Jelena Ejchgorn

* 1953  

  • “What we remember – well, the village where we grew up was Novogradka, and we speak Czech. My husband is a German national, but he speaks Czech, and we speak Czech at home. (To her husband) Hello! Husband: I’m listening… And the children: they understand us, but they don’t speak. Russian is spoken everywhere, and so they speak Russian. We thus understand Czech and we ourselves speak Czech. Just like your parents? Yes, like our parents. Mother was a pure Czech, and grandmother was Czech, grandparent was Latvian, the second grandmother was Czech and the grandfather was Czech. And so we speak like that.”

  • “How a wedding looked like? At first, when they engage, the woman does not go out with the man like the Russians do; in our place it’s only men who go out to celebrate. And they were also shooting on the wedding day, during the whole day. When the young couple was to kiss, they would fire a shot and the bride and groom would kiss. Then they take off her wreath and they put a scarf on her head.” (So Količkova is that girl’s new name?) Yes, they always fill in her new surname. Now they shout ´hor´ instead, but it was not done when I was young – in my youth, they were shooting, and the couple then had to kiss.” Then we went and invited everybody from his family and then there was the wedding. They prepared flowers for the wedding, all the young people who were invited, and the girls created special flower ribbons and gave them to their sweethearts, to show that he was her boyfriend. Boys and girls were decorated with the ribbons.

  • “There is an oak tree growing in front of our window / There is an oak tree growing in front of our window / my blue-eyed sweetheart dances under it / my blue-eyed sweetheart dances under it / she dances, dances, and will keep dancing / she dances, dances, and will keep dancing / yesterday you were your mommy’s / yesterday you were your mommy’s / and now you are Količkova / and now you are Količkova. Then they take off her wreath and they put a scarf on her head. (So Količkova is that girl’s new name?) Yes, they always fill in her new surname, Količkova or whatever, it was either Czech, like Vinca or Tonda, now there are Russian names, like Kolja, which is not a Czech name.”

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    obec Repinka v Omské oblasti RF, 23.06.2012

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It was the Novohradka village, we grew up there

Jelena Ejchgorn
Jelena Ejchgorn
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Jelena Ejchgorn, née Švihel(ová), is a Czech native from western Siberia. She was born in 1953 in Novohradka (Omsk region) in an ethnically mixed family; she had Czech, Ukrainian, and Latvian grandparents. In 1976 she married a local German and they had three children. She worked as a kindergarten teacher, later she was a labour union leader in the local sovchoz, and now she is retired. Czech was spoken at home most of the time. She remembers the Czech customs and songs which were once widespread in the village.