The story of one family from Stoyanov as an example of the tragedy of the entire Ukrainian people

This is the passport of my great-grandmother, Tekla Tverdokhlib. It is a priceless treasure of our family archive.

My great-grandmother Tekla was a strong woman with a difficult character. She was educated and spoke three languages. She was the mother of 9 children, two of whom she buried when they were young, and she never learned about the fate of one of her younger sons, Tadeusz, until her death. The truth was revealed much later, when the KGB archives were declassified (I will talk about it later).

Mykola Tverdokhlib’s great-grandfather was wealthy. He had a newly built house, several dozen morgues in the field, a huge farm, a renament, horses, cattle, and a garden of a good hectare of varietal trees. My great-grandfather was the first in the district to buy the then-new mower and thresher. He also educated all of his children: his sons studied at gymnasiums in Lviv, and Tadii went to Warsaw to get a professional military education.

Exactly 75 years ago, a wealthy Galician family lost everything overnight. The notorious “Zakhid” decree came into effect. In a few days, nearly 80,000 Ukrainians were deported from western Ukraine (Ternopil, Stanislav, and Lviv regions).

Together with their children Vasyl, Maria, and Sofia (Zona), Mykola and Teklia Tverdokhlib with their bags, in which they hastily packed the most necessary things, they headed to the Far East of Russia in a freight car. Already in the car, they were joined by their son Stepan, a Lviv high school student who maintained ties with the UPA.

The geography of the family’s stay in a foreign land can be traced back to the marks in my great-grandmother’s passport: first the Krasnoyarsk Territory, then the Kemerovo Region, and later the Irkutsk Region.

My grandmother received this passport in 1950, after the death of her great-grandfather Mykola, who died in the third year of exile. We have never been able to find out where his grave is.

“Dependent slave…” A terrible game of word contraction…

It’s scary to imagine how the elderly woman lived in a foreign land.

On March 5, 1953, Stalin died. And my grandmother Hanna decided to do something incredible. She went to Irkutsk and took her 65-year-old mother back to Ukraine without waiting for rehabilitation or permits.

After returning to Stoyanov, real terror from the local authorities and the KGB began. Every week, an officer from the Radekhiv district police station would come to my grandmother’s house and say: “Take grandma abratna!”

Grandmother Hania answered, “I did not bring her. She got on the train with me and came here. If you want her, you bring her!” and regularly paid a fine for illegal residence of an internee.

And then the Khrushchev Thaw began, and Tekla’s great-grandmother was left behind.

She was even issued a new passport. But the one in the photo was “lost” and hidden deep in the kufra.

Great-grandmother Tekla lived with her daughter Hanna and grandchildren in Stoyaniv for more than 10 years. My mom remembers her well. The most vivid memory is of my great-grandmother Teklia, dressed in black, gray-haired and thin, sitting on a chair outside the house, reading a book without glasses.

You might ask what happened to the rest of the family.

Vasyl, Maria, and Sofia (Zona) managed to escape to Australia via Mongolia and China.

Stepan settled in Siberia, got married, and had children. We cut off contact with their families back in 2014. At the beginning of the full-scale war, my cousin wrote me a vague letter saying “we don’t support them, but what we can do is blah, blah, blah”.

In the minds of the descendants of the Banderite Stepan Tverdokhlib, “8 years of dambusting bamboozle” is in the minds of the descendants of Stepan Tverdokhlib.

The story of one family as an example of the tragedy of the whole nation.

Do you still wonder why the Russians are forcibly deporting people from the East and South of Ukraine?

They always do this.

They have always done so…

Our Russophobia will never be enough.


This post was published on October 22.

It resonated strongly online, receiving almost 12 thousand reposts.

In the evening of October 26, 2022, the social network deleted it for “hate speech” and my profile was partially blocked.

Writing about the crimes of Muscovites in the occupied territories is hate speech.

That’s it.

I don’t know how long this duplicated post will last. I don’t know how long I have left before I get banned.

So read it. Spread the word. Copy the text and share it online with attribution.

Let’s keep the line, unbreakable!

Natalia Kosenko

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