Our brain works in a mysterious way. How it comes that early in the morning when I woke up naturally at 6 am (why???) suddenly the memories from my past popped up. Not one but many!

Winter. Snow. Sound of sirens and heavy military tanks on cobblestones. Why this particular memory? Whatever has been happening in Ukraine and Europe now – it relates to me as well.  It triggers my memory. Suddenly I have been traveling on a memory line to the past.  All the pictures I see on TV,  tanks, soldiers, people desperately trying to escape their country, crying children,  bombs exploding, destroyed buildings, fires, the sound of a siren that signifies war – it is so familiar!

I am not so old to remember II WW.  I was raised in Poland in a  post-war communist era,  behind the Iron Curtain, where at school we had a subject “Civil Defense Training”. We learned about nuclear weapons, nuclear, chemical, and biological wars.  We learned about rackets, bombs, machine guns. All kinds of weapons of mass destruction. We had “in the field” exercises where we run with the gas masks on our faces, like in the army. And we had shooting training as well.  Somewhere in the back of our minds, the war was with us.  As far as I remember the enemy was supposed to come from the West.  It has changed when The Berlin Wall falls on the 9th of November 1989  and the collapse of the Soviet Union on the 26th of December 2021. We were already 3 months in Australia. The enemy since then has been expected from the East.

I remember shooting 45 workers who were going to work in Gdynia by the Polish People’s Army,  and tanks on the streets of my home town Gdansk in December  1970. I was 14 years old.  The Soviet Army troops were at the Polish-Ukrainian border ready to invade Poland in case the Polish government was not able to deal with their internal problems. Soviet troops were in East Berlin to go too.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter in 1980  there was the era described in Wikipedia as Polish Crises of 1980-81. My husband was in the army. It was compulsory for all men over 18 years old.  The Soviet Army troops were again ready in East Berlin and Ukraine to “help” the Polish government. The possibility of war was so close.

 

On 13th December 1981, martial law was announced in Poland and finished on 22 July 1983. My younger daughter was 3 months old.

I know what does it mean to be in the middle of chaos. Our everyday life was restricted by the military junta to counter political opposition. A curfew was from 8 pm.

We were not invaded by the Soviets, but it was so close. Our towns were not destroyed by bombs and tanks. But we had radioactive clouds traveling from Chernobyl without any borders. It was a nuclear accident on the 26th of April 1986.  It is considered the worst nuclear disaster in history in cost and casualties. The implications are even today. My daughters were 6 and 3 years old.  The government distributed potassium iodide to all residents in Poland to prevent our thyroid glands from absorbing radiation.   It was an invisible danger. You don’t feel radioactive particles. You can’t touch them.  The strength of the radiation was 7/10 – 185 million curies of radionuclides escaped into the atmosphere. Up till today millions of acres of forests and farmland have been contaminated and still are.  Livestock has been born deformed, not to mention babies being deformed and up till now, humans have been suffering long-term negative health effects. Birth defects and mental health are the major long-term results of this accident.

For the last 3 weeks, I have been living in fear. Fear of nuclear disaster.  This time it is not an error, it is not an earthquake and tsunami-like in Japan in 2011 at  Fukushima.

Why? Because it is enough to disable the system which cools the nuclear fuel. How long the generators can work? How to replace them under the bombs from the sky?

I feel for all the Ukrainian people who are homeless,  who seek refuge in Poland, and other European countries. For women and their children separated from their husbands and fathers,  who have stayed in Ukraine to fight the enemy.

We don’t need another war. We need PEACE. All the problems in the world are caused by the way we think.  Can we stop the war using our wisdom?

 

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