‘This is Hitler all over again.’ NJ residents fear for safety of loved ones in Ukraine
New Jersey is home to many Ukrainian Americans who still have loved ones living in the country. They are keeping a very close eye on the news reports coming out about the Russian invasion and the United States response.
“It’s devastating, scary and frankly speaking it’s shocking that this is happening in the 21st century,” says Oksana Thimko, of Cedar Knolls.
Thimko was born and raised in Ukraine and moved to the U.S. 20 years ago. She is now raising her children in New Jersey. Her brother still lives in Ukraine and is raising his family there. He sent Thimko a video from his home showing smoke coming from an attack in the country.
“It’s flat out scary. No know knows what to do, what’s going to happen. They don’t know where to go, how to react,” Thimko says.
News 12 New Jersey met with Thimko at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center of New Jersey in Whippany.
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“It’s beautiful [Ukraine]. And it’s very sad that it is going to be destroyed, because unfortunately, history shows that Russia doesn’t rebuild. It just destroys,” she says.
Other Ukrainian Americans were also at the centers. They are fearful for their loved ones still in the country and are praying that they are safe.
“It is absolutely surreal. We are taught this type of war will never come back to Europe. This is 1939. This is Hitler all over again,” says Jerry Kuzemczak, of Morris Plains.
With President Joe Biden announcing new sanctions against Russia on Thursday, those at the cultural center say that they hope the U.S. government steps up even more, fearing what could happen if it doesn’t
“This will not end with Ukraine. We have emboldened this guy. He will go after the Baltic states or other satellite countries or former republics. This is not going to stop,” says Kuzemczak.
The Ukrainian American Cultural Center held a prayer vigil for Ukraine Thursday night.