Music teacher Elena Bogas, now living in Berlin, was born in Siberia, in a so-called difficult region, that had long been influenced by Russian immigration. From the age of 20, she had lost faith in the propaganda about the USSR supposedly being the best and most beautiful country. Music, especially jazz, became Elena's personal alternative to the all-pervasive political party culture. When a jazz course was started at the Irkutsk music school in the 1970s, it was the equivalent of a small revolution, and was watched scepticallly by the KGB. It was there that Elena met both her future husband, a jazz pianist, and the Ovechkins, a family of musicians. In 1988, this family became infamous for trying to hijack a passenger plane to escape to Western Europe. The incident left nine people dead and 35 wounded. Elena's husband’s love of jazz music attracted the attention of the KGB, and he was asked to play "more appropriate" music. This provincialism convinced the young family flee in 1990. With the help of Polish passports and visas for Yugoslavia, they managed to emigrate to West Berlin. Elena collaborated on "Farewell Comrades!" as a translator.
- Women’s Day
- "8 МАРТА" is March 8th, International Women's Day, which is far more than just a formality on the Russian calendar today. On that day, women are celebrated with flowers, champagne and vodka. Flower prices are raised just in time, and occasionally, women even get flowers or a toast from strangers on the street. This postcard just shows a festive cake - baked by the man of course!
- Postcard Text
- "Congratulate my sailor who was caught in a storm, on the new spring! Spring, Lenka! Spring! There are many more to come! I wished your wet autumn could have passed more quickly! Be healthy and happy! Do not doubt so much, analyze and fight! Captain."
- In 1988, the traditionally joyfully celebrated Women’s Day was overshadowed by the hijacking of Irkutsk: The Ovechkin family (consisting of a widowed mother and ten children) hijacked the plane on a flight from Irkutsk to Leningrad in order to flee to the West. The failed attempt resulted in a total of nine deaths (including the mother Ovechkin and the four eldest sons) and 35 injuries.
At age 19, Elena graduated from the Conservatory of Irkutsk with a degree in music theory and piano with honors. Nevertheless, her entry in professional life was difficult.
At the age of 19, Elena graduated from the Conservatory of Irkutsk in theory of music and piano with honors. Nevertheless, the entry in professional life is difficult.
The year after her graduation, Elena taught in the small Siberian town of Bratsk. She directs plays for a small private theater and writes plays about her daily life in a town that is otherwise culturally impoverished.
"Turn Out the Stars" by Bill Evans was one of the first jazz pieces Elena ever played. Her passion for jazz music grew quickly, but American culture was strictly watched in the USSR. There was a rule that you had to play several Russian pieces for each jazz piece played.
Cheburashka (Чебурашка) is a Russian cartoon character that Elena’s eldest daughter, Alina, drew for her little sister Tanya once they were living in Germany. Below the drawing she wrote: "Who am I?"
Elena's one-year-old daughter on New Year's Eve 1987. The Russian custom for New Year's Eve (канун Нового года), is similar to Christmas in the West: everyone gives each other presents. It is also customary to dress up to celebrate New Year´s Eve.
Elena’s three children in Berlin-Hellersdorf during their first winter in Germany The Bogas family came to Berlin in the midst of the turmoil over reunification. The young family’s first winter in Germany was a difficult one: they didn’t speak a word of German and they had "unresolved citizenship" status.
In West Germany, their passport was declared “invalid". Elena came with her husband and three children to Germany shortly before reunification. Their citizenship remained “unresolved” until their naturalization, in 2006.