Forced to Relive Childhood Horrors in Old Age

When she first heard that Ukraine was under attack by an invading army, Halyna Semibratska, now 101 years old, was confused.

“It’s not the Germans who have attacked us?” Ms. Semibratska asked. No, her daughter, Iryna Malyk, 72, replied. This time it was their neighbor, Russia.

It came as a shock.

Ms. Semibratska is one of a small group of elderly Ukrainians who have lived through not one but multiple invasions.

As children and teenagers, they saw their land and people ravaged in World War II. German troops and tanks swept through in 1941, seizing Ukraine from the Soviet Union, already seen by many Ukrainians as an occupying force. The Soviets reconquered it in 1943 and 1944.

Since 2022, war has once again devastated some of the same towns and cities, and Russian forces are now making new inroads in the north and east. Like those in the 1940s, the invaders have set up new administrations in occupied lands, seized grain and other resources, sent in secret police, abducted community members and instilled torture and fear.

Destroyed buildings in Izium, Ukraine, a city that was besieged and occupied both in World War II and in 2022.

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