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Diana from Beslan

Like the entire world, we've been horrified by the news and pictures from Beslan, where likely 500 hostages were killed in terrorist attack on a school. For Americans, Beslan is half a world away. In Germany we are somewhat closer, both geographically and through the thousands of immigrants from Russia. Our local paper had the story of Diana from Beslan. I've translated portions (and the fact that a certified Russian teacher can only to Germany only as an Au-Pair also speaks volumes).

Hamburg - Diana Kanukowa (23) can hardly believe the television pictures she is seeing from her hometown of Beslan. She almost would have been at the school as a teacher. "I had an offer last year. But I wanted to go abroad first. That's why I'm here and not there." Diana studied German and English in Ossetia. Since February she has been an Au-Pair for a family in Hamburg.

Again and again she points at the TV. A man with a white shirt and a machine gun: "That's our local police chief." She recognizes a distressed woman in a brown dress as the school librarian...

The terror attack in her hometown caught her totally by surprise. "The attacks usually only take place in the big cities. She believe that the town of 35,000 was chosen by chance. The attack, she belives, was planned for an annual festival on September first in the Ossetian capital of Vladikavaz. The school where the hostages were held is directly on the highway to the capital.

Her family lives on the same highway. Other than her mother, a nurse who is caring for the injured, noone has been allowed on the street. One of her neighbors escaped from the school Thursday with her 3 children, one a baby. Diana believes that most of the adult male hostages are dead. "My mother heard that from an injured victim in the hospital"...

Diana is unsure whether she will return to Beslan next year. She has applied at the University of Hamburg to study Russian and Education.

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