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Polina Fedorova, About Cattle Breeding in Siberia

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Gedeeva, Darina 
Babaev, Andrei 


Polina lived in a yurt until the age of four and a half. They had two dogs that Polina loved to play with. Polina and her sister helped their mother and grandfather look after the livestock, while their father was away fighting the Nazis. During the deportation of the Kalmyk nation, Polina’s family managed to take a chest and a duvet with them. When the soldiers came to their house, Polina’s mother pleaded with them, ‘How am I supposed to feed the children and look after my father-in-law who has sent his three sons to the front?’ The Soviet officer took pity on her and ordered the soldiers to kill a sheep so that Polina’s family could take the meat on their journey. The family was exiled to Tymen’. When they arrived at the place of destination, three cattle carts full of Kalmyks were unloaded in Tyumen’ and the other four carts continued their journey on to Salekhard in Altai. At the Tyumen’ train station some Kalmyks jumped out of the carts by themselves, others were helped out. The train journey lasted from 29 December 1942 to 14 January 1943. Having spent more than two weeks on the train, Kalmyks were dirty and unwashed. At the Tyumen’ train station when they shook their clothes the snow underneath them turned black. At the station the exiled were sent straight to a gender segregated Russian sauna with cold floors. Since there was no soap, the people washed themselves with hot water only. There were a few men among them, either elderly or invalids who had returned from the front. The majority were women and children. After the sauna the Kalmyks were ordered to line up outside in the cold. Polina’s sister caught a cold. On their way to the village of Kulakovo, her sister died of lung inflammation. Upon their arrival, in the village Polina’s family received two cows, as her mother and grandfather had two different surnames: her mother’s surname was Indzhikova and her grandfather’s was Erendzhenov. But since they had nothing to feed the cows with, they were soon forced to give them up to the local kolkhoz. In the village Polina’s mother sewed military uniforms. Her grandfather did carpentry and helped people build fences. He also treated both sick people and livestock. As a fee he would receive food. Polina’s family did not go hungry, but they lived in cramped conditions, sharing a two-room house with five other families.



cattle, dogs, childhood, exile, Altai, family, cows

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Sponsored by Arcadia Fund, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.