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Ivan Mengleev, About Exile



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Terbish, Baasanjav 


Ivan talks about how Kalmyks were sent to exile in 1943 by Stalin’s regime. Ivan was born in Tebeketenerovo in Volgograd oblast. His father died in 1937. Ivan says that on 28 December 1943 at 6 am Soviet soldiers came to his house, gave them 15 minutes to get dressed and told them to take nothing with them. They were transported on the sleigh to the Abganerovo station which was already filled with other Kalmyks transported from Ketchenery, Maloderbetovskiy, Sarpinskiy rayons and the nearby villages in the Volgograd region. People were loaded onto the train carts at night. Nobody knew where they were going and for what. The train journey lasted for 3 days without a stop. Then the door opened and somebody asked: ‘Are there any dead there?’ In Ivan’s cart there was one dead young man, who was removed. Those who died on the way were loaded into a separate cart. On each feeding stop, food was given in the following way: 2 men were asked from each cart to come out with 2 buckets and a bag. The buckets were filled with soup and the bag with bread. Since there were many people in the carts, each person was given a bowl of soup and a piece of bread. After 15 days they reached Barnaul where they were put in barracks for 3 weeks. Afterwards they were scattered across Pavlovskiy rayon. There Kalmyks were also temporarily placed in school, and later relocated to houses and barracks. Together with his older brothers Ivan started to work. They only ate potatoes and secretly went to a place where dead animals were thrown away. The brothers stole skin from the dead animals and brought it home to cook. Workers were given a kilo of bread each while their dependents only half a kilo. In 1946 the husband of Ivan’s elder sister arrived to join the family. He was Bembya Kheichiev, a Hero of the Soviet Union. The same year Ivan’s other maternal relative also returned. He was Baatr Mandzhiev, also a Hero of the Soviet Union. Bembya Kheichiev died under obscure circumstances in 1954 in the vicinity of Biysk. At the end of the interview Ivan relays an old Kalmyk saying that ‘When a camel slips a thousand more follow (i.e. also slip)’, meaning that only because of a few Kalmyks who collaborated with the Germans the whole nation was punished and sent to exile.




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Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Documentation Project, University of Cambridge

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