SURVIVING COMMUNISM IN UKRAINE 1917-1941: A Memoir-Novel by Olena Zvychaina and Mykhailo Mlakovyi Translated From the Ukrainian Voroh Narodu / An Enemy of the People by Vera Kaczmarsky

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This memoir-novel is a historical account of real life under communism in Ukraine from 1917 to the first months of the invasion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany in 1941. It reveals the barbaric treatment inflicted upon ordinary Ukrainians under Stalin’s regime. These author-survivors are real human beings who deftly depict the atrocities and horrors inflicted upon them documenting the annihilative brutality of Soviet tyranny during this era of history.

A riveting narrative, a historical novel, a story about personal dignity, humanity and integrity in the face of a brutal political system. It documents details of Soviet history and its penal system from a Ukrainian perspective under Stalin that no other source has provided since not many survived to describe the horror of it.


“It is a historical novel, a chronicle and a testimony about the barbaric crimes committed against the peoples of the Soviet Union by the Kremlin’s Genghis Khan, Stalin. It is an indictment of Stalin and those who carried out his orders. It is a warning to the Free World to be on guard against tyranny. It is a hymn of praise to the indomitable human spirit, capable of surmounting hopeless situations and it inspires fellow humans to reflect on the power – but also the weakness - of hate.”
-Sviatoslav Karavansky,
Soviet Gulag Survivor

“If I were to teach a course on Soviet or even European history, this book would be on the reading list…I find it graceful and eminently readable. The language is elegantly simple, not cumbersome or obscure. The chief importance of this work, from the point of view of historical scholarship, is that it concretizes some well-known facts of Soviet and Ukrainian history as well as detailing others that are not so well known.”
-Prof. Andrew Sorokowski,
Ph.D. University of London

“Besides being a good story, Zvychaina’s novel is especially important inasmuch as its focus is on the specifically Ukrainian perspective. It thereby provides a much-needed complement to the Soviet concentration-camp literature, which has generally been written by, and from the point of view of, Russian political prisoners and dissidents.”
-Prof. Alexander J. Motyl,
Rutgers University-Newark

“Descriptions of the deplorable existence in a Gulag and 16 hours daily of hard labor…these details document quite a unique narration of part of Soviet history and its penal system since not many survived to describe it…”
-Prof. Larissa M.L. Onyshkevych,
Co-editor and co-author of ‘Contemporary Ukraine on the Cultural Map of Europe

“Besides its high value as an engrossing literary work…it is a powerful and searing condemnation of a vicious political regime that used the tool of unjustified massive arrests to provide slave labor to develop vast industrial complexes.”
-Dr.Boris Hlynsky,
Ret.,U.S. Department of Navy

Table of Contents

1 In the Pasture
2 While at the Same Time
3 You Can Always Tell a Landowner by his Boots
4 It Happened in Public
5 Plans and Reality
6 Crimea
7 At a Crossroads
8 Actions of a Ukrainian Communist
9 A Dream or Hallucination?
10 Fate is not always a Mean Stepmother
11 Satchel-Bearers
12 Trudshkola
13 The Institute
14 Dignity Found
15 Mykhailo’ s and Natalka’s Conversations
16 Housing Co-ops
17 Mother’s Pension
18 “Paradise” Lost
19 Bread
20 Encounters
21 “Life Has Improved and Has Become Happier”
22 The Arrest
23 Yezhov’s Gloves
24 Natalka’s Lot
25 The Interrogation
26 A Country of Lies
27 A Closed Circle
28 Jasmine
29 No Place for Them Under the Sun
30 “Trouble Comes in Pairs”
31 The Note
32 The Transport
33 Mariinsk and the Concentration Camp
34 To Renounce Mykhailo or Not?
35 Salomon and Maria
36 Back at Work
37 The Floating Prison
38 With Faith in Hand
39 The Fauna and the People of the Planet Kolyma
40 First Impressions
41 The Work Day
42 A Bird’s Eye View of Life on Kolyma
43 The Struggle for life
44 The Struggle for Freedom
45 Slavko and Little Rosa
46 Barely Alive
47 One More Try
48 The Mirror
49 An Invitation to a Dance
50 Smiling Pleasantly
51 Victory over Time and Distance
52 Yet Another Piece of Paper
53 Justice Soviet-style
54 Through the Eye of a Needle
55 Farewell, Planet Kolyma!
56 Train Number “51”

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