March 9 — An attack on “Word”

On March 7th, Russian shelling in Kharkiv damaged a deeply symbolic building: a Constructivist-era residence known by the name “Word.” Architect Mytrofan Dashkevich designed the building in the shape of the letter “C” – the first Cyrillic letter in the word “CЛОВО” (slovo, which means “word”).

The flats were built in 1930 for writers, artists, and musicians. Many key figures in Ukrainian cultural history lived there. Until 1934, Kharkiv was the capital of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the main cultural center of the country. Among the “Wordians,” as occupants of the apartment building were nicknamed, were Mykhail Semenko, the famous Futurist poet; avant-garde artists such as Anatol’ Petrytsky; and Bouchukists Ivan Padalka, and Vasyl’ Sedlyar. Many of them belonged to the Executed Renaissance and were killed during the Stalinist purges.

In 2019, the building was included in a list of key sites of Ukrainian national cultural heritage. A museum was planned. The Russian attack on this particular building is highly symbolic – the shells are aimed at the very heart of Ukrainian culture.