Maria Firman (nee Martyniuk)

The government said that you had to hand everything over, and they started to harass my father. My father said, I have children, I have a family. [But they said] you’ll all go to the collective farm, and you’ll all be better off. And they told my father to take the bells down from the church. Father said, “I didn’t put them up and I won’t take them down.” So they beat him and took him to a holding cell. We didn’t see him for more than two weeks, and when he came home, he died right away. When wheat or rye was harvested, they used machines, and left stalks in the field. So my mother, on her way home, collected stalks in order to cook something. A brigadier took away the stalks and beat my mother. My mother came home, lay down on the bed, and never got up again. I don’t know how long she lay there, but that’s how she died. I remember that my brother, after gathering whatever he could in the field, cooked some soup. We all sat around a big bowl – nobody had plates - eating that soup. My brother asked my mother if she was going to eat, but she didn’t respond. We were hungry, so we started to eat. My father’s brother came into the house and asked, “Is mother sleeping?” We were silent, we didn’t know, so he called out to her, “Kateryna, Kateryna,” but no one answered. So he went up to her but mother was already dead. We didn’t know when or how. [Prior to this] My sister died in bed by my side but I didn’t even know she was dead. My mother wanted to give her something to eat, and called her, “Ksenya, Ksenya.” I said, “She’s sleeping.” Mother went to her and she was already cold. Imagine what state I was in, I didn’t understand anything. Hunger kills. Who hasn’t been hungry may not understand, but hunger kills your memory.

File size: 8.45 Mb
Duration: 2:52

Date of birth: 21 September 1923
Place of birth: Khyzhychi village, Vinnytsia oblast
Witnessed Famine in: Khyzhychi village, Vinnytsia oblast
Arrived in Canada: 1950
Current residence: Toronto, Ontario
Date and place of interview: 17 July 2008, Toronto