Aggression leaves deep traces: both the war of aggression against Ukraine and the attack by Hamas against civilians. How to deal with?

Soldiers of the Ukrainian Honor Guard take part in a national flag-raising ceremony during a memorial service.  Russian war of aggression against Ukraine lasts two years

The crunch is what is not seen, what is hidden Photo: Efrem Lukatsky/dpa

There are many cracks in my life, and it was only a few weeks ago, when I was sitting on my couch, that I felt the cracks that had been left in my biography, in my daily life.

The death of Alexei Navalny has just been announced and people are taking to the streets in Russia. I think: Will this country ever be free of Putin's rule? Will it ever stop being an inhumane place? And feel: the loss of something. One more time.

The great Roger Willemsen wrote about the rift in his book of the same name many years ago. The rift, he wrote, is visible and divides life in this world and the hereafter. But not the crack. “It is imperceptible, it does not divide, it shapes.”

The crisis is what is not seen, what is hidden. He is something that remains. The crack, on the other hand, is the trauma itself: For me: February 24, 2022, start of the Russian war of aggression; October 7, Hamas terrorist attack on Israel.

Uncertain whereabouts

These two cracks destroyed a lot for me and deeply shook my life. And it must be said that there are people who feel these cracks even more strongly than I do. The Ukrainians themselves, who are attacked every day. People in Israel who lost family and friends on October 7 and those whose loved ones are still held captive in Gaza, whose whereabouts are uncertain.

These cracks have stolen places from my childhood, from the carefree relationship with parts of my own family because they would rather indulge in propaganda than accept the truth, and from friendships that have become fragile or disappeared completely.

If I had to try to describe my crisis it would be: loss. Not the human one that we all experience, finitude. I mean a loss that touches something deeper, basic trust itself.

This crack means the loss of trust in the world, that things can get better, that there is a place for me and that that place is safe.

“Entrance area, hallway, no windows”

When war broke out on February 24, 2022, some Ukrainian Jews fled to Israel. An escape in the hope of being safe. Then October 7th came and these people once again experienced that there was no safety for them. Some of these people are now fleeing back to Ukraine. How grotesque is that?

A crack like a splinter in the heart that won't go away

At an event I moderated some time ago, Ukrainian playwright Pavlo Arie spoke about his nephew who made aliyah to Israel before the Russian war of aggression began. He escaped war and trauma without knowing it, but then, on October 7 in Israel, it caught up with him. In his diary, which he began on February 24 and published later, Pavlo describes how this nephew gave him advice on which rooms in his apartment would be best protected from Russian missiles, that is, “the entrance area, the hallway, “bare walls, no windows.”

There is a continuity here that most people probably wouldn't suspect. The Russian war of aggression especially affected the Jewish community in Germany. Almost half of the Jews here have their roots in Ukraine. And on October 7, the Jewish community had to face another attack, another loss.

Perhaps it is like this: repetition of trauma leads to a long-term crack. So this, my crack, is not something that I only carry inside me. It is also necessary to understand it collectively. This crack is like a splinter in the heart that has found its place there. And once life is broken, everything changes forever.