Marie Koval

* 1935

  • “D. P.: Did you family have a large farm in Varvarovka? M. K.: No, we didn’t have much, the kolkhoz took everything. We were given only… we had twenty-five hectares next to our house, and that was all, we didn’t have anything else, they took everything from us. The kolkhoz took the land from the farmers in 1917, and it happened to our neighbours, too. They had a nice farm and labourers there, but the kolkhoz took everything from them. They didn’t have any land then. They had had bees before, but it was all taken from them in 1917, too. So we had only what we have now, the little plot next to our house. D. P.: Did you have any livestock? M. K.: We had a cow, hens, and a pig in order to have a supply of meat. But when the kolkhoz was established, during Stalin’s rule, we had to deliver hundred and fifty eggs from each hen. And a great amount of milk from every goat we had. Nothing was left for us. And if we slaughtered an animal, we had to give them the meat. We also paid taxes from every tree: what people thus did was that they would sprinkle salt under the trees so that the trees would wither and they would not have to pay for them. It was horrible, but it was necessary to do it to keep the farm. They suffered a lot during the war. That’s the way it is, you have a nice time, and everything is wonderful, and all of a sudden – wham! And we are down again (laughing). That’s the way it is.”

  • “D. P.: So you were born in Varvarovka… M. K.: Yes. D. P.: And was it a large village? M. K.: Well, just like Kirillka… D. P.: How many people lived there? M. K.: Well, I don’t even know... There was a lot of Czechs, just like in Kirillka. There were about one hundred houses there. None of them lives there anymore. D. P.: And they were all Czechs? M. K.: All of them were Czechs. The Russians were sent in there later, but I don’t remember when. They were called settlers and they were sent there from Voronezh. The kolkhoz first built houses for them and prepared everything for them. They brought them from there to help here. As settlers to live alongside the Czechs. Many of the Czechs have already died by that time and we the young people were leaving. Well, we couldn’t really leave, because we didn’t have passports; they would not give us passports. D. P.: Just like everywhere in kolkhozes… M. K.: The newcomers then lived with us. D. P.: That was already after the war, right? M. K.: It was after the war, and after the revolution, in 1917. Around that time. There were Russian people there as well, and they began to mingle with the Czechs. Originally there were only Czechs. They arrived there, and there was a forest. They were working the land, planting vineyards, lot of wine was produced there. They had nice farms and they farmed there. There was a Czech house in Novorossiysk, and they were bringing things from Varvarovka to the Czech house. They were harvesting smoke bush. You don’t know what it is, right? It’s a kind of plant. They were making a lot of money from it, because they were exporting it to Czechoslovakia. It made nicely coloured clothes. They were using it in the tanning process to make leather, and earning money on it, too. That’s how they lived here.”

  • “My mom was attacked by a bitch wolf. They were harvesting the smoke bush and the guys had wanted to catch this bitch wolf. They found her den where she had her small puppies, and they dug a hole and threw the puppies in there and expected the wolf to get in for them. The wolf has done a lot of damage and they wanted to catch her. But the wolf was not so stupid as they thought and it didn’t get into the hole and continued to do even more damage. My parents were working on harvesting the smoke bush, it grows in small shrubs, and as she was bent low with the sickle in her hand, she suddenly looked up and the bitch wolf was standing in front of her. Mom froze in horror. Whenever she talked about it later, she was still trembling with fear. She would always say: ‘Don’t go into that forest!’ ‘You think the wolves are there?’ ‘They can be there.’ She always talked about it: she raised her head and there was the wolf standing in front of her. They looked into each other’s eyes. Mom began screaming and all the workers came running to her, and they began beating their sickles against stones to make noise and the wolf then turned around and went away. Were it for one second longer, she would have attacked her, but mom was screaming so loudly that the others heard her, and they realized that the wolf was coming there again and doing even more damage as if in revenge for the puppies. And she came to my mom, as she said: she was standing two metres from me and staring at me. So there had been many animals. But the people still lived there and worked there. But there is no forest there anymore, the mountains are still there, but the nature is not what it used to be when they arrived there.”

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    Kirillovka u Novorossijsku, 17.05.2009

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It was the same in the villages everywhere

  Marie Koval (née Hrachová) is a Czech native from northern Caucasus. She was born in 1935 in Varvarovka near Anapa in a Czech family. Her brother Venoušek died when he was five years old. She worked in a kolkhoz in Varvarovka, and then she married a Ukrainian from Kirillovka. She stayed at home raising her children there for four years, afterwards she worked as a train conductor and then as a laboratory technician in a fuel depot for the following thirty years. From the stories of her grandmother, who came from Brno, and her mother she knows a lot about the history of the Czech community near Anapa and Novorossiysk and she herself witnessed many events from the period of WWII and the following years. She speaks the Czech dialect fluently and she adheres to her Catholic faith, although her children were baptized in the Geek Orthodox Church and they do not speak Czech.