David P. Boder Interviews Ioan Kharchenko; September 21, 1946; München, Germany

  • David Boder: This is Spool 9-143C, Father Yoan Kharchenko. It starts with a few sentences introducing Mr. Paulus, but he yields the interview to Father Kharchenko. Chicago, October the 7th, 1950 —Boder.
  • David Boder: Spool 143, starting at the 23rd minute, the interviewee is Alphonus Paulus, a Lithuanian, thirty three [?] years old, at a Baltic DP camp in Munich at Lohengrin Strasse.
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Come on here, tell us first in Lithuanian where you were and what happened to you when the Soviets came to Lithuania. I [it is not clear - who speaks and which words he says]. [Pause]
  • David Boder: Munich, September the 21st, 1946. We are . . . we interrupt the interview with Alphonus Paulus because the Greek Orthodox Minister of the Displaced Persons Camps of Lohengrinstrasse, Munich, came in by appointment; he has services [?] in the evening and we will get a short interview with him. The interview of course will take place in Russian. His name is Father Yoan Kharglenko or Kharbenko?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Khar-chen-ko.
  • David Boder: Oh,—Yoan Kharchenko. I will write it down in Russian.
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Yes, move over a little bit nearer. Tell me, Father Yoan, where are you from and from what region in Russia are you?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: From Vilna.
  • David Boder: So. And where were you a priest, when the German-Soviet treaty was signed?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: When the German-Soviet treaty was signed I was a priest in Riga.
  • David Boder: Aha . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: In a women's convent.
  • David Boder: So you were then in the Baltic Provinces in Riga, in a women's convent. Well, begin with this and tell us, what happened to you, when the Soviets entered the Baltic Provinces.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: When the Soviets entered the Baltic Provinces, so at the beginning everything was all right, but later they gradually began to harass us. First people started disappearing; it turned out that they were arrested, and later already at the end of the Soviet power people in large numbers were taken away somewhere to the center, deep into Soviet-Russia: these people were mostly from the privileged classes.
  • David Boder: And tell me, how big was the Orthodox population in Latvia during the independence of Latvia?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: A . . . During the independence of Latvia, there was in Latvia a fully free . . . Greek-Orthodox church not persecuted by anybody and everybody was able to worship freely regardless of whether he was Greek-Orthodox, whether he was Hebrew, Moslem. He could freely pursue his . . . his cultural needs.
  • David Boder: Yes, but I would like to know how many Greek-Orthodox people were there in Latvia at that time?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: It is difficult for me to say.
  • David Boder: It is difficult for you to say. Did you have a bishop?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: We had archbishop Yoan Kamar [?] who was found in an unknown way burned in his villa.
  • David Boder: When?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Already in 1934. Later there was the Metropolitan Augustine..who is still alive and is in Germany now.
  • David Boder: And where is he?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: A . . . a . . . I really don't know exact . . .
  • David Boder: Didn't he establish, so to say, an office?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: No, no, he did not establish a consistory [?], he too belongs to our Church.
  • David Boder: So then for the time being he has no official position.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes.
  • David Boder: So. Then, and tell me this . . . a . . . the old Greek-Orthodox Cathedrals—did all of them remain Greek-Orthodox after the establishment of an independent Latvia [after the first World War]?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: A . . . I can say only about Riga.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . That there, it means, the cathedrals as such remained the same . . . only . . . well, the buildings in which the clergy lived were expropriated in behalf of the State. There was even a time when Bishop Augustine lived for a certain time in the basement of the Cathedral and had to recieve even one of the Patriarchs, who visited him, seems the one from Constantinople, in the same cellar.
  • David Boder: But this happened while the Latvians were in power.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: It was while the Latvians were in power.
  • David Boder: Well, when the Soviets came, what happened then? Was the Latvian government changed? What happened then?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: No, the Soviet rule was established.
  • David Boder: The Soviet rule was established. You mean at the first arrival of the Soviet forces. [not clear "rule" or "life"]
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: Well, what happened then to the churches?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: They did not have time to do anything to the churches. They were not doing anything yet as far as I know.
  • David Boder: How long were they there?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: For about a year.
  • David Boder: And they did not molest the churches?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: The churches were not molested.
  • David Boder: Well, you had a parish. Did you notice that anything happened to your parishioners?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . The parishioners, as far as I know continued to attend the church in a normal way, as they used to attend before. But at the end of the Soviet power many of our parishioners disappeared, and as it turned out later they were exiled deep into the Soviet Union.
  • David Boder: Yes, well . . . and now tell me, about the exodus of the Soviets from Latvia?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: H-um.
  • David Boder: . . . under the pressure of the Germans, of course.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, of course.
  • David Boder: What happened then to you? What happened to you personally? What were you personal experiences, your personal life during this transitional period?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: You see, the Metropolitan Sergi lived with us.
  • David Boder: Which Sergi was that?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: The one who was killed in 1944 in the month of June.
  • David Boder: Oh, which Metropolitan Sergei was that? Where was he before the Metropolitan?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: In Moscow . . .
  • David Boder: Was he a Metropolitan, or a Bishop? [one sound is not clear]
  • Ioan Kharchenko: He was an archbishop.
  • David Boder: Archbishop Sergey from Moscow. And how did he happen to get to Latvia.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: The Soviet authorities had sent him, he was sent by the Patriarch of Moscow.
  • David Boder: So, during the stay of the Soviets in Latvia.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: Well. Did your church recognize him?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, naturally. Since the Latvian church was an autonomous church, it recognized the Patriarch of Moscow, and recognized him as the Bishop of the Baltic Province.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: But later when the Russians were leaving, he hid himself; three days he was hiding in the cellars of the monastary. He remained when the Germans came, and, he proclaimed an autonomous church, separated from Moscow.
  • David Boder: Well, and what happened then? A . . . in the Germans' time what was your situation and that of your parishioners during the Germans?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: You, see, at the beginning when the Germans came, one could not notice particularly the German pressure on the church. But subsequently the German civil authorities as well as the Latvian authorities started, to poke their nose everywhere.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I, since I still served during the first period of the Germans in the women's convent, and was close to Bishop Sergi, I happen to know, that they persecuted him in every possible way.
  • David Boder: The Germans or the Latvians?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Germans . . . Latvians.
  • David Boder: In what way?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: There were even cases when some nuns were compelled . . .
  • David Boder: Hm . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . and some of the servants of the convent, you see, to spy on Metropolitan Sergi, suspecting him to be a Soviet spy.
  • David Boder: So . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Actually, of course, he was no spy at all. We were deeply convinced of this; and even now, his death—although the Germans were trying to brand it a terroristic act of the Soviet Union—we are deeply convinced that his death . . . that obviously he was killed by the Germans. That is with the help of the Latvians.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: And they misrepresented it as a raid of the Soviet partisans.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, a man who had the opportunity to observe. Tell me what was the attitude of the Latvians toward the Soviets?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Ah . . .
  • David Boder: [interrupting] or . . . the attitude of the Latvians first toward the Soviets and then toward the Germans. Start with the Soviets.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Well, about the Soviets—the Latvians in my opinion . . . the attitude of the Latvians toward the Soviets, upon the arrival of the Soviets was good.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: But there was much . . . when . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . when the Latvians . . . when the Soviets started to transport Latvians . . .
  • David Boder: Oh . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . deep into the country [of the Soviet Union]. At that time the Germans moved in.
  • David Boder: Ha . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: The Latvians became friendly toward the Germans.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: And to the end, all the time there was a great bond between them and the Germans, a big friendship.
  • David Boder: Well . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: And a Latvian army existed with the same rights as the German [army].
  • David Boder: Were they like the SS?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I, really, do not know.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I . . . in military affairs . . .
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . I do not understand them.
  • David Boder: So?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: But a large number of Latvians were military men, and there were mobilizations, and they were considered equal to the Germans.
  • David Boder: Please, before I forget. In this . . . there was in Riga a pastor Fetler.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes . . . he was . . .
  • David Boder: A Baptist?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: A Baptist.
  • David Boder: What happened to him?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I do not know. I had no contact with him.
  • David Boder: You don't know by any chance what happened to him?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: No, I have no idea.
  • David Boder: So. I only was interested.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes.
  • David Boder: . . . because he has very many friends in America and they undoubtedly would have liked to know. Now, tell me, please, when the Germans . . . let me ask another question. Did you know . . . we will go over to this . . . Did you know anything about that what the Germans used to do to the Jews in Latvia?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I served in a convent close to which was the German [corrects himself], the Jewish ghetto.
  • David Boder: So?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: And I had very many acquaintances among Jews who were in the ghetto, mostly intelligensia.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: By the way. I and my wife, we used to get up very early in the morning especially with the purpose only to see them when they were led to the work.
  • David Boder: Hm . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: And so we greeted them on the sly and they used to answer us in the same manner in passing. Because if the Germans would only have noticed our greetings, they would have either put us in the Gestapo or would have put us in the ghetto, taking us . . .
  • David Boder: . . . for Jews.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now what happened, what was the fate of those people in the ghetto?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Many of them were led away, even, people say, there were cases, that very many of them were annihilated. But in what way . . . people didn't talk about this, but very many of them were transported away somewhere to some other places. In the end result, the Jews, you see, already at the time, in 1943, there were comparatively few of them who were led to work in the mornings.
  • David Boder: So. You did not know a family Michelson in Riga?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I know, I was hiding one Jew until the present time [Footnote: Of course he means until the evacuation. This phenomenon of speaking in the present tense when dealing with some vivid memories repeatedly occurs in these interviews.] in Riga. He is a former . . . a former attorney at law; we forged for him documents of a German and consequently . . .
  • David Boder: He lived?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: He was able to live on them.
  • David Boder: What was his name?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: His name was Schmidt.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: It just suited for a German.
  • David Boder: Suited for a German, yes.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Moreover, in order to save themselves, they used to visit our convent, and so to say, completely pretended to be Greek-Orthodox Germans. And in this way they managed now [Footnote: Like the Nazis, the collaborationists rarely failed to play up the "favors to their Jewish friends", favors which only most too often could not be corroborated.] to remain in Riga.
  • David Boder: Aha [vague sounds].
  • David Boder: One moment. This concludes spool 143. We are going over to spool 144 still continuing with the interview with Father Yoan Kharchenko.
  • David Boder: This is spool 144, continuing the interview with the Russian minister, Yoan Kharchenko.
  • David Boder: [In Russian] Tell me Father Yoan what happened afterwards when the Germans started to retreat; or in general give me an appraisal of the situation during the interregnum in Latvia.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: When the Germans started leaving Latvia, we all found ourselves in this kind of situation; to remain in Latvia meant to be surely shot by the Bolsheviks because, we having remained in Latvia at the departure of the Bolsheviks were already to be traitors to the Soviet regime. Or . . .
  • David Boder: One moment. Tell me what happened to the Bishop? You told me something before.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: In the month of May they killed the Metropolitan Seraphim. Between . . . at the time he was traveling from Vilna, Kovno..through..well [he was traveling] by automobile.
  • David Boder: Was he in religious attire?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, he was in religious attire. There was with them together a famous basso and the wife of the basso, he was an artist, his name I don't recall now.
  • David Boder: They killed him too?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, and the chauffer, also, four persons. They killed four persons and a little girl who was standing approximately 200 meters from the place. This seven year old girl the bandits also killed.
  • David Boder: Well, this was that archbishop who was sent from Moscow and then remained in Riga?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, yes that was the same metropolitan.
  • David Boder: The metropolitan. Well, continue with your story.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Well, when the Germans started leaving everyone of us had the feeling that to remain in Riga means to be for sure annihilated by the Soviet authorities because we happened already to be enemies of the Soviet power insofar as we did not leave together with the Soviet troops when they departed from Latvia [retreating from the onmarch of the Germans]. At the same time one didn't feel like leaving Riga going somewhere into the unknown and so with the Germans whom we already had learned to know during their one and a half - two year stay in Latvia and have found out that this is . . . that this is a nation which is exclusively dedicated to aggression and enslavement of mankind, and were compelled kind of, to choose the lessor of two evils. But we had no chance even to do so since the Germans in a compulsory manner made everybody join the evacuation; and after having embarked us in the lagers, and in order that we may not escape from these lagers fenced around by a triple wiring, they hanged on the chest of everybody his own number and the number of the lager and photograped us. After that regardless of his specialty or social status, all were sent to public works and frequently families were broken up—transporting the children and mothers somewhere in one direction and sending the heads of families, the husbands and sons in another direction. And so, when my family was sent away I didn't know where it was sent in the month of August and only by accident having escaped from this lager I learned that my family was in the city of Auerbach [one word not clear] working in a clothing factory as Ostovzi [apparently a term which he proceeds to explain] that means as compulsory labor, Ostovzi.
  • David Boder: From the East.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, yes, yes.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: It was called "Ost".
  • David Boder: Tell me more detail about the life in the lager, how you were transported, how they treated you, and how you escaped.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I personally had to travel not by steamer, but by train, so that I had to travel towards Kovno, in freight cars. From Kovno we were sent to Kretingen and in Kretingen they disembarked us. And for two weeks laying around on the railroad station literally between the rails since all the Germans had fled and all roling stock was taken. A crowd of twenty thousand people were abandoned, they did not feed us and we existed just how one could manage.
  • David Boder: What does it mean, 'How one could manage'?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: That means that we led a half hungry existence and were forced in every way on the border of Kretingen to go to work, diging trenches. But we tried by hook and crook to avoid it and so we did not go to dig the trenches. After that they left us to the mercy of the fate, but when the last detatchments, a kind of demolishing squad, were leaving who used to blow up the stations they gave us a chance to assemble open cattle cars. And by means of these . . . on these . . . open cars they loaded us, attached a small locomotive, a switching engine from Kretingen to Memel, eighteen kilometers, they transported us in twelve hours. It must be stated that the whole time during our evacuation from Riga to Berlin there was a large and very strict guard, so if somebody only attempted to escape they treated him very cruelly. He was beated and there were even cases that they [the would-be escapees] were killed. Well, and about the events after we were brought to Berlin I have already told. We were brought to Wilhelmshafen to the so-called transit lager which has three yards—the first yard, there one only spends one night; they they lead [the people] to the second yard, and [afterwards] to the third, the innermost one. And from there, there is no way out, except for being assigned as a chattel slave to one of the German military factories.
  • David Boder: How did they treat people?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: They treated them like animals.
  • David Boder: Did they beat?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, they used to beat; they fed very poorly and in general there was a state of complete misrule. They forced us to work regardless of hours and they fed us exclusively on turnip—rather on water from under turnips, and they provided no more than a hundred grams of bread a day.
  • David Boder: Who were the supervisors? Were they your own Russians, Latvians or were they Germans?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: No, in Wilhelmshafen the supervisors were young Russians who were formerly under the Soviets. One must say, that there were even cases when our own Russian girls while selling themselves to Germans, obtaining so to speak, some temporary comforts, tried in every way to persecute and oppress their own brothers the Russians; not only the Russians but all the others too; there were there also Latvians, there were there also Lithuanians, there were there also Estonians, there were there also Poles. One must say that the Poles were treated worse of all. Well, one felt badly hurt, when in Wilhelmshafen some Russian little punk of a girl, sixteen-seventeen years old, but enjoying the favors of the head of this lager slapped the face of some aged professor. In the other lagers, however, in the labor-lagers at the factories and plants the supervisors were only Germans and there the discipline was still worse and still more rude. With greater cruelty they treated different trifling offences. It was not permitted to leave the quarters of the very lager, and even if they let one go out to the city once in a month or two, for an hour or two one had no right to ride on a streetcar or on a bus but had to walk in the middle of the street, in the middle of the street on foot.
  • David Boder: And what kind of clothing did you wear?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: We wore our own clothing but only wore a sign, a sign, such a blue sign [badge?] on the chest marked with the white letters Ost.
  • David Boder: Ost. Well, how did you escape from the lager?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I managed to escape from the lager . . .
  • David Boder: Did you keep your beard?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, yes, I . . . I was so to speak already in complete priestly . . .
  • David Boder: . . . attire?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . attire, and I learned in the office that I, as a clergyman, would be allowed to go from the lager in Wilhelmshafen to the cathedral for the services. There was a friend of mine engineer Korablikov, whom I asked, in case I should not return [to take care of] my little things, which I had, and to forward them to me somehow later. And I myself got a permission. I left on Saturday night for the cathedral, I asked the Metropolitan to keep me there and didn't return any more to the lager.
  • David Boder: How come? Was the Metropolitan at liberty?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, the Metropolitan was a German [Footnote: Apparently a Greek-Orthodox clergyman who had resigned his Russian citizenship after the revolution of 1917.]. Yes, yes, the Metropolitan of Germany, he was free, in the cathedral, in twon . . .
  • David Boder: Well, what happened then?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Well, after that I did not return to the lager. For about two weeks I slept at the stations, on Fridrichstrasse, Alexander Square and then . . .
  • David Boder: And what? Didn't they arrest you? Didn't they ask for documents?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, you know at the time, so to say things were already in a mess insofar as the Germans felt already that their discipline was on decline.
  • David Boder: Where, in what city did that happen?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: In Berlin.
  • David Boder: Hm . . . well . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: All the stations were crowded with soldiers, with deserters, it was comparatively free. But later however our Emigrant Committee got for me a little room.
  • David Boder: But the government was still German?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: German.
  • David Boder: And was the city bombed?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Every day, several times, yes.
  • David Boder: Well?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Later, in about two weeks they got for me a document, they got for me also a little room and I lived in Berlin until the arrival of the Americans, rather until February until the biggest bombing. And later I found out where my family was. On the ninth of February I left for Auerbach to join my family, and there I was met by the Americans.
  • David Boder: And how . . . and when did the Americans meet you in Auerbach?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: The sixth of April, 1945.
  • David Boder: Well, what did you do then?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: There the Americans gave me the possibility right away to organize an Orthodox church, placing at my disposal a little Catholic Kirk.
  • David Boder: Hm . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: And I worshipped there until I decided to go to a lager.
  • David Boder: Hm..
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Where I have been until this day.
  • David Boder: So, that means, you are over a year here in the lager.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: No, not that long. I was [for a long time] in the Nuremburg lager, and here I am now eight months.
  • David Boder: And do you have here a church?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: That's it, I have a magnificent church equipped by our own efforts.
  • David Boder: Did you take out some icons, do you have any?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: We had no icons, but we ourselves are drawing here [our own] and our icons will enviously compare with the ancient.
  • David Boder: And do you know, that on the house where the UNNRA people have dinner I saw today a very ancient Russian icon with a silver Sacerdotal Vestment, which the Germans obviously have shipped out of Russia?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, I too had the opportunity to see here at the homes of some German acquaintances when I happened to meet them, I too saw Russian icons and they used to show them to me.
  • David Boder: They did not give them up?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: No, they did not give them up because they consider them of financial value. And in most cases the Germans used to tell me that these were sent as gifts by their relatives who were in Russia.
  • David Boder: Well, so this is stolen property?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Quite right.
  • David Boder: And you, do you know here some Germans?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: No, one happens occasionally to meet them, sometimes to exchange something, one had to exchange some things for food-stuffs. The peasants had food-stuffs and we were starving.
  • David Boder: You bartered with the peasants?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, with the peasants.
  • David Boder: Tell me this, you used to meet Germans and all kinds of people, what did they think about the war, and what are they thinking about it?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: In my opinion the Germans were aggressors for centuries.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Personally I am not a politician but I think German always thought of how to enslave Europe.
  • David Boder: Yes?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . and if they right now to a certain extent are silent because they were utterly defeated, nevertheless as soon as they will have materially recuperated they will start again holding speeches claiming that they are a pure Aryan race and that all the others are [Untermenschen] — sub-men.
  • David Boder: Yes. Did they use this expression Untermensch?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: They not only used it but I myself read a magazine—they—it had a very beautiful cover and printed on fine paper, a magazine called "Untermensch", where they—
  • David Boder: It was called by that name?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, it really was called so officially. . . . where they presented types of different nations, mostly as degenerates and pointed out: this is a Russian, this is a Jew, this is a Tartar, this is a Ukrainian and next to them they put some SS man and they wrote [underneath] this is a pure Aryan—a German.
  • David Boder: So. So you don't think that they are sorry that all this has happened and so on . . . that they have thrown the world into a sea of blood and so on. Do they repent . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: In my opinion, in my opinion if there are repenting Germans they are in small number, a small percentage. They look at us even now as an extraneous element, an element unnecessary for them. Though they are guilty in all misfortunes and in all troubles they whose government had forced us to leave our fatherland. And still they don't give us here a chance to enjoy full rights. At present, though they don't show it openly, in all their actions, in all their movements, in all their behavior one can see how they hate us. It is sufficient that if you take a streetcar . . .
  • David Boder: So?
  • Ioan Kharchenko: If I enter in my religious attire none of the Germans will ever offer me . . . a . . .
  • David Boder: A seat . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: . . . a seat. But if at the same time, my deacon in "regular" clothing is traveling with me, the Germans taking him for a German immediately offered a seat. However, when he without sitting down started offering me the seat in Russian, they seeing that he too was a foreigner occupied again the seat and did not give us a chance to sit down. These are the kind of trifles they show in everything; not only toward Russians or Poles, toward Jews, but even toward those Germans who now left Poland considering them as people who have already become more or less "easternized" . . .
  • David Boder: Yes, of lower culture.
  • Ioan Kharchenko: Yes, and they have become [people] of lower culture.
  • David Boder: Now, well Father Yoan is there anything else you wanted to say? Would you like to tell something to your brothers in Chicago, the clergy of Chicago? Say . . .
  • Ioan Kharchenko: I would like to say [he speaks in a raised voice, passionately after a long pause] Our brethern in Christ, save us, save us from the abuse [he sobs] to which we are subjected already for twenty-seven years. We suffer, we smart, we lost our fatherland, we [many of us] have lost their families, we lost all our property, we are now given our piece of bread like alms thrown to beggars. Regardless of that—that thousands of us belonging to the intelligensia, thousands of engineers, thousands of professors sit around without utilizing their skill, and how much benefit could they have brought to mankind? But that is not all, one ting more, which is in store for us, and that is the most terrible; we got used already to all deprivation, but to go back to our fatherland, to go back to the "Father of Nations", to Stalin, that threatens us with inevitable death. And if you, our brethern in Christ, if you won't help us if you won't redeem us from here, if you won't take us over to your lands, then you must know that many more of us will have to die there, on their native soil. Our request to you is—save us, as once upon a time Minin and Pozharsky [Footnote: Minin and Pozharsky were a merchant and military man, respectively, who called for the redemption of Russia from the yoke of the Tartars in the century. Their famous call "Let us mortgage our women and children but save the land", has become a traditional patriotic stereotype.] have mortgaged their . . . had given away all their belongings, they even said, that they would mortgage their wives and children and still would save Russia, so you too, Oh, redeem the ruins of that Russia, which for twenty-seven years now is navigating without sails and without rudder on the great ocean of sorrow and blood. Amen!
  • David Boder: [In English] This concludes the interview with Father Yoan Kharchenko on the displaced people camp of the Baltics, Munich, Lohengrin-Strasse, September 21, 1946. Thank you.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : Olga Collin
  • English Translation : David P. Boder