Interview with 'V' (Chernivtsi)

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Key information

Title: Interview with V. (AHRC AH/1025883/1/7)
Date: 25/03/2011
Interviewer: Nadezhda Beliakova (NB)
Interviewee: Interviewee, V. (V)
Transcriber:
Duration: 1 hour(s) 32 minutes and seconds
Location: Chernivtsi, Ukraine

Conversation

V What questions do you have for me? I’m not a bigwig, you know. But as a witness to our life, to my generation… I was born in 1943, so I’m one of the war children, as they say now, and this period...
NB Were you born in Russia?
V I was born in Vladikavkaz. I can’t remember much from my childhood there. I was 6 when my parents moved here, so my childhood, youth, young adult life were spent here, I regard my younger years here in Chernivtsi as more like home than the place where I was born. I’ve been back to my birthplace, after all, where your spiritual world opens up for you, and for me the Chernivtsi church is the cradle of my spiritual development and make-up…
NB Were your parents religious believers?
V Yes
NB Evangelical Christians?
V For the very reason they were believers they were forced to resettle here. Immediately after the War a hard line was taken, even though Stalin had signed the Yalta Agreement on religious freedom, but they, Stalin and the ideological people, I don’t know who they all were, they wanted a church that would be compliant, let’s say, to them. And the legislation then even went so far as to forbid any charitable activity in church. My father had a friend in the church there, and another a very close friend, there was a problem for all three of them because of a bit of chintz. I remember my first trousers when I was 5 years old were made out of rags like this, there was nothing else. So they bought a dress for one of the sisters, she was a religious believer, they gave it to her as a present and for that they each received 15 years. So they… that’s how things were then, I expect you know all about this, but literally up to the 1990s there wasn’t a situation where the leadership of the church, the Presbyter, others, well, they couldn’t approach those in charge simply to expel people from the church, they had to have… they had to be given a green light, I mean certain powers, and somehow they were lots of people tied up with them, I mean absolutely everybody reported, the next day the guy in charge knew who had said what, who had made a speech, who was visiting. Guests were forbidden, that wasn’t allowed.
NB Was this here in Chernivtsi?
V It happened here and it also happened there.
NB Did you father get 15 years there?
V Not my father, his friends.
NB His friends?
V The situation was very tough, children were forbidden… I remember one time when I was on my father’s shoulders at the service. I didn’t go again, they forbade it, the Presbyter said not to come with children. That’s how it was, you just read the Gospels… it was despite everything, we had read the Gospels, Christ said do not forbid people from going to Church with their children – and they decided to go away right then to Bukovina, it had just been liberated. The Romanians had been in charge, it used to part of the territory of Romania. There was a lot more freedom with regard to religious issues there. So there, my parents moved here, the family.
NB Was it a large family?
V When we moved it wasn’t that large, there were three of us children, and when we were here another five children were born. Eight children in my family. I was the eldest in the family. The service was on Krasnoarmeyskaya Street, I would go there as a child even though I didn’t understand much. However, it provided its own positive nuance, even if an unconscious one, you didn’t realize it but it left something in your memory afterwards in the future, a lot of baggage for spiritual cognition. Even about what you can do and what you can’t, for instance, for children to know what is possible and what isn’t.