Maria Katchmar (nee Zeyko)

MK - My [grandmother] gave my [mother] all her property – the barn, the land, and the livestock. Later they took it all away from us because they said we were kulaks. My father was sent to Siberia. They took all the livestock and told my father to drown it, but he said he’d rather sit in prison than drown the livestock. And he didn’t drown them, but other people did. They took everything from people. In our house, they broke all the windows, all the doors, all the paintings, and took all the linens, so that we couldn’t sleep in the house. So we slept outside. Our neighbor had a goat, and gave us glass of milk and some frostbitten potatoes every day. She ripped leaves off the trees and made pancakes, and that’s how she supported us. Mother went somewhere to find some food, and didn’t return until a month later. She brought us some beans and peas, but there was nothing to cook in, because they had broken all the pots. She borrowed a pot from our neighbor and cooked us some soup. She went again to look for food, but there was none. There was absolutely nothing to eat. We ate grass. Mostly we ate pancakes made of leaves and frostbitten potatoes that our neighbor gave us. That’s how she saved us. They took our land, our orchard, everything my grandmother had left for my mother. They said we were kulaks and didn’t have any right to it.

Almost everyone died. There was usually either just one man or one woman left [from each family]. Almost all the children died. Very few survived. Maybe some people had some gold that they could trade, but we didn’t have any. We had two cows, chickens and pigs – they took it all. What are you going to eat? There’s nothing left to eat. They didn’t bury anyone. A big cart that was used to haul cement, picked corpses up by the arms and legs, threw them on and took them to a pit

Interviewer – You remember this?

MK – I remember this very well. I lay in the grass and watched. What could I do? I couldn’t do anything. They threw those children like chickens into the cart.

Interviewer – Where did they bury them?

MK – They didn’t bury them. They had a pit and threw them in, like mud. The pit was big enough for the entire village. Eight [of my siblings] died. There were ten of us, and two of us survived. I don’t know, I can’t fathom what misery this was. God forbid that anyone have to live through what I lived through. I remember sometimes now, and I don’t even want to think about it.



File size: 23.9 Mb
Duration: 3:40

Date of birth:21 January 1926
Place of birth: Polyvka village, Cherkassy oblast
Witnessed Famine in:Polyvka village, Cherkassy oblast
Arrived in Canada:1949
Current residence: Ottawa
Date and place of interview: 22 October 2008, Ottawa