The Avenue at Middelharnis by Meindert Hobbema, 1689
“For me, John Lennon’s mega-hit Imagine was always a song popular for the wrong reasons. Imagine that ‘the world will live as one’ is the best way to end in hell.
Those who cling to pacifism in the face of the Russian attack on Ukraine remain caught in their own version of ‘imagine’. Imagine a world in which tensions are no longer resolved through armed conflicts… Europe persisted in this world of ‘imagine’, ignoring the brutal reality outside its borders. Now it’s the time to awaken.”
“The true target of the war is the dismantlement of the European unity advocated not only by the US conservatives and Russia but also by the European extreme right and left – at this point, in France, Melenchon meets Le Pen.”
Fragments of the article Pacifism is the wrong response to the war in Ukraine by Slavoj Žižek,The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2022/jun/21/pacificsm-is-the-wrong-response-to-the-war-in-ukraine
This photo of children–victims of Russian propaganda and forced militarization, taken by Oleg Konstantinov, tells not only about a destroyed childhood, but also about an ideology that is dangerous to the world.
From December 22, 2021, to January 17, 2022, the Grand Palais Éphémère in Paris held Anselm Kiefer’s exhibition For Paul Celan. This exhibition turned out to be prophetic. A few weeks later, Russia launched a war in Ukraine. Celan was born in Chernivtsi. This Ukrainian city is part of Celan’s biography, but also of our collective memory. Today in Ukraine tragic history repeats itself.
A gift from Jeanne Hersch*
Many years ago I received, as a gift from Jeanne Hersch, seven books by Czesław Miłosz with the poet’s handwritten inscriptions for her. I know that a book could be used to store items, but I was surprised when I found in the donated books, in addition to the dedication and signs of reading (annotations in pencil), loose sheets of a manuscript by Hersch (her French translation of the poem Child of Europe), and newspaper clippings about Miłosz. There was also a photo of Miłosz from 1981. These seven books are not only a story of the friendship of Czesław and Jeanne but also a contribution to the reflection on the sanctity of writing, dedicating, reading, storing, and offering books.
*Jeanne Hersch (1910–2000) was a Swiss philosopher of Polish-Jewish origin. She studied under the existentialist Karl Jaspers. Her works dealt with the concept of freedom. From 1956 to 1977 she was a professor of philosophy at the University of Geneva and also taught at a number of universities in the United States. From 1966 to 1968 she headed the philosophy division of UNESCO, and was a member of its executive commission (1970–1972). In 1968 she edited Birthright of man: a selection of texts, an anthology of writings on human rights. Her main work is Philosophical Astonishment: a history of philosophy. She translated i.a. books of Czesław Miłosz.
Fragment of the poem Child of Europe by Czesław Miłosz
Józef Czapski – the witness of history
Józef Czapski, itinéraires de vérité, sous la direction de Maria Delaperrière, Maciej Forycki et Paweł Rodak, Institut d’études slaves. Eur’Orbem éditions, Paris 2020.
“Włodzimierz Bolecki emphasises that the title of the work on the inhumanity of Sovietism is an ‘extraordinary achievement’ for it has entered not only Polish, but even universal historical consciousness. It has become one of the most important terms in the dictionary of 20th century history” – about the chapter 4. Józef Czapski devant les crimes de masse. De l'enquête sur les « disparus » à la vérité sur le système soviétique.
“Peintre, soldat, homme de culture, écrivain, auteur d’un immense et singulier Journal, Józef Czapski (1896–1993) fut une figure majeure du destin européen du XXe siècle. Ce livre retrace les « itinéraires de vérité » de ce Polonais cosmopolite : son enfance dans un milieu aristocratique au début du siècle, sa jeunesse en Russie, son engagement dans le conflit polono-bolchevique, ses études à l’Académie des beaux-arts de Cracovie, puis à Paris au sein du groupe des « kapistes ». Après les épreuves de la Seconde Guerre mondiale – internement dans les camps soviétiques, découverte de la vérité sur les massacres de Katyń, longue marche avec l’armée d’Anders et campagne d’Italie –, il s’installe en 1947 en France. Avec les exilés regroupés autour de la revue Kultura, il jouera un rôle de médiateur intellectuel entre l’Est et l’Ouest. Cette monographie richement illustrée s’intéresse tant aux témoignages de Czapski sur la condition des victimes du stalinisme (Souvenirs de Starobielsk, Terre inhumaine) qu’à ses réflexions sur l’art et la littérature”.
“The New York Review Books (NYRB) Classics series’ recent publication of two works by the Polish painter and writer Józef Czapski, Inhuman Land: Searching for the Truth in Soviet Russia, 1941–1942 and Lost Time: Lectures on Proust in a Soviet Prison Camp, can only be described as timely. (...) These books, particularly Inhuman Land, are exceedingly useful in understanding Russian society under the Soviet regime and the repercussions of that seventy-four-year terror that are still evident today, as well as the intellectual amid extreme persecution” (Filip Mazurczak).
“The University of the Arts in Poznań has published Józef Czapski’s Letters on Painting (2019). This is a selection of letters written by Czapski to me. Our correspondence mainly concerned painting. It consists of 36 letters from Czapski, and covers the period from 1984 to 1989. When it began, Czapski was 88 years old and I was 30. Exchanging letters turned into friendship. Czapski gave me one of the most important lessons of love for painting and art in general” (Janusz Marciniak). Download the e-book (PDF).
Raphael Lemkin, creator of the concept of genocide
“Raphael Lemkin (Polish: Rafał Lemkin; 24 June 1900 – 28 August 1959) was a Polish lawyer who is best known for coining the term ‘genocide’ and for initiating the Genocide Convention, an interest spurred on after learning about the Armenian genocide and finding out that no international laws existed to prosecute the Ottoman leaders who had perpetrated these crimes.
Lemkin coined genocide in 1943 or 1944 from genos (Greek: γένος génos, ‘family, clan, tribe, race, stock, kin’) and -cide (Latin: -cīdium, ‘killing’). He became interested in war crimes after reading about the 1921 trial of Soghomon Tehlirian for the assassination of Talaat Pasha. He recognized the fate of Armenians as one of the most significant genocides of the 20th century. His work inspired Jessie Bernard, whose book American Community Behavior contains one of the earliest sociological studies of genocide. (...)
In November 1944, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. This book included an extensive legal analysis of German rule in countries occupied by Nazi Germany during the course of World War II, along with the definition of the term genocide. Lemkin's idea of genocide as an offence against international law was widely accepted by the international community and was one of the legal bases of the Nuremberg Trials. In 1945 to 1946, Lemkin became an advisor to Supreme Court of the United States Justice and Nuremberg Trial chief counsel Robert H. Jackson. The book became one of the foundational texts in Holocaust studies, and the study of totalitarianism, mass violence, and genocide studies.”
Józef Rotblat, Nobel Peace Laureate, 1995
“Sir Joseph Rotblat KCMG CBE FRS (4 November 1908 – 31 August 2005) was a Polish physicist, a self-described ‘Pole with a British passport’. During World War II he worked on Tube Alloys and the Manhattan Project, but left the Los Alamos Laboratory on grounds of conscience after it became clear that Germany had ceased development of an atomic bomb in 1942.
His work on nuclear fallout was a major contribution toward the ratification of the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. A signatory of the 1955 Russell–Einstein Manifesto, he was secretary-general of the Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs from their founding until 1973 and shared, with the Pugwash Conferences, the 1995 Nobel Peace Prize ‘for efforts to diminish the part played by nuclear arms in international affairs and, in the longer run, to eliminate such arms.’ (...) The Pugwash Conferences are credited with laying the ground work for the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963, the Nonproliferation Treaty of 1968, the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972, the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 and the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993. In parallel with the Pugwash Conferences, he joined with Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Bertrand Russell and other concerned scientists to found the World Academy of Art and Science, which was proposed by them in the mid-1950s and formally constituted in 1960.”
Benjamin Ferencz: Law, not war
“Benjamin Berell Ferencz (March 11, 1920 – April 7, 2023) was an American lawyer. He was an investigator of Nazi war crimes after World War II and the chief prosecutor for the United States Army at the Einsatzgruppen trial, one of the 12 subsequent Nuremberg trials held by US authorities at Nuremberg, Germany. (...) Later he became an advocate of international rule of law and for the establishment of an International Criminal Court. From 1985 to 1996, he was an adjunct professor of international law at Pace University. (...) In March 2022, an audio clip of Ferencz was played during the eleventh emergency special session of the United Nations General Assembly and he later gave an interview to BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He said that Vladimir Putin should be 'behind bars' for his war crimes, and that he was 'heartbroken' over atrocities in Ukraine.”
The Abolition of War by Krzysztof Wodiczko
Fragment of Ukrainian Professor Says Russia is Stealing Ukraine by Max Kovalov
“For Ukraine, Russia’s 'special military operation' means the loss of people, territory, wealth, language, culture and sovereignty. Russia is taking not only its land, people, power plants, agricultural equipment and wealth – but also its language and cultural heritage. The Russian government is effectively trying to eradicate the Ukrainian identity. Russia is stealing Ukraine.
The theft began in 2014, when Russia annexed the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Shortly after, Russia started supporting separatists in the Donbas region, providing them with military training, equipment and economic support. In the annexation and the war in the Donbas region from 2014 to 2020, Ukraine lost $280 billion in output, trade and investment – not to mention 14,000 Ukrainian lives.
Since the full-scale invasion in February, 200,000 children have been abducted and transported to Russia for resettlement. The forceful removal of children from Ukrainian cities occupied by Russia has been nothing less than a state-organized kidnapping campaign – what the Russian media refers to as 'saving the children'.
In addition to vandalizing apartments of ordinary citizens and stealing electronics, clothes, shoes and even cosmetics, Russian soldiers have stolen artifacts from museums and churches in more than 250 cultural institutions and centers. In Kherson, the occupiers launched an assault on the Ukrainian education system by imposing Russian curriculum in schools and restricting the use of the Ukrainian language – the destruction of which has been sought by Russian leaders for centuries.”
Continue reading on this website: https://today.cofc.edu/2022/08/09/ukrainian-professor-says-russia-is-stealing-ukraine/
Fragment of Why Lying Has Become a National Pastime by Marilyn Murray
“Many Russians lie on a regular basis. They lie even when they don't have to lie. It is a national pastime. It can proceed from the small 'white lie' of a family member to one of major proportions from a government official. But often, most Russians are not deceived and know when a statement is a falsehood.”
Continue reading on this website: https://www.themoscowtimes.com/2012/10/22/why-lying-has-become-a-national-pastime-a18754