So much has been written about you, so many songs were sung and so many lives were given for you! Nevertheless, we are eternally indebted to you. You always gave us strength when we had none left, you loved us although you had to hate, and you forgave although it was impossible to forgive. Your wisdom is beyond compare. And I wonder what we, your children, have done for you to live?.. I wonder if all of us understand what you mean to us. Do we understand that we inflict pain to you and force you, thus leaving bleeding wounds that fail to heal on your body? Due to many reasons most of your children fail to feel you, to pity, to protect and to adore you.
I beg your pardon for them; I confess to my filial love and wish to assure you of my loyalty and devotion… During your long life people have wounded you a lot, the wounds being both minor and serious; nevertheless, you treated them in a divine way, as if saying they were foolish and did not know what they were doing. People commit outrages being unaware they will be rewarded according to their deeds.
Nothing in the world takes place without leaving a trace; the Lord sees everything… It turned out that contrary to God's will people are the greatest sinners on Earth. They cripple the fates of their kind; yet, their biggest sin is that they destroy life on the Earth and the Earth itself. The sin cannot be atoned for. The Lord is not going to forgive us. I should say it is not only me who feels the pain of my native land, but the land itself, being sorrow and anxious for its fate, calls to people to ponder over the common fate of both itself and of the human beings… The inhabitants of the Earth are barbarians, as they have ruined a lot of the beautiful things gifted to us by God, primarily the land.
In fact the nature of my beloved native land Polesye, which was of rare beauty, has been wiped out, ranging from most beautiful oak-groves, pine forests to their inhabitants. I still recollect ants, eternal toilers that are being obliterated. Forests cut down, the ecological situation is worsening, the climate of Belarus is changing for the worse, and thus it is a rare occasion to see an ant-hill that was a common thing before.
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I used to spend hours sitting at an ant-hill that reminded of a fortified castle, and watching indefatigable work of the united ant kingdom. Everything there astonished and surprised me. I projected their work on the one of human beings and came to the conclusion that we could not and would not be able to work like this.
There the whole ant body worked in a tireless and intensive way; no one shirked their work, while in human society there are a lot of drones who aim at profiting by their neighbor's work. Speaking figuratively, the majority struggle to keep their heads above water while an insignificant small group has assumed the right to be in clover and make use of somebody else's work. Thus, one should not look for examples of some just social order in the West or even somewhere on the Moon.
One should just look more closely at an ant-hill and to find the answer there. This should be done as quickly as possible, for very soon nothing alive will be left due to the 'civilized' human activity. The so-called zealous people did the same to the mighty oaks of my native Polesye, having obliterated almost all of them so that now the French, the Germans and the Dutch walk on the Polesye oak axed to make parquet floor … One feels pity and pain to see it. Wherever I came I observed the same picture - the coarse life of the dying nation, the nation that is unlikely to have any future at the beginning of the third millennium.
The Moulding of Ukraine
I would not like to clothe myself in the mantle of a prophet but I am afraid we are not going to have any future. Many things testify to this prediction. In view of the long-lasting negative processes in all spheres of social life without exception we were thrown off several decades back into the past.
The most depressing fact is that our nation is dying out, as mortality exceeds birth rate. Land without people is an orphan… I look at my home land and my heart aches, as we have taken so much from it and given so little in return. We took only for many centuries, but what did we give in exchange?
Now we have what we have, i. Altogether, we have half of our land destroyed… Now even the blind sense the tragedy of the land. The one with keen ear is not going to hear birds singing loudly, like they used to sing before. Fewer frogs can be heard croaking in spring, the areas under arable land, meadows and hayfields, under coniferous woods, oak and birch groves are decreasing steadily… Why has this happened?
Who is to blame that the voracious human Moloch absorbs and destroys everything around? When is the gift granted to the human being by God what I mean here is reason going to prevail and stop our home land dying? Thus, once again the question arises - why are things so bad in our country and so good there, in the West? By 'good things' we mean attitude of citizens in western countries to their land, first of all.
I saw this attitude for myself. It was already when I served in the army in East Germany that I was astonished by the German orderly attitude to their land, naturally, as compared to our mismanagement and lack of discipline. Things were polar opposites in Germany; in the first instance, it concerned the organization of business, complex agricultural management and, undoubtedly, the culture of farming. All this allowed the Germans to gather incredible, as compared to ours, yield already in the distant s of the past century.
The crop yield amounted to centners per hectare while the potato yield was centners per hectare. It is no use to make comments here, especially if we take into account that this was true of the socialist GDR, not of the Federal Republic of Germany. So why didn't we draw on the experience of the Germans? All the more, it was considered at the time that we were already perfecting developed socialism, while the Germans were only beginning to build it.
This was the way the Soviet propaganda machine was working. As they say, it would sound funny if it wasn't so sad… Other European nations do not fall behind the Germans, either. For example, several years ago I happened to be to Sweden, the country governed by Social Democrats and admired by almost the whole of the world. In the last years of the USSR existence the Soviet propaganda machine stated that it is exactly in Sweden that socialism according to K. I think that first and foremost it is built according to the Swedish way.
The question is who prevented the USSR from building socialism according to the same classic? In Sweden everyone was startled first of all by the state of their soil which was simply ideal; this was something like a striking and impressive fairy story. It is almost impossible to believe that their crop capacity, for example, amounts to centners per hectare. Moreover, one should take into account the Swedish north factor. Yet, we excuse our impotence in the sphere of agriculture management by being in the zone of critical farming, by changeable weather and by low temperature.
Practically no European country is carrying out crop battles but we do and win with the fantastic result of 23 or 25, or sometimes even less than 20 centners of crop yield on the average. Our crop yield amounts to 30 centners in the most favorable years only. We go on struggling and suffering serious material and technical losses … I have been narrating about Europe. Now I'd like to say a few words about Eastern countries, about China, for example.
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This country' problems of how to feed the 1. The Chinese grow their agricultural crops everywhere - in the mountains and marshes, in the sands and on stone, even on the roofs of their huts, first pulling soil there. It seems quite unusual to us, of course, but it is true, nevertheless. As a result the Chinese have obtained their goal; they have overloaded the country with foodstuffs.
Today they have no idea about what to do with the surplus of rice. Chinese scientists have even invented a recipe for producing fuel from rice. Now imagine we have attained the same success and started producing petrol and diesel oil from potatoes. Then we are going to need no Russian power resources. This seems to be not within the realms of possibility, of course… Let's decide on the purpose of the main factor, i. Of the great number of reasons, both objective and subjective ones, I would name love for land, deep understanding of land and of its state; the understanding that one should give very much in order to get something in return.
When you give much you will treat something you have invested in with great care, as if it were your mother. One should love land as if it were his own mother. Properly speaking, this is exactly what we see in many developed countries. In our country things are quite the contrary. They put people off love for their toiling land; they extirpated this love by collectivization, repressions and battles for yield.
Land used to bring gladness to those who sowed and ploughed it, to those who grew and gathered the harvest. How much blood has been shed for our dear land! Practically the whole of the XX century, that could be called the century of serf relations, of slave and forced labor in the village, produced hatred for land, in the long run.
Most of village dwellers need land no more.
When I meet them I often ask them whether they would agree to take some land if they were given it. The answer is always categorical. They say they do not need it. As far as it happened that we are not connected with our mother land by an invigorating umbilical cord, the finale is seen as to be rather a sad one.
All the attempts of Soviet propaganda concerning the need to cultivate love for land remained vain, as primarily people were put off their love for land. They were also put off work in general, as their work was not free and joyous, and it was not estimated at its true worth.
It was already in October of that this process started. The consequences it had are well known all over the world. It is only when land will be the private property of those who work it that people will love it, nd this love will be mutual. Then people will not spare themselves for their dear land. Only then land will become a mother that will be loved, as this is something dear and incomparable.
Dedicated to my beloved parents
As a result, no one will have to care about fostering and upbringing of love for land. Land itself will make people love it, and it will never betray those who will feel its love. Kolkhoz land was not loved and will not be loved. This idea is not fresh and has been confirmed by history. Historically, the destiny of my Motherland is thus that its land is covered with gore profusely. The fact may be called a tragic dominant idea, as throughout the whole of its history Belarusian nation struggled against foreigners for survival.
Very often the question was whether the nation was or was not going to exist at all. The question acquired extremely acute nature during the World War II, when every fourth citizen of Belarus was killed. Now there is information this figure could be much higher if we account that the then number of population was about 10 million.
The country's population amounted to the same number only by the end of s of the last century. To compare it would not out of place to mention the following fact - the fascist Germany lost about 7 million people at fronts during the war. Those Belarusians killed in the war were young people mainly, that means they were the most able-bodied part of the population.
There is no doubt one cannot speak about any fast restoration of the country after this tragedy that was aggravated by destroyed national economy. Yet, gradually and with enormous effort, they rebuilt towns and villages from bottom up. They also managed to restore human potential, though not for a long time, unfortunately. At present, when we face acute frontal crisis aggravated by the Chernobyl tragedy, mortality exceeds birth rate, which is seen as a tragedy for the state. Natality decreased from almost thousand in s to less then 10 thousand at the boundary between the second and third millennium, which is really sad to realize.
My dear Belarus is the land that caressed and warmed people of other nationalities and became a mother for them, as well. Representatives of about nations and nationalities live in Belarus today. The Belarusians make up the majority of the population which is more than 80 per cent. Also the Russians about 14 per cent , the Polish more than 4 per cent , the Ukrainians almost 3 per cent , the Jews more than 1 per cent , as well as the Tatars, the Lithuanians, the Latvians, the Gypsies and other nations consider Belarus to be their motherland.
Such is the mentality of our country and of our Belarusian man who is kindly, good-natured and easy to get on with… Belarus is my Motherland; this is a holy land that the people in Belarus gained through much suffering, and defended in a most cruel struggle against the most civilized barbarians that world history ever witnessed.
Like many of those living on this holy land, I cannot imagine my life without the oak in the field, charred and almost destroyed by somebody foolish, without the dear smell of wild flowers, without the pine forest and the little river near the village Rudna so dear to my heart. All this have gone through me and my soul, thus through my whole life ….
Among the great many of Belarusian villages more than one has the simple and unpretentious name of Rudna. There is more than one in Zhitkovichy district; there are tens of them in the neighboring Petrikov and Kalinkovichy districts. Rudna is a kind of toponymy record winner. The explanation to this is quite simple. The name of the area or a village is exact evidence that in ancient times, in the Iron Age, years ago and much later, people smelted iron in domestic blast-furnaces out of swamp ore of extremely low quality. In some places this production existed till the middle of XIX century, i.
Until recently one could see a lot of waste products of the ore-smelting production in the form of embankments and knolls in the neighborhood of Rudna and other Polesye villages. As a hamlet or a settlement, Rudna appeared not far away from the big old settlement of Kolno. The record of Kolno in the excerpt from the books of Slonimskiye dealing with the property estate allotment between the brothers Yury, Yan-Symon and Alexander Alelkovichy dates back to June 6 The castle of Petrikov, Kolno and the borough Lenin went to Alexander then.
Kolno was also marked on the map of Polesye in , along with Turov, while Zhitkovichi was not marked on the same map. Rudna was called Kolenskaya Rudna not long ago. Apparently, the inhabitants of Kolno manufactured iron in the wood here. There are venerable oaks still growing in Rudna. They are powerful enough, as they measure several girths of human arms around. One of them has stood right opposite our small house as long as old village residents can remember.
Even these old trees, however, cannot be the same age as our village itself. The collection 'Volosts and settlements of Litva province and Belarusian volosts' contains information there were 38 peasant homesteads and inhabitants in Rudna. Families were so numerous then! In people lived here, of them 26 children of both sexes at the age of school age. However difficult life was, but the village grew and was built; the number of its inhabitants increased, child laughter was heard in the izbas. Many children died, but still there remained a lot of kiddies in big peasant families.
Villages never faced a population crisis, only natural selection with only the healthiest and strongest surviving. People used to be strong and healthy… My distant relative Ivan Albinovich, as far as I can remember, threw a haycock onto a haystack at a stroke. A sturdy sort of people they were … In the old settlement of Kolno, not far from Rudna, at the beginning of the past century there lived people, of them 76 children.
Rudna itself was more similar to the nearby village of Greben that was at a distance of only three kilometers. It had practically the same number of the population; living conditions were similar, too. At the time life of a peasant was not a piece of cake. It has never been, by the way. The oldest dweller of Greben F. We had a cow, though, but we wished we hadn't as our father had to work for the landowner in Buikovichy 10 days a month for our cow to pasture on his meadow. But how could children survive without milk otherwise? We did not always have a piece of bread to eat.
The father exerted himself to his utmost working for both himself and the landowner, so he lived a short life. At the beginning of the century there were about 20 or 30 homesteads in Greben, and almost every day there were funerals. Children who were in plenty in peasant families died particularly often… The landowners Kenevich and Levandovsky had so much land one could not take it in at a glance. Whenever children ran into the landlord's forest and picked a berry, they were fined in case they were noticed by the forest warden. Whenever a cow got to the meadow there was a fine to be paid.
One also had to pay to be allowed to gather mushrooms in the wood. There was no gleam of hope under the moral and material oppression… Life was not a piece of cake, of course. No one can assert the peasant's life was serene. Life was as it was, although living conditions might have been somewhat better.
In Germany, for example, peasant's life was easier and more joyful even at the time. Yet, things are cognized when compared. The real hell started later, in the s and the early s when all-round collectivization was continually gaining in scope, arrests on a mass scale started and when the People's Commissariat of Home Affairs, the 'snatcher' as they also called it, stretched its wings out all over the country…Yet, before the revolution a peasant hired by a landowner to mow received 80 kopeks or a ruble a day at the very least; a reaper who cut rye received 50 kopeks a day.
Still, peasants asked for a ruble or a ruble and a half accordingly. They ignored work when the season was at its height, so their requirements were met in most cases. After two or three days a mower could earn enough to buy boots while after a week, working together with his wife, they could buy a cow that cost less than 10 rubles. So here is the example from the very first pages of the well-known novel by the proletarian writer Maxim Gorky 'Mother' that dwells on the life of factory workers. Pavel Vlasov went to work to a plant of some leeching bourgeois, and after he received his first pay packet he was able to buy an accordion, plush trousers, a tie, a present for his mother and to get dead drunk in addition… After a man had to work for perhaps about a year to afford all this.
Things are cognized when compared is an old truth. We will be able to compare the life of a peasant before the coup and following it … In Rudna and neighboring villages people might have lived a bit easier life. Like everywhere one had to break their back from morning till night on their own land if one had any; yet, practically nobody had land in abundance.
According to the statistics of the provincial land administration in the North East area, every sixth peasant homestead had no horse; eight per cent of families had no land of their own, so they had either to go off in search of a living and work for landowners and more prosperous peasants or to join the army of proletarians in towns. As we see, the percentage of land-hungry poor peasants was not so big. The main problem for peasant families, in fact, was the need to divide their plots of land among their sons. The latter, in their turn, had to divide among theirs. This resulted in having nothing to divide; yet, one had to go on living… No wonder the Russian Prime Minister P.
Stolypin, following the inglorious was of between Russia and Japan, decided to stake on the khutor system and on giving peasants poor land on favorable terms and moving them to khutors. Many peasants in Rudna, young people mainly, came to work as farm-hands for well-to-do peasants, for landlords Levandovskis in neighboring Buykovichy, or did some seasonal jobs. The estate 'Buykovichy' was a model farm at the time. The work was done according to rules of agricultural technology.
Sturdy premises were built, a distillery and a mill worked. There was also a big garden there. Several decades later the model farm of Levandovskaya in Buykovichy would be destroyed by militant Communards, but in the meanwhile peasants could earn some money working for this landowner doing some seasonal or regular work and thus improving their well-being. At the end of the past century the area was developed at a high speed.
In s Polesye railway was being built. Its rails were laid not far from Rudna, in Zhitkovichi. The railway promoted quick growth of the borough. Many dwellers of Rudna took part in the work. They raised embankments and laid rails. Nekrasov described building another, St. Petersburg's, railway in his poem 'Railway', but working conditions of navvies were similar, of course, so the lines 'Do you see the tall sick Belarusian wasted by fever who is standing over there?
Nevertheless, the railway was built in a very short time, unlike the Baikal-Amur main line widely known in its time, which has not been finished so far. The preliminaries before building Polesye railway started in spring in , while the first train came to Zhitkovichi February 15, The dwellers of Rudna must have heard the whistle of a steam-engine that day. Here also worked General I. Zhilinsky's expedition, they drained Polesye marshes. The canals dug by navvies by hand, with their spades, have generally remained hitherto, being of substantial benefit. Forest exploitation was intensive as well.
Hands were in need everywhere. Life of peasants in Rudna differed little from that of the peasants in other Belarusian villages and settlements. People made their both ends meet somehow; they rejoiced and grieved, were born and died… Then the year came that brought about drastic global changes in the life of the whole country and of every of its citizens. But nobody could foresee at the time even in a bad dream then the significance of those changes, as well as the bitterness and, for some people, the joys the change of epochs would bring following the autumn of the memorable Soils in the neighborhood of Rudna were poor.
They were sandy mainly, but they could feed the grain-grower at the very least if he was a hard-working man. This is rather a forest area; even hayfields are situated at a considerable distance from the village. The inhabitants of Rudna are used to free life. Peasant izbas in the village are often scattered randomly, without keeping to any strict order of streets. The Kotsubinskiyes, the Rozhalovskiyes, the Yukhnevichis and the Kirbais lived in Rudna since olden times.
They were ordinary peasants who did not differ from other peasants. Their grandfathers and forefathers smelted swamp ore here and won plots of arable land from the wood and the swamp. They came from the ancient tribe of Dregovichi. Their capital was Turov, situated at a short distance from here. One can just imagine how much sweat and, it may as well be so, blood they poured into this long-suffering Polesye land for many centuries, for it to give birth to a genuine great talent once… Generally speaking, the past of Turov land is rich not only in history but in talented personalities, as well.
Kirill Turovsky who was a great enlightener, a scholar, a man of letters and a bishop, matters a lot for the culture of the whole of Belarus. He is known as 'a silver-tongued orator whose name shone brighter than anyone else's all over Rus.
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In Turov land once there lived and ruled Konstantin Ostrozhsky who was a man of profound culture. In his library he kept The Turov Gospel, the first of its kind in the country… As a rule, talents such as scientists, cosmonauts, public and political figures, are born in province, in out-of-the-way places, in the village. Bolsheviks' literature and the press, being over-ideologized, corrupt and suppressed by censorship, glorified the post-revolutionary life of peasants and workers. Gradually, they started to ponder if there was any need to stir up this trouble and the coup of , if life had become worse in many, almost in all, respects.
Did people work less? The answer was they did not. According to Lenin's decree peasants were given land, but for a short time only. A decade later it was taken away and all-round collectivization of the village was declared. A person had to break his back working it as much as he did while working landowner's or rented land if one wanted to receive something in return. Goods in shops disappeared completely, there was utter goods shortage. Printed cotton could be found in a shop once a year only. Yet, one could not buy it with money as peasants did not have any.
Things could be acquired by natural exchange only. What happened if people wanted to buy any machinery, such as threshers or mowers? Before the revolution one could club together to buy them freely in the shop of merchants Bermans, so that several neighboring homesteads could make use of them.
Now there was no machinery on sale, the reasons being economic dislocation after the civil war and endless rotation of powers. The old machinery that remained in some estates of landowners, e. Now they landed on the scrapheap and had to begin everything from scratch both in towns and in villages. These were the evident and loud consequences of the coup, while a lot of deep ones could be found in the spheres of culture, morals and ideology… Meanwhile, the village lived a life its own. My grandmother Marpha Yakovlevna Kirbai was still young and brisk then.
She held together the big and friendly family in my grandfather's nest that was not yet destroyed.
The Moulding of Ukraine
Her parents and grandparents on both her mother's and father's sides, the Kotsubinskiyes and the Kirbais, ploughed land here, went to work in neighboring estates and visited fairs in Kolno and Zhitkovichi on high days and holidays. They were ordinary peasants, sloggers and lack-alls… As time passed, people, authorities and customs were changing. The life itself changed drastically.
The inhabitants of Rudna endured the hardships of the war hard times and deadly ordeals in late autumn of when the army of the chevalier of industry Stanislav Bulak-Bulakhovich who dreamt to occupy Moscow with its bitty army was rolling to the West, back to Poland, after being defeated at Kakinkovichi and Mozyr. The soldiers of this army came also to Rudna where they pillaged and committed outrages.
Many villages on their way were burnt, while people were killed and tortured. Turov suffered particularly then, as it was in neutral zone and served as a jumping-off ground for the offensive of Bulakhovich's army against Soviet Russia. The foam of the fratricidal civil war wave that was given rise to by was coming off… Quiet and peace finally set in Polesye, though peasants here never lived a calm and serene life.
Nevertheless, the s when peasants became aware of being real land owners for the first time might have been the happiest and most comfortable years. People worked for themselves, freely and willingly. They gathered good crop, paid taxes and State deliveries. The state was reviving and setting on its feet. People acquired certainty of the future. Rudna, like all Belarusian villages, had livened up, and was as populous and inhabited as it had never been before. In it numbered 87 homesteads, with people living in them. The information about the number of pupils in the village did not remain in the archive; they might have numbered about a hundred.
It is known for sure that the school was big as it had three stoves to heat the classes, while only the school in Ludenevichi had four stoves. There lived six people in each homestead on the average; most of them were children, of course. The atmosphere of animation, as well as high birth rate, seemed to be the prospect of the Belarusian village but it actually turned out to be a temporary advance the village had never faced before and is not going to face any more… Life in Rudna, as well as in every small town and village, was full of enthusiasm and moral upsurge.
People developed an eager interest for life, acquired certainty of the future and cheerfulness. Yukhnevich, chairperson of the Village Soviet in Rudna, reported to Zhitkovichi district executive committee on May 3, May 1 was celebrated in the village of Rudna in the following way. The teacher offered to erect a platform in the school yard and we did so on Sunday, April 26… On May 1 all members of the Village Soviet and pupils headed by the teacher German gathered in the LCUY club, and then they walked along the village streets in orderly lines holding a banner and singing revolutionary songs.
The whole of the youth of both sexes, as well as the citizens of middle and old ages took part in the manifestation. Everyone came to the school and drew up at the platform. Chairman of the Village Soviet S Yukhnevich opened the grand meeting. He did not make a speech of welcome only; he also dwelt on the history of celebrating May 1. Further speeches were made by the representative of the district party committee Babunov, by students Nazaruk and Golovach.
All those mentioned above not only made speeches of welcome and congratulated people, but they also pointed at the significance of celebrating May 1, thus holding to the theses sent by the district party committee. Then the pupil Nikolai Rozhalovsky made a speech of welcome on behalf of the pupils of Rudna school; later the teacher German threw light upon the events in Germany and explained an advantage of proletarian science over bourgeois one in detail. In his closing speech the teacher pointed at the need of a close union between the town and the village, the worker and the ploughman.
The following resolution was adopted at the meeting,' After hearing the report of our comrades, which dealt with the comparison of customs and laws in Russia before the revolution and at present time we, the citizens of the Rudna Village Soviet, celebrate May 1 freely, send White Guard torturers our proletarian curse and promise solemnly to stand for Soviet power at the first summons.
Long live May 1! In conclusion 'Marseillaise' was sung. Today silence, desolation and loneliness reign in Belarusian villages, Rudna being no exception… In my village numbered homesteads with inhabitants living in them, among them 36 children. Now there are twice as few children, as well as able-bodied grown-ups, while every eight or nine out of ten people in Rudna are pensioners. Now there are no more than a hundred and a half of dwellers in the village, with their number decreasing gradually.
Of the indigene population there are practically few people left in the village. Every fifth or sixth izba has its windows boarded up, while just one house is being built in the whole of the village. This is the true picture of a Belarusian village. Even Rudna, the centre of the Village Soviet, which used to be a large, busy and populous village, is gradually dying out today, to say nothing of small patriarchal villages… The early s were a crucial epoch in the village as collectivization broke out.
So many reviews, works and memories have been devoted to it, enthusiastic, laudatory and gloomy, joyless. If collectivization had been carried out by more humane and philanthropic methods, and for a longer period in fact every person in a superior position, every official ranging from the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party to the lowest chairman in the Village Soviet were trying to reduce the period to show themselves to the best advantage in the eyes of higher chiefs it would not have drawn on so much grief, so many misfortunes, tears and pangs.
Kulaks, who were actually the best, most able and hard-working peasants, were expelled from villages. They were arrested and exiled under compulsion to northern areas of the country, thus being doomed to torments and death, while their property, land, cattle and buildings were given to kolkhozes organized in a slapdash manner. Many guiltless people were subject to repressions, yet two villages in Zhitkovichi district - Lagvoshchi and Rudna - suffered most. Lagvoshchi was situated near the frontier. A great many Polish people lived in the village; there was even a Polish national club and a school.
Thus, to the benefit of the state security it was decided to get rid of the people. Rudna inhabitants suffered the same fate. No wonder chairman of the Zhitkovichi district executive committee N. Krichevtsev in his summary report in said, 'Bronislav Village Soviet Lagvoshchi was a part of it; and the village Bronislav itself suffered from repressions a great deal , Rudna and part of Zhitkovichi Village Soviets are inhabited by the so-called gentry who haven't got rid of old traditions yet and who consider themselves be head and shoulder over peasants.
Most of the gentry live a rich life and organize their own manufacture. New life finds its acceptance poorly among this part of the population…' It must have been this report that caused soon afterwards mass genocide in Rudna which took lives of 42 peasants.
Strange as it may seem, in other villages of the Village Soviet there were one or two people repressed, even in the big old village of Kolno. The national archive of the Republic of Belarus keeps a list of Zhitkovichi volost revolutionary committee members of January 25, Among eight revolutionary committee members their chairperson was Nikita Lukyanovich there is Nikolai Yakovlevich Kotsubinski, born in , who was brother of my grandmother Marpha Kirbai.
It goes without saying that only an active person, a staunch supporter of the Soviet power who performed certain services to this power, could become a member of the committee. Nevertheless, in the autumn of he did not escape the 'black raven' that seized him, as well as many other village dwellers and never let him slip out of its 'claws'. The same year Petr, the elder brother of Marpha Yakovlevna, was arrested. Both brothers Kotsubinskiye were executed by shooting in the autumn of , thus the whole agnate of the family was rooted out… My grandfather Alexander Vikentyevich Kirbai was far from being a common, ordinary builder of the new life in the late s, too.
By now no person can remember and tell how much strength, health and nerves he spent for the sake of Soviet power strengthening and kolkhoz organization. He happened to hear so many threats and to bear so many insults! On the outskirts of the village Naida there lived a lone wolf who remained an individual peasant until the war, yet, he was not arrested and shot. It seems the authorities worked in a strange and selective manner. This man used to say, 'Let Kirbai come to my yard with his persuasions… He will immediately stop a bullet!
As a result, more and more peasants put in applications to the kolkhoz, some in a deliberate and voluntary way, others being frightened and threatened, and some after the example of their neighbor… By February 1, the kolkhoz 'Sovetskaya Belorussia' numbered 25 homesteads, of them 8 poor peasant and 17 average means peasant, which was approximately a third of the homesteads in the village.
A year later collectivization here, as well as all over the country, was considered to be over though practically nowhere it was per cent even before the war. No matter what ways and powers it was attained by it was the final result, the final figure and the percentage that were important to the authorities. Any means could do to achieve the result … In fact, if we take a closer look we can see the result was contrary to the one expected. Indeed, the Bolsheviks managed to rid peasants of the much hated ownership of land as of the main means of production.
Likewise, they removed workers in towns from profit through nationalization of plants and factories. Thus, peasants were saved from land, means of production and, naturally, from results of their labor. Nothing other than their conscience incentives and ageless peasant conscientiousness and industry could make them get interested in working better.
Moreover, unlike factory workers, they had to work practically free, for work-days. Kolkhozes turned out to be a kind of hybrid between serfdom and labor army which L. Trotsky stood up for so zealously. All this resulted in many economic troubles very soon and destroyed social, economic and moral life foundations in the village. Retribution for violent and thoughtless collectivization turned out to be very severe; this retribution is still in process… In s the magazine 'Shlyakhi kalektyvizatsiyi' Ways of collectivization was published in Minsk.
In summer its correspondent Yurka Snitko came to Rudna. Soon the magazine published his article 'Brilliant results of piece-work' as we can see, it was already then that such conditions for work were of interest to people and brought good results, yet for many decades afterwards socialist economy refused to have anything to do with piece-rate basis as it was more profitable to pay everyone some chicken feed in equal portions.
The article said, 'In the kolkhoz 'Sovetskaya Belorussia' all work is done on a piece-rate basis this year. Due to piece-work and well-considered output rates, the pace of work and collective farmers' interest in working with great dispatch have increased significantly.
If last year's flax and vegetable weeding lasted for too long, and haymaking was not over even in August, this year things are absolutely different. The hay-makers team of 14 people headed by the team-leader Kotsubinskiy this must have been Nikolai Yakovlevich, the brother of my grandmother Marpha, the former Zhitkovichi volost revolutionary committee member on June 27mowed 8.
In accordance with output rate set in the kolkhoz 3 or 4 people mow a hectare, depending on the quality of hayfield it should take 27 people to mow the same area. Kolkhoz management board noted down in every mower's work-book 2. The team of 16 people who gather hay cocked hay on the area of 5 hectares, while according to output rates it should take 25 collective farmers to work on this area.
Those who did the hard work of hay cocking were given 1. One can give many examples of the kind… Due to piece-work there is an influx of both poor and average means peasants to the kolkhoz. They finished weeding flax, millet and allotment crops, and gathered clover in good time. Now they finish haymaking. Yet, the rates did not suit district authorities who demanded 'to speed up', 'to intensify' and 'to press on'… In the district newspaper 'Prymezhny kamunar' of September 10, somebody called 'Voka' noted that in the district in the last two years there had been a 'very slow influx' of poor peasants and peasants of average means to kolkhozes.
Gikalo who acquainted himself with the state of affairs in the district and visited the machine and tractor station, the district palace of social culture and several district enterprises. Later on, accompanied by secretary of the district committee of the party Bogdanov, he came to visit villages of the district, Ludenevichi, Bronislav and Rudna in particular.
He must have met chairman of the Rudna kolkhoz Alexander Kirbai, the more so because this kolkhoz was the first one in the district and had advanced showing. It was already at that time that the kolkhoz had a large pig-raising farm, and N. Gikalo made a speech on international situation and answered numerous questions of collective farmers in the 'Red Corner' room providing recreational and educational facilities of the farm.
Collectivization in the country was gaining in scope and expanding like an avalanche that knocks everything down, crushes down everything on its way, carries away and often buries… Its most active champion in Rudna was Alexander Vikentyevich Kirbai, as fate willed, but rather due to his honest, uncompromising and straightforward nature. Yevdokim Klochok, my wife Tamara Nikolayevna's grandfather, belonged to the wide range of the unbending revolutionaries who later fell to thinking and lost their faith.
In the middle of s he got to Stalin camps; he never knew why. It fell to his lot to be a prisoner of the notorious 'Sevlag', the wild North directorate of camps. He built the railway where now fast trains with the romantic name 'North Palmira' speed along. Certainly, he did not have the ghost of a chance to survive, yet, he was lucky enough to be taken hospital attendant to the camp hospital by a camp doctor who used to treat Valerian Kuybyshev himself.
I used to go by this railway when I had to earn my living as a member of a construction team, or rather as voluntary exile or a seasonal slave, to be more exact. When going by train, I could not shake off the feeling the train was rolling over bones instead of rails… It pains and distresses me to be conscious of the death of the best village dwellers; their graves buried under lime are unknown…. Nevertheless, one cannot blot it out of his memory. Although, when the book 'Memory. A documentary chronicle' of Zhitkovichi district came out in Minsk in the early s, the names of the repressed brothers Kotsubinskiye, of Nikolai and Vatslav Kirbais were mentioned, equally with names of hundreds of other Zhitkovichi dwellers, but the name of the first chairman of the kolkhoz in Rudna Alexander Vikentyevich Kirbai was not mentioned through negligence and indifference of local authorities.
My grandmother Marpha Yakovlevna outlived her brothers for a short while. She died in February though she was not old at the time. It was hard youth and war time burden she had suffered, as well as poverty and exhausting work in post-war years that had told on her. In my grandmother Marpha's house which still stands in Rudna her grandchildren were born; they were fated to continue the cause of their fathers and grandfathers… There were also so many families, both related and alien, that lived under the roof of the house in the hard war and post-war years!
Misfortune and trouble used to unite and reconcile people, so strangers often lived one united family, unlike these days… The fate of village izbas is such that they survive several generations and no matter how old the building is it will last a century or more as long as there is a gleam of life in it, the stove being stoked and there is a light in the windows; but as soon as it is left by its inhabitants the house is weakened at once, it rots, sinks and turns black. Any house, even an ancient one, seems to be young and cheerful when it is filled with voices and clear children's laughter.
Have you ever noticed that storks do not settle on the roofs of uninhabited izbas that are so numerous in the contemporary village today while crows grow roots there at once? Rudna, like most Belarusian villages, suffered a lot, though it was not burnt; it suffered losses in people, in hard-working village dwellers.
My fellow-villagers did not stand off the nation-wide struggle against the enemy, either. At the beginning of spring an initiative group was detached from the 50th Zhitkovichi partisan brigade. The th partisan detachment consisting of Rudna Village Soviet inhabitants, men strong, was set up on the basis of the group. The detachment was headed by Vasiliy Syrovatskiy, its commissar was Matvei Khilko. After joining the units of the Red Army, an almost full-fledged company of men became allotted to it.
Thirty-eight Rudna inhabitants were killed as members of partisan detachments or at the fronts of the Great Patriotic War. About twenty of its peaceful inhabitants were killed by occupants either in the village or in the forest where people were hiding in hard times. All work and hardships of economy rehabilitation in the first post-war years fell to the lot of several men, invalids and aged mainly, but primarily of teenagers and women. The village was healing the wounds of war very slowly.
In and the year following big batches of cattle were arriving from Germany to the country it destroyed. They were really big and heavy cows of black and white color, with spots, a genuine German breed. About 50 heads of the cows, as well as 3 horses, were given to the kolkhoz 'Sovetskaya Belorussia'. The state also provided the kolkhoz with seeds, which was some help.
The most poverty-stricken families with many children, whose fathers died, received several cows from Germany. What was a characteristic feature of the village life in s? As usual, it was hard, exhausting and, what is most important, practically free labor. The village was already rebuilt after the war devastation. The youth who could not leave the village as they had no passport had already grew up.
There were enough hands, new houses were built and a lot of young families appeared. Peasants who did not have any passports could not leave the kolkhoz; the same was in serfdom time when after the notorious St. George's Day peasants could not leave for another landowner. To leave the village and get fixed up in a job in the town which was practically impossible without a passport, by the way or to go to study there one had to obtain a certificate from the kolkhoz saying that the board did not object… In s, when some of the youth born after the war were leaving the village, it was not so difficult to do.
Orphans whose fathers were killed at the front or in the partisan detachment were always given necessary certificates freely. Those who were repressed guiltlessly still remained enemies. People preferred not to remember about them at all. They were razed from life as if they had never existed and were forgotten silently… There were quite many young men and women in Rudna who left without hesitation making use of the right their fathers obtained by their death. In work-days for work in the kolkhoz were abolished and money wage was introduced. Work-day is a conventional wage-rate determined according to some incomprehensible output rates for some work or another.
It was introduced when kolkhozes were set up. There were strictly definite rates for any work. One work-day, for example, meant it was necessary to mow 0. To get one work-day a person had to cut 0. In a day one could earn either 1. A woman could receive 1. The same number of work-days could be given to a stableman or an invalid for repairing horse-collars.
The year over, the harvest gathered and calculated, obligatory State Deliveries handed over and results of kolkhoz' economic performance known, the general meeting of collective farmers or the meeting of the board determined how much people had to be paid for work-days. The year being productive, one could expect to receive 0. Team-leaders and field-team leaders who worked like everyone else did and received a small bonus for combining jobs, as well as chairmen of kolkhozes' boards, were also due to be given a definite number of work-days, though the margin between this number and that of other collective farmers' was negligible.
I remember my father, chairman of the kolkhoz 'Sovetskaya Belorussia', just like other kolkhoz heads in the district, was given work-days per year, though the reprimands, reproofs and surcharges he received were more numerous. An honest and hard-working person, especially the one working on a regular basis and having a remunerative job, could earn the same number of work-days or even more. Now, after he received several metric centners of grain and potatoes, as well as or rubles in old money, before for the work in kolkhoz during the year, the peasant had to pay taxes in the first place, then to buy the indispensable foodstuffs and other things - salt, sugar, matches and kerosene, as well as to buy clothes and footwear and to fit his children out for school… Boots cost rubles, while a quilted coat which was indispensable for the peasant cost more than a hundred.
A cow cost three or four thousand rubles, though soon after the exchange of money in its cost amounted to seven or eight hundred rubles. This is an obvious result of denomination that we constantly come across these days when salaries remain practically the same while money falls in value. One can be only filled with wonder how peasants could survive in such conditions. As we can see, living conditions in the village used to be and still remain much worse than before the revolution… How could a peasant survive in the conditions when he received practically nothing for his labor but had to pay huge taxes?
He had to pay for a cow and every hen, for fruit-trees in the garden and for his personal plot of thirty hundredth part per family on average. The skin of a pig or a calf that was grown up and slaughtered had to be peeled and handed over to the state… The extortionate taxes were mostly abolished after the death of Stalin when until January the state government was headed by Georgiy Malenkov who was undeservedly and endlessly thanked by collective farmers for doing so for many years afterwards.
Anyway, how did peasants manage to survive before taxes were abolished? To a certain extent, the market in Zhitkovichi which was a huge shed in the centre of the settlement, especially busy at weekends and on high days, came to help. They carried from villages and sold there cabbage, apples, meat, milk, fat and beans dirt-cheap, to gain at least a small sum of money in order to pay taxes and buy some clothes and footwear.
In , the year of death of Joseph Stalin, the murderous tyrant whom it was mortally dangerous even to call like this, I went to the first form of Rudna primary school, though I was going to be seven only in two months. The teacher Maria Ivanovna Yukhnevich distinguished, as far as I remember, my diligence and studiousness, as well as my love for books and passion for reading, though it was not encouraged in peasant families, as a matter of fact.
Here one needed another science and passion for land and one's farm. Though I never refused any housework, my father, a strict man whom life rarely indulged and petted, was frequently discontented. He could start splitting hairs at any time, especially when out of mood or drunk; by the way he got drunk quite often, on every occasion, like everyone did and does in the village, because a glass of wine colored gloomy life with blue flowers of delusive happiness. In these cases my father was free with his belt that left its traces on my body for quite a long time… Nevertheless, despite the firm and strict discipline in our house, there was still some spirit of freedom about it.
No one was prohibited to express his opinion and to argue if one thought himself to be right. I shared a room with my brother. The room overlooked a mighty centuries old oak-tree which might have been older than the village itself. The room was modest and small, the table there was always heaped up with books, while the whole of the izba was less than thirty square meters. The small front room where the greater part was taken up by a stove was always crowded and boisterous, especially in the evenings, when village dwellers used to come and go away, play the domino, smoke and argue themselves hoarse.
On holidays they drank wine and discussed village and national news and problems as if they could solve them. Our family had a spirit of decency and mutual aid, of emotional freedom. This was mainly due to my mother who despite her being extremely busy in the kolkhoz and about the house always took an interest in my and my brother's affairs.
In her heart of hearts she was a intellectual person who had a gust of the world and people. Alexandra Alexandrovna, my dear and deeply respected mother, used to shake her head in doubt and some perplexity and say, 'I should never have thought you were going to get to the top of the ladder after such poverty and hardships!
Those who are pampered and spoilt since their very childhoods, who do not know any troubles or hardships are weak! A light and bright outlet of my life was encounter with nature. Nature seems to be everywhere around in the village. For a peasant it is a common, everyday and usual picture, like the view of a neighboring house that a town-dweller's window commands. Nevertheless, it is only partially true that nature is something habitual… There is no person in the world that does not have the feeling of native land, the land familiar to him since his childhood, his dear nature and his parents' nest.
The feeling develops in babyhood, with the first child's impressions, it grows and intensifies together with a person's growth and dies when time comes, together with the person. Native countryside, like the mother, is the only one of its kind. All the charms of the universe can never substitute for the view the window of your parents' home commands, i.
Your native heath you put your labor into, shed your sweat and got corns on your hands while working, gets even dearer and sweeter to you. Every inch of land is familiar to the touch; you mowed here, when your father was still alive, some June morning while the dew was still on the ground. The scythe hanging in the threshing-floor which smells of old dusty hay has not yet been eaten away with rust. Olya Zueva was born in Russia, in Vladivostok - a harbor town, with a mix of random communist remains, expanding consumer culture, and people trying to survive in the oppressed, uninspiring environment.
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