Grigori Kovalchuk : Birth and deportation

 

“In those days, my village was called Boriskovich, that was in 1944, in the middle of the war.

I never knew my father, at least I have no memory of him. When western Ukraine was occupied by the Nazis…

Yes, my father was a firefighter and my mother a housewife. At that time, before 1940, western Ukraine belonged to Poland and my mother was a farm labourer for a rich Polish landowner. Then she married my father, a long time ago, of course, long before I was born.

All I can tell you is that my father did not take part in the war. He would go back and forth between the village and the forest where other farmers were hiding. From time to time he would come home and I suppose that it was on one of those occasions that I was made, so to speak, during a visit. Then, what I do know is that he was denounced and killed.

He was killed by those they later called the Banderovci, Bandera partisans, and a month and a half later I was born, that was 1944. It was in this village that we lived until it was liberated by the Red Army, and in 1949, or 1948, I don’t remember that either, there was another denunciation and all our family, except our father, of course, my mother had five children, I was the youngest, all the family were arrested and exiled to the north in the Arkhangelsk region near the large town of Kotlas. We lived there for 18 months, I was very ill, the climate was sub-Arctic. My mother had five children, but only three of them were exiled: me, my sister who looked after me and one of my brothers. The other two brothers stayed in Ukraine with relatives.

 

Do you know why your father hid in the forest with other men? 
No, no, I couldn’t tell you. Of course, we asked our mother and she told me that my father did not want to fight in the war, he didn’t want to take sides. He hid so as not to be called up, either by the Soviets or by the Germans.

So he was denounced as a deserter?
Yes, that’s it: my mother said that when the Soviets arrived he even hung a red flag from his house.”

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Grigori Kovalchuk in Kaltuk, Siberia, 28 September 2009
© CERCEC & RFI


All available extracts:

  1. Before deportation. His father dies
  2. Escaping from the occupying armies