АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Iryna Myronenko
12 June 2022
Before the war, Marina Frolova lived in Dnipro and worked as a translator. On March 6, she went abroad with her friend. Overcame a difficult road, spending 39 hours on the road.
Before the war, as now, I was an English teacher, working on my own. I had a lot of work, I worked with Ukrainians. I was fascinated by almost everything: for a year and a half I studied ballet in the studio, watched movies, read books, met with friends, was going to go to my loved ones from Kyiv, because I am from the Dnieper. It was interesting for me to live. She made plans for self-development, business development and much more.
A few weeks before February 24, I had a premonition that a full-scale war might break out. Because of this I panicked. In general, I don’t watch the news, but when I leaked some information about the war, I was scared. It was a deep inner fear – slippery and disgusting. Everyone around me said, “Yes, Marino, why are you soaring?” And even the military said that nothing would happen … Then I tried to control myself, understanding what was happening to me.
Honestly, I never thought a full-scale war could happen. It was beyond my comprehension or even imagination. I could never have imagined that. I know that my friends also had such premonitions – someone, even in a few months. My main feeling when I thought something might happen was fear. Wild primal fear.
On February 24, I worked online, I had a lesson scheduled for 8 am. At 7: I wake up and read the following message from my student: “Marino, unfortunately, today 30 classes arrived today – the war has begun in our country.” Immediately, I had a lot of emotions, the most vivid of which were anger (and absolutely everything around), panic and fear. It was then that I realized in my first life that such a panic attack. I used to be quite skeptical about them, but now I understand that since the beginning of the war I have had three panic attacks, I had to look for ways to deal with them. However, this has been and remains more or less calm. There are, of course, sirens, and a few “arrivals”. I was very impressed by how people united in the first days of the war. These homeless people collected bottles and brought them to volunteers who made Molotov cocktails. I live in a high-rise building, we have a common chat at home. And all the people of our house help one, support, protect. This time, being abroad, I stay in the chat house and see how people have become more sensitive. This is what brings tears to my eyes. Even at this price, people come together.
I managed to leave the Dnieper on March 6 at 6:30 am. I decided to go because I couldn’t cope emotionally, I just wanted to run somewhere. The decision to leave was very difficult. At that time, I could not even imagine that I would have to go to live somewhere else. Departure was a kind of chance. I persuaded my friend to come with me, but we did not travel by evacuation train. We listened to a lot of stories, and then saw a video of many people at the station, how difficult it is for them to leave. Therefore, the option with the train was dropped. I don’t have a car either, I can’t drive it. So I didn’t know who I was going with. But a friend of mine, who knew I wanted to leave, called and said he had a client who was driving alone to Europe. And if we are ready, she will take us with her. The first person I consulted about leaving was myself. And then I told my parents that I was leaving. We talked to them and they supported my decision. But this did not reduce the amount of tears – I cried for two days, because my family stayed in Ukraine – my parents and my favorite dog.
We went, unequivocally, “blindly”, because my friend and I had a task to cross the border with Europe and there to understand what to do next. There was an idea to go to refugee camps or somewhere else. Then ate Portugal or Spain, as a last resort. But by fate she found herself in Germany. Just because the girl who drove us went there to her American fiancé. He helped us a lot – he drew up the route we followed. The road was busy. I tried to solve it as an adventure, otherwise I would go crazy. We drove non-stop for 39 hours, there were only 3 of us in the cars. There were terrible traffic jams on the roads, but we followed all the rules of the road. However, some waters – men who saw three girls in the car, specifically blocked our roads and did not allow us to leave. Such was the emergency situation when we were put under oncoming cars. After this situation, we were very angry. It seemed that the evacuation was a situation where we were all in the same boat, and you would be put under a probable accident. So, we took an A4 sheet, wrote huge letters “Witches” on it and hung it on the windshield. This inscription has been our talisman ever since, so it amused the drivers around us, who probably don’t associate with “witches”. In the same way, we passed checkpoints where the soldiers smiled at us and treated us more leniently, because they stopped them.
We had a very interesting company – one girl was driving a car, I was in touch with her family and fiance, who coordinated our movement. The third girl was a navigator – she checked the maps and found some detours where we could not pass or there were big traffic jams. We had a full tank of petrol, but we had 3 more canisters with us, which we had enough to cross the border. We drove non-stop, we had one driver, no one slept to support each other. We did not throw out the canisters and this was our big mistake, because at one point we realized that we were inhaling gasoline and we started hallucinating. So when someone saw a fence in the middle of the road, everyone asked if it was really an obstacle? It was also very memorable how the soldiers at the checkpoints admired us when they saw that there were only 3 women in the car in the middle of the night. They said: “These are our women! With such women we will definitely win!” Then we crossed the border with Moldova, successfully refueled and from there went to Romania. There we were met by our invited drivers and taken by car to Germany. They invited me and my friend with them, said that we could stay with them first.
Now I am in Germany, in the small town of Ansbach, which is located in Bavaria. At first she lived with a friend and her husband, then another Ukrainian woman came there. Not agreeing with the characters and lifestyle of the girls we lived with, my girlfriend and I decided to move to the German neighbors, who asked us. It was very nice and in the first days I did not believe that I received such support from people I almost did not know. Unfortunately, my friend decided to try to go to Ukraine, so now I am left alone, but at the end of June I moved into my apartment. At the same time I will start German courses.
Of course, it can be difficult, especially emotional. Now I have started reading the news, but so that my soul is not torn, I spend this time no more than 10 minutes a day. The most difficult thing is to be far from the neighbors. Probably just a long time ago I stopped crying when I see my family and my dog on video. During these days of war, I lost two people close to me – my cousin and grandfather. The first was the loss of his sister. It was not death because of the war, but it was a blow that was hard to accept.
Because of the war, my life turned upside down. There is one great value – this is my life. I am at home with all my heart and soul, and I am very proud to be Ukrainian! Now I am waiting for integration courses to learn German. Since I am an English teacher, I run courses for people who need it. It is clear that it has lost more customers. But for those who stayed, some lessons are free as volunteers. For me, it is a feeling that I am contributing some part to the victory of Ukraine. I also get to know people, because the Germans received us very warmly. As a token of gratitude, we wanted to introduce the Germans to our great traditions. They were taught to bake Easter cakes and fight Easter eggs
I recently listened to Oleksiy Arestovych and he said what I have felt since childhood – the archetype in our nation is changing. I didn’t like Ukrainian literature very much at school, because the word “victim” was drawn along the red line, which was reflected in our modern life. Now we move from the archetype of “sacrifice” – to “heroes”, and then – “winner”. It is the strength of people and confidence in each other. We can quarrel with each other, but stay together if someone comes against us from the outside. After the victory, there were people in Ukraine who were proud of themselves. Together with these people, our country will change for the better.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Oleksandr Nikitin | Translation: Iryna Myronenko
“The constant whistling of shells overhead was no longer so frightening, but the night bombing of the city was really terrifying.” The story of a man from Chernihiv who lived through the siege of the city