Archive for August, 2008

“Own Ideal Person” – Alexandra’s Grandpa

Everybody has their own ideal person, who exemplifies and creates in us a force to fight for right way or idea .  My life is full of a great, strong person, who I knew all my life, and who influenced on it hitherto.  I prefer to talk about grandfather, because he’s still alive, and we have close connections. Now, he is successful businessman, who has own company and strong health, who is 62 years old.  Actually, his name is Melis, me and all grandchildren call him Marat( he prefers it) .

In  1946, when almost all families were equally poor, because of the Soviet regime, my grandfather was born. As I remember, he told me many times, “Sasha, you must be very happy, you have everything!!”,it directly relates to his childhood,  because his family consisted of 11 children, and certainly not everyone had opportunity to study or work. In school time, he was interested in radio communications and wireless, what gave him future career. Moreover, in school time, he created own radio-wave, and had opportunity to go on the air. When grandfather was 18, he graduated school with excellent grades, and served in Uzbekistan in communication troops.

After army he entered to electro-technical college in Astrahan ( Russia), which also graduated with excellence. During studying in college, in 1967,  he got married, and my mother, Dilyara, was born in 1968.  Moreover, after few years he entered to another university, but, unfortunately, didn’t graduate. I think, this problem was connected with family, which he created, certainly, it was financial problems .

Next years of his life varied fast, one more child was born( my aunt, Helen), but Melis’ wife ( my grandmother, Eugenia) dead. All that period he worked hard as electrical communication engineer, was in many Soviet countries, such as Uzbekistan, Russia and in many Kazakhstan towns, for instance, in Aktobe . Few years later, Melis was invited , in those times, new constructed town Shevchenko( now, Actau) for work, as electrical communication engineer. He created electrical and radio communications there, and stayed there for all his life.

After disintegration of Soviet Union and  much work experience, grandfather created his own company  “Electric communication”. His company has many great contracts with big local companies, he made electrical and radio network in local airport, fire alarm and in many plants.   The project of my grandfather’s life, the result of his life, I mean company, existing for 15 years, and functioning successfully!  Today he lives in Aktau with dog ( Vaselisa), I think he must be happy, because he created life by himself by back-breaking work, and now make us work hard. And our family often mention example of such strong person, as my grandfather.

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“Too Young to Die” Part II by Alexandr

The next period of their life I would say is “the dark time”, from historical point of view, of course. I call it that way, because I and my mom do not know anything from those times, only few things. My great-grandfather became a spy, but had not had told it to his wife for a long time. They have always been moving around. They had been all over the Soviet Union and neighbor countries. My great-grandmother was alone most of times, and once she asked: “Why you never talk about your job?”, on what he answered: “I want you to live!”. They lived in wealth, but they never had neighbors, because they used to live near mountains or in forests, so people would not see them.


Great-grandfather would bring clothes and other stuff, what could not be grown by them from time to time. The food that they had been eating was all home made. By the time, my grandma was born, but unfortunately I do not even know what year it was. She was the only child they had. He was afraid his wife and daughter to be hurt, therefore he would always give instructions on what to do in some situations or if he would not return home. Eventually, it happened.


By the end of World War II he did not return on the week he was supposed to, not the week later, and not even the month later. Three month later his old friend from the military academy came to their house and gave my great-grandmother a box. He said her husband wanted her to have it if he would get caught and killed. It was a shock for her, no matter the fact that she knew what kind of job he had, and that he had been always preparing her for the thing like this. She opened that box and there were all the medals he had achieved, all the certificates, jewelry and keys of the house in Moldova with the last letter, where he wrote how much he loved them and suggested to move to Moldova and get a “real life”.


After a while my great-grandmother went back to normal, and moved with my grandma to Moldova, the country where she was born and where she met her husband. Starting from that time she had never had a single male in her life, not even a friend. She would never let anyone else in her heart. It hurts too much. Elena raised her daughter Sveta and tried to spend all her free time with her. May be it was too much, because my grandma Sveta grew up, put her career on the first place, and had been visiting her mother very rarely. Later she gave birth to my mom Alena and gave my mom to my great-grandmother for rising.


Sveta had big success in her career, eventually, she was chosen to the Senate of Moldova, but she was missing everything else. She would visit her mother and her daughter very rarely yet. Elena had great times with her grand daughter and everything what I know about Vladimir, Elena and Sveta, I know from my mom. Later my mom got married, moved to Germany, where I was born, and then we moved to Kazakhstan. Five years later mom brought Elena from Moldova to Kazakhstan, and we surrounded her with love.


On the January 3-rd of 2007 my great-grandmother died. I was very upset, especially because I was in USA at that time, and I was informed about it only after the funeral.  Mom called and told me that she had bad news and I did not need any other words, I knew what happened. Elena had been coming to me in my dreams 3 days after her death, until the day she was buried and I was informed.

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Too Young to Die, Too Hard to Live

Too young to die, but too hard to live, by Alexandr B.

Throughout time everyone in our world can say that he/she had bad times and good times. Now, I would like to know what good time is and what bad time is? These are relative terms and everyone evaluates them differently. The story that I write happened, as I evaluate it, during really bad times for my great-grandmother (Elena) and great-grandfather (Vladimir).


I do not know much about my great-grandfather, especially his childhood, and later you will realize why. My great-grandmother was seventh and youngest child in her family. She was born on May 20-th of 1913. Her family was rich and they lived in a huge house. They had plenty of all, but later the year of 1917 came. The year of The February revolution in Russian Empire, when crowd of people with guns penetrated the house of Tsar Family and killed everyone, including youngest prince of 5 years old. As you probably know, it was just beginning of the story. Those people were all from poor families and their next goal was to kill every rich family and take their goods. So one day father of my great-grandmother was warned by his friend that there are soldiers heading towards their house. This is probably where the “bad time” starts.


 The whole family had to leave as soon as possible, and they could not take anything with them in order to move fast. It was such a tough moment that everyone was on his/her own. My great-grandmother was 4 year old at that time, therefore no one took her. They were afraid to slowdown, so her mother told her to run somewhere as fast as she could, and the whole family left. A 4 year old girl was left alone on the streets during the time when average family was short on food. She had to eat anything, no matter if it was eatable or not. She tried to survive and as the time was passing, she was getting used to it. Everyday had been becoming more and more normal in her eyes. At the age of 10 she went to work on factory for food and her life had been moving in a better way. Later she went to school, where she tried to study, but the fact that she had to work in order to eat something was distracting her. She did not have enough time. Finally a man appeared in her life. She was only 14 years old, while he was about 22. He was a military man. Yes, it was my great-grandfather. Not a long time later they got married and my great-grandmother and great-grandfather had to falsify her passport, because she was very young to marry. They lived together and were happy, even though it was not the best time yet.

(To be continued in tomorrow’s blog)

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Laura K’s Optimistic Grandparents

            My grandparents were amazing people. Their lives were very hard however they were optimistic and happy all their life.  My both grandparents grew up in children’s orphanage because their parents died in the period from 1920s-1930s. There was a time when there was very limited food supply in our country, almost no food at all. There was a hunger and many people died from various diseases.


My grandparents got married in 1945 right after the World War II. They were both from Kustanai, Kazakhstan. I never saw my grandfather. He died in 1962. But from the stories of my grandmother I know that he fought against German Nazis during WWII and he came from the  war in very bad health condition. He was sick most of the time until he died. At the beginning of their married life he worked a bit and later stayed in bed for almost 13 years. Despite of that they were able to make five children. One girl died when she was an infant from some mysterious disease. Three boys and one girl left. I am the daughter of that single girl.


After my grandfather died in 1962 my grandmother was left alone with 4 small children. It was very difficult to raise them. In spite of that my granny worked on several jobs and was able to provide her children with food and everything they needed. She was very optimistic, strong and communicative woman. She had no relatives but she had many friends who helped her a lot and she did the same for others. For example, my grandma helped neighbor’s children when their mother died. Every time she would bring food and clothes to them. They remembered that all their life and they even became almost like our relatives.


From the stories of my grandmother I know how hard it was before, during and after the WWII. They had very difficult life. Now looking at her life I am amazed how she survived all of that. She lost her parents when she was an infant. In children’s orphanage they almost were dying from hunger because it was during 1930s when there was no food. She told me that they even ate rats. The bread was sacred to them. Because of that she would never allowed us to throw away bread or any other food. Laziness was not her thing she would take any food we don’t want and give it to the neighbors and amazingly there was always someone who was ready to take it. But we as children didn’t think about it because we didn’t have a time when there was a hunger in our life. Despite of the fact that my grandma was very giving and kind she also was very strong mentally and physically. After my grandpa died my grandma was left with 4 children and she was very young (she became a widow at age of 42) she never got married again and she didn’t have any relationship with other man. She was religious and respected her husband. Nowadays we don’t see many people like that anymore because it is a different society now.


          In conclusion, I would like to thank our grandparents for all they have done for us. They fought and worked hard so we could have a better life. We should appreciate that and never forget about it.


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Alina’s Pride in her Roots–Her Grandparents


     I think that everyone have his own roots.  I’m very proud of my grandparents because they were great people.  They went through The Second World War and restored the economy of country.  I think that it is the most significant fact.  Our family is interesting because my Mother’s parents were deeply rooted in China and Arabian side.  At the same time, my father’s parents have roots from West. His mother was heir of a gold extracting industry in tsarist Russia.


         At the same time there were added German roots of grand grandparents. As always that time was keep the conflict between parents and their children which cover the time of my grand parents, grandpa was poor farmer who fell in love with my grandma who belonged to a rich family.  They got married and in their little family appeared five children, the fourth one was my father. It was time of civil war 1917. As a result economic and social view in country has changed. So my grandparents were deported to Kazakhstan. When they lived there friends in Kazakhstan advised them to change their surname to name of the grandfather. Consequently, my ancestors have lived as Antonovy since 1950. Grandpa was joiner and grandma was director of the restaurant at the railway station. They lived in an industrial district, in spite of all the misery, they were a big happy family.


         As to my mother’s parents, they refer to another social level. Grandmother was born in a family of rich farmer and jeweler, who escaped from China during the Great Chinese Revolution. All members in grandma’s family have economy and medical education. They combine several nations: Chinese, Uigur, Russian and Dungan.  Grandma knew seven foreign languages, and could drive a car, tractor, helicopter and combine. She was a director of agricultural complex, at the same time she was deputy in the parliament of country. During The Second World War grandmother lead collective farm and they sent provisions and clothes to battle-front. After the war she got a lot of honorary medals. Grandpa’s ancestries were Arabian prince. But he became an orphan very early. Despite that fact, he graduated from the University in St Petersburg, teacher’s training college, military college in Moscow. He went through the Great Patriotic war and he has a lot of honorary medals.


     For me, it’s very important to remember about my grand parents in order to organize my future and make them proud of me.

     “Take care about present, foresee future and remember past” (Seneka).

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Nargiza’s Kazakh Grandpa Lived and Died with Horses

          When I start to remember about my grandparents I become sad, because they died.  I think that everyone has warm feeling to grandparents.  I remember I lived with them more than 3 years. During this time they give all their concern and attention for me.  They showed how warm and frankly might be relation between grandparents and grandchild.

          What about my grandfather. His name was- Baimuhan. It’s very difficult to pronounce. He had six wives. The last one was my grandmother. The reason of polygamy- no children. The first five wives couldn’t give birth. Then my grandfather met my young and beautiful grandmother who’s name was Aisha. In that time my grandmother’s age was only 18 years. After their marriage my grandmother gave birth to eight children. So one of these children is my father. They were happy but their life was very difficult as my father said.

            My grandma was teacher at a school. In that time they haven’t school where speak and study in Kazakh. They had only schools where they study only in Russian. She didn’t know this language.  So work at school was very difficult to her. Father told that before lunch she worked at school then came back home took care of eight children then again went to work. It was very difficult for women- Work overtime. 

            My grandpa was strong and big man like wild boar. He was a combine operator. He worked all day to maintain and ensure his family. It was very difficult to him, because unskilled labour didn’t give much money. He was educated person but he couldn’t have good job, because they lived in time of
Soviet Union. So in this time Kazakh’s men couldn’t have good job only unskilled labour. During time of Soviet Union only Russian men had good jobs, good house in one word “good life.”   What about Kazakh’s people, they had difficult life.  They don’t respect Kazakh’s right. Nowadays thanks God we have normal life. We bring our independence. So everyone in this country can have good job if he wants. 

            My grandpa liked horse –riding. In village every end of the summer all men gathered and organized “BAIGE”. It’s mean horse-race. It’s Kazakh’s tradition and it saved up to nowadays.  So I am proud to say, that my grandpa won all competitions. He was winner in all. But one day he flied off horse and fell on earth on his head. He felled to his death.   Unfortunately, he couldn’t see his entire grandchild. Then after three year died my grandma. They are buried together.  Now all their generation respects them and keeps in mind. When their children collect they start to tell about their funny or sad stories which happened with them. It’s very interesting to listen about your grandparents. My father tells about his parents to me. I hope I will tell about my parents to my children.

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“A Long Way to Go” Natalya’s Grandmother

“A human without past is like a tree without root”- It may be not a Russian proverb, but Russian-speakers often mention it. When I was a kid, I could not understand why.


It is hard for me to imagine what happened to people during the Soviet period. It is much harder that it could happen to my parents and their parents. In our historical classes at school we learned a lot about Soviet Union. We have learned how much provision was sent to different countries during the times I want to speak about. I can not think of those numbers, it was hard thing to remember. Did I realize back then, that this was about the lives of my own family? It was the last thing I could think of.


Recently my mom told my some old story of my Grandmother. My Granny and her family lived in a Verh-Uba, village in the east Kazakhstan. Parents were working in the kolkhoz (something like farm). It was around 1935 in the culmination of Famine. Family included Grandmothers parents and little brother. Whole villages were starving and there was no wage for work. Though nobody could leave legally, because bureaucrats of kolkhoz kept all documents with them and it was not allowed to borrow them. Situation was very critical and my Grand Grandfather decided to escape the village. Follow the darkest night they held up everything they could borrow and ran away without knowing where to go. Though, they had to leave Granny’s brother, because he was very little, he would not survive the escape. But in the village relatives kept eyes on him. So they kept running from the places they could be found. If they are found nothing else matters, they were dead. Then they were just walking.  My mom does not know how long they were walking, and I can not ask my Granny, because she has not been with us for a long time.


 Finally they came to the small north city Barnaul. For information it will take about 20 hours to get from Verh-Uba to Barnaul by train. Or even more. It was a long way to go. But they had done that. Near that city Grand Grandmother had luck to get a job as a pig-tender. Where else can you go with no documents…? My Grand Grandfather, Grand Grandmother and Granny made up an earth-house with their own hands. A wage for a pig-tendering was skim milk which was initially to feed pig-babies. After that kind of stabilization Grand Grandfather returned to a village for his son. They turned back to a new home and lived there till mid 1940’s. They had returned to their village because the situation had changed. By returning, they found out that main kolkhoz building was burned to the ground.  That is why they get their documents restored, and the fact they run-away had gone.


After, the Second World War started. I wish I could ask my Grandma what was happening then. But I can’t. I think now I understand the true meaning of that proverb. My Grand Grandparents, what they have been through. Moreover, not just “been,” what they have survived through. If they made it that far, I can not give up either. I wish I could talk to my Grandma. I wish I could tell her that I won’t give up either, I have my long way to go. I would say that I have found their power of spirit in myself. That is the greatest thing you ever got, which keeps you going on. What would she answer me, then?

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My Grandpa Survived Siberia’s GULAG for 15 Years

My Grandpa Survived Siberia’s GULAG 15 Years

By Laura J.


My granddad on my mother’s side was an amazing storyteller. He had a lot of interesting live stories that we heard with great interest. He had tremendous memory on names; he could remember them over the time of 30-40 years. Grandpa had a good sense of humor; it was always interesting to spend time with him. My granddaddy was the kindest man that I had ever seen. And what is more he didn’t try to expose this kindness openly, he just did good things quietly and silently.


My grandmamma was a very charismatic person. She was not of those who talk a lot, but when she began to talk every one else automatically, unwittingly lapsed into silence. She never reproached, never humiliated anybody, but raised the significance of people. Sometimes I think that she knew everything that I felt, thought about, like she could read my mind. Never did she make me feel myself miserable, unhappy. On the contrary, she cheered me up, inspired me to be better without words, one look from her was enough to feel it. My grandparents were totally unconflictive people. There was a true deep love between them. And they shared this love with us.  My grandpa outlived my grandma only on 48 days, he couldn’t live without her. They showed us a great example of love that lasted nearly 50 years.


Also I have grandpa from father’s side. He was legendary man. He studied at MGU and was an excellent student giving a huge hope. Unfortunately I have never seen him. He died 3 years before my birth, at the age of 83. He had a severe fate. At the dawn of his age he was sent to exile in to the most horrible gulag in Siberia, where he survived 15 years. My father told me that at that tormented place every one respected my granddad, because of his justice, erudition, wide reading and strength of will. Every day people next to him died, but he told to himself not to give up, repeating again and again: ‘”I will survive”. 


My Grandpa was sent to gulag as a nationalist (racist).  Well actually he was studying Moscow University, and once when he came to his native town in Kazakhstan he saw famine and poverty. After coming back to Moscow he went to Kremlin several times, in order to talk over this problem with Stalin. But there it was interpreted like nationalism, although my Grandfather was talking about Ukrainian people too (they had the same situation as Kazakhstan had). It was in 1937, the time of Stalin’s repressions, when every one who had any slightest kind of threat to the government was sent to exile.  My granddad in spite of everything survived. After that he taught a higher mathematics at university, and students called him “friend of people”, because he always stood up for ordinary people. On one of his classes he was given a letter where he read: “unguilty”. Tears welled up in his eyes. He was waiting for these words for many years being 15 agonizing years in gulag. All the time up to his death my grandfather was walking with papers on which he was solving difficult math problems.


I wish I knew him.






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Aiperi’s Kyrgyz Grandfather and His Education

This story begins in the late 1938.  Our family was living in the village called Nookat, on the North of the Kyrgyzstan. There were only 5 neighbour families in our village. We had a house with 5 rooms and a farm with 200 sheep, 10 cows and 5 horses. Our family was large; there were 11 children in our family: 4 boys and 7 girls, of course for the new generation having 11 children in one family sounds very unusual but for us it was ok, because it was some kind of tradition.


          I was the smallest one in our family. None of us could write or read that is why I thought that I am the only person who can be educated. I was dreaming of reading, writing, calculating and so on. Well the first thing what I did was that I shared my idea of studying at school with my father. But the only thing that I heard from him was “No! Forget about it!” This answer got me disappointed.  But desire of studying still existed in me. Well what I did next!!! One day I with my 3 other friends planned to go to school and try to study. How I remember now it was 21 of September.  We woke up early in the morning and began our “journey” to school. It took us 5 hours to get there, of course on foot because at that time there were no cars, no buses, and no bicycles. Eventually we came to school. It was just named as a school, because there was only one room with no desks, no tables, no blackboards, well there was nothing except the poster of our leader V.I.Lenin. In the room were 5 other pupils and a teacher whose name was Aigul. And our first lesson was Kyrgyz language. Because of no notebooks we were writing on the floor with a rack. That day we had two lessons as I already said Kyrgyz language and mathematics. I found it very interesting and exciting. I was the happiest person in the world. When I came home and told my father about lessons he got angry and prohibited me from school. But in spite of it, I continued visiting.


Time passes and came one of the most frightful days in the life of the Soviet people – 21 of June of 1939. This awful day in the morning we got information from the radio that Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Our village was shocked and came to a standstill. At that time couldn’t realize what was happening. War? What is it? We didn’t even know about it. Next day all volunteers from our village were collected and transported to the battle-front. Among them were my father and my two elder brothers. Well, why did they do this? The answer is simple – they were patriots of their motherland, they were patriots of Soviet Union. Difficult days came. All members of our family were serving on the home front. What does it mean serving for the home front? It means cultivating vegetables, sewing clothes and doing it not for our own consumption but to give the soldiers. This passed 1 year, then 2 years, then 3 years. Then came 9 of May of 1945. All citizens of Soviet Union were celebrating this day as a Victory day. Soldiers were restored from the Front. Not one of my brothers nor my father came back. They were killed; they were killed as patriots of their country. After 2 years I went to Frunze [Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan] city which was the capital of Kyrgyz SSR. I passed to the university and it was the beginning of my happy life.  

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Zhanna’s Grandfather – “Hard School of War”

My Grandfather’s Hard School of War

I have a grandfather from my father’s side. My grandparents live in the east of Kazakhstan, near the border with China during all their lives.  Every year when I visit my grandfather and grandmother they like to tell me many stories from their lives. Especially, my grandfather likes to talk about his father, who was the participant of the Great Patriotic War. Every time he said: “My father was a very brave, honest, kind person and I am very proud of him. When the Great Patriotic War started in 1941 I was only 13 years old and when my father said about it to me I do not fully understood the meaning of this words. When the years passed and the Great  Patriotic War ended I really understood the meaning of this words, I felt it and saw by my own eyes how much suffering, devastation, casualties and sorrow this war brought to our nation”.


The years of the Great Patriotic War was very difficult period not only for my grand-grandfather but for my grandfather and his family too. Because in this period of time there were real starvation and shortage of goods. My grandfather was only 13 years old and started to work in the factory which produced goods for people who went away to the war. He looked after his mother and began to earn for living, his childhood passed in such a severe conditions. It was a very good experience but at the same time very hard school for my grandfather.


          My grand-grandfather went to the War in 1941. At that time my grandfather and grandmother lived in the East of Kazakhstan. My grandfather every time wrote letters to the home and my grandfather was really happy to heard something from his dad, it is gave him a hope to live further and wait of his home-coming. My grand-grandfather was aviator and the leader of a team. He was a very optimistic person and every time he said that we will win this war. Also he said that it is very important to support each other and support of your relatives is the most important part of our life. After two years my grand-grandfather returned from the War and his family was so happy to see him again, especially my grandfather for whom he was an ideal of a man. But this happiness continued not so long because he was taken away again to the war. It was last time when my grandfather saw him because during the next year they did not receive any letters from my grand-grandfather. When the Great Patriotic War ended they receive a letter where were written that his father were found dead on the battlefield.


My grandfather celebrated his 80 anniversary this year and all our relatives were there to congratulate him with his birthday and I noticed there that my grandfather continue to tell the story about his father to grandchildren and I also listened to him despite the fact that I heard this story many times.  I never get tired of listening of my grandfather’s stories because every time he put whole soul into his stories.

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