Steve Travels to Kherson and Yalta in Ukraine
to Meet Marina Chedakina for the First Time
April and May, 2002
Chapter 1 -- 2 -- 3 -- 4 -- 5 -- 6 -- 7 -- 8 -- 9 -- 10 -- 11

Hi, everyone. Today we go to Yalta, in Crimea, part of Ukraine (they call it Crim). Crimea is a province of Ukraine. Marina tells me "Every person in Ukraine wants to go to Crimea -- It is one of the most beautiful places there is." She is right :-)

But first, I learned a little about Ukraine and the "Great War" - World War Two. Be patient, we will get to Crimea soon.

Even before Germany began it's invasions, Stalin and the NKVD had killed over 7 million people in Ukraine. Countless others had been forcibly exiled to Siberia and other places. Not everyone was hanged or shot in the head - many were just put in prison camps and never given food again, so that they starved to death.

Then, starts WW2. Germany attacks Ukraine even before the attacks on Moscow. Stalin orders that everything in Ukraine must be burned or destroyed whenever the Russian Army has to retreat. Later, the Germans are being defeated by the Russians.

The Commander of the German Army Group South issued a Memorandum on December 22, 1941 to all combat commanders in Ukraine: "The following concept of the Fuehrer [Hitler] is to be made known to all commanders."

"Each area that has to be abandoned to the enemy must be made completely unfit for his use. Regardless of its inhabitants every locality must be burned down and destroyed to deprive the enemy of accomodation facilities ... the localities left intact have to be subsequently ruined by the air force." (this is from Kondufor, History Teaches a Lesson, Kiev: 1986, Document no. 119, p. 172)

In many Ukrainian villages the German army ordered all the people into the church and set fire to it. Himmler on September 7, 1943 ordered SS-Obergruppenfuehrer Prutzmann "to leave behind in Ukraine not a single person, no cattle, not a ton of grain, not a railroad track ... The enemy must find a country totally burned and destroyed." (Bezymenski p. 38,; Dallin p. 364).

The German Army was ordered to leave complete destruction in its wake, so again 18,414 miles of railroads were ripped up, mines were flooded, industries that the Soviets missed were dynamited, wells were poisoned, and over two million houses and buildings were burned and destroyed.

Erich Koch ordered during the 1943 retreat that "the homes of recalcitrant natives are to be burned down; relatives are to be arrested as hostages."

Hmm... we learn more about Ukraine and World War Two, and the blistering forces the Germans brought there. This is all new to me. Russia lost about 20 million people in WW2 - over 10 million of those were from Ukraine (This does not include the 7 million Ukrainians Stalin murdered). Ukraine had more people killed in WW2 than any other country. Their pre-war population was about 40 million, and fewer than 30 million were left alive at the end of the war.

As you read my emails, we all are learning more about history, and why even today Ukraine people talk about the "Great War" every day -- and why there are monuments everywhere. (I am getting a lot of this information from Now, back to more fun things - like our trip to Crimea!

The car and driver arrives at about 9 a.m. and guess what - I've got the same driver -- the one who drove me from Odessa to Kherson. Oh God!!!! Not again!!!!!!

But yes, it's him - Vladimir, the madman driver again!!!!

We zoom to Crimea, to the city of Yalta. And I do mean zoom! It was just like the last trip - we went faster than any other car on the road. We passed every car that we saw, and not one single car ever passed us. It took about five hours. The roads were crap, full of potholes, not a single patch, they were awful, awful, awful. We bounced right and left, up and down.

I didn't die.

Everywhere there was farmland. We went for about 400 or 450 miles I think. It took about 5 hours - we were going fast, and all we saw was farmland, or vineyards for grapes (vinyards? how do you spell that word?). This place could feed the world, I think - every single thing we saw was farmland.

We did slow down a bit when we got near Yalta - we had to, these are mountain roads now, and they have lots of turns.

Yalta is famous for the peace talks held there by Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin at Livadia Palace (Marina and I visited there - photos to come later.) It is a mountainous island, very beautiful, and with many "sanitoriums". Not what you or I would call a sanitorium - not for people with mental problems, but places for people to go to improve their health. People here feel the wonderful air of the oceans and the mountains can be excellent for their health, and so many "sanitoriums" have been built here and the are very popular. I think they have mineral springs, mud baths, etc. Many of the sanitoriums have chair lifts (ski lifts) that take the patients to the beach.

Here's the city of Yalta and the Black Sea from way, way up the mountainside - maybe from about two miles up.


Here's a photo of part of Yalta.


We go on a expedition and here we stop close to the destination for a rest break.


Our tour bus stops in a small village.


There's a tall climb up, we must gain a few thousand feet in altitude. I'm in pretty good shape from bicycling, so no problem. Marina is in good shape because she walks almost everywhere she goes.


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