Imagine you are 20. You are walking back home after the lectures at the university. Tonight you are going to the cinema with a boy you like. You are young, and you have big plans for the future.

Suddenly a car stops nearby. Two men in an uniform ask you to come with them. Soon you find yourself in the hands of the KGB, imprisoned, condemned and sentenced to enforced exile, far away from home.

No, it’s not a fiction. It’s a true story that happened to my granny Oksana Khraschevska. In spring 1946 she, a student of Kiev medical institute, was arrested by the KGB. She was accused of one of the most horrible crime of that historical period: Ukrainian nationalism. In a month and a half her father, the philologist and professor of Ukrainian language and literature was arrested as well by the KGB and accused of the same crime. The court sentenced them both to 10 years of gulag camps and to enforced exile to Siberia.

Her father died after 10 years of gulag camps. But Oksana Khraschevska managed to survive. She survived despite of hunger, cold, hard work. She survived in the place where even the strongest men die, become insane or commit suicide. Under such terrible circumstances she also managed to help other people, and after many years to come back to Ukraine, to complete her studies and to become a qualified doctor.

She’s written a book about her experience. Its title is “Zlamanyj Tsvit”. It was published in Ukrainian language in 2012 in Lviv.

When you read the book you’ll definitely cry. There is no politics or dull historical researches in the book. It is a lively and quite naïve point of view of a young girl towards horrible events that happened to her and her family. In a very interesting way she describes the daily routine in gulag camps, flashed of memories about World War II, when she was in Kiev occupied by the fascists, and about the famine of 1933 (Holodomor) that she experienced in her childhood. The plot is incredibly interesting and dynamic, some people say that when they start reading the book they can’t stop until they turn the very last page.

“Zlamanyj Tsvit” is a book worth reading. It was written by Oksana Khraschevska for all us, descendants, who have just a vague idea of Stalin, gulag camps and exile to Siberia.

She wrote this book for us so that we know and we remember.

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