Notes from the War: Thoughts on the End of the War

Our author has always hoped. She now feels like laughing and crying at the success of the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

Wall with mural painting

Mural painting in western Ukraine

KIryna Kramarenko recently wrote in her notes from the warthat she is not sure if people in Ukraine still have dreams. Ever since good news was announced from the Eastern Front, the 34-year-old former translator and now part-time job in a hotel in western Ukraine has been hoping dreams will come back after all.

August 2nd

They say people get used to everything. I've gotten used to air-raid alerts. Also bad news from the war and the funerals. Sometimes it's hard to believe it's ever been different.

When I watch movies or read books where the hero walks the streets at night, I think, “What about the curfew? He can't walk around at night!” Our streets get empty at 10pm. Only a few people have permission to stay outside after that. No more late dinners and hanging out with friends at nightclubs.

Of course, that's not a high price we're paying in this war. We all know that people are dying in the east and south of our country, every hour, every day, even if we don't hear their screams.

Today I realized that many people in Ukraine don't know what it's like to live in a peaceful time because they were too young to remember or because they were born after 2014. All those whose conscious or remembered life began after this year know only the war world. My son is one of them. He was born in May 2013, just six months before the Maidan protests, the Dignity Revolution and the war in eastern Ukraine that began afterward. Just six months of peaceful life.

As a mother, I don't quite understand how that plays out, but I do know for sure that when the war is over we will have a whole generation of children with no real childhood.

Like I said, you can get used to air raid sirens and soldiers with guns in the streets, but you can't go back in time. You will not have a second chance to live those eight years again, my child. Russian soldiers took time from our lives and gave us traumas instead. The trauma of having to leave your own house at night. The trauma of surviving under occupation. The trauma of losing loved ones. The trauma of witnessing heinous crimes.

15th of August

Today I spoke to a friend. Inna is hard of hearing, her husband is deaf. Before the start of the war she lived with her family in Kyiv. They fled at the very beginning of the war. First to the village to her mother, who is also my aunt's neighbor. Our children played together when I visited my relatives. Inna was very worried about one of her daughters, who is also deaf and cannot even hear the air raid sirens. She was so afraid for her family that she fled to Poland. As a deaf man, her husband did not have to join the army and was allowed to cross the border.

It was difficult at first to live in strangers' houses, but the Polish family was hospitable and the situation eased after their girls went to school and her husband found a job. She herself continued to work as a teacher from Poland.

Despite this, they adjusted to life in Poland and planned to stay there until the end of the war. They were lucky not to have been torn apart.

After four months, her boss called and said she couldn't work online anymore; either she comes back to Kyiv or she loses her job. Now the family is separated. Inna is back in Kyiv. The daughters are with their mother in the village, and her husband continues to live and work in Poland.

August 28th

Four days ago was our Independence Day. We spent many hours in the air raid shelter. No one there doubted that Russian soldiers would not miss another opportunity to put our lives in danger. What was interesting though was that most of the time they were just trying to scare us. According to war analysts, only 10 percent of two hundred enemy air flights dropped missiles. Is Russia running out of missiles? Or should it be hit all the harder when Independence Day ends and fewer people come to the emergency shelters?

The martial speeches of the Russian rulers were in the same menacing tone that we had heard in the first days of the war - for example, that they would conquer Kyiv in three days and the whole of Ukraine in two weeks. Well, what can I say, I'm grateful for every opportunity to have a hearty laugh. They can threaten and hurt us, but they will not defeat us because now our society has changed.

After more than 350 years of living in a state with Russians, we, the Ukrainians, have learned the lesson. It's: Stay away from the crazy neighbor. We are different in every way and do not want a common future. This is something that unites us all.

12th September

Yesterday they destroyed the thermal power plant in Kharkiv. The Russian soldiers are fleeing the Kharkiv region, but meanwhile they are still harming peaceful people, leaving them without water, electricity, gas and the subway.

It would be a lie to say that I'm not afraid of winter. Since other cities are struggling with hot and cold water supply, I'm trying to figure out what to do if the thermal power plant is destroyed in my city as well, but right now I can't find an answer.

What I do know: I don't want to collect the snow from the streets to melt it in a pot with a candle like a friend did this spring in Sumy. Liliia had no water in her apartment when the Russians destroyed the thermal power in her town. All she could do was collect snow and rainwater. She lived on the ninth floor with her husband, an elderly and ailing mother, a nine-year-old daughter and a cat. They froze and had no food supply for many days. They could not leave the city as Russian troops were nearby. The family is now safely abroad. Knowing how they lived, I can't help but wonder if I was strong enough to endure it all.


We're hearing good news from the front now. Living in a state of war for so long, you get used to bad news. I would say it is even natural to expect the worst in order to be prepared for anything. So you live your life, helping the army, with only thoughts on the back of your mind about the end of the war. And suddenly you hear about the Ukrainian counter-offensive.

At first, you expect the good news to last only a few days. But then you realize that we are still counterattacking and more and more Russian soldiers are being routed. Then you begin to read the names of the towns and villages that are now liberated and are almost overwhelmed by this rapid advance. I want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Now that so many eyes are on us, I'm even prouder to be Ukrainian. We fight not only for our survival, but also for our democratic principles and beliefs. Therefore, I am grateful to all countries that have become our partners in the struggle against an autocratic country like Russia, where human rights and freedoms are all trampled on.

Of course, I realize that the counter-offensive cannot last long. Sooner or later our soldiers, including my two cousins ​​among them, will have to be at the forefront of guarding the places that have now been reclaimed. Nevertheless, for me, my family and my friends, the last few days were the happiest since the beginning of the war. They gave us faith.

Translated from the English by Waltraud Schwab

The texts reflect the subjective view of the authors on the events unfiltered.

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