“You know, in that settlement there were not only political prisoners. – Were there some..? – Girls. They were poor children of the war. Their parents were either killed or imprisoned… And children were left alone; there was no one who could watch over them. One girl was sentenced to ten years for… she was originally from Odessa region; she stole 10 kilograms of apples. Two sisters from Moldavia were sentenced for having eaten their brother. There was a horrible famine in 1947 in Moldavia. Rumor had it that they ate their brother. Probably someone let them eat him. Girls didn’t tell any stories about themselves. Some girls were sentenced for stealing. There were many orphans: mother died, father died at the front. Who knows how it really was.”
Lyubov Brukh (Palchevska) (1930-2010)
Lyubov was born on July 25th, 1930, in Lviv. She received primary and secondary education in Lviv. Since 1937 she had studied in “Ridna shkola” named after Borys Hrinchenko, later in a gymnasium, secondary school #34. During the Nazi occupation a member of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists “Lysohor” lived in a house of the Palchevskiy family. In 1945 Lyubov became a member of the Youth network of the OUN (under the pseudonym “Prut”). She was arrested on January 28th, 1947, while studying in the 10th grade. Lyubov was sentenced by the Military tribunal as a person under age to 10 years in corrective settlements. Until she turned 18 years old Lyubov was kept in a settlement in the city of Poltava, since 1950 she was kept in the GULAG of Inta (The Komi Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic). In 1954 she was released from the camp and sent to her parents, who since 1947 had served their sentence in Anzhero-Sudzhensk. In 1964 she came back to Ukraine together with her husband. Due to the prohibition to live in Lviv, Lyubov settled in the town of Chervonohrad. Since 1990 she had lived in Lviv. Lyubov died in 2010.
A settlement for the underaged in Lviv, 1947-1948
A settlement for the under aged in the village of Bozhkove, 1949-1950
“There were also iron plunk beds, while in the north they were wooden and there were bedbugs. We were able to walk and to run as much as we wanted. And there (in the settlement for the underaged in Lviv, where Lyubov Brukh was kept in 1947-1948 – editor’s note) it was not like that. In Poltava there were straw mattresses, because there were no woods. Administration was different there. They knew that we were modest girls and that we behaved properly. And they treated us like that… We did not break the rules, because those who were sentenced for domestic crimes often went to men’s prison – they were thrown into punishment-cells for that. But we never did it. We did not go to men. Men did not come to us. And administration did not have to worry about this. Our girls were mainly from villages, so they were doing various agricultural works. There was a big garden – we picked apples.”
In Inta camps, the 1950s
“How did the punishment-cell look like? – It was wooden; walls were made of beams and covered with moss so that the wind wouldn’t get inside. There were doors, even floor, I don’t remember very well. – Did they give you water or bread? – Yes, they gave us bread and water. – A regular portion? – No, probably 200 grams. – What episodes from the camp life do you remember? – I was in the fourth women’s subdivision. The head of the convoy threw me in a barrack of strict regime for two months. In the barrack there were plank beds. Then in the canteen we were given some food. Then we went to work. But in this barrack of strict regime you were locked almost the whole time. You come from work; they lock you in and bring you some food. If you received any packages they wouldn’t let you have them. So after work you were locked the whole time. I was with one woman from Latvia in this barrack of strict regime. So one time we came from work soaking wet. And our brigade was chosen to carry wood for heating of the military subdivision. It was forest-tundra; there were no big trees, just some smaller ones. So I took a little tree…He told me in Russian, ‘Take this one’. I said, “I won’t take this one, it’s too heavy for me. I have a long sentence to serve”. I said, “I can’t, if I carry such big trees then I won’t live to see the day when I’m released”. – ‘I’m telling you take this one and go there’. I said, “I won’t”. We were in a zone that was surrounded from every side and we were not allowed to go outside that zone. He told me, ‘Go outside the zone, there are bigger trees’. I told him, ‘I won’t go outside the zone’. – “I’m telling you to go!” I said, “I won’t go”. We were not allowed to go outside the zone. He would have shot me and would have told that I was trying to escape. He wrote a report against me. The head of the regime was in our camp. No one liked him because he was very unkind. And probably the convoy did not like him either. And he wrote that I sold Soviet government and that I said about the head of the regime that he is “…croaking, croaking, but has not kicked the bucket yet”. I never said those words, because the head of the regime had nothing to do with my situation. And that head of the regime said, ‘So I can’t kick the bucket!’ He kicked me so much, he was beating me up. He was drunk, I fell down after each his strike. He was kicking and kicking me. There was a convoy in the room but they all left. They couldn’t watch it.”