Lines have unintended – and sometimes deadly – consequences.
When you draw lines on a map, you divide people up and create “them” and “us”scenarios.
Then these lines form barriers between you and other people. They shape our thinking, mould our attitudes, affect our behaviour, begin to have real-life consequences for real human beings.
So it was in wartime Western Ukraine. This was an area which was strongly nationalistic. The wartime Ukrainian nationalist movement had a great deal of support here from the local population. They were fighting for an independent Ukraine, which meant at various times fighting the Germans and/or the Soviets.
There was no room for “others” in this Ukrainian nationalist future. This meant “removing” those who did not fit. Removing meant “ethnic cleansing”. This meant death and massacres. And it was the local Polish people who bore the brunt.
So they drew lines in every village. And they drew lines in marriages too.
Of all the ways that the Ukrainian nationalists drew these dividing lines within communities, perhaps the most brutal were these lines within a marriage and within a family.
Nationalist leaders urged Ukrainian husbands to murder their Polish wives.
Nationalist leaders urged Ukrainian fathers to murder their dual heritage children.
Not all of them did. Some refused, protected, hid and helped.
But many did.