Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Mark Webber - December 13, 2004

Working on a Kolkhoz

Do you remember where you were when you--when the news came that the war was over?

Well we were in Mirzachul. We had a, a short period of time we couldn't make a living. Suddenly this black-marketeering was too dangerous because if you were caught, and all this here, you would get um, uh, uh, possibly five or ten years' jail. So we were at a loss of what to do, so we heard that on the uh, kolkhoz, where they are um, you know, they're, they're--it's like a kibbutz...

Kind of like a farm?

...kind of a system, where it's all owned--but that's owned by the government. The kibbutz at least is owned by the members of the kibbutz. And uh, uh, but that particular kolkhoz was paying--for a day's labor they were paying uh, uh, one and a half kilograms of flour. So we made a quick calculation, that with all our workers in the family, we could have plenty to eat. So we went over there, and they gave us a house to live in with a small little garden. And uh, the fields there were mostly all cotton production--you planted cotton and you picked the cotton, and all that. But we never got any payment for work there. They--at first they uh, they said, "Well, we'll give it to you with grain instead of flour." They never gave us grain either. So mostly we sustained ourselves with what we were growing in our little garden that we had, and with what we were stealing from other neighboring fields. Neighboring to, to the, to the cotton fields they were also having regular grain, so we would steal some of this grain, and bring it over to home. My mother would make some things with it and um, and that's how we sustained ourselves. We all suffered from malaria, we--that was probably at the lowest point at our stay in Russia, at that particular time. We figured if we wanted to survive, we have to just go back to town and to find another means of surviving. So uh, um, I got very sick over there and I was considered already by my family as a goner. I had malaria and I had dysentery and I don't know what other ailments I had, but I couldn't uh, eat anything, and I was just running constantly, and I was motionless. I was just lying, without moving, and just one day I uttered that I would like a glass of wine. I just came to, and, "I would like a glass of wine." So my sister Bronia--the one that is in Israel now--went to town, to Mirzachul uh, in a sand--because there was no paved roads, just sand roads, and uh, she brought a glass of wine, and I sipped that wine, and that was my cure. It brought me back to life! Without that I think I would've been left in the--in that kolkhoz up there.

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