Easter in Ukraine is a very significant holiday, with celebrations stretching long before and after the traditional Easter weekend. Ukrainians take baskets to church to be blessed, loaded with traditional foods and decorated with embroidery, candles, and the world-famous pysanky, the hand-painted eggs.
Before, during, and after the Second World War, Ukrainians resisted (often in underground organisations), occupation by both Russia and Germany, as well as military aggression from others including Hungary and Romania. Additionally, the west of Ukraine was under Polish rule before the Soviets invaded. The region suffered heavily during Operation Barbarossa.
These vintage Ukrainian Easter cards are from that turbulent time – note the rifle carried by the man on the horse.
The writing is the typical Easter message for Ukraine, and translates to ‘Christ is Risen’.
American professor Timothy Snyder is a good place to start for information on the most overlooked aspect of the war, particularly his book Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin.
While everybody knows about the Holocaust, there was another major genocide in Europe in the 20th century that is almost unknown.
The Holodomor, Stalin’s manufactured famine/genocide, is believed to have killed up to ten million people in Ukraine in the 1930s. Still denied by Moscow, this genocide has received little to no attention from the West, and none whatsoever from Hollywood.
A new film is due out now which tackles this topic, focusing on a Ukrainian Cossack couple. Keep an eye out for Bitter Harvest this month.