Warsaw, Poland, March 7, 2022
By Matthew Hatcher – Special Columnist for the Bloomingtonian
Walking around Warsaw you might not ever guess that only 400km away in Ukraine a deadly war is being waged the likes and scale of which have not been seen since the Second World War. People go about their busy day, buying food, getting drinks at the bars, taking their children to school. But if you pay enough attention to the radio, the TV, or even the graffiti and flyers plastered to buildings you can tap into the growing storm de eloping next door that is now being called the Russia-Ukraine War.
At a shop near the hotel, I am staying in I walked in on a man and woman talking behind the counter, and overheard Ukraine mentioned several times. While smoking a cigarette near the metro station graffiti and flyers decrying Putin and sporting the yellow and blue colors of the Ukrainian Flag, on the television in the hotel lobby, guests and hotel staff alike stand by the tv on the lobby wall broadcasting images of the fighting.
The war is here, but it’s a different kind of intensity it seems. It feels more like a gathering storm than an active disaster.
I am in Warsaw for only one night before crossing the border into Ukraine, but already the signs and ‘feeling’ of the conflict are heavier and more present below the surface of daily life.
Tomorrow we begin the journey to the border and then plunge headlong into the maelstrom that is war and tragedy, and I fully expect that with each kilometer that draws us closer to the border, the feeling of a gathering storm will give way to something much more terrible.
Matthew Hatcher worked as a photojournalism intern at a newspaper in Bloomington in 2014, and currently works as an independent visual journalist based in Detroit.