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

Childhood, social relations and languages. Relations between children and adults.

Who were your friends?

First of all, we were a very close family. I was very close to my brothers and my sister and I was friends with all our neighbours’ children. The others were Ukrainians and in the school yard I spoke a sort of mixed language. I learnt a lot of Lithuanian words. Since then I can remember how to say hello, “labadene [laba diena]”, that’s “hello” in Lithuanian. You know, children always manage to learn and communicate with signs and gestures, one word of Russian, one word of Lithuanian, one word of Ukrainian. We always got on well, there were never any conflicts.


Since you mention conflicts, some respondents have told us of persecutions suffered by the Lithuanians, for example, Lithuanian kids attacked by other villagers...


No, that’s not my experience at all, because all the people around us were exiles like us, there were hardly any locals.


And the adults?

The adults had perfectly ordinary contacts. There were Tatars, not just Ukrainians and Lithuanians. One was called Khakim, another Abrinit, but they were already grown up. We were all together and we would invite each other to each other’s houses for religious festivals. At Easter, in particular, we would hide eggs and look for them together. Among the adults, there were sometimes conflicts, there were two or three murders, but that was mainly because of alcohol. But between kids there were none.


Which festivals did you celebrate?

My mother was very religious, a true believer. She came from western Ukraine and the Orthodox faith was very important for her.”