April 22 2022
I spent countless hours of my childhood in Kharkiv in my grandfather’s room. Although I’m not really allowed to call it my grandfather’s room, that wouldn’t be entirely correct, because it couldn’t just belong to my grandfather. The five of us lived in a relatively small apartment and when my sister was born in 1985 we were six.
It was a connecting room, and for a few hours a day it turned into a dentist’s office. My grandparents were dentists and took their patients home. It was illegal, but they did it anyway. Now I wonder how they dealt with that. My grandfather was not particularly brave, and going into a private dental clinic was a bold move …
The record stores in Berlin made me happy
When I was young, my grandfather wanted to be a musician. Then the Second World War began, he was forced to flee from his native Rostov from the Germans. His violin was stolen on his way to Tashkent, and after the victory he decided to study medicine instead of music. Music remained his great love.
My grandfather could play many instruments and did so whenever he got the chance. At family celebrations, he always sat at the piano. Also collect records. I was very happy to stay in the room where his records and turntables were when I was sick and couldn’t go to nursery, which was often the case. When he wasn’t seeing his patients, he hung up the phone for me. His taste in music was very eclectic – if he had been born 50 years later, he would definitely have been a DJ.
He played children’s records for me, as well as old Jewish music, and although I didn’t know what “Jewish” meant at the time, I always thought his musical choices were great. When I was 13, I discovered rock and roll myself. Musically speaking, my grandfather and I aren’t feeling well anymore, but I’ve also started collecting records. When we immigrated to Germany in 1995, we had to abandon our standard groups.
As soon as I moved from the hostel for immigrants to my own apartment, I got a DVD player and started buying records again. I was delighted with what the record stores in Berlin had to offer – everything I dreamed of in Ukraine was right there. Every Sunday I would go to flea markets for vinyl treasures and find myself in tears every time I suddenly came across a record that I had recognized from my grandfather’s collection.
It was in vain to buy it for him again, he had no way of playing it, and slowly lost interest in music, like his memory. But I had to take them with me, knowing that I would probably never listen to those recordings.
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became a habit. Every time I visited Ukraine in the past 20 years, I went to flea markets in Kharkiv, Kiev, Lviv, Mariupol, Mykolaivka and Popasna and always brought old records to Berlin. And sometimes it was the stuff I bought when I was 15 or 17 – the soundtrack of my youth.
In addition, I am a member of the Ukrainian vinyl Facebook groups, although I rarely buy anything there. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed how other record fans want to sell old albums of Russian bands from their collections.
Is war the best medicine against longing and passion? The songs that played in the background at our first parties, where we got our first kiss and rolled our first joint – are often embarrassing now, especially when you realize today that their performers are in concerts, in support of the Russian army in its “heroic special military operation”.
Read more parts of the diary here: