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War Diaries

Story: Oksana Matiychuk

Illustration: #OlehGryshchenko

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Oksana, a manager of cultural projects, author and teacher, started keeping her war diaries almost by accident. A few days before the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Oksana was talking to a friend from Cherkasy (a city in the central part of Ukraine), who told her an interesting fact: her family keeps two legal guns at home for shooting back at invaders in case it was necessary. At that time, many people had no idea what the war would be like, but they were already mentally preparing for the worst.


Oksana recorded this story and sent it to her acquaintance from Brandenburg—this woman used to work as a scientific editor in the German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel, and after she retired, she began to write for the largest daily newspaper in Germany, Süddeutsche Zeitung. The German woman immediately offered to write the story for Oksana in more detail, as an article.

On the morning of February 24, Süddeutsche Zeitung asked to update the article once again and immediately printed it. Also, they asked Oksana to keep a full war diary for their publication. She managed to write regularly for several months: every day, Oksana covered urgent events in Ukraine, reflected on her own feelings, described the stories and daily life of Ukrainians, talked about the historical context of relations between Ukraine and Russia.

What surprised the author was the reaction of people: she received dozens of letters from strangers asking how they could help. As a result, thanks to her diaries, Oksana was able to send links to readers where they could make donations for Ukraine.

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