It is now over 100 days since the war in Ukraine broke out and i think there is a certain war fatigue kicking in. People which are not directly involved in the war seem more concerned with the local inflation now. Which is understandable because not everyone (me included) are able to handle much more global crisis: A war with threats like genocide, nuclear war; pandemic that is still there, climate crisis that gets worse. The psyche can handle only a certian amount.

Recently, i read “Zinkjungen” from Swetlana Alexijewitsch which is about the Soviet-Afghan War that resulted in over 15000 soviet people dead or missing1. It started in December 1979 and like the current war in Ukraine it was considered to take only few days. Instead, the war lasted until 1989. So in the book, she interviewed soldiers and officers, nurses and doctors, parents and spouses of those who had died or had returned home traumatized. From these testimonies she created a collection of stories about the horrors of war. Interestingly… or no, eerily, i saw many patterns which read very familiar.

The so called “peace mission”2; the people which were first full of enthusiasm and willingness to make sacrifices in a war and then changed to the extreme3; soldiers which were poorly equipped and catastrophically fed4; soldiers which frequently didn’t know where they were being sent until they arrived; the “zinc boys” which were brought back to their families from Afghanistan in tightly sealed zinc coffins so that no one should see what a cruel war waged on (No information was given about the killed and wounded. Disabled soldiers did not receive any assistance)5; the official propaganda with the image of the heroic “internationalist fighter” helping the Afghan people6… There were many points in that book were you simply could change the word Afghanistan with Ukraine and it it reads like a present day interview.

One point got me wondering though. When the social climate changed the “heroes” were suddenly no longer heroes. The first allegories like the legendary defenders of the homeland from the Great Patriotic War were gone. After all, they had not protected their country from advancing enemy armies, but had invaded their neighbor for geostrategic reasons. Veterans of the war lost their reputation and all the horrors they endured just got pointless.7

I am wondering if we will see the same results and phenomenons once the war in the Ukraine is over (and the war has to stop. Period.)

  1. ↩︎

  2. Now we have the ‘special military operation’ against the Ukraine ↩︎

  3. The war crimes in Butscha and Borodjanka seem like a bizarre echo from the past: ↩︎

  4. This seems to be a common trope, weirdly enough: ↩︎

  5. Again a weird similarity: Russian families often didn’t know a war is happening and may not understand how their family members were wounded or killed in Kyiv during a special operation in the Donbas ↩︎

  6. Now it is denazification from the „banderowzy“ ↩︎

  7. Curiosly, the veterans got more attention now: ↩︎