The last 'girls' in Ukraine

My sister told me: we were born crashed, ”Marina Aguilar summed up a month ago to this newspaper by telephone from the Ukrainian city of Berdyansk, on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov, under the control of Russian troops.

NewsEditor
NewsEditor
16 July 2022 Saturday 11:00
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The last 'girls' in Ukraine

My sister told me: we were born crashed, ”Marina Aguilar summed up a month ago to this newspaper by telephone from the Ukrainian city of Berdyansk, on the shores of the Sea of ​​Azov, under the control of Russian troops. She and María Salvador are the last two “war girls” left in Ukraine, in a very delicate situation due to the conflict and because the pensions they received from Spain arrive with difficulties and irregularly despite consular efforts.

They are two parallel lives, marked decisively by the conflicts: the Spanish Civil War –which led them in separate maritime evacuations to the USSR–, the Second World War, with the consequent displacement of all the “children of war” to areas far from the front. , and now, to top it off, the invasion of Ukraine that has caught them in the Donbass region, where they have been installed for decades, since they chose not to return to a Spain that they left as children.

The telephone conversation with Marina Aguilar, 93, was complicated. She has senile dementia, she is cared for by a social worker for hours at her home – from which she does not leave – and she does not always hear well when she picks up the phone. Only on one occasion, among dozens of calls, did she express some coherent phrases in Spanish, to continue ipso facto in Russian. From that conversation, a life full of adversities and with a soundtrack of bombs was outlined. Marina Aguilar and her sister, who died two years ago, were evacuated from Bilbao to Leningrad – today Saint Petersburg – at Christmas 1937. Her mother had died in a bombing and her father preferred to take them to safety. “I preferred not to return. I used to say to my sister: what are we painting there? Our friends were here. We were able to go to university and work – not like women in Spain back then – and I was assigned to a factory in eastern Ukraine.” Consular sources confirmed the version. She traveled to Spain in 1969 and 1975. "The Second World War was worse," she said when asked about her umpteenth battle.

María Salvador Pérez, also a nonagenarian, lives in Lugansk, under Russian control since 2014. A granddaughter of hers takes care of her. She isn't in a fine mood either. Two lives from war to war.

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