March 13 | Pers

March 13, 2020 is written in fire letters in my memory. It’s the day, Friday the 13th, when I pick up my computer at Pers and said goodbye to my colleagues, thinking that I would meet them at the office in two or three weeks. The day before, the government announced in its first press conference that Quebec was on hiatus.

Posted at 10:00

It’s been two years now. We are just starting to return to the newsroom, gradually, according to Public Health regulations.

But March 13, 2020 in the end is not much compared to February 24, 2022 for Ukraine. That day, they quickly grabbed a few items to make their way into exile, not knowing if they would one day be able to return home.

We can stay at home. They don’t have a home anymore, and everyone wonders if they won’t have a country soon.

I saw a video of a young girl on Twitter explaining to the camera that two weeks ago she was happy with her life. He has a nice apartment in a cool part of Kyiv, plans, future. “I don’t feel like myself now. I’m a different person. Now I’m a refugee. »

What awaited him was not a two-year sentence for watching Netflix in soft linens, one suspect. It is terrible to see war change so many lives overnight. In Afghanistan, in Syria, in Iraq, in any place on the planet where it brings plague.

What happened in Ukraine evoked trauma in Europe, where we killed each other during the two world wars, while wanting to exterminate the scapegoat minority, the Jews. I have seen many documentaries and films about the Second World War, my girlfriend did not understand the fashion I had for a long time. “Hitler yet?” he told me while I was watching a new documentary, and he turned to watch authentic horror films, his true hobby.

We have been fed up with the images of the Second World War, it has profoundly affected the way we see what is happening in Ukraine. On the news, it’s amazing to see some of the similarities. Bombed cities. Civilians lined the streets, took trains, millions arrived in neighboring countries, President Zelensky quoted Churchill, as saying that his people would fight “in the woods, in the fields, on the coasts, on the roads”. But Churchill’s phrase that haunts the West today is: “You want to avoid war at the expense of disgrace. You have disgrace and you will go to war. »

Everyone wants to avoid a full-scale war, which I think makes sense. We wonder if the ordeal of Ukraine that we witness every day is a trap for us to break into and enter the war, not knowing where it will lead us. One wonders if this is really what Putin wants, rather than a specific region. We wondered if, by not responding forcefully, we risked seeing him go further, to test our principles. Is this a trap, or non-intervention?

There was debate when we colored stock footage for a documentary Apocalypse – World War II by Isabelle Clarke and Daniel Costelle. An excellent work of popularization that wants to in this way remember the contemporary character of this historical crisis to a generation that didn’t grow up with black and white imagery. There are those who oppose the process, because it is necessary to respect the integrity of the archives, the memories of the victims. This debate seems distant when you see this warlike image, in color on TV or on Twitter, Facebook and TikTok, but in a story written in the present. When you see a little girl singing a song from Snow Queen in crowded shelters, refugees who only carry backpacks as luggage communicate with their loved ones using iPhones. Social networks will be very important in this conflict. Vladimir Putin censors them in Russia, while the West wonders how to frame them. We still cannot measure the great power in the hands of the few who have these channels of communication.

When the invasion of Ukraine started, I woke up two or three mornings in a row with pictures from books The agenda by ric Vuillard, Prix Goncourt 2017. Often, when the news frightens me, it is literature that pops into my subconscious. I thought of taking refuge in books, and eventually they came back to haunt me to tell me things that were buried. At the start of the pandemic, that Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, I don’t really know why, as I had no particular interest in this book, which is mandatory reading at CEGEP, but it is probably one of the best rereads of my life.

Reading is rereading, my favorite teacher used to tell me.

In the The agendawhich recounts the behind-the-scenes political and economic game that preceded the Second World War, there is this date: March 13, 1938. When Germany annexed Austria.

Vuillard recalled that the German tank at the gates of Vienna was jammed. Now I think it was the rows of Russian tanks at the gates of Kyiv that brought quotes from this novel back to my restless sleep. The destination of the German convoy was blitzkrieg, Lightning attack, but no resistance. Austria tripped over Hitler, not without cleaning up by eliminating opponents. ric Vuillard wrote: “You have to remember that at this point Lightning attack It is nothing. He’s just a jammed panzer. This is just a giant machine breakdown on the Austrian national road, nothing but human anger, a word that came up later like a gamble. And what is astonishing in this war is the unprecedented success, for which we must remember one thing: the world surrendered to bluff. Even the most serious, most rigid world, even the old order, if it never succumbs to the demands of justice, if it never bows before those who rise, bow before bluff. »

Vladimir Putin apparently not bluff, but it is clear that Ukraine, unlike Austria in 1938, resisted the invasion and did not welcome Russian troops with interest. This unexpected turn of events raises everyone’s stakes, threats, sanctions, and anxiety. For 80 years, the world has never danced on the brink so close, as if the old European demons have not spoken their last words. History doesn’t repeat itself, it continues.

Lance Heptinstall

"Hardcore zombie fan. Incurable internet advocate. Subtly charming problem solver. Freelance twitter ninja."

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