Hendersonville native shelters in Poland, unable to return to home in Kyiv

Tennessee native sheltering in Poland amid crisis in Ukraine
Posted at 12:59 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-02 09:38:59-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Chris Holzen traveled the world chasing a career in politics and advocacy, eventually landing him in Ukraine.

"I moved to Kyiv Ukraine in 1995. I had actually been involved in politics in Tennessee. I managed the campaigns of several state senators," he said.

The Hendersonville native has lived there ever since — until a recent business trip was cut short.

"You know my flight was transiting through Warsaw," said Holzen. "So I had a forwarding ticket on to Kyiv but I got off of the plane at Warsaw and didn't get back on."

Now everything he has is in one bag.

"You go to the train station here and it’s scenes from like a movie from the 1940s," said Holzen. "I mean it’s just, it’s sad."

Now Holzen is among the millions of Ukrainians in Poland.

"The hardest part for me is not being able to be there with my colleagues. I have many Ukrainian colleagues that I work with who are there," Holzen said.

He said the flood of Ukrainian refugees is overwhelming. But he has a place to stay, unlike so many others. "There are no hotels, there are no apartments, there’s no space anywhere here and people are still coming," he said.

While he's optimistic about the Ukrainian army, he still worries about what Russian President Vladimir Putin may do next. "This is not going to end in Ukraine if it’s not stopped in Ukraine,” he said.

Holzen is unsure when he'll return to Ukraine, but says he has no plan to leave Poland until then.