22 June – Day of Memory and Grief

I’ve nearly finished reading Svetlana Alexievich – The Unwomanly Face of War.
It is harrowing, it also provides a window into grief, hatred, suffering told through many memories and the memories of those who can’t speak about them but they are still present.

“And so.. You never know your own heart. In winter some captive German soldiers were led past our unit. They walked along all frozen with torn blankets on their heads, holes burnt in their overcoats. It was so cold that birds dropped in flight. The birds froze. A soldier was marching in that column…A young boy…There were tears frozen on his face…And I was taking bread to the mess in a wheelbarrow. He couldn’t take his eyes off that wheelbarrow ; he didn’t see me only the wheelbarrow.
Bread…Bread.. I broke a piece of loaf and gave it to him. He took it…Took it and didn’t believe it…He didn’t believe it!
I was happy…I was happy that I wasn’t able to hate.
I was astonished at myself then” 1

1. Alexievich S (1985, 2017)p69, The Unwomanly Face of War, Penguin, available via http://www.worldcat.org/title/unwomanly-face-of-war/oclc/986744609

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