It was painful to talk to the old women about this time. "Well, my children, how many good people they shot," – wails Kaciaryna Michajlauna Bahajcuk. – "If only there were a monument put up to them!" – she weeps. – "There was one especially terrible night," – says Nadzieja Jafimauna Khomic (born 1922) from Zialony Luh. Before the war she lived in Babrujsk, but she often went to Zialony Luh to visit her sister whose house was right by the forest. "The whole time, shooting, dogs barking, shouting, weeping and lamenting!" And she too weeps.
"The dogs were fierce. They were probably hungry," – adds Sonia Andrejeuna Kozic (born 1925) from Zialony Luh. – "And they kept on shooting almost without a break, especially at night."
"There was a great deal of blood splashed around," – reports Maryja Ivanauna Pacirsuk (born 1925) from Cna. – "And groans. Even those who had been buried, still groaned."
Viera Fiodarauna Touscik (born 1933) from Drazdova recalls that when she was seven years old, she and some other children used to run to watch the killing. Her recollections are fragmentary, what a child's memory retained – the pits heaped with fresh yellow sand and the blood on the grass. "And the sand over the pits was still heaving, as if it were breathing."
Question: Did they take anyone from Drazdova? "I don't remember. I was a little girl. But older people told me that they took people from all the villages around. An automobile would come. They came in the night and said: "Get ready!" Where to, they didn't explain."
"Well, the person would get ready. Stuff some bread and lard into a bag. And then they just took them over there and shot them in the pits. Why doesn't someone put up a monument to them? So many people were killed! So many of our nation they carried off!"
Matruna Mikalajeuna Mantasava (born 1914) from Zialony Luh recounts how in 1937 they took two men, the Stryhavy's, from Padbaloccie. "Who were they?" we ask, "Just simple people, workers." – "Why did they take them?" – "No one knows. In those days no one said anything or asked questions. At night an automobile, some kind of truck, they called it a "black Maria" (literally "black raven" – Translator) went round the villages. They took the husband of Tania Matusievic as well, and the teacher who lived next door. I can't recall their surnames. Everyone said that they were taking people from all the villages around. How many good people they've killed! If only there were a memorial to them now. What terrible tyranny our nation suffered!"
Valancina Shakhanava says that she remembers how they took three people from the neighbouring village of Jakubavicy. "Why?" – "Oh, they said that all denounced one another for some crime – they all perished. And in our village, in Cna, they grabbed the schoolmaster, Arsien Paulavic Hrusa. He was a fine man." Valancina Mikhajlauna said that she had heard her elders saying at that time they were grabbed because an activist, a brigade-leader in Cna was under pressure to "make up" the required number of "enemies of the people". <> We questioned Maryja Ryhorauna Paciarsuk about arrests in the area. – "From Khmarynscyny (this village no longer exists – Author) they took three people: Andrej Filipovic, Sciapan Ciarluk and, I've forgotten the third one's name, he was some newcomer." – Did you hear about enquiries or demands to denounce "enemies of the people"? – "From 1937, the head of the Rural Soviet – we were the Papernianski Rural Soviet then – was Cimafiej Vasilievic Bacian, and he was asked, if there weren't any of them around. And he replied: "No, we don't have any."
Question: Did they shoot people anywhere else in the locality? "Yes, there were shootings. At Zdanovicy, near Baravaja, near Drazdova, to the right of the narrow-gauge railway. (The narrow-gauge railway no longer exists – Author), and in Mensk, at the back of the Caluskincau Park, where the Vavilau plant is."
Question to Maryja R. Pacirsuk, D.I. Touscik and M.I. Paciarsuk (village Soviet Deputy and member of the Communist Party) "What should be done with the site now? The city has spread right up to it and the Ring Road touches it." – "Put up a monument!" – they all replied.