Valerij Kulacký

* 1955  

  • “We, who have relocated, are called optants, or re-optants, to be precise, because based on a treaty with the Soviet Union we had opted to relocate. After the war, the Volhynian Czechs came here from the Ukraine, and we, citizens of Belarusian, Russian and Ukrainian nationality living in Czechoslovakia, were transferred to the places they had left. My mom came from a large family, and grandpa was therefore saying that the move would be good, because the Volhynian Czechs had left family houses, gardens, cows, cattle, and everything there. They were promised that they could have it all if they came to the Ukraine. Naturally, people were tricked into believing this and then they were disappointed. This transfer was actually a trick played on the people. There was nothing that they had been promised. They came there and problems began right away. At first, there were no flats for them. There were other people already living in the house, and they didn’t give them anything, and half a year later they began forcing them to join the agricultural cooperatives. My grandpa endured this for two years, and then he died of a stroke when he was fifty years old.”

  • “My aunt Haňa walked over the border. She was the eldest one, and they were returning on foot over the border between the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia, but they were caught by the border guard. All of them were sentenced for illegal crossing over the state border and they were interned in a gulag in Siberia. It was a tough punishment which served to deter others from trying to do the same.”

  • “Nobody could think about going back home. It only began after Stalin’s death. If some people had relatives, they would get an invitation from them and thus return home. Gradually we have returned. The first one to return was my grandma in 1964; this means it all took seventeen years of waiting and hope that they would return, from 1947 to 1964. It was a gradual journey. From Volhynia they went to Carpathian Ruthenia, which was closer to home, closer to the contacts they had there, and they were waiting there. They were looking for relatives who would write an invitation letter for them, but certain conditions had to be met. That person had to demonstrate some income, financial backing, a place to accommodate them… The first to get there was my grandma with her youngest son, my uncle, and then she gradually invited all her children to follow her, then aunt Haňa, and my mother and her family were actually the last ones.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Chomutov, 02.05.2006

    (audio)
    duration: 01:00:25
    media recorded in project Sudetenland destinies
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Czechoslovakia is my home...

Svatba rodicu pana Kulackeho.jpg (historic)
Valerij Kulacký
photo: soukromý archiv

  He was born in 1955 in the Soviet Union in the village of Boratyn in the Volhynian region of the Ukraine. Both his parents were Ukrainians, but his mother originally came from the Slovak village of Lutina, and his father from Poland. His parents were part of a group of Ukrainians and who had been “traded” for Volhynian Czechs after WWII. In 1957 he moved with his parents to the Ivano-Frankov region, where he studied in elementary and secondary school. After a one-year internship in forestry he studied at the Forestry Institute in Lviv, and then he began working in the Carpathian region. Since he was nine years old, he has been visiting the village of Lutina in Slovakia, which was his mother’s birthplace, and where his grandmother had meanwhile managed to return. His parents, and later also Valerij Kulacký himself, were making numerous attempts to return to Czechoslovakia, but before 1989 they had no chance to succeed. He eventually managed to relocate to the Czech Republic in 1994, and he settled in the village of Květnová near Karlovy Vary, where his aunt has already been living. He began working as a forestry expert in the Krušné Hory Forests company in Klášterec nad Ohří. At present he lives in Chomutov and he still works for the same company as a production manager. His son works as a truck driver, and his daughter is a student. Immediately after his arrival to Chomutov, Valerij Kulacký joined a local national movement of Ukrainians living in the area. His own initiative lead to the founding of the civic association called Bells of Hope, of which he is the chairman. He is also a member of the committee for ethnic minorities in the municipal council in Chomutov, and he serves as the vice-chairman for the organization the Ukrainian Initiative in the Czech Republic. Valerij Kulacký is a member of a group of Ukrainians from eastern Slovakia - people who have been in fact harmed by the return of Volhynian Czechs to their homeland, because people like him were sent to the Soviet Union in exchange for the Volhynians. Throughout the following decades most of them were striving to return to Czechoslovakia, but for many this dream has never come true. Their fate is yet another fragment in the mosaic which documents the massive movements of population that took place in central Europe after WWII. At the same time the story of Valerij Kulacký demonstrates the narrow-mindedness of those who habitually regard minorities, and especially Ukrainians living in our country, as a burden.