Forgetting Odessa


The people of this great Ukrainian port city have a long record of getting their history wrong. Sometimes, that isn’t a bad thing.

” ‘People are worried now more than ever. You hear shooting in the streets, and barricades are going up. … The police are doing nothing or even going over to the side of the thugs.’ That was what Lyubov Girs, the wife of a Russian official, jotted down in her diary. Her hometown—the Ukrainian port city of Odessa—was in chaos. The central government seemed to be collapsing, the streets were given over to armed groups, and local officials were colluding with the window-breakers and barricade-builders. It was the autumn of 1905.”