“The ill and weakened were buried alive in ditches”


30.03.2015, Lviv region
For over 4 years a club for seniors called “Living history” has been operating in Caritas of Sambir-Drohobych Eparchy. Here, elderly people, who are victims of totalitarian regimes, can receive psychological, social and material help. Since October 2010 more than 220 persons became participants of “Living history” club – they are residents of Drohobych, its outskirts and neighboring villages. Such activity is being implemented within “A meeting place: dialogue” program of “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” foundation that is supported by German Federal Republic

An 87-years-old Mrs. Vira, who was forcedly carried away to Germany (in Oberhausen city) when she was 16, retells: “In 1942 we were carried to Germany in baggage trains as a livestock. We were brought to a military plant that produced ammunition. We, young kids, received special clothes – linen costumes and wooden shoes – and we had to work there. But we were incredibly hungry! Germans ordered plant workers not to give us food, in their turn they ate different meals and sandwiches.

In 3 years everything was over. We were released by Americans. We were carried back to Ukraine in lorries. After the war, there was a starvation in the country, because of “bloody soviets”. At nights members of Committee for State Security (known as KGB agents) came and took people to Siberia. The ill and weakened were buried alive in ditches. This is my reality – I still cannot forget that days , though it happened many years ago.”

“Living history” club became a place where dozens of people such as Vira can meet, benefit from assistance they need, find new friends and share their experience with young generation. Earlier these people didn’t have possibilities to enhance their social activity, were closed at their homes.

“Such work has two dimensions: first of all, care for victims of totalitarian regimes, secondly, upbringing of young generation with knowledge about war, slavery, occupation and violence. It is impossible to develop the country, without knowing own history and past. It is not possible to build free and successful Ukraine not uniting different generations of our citizens, from various regions and with certain worldviews. These days we can clearly see the results of such situation of misunderstanding,” executive director of Caritas of Sambir-Drohobych Eparchy Natalya Golynska is convinced.

The main objective of “Living history” club is to create a special space for meetings of seniors and youth, collect and document memories and personal stories of people who are victims of totalitarian regimes, notably Ostarbeiters, concentration camps and ghettos prisoners, their children, those who faced Nazis occupation, orphans due to war.

Speaking about formats of club’s activity, there are: an organization of various events for seniors (meetings, name days, discussions, excursions, dancing parties, interest classes, etc); provision of different types of services (social, informational, consultations, humanitarian aid, etc); involvement of elderly people in communication with youth. Such activities result in improvement of emotional, psychological and spiritual condition of beneficiaries, enhancement of mutual understanding between various generations and changing of stereotypes regarding sunset years.

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