How To Tell If You've Won The War

Updated: Aug 16, 2018

|||Blog post No.4|||


"Arise, vast country, Arise for a fight to the death Against the dark fascist forces, Against the cursed hordes."

'The Sacred War' by Vasily Lebedev-Kumach


I've been here in Polenova through a few events:

Israel's Holocaust day.

Memorial day - Following a week later.

Independence day - immediately after Memorial day.

Victory day - May 9th - Russia commemorates the surrender of Nazi Germany.

Israel's Netta is winning the Eurovision song contest.

May 14th - 70th anniversary of the Israeli declaration of independence.

Trump moves the American embassy to Jerusalem

Gaza strip deadly border demonstration

May 15th Nakba


It is very easy to get swirled up by the political cries and accusations, the wind like shouts on social media. I thought it would be easier not to when you're not there at home... I was wrong.

Something happened with the concentration of all these events + spending time in Russia. I watch it like a spreaded map on a table. The rise of nationalism, the victims, the supposed winners and all the escapism nutty chocolate in the middle.


May 14th (The Bell Has Rung But The Queen Is Underwater) ,

Triptych, 2018, alcohol ink on synthetic paper.


Polenovo museum and national park is basically located close to a tiny village, that it close to a bigger village, that is close to a little town, that is close to a big town, that is close to Tula city, and all of this is in Tula district, south of Moscow district, Russia.


I'm staying in this beautiful artist residency here in Polenovo... The nature is big and 19th century romantic emotions are at highest level.

Taking a little trip with the car to the supermarket, amazed by the houses- so old and so new at the same time... Some cows on the way.... a few WW2 monuments with fire and flowers.... WAIT, WHAT???!!!!

Yes, the monuments are everywhere! and not only they are everywhere, just standing there, no no, they are fully visited and taken care of. Fresh flowers, actual flames, helmets on the loose, just like that on the side of the road in the countryside. UNBELIEVABLE. Or is it?




Kozak taking care of the anonymous soldier

I asked Yulia, my translator and friend from Polenova, about this phenomenon and she said that this is something pretty new... Something that had risen in the past few years or perhaps only then she'd noticed it.


Why now? What's the purpose?

Asked and answered: In order to stimulate national solidarity and a strong identity you must have the reminder of great accomplishments as a nation. must feel united and emotional.

The thing is- i'm feeling it working on me too! and i'm not even a bit Russian (on the contrary).


Thinking of Russian people's lives through the last century, and also the few before it, makes The War a light point.

It's a harsh thing to say... I know. So many deaths, hunger, suffering... But hey- They've won.

And not only that! than they had comradity, brotherhood. By their victory songs you tell is the no.1 driving force of the Red army moral.

With this big win of the 20th century, Putin is steering Russia into the nationalist-patriotic future of our world. Intending to forget everything that happened in between.

Putin is recreating roots for those without the history of family because of the Soviet cut.

A moment of truth:

I must admit, inside me, there lives a little proud monster. One that enjoys the parades, the majoric marches and all that national fiesta. It really doesn't matter who it belongs to. Israel, America, Russia, Iran or even dark dictatorships of the past (actually, especially). If they got the right tune and the emotionally packed order of soldiers- I'm in tears of sublime happiness.

It took me many years to acknowledge this part of me, but what can I do? it's built in.

Don't worry. I'm aware that it's complete fascistic rooted beauty. But it's still beauty.


May 9th 2018 Victory day ceremony at Polenovo

Weird fact:

During Victory day ceremony it's common to drink a shot of Vodka and eat a piece of bread.

In memory of the lost comrades who'd fell bravery in battle.

*When I heard of it I could only think of the parallelization to jesus wine and bread as in - wine is blood and bread is body. So... Vodka is blood...? hmmmm


Yes, the kid has got a gun. Remember, they won. They can do whatever they want. There are no victims here, only winners. Their day is a mix of memorial and independence day.

Another weird fact: under this stone in the pic above, is a huge grave. BUT the stone has some names on it so here is an exception of the anonymous soldier and brother graves.



Top video:

Russian version





Bottom video:

Israeli version







One last thought:

During my time here in Polenova i've watched endless films about russia. Films about the war, about soviet time, some older, some newer... The thing that caught my eye is that unclear attitude towards Russia. It's the country that the west love's to blame and at the same time give credit to.


They won the war.


Got to read this far? post the last sentence in a comment on the Facebook post of this blog entry. Perhaps you'll get a ribbon.








© Elinor Sahm