on the pics for full size.
year is 1847.
Domna Kobeleva and
Zoja Rebrovskuja sits together in an cold prison cell.
They are all waiting to be put on a transport to Siberia.
Masha, at the left, is a peasant girl, who has been a serf on a
She had rejected her masters advances, and he has now as punishment
orderet her to be deported.
Domna, who is sitting in the middle, is the wife of a rich merchant.
Her husband is a cruel man, who had beaten her often, until three
days ago Domna tryed to defend herself.
She believed her life was in danger, and had in desperation wounded
him in his left arm with a knif.
Her husband had called the police, and she was immediately thrown
Zoja is from a noble family. She had always dreamt of
becomming a famous actress, but
as a noble woman this was impossible. As she tells the others
ones while freezing in the cold cell:
"My mother said no, and I didnīt even dare ask my father, so 4
years ago I ran away from home,
and was lucky enough to get a small part at a theatre."
advanced quickly, to become their leading actress, and soon
gentlemen, who had seen me on the scene, begane sending me flowers,
and letters making proposals of marrige."
rejectet them all, inclusive a young noble officer.
I soon realized, I should not have done that.
He got furious, and one evening, just after a performance, he
and one of his important friends, seeked me out backstage.
The young officer accused me of stealing a valuable gold ring.
I had never seen it before. He also said I had stolen his gold
watch. It was an officerīs word against an actress.
They said, I had 3 days to find the watch and hand it
over to the police, or I would go into prison!"
"3 days later I
went to the police, and as I was completly
innocent in stealing the
watch, I could not deliver it back.
I had instead sold everything I had, my jewellery, my fine clothes,
even my shoes, in hope that I could get enough money, so I could compensate for
the young officerīs alleged loose."
"What is this ! Are you trying to bribe me?"
The policeman nearly shoutet, before he sweeped all the money
down into the drawer of his desk.
"I donīt want to hear one more word from your mouth.
You are now accused for both theft and for trying to bribe a member
of the police. -
Guard, take this woman to the smith, and
throw her into in a cell!"
giving me any chance of explaining, who I was, or that I was innocent,
the guard took me to the smith, who rivettet these awfull leg irons
around my ankles."
gave me a simple coat to put on over my blouse, and because I was a dangerous
criminal sentenced both for stealing and bribening, they also fitted
my wrists with a heavy chain."
Masha, the young serf laughed.
"You donīt know anything about heavy restrains."
these scares. At the estate where I belonged,
my master, had my ankles locked into a heavy wooden stock, which I
had to wear at all times, also when
working in the fields.
He did that, because I refused to sleep with him.
For nearly a year I was waddling as a goose every time I had to walk. I thought, I had to wear the stocks
forever, when the master was so kind to send me to prison.
The next day, they are
fetched from their prison cell
lead out into the prison yard.
over here Zoja.
One of the guards has an accordion."
- Masha calls.
dancing girls! You need some exercise.
Letīs get some colour into your pale faces!"
Zoja dances around
She pretents, she is back at
the theatre, delighting a enthusiastically audience.
on Domna!" Masha squeals.
"Swing around as if we were free."
right! pretent you are flying
over the walls like a bird."
early the next morning, they are
fetched from their cell again, and lead out
into the yard again.
"Now all of you line up!
will leave Moscow for Siberia."
the early morning a long row of chained females
walks through the
streets. Masha looks around.
Itīs the first time, she
sees a big city.
She is delightet over seeing all those beautiful things, and rich well-dressed
getting tirred, as they reach the outskirts,
but they are not
allowed to stop, while
still inside the city.
At the end of the
day they reach Vladimirka,
the name of the road between Moscow
Now it goes straight forwards for a long long way.
5000 miles to Siberia.
It will take about 1 and a half year for the women to walk all the
way, and the time they already have spend in prison, and all the
time they will spend walking to their distant prison camp, donīt
count in served time.
Zojaīs 10 years sentence willnīt begine,
before she reaches the
Finally they are
allowed a rest, and
Masha and all the others
drops to the ground.
But the rest is
They have a long way to go, so after only 10 minutes,
the guards order the women up on their feet again,
and they continue
Zoja walks besides
Domna and tries to comfort her.
For the two cultivated women itīs very difficult to walk
and in chains.
Itīs much easier for the serfs such as Masha, who
have been working
in the fields barefooted and in fetters
for as long as they can
Hour after hour
the long line of women walks
They pass impoverished
- and rich
stops and bends down
to look at her ankles.
Domna - You must not stop.
You will be punished." Zoja whispers:
"It will soon be evening, and we can rest."
Zoja is right.
In the late afternoon,
they reach the first Ostrog.
Itīs small prisons made from wood, placed all the way
rute, one days walk from each other.
First we have to count you
lock you up.
Then you better get som rest and no fooling around.
Tomorrow we will continue our journey, at sunraise!"
Zoja sits down on
a shelf, and looks at her feet.
They hurts, but there is nothing to do about it.
Soon most of the
women have found themselfs
an empty shelf, and lie down on the hard
trying to get as much rest as possible.
But not all.
Domna is crying.
"Look at my feet!
How will I ever be able to continue tomorrow?"
The next morning
sore feet or not,
the women have to continue their journey.
Two months have
The summer is over, and the weather
has becomne colder and much more wet.
It has rained all
night and the road
is all mud, but the women have
a very long journey a head of them.
They canīt wait, but have to start walking
from the early morning.
Every step is very
hard, as the
mud sticks to their feet.
When they finally
are allowed a breack, they
all falls to the ground.
The cold mud is
good to the sore ankles.
But after only 10
have to get up again.
There is a
long way to the next Ostrog.
It is late evening
before the women and
their guards finaly arrives.
Dead tired they
tries to find
an empty bunch.
There are not
enough bunks for all, so
some have to sleep on the floor.
Domna wakes up
early in the morning.
Her ankles are hurting so much, she
canīt sleep anymore.
In desperation she tears some pieces off
her shawl to put under the chafing shackles.
She tries to tear
it as quietly as possible, so
no one will notice it.
She knows it is against the rules, and
she will be punished if the guards sees it, but
she simply canīt stand the pain any more!
"What are you
We are not allowed to do such things!"
"Please donīt tell anybody!
I have to do it, or I will soon not be
able to walk anymore."
It is of course
noticed at once.
"Whatīs that, you have under your shackles?
Have the guards given you permission
to do that?"
"Look! - She
has put rags
around her ankles!"
everbody- See what this woman has done!
Tonight she will be punished."
Please no more......!"
Twenty lashes with the whip, while
everybody have to watch !
It will be a long time before Domna
breaks any rule again.
The officer is not a
He is a formalist only following the rules.
Some peasant women have rural footwear (lapti)
and legs cloths (onuchi).
They have no wounds from the shackles.
The officer does not object.
He has received the prisoners in this condition.
But these women have been handed over to him
without any footwear.
The officer only follows the orders.
He wants to hand over the group of women to
the next officer as he received them.
Therefore Domna is punished.
She has infringed order.
Every morning the journey
It is tireing
walking day after day
in the sucking mud.
some one slips and falls.
hands stuck deap in the mud
It is very hard to get up again .
"Get up woman
- Or you will get punished."
your hands away from me!"
the hard march, many canīt hold back
their anger over their unjust fate anymore.
They canīt bawl out to the guards, so
they must take their rage out on the
"it is your
fault i slipped - I will get you _
I promise, I will get you !"
At the short
breack at noon, all the women,
mud or not, falls to the ground.
Only a few months
ago she was
a beautiful girl, now she is a
chained woman in the mud.