art SAND ANIMATION a Moving Portrait of the Ukraine, 1941-1943 - Kseniya Simonova
A magnificent art form in the hands of a master; her passion flows as freely as her medium.
Ms. Simonova captures the raw power of the earth-shaking events that descended on her homeland that morning in June – near a half-century before she was born - a million years, and a world far away from us now. The dusty tomes whose dry lines sadly record those dark days, when all humanity hung in the balance, seem like a bad dream; a scream across the years. Ukraine's trial by fire began 68 years ago this past June.
On the morning of June 22nd, 1941, some 4 ½ million Axis troops attacked across the mostly undefended borders between conquered German lands and the Soviet Union (USSR). Kseniya's homeland - the now independent state of Ukraine - ended up being the primary battle ground for upwards of 6-7 million troops for almost two blood-soaked years. Some 20% of Ukraine's population died both from the Nazis and Stalin's forces. Ukraine's Jews didn't have to concern themselves with the horrors of the boxcars and concentration camps. They were simply shot dead where they stood after being force-marched to a handy ravine or hastily dug pit. Summary executions by the roadside of Jew and Slav alike were a common occurrence.
Due to Hitler's grave tactical error of trying to "finish off" Tito's guerrillas in Yugoslavia first, delaying the invasion of Russia (Operation Barbarossa, "Red Beard," Germany's most popular ruler) from May 15th to mid-June – a fateful month (actually 37 days) – the Nazis could not, in the end, deliver the killing blow (though unlikely in the long run anyway) – by taking Moscow - and put Russia out of the war before the onset of General Muck and General Winter (Russia's secret weapons of war). The delay for Kseniya's people meant that, instead of the lion's share of the fighting taking place in the Volga Basin and points East, the Ukraine, along with present-day Belarus, suffered the brunt of the combat - including the largest tank battle ever - between two titanic forces, each equally determined to obliterate the other from the face of the earth. The flat cornfields of this breadbasket of Mother Russia witnessed the same units take and retake the same pieces of real estate over and over again until, mercifully, von Paulus' surrounded Sixth Army surrendered in Stalingrad and the battle moved west, towards the German homeland, for the final time.
In western Ukraine, Kseniya's people, having been brutally oppressed by Stalin, initially welcomed the occupation. As it became clear that the Germans saw them as untermenchen (sub-humans), worthy only for slave labor, a resistance sprang up. The Wermacht's (German Army) response to this was, in effect, kill 'em all and let Gott sort it out. History's largest battle was a crucible of endless and capricious death and destruction. For all enmeshed, there was no surcease and no escape for two very long years. That's what this simple Sand Art of Kseniya portrays. Just thought you'd like a little context.
Endure two years of sheer Hell, simmer gently for half a century, or so, invent a unique way to express the sadness and the outrage, and let creativity have its way with the tragic data. So beautiful. So Human.
P.S. It's okay to shed a tear. By sheer scale, the Soviet-Nazi war has no equal in human history.
Nigel Watson freethinker 727.493.1990 freesense@Gmail.com
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." – Krishnamurti
-A good pun is its own reword.