We met Leonid Korzh during the opening of an exhibition with photographs by Rüdiger Lubricht in Berlin. Leonid Korzh was policeman in Pripyat/UKRAINE and worked in 1986 as so-called liquidator to evacuate people from the Chernobyl region. The video pictures part of his memories. Here is his full statement:
“On the night of the 26th of April in 1986 the most horrible nuclear catastrophe in Chernobyl happened. No one knew, which consequences this catastrophe would have for the whole world. We were told, that it is only a slight hiccup. In truth, this was the most terrible nuclear catastrophe that happened on our planet.
On the 26th of April in 1986, I was at home. Because of my profession I was ordered to the city of Pripyat to evacuate its inhabitants. On the 26th of April in 1986, 50000 inhabitants of Pripyat, were evacuated. We evacuated the inhabitants of Chernobyl and Polewskoe, too. Polewskoe was evacuated later. I can’t forget this tragedy that has happened in my village. Thousands of tons of radioactive material had reached the air and thereby also the village and the people that have lived there. These people were not evacuated. Only on the 3rd of May in 1986 the village Karpachi was evacuated. Today, this village no longer exists.
At first, we absolutely did not understand, what had happened. But when they started to evacuate women, children and old people, we understood, that something terrible had happened. We were very concerned. Concerned about our relatives, family and children. The people that lived near the power plant were severely irradiated. I had to fulfil many other duties which had been of importance at that moment. First they said, the people have to leave the area for only three days but that was a lie. They had to leave their homes forever.
Pripyat is without inhabitants, for 25 years already. I am convinced, that the people had only a few information. With more information available, the consequences had not been that cruel.Especially children had to suffer from the Chernobyl catastrophe. They got a high dose of radiation. All these children have heart- neurological and joint diseases. This worries us a lot, because the Chernobyl problems still exists. They say that people will forget these problems only after 300 years”