Today I want to tell you about our ALZHIR trip to Malinovka ( a small village 27 kilometres away from Astana). ALZHIR is the largest Soviet women camp. During the Soviet time, when Stalin ruled USSR, many people were imprisoned and their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters were sent to ALZHIR. A.L.ZH.I.R is an abbreviation of the Russian language, it is a camp for wives of political dissidents. Most of them are writers, actors, actresses.

So today, having visited the museum I found more about that terrible camp that destroyed lives of hundreds of people. Actually, the museum we visited was opened by the initiative of our President Nursultan Nazarbayev in 2007. May 31 is a memory day of all repressed people, and museum has different arrangements due to this date.

The museum includes information about people, who were repressed, about their relatives, and their destiny. There are wives of famous Kazakh writers as M.Dulatov, B.Mailin, T.Ruskulov, T.Zhurgenov, M.Zhumabaev, Zh.Aimauytov and many other heroes. Right now younger relatives of those, who were repressed during Soviet period contribute much to the development of the museum. They share their memories about the camp, bring things, which once belonged to the people of Stalin repression. Museum consists of two floors. As you enter the museum you can see a composition “The flower of life”. It represents a rose that comes from underneath breaking the tiled ground. It means that despite all hardships, the flower of life keeps on growing and the life continues. There is another less interesting composition above the Flower of life. It is called “Doves in captivity”. It shows 15 doves in mesh-ring. Some of the birds are captured, some are free outside. These 15 doves represent 15 countries that USSR consisted of. I don’t know exactly why the author of the composition chose doves to show countries, but I guess the reason was peace. As a matter of fact, a dove is a symbol of peace in our country.

(The photo shows a museum and a monument for all repressed women in a form of women’s headgear.)

The information on the first floor starts from 1822-1895 – the years, when Kazakhstan became a colony of the Russian Empire. The camp was opened in 1936 and worked up to Stalin’s death in 1953. According to the stats, there were 18000 women of 62 nationalities from all over the USSR. The first floor of the museum, mainly, contains info about people, who were considered Traitors of the Motherland. It gives you full information about the destiny of their wives, mothers, daughters, and sisters. All these women were forced to do hard job despite the severe winter. If you go up to the second floor you can see the places, where these poor women lived and worked. They lived in barracks, they had straws instead of blankets, and lattice instead of the doors. Their rooms were poor lit, cold, small. They had letters to their children, photos of the family and relatives on the wall. Also we could see dress-maker’s room, a small room with a sewing-machine in the corner and a lamp. Women made clothes for themselves here.

(This photo shows a broken star as a fall of Soviet Union.)

I am Kazakh, I know much about the lives of our famous writers. Nevertheless, I found more information from our guides talk. For instance, Beimbet Mailin is a Kazakh writer, an author of “Myrkymbai” poems, “Shuga monument”, etc. His wife Gulzhamal Mailina was also imprisoned in the camp. They had 6 children, when the parents were sentenced, they were sent to an orphanage in Russia. They were taught Russian only, and later when a mother and children met together they had difficulties in communication. Their mother knew no Russian on the contrary. Thousands of children suffered from Stalin’s depression, majority of them lived in the orphan houses. Some of them even were born in the camp. Statistics equals their number to 1507 children.

I am grateful to our guide. Her names is Anara. She has been working in the museum for one year only, but she told us so many things I hadn’t even the slightest idea. She is a teacher by profession as we are. Colleague. She graduated from Kokshetau State Pedagogical Institute. What impressed me most about her is that she told us everything about the camp in the English language. It is very good, because not only Kazakhs and Russians visit the museum. As Anara informed us, during OSCE summit in Astana in December 1-2, Presidents of Latvia and Sweden visited the museum as well.

I am grateful to our President Nursultan Nazarbayev for making our country independent like one of the free doves in a mesh-ring we saw in the museum.

And, finally, I am grateful to a Person, who brought us the initiative to go there and arranged a trip to ALZHIR. It is a Person with capital letter for all PDP students. Thank you, our lovely PDP teacher!