Luba Kachmarska (nee Maria Bortnyk)

When they started to expropriate us, they covered all our potatoes with white powder, both the large ones that mother set aside for us, and the small ones for our pigs. Then the men prodded the potatoes with rakes, so that they would mix with the powder. They poisoned the potatoes. They wrecked everything. They took all the seeds mother had saved for the next year. They took everything. I don’t know why my mother did this, but [before we were expropriated] she dug a big hole near our cellar and in the fall she hid 18 bags of potatoes in that hole. There used to be a measure called a pail, and four pails filled a bag. Mother lined the hole with rye sheaves and put 18 bags of potatoes in that hole. Then she knocked down a nearby tree to cover that hole. Nobody found that hole, even though they prodded the ground everywhere with steel rods. They prodded in the house, and the floor, to make sure there wasn’t anything buried. But because the tree covered that hole they couldn’t find the potatoes buried there. And without those potatoes, neither my mother’s family nor we would have survived.

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Date of birth: 13 October 1922
Place of birth: Male Starosilya village, Kyiv oblast (now Cherkassy oblast)
Witnessed Famine in: Male Starosilya village, Kyiv oblast
Arrived in Canada: 1948
Current residence: Hamilton, Ontario
Date and place of interview: 1 August 2008, Hamilton