grey.
And I am one silent cry
over the the many thousands of the buried;
am every old man killed here,
every child killed here,
O my Russian people, I know you.
Your nature is international.
Foul hands rattle your clean name.
I know the goodness of my country.
How horrible it is that pompous title
the anti-semites calmly call themselves,
Society of the Russian People.
No part of me can ever forget it.
When the last anti-semite on earth
is buried forever
let the International ring out.
No Jewish blood runs among my blood,
but I am as bitterly and hardly hated
by every anti-semite
as if I were a Jew. By this
I am a Russian.

And somehow Yevtushenko’s poem, written in 1960 or thereabouts, hits the same nerve, of Russians bearing the same pain, even if of a different name or as they are called in the West, ‘White Niggers’.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, thousands of images showing Russian soldiers and vehicles have emerged online. Some of these images shocked viewers when they saw the flag of the Soviet Union waving on some Russian military equipment. For residents of Ukraine, a former part of the Soviet Union, the flag may represent “an expression of a desire to repress them”, according to a post-Soviet politics specialist who spoke to the FRANCE 24 Observers team.- France 24 (my emph. WB)

Hmmmm…another ‘expert’. The racism of the Anglo-Saxons, 400 years or 76 Years and not a damn thing has changed!

2 thoughts on “Nostalgia?

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