Today, 6th of August, 2004, we are in Strehaia, at our aunt Dolina, of Suliman.
No, not of Suliman, of Rista the old one and of Father Nicolae.
Live long and may God give you lots of health and strength and many good days in your life!
Your words in Gods ear!
And let Him open your way to Him aunt Dolina, please tell us the story of the Bug!
I’ll tell you. I will tell you what I know!
Please tell us what you know. Do not let anything untold!
What I remember… Well, when we left Romania, from our place, the gadji put us all together. That one, what was his name … say it as it is hard for me to say right now what his name was? …Don’t you remember?
Soţul: How can I remember?!
Antonescu, Antonescu he took us, he took us, and the Romanians from all the places, and the Jews. Those were Jews and they took us all. They gathered us in fall. We arrived there in winter. We arrived. Arrived in winter. They put us in huts. When they took us, they said, they said that they would give us houses, when they took us, houses, cows, pigs, calves, food of all kinds, they said they would give us carts, horses. We also had that, we went with our own carts . They took us in carts all the way to Russia.
Please tell us, that you were older then, you were the eldest of the brothers, the eldest sister.
The big one!
God bless you and be near you. Do not rush. Remember, how they took you, I want the story as it was. May God give you wisdom.
And may he give you luck!
They took us. We got there. Again, escorted by the army. Did you see, war. Where he took us there, we arrived at night at the huts, there. The ones who got one, took one hut, who did not get, remained outside behind the huts. You know what we did that night? A blizzard started and it was so cold that we fitted up to ten families in a hut, in the ground, there was no chimney, no stove, no bed, nothing. There were beds made out of earth risen up like that up and down. Up and down. We sat like that and made fire in the middle of the huts. But there in the middle where we lit fire, there also was a lot of smoke. This got into your eyes. So much smoke, you could not see a thing. .
Aunt Dolina, are your eyes still dreaming about the huts, do you still see yourself there?
I do not, not anymore!
Yo do not remember?
I do not remember any more! We used to walk to the village to collect everything that the gadjii would give us. Others would not give us anything. We used to go there because we had nothing to eat and we just received portion. They would give us a wheel of “unduh”, those beaten creams, that was what we got. We could hardly break a piece of it when we ate it. Some did not get. We were starving to death. They lived behind the huts. In the morning when I went out the huts, I found them on the huts, staying in line. And when they sat on one side to sleep, they froze there until the morning because of the heavy snowing and the blizzard, so the frost definitely squeezed them.
They died, and died, and died. I was still crying, I was still screaming, I was grieving, I went to our kindred. We were looking at them, at the dead ones who were our relatives. We would go and find our kindred, our uncles, our aunts, our people. All the grandchildren dead piled up. They had already taken the horses and the wagons. We were left as that, not knowing where they took us. We stayed that way without knowing where they took us. Some stayed with the wagons, remained there on the hearth, the place from where we went to organize ourselves to run away, because the horses could not walk and they had nothing to eat, there was nothing left, the horses no longer had fodder.
We had no means to feed them. There were whole tents left in the blizzard. I spent the night with my mother there, with my father and my brothers, the three of them, that I still have three brothers. And I was the eldest of the brothers, and I had two brothers and a sister. That’s who we were. Three brothers. And we remained me and my mother and a brother. And we stayed there, what else to do? Everyone left. Many, so many, all of them. They left tents, they left the horses, they left children there on the hearth. There was no fire. There was nothing. We were on the opening of a valley, like that, as you see a hill. A hill beyond and a hill beyond. And from that valley we went to the village, and the village was far away. Tiraspol. You’ve heard of Tiraspol? There in Tiraspol. When we went out into the world, what to do? What did my mother do? She was brave! Some Roma got beef. An ox that had died. He had died, or I don’t know, they cut him off, who knows? ! My mother took and prepared, gathered the coals in the hearth, took from all over the place wood, and made a great fire in that man’s tent, because that man was rich, but he had left his tent and cart as much as God. And he also had the horses there inside… Now, now I’m telling the story, to get there! Well, I picked it up and I left. Our mother took it and made us food. She took some liver, took some meat, which she also found and prepared for us this and the other, until the warm sun came out. And one day, like a little later, that’s where we left. And my mummy took a piece of that tens material, that tent was made of goat’s hair, she cut off and found a needle there and thread, there were some bags from a woman, that remained up in the wagon, and she found in there a needle, she found thread and took my ma and cut out of that piece of tent and made us opinci (*leather footwear) for our feet. She also put some on our hands to keep us warm because of the cold. And we were going … May God give good luck and health! We were walking down the road, only the four of us. What we saw in the fields, on the roads?! Look, like this, this many dead people. Women with little children in their arms, they sat at the side of the road like that. Mother, my father, was gone, gone was my father! Mom, look my father died too! Mother, listen, we will not find him, there in Tiraspol. He left to bring us something to eat, and he didn’t come back at all. Should I tell you about the arks of the vines too?
They never came. They left us. They never came back. We walked, we walked, we walked. We enter the village. There was a woman, beautiful, red, beef, dressed, in the ditch. The sun was kind of shining. There was a little bit of sunshine in that ditch and here was a fence of thorns., on this side, where we had entered the village. What did we have here? She was sitting in the ditch, on the leaves, that woman. She had a blouse, a skirt, an apron, a beautiful woman, dressed nicely. And in her hands, she was holding two potatoes. That’s how he sat with them! When I saw her! Look mom, we will die too, just as that woman died! Do not be afraid, we will arrive in the village soon. Where did we arrive? Right in a big house. And who was there? My Uncle, Parolea’s Rista. You know him. May God forgive him! My Aunt Zambila, she wasn’t home, she wasn’t there. She had been lost ever since… She too has been lost… She had left when my uncle Rista found her. Well, we went in there. We find a big fire and a great tin from his daughters-in-law, on that fire. They had cooked meat for food! They had eaten! They put plates for us. They put us food and we eat. What else were we supposed to do, dear? This was our luck! Our luck was that we did not die. What we saw, many, all of them, dead on the roads. As the cows go, that’s how we saw people in piles, that’s how they fell. Why were they dying, I don’t know? What we stayed there, we stayed there, and we stayed there, one more day, until the time got better. And we see the Gajii leave. People were leaving. We gathered our stuff and left too. Everybody. We left with all the others. Where we went? We just walked, on foot. We did not travel by car, by train, by nothing as we had none. O foot. Hey dear, hold on, hey dear, hold on tightly because the shot us, with cannons and rifles. Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid dear mother. We walked together. Wherever Roma walked, wherever people walked, we followed. We walked, we walked. Arrived. I don’t remember where we arrived. Shall I remember? At the Dniester? At the Dniester! They hit with wagons the Gadjii. Gadjii who were soldiers in the army. They travelled with us. The Gadjii were hitting. Shooting children, people. They were shooting, they were running away.! Where we had stayed in the huts, people would go to bring food from the village, if they could, what else could be done. That whoever they caught they would shoot. Many also died of hunger and thirst. I would take the snow with the bags off the dead bodies and drink the water.
But, why would you take the water of the dead?
Well, there was no water, we had no place to take water from. So, we took the snow that covered the dead people, as it started to melt. That’s how we found water! That water was flowing from the dead and we were drinking from there. And where some of them died, some would succeed to bury them, like that on the field. Some had no pants. Naked, pour world, pour soul. Some were teared apart by dogs; dogs would dig them out and eat them up. Some people would eat even mules, horses, just to survive. Those who had goldies, those would bring and buy food for themselves. They would buy in the village; they would not eat horses like those who had nothing to eat. Some of them brought food, they would sell salt by a spoonful. Cheese, cottage cheese, they would sell it by a spoon. People would sell off all they had, those who had what to sell. They were bringing, people were bringing in. They were buying, they were going to trade, just to survive. So, I don’t know how, there was nothing left to eat. The others, who had no money, they had no means to buy! Of! And so those gadjii took us and brought us to that camp I told you about, there in Tiraspol. We left for the Dniester. People were at war; it was so crowded you had no place to put a needle. Trough mud and God knows, trough earth, wherever there were cracks, we went through, we walked through mud we would get up and fall back. The women with small children would leave them on the ground, the very small ones they just left on the ground, the little bit older ones, of two three years, they would tell them “Stay here, I go get some food”. And they would leave them there on the road, and the child would stay and wait for the mother to bring food. And would remain there. Russian women would take them. Also, many of our people back there in Russia who found them on the roads would take children in. And we came, we somehow crossed and we finally God, we arrived in Larga. Larga, on the other side of the Prut. And there we were caught up by typhus. We were sick with typhus. And my uncle got sick, with him, all his children, Parolea’s Ristea. They had still not found my aunt by then. They met with her on this other side, on this side, my uncle met her. That’s how it was. And so we returned afflicted, bewildered from Russia. My uncle, my father’s brother Titi, died, and my uncle Didi and his son Zdrălea died., Verdeana, the maiden. They died, they died.
Who was Vedeana Seibari?
My uncle’s daughter, Didi’s. She died a virgin, virgin, what to tell you. They again, the son of Filica, also a lad, died, or I don’t know, he didn’t stay there, we didn’t know about each other. When we went after them, we found them on this other side after we returned. They searched around here, they searched over there, they didn’t find them. They remained back there. We suffered and lived lots of trouble, enough sorrow. Until we started moving around, until we got used to the food. We were no longer going to the village. People were coming, the Romanians and they were crying on us, and they were giving us wood, they were giving us help to build houses here in Vânj. In Vânju Mare, that’s where we ended up making houses. We then built houses right away. You know where Vânju is?
Tell me aunt, I heard that you too sent the papers to get the money from the Bug?
And did you take the money?
I took. They gave me twice.
How much did you get?
They gave me one time…. Two hundred… two hundred. And they gave me a second time fifty million (* Lei).
And what do you think, does this money pay the suffeings of those who died?
Way not, our things remained, our things, our clothes, our pillows, the blankets, all that we had, we had clothes, all things remained there. We took only what we could take faster to run away. Geez! God forbids! You’ve seen when a house burns and there’s fire, you don’t take anything anymore. You just run as you are to escape. That’s exactly how we escaped back there. We didn’t take anything. We came up with what we were wearing. We remained poor. We had no place to take wagons from. Everything remained in front of those huts.
Can you remember events that hurt your heart? Please tell.
Well yes, how could I not!
Please tell us too, as these events are unknown!
There was enough sorrow, enough suffering. What can I tell you about that. We had my grandmother there, my aunt. I also had a brother. They all remained there. An older brother that was. Brătean. That was much older and he remained dead there. We could not do a thing. God bless their souls. God bless them. We had more than our share of suffering. I was screaming, I was crying that we weren’t getting over here anymore. We almost did not get back, … if we didn’t return then, we would have had stayed there permanently. We had enough sorrow, enough suffering. And we were walking barefoot on the ploughs and those stoups were entering our feet. We couldn’t come anymore. We were also hungry and thirsty. On the roads we came, they would throw airplanes on our heads. We were hiding at night in the dark and stayed glued to the ground on our bellies, we laye dlike this. When we would light a small fire to bake some grains or roast something, no, no we could bnot. We were afraid. When the hit, they were bombing everything. We were afraid thet if thy see a fire on the ground, they would bomb us and kill us.
And you het a pension from the Romanian Government, from here were you were, from Romania?
Pension that you were at the Bug? How much?
Nine hundered thousand.
Do these money help you out, can you buy medicine and all you need out of it?
It does not cover all costs. It is not enough. I do not feel a thing. What can you buy with one hundred thousand(*Lei). And I am sick, I suffer of rheumatism as you can see! I got the rheumatism from there.
Out of the hut?
Yes, from the huts. Becouse of the cold. We had no water, we had no food, If our old ones could escape and bring us food, we ate, if not we stayed like that, hungy. There also was my aunt, Zambila, who hepled us, she had a joung husband who would escape and run everywhere, Rista traded oil, he traded foods, meat. You think I lie when I say this? I do not! This is how it was. Well, he brought oil, he brought booze and he would give it also to my mother, becouse she was Zambila’s sister, the two were sisters and they loved each other dearly. Just like her husband loved his children, he loved Tobală, Mihai, and the other one, what was his name…?
I forgot to ask you, what was your father’s name and your mother’s name?
My mother’s name was Martha. God rest her soul!
Did you know her?
I’ve heard about her!
A beautiful, beautiful woman. My father was Nica’s Rista, the Old One.
And Nica the Old Onem whos son was he, do you rememberi?
I do not remember that far, this I do not know!
Live long and be lucky!
You be lucky too, and healthy! He was a brother of Father Cianghiri, a brother, just that I do not know who’s sons they were?