Interview with Helen Krumm (HK)
Conducted by Bob Dambach (BD) with Michael M. Miller
7 October 2001, Hague, North Dakota
Transcription by Lena Paris
Proofread and edited by Beverly Wigley
Prairie Public Collection
HK: So I suppose you want to know from Russia how we went? When we grew up, we'd go out to dances with the young people. It was like that, too, we always were in groups. When one [group] got together then the other ones [joined them] but we got along.
Sunday was Sunday. But when Communists was, there was no Sunday and there was no Christmas and there was no Easter. There was only Oktoberfest and first of May, that would be the Labor Day. They marched and stuff like that. But otherwise- There was abortion [at] that time already in Russia. It's so hard when you have no contact from the outside world. We didn't know what's going on in Germany or over in Russia or across the street. You even couldn't talk to your neighbor because the walls had ears. When you had a holy picture in the house and one of those cams - comes, you better take that down. That was terrible. You always think, "We have it hard." Everything country or every community has something - not everything is perfect. But that was worse.
BD: Did you know what was happening? You said they were coming and taking people away from villages. Did you know what happened to those people?
HK: No, all to Siberia. They took them all to Siberia. They had to build roads, and they had to build different stuff, you know. They starved. They'd only last a year or two. You could not even ask [about them].
BD: So there's no letters coming –
HK: No, no. There was no nothing. There was no doctor. There was maybe a hospital 20 miles away but they didn't have the medication. All the babies were born at home. We had these old midwives who took care of them. The lifespan was maybe 55-60. That's about it. A lot of people died. Like with the food, too- we'd eat good and everything when we had [it]. We drank our own wine. We made no coffee or anything because we didn't have the money to buy [any]. We had the grapes so we made our own wine and our vegetables. [We] picked all the stuff, you know.
BD: How about Christmas or Easter traditions?
HK: Oh, that was great! Easter, and Christmas too, but we had no Christmas tree. We went out and cut a dry branch off and took it in the house, colored some onions and little colored paper and popcorn rolls and hung it. And that was our Christmas tree. Then the Christkindl came, and we all had to sit in a row. "Was she good, was he bad?" "Yah, der ist bees (böse, bad) und der ist gut." She had a little thing, and she hit us a little a bit. And Ma was standing behind the Christkindl, and she'd hold a doll or whatever she had to give us, you know, and that was the Christkindl. Then we had ham, potato salad and wine and baked our own cookies. Strudels and rolls; we did it all our own.
BD: How about Easter traditions?
HK: Easter, too, the whole week was Holy Week. I
remember Good Friday when they put Christ in the tomb and the
Mesner (sacristan, sexton) had to stay posted there for a couple
of hours. Every three-four hours then they changed it again. [Sie]
haben gewacht am Heiland, sein Grab. That was real nice too. Then
we colored some eggs. We dug little houses beside the house and
put a little green grass in and then the Oschterhas (Osterhase),
what they call the Easter bunny, came. Ma was out early [with
the eggs] and she always put them in there so that was nice.