Oleksiy Zakharkiv Олексій Захарків

* 1944

  • “So I remember, you know, I was like in a dream, that…. I saw, because we, I say, that our house was close to the church. And I ran around as a kid, because I was already, I was 3 years old. I ran there, apparently, to, closer to, maybe to the church. I remember the cross, the big cross. There, in Russia, well, graves, and I was small, and I think, “where am I” I have a large cross in my memories. And I remember that there was also a bell, bells, bells. Somewhere there, the bells were on the low level, my mother mentioned I even hit them, to ring the bells, you know. But, interestingly, I was already running here, and when I (moved there), I was back to crawling. I couldn't walk. I don't know how we survived. When we lived in that small settlement, we didn't have what to eat. That was a collective farm, it wasn't a factory, it was different. For those who remained in a factory, it was easier. Because they worked for a month, they received the money. And here they gave... So in Soviet times, it was like this... You worked on a collective farm - they paid only when they harvested grain, and they also gave you some grain, and here it was... And there was the village of Pokrovka nearby, it was a different district, it was the Leninsk-Kuznetskyi district, and my sister took me. And I also remembered it for, for, for all my life. I remember how she took me because I... She was 10 years older than me, and we went to that village to beg, to beg for money. [...] And when I first... When we were in that village... I ate so much bread, I almost died. My mom used to cook a fat-hen, she fried it somehow, and also cooked nettles. Tatars taught us to eat ground squirrels, and it saved us from starvation. Do you know what suslyks are? They are ground squirrels in Ukrainian. And later, we even caught ground squirrels. I had special traps, I set them to... And they stood on their hind legs and whistled, and so I walked around, and where I saw them, I found those holes and set up the traps.”

  • "On each train car, there were guards from NKVD, who didn't allow to go out at the stations, well, only one person was allowed to go out to bring boiling water there. And the children were there with their parents and young people. And the only thing was that... I was 3 years old when I was evicted, the only thing that stuck in my memory, the thing I felt, was that it seemed to me that there was some big corridor there, and that was a train car. And at first, when we were taken away, I really wanted, I cried, I wanted milk. And milk... Well, until this day, when I watch someone rinse potatoes, I feel disgusted, I feel nauseous. And it turns out there was a situation where the guards who were standing at the entrance, wanted to... There were a lot of our girls, not only from Lviv but from Zolochiv district, there were also girls from Stryj district. And they wanted to make friends with them. And they, well they didn't want to have any relation with them, and they restricted, even at stations, they restricted people from our train car from going outside to bring water. And when I, for example... When I was thirsty, and there was no water, and people were rinsing potatoes, and I drank that water, and until this day I feel disgusted, in moments like that, when I see a similar situation."

  • "And the older brother - Zakharkiv, Zakharkiv Vasyl, studied at the gymnasium in Zolochiv. Well, at that time, it was clear that our family couldn't give him this kind of education, everything was... And those brothers from America helped. And, well, brother, he finished this, the gymnasium, and I don't know all the data when he, well, joined the UPA. And in 1945, when there were already Muscovites, and there was a hiding place in our yard, where somewhere in January in the garrison, which was almost like... They were walking... Near the... I forgot... It was near the church, and people say it was broken ground. There are ditches and forests, and there was a very strong insurgent movement. More than forty young men from our village were killed in that insurgent movement alone. And they surrounded the house quickly, maybe they were acting on a tip-off, it's unknown why it happened. And it was winter, and everyone from our house, everyone escaped, and only my mother remained, I was then... well, even... I was in[19]44… I was lying in the cradle, and there also was a nephew, he was of the same age as me because my older sister was already married. And I was born very late because my father was taken by the Germans to work as an ostarbeiter in Germany. And my father worked in Germany somewhere in Austria for more than 2 years. And after that, after my father, after he returned from Austria, then I was born in [19]44. And then they started looking for a hiding place, well, no one, everyone was afraid in the village, they were surrounded, no one came to the neighbors. And they, in fact, they found a way out of hiding, which was... Well, it was further on the territory. And they began from there, they were afraid to go there, and they began to collect straw that was in the barn and to throw it there and set fire to hay there, to make them come out. There were four boys, and so... It continued for four days, and they couldn't do anythin', and later they started because there was a school near the church, as always there was a school, and there was a well, and they carried water from that well and wanted to pour it or something like that. The fact is, the fact is, they forced, well, they forced my mother to crawl inside the hiding through the hatch. When my mother went down there for the first time, those guys were still alive. And they asked if they could, she said, if they could escape. And my mother says that it is impossible because there is a garrison around. And then, when she came out, they asked her, she said there was no one in there. At that time, they still did not believe. The fact is that during these days, they constantly, well, burned all the straw and hay, smoking them out from there. My mother, she was driven there three times, and during the third time, when they came there, she said that there was no one inside, as of that moment the guys already shot themselves. They already... She said that Vasyl was sitting like that against the wall with a pistol, he had a small pistol and already… Well, one was left, one was left, and he actually survived, he came out. His father was the head of the village council during the first, as people say, during the first Soviet occupation, and the Germans took him away, and he disappeared. And so he had reasons, I do not know how, no one knows what happened there, how it happened there. And he, in fact, survived. After the war, he was the principal of a school somewhere in Radekhiv district, but his mother lived in the village, but he never came to the village, and I never saw him, and I, in fact, don't know him. Because after that, when they wanted, when those guys there... They were shooting, and my mother was beaten later because she said there was no one there. And she was beaten so hard, she was even given communion, they thought she wouldn't live. And one of their commanders said my mother had to be shot, they took her out of the house and... But one of them, I don't know, he wanted, he said, ´I can't sin against the God by making these two kids orphans.´ And, and my mother survived.

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    Lviv, 23.07.2021

    duration: 02:03:02
    media recorded in project Lost Childhood
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“I thought Siberia was my homeland” - story of a Ukrainian boy evicted at the age of three

Zakharkiv Oleksiy (on the left side) with his friend Kachan Yaroslav, who was relocated from Zboriv district. Siberia, village Novopestery (now - Novopesterovo), Kemerovo region, 1953
Zakharkiv Oleksiy (on the left side) with his friend Kachan Yaroslav, who was relocated from Zboriv district. Siberia, village Novopestery (now - Novopesterovo), Kemerovo region, 1953
photo: pamětník

Oleksiy Zakharkiv was born on October 19, 1944, in the village of Uhortsi. He was the youngest sixth child in the family of Ivan and Matrona Zakharkiv. The eldest brother Vasyl served in the Ukrainian insurgent Army UPA and died during a raid on a hideout in the family yard. In October 1947, the family was evicted to Prokopyevsk, Kemerovo region, RSFSR. Due to the health issues of his parents and the death of another brother Mykola at the mine, they moved to the countryside - first to Novopesterevo and then to Gorskino, Guryevsky district, where Oleksiy went to school. In 1962 he returned to Ukraine with his mother. After Ukraine gained independence and established the Union of Political Prisoners, he became the head of the Union’s branch in Sykhiv district, Lviv. Oleksiy’s brothers and sisters remained in Siberia.