11/3/2022 – A War Parable

From Maia Mikhaluk in Kyiv: 252nd day of ruzzian invasion. The other day we watched Netflix movie All Quiet on The Western Front. It shows very graphically how ugly, brutal and inhumane war is. It’s a very heavy to watch for anyone, but I think it’s especially hard for Ukrainians because it’s not just about the war that was long time ago, it’s about our reality today. It is happening on our land for 252 days on a massive scale.

The thing that annoyed us about the movie is how it tricks you into sympathizing with German soldiers – they are the center of narrative. “Poor German boys” are suffering in trenches from cruel French artillery. French are so harsh and inflexible in negotiation with German officials. Meanwhile “poor German boys” are dying even while looting homes of inhospitable French farmers.

It will be good to remember how in the beginning of the movie German boys were enthusiastically signing up for the army and cheering the promise to walk on streets of Paris very soon. They wanted to invade another country and walk on the main square of the capital of that country as conquerors. Instead they got what they deserved – they were defeated.

If you watch a movie and catch yourself feeling sympathetic towards Germans, do an experiment, watch this movie through the eyes of a Ukrainian. Perspective matters. In any war there are two sides, two armies. Most likely soldiers in both armies will suffer, but in one army they are suffering to protect their land, in another they are suffering because they are invaders.

Another theme surfaces in the movie – that it’s not ordinary people, but leaders/generals who want war. They are the bad guys! Yes, they are bad. But German boys cheering the idea of walking as conquerors on streets of Paris are bad guys too.

When ruzzia gets defeated the narrative of bad leaders and poor people will be pushed hard. Let’s not forget how in the beginning of the war 85% of ruzzians were supporting war. They expected it to be a fun “movie” to watch on TV and to feel good about themselves. Even now, when they discovered that it would not be a show to watch, but possibly a personal horror to participate in, they either run out of the country or submit to mobilization. Both groups a part of the crimes their country commits. Their compliance now is not any better than the enthusiasm they were showing in the beginning of the war.

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