The Stench of Death

If you’ve ever experienced the smell of a decaying human body, it’s something you’ll never forget. The stench is primal. It’s palpable. It literally sticks to you, and there is no escape from it. Take that smell times over 20,000 bodies, add the Summer heat, and you have present-day Mariupol, Ukraine.

The Russian slaughter there was unprecedented. Late in May, the city’s Ukrainian council warned that the body count could far exceed their earlier estimate of 22,000 killed. They estimated that this was twice the number of deaths recorded during the entire two-year Nazi occupation of the city during World War II. We’ll likely never know for sure now because the Russians have taken control of the area now after months of nearly nonstop bombardment.

And as if killing the people wasn’t bad enough, now the Russian invaders are desecrating the bodies of thousands of the city’s former citizens and dumping them in deep mass graves.

Ukrainian volunteers roll bodies into a shallow trench on the outskirts of Mariupol earlier in the war. Russian shelling had taken so many lives, that the living could barely keep up with burying their dead. Image Credit: Evgeniy Maloletka/AP

Petro Andryushchenko, an aide to the mayor of Mariupol, wrote on Telegram today that scores of bodies were being dug up and transported to a temporary morgue by tractor. After a short time there, they are quickly buried in a mass grave. He grimly states, “Treating the dead like garbage has become the norm.” Some of the dead were never buried in the first place and had to be scooped from the ground.