Interviewer – Do you remember who came to dispossess you and force you to join the collective farm? Were they locals?
AB – They were locals. When this was beginning, my mother hid some grain in the clay pots we used for baking and put them on the oven. Because Communists or Komsomol¹ members were confiscating all the food. My mother said, “[If they come], and take the [food] cry that you’re hungry.” We were sitting on the oven, and they came in, and found the [clay pots]. We cried that we were hungry, but they took everything. They didn’t care that we were crying and begging. They took every last grain. There wasn’t much to take, but they took it. Our cow saved us. My sister’s two daughters; they were quite big already, and her little son, died. My sister was swollen, especially her legs, and we were swollen. But in the spring we collected grasses, my mother dried them, and made pancakes on a frying pan. But the pancakes were so bitter that it was difficult to eat them. People caught sparrows and ate them. There was nothing to eat. People collected anything they could, and ate it. Somehow we survived.
Interviewer – Did people not try not resist?
AB – You couldn’t. They would take you to prison right away. To whom could you complain? In the village, people were dying en masse, and a cart came around, and they picked up [the corpses] by the arms and legs and threw about ten on at a time. They would take them to the pit, dump them, and cover them [with dirt]. I remember that well.
Interviewer – Did they teach you about Stalin?
AB – Oh, yes. That Stalin was [the greatest]. That life was so good in [the USSR]. That abroad, people were poor and starving. But they didn’t talk about their own famine, only that there was famine abroad. That’s what they taught us children in school. Do you know what? When I lived there, I didn’t know that [the Famine was artificial]. They said there was a failed harvest, and that’s it. Nobody could say that it was an artificial famine. They always said that everything was great, because it was the Soviet Union.
Interviewer – So when you were young you thought the [famine] was the result of a failed harvest?
AB – That’s what they told us, and I listened to them and thought it was true.
Interviewer – Did your parents also think this was true?
AB – I don’t know what they thought, but nobody expressed their thoughts then, because everyone was scared. People were afraid to say anything to one another.
¹ Komunistychekyi Soyuz Molodi (Communist Youth League) – the youth wing of the Communist Party.