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I am an Untermensch: Ukrainian writer responds to Russia’s “Nazi manifesto”

On 3 April, Russia’s state RIA Novosti published an piece which Ukrainians termed Russia’s Nazi manifesto. Ukrainian writer Ostap Ukrayinets responds to what appears to be Russia’s real plan for Ukraine: to kill or “reeducate” every Ukrainian who does not want to become a “little Russian.”

Ukrainian writer Ostap Ukrayinets / Euromaidan Press


Article first time published on Euromaidan Press web page.


Euromaidan Press Editor’s Note

Ostap Ukrayinets is a Ukrainian writer and translator. In cooperation mostly with Kateryna Dudka, he translated about 20 books into Ukrainian.

The essay below is a reaction to a scandalous article published on 3 April in the state media RIA Novosti, where an influential Russian historian says Ukraine should be “cleansed,” in line with Putin’s notion that “Ukrainian nation does not exist.”

By coincidence, the surname Ukrayinets literally means “Ukrainian.” Explaining why he wrote this essay, Ukrayinets said:

“Suddenly, after the liberation of Kyiv Oblast, it became much, much more difficult to communicate with some foreign friends (guess the country by description). Because the ‘need for dialogue’ is simply the only plan of action they know. Beyond that is a vacuum. And I would not be surprised if some cultural institutions now force Russians to discuss Ukraine with redoubled force, because this is the ceiling of their understanding of cultural dialogue. [This essay contains] emotions rather than analysis.”

“The death is so easy to comprehend, as long as it’s not yours.” Serhii Zhadan

I am an Untermensch

I am an Untermensch. A sub-human. The one to either be killed or re-educated until I believe that I am not myself but a part of a greater Russian nation. I belong to it because Russia says so, and who am I to argue with the entire state propaganda machine?

I should be put into a filtration camp and next — either perish in a lime pit or perish in exile to Siberia, Sakhalin, or any other part of the Russian Empire. Alas, I am a writer and philologist, which makes me guilty of knowing and spreading the knowledge they want us to forget. Alas, I spoke out about being Ukrainian, which makes me a Nazi.

Alas, my family name literally translates as “Ukrainian,” so one look at my passport would suffice. All this makes death a much more probable outcome. The same can be said about most of my friends. We are guilty of being Ukrainians. That’s what Russia says and we’re supposed to listen to “both sides,” aren’t we?

It’s not that bad, though. People in more “safe” professions would have a choice. You don’t need to die for being Ukrainian if you pretend you’re a Russian. Even if you don’t believe that at first. Fake it till you make it, till this mimicry becomes part of your skin. Have you ever wondered why so many Ukrainians speak Russian? That’s why.

Being a Ukrainian was not tolerated in the past and cannot be accepted now. Russian ideology is based on the fact that Ukrainians are one people with Russians, and denying this means confronting Russia.

Those guilty of it will be punished. Even if we’re talking about a country with at least one-third of the Russian population. Even worse, there is an entire country of Ubermenschen. They dare to think they are humans with their dignity, rights, language, and culture.

That is genuinely convenient: you cannot commit war crimes against us sub-humans because it is no war, a mere “special operation.” You cannot be guilty of genocide of Ukrainian people if you don’t recognize they exist. Your point is as valid as the point of those you kill. And it really works out just fine, doesn’t it?

I am an Untermensch, but I know that well. This was Russian state propaganda for years. But now they’ve decided to declare it to the entire world, publishing it in their state media. The only thing that bothers me here is double standards. If we do not exist, why do I keep hearing, “It’s horrible, but Russia also has a point, and both sides are to blame?”

If Russia has a point, there are no sides to this. We don’t exist, after all.

“The truth is somewhere in between” as many “liberal-thinking” media keep reporting. I’m not sure what lies between a will to survive and a genocide. Sure, we can’t suppose that one side of this war not only lies constantly but has been doing it for decades for this same goal.

After all, this side was a respectable business partner all these years. And if your respectable business partner tells you that his neighbours are his sphere of interest, this sounds reasonable enough.

After all, according to this respectable business partner, this neighbour doesn’t even exist. All you have to do is wait until this business partner murders all who disagree. This is not their first time, and they know what to do.

I stop existing every time I see a Communist or a Russian flag. They eliminate me. They show me that I do not exist, should not exist, and must be eliminated for dissenting.

But then, these are just flags. How can I be against symbols under which my kinsmen were massacred time and again since 1917? That was years ago. How could it possibly hurt me to see people proudly waving them in European capitals? How, indeed.

How can I be against my own death if there is no “I”; there is only Russian “we, the brothers?” Sure, I should shut the fuck up and listen to what Russian liberals have to say. After all, they are adults here. It should be about them once again.

Meanwhile, I’m just an Untermensch. Thanks for the constant reminders.


You can read the original RIA article in English, German, Hebrew



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