Grandma's Cow: How one Ukrainian faced down the Russian Army

This is a deeply personal story that has been passed down from generation to generation. I swear this is true because I was told this story by many of my older Great-Aunts and Uncles.

It goes like this. My family, the Niezniowskas were living on a farm in Ukraine, near the Russian border. The time is somewhere after the Bolshevik revolution. 

It was said that a Russian army camp was just over the border. At night, the Russian soldiers would cross the border and take what they wanted.

One morning Great-Great-Great Grandma Berta discovered much to her dismay that the beloved family cow was missing. Farm animals were so important to survival those days and with 11 children, it was an absolute necessity.  She said to her husband, I'm going to go get that cow.

Her husband begged and pleaded with her to not go. "If they kill you, how can I run the farm and raise the 11 children?" 

Well, Berta was not to be dissuaded.  She put on her boots, hat and babushka, threw a shawl over her shoulder and marched the 4 miles over to the Russian Border.

The story goes, that she had the look of determination in her eye and the take no BS in her step. She marched right up to the Commander and demanded her cow back.

She didn't beg or plead. She just said "Sir I am taking back my cow. I have come to take back what is mine and you can't have it."

So the Commander a bit non-plussed said to troops, who took this woman's cow? So with a very much red face, a young soldier said, I did sir. Peals of laughter rang out and much teasing ensued.

Berta grabbed the cow by the harness and proceeded to walk with her head up, and her shoulders back through the army camp, back the four miles to home.

A hero's welcome was waiting for her. All 11 kids and her husband and the neighbors who heard she left were all waiting for her and were cheering.

So the moral of the story is don't mess with a Niezniowska Ukrainian Grandma or it might not turn out so well for you. 

Be Fearless Ukraine like your ancestors! You are in our hearts and prayers.


Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team. Your information will not be shared.