Heldinnen wider Willen
Der Spiegel, 2022

  • I visited two refugee women from Ukraine near Hamburg, Kateryna and Natalia.

    Kateryna Najdionova is 15, she said:

    "There were missiles falling on an airport near us. We could hear the impacts, and my mother said that we must leave Kryvy Rih now. Your father, she said, must not come with us. It was not the first time we talked about it, I was still like in shock because I was about to pack my backpack. I just stuffed clothes in it and nuts, cookies, my flashlight and my cell phone.

    The new school in Germany is nice. But I ask my friends who stayed in Krywyj Rih every day what they are doing now. I ask my father, who is still at home, how the dogs are doing. Grandma and Grandpa have to take care of the dogs when my father has to become a soldier."

    Natalia Kuprianova is 63, she said:

    "The Schaalsee is a quiet place where people come to relax. When I look out the window now, the view is beautiful, you can hear birds chirping. But in my head it is noisy. What I've seen and what I've heard doesn't go back out there.

    It makes me uncomfortable to be the taker here, and to be able to do hardly anything meaningful. I have worked all my life. I was a decorator at the theater, I worked in a wholesale business, in an office, and most recently in a nursing home. I've always earned my own money. I'm not used to it, and it doesn't feel good to give nothing."

    After this assignment, I drove with the protagonists to Mölln, they wanted to do some errands. We drove through the peaceful, sunlit landscape and listened to music, everyone was very quiet, only a few times Natalia emphasized how beautiful Germany was. A dog ran in front of our car, we laughed in relief as it got away with a scare and I realized what a privileged life I lead, when running over a dog would be the worst thing for me at that moment.

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