Peasant Autonomy
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Story 64

A hamlet in the Don Valley, Southern Russia – summer 1920 (3)

The civil war is still not over

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Vyacheslav Argenberg)

River Don, Southern Russia.

Softly, Mishka Koshevoy, a young soldier, knocks on the door. Without waiting for a response, he enters the kitchen of the farm. “Good afternoon, aunty Ilynichna”. Surprised, the old woman farmer turns around, and her face transforms into a storm cloud. Silently she turns again, and goes on kneading the bread dough. Mishka sits down at the table. “How are things going here?” Ilynichna responds, without turning around, “We didn't miss you much, you had better leave”. Mishka keeps calm, he was expecting harsh words.
When the door of the sitting room opens, his eyes light up. There she is, Dunyashka, the daughter of Ilynichna. For her he came back to the village, for her he will endure the spitefulness of the old woman. “Good afternoon,” Mishka says again, but now much more timidly. Shyly, Dunyashka lowers her gaze, walks up to him, sits down, and silently takes his hand in hers.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Sergio Tittarini)

Steppe, Russia.

For two years a terrible civil war has raged in the Don Valley in southern Russia. Mishka, a farm worker’s son, joined the Reds, the Soviet army, to defeat the Whites, who wanted to destroy the newly born Soviet state. But many sons of richer farmers here fought on the side of the Whites.

- “How dare you to face me,” Ilynichna growls, “you murderer!”
- “Please, little mother”, Mishka responds, “why are you so hostile to me?”
- “I am not at all your 'little mother'! Didn't you murder Pyotr, my very own son?”
- “I killed him, that's true, but it was war. If he had captured me, he would have killed me too. Just like that. And, if I am a 'murderer', then that sweet darling son of yours is a 'mass murderer'; how many Reds he has cut down? …”

Then Dunyashka begins to cry, “Will it never end? Leave him alone, Mama, otherwise I will run away with him.” Furiously, Ilynichna turns around and goes on kneading.


In his 1500 page, monumental novel And Quiet Flows the Don (1928-1940), the Russian author Mikhail Sholokhov describes the civil war in rural areas, just after the Russian revolution.

Go to:
= part 1: Deserters - Romania – autumn 1917 (1), story 59.
= part 2: A shepherd joins the Reds - Steppe in the Don Valley, Southern Russia – spring 1918 (2), story 61.
= the next page: La Rosa Blanca - a hacienda in Veracruz, Mexico – 1920, story 65.
= the Table of contents, story 64.