Ukraine Tour Day 5 – Day of Contrasts in Chortitza

By Len Friesen, Tour Leader

We started our day today at Eichenfeld, now Dubovka, the sight of a terrible massacre in 1919 by Makhno’s anarchist peasant army.  We stopped on the side of a field where a moving monument was placed a decade or so.  We said a prayer of blessing for the dead, we sang a hymn (“Wehrlos und Verlassen”), and we stood in silence.

Sound strange?  Yes.  Yes it was.  And yet such strange and transformative moments have been everywhere in my visits to Zaporozhue over the years, and this cohort is no exception.    It is a powerful thing indeed when Mennonites return “home” to southern Ukraine for the first time, to walk the land of their mothers and fathers.  That has most certainly been the case with this trip.

Olga talking about the Eichenfeld Massacre.

We then visited our final villages of Franztal and Neuendorf, witnessed more remarkable encounters with local Ukrainians who were going about their day-to-day when we aliens popped by, and then headed for lunch at a Sportsbar in downtown Zaporozhe called “Loft”.

In a Chortitza village

Yes, a Sportsbar, and it was terrific!  As a way to end our time in the colonies we boarded the local meteor/boat in the afternoon and travelled slowly around Chortitza Island with a local school group that seemed intent on befriending all of us.  In the end there were photos taken and best wishes exchanged.

To top it off a few of us gathered in the great square in front of our hotel after our evening meal to take in one more aspect of Soviet/Ukrainian/Russian culture.  There were toasts, but no toast.

Good night to you all from those of us gathered here in TourMagination’s Ukraine 2019 for this remarkable odyssey.

Len Friesen, “outstanding in his field”

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