European Memories

of the Gulag

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Earning a living (trudodni)

“Say you did your five days. Then you went to the storeman. You brought your little canvas bag. For five days’ work you were allowed 200g of oatmeal. The storeman said, “Here’s your quota for five days. Here, this is for you.” He’d put two scoops of flour on the scales. And it was like that every five days.

I’d go back home with this milled oatmeal. There was bran in it. Mother would sieve it and boil up the bran. And she made a drink with it. It was good; I really liked it! She would mash the beetroot and potatoes and make potato cakes. That was our bread.”