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Yulia, Bucha

“The war showed that family is the most important thing.”

Yulia, 38, from Bucha, Kyiv region. Her daughters Veronika and Barbara are 16 and 8.
The family managed to flee on the 10th day of the war. 

Veronika and Barbara: The war through the eyes of children.

On the first day of the war, we still did not believe that it had begun. Mom went to work, and dad stayed with us. We played with the children of our father’s friends who had come to visit us. There was no more normal food in the shops. The children ate what was usually forbidden: chips and crackers. They were very happy at first, but then everyone got sick. When we left, Barbara had a high temperature of 38.8.

The first rocket hit our house on the 5th day. Our parents had gone to look for water, Barbara was in the basement, and I went to the apartment to get something. And this rocket hit our house in front of our mother’s eyes. We didn’t leave right away because we didn’t have any destination in mind, and we only had 5 liters of gasoline. We left on the 10th day. There were explosions and fire everywhere. We are very lucky. Our mom’s friend left the city an hour later and all three cars with children inside were shot. Only a few managed to survive; they were seriously injured. Volunteers helped us with gasoline and to get out of the city. It was very scary. We remember our mom saying, “Well, we all have to leave, whether we like it or not”. And we thought that we were going to die. We lost our faith and didn’t believe that anything will get better. We took only small backpacks because we might have to run, hid our family albums in the basement, and left the house in the only clothes that we had. We agreed to take only the most valuable things. We took our Maine Coon cat Tykhon. Here in Kraków, we have a new pet – our little dog, because mom always wanted to have one but never had the chance. So we decided to change that. We want to go back to Ukraine. 

Veronika: I grabbed a bottle of perfumes, a gift from my boyfriend. I studied painting at Kyiv University. It seems that I’ve recovered more or less from all these events, but I still cannot paint.

Barbara:  On February 21st, I had my birthday, and my parents gave me a soft toy. I also took perfumes with me, a present from Veronika. 

Julia: The war through the eyes of a woman.

Our children have their own vision of the war. I don’t really want to talk about it at all.On the first day at work, no one knew what to do. Then we were sent home. At that time, we could already hear explosions – it was the bombing of the airport in Hostomel. Bucha is also very close to our place. But it seemed to me that this would end very soon and everything would be fine.

One of the worst days was when we tried to find some water. Everything was still, quiet, and then we heard a whistle. We turned our heads and saw the missile – it looked like a firework –hit the roof of our house next door. I wanted to run from the store to the children, but I was not allowed. I rushed over the threshold, and there was a new shell near our entrance. On the 9th day of the war, my husband and I tried to get a mobile signal near the entrance of the building. We heard the plane, fell to the floor, and the rocket simply demolished a five-story building nearby. Our windows and doors were damaged. We were lucky to be in a safe place between two walls. On the 10th day, we left… Fortunately, we found our cat in the morning. And still, we had to pack our things and clothes. It’s not an easy thing to collect your whole life in 5 minutes! I took an album with me – our family tree, we have all the grandparents there. And my grandfather’s old cap, which dates to World War II. This is our memory, and the rest we will be able to buy.

Text by Viktoria Mudritska

An exhibition by the Galicia Jewish Museum,

Krakow, Poland

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