Simon O'CorraMay 19, 2022
St. Sophia Cathedral & Kyiv-Pechersk Lavra,
Lviv Historic Centre,
Struve Geodetic Arc,
Virgin Beech Forests of the Carpathians,
Residence of Bukovinian and Dalmatian Metropolitans.
Wooden Churches of the Carpathian Region,
The seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites listed above can be regarded as the creme de la creme of cultural heritage in Ukraine, in the rest of the world's eyes at least.
They are well known places and most likely, to get attention in the media, if they are damaged or destroyed by the aggressive shelling of the Russian's during the current invasion.
UNESCO and Ukranian experts say that at least 5 of the above places are at risk. It is not clear whether Russia is targeting individual sites or that damage is caused by the kind of artillery being used, so called Accidental Attacks!
But what of lesser known and perhaps more culturally specific sites that are perhaps going unnoticed? For instance, the 1000 Doors of Odessa Project, is a means to record and save a wealth of hidden doorway gems in the city which would presumably be in danger if the Russians attacked.
There are many other sites in this beautiful and historically important independent country, many devoted to particular regions that they are based in and with their own distinct cultures and especially vernacular architecture, developed over centuries. These places may be of even more interest to Ukrainians, as they perhaps evoke the spirit of their own country and its cultural history even more. The national memory of Ukraine is encapsulated in them. The people's souls and identities are entrenched in them also.
Kharkiv, the second largest city of the Ukraine has had more than its share of bombing and shelling, an example being of the Building of Court Institutions by Oleksiy Beketov, a significant exponent in the Art Nouveau and other styles. This building was, early on in the invasion, destroyed in an air raid. The roof was blown off and every inch inside turned to ashes.
In other parts of the country, in the small city of Uman for instance, which was attacked in the first days of the invasion, of particular worry was the safety of the tomb of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the founder of the Breslov Hasidic movement. As a result of the past injustices perpetrated by the Russians against Jews in the 19th and 20th centuries, the existing Jewish population of Uman has recently dwindled from 600 to 60 since Russian began its attack. However some stoic members of the community have chosen to stay and open the doors of the synagogue as a bomb shelter for everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.
But of great concern also to the Jewish population of the Ukraine is a recent attack on a Kyiv TV tower struck in the vicinity of Babyn Yar shrine -- a site of mourning for more than 30,000 Jew massacred there by Nazi killing squads in 1941, one of the worst mass murders of Jews during the Holocaust. The current Jewish population of the Ukraine stands at just under 400,000 and this makes it the third largest in Europe. But. Back in 1941 the Jewish Population stood at 2.7 million and the country has therefore a historically strong Jewish culture.
Another aspect of cultural heritage that is being routinely destroyed is that of Museums with one in Cheriniv, being obliterated during the savage shelling of the city. It's director has posted on social media the fact that this museum survived World War One and Two but that the Russians had succeeded where others had failed, but would in due course face war crimes trials for their wanton destruction of Ukrainian culture.
In yet another sign of the Ukrainian capacity to withstand the aggressors' incursions. The Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in Odessa, stands defiantly against an expected attack from Russian forces. It's style is in the Italian Baroque, but in a nod to the cities history Greek based pre- Russian history, there are countless references in sculptures and reliefs to Greek Mythology in honor of the original Greek settlement there.
Something I have not touched upon in this series of articles so far has come to light in researching for the plight of the Odessa National Academic Opera and Ballet and that is the issue of the performing and plastic arts. Despite the closure of the building performances are still being held outside, a defiant act bolstered by the company's director. Future articles will focus on the performance and creative arts and the impact on them of the Russian Invasion with regular updates on the Russian War Crimes perpetrated on the country of Ukraine as they unfold.
Simon O'Corra has been a creative since childhood, working in theatre and film and also as a designer and artist. He now combines all these skills to write monologues, duologues, short and feature films and plays. He also has experience in the following: copywriting, research, mind mapping and brainstorming, script editing and mentoring. Simon is a people's person and is a great networker. He currently has a range of short and feature films in development and plays also awaiting production dates post-Covid.