The way to Siberia 

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The year is 1847.
Masha Belova, 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 large estate.  
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 into prison. 

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." 

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"I 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."


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"I 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!" 

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"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." 

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"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!" 

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"Without 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." 

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"They then 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." 


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"Heavy chains?" Masha, the young serf laughed. 
 "You donīt know anything about heavy restrains." 


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"Look at 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. 

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The next day, they are fetched from their prison cell 
and lead out into the prison yard. 


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 "Come over here Zoja. 
One of the guards has an accordion." 
- Masha calls.

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"Begine dancing girls!  You need some exercise. 
Letīs get some colour into your pale faces!" 

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Zoja dances around and around. 
She pretents, she is back at the theatre, delighting a enthusiastically audience. 

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"Come on Domna!"  Masha squeals. 
 "Swing around as if we were free."


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"Thatīs right!  pretent you are flying 
over the walls like a bird." 

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Very early the next morning, they are 
fetched from their cell again, and lead out 
into the yard again. 

"Now all of you line up!  
Today you will leave Moscow for Siberia." 


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In 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 people.  

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They begine getting tirred, as they reach the outskirts, 
but they are not allowed to stop, while 
still inside the city. 


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At the end of the day they reach Vladimirka, 
the name of the road between Moscow and Vladimir. 

Now it goes straight forwards for a long long way.  
There are 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 labour camp. 

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Finally they are allowed a rest, and  
Masha and all the others
 drops to the ground. 


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But the rest is not long.  
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 their journey. 

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Zoja walks besides Domna and tries to comfort her. 
For the two cultivated women itīs very difficult to walk 
barefooded 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 remember. 

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Hour after hour the long line of women walks 
on eastwards. 


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They pass impoverished villages- 

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- and rich villages. 

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Suddently Domna stops and bends down 
to look at her ankles. 

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"Come on Domna - You must not stop. 
You will be punished."  Zoja whispers: 
 "It will soon be evening, and we can rest." 

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Zoja is right.  In the late afternoon, 
they reach the first Ostrog. 
Itīs small prisons made from wood, placed all the way 
along the rute, one days walk from each other. 

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"Line up girls !  
First we have to count you before we lock you up. 
Then you better get som rest and no fooling around. 
Tomorrow we will continue our journey, at sunraise!" 

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Zoja sits down on a shelf, and looks at her feet. 
 They hurts, but there is nothing to do about it. 

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Soon most of the women have found themselfs 
an empty shelf, and lie down on the hard wood, 
trying to get as much rest as possible. 

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But not all. 

Domna is crying. 
"Look at my feet!  
How will I ever be able to continue tomorrow?" 

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The next morning at daybreak, 
sore feet or not, 
the women have to continue their journey. 

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Two months have gone. 
The summer is over, and the weather 
has becomne colder and much more wet. 

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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.

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Every step is very hard, as the 
mud sticks to their feet. 

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When they finally are allowed a breack, they 
all falls to the ground

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The cold mud is good to the sore ankles. 

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But after only 10 minutes, they 
have to get up again. 

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There is a long way to the next Ostrog.

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It is late evening before the women and 
their guards finaly arrives. 

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Dead tired they tries to find 
an empty bunch. 

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There are not enough bunks for all, so 
some have to sleep on the floor. 

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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. 

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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! 

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"What are you doing? 
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." 

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It is of course noticed at once. 

"Whatīs that, you have under your shackles? 
Have the guards given you permission 
to do that?" 

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"Look! - She has put rags 
around her ankles!" 

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"Look everbody- See what this woman has done! 
Tonight she will be punished." 

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"Owww - 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 cruel man. 
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.
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Every morning the journey continues-

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It is tireing walking day after day 
in the sucking mud. 

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Regularly some one slips and falls. 

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 With the hands stuck deap in the mud
 It is very hard to get up again . 

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"Get up woman - Or you will get punished." 

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 "Keep your hands away from me!" 

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Beastalized from 
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 
other women. 

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"it is your fault i slipped - I will get you _ 
I promise, I will get you !" 

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At the short breack at noon, all the women, 
mud or not, falls to the ground. 

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Only a few months ago she was 
a beautiful girl, now she is a 
chained woman in the mud.