Solidarité Ukraine
INED Éditions. Sound Archives, European Memories of the Gulag

Klara Hartmann tells her story

The aggressiveness there was between us there! The camp was mixed. So the Russian women felt they were in a strong position, they could do anything… they showed that they came first. If they wanted my bread, they didn’t say anything, they took it, just like that.

And I couldn’t say anything because they would have hit me, and it all went on like that.

And the women who weren’t Russian, what nationality were they?

From all over. Every Baltic country, Lithuanians, Estonians, Finns too… and then masses of Ukrainians. They were friendlier and more tolerant, they liked contact with people but they had nothing either.

They were like all the others… But the Russian women got what they wanted. They’d go to the kitchen with containers and fill them to the brim. If the cook gave them nothing, they hit her. Everyone was afraid of them. They’d get the food in their big containers, take it back to their huts, and they were the ones who had enough to eat. Or they would go to where the bread was being cut up and bring back all the bread they needed. There was a big difference between us.