Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Contaminated Memories

Posted in Historia & Memoria, Interna by Suzanne on April 26th, 2006 | BBC Wikipedia


© Seth Design - click on images to enlarge

'Later a haematology professor told me I had been very unlucky: I was in the wrong place at the wrong time of my pregnancy.

Anya is like a house plant. She has a very rare blood disease and almost no immunity. In 2004 she caught meningitis and was in a coma for three days. A doctor told me it was all over, but she pulled through.

In the 1990s a law was passed, which promised benefits to Chernobyl invalids, but it said nothing about child invalids. Together with some other parents I formed an organisation, 'Flowers in the Wormwood', which successfully lobbied for the law to be changed.

There is a tendency now to play down the problem of Chernobyl, and, if possible, to forget it. Once the 20th anniversary has passed, I think the state will begin to withdraw support.'

(Lena Kostuchenko, 39, a Chernobyl zone evacuee about her daughter Anya, 19)

I don't remember much about my childhood except that I loved reading books under my blanket, that my brother always had the best C64 games and the stupidest haircuts, that my mum cooked the best lasagna on earth, that my dad looked like Don Camillo and that he was the Easter Bunny. You can't deny it any longer. I've seen you hiding chocolate Easter eggs in the garden when I was 5. Yes.

However, I do remember spring 1986. I had just turned 7 and it was the last spring before I entered primary school. Near the end of April, something terrible happened in a place east of us, a country I've never even heard of before. I remember my mum talking to other mums about whether it was still safe to drink milk and to let the children play outside. I was a child who detested the outside world anyway. I preferred to stay at home and read ghost and witch stories. So when my mum told my brother and me that we should better stay indoors for a while, I was instantly filled with much glee.

It was two years later at the time of the Kaiseraugst controversy in Switzerland, when my father explained me why he had a "Strom ohne Atom" sticker, that I slowly began to understand what had really happened back then in the Ukraine... and that it could happen again.

_________________________________________

Please take a few minutes of your time today to visit these sites:

Nuclear Nightmares - 20 Years Since Chernobyl
Radiating Places - A Requiem of a Special Kind
Chernobyl Legacy
BBC's In Depth on Chernobyl
BBC's Chernobyl - The Accident
BBC's Chernobyl Diary I, II
BBC's Chernobyl Image Gallery I, II, III, IV, V
National Geographic's Photo Gallery: Chernobyl, 20 Years After the Disaster
NPR's Voices of Chernobyl - Survivors' Stories
Telepolis: Radioaktive Verseuchung um Tschernobyl heute gefährlicher als 1986
Thee Forum on Chernobyl controversies

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14 comments to " Contaminated Memories "

  1. Gravatar

    Tom says:

    what do you mean by stupidest haircuts? you could have told me, goddammit! it would have made my teenage years much easier. i now know why i was never invited to parties and stuff. but hey: nowadays people ask me who my hairdresser is. it's zurichs poshiest place http://www.kandis.ch and just that the world knows: little missy wurzeltod listened to modern talking, then switched to jason donovan and once said that she will stay a roxette fan for the rest of her life.

    April 26th, 2006 at 12:32 am

  2. Gravatar

    Suzanne says:

    :shock:

    It was all just a... uhmm... test to see whether you're actually... err... reading all this nonsense here. I was referring to the infamous "Frau Weder" cooking pot haircut - if you know what I mean. *nudge nudge*

    Anyway, this is a serious thread, about serious people with serious problems.

    Also, no more product placement in this blog unless it's for gasmasks, decontamination suits and/or powdered milk or else... :?

    April 26th, 2006 at 12:41 am

  3. Gravatar

    devon says:

    i just wanted to say thanks for putting up the chernobyl links. it is disturbing how quietly the anniversary came and left. i've pressed the links on my friends. i encouraged my little brother and sister to look at them, too. i don't want to hear them say in five years "what's a chernobyl?"

    thanks for doing good work.

    devon

    April 26th, 2006 at 8:36 pm

  4. Gravatar

    Suzanne says:

    Thank you so much for your encouraging words, Devon. I must admit that I'm quite shocked that most bloggers totally ignored the 20th anniversary. I just felt the urge to change that and to keep the memory alive. I'm very glad that at least someone appreciates this. Thank you. It means a lot to me.

    April 26th, 2006 at 9:38 pm

  5. Gravatar

    Frau_Wundersam says:

    Unfortunately people tend to ignore any days like this one. Some days ago I was discussing about Chernobyl and a friend of mine admitted, that she has never heard of it.

    Yesterday I watched a documentary about tourist tours to Chernobyl and Pribjat. I've never heard of anything like that before and started a small research. There seem to be several small agencies in the Ukraine, which offer such tours. I have created a small article with the found links (only in German).

    April 27th, 2006 at 1:39 pm

  6. Gravatar

    Suzanne says:

    Thank you very much for your comment and the link, Frau Wundersam. As a matter of fact, I watched the same documentary yesterday. The Themenabend on ARTE was also deeply moving. Beyond all the grief, it's fascinating to see all the wildlife thriving in Chernobyl today now that the biggest (un)natural enemy - the humans - are gone. Obviously, a lot of animals are much less affected by radioactivity than humans, even though they're all contaminated. It's just surreal to see all these species frolicking around the sarcophagus.

    April 27th, 2006 at 1:47 pm

  7. Gravatar

    Frau_Wundersam says:

    The documentaries on arte and 3sat were really good. Especially in comparison with other documentaries - for example on mdr (mitteldeutscher Rundfunk) - where in one documentary they let it look like almost everything was ok in the contaminated area.

    It is strange, that after such a contamination nature is still coming back and overgrowing all the human traces.

    I would like to know how much the rate of genetic mutations in animals has changed after the disaster. But I suppose, there are no large studies about the contamination of animals and plants as well.

    April 27th, 2006 at 2:59 pm

  8. Gravatar

    Suzanne says:

    Hmm.. the BBC reported recently that apart from mice there were almost no mutations (yet) - so no double-headed beasts etc. However, the DNA of local animals has mutated already. You can find the article here. I don't think that the Ukrainian government will ever give money for a long-term study on the effects of radiation on animals, considering how little they give the victims' families.

    April 27th, 2006 at 9:32 pm

  9. Gravatar

    kid37 says:

    The week after the initial desaster, suddenly all vegetables on German markets came from greenhouses. So they said...
    Sadly enough, under our new government (without the Green party now) there is a tendency to vote for nuclear power again.

    April 27th, 2006 at 11:44 pm

  10. Gravatar

    Suzanne says:

    Same here. The assumption that "Chernobyl could never have happened in the non-communist west" is still very popular here. Scientists make up new studies every month claiming that nuclear power is 99.9% safe. All lies.

    And even if... it's those toxic 0.1% that can have a half-life period of several hundred years.

    April 28th, 2006 at 2:37 am

  11. Gravatar

    … pieceoplastic.com - proud to be an utter waste of your bandwidth … » Blog Archive » ruff linkage . 200617 says:

    [...] missie w. on Chernobyl - “I don’t remember much about my childhood except that I loved reading books under my blanket, that my brother always had the best C64 games and the stupidest haircuts, that my mum cooked the best lasagna on earth, that my dad looked like Don Camillo and that he was the Easter Bunny. You can’t deny it any longer. I’ve seen you hiding chocolate Easter eggs in the garden when I was 5. Yes. However, I do remember spring 1986. I had just turned 7 and it was the last spring before I entered primary school. Near the end of April, something terrible happened in a place east of us, a country I’ve never even heard of before. I remember my mum talking to other mums about whether it was still safe to drink milk and to let the children play outside. I was a child who detested the outside world anyway. I preferred to stay at home and read ghost and witch stories. So when my mum told my brother and me that we should better stay indoors for a while, I was instantly filled with much glee.” [...]

    April 29th, 2006 at 6:27 am

  12. Gravatar

    Jen says:

    Yeah, I remember doing the very same thing when I was at school - getting out maps to see exactly where Ukraine was.

    It seemed so far away, and we felt so safe, until reports started appearing on the television and radio about sheep in the Lake District needing to be killed, of farm land that would remain contaminated for decades, that milk was unsafe to drink etc etc.

    And that was when it hit home that this was serious and scary and not far away at all.

    It's staggering to think that people have forgotten this already, that something so terrifying, the consequences of which we are still living with today, should be discarded as some past event with no meaning.

    Forgetting, of course, helps politicians put forward their case for nuclear power, and stifles debate on the merits of sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar and wave.

    The UK for example seems to be edging towards the nuclear option and this despite their having been no audit as to how much energy we waste today, how much can be generated via alternative sources and how this weighs against going nuclear.

    It's disgraceful really and very disappointing.

    We have sources of energy at are disposal that are GUARANTEED safe,so why even consider the nuclear option above all others?

    Nuclear has no guarantees. The politicians should look into the faces of the victims of Chernobyl, then tell us it's safe.....

    Thanks for posting this. Your right that we should never forget.

    Jen

    April 29th, 2006 at 3:58 pm

  13. Gravatar

    Erebos.org says:

    Un sinistre anniversaire

    Il y a à peine plus de vingt ans, la plus grave des catastrophes nucléaires de l’histoire se produisit en URSS. Maintenant, l’Union soviétique n’existe plus, mais les conséquences de ce drame continuent à se faire sentir dans la ...

    April 29th, 2006 at 9:39 pm

  14. Gravatar

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    April 7th, 2013 at 5:38 am

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