Posts tagged Vladivostok

“Till My Tale is Told” – Part IV – “Officially Enforced Amnesia”

“A reluctance to speak out, personal reticence, public disbelief and indifference – were compounded by an officially enforced amnesia that for decades continued to deny and ignore the individual and collective trauma, suffered by millions.  With little hope of ever living to see publication, it required stubborn persistence to record and preserve these testimonies.”  from Simeon Vilensky’s as editor of “Till my Tale is Told” published by Indiana University Press, 1999

I can’t get over how people are turned off by history, this is a subject of immense importance to inform the present and the future decisions for any country.  Then again, I’ve presented papers at history conferences and I try to tune in to the white haired academicians who are boring to listen to and I can understand the dilemma. Yes, history can be made boring by boring men and women who don’t care about the facts or about truth!!!  These “learned men” read straight from their notes and if they insert a phrase “Marx wrote…” or “Marx believed…” then that scores BIG points among those in the elites of any given university history departments.  What amazes me is that it is like the Chinese saying, “Confucius said…” I say, who CARES WHAT MARX thought?  I care about what other people thought, wrote and said.   Those victims of Soviet Marxist thought will continue to remain nameless because of the diabolical agenda enforced against Kazakhstan and other countries suffer a collective amnesia about the tragedies that happened during the Soviet period.

Here’s another poem from the book “Till My Tale is Told”  written by one of the Soviet victims Anna Barkova which was translated from Russian to English:

He lived in a cold back garret

In Judea, in ancient Greece.

“I shall borrow the warmth of a lamb’s breath,

Warm my blood with a match’s heat.”

He gazed at the constellations,

Was a beggar, sang hymns to life;

Who murdered Osip, * life’s lover,

Yet chose to leave me alive?

With all my heart I curse life,

But just as intently hate death.

Who knows for what I am searching,

Who knows for what reason I battle on?

No doubt on the Day of Judgement

I shall laugh to myself in contempt

When I hear the seraphs talk nonsense,

And see that their harpstrings are frayed.

The refuse of denunciation

Has seen sifted by God himself,

And the acting Procurator

Is the Master and Chief of the Devils.

22 January 1976 * The poet Osip Mandelstam, who died in the Vladivostok transit camp in 1938.

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Khadicha’s Grandma’s “Story of One Life”

This story will be about my grandmother. When I started to write I didn’t know what title this story should have because most of our grandparents have there own exiting stories.  They are all very old, most of them were born before World War Two (WWII) like my grandmother and of course it changed all their lives.  They saw death of their close relatives and friend of their families.  WWII made a great influence on many people.

My granny’s way to Almaty was very long.  My grandmother was born very far from Almaty in Vladivostok in 1931. In her family were 4 daughters and 2 sons. She was fourth. When WWII started she was only 10 years old but she worked the field to help her parents. Her older brother went to the Front in 1943 before he reached 17. My great-grandfather fought against the Japanese.

In 1945 my grandmother’s family moved to Republic of Bashkiriya. They were Tatar. My great-grandmother said “If we have to die we will do it in our Motherland”. Time after war was full of hunger, poverty and unemployment. People were tired of war. The family was very big and they needed to find more food to feed all the family members. Grand-ma and her sisters and brothers couldn’t find a job. Her father did all the work that he could and worked very hard. He was the bread-winner, because of it he must be strong. Also my great-grandfather grazed cows. Once while on the pasture, he heard that in Almaty life is easier and people are very friendly. After that, he decided to move to Almaty so they sold all they had and went to Almaty.

They arrived to Almaty on April 6, 1947 and had no place where to go and live. They spent 15 days on the square near railway in the open air. Great-grandfather met a Tatar family who helped him get a job and found where to live. Grandmother got a job in a sewing-factory. Some times later her family got an apartment from the government. Life started to come right. Grandmother met her husband in 1951 in the House of Culture of Dance. They get married in 1953. For a long time she couldn’t become pregnant. My father’s oldest child was born 5 years later in 1958. But it wasn’t my grandmother’s last ordeal. Also she had 2 daughters. One of her daughters became drug addicted and her husband was killed 17 years ago.

Every time she says to us that life is very difficult thing but even though, she never complains. Three month ago she was in hospital. She didn’t want to go there but she understood that it will be better for her health. When we went to hospital there was no free places. Nurse said to her, “a few hours you will lie in hall, before we find a place for you”. She said “it won’t be difficult and uncomfortable for me, I will wait”. When we visited her, she never was in a bad mood. She is really strong person.

Some time ago she again surprised me. I thought that she to old to understand my problems.  But she noticed that I was upset and gave me really good advice. I didn’t know anything about her life before I asked her to tell me something. Now I understand that her experience is very big, strong, powerful and enough to grow up her 6 grandchildren.

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Unedited Versions of Three Babushkis Stories

Yesterday we had three babushki ladies come to our classroom to tell their whole long life story in a short 15 minutes each.  A tall order for all three because eachof them has led such a rich life.  They are grateful to still be alive and were very happy to visit our university and meet the younger generation representative of Kazakhstan.  These ladies are lonely and living with their memories. It was as refreshing for them to tell their stories as it was for my students who eagerly soaked it in with their notetaking.  The following is Rahkhat’s account from what she wrote in English from her copious notes in Russian. 

#1 – Valentina Romanovna was born in 1930 in village. Her family consisted of 9 people: 3 died, 4 were living, but it couldn’t be called as living. During Great Patriotic War, the living conditions were very beggarly and often there was absolutely nothing to eat. She remembered when they had to eat seeds of flowers or even skin of some animals. They were all poisoned and subsequently it affected their health, because nowadays they are all having problems with stomach. It was really hard times!

Valentina was only 10 years old, when the war broke out. She actually finished the first class and that’s it. When it was very cold, nobody visited school, since there were no conditions to study at all. However the main reason of it is that she had to work together with adults. Her first job was working as a nurse in hospital, and then she worked as a teacher in kindergarten. There were times when she even had to look after calves, those of whom usually children are afraid of! Once one of her calves got sick, Valentina was to be judged or sent to an exile. She was stubborn girl and she decided to be sent to banishment, while her mother tried to convince her to go to chairman and to apologize to him. Eventually she stayed in kolkhoz.

For 13 years she had been working as a miner. At the age of 45 she was on a pension. She had 2 children: Anatoly, who was born in 1953 and Nicolay, two years older. Anatoly went to army in Vladivostok, unfortunately he died there. The second brother Nicolay was striving to revenge for his brother and also went to army, but unlike his sibling he returned home alive. 

Valentina and her son moved to Almaty. At that time, he had a daughter – Ira, who then gave birth to Lisa, his granddaughter. Lisa had huge physical and mental disabilities, she was invalid.  Once Nicolay went for hunting and there his boat was crushed by the river. She took her sister and they started to look for him, but in vain, this trip was fatal for him. Valentina’s husband drank a lot and he finally got cirrhosis of liver, which lead him to death. So, Valentina lost her husband and children, but she still had her mother, who lived for 100 years and 3 months. Valentina’s mother came to Almaty in order to be with her daughter. Today, Valentina has a brother and two sisters still living, one in Almaty and another in Moscow.

That’s just a brief story of Valentina Romanovna’s life. She has to be a really strong woman to endure all the difficulties of that time! She stood in front of us as a living example of a person who had a lot of grieves, who was able to overcome them and who wishes us, young generation peace, happiness and never see a war time!

#2 – Natalya Nikiforovna is about the same age as Valentina, or one year younger. She was born in Semipalatinsk region. She had one brother, who was 5 years younger. She said that her family didn’t suffer much from famine during the war, because they had their own vegetable garden and that was enough to feed the whole family. At the age of 10, Natalya had to mow hay in order to sustain a cow. She completed 7 years of study in school. Her father went to the front and there he was killed. Government didn’t give them any pension payments for him. They just received 20 rubles each – for her and her brother. Corn and cattle was taken from every family in order to sustain soldiers and those who directly was in the front and fought in battles against enemies. There was very popular slogan: “Everything for the front!”    
  

            At the age of 22, she worked as an accountant. Actually, she continued her education, having already two children. Overall, she spent 38 years of her life on working at two jobs. However, she earned a pension, which wasn’t fairly distributed, because government didn’t consider the length of her working experience, measured in years. She should have had received more in comparison to others, but she earned even less – 110 rubles, instead of 120!                

            Her daughter graduated two universities successfully in Moscow and Almaty. The year of 1946 is characterized as the year of the horrible event – start up of nuclear tests in Semipalatinsk proving ground. Natalya’s son gave birth to a boy with uncountable disabilities. Her daughter couldn’t give birth to a child for the same reason. This mistake of particular group of people led to terrible consequences for thousands of innocent people, which we can observe even today. Natalya said that there was one big family, where they had 4 girls born bandy-legged. It’s awful!  That’s the craziest thing that a human being could do with another human being! The creation of war is the biggest fault of humanity!

            During the speech, she had her tears coming again and again…

 

#3 – Raisa was born in 1932 in Kirov city, in the family of four members. In 1942 her father joined the Soviet Army, but was killed. He worked on a plant, which produced writing pens with feather. When fascists were coming to Kursk, they were evacuated and sent to Zabaikalie region. There they were given “kolkhoz house” and they immediately started to work. She was the eldest among her siblings. She was 10 years old when she began to look after calves. At the age of 13 she worked as a milkmaid. She finished only seven classes of school. In the mornings she helped her mother, in the afternoon – she did her job. Together with her little brother and sister they used to wear boots by turn. Other people, including their neighbors were always trying to support them, giving some clothes or something that they needed to have. She told us that sometimes parachutes landed from time to time in the place where they lived. So, her mother took pieces of material and sewed clothes for children. In summer, Raisa worked as a combine operator.

 Later, she got married and left her family, moving to Tashkent. There she finished medical college to be a nurse. Being educated, she was enabled to send money to her family. Afterwards, she got a second education in Ulan-Ude in agricultural college to become a zoo-technician. Then she was sent to the north of Magadan region, which is in Chukotka. Later on, she was chosen as deputy or national assessor.

Until now she had been bringing up her grandchild.

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