virtual museum
Dissident movement in Ukraine


05.02.2016 | Vasyl Ovsiyenko | Meeting with Arye Vudka at the Teachers’ House in Kyiv on February 16, 2003

V. Ovsiyenko: Arye Vudka meeting Ukrainian public at the Teacher's House in Kyiv on February 16, 2003.

Y. Sverstiuk: … Our guest, as they put it, our prominent guest has come to visit us from Israel. When I called my friends and told them that Vudka is in Kyiv, oh, they said, he is a legend. "Why is Vudka a legend?” I asked myself. “And what did they mean?" Well, on the one hand, one interview maintained that he could read a poem once or twice and bear in mind as long as necessary, and not one poem, but dozens. However, this is not enough to become a legend, because, for example, we would hear today Ms. Lesia Matviychuk, who also could read a poem once and memorize it. Sometimes I even offer her to memorize a long poem on the eve of an event, and the next day she recited it without failing.

Therefore, the memory would not suffice for a legend. There is something else that makes Arye Vudka a legendary person even all those who have travelled the same way he did. I will give you a background on him based on his book Secret Light. In order to explain this hidden glow I have to remind you of the light the light switched on in a man by higher power that provides a human being with the strength, image and importance; in fact, the light shows through from within and gradually makes a man and the talent becomes a real talent.

He was born in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast in Ukraine in 1947. He was a political prisoner in Mordovia, the Urals, and Vladimir Central Prison in 1969 - 1976. In late 1976, he repatriated himself to Israel and participated in Israeli wars. He lives in Shomron, in the very center of the country in the Settlement of Gdumin, the first stop the Jews made while returning to Shomron.

In the late 70s, he began to write more and more in Hebrew. He published in Hebrew two books of prose, poetry and Jewish philosophy praised by national critics. He is an editor and one of translators of a book of translations into Hebrew from Pasternak, Mandelshtam, Babel and others, which is due any day now.

And this is all preliminary information. Now, I would like to say a few words about the person who has been born a second time and a third time, the person who comes in another form. Almost everyone thinks about another life and a different level, but it is not quite, what I mean. There are only a few people who have lived one life and have totally disclaimed it, and then go over to another life and disclaim it as well. In the 20th century, during the great crises of history known from the literature, when, in the words of Saint-Exupery, only old yellow suitcase presents an evidence of personal identity and identity of life; it reminds me of my past identity and who I was in another existential reality.

The disclaimer I mean is as follows. You know what it means to be born into a normal communist family, though an orthodox one, and normally go through the first stages of childhood in such an atmosphere, and then, suddenly, almost on the eve of a successful exit to Israel to be arrested and imprisoned. This non-bookish ordeal couldn’t come into his dreams; they befell a young man who was 25 at the time. One can move seamlessly to another phase, although you have to radically renounce the old world and go over to another faith, in which there is a dietary law and ban on all forms of life, which you were taught to adopt. For instance, a young man who openly calls himself a Zionist, finds himself in a concentration camp; he wants to grow a beard but they handcuff him and make him to shave, he prays and signs documents in Hebrew and wears kippah. Each of these acts is a challenge to the system and the authorities, and this terrible day-by-day trial goes on at every step. This is the rejection of the Komsomol youth, absolute--not a smooth transition and adaptation to the zone—inherent rejection like rejection of food, which he cannot use, but in the concentration camp you must always think in order to somehow reconcile your faith with the conditions of the concentration camp.

I will show you a book written by Arye Vudka, and maybe you will be shocked a little by its title Muscovy. Why? It is also a rejection; it is a book about the transportation of convicts. But when he leaves here and returns to another country, to his native land, he has somehow to name this process of rejection, the very word. Then you may imagine another life. Maybe someone imagines hugs, flowers… of course, there were hugs and flowers, but there is a war, and participation in that war. Participation in the war of a man who had lived such a life… I imagine that this face does not match the submachine gun. This again means denying who you have become. Finally, the settlement in the dangerous zone, in the explosive zone, in a foreign environment, in Shomron. The settlement alongside the like brave people who went for it. They chose neither Haifa nor Jerusalem. And the life according to the Law, in compliance with the teachings of the Bible. The man was born in order to live according to the Law and to bring forth worthy children. The large family: seven children. I do not know which is better: to write seven books or have seven children. I do not know which is better, but I do know that it is harder to have seven children.

Now I will go over to the person of Arye Vudka. All and everybody loves him, all his neighbors love him, his children love him very much, his own and somebody else's children, all prisoners loved him. I will zero in on just one small episode. Among all those stories above, I knew Arye Vudka only for a short period. When I arrived at the zone no. 36, I was given a bed on which there hang a label “Yu.Vudka”; they didn’t manage to engrave "Ye. Sverstiuk" yet, and there a label “Yu.Vudka” was still hanging. You just keep in mind that no one dared to climb up to some other plank bank of your choice; you can lie on a tagged bed only, the bad with your label. I asked, "Who is Vudka?" They said, “They took him to Vladimir Prison.” They managed to tell me only a little bit about him, but I began to dream and reckon that he would have to come back here from the Vladimir Prison before his release. He would have three months to go. They often discussed what effect three months may have on a convict who ha survived in a veritable hell: they may shove him in the zone, or they might set him free. What will they do? All prisoners dreamt that they would bring him to the zone. You may imagine what it means. The highly experienced prisoner is brought to the zone where jailers prey on each piece of paper, every your thought. This is not a kind of correspondent of a foreign newspaper, who can beat about the bush and come to know nothing in two months, because he would be fed separately and shown well-appointed corners. And here is a prisoner, who is quite prepared to become a correspondent.

Just imagine that they bring him back into our 36th zone with the intention to keep him in solitary confinement. But we had agreed in advance to go on a hunger strike and resort to writing and bombarding Prosecutor's Office with applications that during three years they had taunted the man in Vladimir Prison and they had no legal grounds now to lock him in the cooler. They applications kept flowing in and they had to respond somehow, the more so the activists abroad were also well informed and they worked to prepare synchronous action. And they went mad about it. They could hospitalize him and prescribe a diet 5-B, which includes white bread and a few grams of butter, and let him stay there a couple of months. No way, they shove him into the zone no. 36 under the commands of punisher Major Fiodorov. They let him into our zone.

This was the episode when we all met Arye Vudka. He was rostered to the worst job possible. He was young and smart, skillful hands, it took him half a day to fulfill the plan, and the rest of the day he talked with different people, with literally everyone. He was not liable to suspicion because he talked with everyone indiscriminately, all of a kind. During the few months, he was able to collect all that could be collected in order to take it out. And it was clear that he would go abroad.

At last, today we have come to know his poetry a little bit, which Arye Vudka managed to take out of the zone. To begin with, he came up and said, "I could remember a couple of your poems, maybe two or three." I gave him my notebook. He remembered two poems, then some more. I do not even know how many he remembered. Already even major Fiodorov could not check how much. It was not hushed up, because, you know, they usually search where you are hiding something, and if you are not hiding, and all is quiet, the bosses disregard it as a rule. It is, so to speak, the normal process of doing your term to the very end.

Finally, we said goodbye. I remember how we said goodbye. We came up to the watch. The warrant officers looked whether we tried to pass something from hand-to-hand. You know, the materialism; he knows his laws: matter is a thing you pass from hand to hand. He understands nothing else. We exchanged a handshake and--good luck!

It is hard to put it into words, because it was clear that we stayed there and maybe forever. We did not reckon at the time anything could be changed. Typically, those who stayed and who "failed to follow the path of reformation" and didn’t respond to dialogues with jailers, were doomed to have the fate of Vasyl Stus. And Arye went out and he had to testify to the world for us. It was clear that, God being his helper, he would do everything good and proper. This is a combat situation, real combat situation.

Soon after his departure, the book of poems Poetry Behind Barbed Wire went out. He carried out poems of Stus and everyone who was in our zone. Those were poems widely read, which he liked.

I would like to specify that, in fact, it was a meeting of cultures; he was primarily a man of culture. It was his inner need: to convey this culture and live in a culture. No one had to explain him the how and why of things; one poem sufficed for Arye Vudka to realize that Stus was a brilliant poet.

I aspired to somehow render in one poem the atmosphere of our world there, as we had imagined it in solitude. Let us ask Mrs. Lesia Matviychuk to recite the poem "Oh Friends of My Loneliness”. [The recorder was switched off].

Mykola Horbal. When we met in Mordovia, he was Yurko Vudka then. In this book, presented to you by Mr. Yevhen, Arye mentioned me several times. If only could know that his words might be mentioned in a book in future he would try and say something more sensible. But, in fact, these are sad mentions. You know, this is a fundamental book consisting exactly of such records: his talks with people with whom he met during transportation of deported convicts. I would say, it is to some extent a mystical thing. Though he never mentions it, but the demonic character of that penal system, which he later called "Muscovy", was clearly shown in this work that you really feel scary, though there is no word "scary" in this book. The political camp had a strange peculiarity: in fact, the system did not intend to provide for bringing people together and make them friends which might be impossible at large. Yevhen said that it was a meeting of cultures. I never called myself a nationalist, in fact, I am not a nationalist; my nationalism was invented by the KGB; they called it the Ukrainian nationalism. When the brigade commander summoned me to his office, I happened to see hiss list of prisoners. There were nationalists and Zionists; they had long assigned us to different categories. I knew next to nothing about Jewish problems, but living here, I met those guys; we were kinfolk, we had the same problems, we had the same aspirations: we wanted to have our own states. By the way, we had no misunderstandings with those guys, so they understood me as I understood them, that is we became friends, and the system united us in friendship. Obviously, each one of us has to perform some function on this earth, all and everybody. Perhaps not everyone will use that opportunity; however, he ideally used his opportunity and told that evil system what it really was. He had the courage to say it to them. He could avoid this fate, but he did it. God helped him to survive. He said and did this testimony, this is for good; God helped him to carry it out as well. He arrived in the Promised Land, and he as a father… I do not know… Arye, were you still a bachelor in the camp? Or you were married?

Y. Sverstiuk: All of us were bachelors there. [Laughter among the audience].

M.Horbal: But he has seven kids, you know, dear, beautiful children. We went looking for some presents from Ukraine, so that they could feel it, because their father and mother are from Ukraine--so they could feel the air and spirit of this land.

Such is our dear guest today. He returned to the ancient writings and Torah scrolls to find his roots there and accept the belief of his ancestors. But he is a man of great culture; he does not deny my belief in that Jew of Nazareth, as I have the right, so to speak, to my own way to God. This very fact unites the people of high culture in the world. I thank you, Aryeh that you have found means to come to Ukraine, I am awfully glad to meet you. It's really a touching meeting and I am happy that you are here. [Applause].

Vasyl Ovsiyenko: Like you, I was also transported under guard. I read this book long ago, but recently I’ve leafed through it again and, oh Lord, I’ve come there across so many acquaintances, so many familiar situations! The nineteenth camp was also my first camp in Mordovia. Then I was in the special security thirty-sixth camp; then it did not exist when you were doing the last days of your term in the Urals. I was lost in guesses what souvenir to bring you and, of course, I’ve forgotten one thing. I wanted to bring you one article… I will mail it to you later, right? But Mr. Leonid (Finberg) here provoked me to write this article "Mordovia Union" published in this magazine here (Ukraine - Israel. The magazine of literature, art, and politics. - 1993. – No. 2. - P. 108 - 112. I wrote it. It describes very well this "Mordovia Union”. Once my father came to visit me in Mordovia and said to me, "What scary names one hears here": Mordovia, Umor, Potma, Tenhushovo; they kind of pull your soul out of you. By the way, once Anatoliy Azernikov received a letter… There was a brief period in 1975 or 1976 at the time of warming that the letters from abroad were not censored, and he received a letter addressed to "Mentovskaya ASSR, Dushehubskyy Region, Parashevo Settlement, Azernykov." This letter got through! (Laughter). Anatoliy Azernikov received such a letter. He did three years and went to Israel.

Right, at the time, we lived in the FSU and had a common enemy--the Russian Empire, Muscovy--and we desperately struggled with that empire. Then no wonder Taras Myhal wrote in the Zhovten Magazine--there was a special rubric "Post of Yaroslav Galan"—about the alliance of Trident and Magen David. There was such an alliance indeed, and it was situated in the land of Mordovia and Ural camps. Now I give you this magazine, maybe you do not have it. And I’ll show you…

Y. Sverstiuk: Have you brought the tape?

V.Ovsiyenko: The tape? I’ve brought it, here it is, but I’ like to show you another thing. Today in the Ural Kuchino concentration camp--both in the special and tight security zones—they have the Museum of History of Political Repressions under Totalitarianism. I am a member of the council at the museum. The museum operates since 1995. They occasionally invite me as a living exhibit. When in 2000 we went there together with Mykhailo Horyn, then on 22 June, for example, they had 11 excursions. So, they have museum not only in the special security zone where we stayed, but also in the tight security zone. I began to look for photos that I have from the tight security zone. I’ve got but several photos. I hope you recognize these objects, these barracks; you may even use them in your publications. The tight security zone riveted lesser attention, because the prisoners took pictures of their zones in the first place. And look here, Mr. Yuri, here is an article about Kuchino. I will give this article as well as several pamphlets. Later I will mail you one more article. And here I want to give you this tape; it is a copy of the tape with songs of Lesia and Halia Telniuk. These beautiful songs are a unique phenomenon, but there are also a few songs to the lyrics of Vasyl Stus. Some of them were recorded in the studio, and some of them are live recordings, but it seems the quality is good. I forgot to bring my article about the death of Vasyl Stus; I will mail it to you later, okay?

Thank God, that union existed and the union gained a victory over the Russian Empire. You preserved your freedom because you left the empire. Meanwhile, we muddled through and won over that empire. However, its metastases may still be seen everywhere. This fight with Muscovy will ask time, and, finally, we will establish Ukraine indeed. You build true Israel there and we try to build true Ukraine here.

Y. Sverstiuk: I do not think it is a matter of truth.

V.Ovsiyenko: Why not genuine? When will we have genuine Ukraine? Lesia Ukrayinka once said, "And you fought like Israel in the past"; these were her words about Ukraine. Well, I make it like hot-air session, but nothing to the point, I'm sorry. Thank you [Applause]. Wait, wait, I’d like to show one more thing. Here is my mobile museum. When we went to the Urals, to carry home the remains of Stus, Lytvyn and Tykhyi, I found these keys in the cell no. 8. Here is the key no. 3; perhaps, it is the key to the cooler, where Vasyl Stus died.

M.Horbal: Vasyl wants to pass them to Israel.

V.Ovsiyenko: No, you may just touch them. (Laughter). Look here: we wore such striped outwear in the special security zone. And here are spare parts for an iron, which we made. Do you recognize them? You manufactured them in the tight security zone; Mykhailo Horyn tacked to them dried crusts, and we fastened them to the cords. I can give you one part. I picked quite a lot there. [The recorder switched off].

Y. Sverstiuk: Anyone wants to say something? While you’re making up your minds, I will speak. Leafing through the book, I thought that Arye made it the harder way than I did. I didn’t take it hard. To some extent, I was under round-the-clock surveillance by the KGB and I did not mix with household prisoners. I knew they were behind the partition, but during transportation I stayed in a separate compartment. They looked very closely what my hands held, it couldn’t be a pen and paper. When I had read all these things, I remembered a poem by Franko:

“My fiddle was out of tune,

Dirty hands plucked the strings,

Their soul it still brings

To find their melody soon”.

But there exists the amazing ability of cells and psyche to regenerate and amazing ability of a human being to recover, especially if s/he wants to return to the image and likeness of God.

Leonid Finberg: I think that it is not for the first time in this hall, and elsewhere we are witnessing such a memory that is not featured in official textbooks even in independent Ukraine and, especially, in the state of Israel. And each page of this memory for me is a great memory of the people. Some time ago Mr. Horbal came and said that at the time they together with Gluzman wrote a letter to the prosecutor--am I right, Mr. Mykola?--about the right to dispose of one’s body after death. They saw the fate of bodies of prisoners who had died there, and tried to secure such right for themselves. May you imagine a philosophical grandeur of this act? He looked like talking about everyday realities. "Mr. Mykola, may you give us this text?"--"My pleasure." The same happened with Mr. Yevhen. Some time ago we met and I said, "Mr. Yevhen, you may remember about telling me about how Arye Vudka carried out of the camps, out of those coolers, out of the zone Ukrainian poetry, and that was the first edition of poetry behind the bars. “Yes,” said Mr. Yevhen, “but everyone knows about it." I said, "What do you mean by everyone, who knows?”—“Well,” he said, “In our circle everybody knows it." However, there exists a wider circle gathering here; they are readers of those publications, which have already printed these texts. It seems to me that they should know these fantastic moments of true Ukrainian history of the 60s and 70s. We are trying to collect these materials step by step. This story about Mr. Arye Vudka was recorded by Volodymyr Hliubchenko, who had interviewed Mr. Yevhen Sverstiuk. At the time, we published the collection Letters from Outside containing texts by Marynovych, Antoniuk, and Gluzman. I think that today we have heard some of those texts, for example, the story of Mr. Ovsiyenko about the letter with the address. Many such valuable facts and events are not collected yet. I beg you, please, tell us all you know and we will also ask you questions about it. This should stand out in people's memory; otherwise, there will remain only stories about Shcherbytskyi or his entourage. Our possibilities cannot match theirs. We have already mentioned that this Muscovy is outside and inside and it is very difficult to overcome it. Maybe, there is no need to fight; we’d better collect these heritages of history, this greatness of the human spirit. I am very grateful to our colleagues, friends, they gave us these fragments of history. On behalf of the Institute of Jewish Studies and Dukh I Litera Publishers--these texts came out in various publications--I assure you that we are open to such dialogues, such texts and we are grateful for each such text. Thank you. [Applause].

Y. Sverstiuk: It seems to me, Roman Korohodskyi is present here.

R.Korohotskyi: I’m here.

Y. Sverstiuk: He should say something. He was about to publish a book. [The dictating machine has been switched out].

Roman Korohodskyi: There are meetings, which may to some extent determine one’s life, and it takes years to reconsider them. When I met Arye in Israel, I knew nothing about him. And Mr. Vudka knew nothing about me. It was a contact with a person who was not better or worse than your friends, but he was utterly different. And I tried to understand this otherness. At first, I tried to understand myself. I did not know that I was a Ukrainian nationalist. I was very sorry that they had confused me with someone else. However, this meeting with Arye suddenly gave me the idea that I certainly was a nationalist. I saw such love without making a show of it, not ostentatious, without trying to impress, without Ukrainian pretensions.

Arye Rod: I'll start with my mother. She was a Jew from a small Town of Pavlohrad, Dnipropetrovsk Oblast. During WWII, she met my father, who was then a fugitive from Poland. He ran for his life while the whole his family perished in the Warsaw Ghetto or in some extermination camp; I have no other information about it. By the way, when they met—it’s another kettle of fish, though it is interesting all the same-- when they decided to get married, my mother's relatives told him that he was an escapee from another country, nobody knew who he was, he had lost his documents, because war was underway, everything had burned to ashes, and do not say that you are a Jew, say that you are a Pole, let them record you as a Pole and let your children be Poles, it will be easier for them to weather every rock, it will be easier for them to go to school, to work and so on. He was not a religious man, but he was not a nationalist as well, and he said “no”. This is a strange phenomenon. Perhaps, due to it, although he was not going to do it, he went to his native land and was buried in Shomron according to all appropriate customs.

At the time, all sorts of languages were used in the town; sometimes you could hear standard Ukrainian language or Russian. At school they taught Russian, they taught Ukrainian as a second language. Actually, there I came to know the basis for speech understanding. It seems everything clarified in the camp, as there were very educated people, writers. Clearly, talking with a writer is different from talking to a man from the street: you improve your mastership of language, acquire terminology and so on.

As you know, in Ukraine, there was a policy of restrictions concerning Jews while joining the university, as they said at the time; therefore, I joined the Ryazan Radio Engineering Institute. By the way, I did not finish it, but later I worked in Israel for many years at the enterprises of electronic industry. Then I changed my profession and now I teach native tongue at the secondary religious school, as well as the Bible. Of course, my native tongue is Hebrew.

What else did you ask me? Right, the Vladimir prison… this is very simple. Firstly, I participated in the camp resistance movement, it was a very significant phenomenon. In addition, one of the cops, as they say there, testified that I did not consider myself a prisoner but a captive. And it was a charge when they sent me to Vladimir.

A part of special treatment I received was due to the fact that I was a sort of link between the Jewish community in the camp and Ukrainians. They were very afraid of this. Probably it was not unfounded. On the other hand, only this very morning… We read prayers every morning, and at the beginning of the prayer, there are words that I always ponder over their inherent meaning. They mean that there are human acts and deeds that for them a man has a remuneration from God in this world and in the future world. Such is the prayer; they also tell about several other actions like respect for your father and mother, studying Torah and end with those that reconcile you with people, who have not very good relations with each other, and reconcile adversaries. It struck me that these words were about us. We, without thinking about it, created a completely different style of relations between our two nations. Without thinking about it, we were simply people who knew each other, made friends, carried out joint actions against the common enemy, to say the least, but in the meantime, we beat out a road for completely different relations between nations. The very fact that there is now independent Ukraine, although there are various complaints that it is not sufficiently independent, not quite free, one cannot compare the relations between nations now with former ones; the change is striking indeed. I think they originated over there. This is a very important thing.

About Vasyl Stus. I heard about him, but I never met him. In the thirty-sixth zone, when I collected these poems, one prisoner showed me a notebook with poems by Vasyl Stus. If my memory does not play me false, if I remember correctly, his name was Stepan Sapeliak. From the first poem it was clear to me who this figure was and what was the artistic level. I often envy you in a friendly way that you have such poetry, and we do not have. In some ways, I envy the Ukrainians, because we have not such major poet as Stus and we never had such poet as Stus. I would like us to have such poet as Stus writing in Hebrew such poems, but we had not. I didn’t carry out all of those poems included into the collection, but after our soirée we may talk it over and I'll show you in detail what poems I carried out.

As for the lady, who spoke about Russia, I must say that this book Muscovy contains many stories about honest Russian prisoners. We meant another pair of shoes: we talked about imperial idea and its implementation, and not about the ethnic traits. The imperial idea means idolization of Empire and all is fair in love of the expanding empire, the empire is the most important entity in the world, nothing is more important, there can be no remorse, the service to the empire is the first priority. By the way, I read an article of one of my friends: "Hounds of the Empire." The author explained that the first such dogs were under command of Ivan the Terrible, they called themseulves oprichniks. The case in question is the idea of ​​oprichnina[1].

When I left, I certainly took care to pass these poems to somebody, but I did not know to whom exactly. Yevhen gave me a name of Ivan Koshelivets. But there were other people who had connections with the circles of Ukrainian immigrants. I asked them for advice, because I could not keep the works in my pocket, I had to pass the poems to someone. Well, not in my pocket eventually but in my head.

When those two circles heard what I had, they rushed to make a tape recording. I had no idea that these organizations competed to some extent with each other or even were at odds with each other. I just did not know that, and gave these poems to everyone who wanted to get them. These works did not belong to me but to someone else. The poems were published in two different editions. One periodical was managed by Ivan Koshelivets, it seems, it was Suchasnist Magazine, another one was named "Shliakh Peremohy”. The first edition was made from the transcript. That was a person in Israel who made a tape recording. Then I told them that there were many errors because they failed to understand some recorded words. The poems by Vasyl Stus are especially complex and it is easy to distort a phrase. Therefore, they asked me to send them these poems in writing. I did it and the next edition was almost without errors, but one. I do not know why it appeared. It was not an original poem by Vasyl Stus, but a translation. Vasyl Stus was also an excellent translator. I realized when I was able to compare the original with the translation. I mean Israeli poet Rachel Bluwstein. In Israel, she is well known by her first name, Rachel, or as Rachel the Poetess. There was a mistake that it was not from Hebrew and some other poetess. If you wish, I can read you this poem in the original and in translation by Vasyl Stus. He managed to render both harmony and melody of the poem. The translation sounds so naturally like a mirrored original! It is a perfect mastery! I also made some translations, and to me it seems impossible. Only Stus could do it. The title of the poem is "My dead" or “המת שלי” in Hebrew. In Hebrew, it reads like this. [Reads the poem in original]. It makes no sense to render it in prose, because it is an adequate translation.

They bear a limit of my lossy life,

Where death can't thrust its sharpened knife.

Towards that evening stopped the road,

They'll follow me to last abode.

My only spur reach outpost:

I own all that have been lost.

After Stus, of course, it is very difficult to read something of your own, because you cannot compare your lines with his creations. Therefore I envy you that you have such poets as Stus; in the meantime I want to tell you something about my friends. When they visited Israel and met us and talked with us and then departed, I stayed with one very famous person. This was a private conversation, and I do not want to name him. The man said to me, "They’re pure within! They are they are above the head of the likes of us! We had a state; we covered our bases. In any case there was some hope that there would be some way out ahead. And what about them? They were going nowhere. Nevertheless they went, and remained true to themselves and good people.” Here is something to envy, too.

And now in memory of those concentration camps, those days of elation, I want to read my short poem.

Question: And why did they sentence you? (Laughter).

A.Vudka: Sanction read as follows: "Anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda." And "Zionism", article 70. There were groups of young people who professed a different ideology. No crimes. We killed no one, robbed no one. By the way, I did my term together with a Ukrainian from Kharkiv, who was also arrested for his views. The investigator told him, "You'd better kill somebody." If I may, I’ll read a short poem now. (He reads). I can read some poems in Hebrew. (He reads).

Then M. Horbal told about the language, L. Finberg told about understanding between the Ukrainian and Jewish. A. Vudka answered questions about Hebrew people.


[1] "Modern theorists suggest that the motivating purpose for the organization and existence of the Oprichniki was to suppress people or groups opposed to the Tsar. Known to ride black horses and led by Ivan himself, the group was known to terrorize civilian populations. Sometimes called the "Tsar's Dogs" because of their actions and blind loyalty, they dressed in black garb, similar to a monastic habit, bearing the insignia of a severed dog's head (to sniff out treason and enemies of the Tsar) and a broom (to sweep them away). The dog's head was also symbolic of "nipping at the heels of the Tsar's enemies". (translator's note).

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