Maria Davidovna Gorokhova was born in the hamlet of Taskino, Karatus District, Krasnoyarsk Territory, in 1940.
Parents: David Ivanovich Gurich (born in 1914), Varvara Petrovna Gurich (Dulson, born in 1914)
David Ivanovich‘s parents lived right near to the river Viatka. They owned 5 cows, 25 horses, quite a number of sheep. Everybody in the family was used to work from early childhood. There was a sugar beet press, as they cultivated sugar beets and made a syrup from it. It was like honey, the only difference was that you had used sugar beets to make it. They also employed a few hired workers. Later they were expropriated as they were allegedly categorized as large-scale farmers. The brother even arrested the father - he was a Chekist. Later someone found Ivan Gurich without head; what happened at that time has never been known.
In 1941 the Gurich family was deported from the town of Engels, ASSR of the Volga Germans to the hamlet of Sherlik, Minussinsk District, Krasnoyarsk Territory. Mum was born in 1942 or 1943 as the second child and immediately fall ill with pneumonia. She was critically ill for about 8 months; the grandparents brought her to where they lived, while M.D. stayed with the father. The war was on, and he was at work the whole day. By the aid of three pairs of ox he transported cereals in the autumn. At the end of the grain harvest he loaded the last cart and took it to Minussinsk, after what he returned to the taiga. From there, from Kochergino, they later, in the first days of spring, again removed seeds and logs by means of ox. Afterwards he was working as a groom for all the rest of his life. He was appointed leader of the brigade, when the work process of the brigade collapsed. He was neither able to read nor write; to be more exact – he was able to write, however in German only. He got married to a Russian woman from Taskino.
As they were city dwellers they were not confiscated their cattle. The deported villagers received cows, chickens and piglets, but they did not.
In the 1960s father and stepmother left for their previous home.
In Sherlik they lived in poverty-stricken conditions. Maria was working
permanently. She had to drag heavy bags and worked like mad, like a donkey – day
and night without even sleeping.
In the classroom there were two pupils who still had their father at home. The son of the head of the village Soviet was left alone – he had returned from war as an invalid. The daughter with the German father, however, was often insulted and beaten. A little coat had been bought for Maria – the children threw it into a puddle and trampled upon it. She wore thin felt boots, in which she used to go to school. Even though she had to walk just a short way through the vegetable garden, she was suffering from frostbite at her feet. The teacher was kind enough to tear the shoes from her feet, warm them and dry the boots.
At the age of 14 I began to work. I had to leave the school, because we were starving every day. Our stepmother would only give us food in once a day in the evening. We had severe stomach-ache from hunger all the time. Maria was very weak. So that the slightest gust of wind would blow her over. During spring holidays she left school to work for the collective farm for shepherding. Later her tasks was to transport black soil in baskets, which caused strain in her back. She then got another job and took care of the calves. Five ovens were heated there; she had to sew firewood herself – at outdoor temperatures of minus forty degrees centigrade and then took the full basket back to the calf barn. At that time Maria was skin and bones, and the carrying basket was many times heavier than her.
In 1960 she got married to a Russian man and left with him for Taskino.
Uncle Ivan Ivanovich left for Germany in the nineteen-nineties. From there he wrote to them that they should not at all have the idea to follow him. Here we are considered second-class citizens, nobody needs us. He died within just seven months‘ time, the rest of the family stayed in Germany.
Maria Davidovna is not able to communicate in German. At school she had grade 3 in German; there she learned a completely different German from the one her father used to speak.
During the deportation process the father’s sister was not affected by forced resettlement, as she was married to a Russian called Shustov. He participated in the war; his wife received a message of his death three times, however, she refused to believe them; she was sure that he was still alive – and, in fact, it later turned out that he happened to become a prisoner of war. Ten years after the war had ended he returned back home.
During internal exile the father was afflicted by a disease of the throat. He went to Minussinsk, where some professor from Moscow had just arrived. Unfortunately, exactly during this period of time the commandant came along to find out, where the father had got to. Having heard about his departure, he threatened to confine him, but in the end he got off lightly.
They did not cook German dishes, but would salt cabbage in the way the Germans did – by adding radish.
The father was nonreligious, however, he was in possession of two prayer books which he would read from every now and then.
Work was too hard for me. Hence, I was transferred from the calf barn to the place where the milkmaids were. In this part of the dairy farm the floor had almost completely broken through (it was all rotten), every half meter there were birch beams, which we had to drive over with our carts. You had to collect little sticks and place them as planks above the hole in the earth – a small matter for men, but for women the beams were much too heavy. Later the floor was covered again and the load was transported by sledges. This labor was done by the aid of heavy, strong horses. The pannier was so big that it did not fit through the farm gates, neither in height nor width. On one of the farms half of the milk yield spilled out on the ground; the milkmaids complained. But they had no access to any support; one of them had a sick child, the other one an aged mother… In Maria Davidovna‘s brigade two out of six were always present, who had to manage to milk up to 50 cows. During the winter they used to milk by hand, because the cows would not deliver that much. In the summertime, however, your hands get all numb and your tears drop into the pails together with the milk. When the women finished milking, the went over to the fields in Sherlik to bundle alfalfa from the second mowing into bunches and sheaves. They were busy with this task until evening, when the bunches were loaded on carts and taken to the farm for feeding…
Interview: D.V. Svirina.
Expedition of the State Pedagogic V.P. Astafev University Krasnoyarsk on the project "Ethnic groups in Siberia: Conditions for preserving cultural memory", 2017. Districts of Karatus and Kuragino.