Souvenirs From Kyiv by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Ukraine. Had I requested you about this nation a yr in the past, you may need identified a couple of particulars: Slavic nation, jap Europe, and wasn’t there one thing about Crimea and Russia some time again? Right this moment, the heartbreak, devastation, and crimes towards humanity being wrought by Putin and his Russian military are know to us all.

Writer buddy Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is Ukrainian American. If I perceive appropriately, she is the primary technology of her household born within the US. Her assortment of brief tales – Souvenirs From Kyiv – concerning the WWII experiences of Ukrainians is extremely effectively written and with solely somewhat little bit of creativeness, you may really feel what situations have to be like in the present day simply as they have been 80 years in the past. The guide has been not too long ago republished by Bookouture.

Chrystyna’s new foreword to Souvenirs From Kyiv is a passionate name to us all. Together with her permission, I’ve included it right here (highlights added by me):


In 1991, 2004 and 2014, the Maidan in Kyiv was the stage for 3 main occasions that etched Ukraine into the European consciousness. These have been the autumn of the Soviet Union, the Orange Revolution and the Euromaidan respectively, the final of which led to bloodshed however united generations of Ukrainians. Whereas the Orange Revolution succeeded in overturning a fraudulent election, the Euromaidan did nothing to alter Ukraine’s entry into the European Union (EU). For practically 4 months, Ukrainians protested President Yanukovych’s sudden determination to renege on his promise to make Ukraine a part of the European Union, and as a substitute sure Ukraine to Russia within the Eurasian Financial Union. Then, on February 24, 2022, your entire world not solely understood Ukraine’s existence however started talking Ukrainian. Inside every week, the phrases “Slava Ukraïni!” had been uttered by everybody from truck drivers to the world’s leaders. Some copy and pasted the Cyrillic model —“Слава Україні!”—onto their social media posts. Whereas in World Struggle II, nationalists and freedom fighters churned out handmade leaets to spice up morale, in the present day we solely want to show to Twitter to get our hero-fix. 

As a Ukrainian-American, I must be reveling in a bitter‐candy victory. From North America to Australia, from Asia to Africa, the world now acknowledges that Ukraine shouldn’t be Russia. Within the span of only a few days, Vladimir Putin has completed what most Ukrainians the world over have been making an attempt to do for practically a century. As a first-gen American, I grew up defending myself and my heritage; a heritage handed firmly down by a household of displaced World Struggle II refugees. “No, I’m not Russian. Sure, Ukraine is a separate nation. I converse Ukrainian. Why ought to I converse Russian? Does each Italian converse Spanish? Does each Portuguese particular person converse fluent French?” 

The world will always remember what the Ukrainian flag seems to be like because of the landmarks and structure illuminated worldwide in blue and yellow. An obscure president has risen to superhero standing. TikTok movies propagate the excessive morale amongst Ukrainian defenders; movies characteristic younger troopers dancing with bazookas and Kalashnikovs. Road fighters educate viewers how you can make Molotov cocktails and the place to focus on for the very best injury, or—higher but—in case you don’t have a tractor to tow one away, a younger lady has created an educational video on how you can drive house a captured Russian tank. It’s surreal when, from each nook of the world, we are able to watch David throwing stones at Goliath. And really feel the struggling. Or not less than think about we do. Within the course of, we’re glorifying Ukraine. We’re glorifying the heroes born on social media. We’re witnessing communities, a rustic, even a world stitched collectively by a standard trigger: to cheer on these blue-and-yellow underdogs. Due to Hollywood, we’re conditioned for that completely satisfied finish to reach inside ninety minutes. In warfare, it doesn’t. And the affect is felt over generations. 

I’ve spent my complete grownup life making an attempt to make sense of the horrors my family survived in World Struggle II. Throughout one in every of my interviews together with her, my grandmother stopped and rubbed her face. When she seemed again at me, she mentioned very soberly, 

“There was nothing wonderful about our battle. I hope your technology by no means has to expertise what we went by way of. Ever.” And right here we’re. I spend my nights sobbing. 

I write historic fiction for advanced and deeply private causes. If I’ve to simplify it, then my mission is to get well and restore the tales we now have misplaced in order that we are able to mirror on how we now have gotten to the place we discover ourselves. I write to construct empathy. And I write to resolve the reality behind the massive image; to make it clear that battle shouldn’t be about two groups assembly on the battlefield—one referred to as “good” and one referred to as “dangerous.” There are not any winners on this story. 

“Glory to Ukraine!” calls for the response “Glory to the heroes!” However even that salute shouldn’t be full. There’s a third half. It’s “Demise to enemies.” I don’t see many individuals posting that on their social media. Neither in English nor in Cyrillic. To grasp the ability of this salute, you have to perceive its historical past. Variations of it have been used throughout Ukraine’s Struggle of Independence (1917–1921), after which it was adopted by a renegade partisan group within the Nineteen Forties, whose mission was to “purify” Ukraine of Jews, of Poles, of Nazis, of Soviets. It’s a chant that was banned by Soviet authorities and resurrected in 1991 when Ukraine wrested itself from the USSR, and when her borders reappeared on world maps. Lastly, “Glory to Ukraine!” echoed over the Maidan by a technology born into freedom, and has now turn into eternalized as Ukraine battles for its very existence throughout the Russian invasion. The salute is mired in blood and in sacrifice at the same time as its that means has shifted to unify a complete world. And perhaps that’s okay if the phrases are usually not misplaced in a vacuum; if the phrases—which imply a lot—might be understood. 

“Glory to the heroes!” 

I used to be raised by freedom fighters. Within the Seventies and ’80s, “Nordeast” Minneapolis was a singular mix of Japanese European, German, Jewish, Lebanese, and Indian households. A Lebanese deli and a Ukrainian butchery grew to become iconic within the Twin Cities. Two Ukrainian church buildings have been situated proper throughout the road from each other: the Byzantine Catholic one and the Orthodox Christian one. My father belonged to the previous, my mom to the latter. My family couldn’t return to Ukraine as a result of it was now the USSR and their household names have been listed alongside a one-way ticket to a gulag. I grew up in a household whose story was something however secret. Each time we have been served bread, we have been reminded of the place we’d come from, and the way very fortunate we have been to have that bread. These tales shortly gave me an unquenchable thirst for justice and for defending the “underdogs.” From an early age, I rooted for the Davids on this world, cheering them as they stood as much as the Goliaths of the universe. 

For the first twenty years of my life, I had no concept that I used to be stewing in nationalism both, or what that even meant. This Ukrainian-American technology grew up within the lap of Ukrainian consciousness and we felt particular as a result of we spoke a language hardly another American knew, and wielded information a couple of nation that few understood had the precise to exist. Russia and Russian have been curse phrases in our Diaspora. We realized “our” tales, “our” historical past and “our” heritage in Ukrainian colleges that have been held on Saturdays. We attended church each Sunday, as a result of first got here God, then household, and solely then buddies. We expressed our distinctive identification by way of Ukrainian people dance, Ukrainian scouts, and went to Ukrainian summer time camps the place youngsters from Chicago and Minneapolis met within the woods of Wisconsin for 3 weeks and marched round singing rousing battle songs about releasing Ukraine from international enslavement. In the event you’d seen us, you’d assume we have been paramilitary. I wouldn’t have understood what that meant. All I knew was that I used to be fiercely proud. Happy with my heritage. Happy with my individuals. Proud about understanding the place I’d come from. We have been all mendacity in anticipate our second after we would stand up, seize maintain of our independence, and ensure the world knew Ukraine. We have been ready to be these glorified heroes. 

Some will snicker. What have been a bunch of People pondering they have been going to do? Return to the house nation? That’s precisely the mentality our Diaspora instilled in us. When Ukraine regained its independence, first-gen Ukrainian-People left in a swarm to work as medical doctors, legal professionals, academics, and enterprise individuals. Folks I’d grown up with have been heading over to assist reboot the nation and make their dad and mom and grandparents proud. 

I used to be additionally feeling this wave of nationwide pleasure however tackled it a bit otherwise. Within the Nineteen Nineties, I used to be learning journalism. After I realized that my grandmother and her siblings have been growing older, I began recording their tales with the intention of immortalizing them. As a substitute, I realized one thing that took my pleasure down a number of notches. All the pieces I assumed I knew about my household couldn’t even scratch the floor. My family have been surprisingly forthcoming, however it will take me many many years earlier than I felt I may do the tales justice. It was a few years, many journeys, and what felt like many lifetimes later that I started to know what their struggles have been about; what this fierce want for sovereignty and independence value them. And now I share a cautionary story: glorifying any nation, particularly one at warfare, is a fragile enterprise. It may well shortly create a one-sided fiction based mostly on misinformation and misunderstanding; it could do extra hurt than good as a result of the frustration that comes afterwards is earth-shattering. The true story of the Ukrainian shouldn’t be in in the slightest degree a black-and-white story; it isn’t even allegorical. It’s human with all of the fragility and energy and contradictions and complexities each human being carries inside themselves. Nonetheless, it’s also a standard story that connects us on the most basic degree: the must be free. 

“Demise to Enemies!” 

In 1945, journalist Edgar Snow pronounced that “World Struggle II was a Ukrainian warfare.” It’s comprehensible why he could be compelled to take action. The Japanese Entrance had seen a number of the most horrific, no-holds barred violence. Stalin and Hitler had each utilized “scorched earth” insurance policies, burning every thing down in order that the opposite aspect couldn’t revenue from any worthwhile sources.

Throughout World Struggle II, no Ukrainian may ever identify only one enemy. No Ukrainian knew from daily who the enemy actually was. Stalin’s and Hitler’s armies have been inarguably chargeable for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands upon Ukrainian soil, however add to that the fluid infighting between Ukrainian political factions, and the outcome was rampant fratricide and blind hate. Partisan models fought and mass murdered locals whose ideologies weren’t the identical and fell upon Poles, beneath whom western Ukrainians had been oppressed; and Ukrainians had a hand within the extermination and deportation of the native Jewish populations. Particulars have been gradual to come back to the floor after the warfare, no because of the Soviet Union’s lock-and-key insurance policies, however when that data did trickle out, many exiled Ukrainians world wide have been confronted by the ugly truths about their countrymen. Many have been additionally given the chance to reconcile with their pasts. I, for one, was solely starting to know issues that sobered me. My group’s tales have been advanced, stunning, real-life struggles for survival, and so they got here at heavy costs. 

In 2002, I took the huge materials I had and aimed to unravel the tangled roots born of Ukraine’s function within the World Struggle II. In 2020, I printed six of these tales beneath the title Souvenirs from Kiev. It was my try to attach the world to Ukraine and Ukrainians, and to share my understanding of a lesser- identified historical past. Now, Bookouture has offered the platform for gettingthese tales into the arms of extra readers than I may presumably attain alone. I took liberties with the characters and occasions to be able to weave collectively a whole portrait of the Ukrainians that I’ve met, liked, and revered—of a tradition and nation that I’ve grown to higher perceive as I’ve matured, and to like ever extra deeply. My romance with Ukraine has became a real and steadfast love; the extra I study her fragility and faults, the extra I embrace and settle for her

Russia has been making an attempt to successfully wipe Ukraine off the world map for hundreds of years. They haven’t succeeded but. They usually actually gained’t be capable to now that your entire world is aware of the nation’s salute. I plead for peace in these pages, however that hybrid freedom fighter in me can not deny this one quite simple reality: by republishing these tales, I’m choosing up my stone and throwing it at Goliath. I’m out of the blue empowered to assist make an affect. My mission has not modified: I would like individuals to perceive. To be taught. To have their horizons broadened and to appreciate that there isn’t a glory in warfare; there isn’t a glory within the battle for survival. As a substitute, I flip to the brighter mild discovered within the Ukrainian anthem: 

Ukraine has not but perished;not her glory,

not her freedom Destiny shall smile upon us!
Our enemies shall vanish like dew within the solar;
And we too shall rule our beloved nation. 

I wish to think about Russians standing as much as Putin and making him draw again. As a result of if they don’t—if we don’t stand as much as him—we now have realized nothing from our earlier errors. This spring, earlier than our very eyes, a brand new world warfare is blooming, and it’ll not—I promise you—tackle the form and shade of sunflowers. 

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Austria, March 2022 

Maybe you could have tears in your eyes as I did after studying Chrystyna’s foreword.

I hope it’s going to encourage you to learn Souvenirs From Kyiv and to search out your personal strategy to assist Ukraine’s efforts to defeat Putin and his Russian military. Slava Ukraïni!

Souvenirs From Kyiv by Chrystyna Fortunate-Berger ~~ ‘Russia has been making an attempt to wipe Ukraine off the world map for hundreds of years. They haven’t succeeded but. Now, I’m choosing up my stone and throwing it at Goliath. I would like individuals to know. I wish to save this nation.’ Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger, March 2022

Larissa is a famend embroiderer, surviving in occupied Ukraine throughout World Struggle II as a seamstress in her break of a workshop. Surrounded by enemies, she expresses her defiance by threading historical past into her clothes. However at what value?

Mykhailo is a soldier on go away, returning to Ukraine from the entrance on Christmas Eve. As he travels by way of his nation, he’s confronted by the hardship the warfare has delivered to his fellow countrymen. Will what he sees this Christmas change the course of his life ceaselessly?

Marusia and her household are woken early one morning by the arrival of the Nazis, who’ve come to seek for her partisan brother. Because the troopers transfer by way of their home, her household has simply moments to make decisions that may decide their survival.

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger’s tales convey to life the true historical past of her Ukrainian household who fought to outlive World Struggle II. Laced with hope, Souvenirs from Kyiv celebrates the endurance and resilience of the human spirit. 

Souvenirs from Kyiv was awarded 2nd Place within the 2014 HNS Worldwide Brief Story Award and the gathering gained the silver medal within the IPPY Ebook Awards 2020 for Navy and Wartime fiction.


M.Ok. Tod writes historic fiction. Her newest novel is THE ADMIRAL’S WIFE, a dual timeline set in Hong Kong. Mary’s other novels, PARIS IN RUINS, TIME AND REGRET, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE and UNRAVELLED are available from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. She can be contacted on FacebookTwitter and Goodreads or on her web site