Tatiana Herashcenko: Remember May 9, You Nazis! – Part I

Dear Readers:

As promised, I have this piece for you, which is an op-ed by a reporter named Tatiana Herashchenko (Russian spelling:  Gerashchenko), who lives in Odessa, Ukraine.  Tanya wrote about her experiences this past Victory Day (May 9) which she celebrated with her friends in the streets of Odessa, as they attempted to honor the dead.

Victory Day was always a big deal in (what is loosely described as) The Russian World, but has become an even bigger deal in recent years.  Partly because the entire narrative of the Soviet Victory has come under ideological attack from the Western world.  With memories of the war fading over the decades, Russians started to feel somewhat complacent, they never forgot about the enormous losses and sacrifices which they and the rest of the Soviet people endured during the war; nevertheless, it was a long time ago, a lot of things had happened, and they might start to treat Victory Day with no more special feelings than Americans treat Memorial Day or Veterans Day.  In other words, it’s a holiday from work – yay! – and there might be some parades and other fun stuff to do and see.

Ordinary Russians came up with the idea of the “Immortal Regiment” march.

And then things changed.  In recent years, the shape of things out there in the larger world, started to become clearer.  Namely, that the Western world never did accept Soviet victory in the war; sought to undermine it and ruin it however they could.  The tipping point was when the Western world (the United States and Europe) engineered the coup in Ukraine in 2014.  This coup removed the elected government and placed into the new government ideological descendants of the very same Ukrainian nationalists and Banderites who had fought on the other side of the war.  Namely, alongside the German Nazi soldiers.

Partly as a reaction to this, the Russian world spontaneously came up with the “Immortal Regiment” concept, whereby Russians all around the world celebrate their ancestors and family members who fought in the war.  Fought on the correct side.  Fought against the proponents of racial Eugenics and genocide.  And even more to the point:  Fought on the winning side.

Ukrainian nationalists seized the government in 2014.

This phenomenon, which was partly Celebration and partly Resistance, caused mental pain to Westies.  Westies always get a headache when they see Russians enjoying too much self-esteem.  Westies accuse the Russian government of artificially engineering this Immortal Regiment thing.  Which is not true.  It actually was a spontaneous movement initiated from below, by ordinary people.  After it became popular, the Russian government jumped onboard, that’s true.  But more in the capacity of the fabled General who saw his troops marching away without him, and had to rush to put himself in the lead.  One needs to recall that the current Russian government, under Putin, is in a tricky position itself.  It, itself, ultimately, is the inheritor and beneficiary of an anti-Communist coup which was partly engineered by Western governments.  That was back in the 1990’s.  Please ponder on that thought while I introduce our lead character, Tatiana Herashchenko.  What the heck, I’ll just turn the mic over to her.  The rest of this piece is just my translation into perfect English without further commentary on my part, with the exception of a few embedded footnotes.

Tanya And Her Friends

On May 9, me and the girls agreed to meet at exactly 10:00 o’clock and go to the “Alley Of Glory” together.  I had already come up with a route.  I knew where to buy flowers.  I had set my alarm clock.


Paranoia engulfed me.  I knew that Marinka, at the first sight of the new Politsai [yalensis:  from German Polizei, the word used for Ukrainian police-collaborators during the Nazi occupation], would inevitably shoot her mouth off, saying something like, “Lads, whoever hired such deformed crips as yourselves?”  And then I wouldn’t be able to help laughing my guts out.  But Galka had told us that the first person we would meet up with was the mother of a young man who had been beaten and burned to death in the Trade Union building [yalensis:  On May 2, 2014, the clashes between pro- and anti-Nationalists in Odessa].  And so I thought to myself:  I better not laugh and behave badly in front of her…

Alley of Glory, Odessa

First thing in the morning, Galka phones me and tells me that the police are searching Marinka’s house.  So, instead of meeting at the “Alley of Glory” (as we had planned), we spend an hour or so gabbing on the phone and reassuring each other:  Galka is very jumpy, starts at every sound, she keeps thinking they have come to get her, well she has a reason to be paraoid:  She had witnessed her own grown-up son escape, by a miracle, from the roof of the burning Trade Union building.  In her mind she had already buried him.  She lived through this horror.  In my own case, my own little one is still little, although of course I understand that I have been added to the list a long time ago.  And we all understand that we are destined for a world of pain.  I say into the phone something like:  “Get out of the house!”  Galka:  “I am very fearful for Marinka.”  On May 2, 2014 Marinka was seriously injured out on the Kulikovo Field [yalensis:  Where one of the clashes took place].  Last winter she had a stroke.

Suddenly Marinka calls us, and tells us that the cops just finished drinking up all her kompot [yalensis:  liquid fruit salad] which they found in her fridge.  Then they left.  Her house has been turned upside down.  They even ripped the drawers out of the dresser.  “I’m calling a taxi and heading out to the Alley”  Well, that’s our Marina for you!

“What were they looking for?” I ask her.

Marinka:  “Don’t you remember, they charged me with organizing the disorders of May 2, three years ago.”  They was when they had tried to kill her!  At the time she had showed me the court order, but in the heat of the moment we couldn’t be bothered to try to read this nonsense.

And so I head out….

[to be continued]

This entry was posted in Russian History, The Great Game, True Crime and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Tatiana Herashcenko: Remember May 9, You Nazis! – Part I

  1. Pavlo Svolochenko says:

    Much indebted to you – it would have taken ages to make sense of this with my crappy Russian.

    The regiment of the deathless against the regiment of the damned.


  2. davidt says:

    A little point. I cannot see why you consider that Putin is in a tricky position. To begin with, Putin is the President of the Federation of Russia, and Russia comes with a long history- its history is what it is. As President it is incumbent on him to represent as best he can all citizens of Russia, whatever their political sympathies might be. He seems well equipped to do this as he clearly admired both his orthodox mother and communist father, and has always spoken well of both of them. That his mother was a believer is a reminder that so too were many Soviet citizens at the time of the Great Patriotic War. I noticed that in a comment to an earlier post you allowed yourself the comment that an orthodox priest might have been a pro-Nazi sympathizer. Perhaps, but equally he might have been a pro-Communist sympathizer, or just a complex ordinary guy like, presumably, so many of his countrymen. These quibbles aside, I appreciate very much your values and postings. Best.


    • yalensis says:

      It’s true that Putin is supposed to represent all the people of Russia, regardless of their political affiliations.
      That’s why I see him as sort of the “Napoleonic” figure of the Russian counter-revolution.
      Napoleon, as you recall, restored the French monarchy, but didn’t persecute the Old Jacobins, he tried to get along with everybody.
      Putin being a religious believer is not the crux of the contradiction, I reckon. Rather the fact that he is an anti-Communist, and that the Victory involves much communist symbology, including the Banner of Victory, etc. So, when Putin goes out to march with the Immortals, at least some of the people are carrying hammers and sickles, that sort of thing.
      That’s where I see that he might be in a tricky situation.
      But he always seems to navigate it just fine.

      Which reminds me — I wonder if Poklonskaya marched this year, carrying her Tsar Nicholas ikon – LOL!


      • davidt says:

        Your knowledge of history is most likely deeper than mine, but I do struggle to see Putin as a Napoleonic figure. “Anti-communist”? Are there many true believers left? In any case, I cannot see why communist symbols would make him feel uncomfortable in the context of such a march. On the other hand, Natalia is a little different. She certainly provides evidence of my belief that human beliefs and behavior are often complex and hard to understand.


        • yalensis says:

          Dear David:
          The phrase “true believers” is objectionable to me. And even insulting.
          I believe that phrase was invented by Cold War ideologists who sought to portray Marxism as a religious beiief; and to portray communists and socialists as fanatics and subversives.

          Marxism/communism/socialism call it what you will, is a political affiliation, not a religion.
          You would do as well to call, say, somebody who espouses liberal or conservative political views, as “true believers”, based on the fact that they actually believe in a set of political principles and/or adhere to a political platform.
          Are YOU a true believer, in your political views? You obviously believe in some political principles and have opinions about political matters.
          Although the word “belief”, again, is a misnomer, as it implies irrationality.
          Whereas politics is a very rational sport, indeed.

          The question you SHOULD have asked, is: Are there many Communists left in Russia?
          As in members of the Communist Party?
          And there you could easily research and find some specific number, based on election results or whatever.
          I myself am not a member of the Communist Party, nor indeed of any political party.
          I guess you could just call me a non-Party independent – LOL!
          But I still have a set of political principles, which I label as an “ideology”, and I don’t consider to be a religion, as it is not based on belief in a God, only on earthly matters which affect humans.


          • davidt says:

            “True believers”. Sorry, I think that you are altogether too sensitive- you are more idealistic than I am. Perhaps I might say that some people carry their cross, whatever it is, proudly. In principle, I have no great problem with such an attitude. I must say that “rational” is not the first word that comes to mind when describing politics, but I guess I understand the point you are making. (I should also acknowledge Jen’s comment below with which, for what it is worth, I generally agree.)


            • yalensis says:

              Once again…
              Calling an opponent “sensitive”, “idealistic”, “true believer”…
              Again, these are put-down terms implying one’s one superiority.
              It is a way of dismissing somebody else’s political opinions without actually debating them.

              In truth, I’m not personally either sensitive OR idealistic, I have a hard skin and I am quite cynical, thank you very much.
              But I do feel that I have to call you out on using these terms.
              Which, again, are stereotypes. Anti-socialists use such terms to imply that anybody who opposes the capitalist system is naive and deluded.
              Not to mention a way of just verbally looking down one’s nose at somebody else.

              I could respond in the same coin by calling you “thin-skinned” and having some kind of superiority complex. That’s the impression I get from your comments.


      • Jen says:

        The current Russian government may be the beneficiary of an anti-Communist coup but by 1991 the Soviet government as it was then might not have had too much credibility with its people. It was probably bound to fall, or at least to change into something very different.

        You also need to distinguish between the symbols of Communism from what actual governments did, supposedly in the name of Communism. What was done might not live up to the ideals represented by Communism. The symbols of Communism represent its ideals and aspirations, not the grubby actions of those who should have lived up to their obligations and responsibilities but didn’t.

        Plus when people march in the Immortal Regiments parade, it would be right and proper for them to march with Communist symbols, because the Second World War was won under the Communist banner and its emblems. It would be odd for people to march under the Russian flag if soldiers had not fought under it during WW2. In addition, soldiers from all parts of the Soviet Union fought and beat back the Nazis and their allies, not just Russians, so to claim the Immortal Regiments parade just for Russia and Russians does other former Soviet peoples an injustice. Historical accuracy is important.

        Putin would only be in a tricky situation if people challenged his participation in the Immortal Regiments parade either directly (by face-to-face confrontation) or indirectly (as in complaining about his presence to the press or suggesting he is hypocritical for participating, given his ambivalence about Communism).


        • yalensis says:

          That’s true. Putin has a total right to march in the parade. He always carries a picture of his father, Vladimir Spiridonovich, who was seriously wounded on the Leningrad front.

          Putin would get in trouble if he got kooky like Poklonskaya and started carrying, say, a pic of General Denikin. Who is supposedly one of his heroes.


  3. Lyttenburgh says:

    About Poklonskaya and her participation in the Immortal Regiment march this year – she didn’t participate. Feels ashamed, perhaps?


  4. marknesop says:

    A great post, Yalensis, in equal parts because of the valuable translation and your own insights in the preamble. It’s important to challenge western historical revision as soon as it occurs, because if little differences in the narrative are allowed to wriggle in, western media and analysts hammer on them until they become common knowledge. As others have pointed out, so long as a few who remember remain alive, western revisionists must be put back on the path of actual history before it can be completely rewritten.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Mark! I totally agree. Correcting Westie History is a Herculean task, not unlike cleaning the Augean stables. But in this case must be done carefully one turd at a time!
      Otherwise we end up drowning in horshit.
      (Okay – end of metaphor!)


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