Anonymous female narrator, b. 1915 on a khutir somewhere in Ukraine, the
daughter of a deculakized and repressed peasant. Narrator's husband was also
arrested and her mother-in-law subjected to a brutal body search. Narrator gives
information on the suppression of the church and blames Stalin, Kaganovich, and
the international communist conspiracy for the famine, during which she was in
an industrial area, probably Donbas, where she saw many starving peasants.
Пит.: Цей свідок зізнає анонімно. Будь ласка, скажіть, в жому році Ви народилися?
Від.: В 1915-му році.
Пит.: А де саме?
Від.: В селі.
Пит.: Назву села Ви не хочете сказати?
Пит.: Добре. А область?
Від.: Ні, також.
Пит.: А чим займалися Ваші батьки?
Від.: Мій батько був селянин.
Пит.: Чи він був бідняк, чи середняк, чи куркуль?
Від.: Називалися тоді люди, які потенціяльно бачили до чого комуністичний Інтернаціонал веде, їх незалежно від кількості господарств, то їх називали куркулями. Хоч він по закону радянському ніколи не міг бути куркульом. То було спеціяльно видумана форма, щоб екслуатувати людину й маси, казати, що він недобрий, от ми його посилаємо на Сибір, забираємо в нього господарку. Батько мій виїхав на хутір, там ближче була до хати. Всі дістали одинакову ділянку. Звичайно в житті не одинакові люди, не всі люди мають одинакрвий підхід до проблем. А, мій батько був заможний, тоді йому, уродило, уродив рік і він мав зерна повно. В 27-му році, коли Каганович був секретарем комуністичної партії, то його обклали пшеницю віддати державі. Він віддав, але ще було в 27-му році, що залишилося йому на те, щоб він прожив і посіяв. У 28-му році трапилося, що знову їх обкладали селян там великими обов'язакми здати велику кількість пшениці. До того їх вимагали, що вони віддали все останнє. Потім було організовані такі 100.000-ники, і ходили по хатах, провіяли чи залишилося щось утих селян, чи не залишилося.
Пит.: Чи це були українці чи приїжджі?
Від.: Ті 100.000-ники то переважно ніхто не говорив з них по-українському. То були чужі люди. Часом вони використовували голову сільради. Бо якби голова сільради їх не приводив до батькової хати, то він не був би покараний. Вони приводили туди. Шукали вони той хліб, навіть той гній від скотини розривали й дивилися чи там не е захований хліб. І в такий спосіб осталося село в 28-му році виснажене. Тільки такі селяни, що рахувалися бідні, або не мали рабочу силу, хоч може вони й мали трошки пшениці, але в них то залишилися, а цих бідних, яких називали куркулі, їм було дуже тяжко пережити той рік. У 29-ім році, мій батько каже, в селі, на хуторі: — Я хочу свою хату віддати, щоб ми зробили школу тут, бо то новий хутір. А вони на зборах сказали по-російському. — „Мы приготовили вам место там где вечная мерзлота." То, батько прийшов до хати і то розказав це, що їх чекав. Тільки батько був високо-освічена на той час людина, він весь час готувався, що щось мусить трапитися. Ну, після того, як на тих зборах, коли батько запропонував свою хату на школу, проголосували всі люди, щоб батька вислати. Але на щастя, я була вдома, бо я не виростала в батьковій хаті, тільки провідувала батька. На щастя я бачила як ті селяни до рана, до розвітанку лізли на Communist Internationalism, called Comintern or диктатура пролетаріята, started the total destruction of the farmer who was basically the preserver of Ukrainian culture or heritage because we were occupied by a czar before. All the foreigners on my land, maybe they were in the minority, always joined the power. Under the czar they joined the czarist government, under the communists they joined the communist government against Ukrainians. We resented this, we stood from day one against the revolution. All the fires started from Petrograd and big industrial centers, not in Kiev. The people who were losing the crown by the czaristic regime were also oppressive on Ukraine. And as I see the conspiracy of internationalism, proletarian so-called диктатура, from Marx teachings, it is consistent seeing in Ukraine the starvation which started in 1927 when Kaganovych was the General Secretary of the Communist Party. He attacked the most productive farmers, giving them the obligation to return their harvest goods to the point that they had no way of surviving through the year. In 1927 it was still possible to survive, but in 1928 a law was passed that stated that productive farmers – I call them productive because after the revolution the land was divided equally so people who had the wisdom, who labored and had big families did well – had to return everything to the government which demanded from them astronomical amounts of produce. The government attacked the most highly productive farmers. Later they called them kulaks. In 1929 the whole mass of farmers saw a conspiracy that they were being attacked in order to destroy them; they saw where the government was heading. The head of the Communist Party, Kaganovich, decided that the most productive and the most intelligent farmers, although they might not be rich by the amount of the harvest, be put on the list of kulaks who were to be sent to Siberia. In the villages where my father lived, a small village called хутір, my brother was killed in April 1929 by the Komsomol crowd. Everyone knew that this had been done to instill fear in the farmers so that they would not strike. In a few weeks there was a meeting and my father heard that someone would be sent to Siberia, and at the meeting he proposed to give up his house for a primary school in хутір, a small village but he wanted it so kids seven years old could go to хутір school. A man who lived in the same village came and said that the government had sent a directive that we have to send you to Siberia where there is always ice. Who is for that? Everyone voted against my father because when my brother was killed they saw what they did to people. Besides, when the trial was held for those who had killed my brother – he was alive 24 hours after he was mortally wounded – the court said that because he was a son of a kulak, the guilty people could go home. And you wonder why those people voted against my father? Fear already was instilled by killing my brother. I am a witness. I visited my father and I witnessed farmers coming at night, almost crawling on their bellies, saying forgive us but they killed your son and they will kill our son. In a few weeks I came again to visit my father. It was 20 miles from the place where I was raised, and my father was not home. My mother was unconscious and they were taking her to the railroad station. How it was, I do not know. I remember when they came to look for wheat, they opened even manure-horse manure or cow manure- piles looking for wheat. It was January of 1929 that they asked all of us to take off our clean clothes, took us up to the attic, and asked us to put on dirty clothes. One of my brothers did not want to take off his jacket because he was 18 and he had a girlfriend. My mother dropped on her knees and begged him to please take jacket off because they will kill you and he did take off his jacket. In a cold house we were left shivering. So we did know that in January they did send someone to Siberia. The idea was already in the air. When they were taking papa and my brother, my mother was unconscious and the NKVD-man said in Russian "she will be ready in the morning, she will die". But there are miracles in the world that many witness and she lived 100 years. When they sent them to Siberia, of course, we all left the village. My godmother raised me. In 1929 I was already 14 years of age, and I left the village. We went to an industrial area where nobody knew that my mother was a kulak and that I am a kulak's daughter. It is important to note that when we buried our brother we put a cross on his grave as is our custom over there. Everybody had a lot of pain in their lives, and as a symbol of that tragedy we put a cross on the grave. When she was visiting his grave she had a hard time understanding why that anti-Christian, communist philosophy even leveled the grave! They took the cross the first day. She didn't put another one up, but she always put a pile of dirt, and when she would return the pile of dirt would be leveled. She had to figure out where his grave was. We lived in a coal mining industrial area. They rationed to each person 400 grams of bread. To get this 400 grams you had to go early in the morning, which I did. When I came there were always dozens of dead, young, beautiful bodies around that bread store. When I got home I was crying so hard and my mamma said to me "why do you cry? Those children's relatives voted to send your father to Siberia!" At that time I didn't understand how things were in our poor, small village, how the law worked on my brother's tragedy. Now I understand: they were under pressure and that they had no choice but to vote against my father if they wanted to live tomorrow. I'm saying this because people say "well, those Ukrainians are stupid. Why didn't they revolt?" And there was a law that stated that you cannot leave the village without permission from the official. That's why I saw all the young people who took risks around the store where I received the one pound of bread. The hunger was so severe that people were running through the night. One day I went to the center of that coal mining town, and there were people who were running after other people. Swollen, hard-looking people. I didn't know what they were doing, then. Later on it was said that if they caught me they could kill me and eat me. I would rather die by gas chamber that from starvation.
Question: What year was this?
Answer: This was in 1932. in 1933 I was in Kharkiv walking along the street, and there was a woman sitting on the sidewalk with a baby. She was so swollen. At that time I was already almost 16, and I said how beautiful the baby was and asked if I could help her? A lady came up to that woman to give her something and I watched. From somewhere a man came and he said in Russian, "Lady, this is not for you. We have the government for that". When I came back to the site I saw that the lady was dead and the baby was crawling and no one was approaching them because they were afraid. This is unbelievable. I hope you see how deeply this tragedy was imbedded in people who live there. At that time my uncle lived in Kharkiv. He was hiding from the Soviet authorities because he had been well-to-do in his time, not by wealth but by talent. He learned soon after the revolution how to drive a car and worked as a chauffeur. They mobilizaed all transportation to pick up those the government was supposed to take care of, like I described with the lady and infant. But he said there was an order: "if you see that someone cannot make it on his own but he is still living, put him in with the dead bodies". They put bodies of the dead and nearly dead together.
Question: And your uncle was driving trucks?
Answer: Yes, because you couldn't refuse. If you refused you would be arrested. Now I would like to talk about my father and how he survived Siberia when they sent him there. In 1929 they took them to the railroad boxcar. The boxcar was locked and there was a seal on that lock that nobody, nobody is supported to open until it reached its destination. In his boxcar were 42 people. An eleven year-old child died. To reach the destination took several days. With 42 people in the hot boxcar, the body began to decompose and smell. The mother asked, 'please do something!' Everybody refused because they were afraid. It was an impossible smell! They threw the body right on the proceeding train in an open window. This is a fact. When they brought them to the taiga there were no signs of any living villages or of anyone living there. They unloaded, under command, when the temperature there was below 40 degrees (i.e., 40 below zero - JM). This was in a complete wilderness. Those who were strong enough to protect themselves from the cold survived until morning. A little further from the train there was a wooded area and when they unloaded the train people would try to run toward this wooded area to make a fire, but they were prohibited. When they did this, they started to shoot. Somehow they survived until morning. Sixty percent of the women and children were frozen by morning. In the morning the survivors decided it didn't matter whether they died from frost or from running to the forest. Somehow they brought branches from the woods and started the fire. Those people who survived through the night tried to build shacks to protect themselves. That is what they did with kulaks who fed, historically, all of Europe, all of the Middle East and the Far East with the wheat the Ukrainian produced. They exhausted those people. They squeezed the small villager dry. There are cases, which I didn't see, when they found a few pounds of wheat hidden in the walls ,then would take the mother and shoot her in the yard and take the kids to where they died in a couple of months because of conditions there. So that is what I remember very well. My brother came from Siberia and had tuberculosis. He was in the hospital for two years under someone else's name. He was only 15. my father taught my second brother that when he went into the woods to chop wood to put his leg on the stump and slice it with the ax so they might take him to the hospital where he might have a chance to escape. At lunchtime people would slice a muscle, that is how tragic the conditions were. When he was in the hospital he was able to get away and escape on a ship. This is how I know everything they went through. Another brother also died of tuberculosis. In 1933 I was in industrial areas, and you could see dead bodies everywhere. If you went on a train you could see a head here, a hand there. There is no greater tragedy that death by starvation. I was adopted in 1931 when my father decided to go to the хутір, a small village with land to work on. Of course no child is supposed to get any education if he is a kulak child. In 1934 I was in the city at that time and I went to a hospital morgue. There was a hill – a heavy, heavy, big building full of dead bodies lying just like wood! I looked at this and thought to myself: if any normal person knows that I can look at the tragedy of these people, can they believe that I am still a human being? Can they tell that I am a human being? I thought: if my father – at which time he was still in Siberia and I had no connection with him – would know that his daughter could see this tragedy and do nothing, what could he think of me? Really, what I wanted to testify to is that starvation did not start naturally. It was planned in Moscow, by the head of the country of Ukraine who was Kaganovich, and it was systematically planned to destroy the population. Because I saw the tragedy, how those people struggled to give that wheat, to give that harvest yield to the government and how astronomical, astronomical was what was demanded. People gave it, if they could, because those who failed to do so were considered guilty and could be taken to Siberia, or to CHEKA or NKVD and they would kill him.
Question: Ho sis you survive those years?
Answer: I survived because I was adopted. I was adopted by my godmother. She had a son who was a teacher and she had a husband who was a communist. He was captured in Germany as a soldier and was exposed to Marxist philosophy, materialist philosophy, and he was killed during the revolution and her son, too. She was always alone and as godmother she adopted me. On her papers I did go pretty good. Of course, I was starving many times and would have to eat horse meat, but to compared with what the general population and the farmers had to go through, it's nothing. I was blessed. My mother and brother escaped in 1936, after my father escaped. We were devout Christians, and when I was leaving for the West my father said, "Don't cross the path of Christ".
Question: How is that phrase in Ukrainian?
Answer: Не розминайся з Богом. Я пішла сюди, а ті пішли туди і ми розминулися, не бачили одне другого. There was a Bible. My father always taught to do that your God tells you and if you learn to live to help your neighbor, then you're a good Christian. This is very important to know because some people don't know that my people are so dedicated to Christ's way of life, and that is the reason why the anti-Christian philosophy, conspiracy used everything with no psychological gloves to just shock them.
Question: What happened with their church?
Answer: There was a church, a beautiful church, in my village where I was born which is gone now. There was a custom that everybody went to church and brought a flower to the center of the church to the spirit of Jesus' mother in the presence of her picture, supposedly a more artistic heavenly expressioned face of Jesus' mother. Everybody put one flower. Why did they tell us that we were hateful people? One thing I must say because a lot of people do not understand: why they didn't revolt. There was a custodian at the church. One day, one of those communists came to church. The Orthodox church was very graceful because the czar cared about the buildings. They took the custodian to the highest point of the church where the bells are and they pushed him off. He was killed when he reached the ground. How can you revolt? If you crossed the street during the war, you had to show identification. The civilized world doesn't publish that tourists have no right to go to villages. Most people do not know this, and it has to be exposed. My nationality has an inferiority complex, which is very, very deep-seated because when you were a farmer and spoke Ukrainian, the government saw you as just the lowest, the lowest there is. There was a czar who had saying: 'how can you lift people if you do not reach them?' Washington said that He made the horizon for all my people, saying every nation is supposed to be free, that it should have economic freedom, spiritual freedom, cultural freedom, only then can a nation grow. I'll tell you what happened to my mother-in-law when the GPU was searching for gold. She had long hair when they called to investigate whether or not she had any gold. She said she had none, but they terrorized her by trying her hair to the ceiling and lifting her to the ceiling by her hair. They looked for that gold in her rectum and vagina. This is what happened to my own mother-in-law. As I see it, I do remember everything. When my father was a hostage I had to walk 19 miles to the jail, when I was 6 years old. The communist Marxist international conspiracy when it involves especially anti-Christian people, I see from day one in my memory that it was planned. Our responsibility is to expose those people. My husband was arrested, politically, in 1937. he was not a politician. He was just a lover of young ladies. What happened was, when American bankers loaned a lot of money they needed a lot of laborers in Siberia to dig the gold and give Manhattan banks interest. My husband's four investigators terrified him there for a year and eight days. They took them to the NKVD at eleven o'clock and would send them back to the arrest area at four o'clock. His four investigators were Jewish communists like Trotsky, Kaganovich, Yagoda. I can give you lists and lists, if you want. We Ukrainians have our Khvyl'ovyi who was a communist in CHEKA and we do not hide him. We expose him. The Jewish people, the Jewish nation should also separate themselves from the communists. Marxism is a humanity-killing philosophy. We have to crush every communist, materialist view and put them out in the open to let people see them. We had Skrypnyk, we had Khvyl'ovyi – he was CHEKA, he killed people, but we're not afraid to let people know about him. The tragedy we went through, what those commissars did to my people! Those commissars make Hitler look almost angelic by comparison! Germany is next door. They did see salvation created in 1921, 1924. in 1933 it was a disaster and those people next door did see it. For every poison there is an anti-poison, and they created Hitler. Today, for me to see a communist party is power anyplace is just the same as seeing Hitler's party in our Congress. It's the same thing.
Question: You mentioned Skrypnyk. What did people think about Skrypnyk?
Answer: I do believe that Skrypnyk believed in Marxist philosophy. He did not see that there was a conspiracy. Afterwards he was convinced that he was wrong. This is my feeling. Many, many people don't feel this way. After he realized that he was on the wrong path and that he had been watching him and that he would be arrested. Later, in 1936-1937, when somebody knocked on their door, people were jumping down from many floors to kill themselves so that the NKVD would not get to them. I know because I went to my husband's jail every ten days to take him socks or soap and to make sure that he was not yet in Siberia. His uncle was arrested because he tried to teach in Ukrainian in school and sentenced for twenty-five years ,and no one saw or communicated with him. They didn't let us. If you look at the census in 1900, you see that the rate of growth very high. We should have doubled our population, but we did not. We went from 45 millions to 36 millions. Our tragedy is not only our tragedy, it's a tragedy to the whole world.