Forest

 

 

An essential part of Siberia, the taiga was an inevitable feature of life for the resettlers. The forest was an ambiguous place: associated with the pain of the work of the resettlers allocated to logging kolkhoz, with freezing cold and fear, it also offered essential supplements to their rations. From 1941 to 1946 in particular, when war made the resettlers’ living conditions appalling, the berries, nettles and other plants were eaten for food or as makeshift medicine. The children, who usually had the task of picking them, made a direct contribution to family survival.

The taiga was a daily feature of the resettlers’ lives: they worked in it, felled its trees, and walked through it. The majesty and extent of the Siberian forest left them with striking memories of sights, sounds and smells. Even in the privacy of the home, with its decorations of flowers and carved wood, the Siberian environment was one of the factors the families clung to to ease the violence of their deportation and improve their living conditions.