Tatjana Doduch wears a gun

Tatjana Doduch usually is no anxious person. But recently, the Ukrainian woman has bought a pistol and put bars over the windows of her house in the little village Beliki. “Recently, I received a transfer from Germany”, the 81 year old says. 1425 Euro as a compensation for forced labour in Schleswig-Holstein during World War II. “Now village people are envious. Some would even like to kill me”, she says.

In 2000, the German government and wide parts of the industry decided to pay for a compensation fund that would give money to former forced labourers in Nazi Germany. It was supposed to be the most efficient way of coming to terms with the past. For most of the victims in Eastern Europe this is the first time they receive compensation for atrocities that happened almost sixty years ago.

Illustration: Irene Gonzalez Chana

Illustration: Irene Gonzalez Chana

Do not trust anybody, not even your own family

Tatjana Doduch hides the money at home. She does not trust the banks. “They will not pay back our savings”, she says. She is living on her own, her daughter lives at the other side of village. “That is why I got to be careful”, she explains. Even the families of her brothers sense that there was injustice. Her brothers died in action while World War II. ‘Why do you get money and we come away empty-handed?’ they cried at her. About 550 000 Ukrainian people had applied for compensation. But many will not receive money because mostly proofs for forced work deployment have been lost during the war.

In 1943 Tatjana Doduch was arrested in her home village and brought to a farmer in Schleswig-Holstein. There she had to get up at four o’clock in the morning every day, had hardly any food and was forced to work until midnight occasionally. After attempting to escape she was detained and kept in a labour camp. In between she got pregnant by a fellow worker who died in a German prison later. He had promised to make a bathtub for the baby, but got caught by stealing some metal sheets for it.

“I will survive everything”

Despite all this, she remains optimistic. “I will survive everything”, she says crisply. Since dissolution of the Beliki kolkhoz she owns a little piece of land, but not yet any tools to cultivate it. “Now I will save up for an own tractor”.

This article was posted in Online Issue II and tagged .

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