Here is another combination of music and art. The art is by the Russian artist Fyodor Bronnikov, who mainly worked in Italy. The song is sung by one of the most popular Europop artists today, Alessandro Safina. Indeed, his voice is of operatic quality, and, as a tenor, he could give the late Luciano Pavarotti a run for his money.
Thursday, 15 November 2007
Varka (Karl Lemokh, 1893)
Whilst I was collecting images on one of my favourite Russian websites today, I ran across this painting. It is so adorable, I cannot resist posting it now. Don’t you wish to mother and hug her? No comments from you fellows concerning feminine sentimentality and treacly gushiness… we DO know how to get even, boys!
“Varka” is a diminutive for “Varvara” (“Barbara”) (it is only a coincidence that her name and mine match… truly!).
Autumn Presents (Valery Badakva, 2004)
Here is another painting from Valery Badakva, this time a still life. Quite appropriate, for this time of year, is it not?
Let’s Take Care of the Children Hurt by the Fascist Barbarbians! (Soviet poster, period of the Second Great Patriotic War)
On the one hand, we should not restrict our fighting men with senseless restrictions dreamed up by politicians safe in their offices. That is very true. On the other, war is a very serious enterprise not to be embarked upon lightly. This is not only because many in the military die on the field of battle, but many innocents die and suffer as well.
Today, many Americans have forgotten the brutality and bestiality of the Nazis, especially in their occupation of Russia. Slavs were untermenschtum (“sub-humanity”), fit only to be exploited for the benefit of their German masters. Oddly enough, most of the Russian and Ukrainian peasants welcomed the Wehrmacht, they saw them as freeing them from the yoke of the commissars. Yes, posters stating, “Hitler the Liberator” appeared in many towns and villages. The people truly felt that way. Yet, the Germans threw all that good will away. Had they aided the anti-communist Russians, I can assure you that history would have been different. Racism of the most virulent sort coloured the reactions of the Germans. Racism is a word overused in PC circles today, so, its impact has been muted by misuse. The Germans actually felt the Russians to be inferior simply on racial grounds, and they acted accordingly.
Erich Koch, the Reichsleiter of the Ukraine put it bluntly. “It does not matter if 10,000 Ukrainian women die digging an anti-tank ditch for Germany, as long as the ditch is dug”. That was actually one of the milder statements of this monster. Men such as this did not scruple at such things as age, sex, or disability. People were press ganged into slave labour in Germany, crops were confiscated without thought for the survival of the peasants, and the Nazis killed all those who opposed them.
Today, there are people in Russia in their late 60s and early 70s who were children during the Second Great Patriotic War. Many faced short rations, deprivation, and still others lost a parent (or both!). The worst-off were those who had been brutalised by the German occupiers. Often, such children also were alone in the world, their parents being dead or lost in slave labour camps. That is the subject of this poster. It is not propagandistic exaggeration. Many children needed help, both physical and moral, to recover form the ravages of the war. They are the grandparents of today, and they are passing their precious memories to their grandchildren. You see, they WERE helped, they were aided to come back to a normal life, and no hater of the Soviet system can say otherwise. People opened their hearts, and that is how the healing took place.
That is why we should never go to war lightly. The children are hurt. Anyone who cannot understand that is an amoral monster. Also, those who oppose all war indiscriminately are unthinking bloody fools (knee-jerk pacifism is not part of the Orthodox faith, despite the bloviating of the “Orthodox Peace Fellowship”). Remember the child in the poster when such is discussed. It is deeper than you think…
Reflect on what General Sherman said, “War is hell, unrefined”. If you wish a definition of that, look at this poster.
A male chorus (is this the classic Valaam Ensemble recording?) sings the old Tsarist anthem against a backdrop of images and video from pre-Revolutionary Russia. Thanks to Fr Andrew for providing this link to me.