Anna Vlková

* 1936

  • “J. V.: “Both of us were born in Poland, I was born in 1932 and you (his wife) in 1936.” A.V.: “Our village was a bit different, because it was an evangelical village. Not only they didn’t want to marry Ukrainians, but they didn’t even want to marry Czechs who had converted to the Orthodox Church. 75% of them converted to the Orthodox Church and the evangelicals then despised them pretty much.”

  • “They finished the construction of the church in 1951. There was nothing, no building material, no whitewash. They were pulling out nails from planks and straightening them and reusing them. There are written records about old grandpas who were pulling out the nails and straightening them, and they have reused over ten thousand nails. They counted them all. In 1950 I submitted documents for the roof construction of the brickworks in Chotíněves to the architect, and this was used for the construction of the church roof. I have to tell you how it actually happened that the authorities allowed the building of the church, because after February 1948 something like this was unacceptable. The priest actually had to be a great tactician when he managed to obtain the building permit. He promised them that he would establish a cooperative in Chotíněves in exchange for permission to build a church there. He never mentioned it. He died one year after the cooperative had been founded, but it was founded by others, not by him. He even obtained a subsidy of three hundred thousand Crowns. I think that the budget for the church was around one million and a half, and he managed to get this subsidy of three hundred thousand. He was also a liaison between the Czechs from Boratín and the Ukrainian government, and the Ukrainian rebel army, and therefore he already must have had experience with these dictatorship regimes. He was certainly a good psychologist as well, that’s what a priest needs to know. Therefore this was a small miracle.”

  • “When the Soviets came in 1939, I was seven years old. I don’t remember it directly. There was a political officer who came from the Soviet territory, and who was to do the ideological propaganda there. The clever Czechs even tried to win his favour, offering him food and drink and he was becoming more pliable. But he had to leave, because he was gradually accepting the opinions of these –alleged –enemies of the Soviet regime. A total of three political officers were sent to serve there. Right after the Soviets came they began promoting the socialization of the countryside, the kolchoz and sovchoz cooperatives. Moreover, in Boratín it was even more tense, because strong religious ideology was still was prevalent there, and Stalin and his supporters did not like it. Their ideology was to crush private entrepreneurship, and the exploitation of man by another man, although this was arguably beneficial for the native population there. When they came there in 1939 they immediately sent all state officials and those who owned more than 100 hectares of land to Siberia.”

  • “One carriage was to carry about ten people. In our case it was for three families. Since it was not possible to communicate with the men from the family (who were already in Czechoslovakia) about what was needed to bring, we therefore took everything with us, but I think it was not necessary. Hens, cows, horses, pigs… A farmer is reluctant to get rid of these animals which provide a living to man. I was fourteen years old, and I rode in a cattle truck. That was the best, because there was plenty of space, and I had a window just for myself and I could keep the door partly open. I saw mountains for the first time in my life. We passed through the Carpathian Mountains at the end of February. It was freezing. The journey took twelve days. We boarded the train in the town of Luck. It was nice when we were leaving the town. We were riding on a track which was about one kilometre from the village which we were leaving behind. We were passing through that place in the evening, the sun was setting and was shining on the church and the roofs. The pines which grandpa had planted were glowing, and nearby there was the graveyard, which had a special importance for us. During the ten days when the train was riding through the Ukrainian territory, at every railway station, when the door opened, there were beggars extending their hands to us, begging us to give them this or that. They were interested in getting our clothing for free, because they knew that we were going to a better place. It was the other way round here. We arrived and on the border they welcomed us with tea and hot soup.”

  • “There was a requirement that no more than one third of property may be owned by Volhynians or by some foreign users or administrators. This was quite tough, because the villages were scattered over large areas. And the community of Volhynian Czechs there was based mostly in villages. There were friendly relationships, it was a homogenous community. I still don’t know how they managed to keep it this way. In Chotiněves, there were eventually 17 of them, although there were only 40 farms, and 17 out of 40 were owned by them, although actually it should have been only 13 farms.”

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Ústí nad Labem, 20.02.2006

    (audio)
    délka: 01:45:19
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Sudetenland destinies
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    Ústí nad Labem, 20.02.2006

    (audio)
    délka: 01:39:32
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Sudetenland destinies
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Back home from Stalin’s paradise...

Anna Vlková
Anna Vlková
zdroj: soukromý archiv

  She was born on May 21, 1936 in the Czech village Český Boratín near the town of Luck in the Volhynian gubernia. The region was part of the Polish territory at that time. Her ancestors come from the Jilemnice and Mělník regions. She grew up in an evangelical family in the Ukrainian countryside in an area where Czechs formed a 2% minority. In winter 1947 she and her parents moved from the USSR to the village of Chotíněves in the Litoměřice region in Czechoslovakia under a re-emigration program for Czechs. Anna studied a secondary school of chemistry in Lovosice. In 1956 she married Jozef Vlk. They moved to Ústí nad Labem in search of a job. They brought up their two children there and they have been actively supporting local cultural life. In the 1990s they began with intense study of their ancestors and their life in the Volhynian gubernia. In 1997, when whey retired, they organized a trip for former residents of Boratín to their native village and they began gathering information on the life in Volhynia. At the end of 2000 they published a book titled The History of Český Boratín. At present they focus on the educational association Matice česká školská in Polish Volhynia in the 1920s and 1930s. Josef and Anna Vlk share the fate of thousands of re-emigrants from the Volhynian region of present-day Ukraine. At the same time they are people with great experience who can contribute with their stories to those gathered in interviews with other witnesses.