Monday, December 13, 2004

The putsch

I can’t find where it is right now so I have no link, but Unian reported on Friday, I think it was, that Yanukovych was using the term putsch in a talk given in the east. (I am sure of the word but not sure of the day.) Just when I was beginning to feel the slightest bit sorry for the guy, he starts using Nazi talk to stir up the people in the east. I guess a dog will pick through its own vomit and it looks like Yanukovych is no different. This makes him one of the species of men (and some women) who would court revolution and would pull down institutions in ruins around him just to win. To stand on top of smoldering ruins, but to stand on top. A reprehensible man.

I should have saved it-- it was torn up and thrown away before I could-- but the kids brought home a half sheet flier divided into two frames from the Yanukovych campaign. On the left was a picture of a Nazi rally from Nuremburg complete with fasces (we get the word “fascist” from them), flags with swastika, and the Nazi salute. Looking at that frame, the phrase “Seig heil!,” was just begging to be said. Instead, the caption read “Jah!”

In the other frame on the right side was a picture from a Yuschenko rally, flags flying and hands waving. The caption on that side read, “Tak!” which is Ukrainian for “yes” and was one of the campaign slogans for Yuschenko. The comparison was meant to be made and it was made in the minds of many in the east. Yuschenko and his supporters would recreate what to them would be the equivalent of National Socialism—the Nazis.

In the US, we had to put up with comparisons of Bush to Hitler in the last election. It was inaccurate, of course, and tasteless but Hitler does not have much of a resonance with Americans except in the abstract, at least anymore. He was a bad man over there who killed a lot of people and started the Holocaust which killed a lot more people—Jews—“other” people, not us. But that was over there and not over here. Many served in the war but not very many lives were touched directly by any of it all that much in the US.

But in Ukraine, Hitler remains a current evil in the lives of many. Many were touched directly by him and by the Nazis. They actually occupied large portions of Ukraine and had been fighting and bombing here before that. Hitler even had his eastern headquarters out near Livov, in Western Ukraine, conveniently for Yanukovych, the center of Yuschenko support. My wife’s grandmother can tell stories of the Nazis when they came to her village. The stories are harrowing and horrific but she is only one of many, many people who are still living who can remember the Nazi occupation. As a matter of fact, we listened to a woman yesterday who talked about being young during the war but hearing the bombs falling and exploding in the area where she lived, Nazi bombs. Many people can bear witness to this.

We took our family out for a picnic this past summer to some woods just west of where we live now. When we got to the place where we were going to eat, I noticed some pits that were in the area, a number of them, that had trash in the bottom. It seemed odd to me that they would dig such a thing, a trash pit, out in the open in such a nice place but I just chalked it up to different ways of doing things. It turned out though they were not trash pits but bomb craters from German bombing runs along this forest area. They were looking to destroy the partisans who took refuge in the forests around Kiev. This was an amazing thing for me to see firsthand. You can stand there and the scream of Stuka bombers overhead seems a reality.

And you can find tunnels and ditches in other forests in other parts of Kiev made by these same partisans who fought not only Germans but Communists too in WWII—they shot in both directions. (The second part of this is conveniently forgotten in most histories. Many were shot after the war by Stalin. They couldn’t be trusted.) These are reminders, present day reminders, to the people of what the Nazis did in this country to the people of this country.

So Nazis and Nazism and Hitler are all present memories to a lot of people here. And many of them understand him and them from their own experience to be the monster he was and the monsters they were. The people are understandably sensitive to anything that might signal a return of this.

Enter Yanukovych with his putsch talk. A putsch is what Hitler made in Germany to seize power. And power he got. What Yanukovych is saying is that the Nazis have staged a coup in Kiev and have taken over the government in the guise of Yuschenko. The only thing standing in the way of their moving east it would seem is Yanukovych and his group. The problem with this is that many believe this even people who are educated.

Yuschenko may have courted some of this by a political alliance of sorts with some of the nationalist parties, I don't know. But politics makes strange bedfellows at times. It is interesting to note though that the Communists have allied themselves with the government and Yanukovych on many issues but that fails to stir the imagination, notwithstanding all of the people killed by Stalin in the great famine here—possibly as high as 10 million—as well as many others in the purges. (Some are putting the figure at 50 million, a number that is higher than the current population of Ukraine.) What does stir the imagination is the Nazis and Yanukovych is using it to effect—to the infamy of his name.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Scott, I think Yanukovych is far closer to Stalin than Yushchenko is to Hitler. If I don't miss my bet, most folks in Ukraine will think so too.