In October 1937 there was a mass extermination of Belarusian writers, artists and statespeople by Communist authorities. This event marks the peak of the Great Purge and repressions in the Soviet-controlled East Belarus. More than 100 notable persons were executed, most of them on the night of 29-30 October 1937. Their innocence was later admitted by the Soviet Union after Joseph Stalin’s death.
Belarusians from Switzerland recited poems by Mikhail Charot in memory of the victims of Stalinist repressions who died on the night of October 29-30.
I am a rustling reed, I am a mutinous rebel.
I wake the swamp up with a loud noise.
I live in the water and I am washed by the rain,
But I will not let my strings fall silent.
I will lift up the spirit of men, I will awake them from sleep, –
I prophesy to them glory and future.
I am a mutinous rebel, I call for spring of life,
I call for free and creative work.
As they do not hear me, I will get louder,
I’ll strike the loudest chord of a new song…
And to wash away the filth from the earth,
I will stir up the waters that are filled with leaden rain.
You, the poets, who used to wake people up,
Why don’t you want to hear reed’s song?
Our songs are our appeal, because we are of one breath,
Our land is one – it is our swamp.
So make noise, like you did, poplar giant,
Whisper in the field, ripe spike…
And I will sing my song – I am a rebel!
I will call my people to Freedom.
The raging wind whistles in the field…
The lightning strikes… The thunder rumbles…
And I’m going on… Weak from pain…
Maybe I’ll never get there,
But I don’t want to live in captivity.
In the winter frost, I am covered with snow …
I do not see the world behind the storms…
But our land asks for freedom,
And its son must endure grief,
His body and his spirit must be strong.
I am its son. I am a child of labour,
Those like me – there are many – millions.
We will defeat the enemy in the palace…
And you laugh, clowns,
And you say that I’m crazy.
Crazy, – you say, – crazy,
Like the wind that whistles in the field…
Because in the place of weeping and groans
I did not bow to the enemy
But celebrated death with a joyous feast…
And who is laughing? The one who yesterday.
Like me looked at the world from behind bars,
Who drank this bitter cup with me…
Today he became a coward,
Ready to sell his brother…
My hard road… Fighting the storm…
The wind bends me like a blade of grass…
Sometimes the song of the soul is a whirlwind –
Will make me gloomy for a long time,
Like a helpless orphan.
But I fight all misfortunes,
I strive to go far without rest…
On a clear day and in bad weather
I pave the way for my people,
Until I die in the snows of life.
Rather the sun will rise in the west
Than our land will stay in captivity…
About the past time
The bagpipe player starts his sad song…
That time will never come again.
About this time of bloody war
The fiddler will tell a tale to the world,
Who was in the right, who was in the wrong…
The oak grove will whisper about it
And a loud poem by a singer-poet…
… And I’m going on… The blizzards are buzzing…
Maybe they’ll bury me under the snow…
Millions of people were grinding their feet.
Then the bullets sang songs to them…
And they don’t hear any songs anymore.