EIt is February 24, 2022 that changes Daria’s life. In the early hours of the morning, Russian missiles fly towards Kyiv. The war in Ukraine is entering a new phase. Daria and her husband flee to Germany. With her smartphone, she records the sounds of the bullets and explosions during the escape and sends them as an audio message to her relatives in Moscow. They don’t believe that Russia attacks civilians. They trust the state news, which reports on a “special operation” to rid Ukraine of “Nazis”.
Daria’s family isn’t the only one shattered by the war. Uncles, brothers, cousins believe the propaganda more than their relatives. Daria’s father finally breaks off contact with his brother in Russia, and the grandmother no longer calls her son.
The audio documentary “Ukraine – The Crack” (which can be heard on Spotify, among others) that will be released today in the podcast series “Terra X History” begins with Daria’s story. In the six episodes, people from Ukraine and Russia tell their stories. The method is called “Oral History”. In addition, the moderator Mirko Drotschmann talks to historians who classify the very personal stories. He wants to know: How did this war come about? Is the legend of brother peoples – Russians and Ukrainians true?
Descriptions become very emotional
The podcast is obviously aimed at younger listeners who want to understand what is happening in Eastern Europe. At the beginning of each episode there is a trigger warning: “This podcast will also be about war, terror, flight and death. Please take care when you hear him.” The status of the episodes is given as the end of September 2022. And Ukrainian place names are used: Kyiv instead of Kyiv, Tchornobyl instead of Chernobyl. The strength of the podcast is its focus on one person at a time. In each episode, the listeners get to know a new protagonist, each episode has a different focus. The interviewees give their view of what is happening in Ukraine, historians and Eastern European experts give a broader picture and classify the subjective. The first episode is about 32-year-old Daria and the rift in her family. The recent history of Ukraine is treated. Drotschmann and the historians talk about Bandera, Ukraine during World War II and the roots of nationalism there.
Very different people have their say, some of whom become very emotional during their descriptions. In the second episode, 27-year-old Anna tells how she experienced the Maidan protests in 2013 as a student and had to decide whether she was willing to risk her life for the revolution. In episode three, Kristina, from Donetsk, speaks in her mid-fifties, as a counterpoint to Anna. In the spring of 2014, Kristina, who is actually apolitical, joined a pro-Russian demonstration. She is worried about Kiev’s European course and turning away from Russia. But then war broke out in Donbass. Their hopes that Moscow will bring stability and peace are dashed. Other episodes deal with the role of the Orthodox Church or the Chernobyl reactor accident.
Drotschmann guides you through the programs well, picking up on things that have already been said. If a new topic is brought up, he points to the consequences, in which the subject is dealt with in more detail. The listener never has the feeling of losing the thread. The number of experts from Germany and the Ukraine who have their say is also remarkable. It becomes problematic, however, when the differentiation is lost for a better understanding for the listener and Drotschmann summarizes in a general way.
For example, episode two is about the political processes in Ukraine. The 2004 Orange Revolution is explained with the democratic understanding that Ukrainians learned in the 1990s. It sounds like Ukraine was a democracy like Germany – until a Russian-backed authoritarian politician wanted to take power. The explanation that a non-authoritarian system does not immediately correspond to a Western-style democracy is missing. The influence of the oligarchs on the political system is also left out.
This simplification creates a false image for the listener. Nevertheless, the program “Ukraine – The crack” is definitely worth listening to for everyone who has not yet dealt with the Eastern European country. Many aspects relevant to understanding how the war in and against Ukraine came about are addressed and explained. The personal narratives make it easier to understand the story and upheavals.