The father of my grandmother was a merchant who carried goods to the Russian cities – Petersburg and Ekaterinburg. He was very much a man of means. But in 30 years it had been dispossessed (all its condition had been expropriated). Earlier he had tried to go abroad with his family, but was detained, arrested and banished in Karlag. The brother of my grandmother was a student of the Kazan University. But after the First World War, and then revolution in Russia, he was given possibility to finish the institute. He had returned home to Kazakhstan, he had accepted the new power of the Soviets and was engaged in creation of “red yurtas.”
The formed [collectivized] people like him wandered together with Kazakhs, taught them to read and write – attached to civilisation. But in 1937 he was arrested on charges of being involved in “anti-Soviet” activity and sentenced to 20 years of imprisonment. My grandmother had not only lost her father but now her elder brother and also her possibilities to graduate. Last time she saw her brother was on the railway platform where there was a structure built for the condemned. There were many people who cried out names of their relatives in hopes that someone would respond. She found her brother who asked to bring the newspapers to him. One of the security guards told her that the structure would stand until 6:00 in the morning of the next day. However, when she returned the next morning with newspapers, the structure was not any more. At night it had been sent far on to the east.
My grandmother remained only with her mum and her younger brother. She got a job in the children’s home and continued to hope for the best. During all of 1937 she wrote letters to Stalin that her father and brother were innocent and condemned wrongly. Thus, she was excluded from university. In 1938 there was a decision signed by Stalin in which it was decreed that children should not be responsible for their fathers. As a result of the edition of this order, many children of the condemned parents were restored to study and in the ranks of VLKSM. Among them there was also my grandmother.
Until the end of her life, she had been assured that Stalin did not know about the tragic destinies of children and when he had read their letters, he was strongly dissatisfied and was disposed to restore justice. Fortunately, her father did come back home, he had been released on amnesty. But from her elder brother she had received only one letter in which he wrote that they were floating on the Ohot Sea in Magadan. He did not come back home.