Αναρτήθηκε από: Nikos | Αύγουστος 11, 2003

11th of August 2003

Oi oi oi! What a hard-working man i have become! No time for updating my blog, my god… Well, i think now it’s time to write some things about the last days! 🙂 Thursday was really the beginning of hard work..experiments, theoretical work etc, etc… Not to mention that just before i was ready to leave the lab, Prof. Migoun asked me to go to his office for a ten-minute-talk that lasted.. 2 and a half hours! As a consequence, i missed the evening meeting with the girls, so Baris went alone – poor guy 😛 Whatever, Friday wasn’tthat interesting either, so i managed to escape the lab at about.. 14:00 with Baris (after coming here at 10:00, and having an one-hour-lunch break at 12:00, i do not count Friday as my most productive day here). It was fairly nice though. The weather was pretty ok, so a walk by the Svisloch in Janki Kupala Park (next to the Gorky park) for an ice cream (and a second..and a third…) was the best thing that we could do. Friday evening we met Rita in Vostok station and had a nice and long walk through some fields. Before that, though, we had a strange taste coffee in a cafe near Vostok. Everybody loved its taste. I detested it. It tasted like one of the things that i hate most – the Greco-turkish coffee – but with a bigger concentration of the lower part than the one that i expected. Anyway, i didn’t say anything, coz already everybody here considers me to be some kind of weirdo, because wherever we go i ask for ice-coffee, something that simply does not even EXIST!!!! My GOD! When all of these people come to Greece, though, the first thing that they learn is how to drink three frappes a day! Whatever.
Saturday was quite interesting. In the morning i visited the open-air clothes market in the stadium of Dynamo Minsk, where i actually bought a cool CCCP t-shirt. Soon after, the time had come for our excursion… Baris, Rita, Nastya and me went to the village of Khatyn with Nastya’s father – too bad the kind man did not speak any English, so the girls had to translate everything.
Khatyn is a place similar to Kalavryta in Greece. It was burnt down during WWII by the Nazis and never reconstructed since. Its entire population was slaughtered except from one man that survived the terror. In total, 2,5 million Belarusians were killed from 1941 to 1945 during the war, whereas the total death toll for Europe was about 10 million. more than 500 villages had the same fate as Khatyn, so the Belarusian state has established Khatyn as a macabre «Villages’ Graveyard» The whole field on which Khatyn was once built is now full of tombs made of black cement, each village’s name engraved on one tomb. In every tomb there is soil from every village. The feeling of terror and grief can not be put into words.. I just copy from the inscriptions in the martyric place :

«Good Folk, remember: we have loved life, and our homeland, and you. We have burned alive in flames. We plead to you: let our cries and grief turn into courage and strength, so that you can establish Peace and Rest on this Earth. So that nowhere and never life had disappeared again in a tornado of fire!»

March 22 1943 – 60 years ago – 26 houses with their inhabitants (149 people, including 75 children) were burned by the German punishment battalion in Belarusian village of Khatyn. The tragic fate of the burned villages is commemorated in a vast, spreading over 50 hectars, Khatyn’ WWII Memorial, which was opened near Minsk in 1969. Khatyn’ was not the only village with such a horrible fate. Population of 618 Belarusian villages was burned ALIVE by nazi during WWII in SS punishment operations against guerilla troops. 185 of burned Belarusian villages were never re- established after war – they have disappeared from the face of the Earth.»

And from a website for Khatyn by some Belarusian :

«A handful of soil was brought from each of 618 burned alive villages and a symbolic Graveyard of Villages was founded in Khatyn’.

The memorial has 26 of symbolic chimneys with bells – creating an image of a burned village. Only brick chimneys were left standing when Nazis were burning log houses of Belarusian villages. Every hour the bells of Khatyn’ are ringing to remind us about the horrible crimes that a human nature is capable off. Today the younger and happier generation prefers not to think about our history and look to the future, not to the past. But the safe future could only be built with a good memory of our past.

The sculpture at the top is that of the only survivor of Khatyn – Josef Kaminski. He was away from the village and when he returned all his village was burned. Entire population of the village – 149 people, including 75 children- was gathered in a single wooden barn. First people didn’t understood the design of Germans. But when they smelled kerosene and saw the flames total panic broke out inside the barn. People were throwing children into the tall windows of the barn in a hope that they will have at least some chance at escape. Germans have surrounded the barn in a ring and were spraying out of machine guns everyone jumping out of the windows of the burning barn. Kaminski’s son was shot this way too. Kaminski is shown in the sculpture in an ultimate grief of a father holding the lifeless body of his son amidst the bare chimneys of his burned village, his burned family, neighbors and entire life. Kaminski stayed in Khatyn for the rest of his life. When I visited Khatyn around 1974 the guide has respectfully shown him to us in the distance. He was cutting grass at the memorial alone away from tourists.

Overall every forth Belarusian has perished during WWII – 2.2 million people, including 380,000 deported to Germany as laborers. 209 cities and townships and 9,200 villages had been destroyed in Belarus during WWII. The pre-WWII population of Belarus was only re-established in 1971. Every tourist in Belarus is striken by a number of WWII memorials. Peace is the highest and the most prescious quality of life that Belarusians cherrish. Not a single ethnical conflict has broken out in Belarus during the volatile post-USSR years. It is because Belarusians KNOW that any solution is better than the horror of war.»

This is the little homage i can pay to the village of Khatyn. I am sorry for darkening anyone’s mood, but this is a part of the history we don’t know – as winners are writing History their way, nobody ever learns in detail about the 25 million of war victims in the Soviet Union. For more references you can see http://www.belarusguide.com/travel1/Khatyn.html . I am sure i am going to upload the photos i made there too, after i return in Athens.

Saturday evening was finally the time for another visit to the most renowned West-World Club!!! After my experience last time in westworld club, i wasn’t in the mood for Vodka – i did not intend to return in the hostel drunk and passed-out, so i kept myself away from alcohol. The truth is that except from a live strip lesbian-sex show (which seems to be pretty ok for this city’s nightlife) the club was rather boring on Saturday night, so Baris and I returned at the hostel at about 4 o’clock, and after a few injuries and lots of marines maneuvres we managed to climb into the kitchen from an open window. Too bad that the chair that we had used was stolen – let’s hope that the hostel will not accuse us for that too.
Sunday was pretty boring, since i woke up at about 17:00, just to find out that the hostel accuses us of stealing blankets, returning drunk every night, being criminals and i do not even know what more their imagination has created.
After these accusations, all of us went for dinner in Maxi-Bis the wonderful restaurant in Nyamiga, and after that we found a very cozy underground beer place with live music – did i mention that we were desperately looking for a warm place to go to, since the weather here is like November in Greece now? I strongly believe that in a few days they are going to put a big Christmas tree in Oktyabrskaja Square and Children Choirs will be singing Adeste Fideles and Silent Night in Russian… Even now that i am writing this blog from the lab, it is chilling outside. Dark grey cloudy sky, ice-cold breeze, rain intervals… pretty depressive, i have to admit. Anyway, i am slipping off my story.
After the nice time we had in the beer place with some Baltika-7 beer of course, we started returning to the hostel by foot – it’s not that far from the centre, even though one might think that it is situated in the other end of the city if he/she takes the metro, that sometimes takes annoyingly long time to cover the distance between two stations. Somewhere in the middle of our way back, we found two girls sitting on a bench drinking beer. Most probably they had met us before two weeks ago, and they recognized us. Do i have to mention that it took us something like FIVE minutes to persuade them to follow us in the hostel? And because it is forbidden for non-residents to enter the hostel, the girls had to enter it the tarzan-way, the same way Baris and I climbed in last day. Well, nothing happened with the girls, except from the fact that they consumed all of Nicolas’ Vodka, all of his cigarettes, and also found a warm place to sleep. Bad luck for the tramps – they were kicked out early in the morning while distracting the administration ladies at the reception.
After all of these facts i finally came to work at about 13:00 (since i had to buy a ticket for the Robert Plant concert for tomorrow, too) where i do NOTHING at all (except from updating that blog) since my only duty now is to translate a scientific paper from German to English. Let’s count once more my skills as an applied Physics student: Adobe Photoshop, Use of Microscopes, Translations from German to English…seems quite close to my profession, right?
Anyway, i feel that i have written too much today. Not to mention that there is that Professor Nikolai (the bearded guy, not Migoun) that insisits on increasing the zoom of the camera by adding a..magnifying lens in front of it. Then he is disappointed because he takes terrile quality images, but what can i do? He is convinced that he knows better… 🙂

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