Interview recorded:Ladyzhyn, Vinnytsia oblast (region), Ukraine
This interview is about Ivan Nahorniuk, Volodymyr Voitiuk’s grandfather. He was born on the 7th of January 1922 and was a veteran of the Second World War.
He worked on a farm at the beginning of the war.
Some of his fellow farm workers and him were once sent to the exhibition of National Economy. The exhibition took place in Moscow, which was the capital of the USSR at that time.
Having returned back home from the exhibition, they wanted to organize a meeting and tell the people what they have seen there, because it was essential at that time to do so.
But the war started precisely at that time.
The farm workers were ordered to evacuate all the cattle. Perhaps if he were not forced to evacuate the cattle, my grandfather could have been mobilized, because he was 19 years at that time. But my grandmother, that is the grandfather’s wife, told that the events were unfolding extremely rapidly and that soldiers of the German Army were quite soon in the village.
While evacuating the cattle from the farm they united with some other herds of cattle they met on their way. Thus, they were noticed by the enemy and got under fire of the invaders’ aviation. Because of great losses they had to return home.
Our village was occupied by the enemy back then. It was announced that people would be taken away for some forced labour. But the Nazis kept it secret and made lists of names in the meanwhile. My grandfather definitely did not want to leave.
Grandpa’s cousin had to serve in the German police. But still he did not take part in any punitive operations; he only served as a guard there. Later on he imposed a penalty upon this service. Such people were of course seen as betrayers of the Soviet Union back then. People were really forced to act like this, even if under the other conditions they would have act the other way. Once my grandfather was held in the custody of the police, Nazis wanted to send him to Germany for some forced labour. Grandpa’s cousin let him free then.
Our grandfather returned to the village and stayed in hiding there. But he was still caught later on. In Poland he managed to escape from the train. All in all three men managed to escape from that train. After that he kept hiding near the village. The Nazi soldiers captured his mother and kept her starving until her son’s return. There was no choice.
Grandpa was taken to the labour camp, which was situated not far from Vienna (Austria). The living and working conditions there were really terrible. The workers lived in the barracks. My great-grandfather worked at the factory of concrete structures.
As soon as the front line approached this town, the Nazi Aviation began firing the camp as well. So the workers were redistributed to local villages in order to work for the farmers there. My grandfather did all sorts of work and learned a lot in farming during this time. The conditions of living weren’t so bad there; the workers got some nice clothing and quite good food there.
Later on the Soviet Army entered the town. My grandfather was enrolled into the ranks of the Red Army, namely to the Infantry Division. My grandfather became a machine gunner. By the end of the war my grandfather served in the Soviet Army.