Diary of War

14 March 2022

Day nineteen

Anna [on the move]

Our next destination is Berlin, but there are so many people at the station that we can’t get on the train. Everyone wants to be first, putting an end to this nightmare as soon as possible. A girl sits in the hallway, guarding her bags and wrapped in all sorts of blankets. I think she is about eight or nine years old. 

The worst thing is not the crowd itself, but that we’re all overcome by the same level of fear and panic. Margo and I miss the train. We buy a ticket for the next one so we are sure to have a seat, but that doesn’t happen either. Refugees pour into the station like a tsunami. They fill every platform and room. All organisation, all solidarity is abandoned. We try to join a queue, but it’s so scattered that it is impossible to find the beginning and the end of it. Again, we don’t make it. 

By some miracle, we manage to get on another train, but we have to stand for part of the journey. We’re surrounded by people. Some don’t even realise where they are going. And no one knows when we might return home. 

I am impressed with Poland’s green fields and beautiful houses. They remind of Ukraine’s meadows and its incredible forests, which at times seem like a fairy tale. They remind me of my beautiful Odessa, with the smell of the sea in the morning and the singing swallows. I am in tears the whole way. I want to turn around and run home, even on foot, even if I’m already halfway.

It’s a feeling that tears you up inside. You pace around like a caged animal. You remember every smell and sound, every laugh at family gatherings, every ray of sunshine that ever touched your cheek. And after that, you remember the tears, the sounds of sirens and gunshots. And everything inside you just shatters into little shards.