160 Swedish miles (one Swedish mile is 10 km, approx. TRANS.) from our shores, in Ukraine, you can find a little piece of Sweden.
Here a handful of elders still speak the Swedish, which in our country will not hear for several hundred years.
The old Swedish village is a remarkable historical artifact, a reminder that part of our heritage, which is now fast dying.
Hard to believe my ears, listening to Maria Malmas. She is soon 80 years old. She was born into a poor Ukrainian village, and barely survived the heavy Stalinist times. Her grandfather and grandmother on his father in 1937, was taken away by security during the purges.
In 1940-ies, the German occupiers sent Mary with his family to Germany as Ostarbeiters, but later they returned home to their village. When peace came, and the Red army was supposed to “liberate” Maria and her family, there was a sense that they were out of the frying pan into the fire. Everyone who visited Germany, Stalin considered traitors, no matter whether they went willingly or was taken by force.
“And then the war was over, and then they said we have to go home. Put us on a train and sent to Siberia! My mother worked in the woods. Two weeks after arrival died, my three sisters,” — says Maria on his unusual Swedish.
In Siberia, Maria and her family lived in a small hut and ate mostly bread made of bark. In front of Mary several of her younger siblings died of hunger and cold, and the mother buried them.
“When we arrived in Siberia, it was 50 degrees below zero. Oh, how hard it was,” says Maria.
The history of its kind rooted in the German Danzig and the island of Daga (now Hiiumaa — approx. ed.). She says the unusual, outdated version of the Swedish language, what we have never heard before.
“Forty-seven was a year of famine, we ate grass,” she says.
To understand why Maria Malmas grew up in Ukrainian village backwater, while owning Swedish as a native language, we need to go to 296 years in the past. In 1721 in nishtadte peace was concluded, and Sweden lost to Russia a large territory, for example, is now the Estonian island of Hiiumaa, then called Doug. Later, Catherine the Great, as compensation was offered to the Swedish peasant population of the island land, houses and a private Church on the territory of southern Ukraine.
As time went on, but in 1781 a little less than a thousand Swedish inhabitants of the island, Doug has submitted the same to the land, to the East of Europe. It was a fatal way, as it turned out, because only two-thirds of the Braves succeeded, in may, 1782. Others died from cold, hunger and disease.
Many died soon after arrival at a new place, and in 1783 there was only 150 people. But over time, they are accustomed to, and residents of the so-called old Swedish village has created a viable peasant environment. They even kept my old vostochnobeisky dialect and the Lutheran faith.
Looting and violence
First came the Swedes, then the Germans, says Sven Barlaston (Sven Bjerlestam), the Swede, a former employee of the organization Sida (Agency for international cooperation development under the control of the Ministry of foreign Affairs), many years living in Ukraine. Local Germans were Protestants, a little further away lived and Catholics.
The days of the Russian revolution of 1917 and during the First world war of 1914-1918 was difficult for residents of old Swedish, with all the looting, violence and the subsequent years of crop failure. In 1929 the majority of villagers went home to Sweden. Some families, however, gradually disillusioned in this new promised land and in 1931 returned to old Swedish. It is their descendants we have met here today.
“Hello, Hello, welcome, come on in! I only buy something for tea, those waffles that you love Sven!” — with great joy and warmth in the voice of the son of Mary Malmas Alexander, who is called Sasha.
School in ruins
The Swedes are popular here. Many Swedes and Swedish companies do business in the village, for example, has allocated funds for the organization of space in a rural school for the teaching of the Swedish language and provided learning materials. A real blessing, because now the Ukrainian Larisa Beloeil teacher can teach to high standards. All other parts of the school, however, in severe disrepair: broken toilets flushing, and the desks are terrible.
Today in Swedish class, gathered a handful of rural children, as well as 51-year-old Tatiana Schultz-Demjanjuk, who also wants to learn Swedish.
“Måndag gör jag ingenting, ingenting, ingenting. Tisdag, jag ser mig omkring… (famous Swedish folk song — approx. transl.)”, — Larissa singing students and choir.
Larisa was born in old Swedish, but Swedish was her mother tongue. However, she has learned to speak fluently in Swedish, due to the personal interest and now passes his knowledge on to all who wish to learn.
“My name is Margarita. I’m nine years old. How’s business today?” says one of the students on the uncertain Swedish.
The second shot of the day
Larissa does not know the old Swedish dialect and teaches him. This is all the more sad that almost no one, except a handful of very old people today do not speak this unique dialect that was once used in the village. Perhaps the only exception is the 54-year-old Valentina Gherman. We came to visit her and her husband-Ukrainian Vladimir simple house. There are pictures of children and grandchildren, as well as a sideboard with dolls and plastic cartoon characters.
“My aunt’s birthday today. My sister is down here for lunch,” says Valentine Herman on a well-preserved Swedish.
Birthday — 86-year-old Mary Norberg. Mary now sees the bad and not so good know someone to a stroke that happened to her last summer. But the families still gathered to greet her in the living room covered with real Ukrainian table Laden with fantastic vegetable snacks, with plates of herring, homemade cakes and other tasty treats. First, however, we have to drink vodka in such cases is inevitable.
“In this house are supposed to drink twice! Or even three times”, — assures Valentine Herman journalists of Aftonbladet, we throw it down for the second day in a glass in honour of Mary, Norberg.
Slightly kinder vodka, we leave poor village with incredibly warm and friendly people. That’s just how much they will be in a few years?