18 years beneath a dung heap

A Ukrainian man, Grigori Sikalenko, spent 18 years hiding under a dung heap in order to avoid serving in the Red Army. He went into hiding in June 1941, at the urging of his mother, who secreted him away "under the manure pile at the back of the family goat shed."

He spent 18 years in hiding, until finally, in 1959, at the age of 37, he could stand it no longer and ran into town screaming, "I want to live!"

No charges were brought against him since the authorities decided he had already punished himself "most severely."

Note: The claim that he was hiding under a manure pile comes from Time magazine. But another source (the N.Y. Herald Tribune news service) offered a slightly less sensational description of his hideout, saying that he was simply "in the shed with the family's pigs and goats." Also, news sources give his first name as either Grigori or Grisha.

The Ukrainians seem to have a talent for extreme hiding. From that region also came the case of Olga Frankevich, who reportedly spent 45 years hiding beneath a bed in her sister's house in the village of Vishneve. She went into hiding in 1947, following her father's execution in a Stalinist purge, fearing she was about to suffer the same fate. She emerged in 1992.

Southern Illinoisan - Jan 12, 1960

18 Years in a Dung Heap
Like a dead soul out of Gogol, a human figure rose out of a dung heap recently in the Ukrainian village of Tsirkuny, and rushed forth shrieking: "I want to live! I want to work!" Astounded neighbors, reported the Soviet newspaper Izvestia last week, found that the stinking, blinking, sunken-jawed wretch was Grisha Sikalenko, 37, a fellow they all thought had died a hero's death fighting Germans in World War II. In truth, quavered Grisha, he had deserted the very night he marched away to war, sneaked home to the hiding place his parents made for him under the manure pile at the back of the family goat shed.

"Don't mind the goats and the dung," his mother told him. "At least you'll survive." Survive he did—for 18 years in his living grave. Twice a day his mother slipped him food, scarcely paused for a word. In winters he nearly froze, and when the summer heat beat down on his reeking pit, he almost suffocated. Yet only on darkest nights would he surface for air. One night, crawling out for fresh air, he saw crosses on the rooftops and fled back in panic, mistaking the new TV aerials for signs of doom. At last, when his younger brother married and the whole village reveled round him, Grisha under his dunghill cursed the day when cowardice induced him to be buried alive. He spent a few more months screwing up his courage, then surfaced.

Once out, he found that his fears of being punished for desertion were groundless: the statute of limitations for wartime desertion had long since made him immune from prosecution, and besides, added Izvestia charitably, 18 years in a manure pile was punishment enough.

--Time - Jan 18, 1960
     Posted By: Alex - Thu Jul 21, 2016
     Category: 1960s

"The Ukrainians seem to have a talent for extreme hiding."

Communism has that effect on people.
Posted by A Nonny Mouse on 07/21/16 at 11:32 AM
There must be a movie in there somewhere.
Posted by KDP on 07/21/16 at 12:10 PM
Isn't being under a dung heap in rural Ukraine sort of redundant?
Posted by Phideaux on 07/21/16 at 03:02 PM
Grisha is short for Grigori. Although it would be Hrihory in Ukrainian. And rural Ukraine is often very pretty--way better than living in an industrial hellscape like Donetsk or Luhansk.
Posted by iahbrym on 07/21/16 at 07:57 PM
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