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The Bloodlands examines an area of Europe that extends from Lithuania in the north to Ukraine in the south, cutting a swath in which Hitler and Stalin inflicted inconceivable suffering on the local populations.

There are still questions about who did what and to whom. Generally speaking, there is a profusion of accusations and a myriad of distortions of history.

In “The Bloodlands”, I attempt to tell about how these old traumas affect a new community. I have travelled all over Ukraine, but I have narrowed the project down to generally taking place in Berdychev, a small town about 30 km south of Kiev.

Berdychev was a flourishing town before Hitler and Stalin went on the rampage. It was the main seat of the Jewish population in Ukraine prior to World War II. Today, this town has stagnated. Unemployment is high and there are formidable social problems.

In this town, I met Leonida, among others. This 88-year-old lady recounted her experiences during the ‘Holmodor’, the great famine, when three million people died. I have also met hopeful but hardened young criminals.

The common denominator is that they all have a dark side. There is a collective historic trauma that has made its mark on all those who live here. Now once again, people fear the eastern wind.

See more of Tomm W. Christiansen’s work on his website.

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