I am an Untermensch: Ukrainian writer responds to Russia’s “Nazi manifesto”


Culture of Ukraine

On 3 April, Russia’s state RIA Novosti published an piece which Ukrainians termed Russia’s Nazi manifesto. Ukrainian writer Ostap Ukrayinets responds to what appears to be Russia’s real plan for Ukraine: to kill or “reeducate” every Ukrainian who does not want to become a “little Russian.”

Editor’s Note

Ostap Ukrayinets is a Ukrainian writer and translator. In cooperation mostly with Kateryna Dudka, he translated about 20 books into Ukrainian.

The essay below is a reaction to a scandalous article published on 3 April in the state media RIA Novosti, where an influential Russian historian says Ukraine should be “cleansed,” in line with Putin’s notion that “Ukrainian nation does not exist.”

By coincidence, the surname Ukrayinets literally means “Ukrainian.” Explaining why he wrote this essay, Ukrayinets said:

“Suddenly, after the liberation of Kyiv Oblast, it became much, much more difficult to communicate with some foreign friends (guess the country by description). Because the ‘need for dialogue’ is simply the only plan of action they know. Beyond that is a vacuum. And I would not be surprised if some cultural institutions now force Russians to discuss Ukraine with redoubled force, because this is the ceiling of their understanding of cultural dialogue. [This essay contains] emotions rather than analysis.”

“The death is so easy to comprehend, as long as it’s not yours.”
Serhii Zhadan

I am an Untermensch. A sub-human. The one to either be killed or re-educated until I believe that I am not myself but a part of a greater Russian nation. I belong to it because Russia says so, and who am I to argue with the entire state propaganda machine?

Alas, my family name literally translates as “Ukrainian,” so one look at my passport would suffice. All this makes death a much more probable outcome. The same can be said about most of my friends. We are guilty of being Ukrainians. That’s what Russia says and we’re supposed to listen to “both sides,” aren’t we?

Those guilty of it will be punished. Even if we’re talking about a country with at least one-third of the Russian population. Even worse, there is an entire country of Ubermenschen. They dare to think they are humans with their dignity, rights, language, and culture.

That is genuinely convenient: you cannot commit war crimes against us sub-humans because it is no war, a mere “special operation.” You cannot be guilty of genocide of Ukrainian people if you don’t recognize they exist. Your point is as valid as the point of those you kill. And it really works out just fine, doesn’t it?

На зображенні може бути: одна або кілька осіб, люди стоять та на відкритому повітрі

Ostap Ukrayinets and his wife Kateryna Dudka, who work together as translators.

If Russia has a point, there are no sides to this. We don’t exist, after all.

After all, this side was a respectable business partner all these years. And if your respectable business partner tells you that his neighbors are his sphere of interest, this sounds reasonable enough.

After all, according to this respectable business partner, this neighbor doesn’t even exist. All you have to do is wait until this business partner murders all who disagree. This is not their first time, and they know what to do.

But then, these are just flags. How can I be against symbols under which my kinsmen were massacred time and again since 1917? That was years ago. How could it possibly hurt me to see people proudly waving them in European capitals? How, indeed.

How can I be against my own death if there is no “I”; there is only Russian “we, the brothers?” Sure, I should shut the fuck up and listen to what Russian liberals have to say. After all, they are adults here. It should be about them once again.

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