Family correspondence of Ivanna Blazhkevych with her husband Ivan, who fought in the ranks of the Austrian army during the First World War.


Family Correspondence from the World War I (Ivan and Ivanna Blazhkevych), 1917

Ivan and Ivanna Blazhkevych
Denysivskyi local museum (Ternopil region, Ukraine)
Original language:

Letter of Ivanna Blazhkevych to Ivan Blazkkevych August 4, 1917

Dearest Ivasyk!

We live in strange circumstances now: already for two weeks bullets are not playing for us, already for two weeks we haven’t been in the dugout…and it’s strange that we are in the house by ourselves, that there is not anyone else [“other/foreign”]. And it’s strange that we can unpack our things that uncertainty has passed with each moment, that eviction and ruin have stopped being a threat.  In a word circumstances have returned to the way they were three years ago. It would seem that I should be happy with all my soul, because really it’s by a miracle that we have almost come out of that terrifying blizzard that blew around us this way and that way. And so what? I have no peace in my soul; there is no contentment. And so don’t get angry Ivasyk, that now I am taking off my mask, in which I have stood before you for three years. Iva! I have no strength any more to play this comedy any longer. I want to be honest now for the first time.

Forgive me Ivasyk! It’s true, that two years ago things were worse, but I was cheerful. My child died, but I did not write you about that, in order not to bother your peace. Many times did my heart break but I controlled myself, so as not to add my sorrow to your grief. But now, Ivasyk, now I have no strength to manage that. I am weak, I am powerless, physically and morally. Iva! It’s very, very hard for me! Now, when it has calmed down in the house, the anguish presses on me even worse. My orphanhood afflicts me. I remember your caresses, I remember your care for me, I remember our great and short happiness and sadness comes over me and tears fall. Already my current loneliness has exhausted me. I would so like to jump under any shoulders, to hide under a dear chest, have the feeling that with me is a person to whom I am dear, who would like to make my life less burdensome, to take care of me. I feel myself an orphan, very much an orphan, and that unknown endlessness when the grief will come to an end, dries up my spirit directly. Three years! Three years! Who will return them to us, these amazing three years? How much good could have been done in that time, and yet only blood and tears fall and there is no end to grief. And I am at the end of my strength. I am now so frustrated that maybe I will even leave this letter for later, because I am afraid that it will damn me. You Iva would not recognize me now. I look at Melania, between us there is 5 years difference [in age], but she looks ten years younger than me. I do not know what has eaten me up so much. But maybe this horrible weight from the boom of the cannons. The anguish, the gas grenade, from which you cannot hide even in a foxhole, even ten meters below earth in a dugout. This anguish burns and destroys a person from the inside and only the mask of your shoulders will protect me from it. And if it does not ripen in time, I will perish. Iva, although it’s sad to die, so sad, even more so because it’s on the eve of great events.

Letter of Ivanna Blazhkevych to Ivan Blazkkevych, September 26, 1917

Dearest! My long silence will not be my sin. Ivasiu, I have now a lot of business fears. At the office of “Rural Householder” it is already full of business, people are greedy for help. I now am the secretary in the affiliate [local office]. Right now it’s without contract but I will get paid for my work. So this is where my fate has led me. Already there is no schooling. And when there will be God knows. We are healthy.

Coming back from Lviv I saw you on a photograph, very changed, but dear to me anyways. No! Even more dear are you to me! Yesterday the postcards from July arrived. The last one from July 8. There were battles still then. Your belief in the Almighty protects us. Look we came out in one piece! And now there have arrived cards from August and June 1916. They were delayed.

Iva! So look. I can send packages. Honey, honeycomb and apples to our dear Daddy. I’m just helping people a little, because winter is coming and they have nothing to build up, the help is necessary and so I make the packages on subvention, and again am giving flour to those who are hungry.

Your views on the education of Bodia are the same as mine. I now am quite studied in pedagogy. And my dream with Bodia is to make him a hard-working man with the soul of a philosopher. That’s the best and the happiest type of person.

Only when will we ever be together Iva! But already in the certain not-far-off an angel of peace is dawning. 

What should we do with Ilko?  For months he has wanted to go home. I am looking for someone for the house. Maybe the Horodyski’s will come. We had Stakh [this is a man’s nickname] with Melania over. Healthy Henko Horodyskyi was home for the holidays. And you, my unfree one, when will you come home? I would write to the Hromadska Dumka [paper] but there is no time.

Our land is rich, and people won’t let me die. Now it’s time to end any conversation. We kiss you very much Daddy. Ivanna and Dania. 

Letter of Ivan Blazhkevych to his son Bohdan from October 23, 1917

Dear Son! You probably already are not going from house to house and are not bothering Mommy. “Running from house to house” –writes Mommy and from these words I got sad, it was painful, very very painful. I now imagine a scary, blackened, dirty, always scarred and scratched little boy, who only flies into the house with the cry, “Eat” and then runs out again. And poor Mommy, left all alone like an orphan in the house. Sorrow sets in: I am all alone, my soul is alone, in the place that was joyful, sorrow has spread.

Don’t run around, Bohdan, and ask Mommy to you invite other boys over to play [at our house]. Respect Mommy, respect her! May you be happy. I kiss you so much. Your Dad.”


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Worked on the material:
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Mariana Baidak, Mayhill Fawler

Translation into English

Mayhill Fawler

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