As They Were Dreaming: Hopes and Fears of Baby Boom Generation
Three countries. Two generations. One list of questions.
Now the difference between people much more visible not between nationalities, but level of education and values. But what about our parents?
We asked German, Russian and Ukrainian about time of changes – 1989-1991. Falling of Berlin wall, crashing of Soviet Union and bi-polar world, fears and hopes of post-war generation of baby-boomers in this columns.
We're interviewing 52 years old Richard Seif from Munich, Germany, 49 years old Anzhelika Astafyeva from Chelyabinsk, Russia and 67 years old Nataliia Myronova from Korostyshiv, Ukraine.
How old were you at 1990 and what was your social role?
Anzhelika, Russia: I already worked at the Mechel plant as a sorter-deliverer. We studied at the technical school and had to work as technologists. But we were told that employees with college education are fired, so we couldn't choose much.
Richard, Germany: 23. I've been at the German army and started my apprenticeship as an electrician.
Nataliia, Ukraine: I was 39 and I was a geologist. We were looking for minerals for nuclear weapon.
Anzhelika as a bridesmaid on Volga - typical wedding car of that time.
Chelyabinsk, Russia 1990
Did you have children? How many?
Anzhelika, Russia: A boy at that time and a girl later.
Richard, Germany: Two, but none at that time.
Nataliia, Ukraine: At that time we had two kids – a boy and a girl.
Family picture of Mironovy. Elder son Viktor came back from military service.
Korostyshiv, Ukraine 1994
What were your wishes and goals at that time?
Anzhelika, Russia: I always wanted to have nice house. Then I dreamed for a good job. My salary was small, so I was transferred to HR department at the plant with three times higher wages. But daughter were born, so I quit it. Maybe I wouldn't be working now as a salesman, but at the plant administration if I didn't leave them at that time.
Richard, Germany: I just tried to finish my apprenticeship and start my studies to earn enough money, to have a good life.
Nataliia, Ukraine: From the early childhood I had two dreams – to become a geologist and to travel to Paris. I read that Frenchmen are eating chestnuts. So when I was 10 I took chestnut, fired it and try to eat. It was disgusting. But Paris is still a dream.
From the early childhood I had two dreams – to become a geologist and to travel to Paris. Paris is still a dream.
67 yrs, Korostyshiv, Ukraine
How did your life developed at that time?
Anzhelika, Russia: In 1991 I was on the decree with Sergei (the eldest son) when it all began. My husband was in the army. I lived in Alapaevsk with my grandmother. It was, of course, difficult for us. They detained salaries and for six months people were not paid. There were two really happy moments in my life: when appeared my son and my daughter.
Richard, Germany: At this date I did my obligatory serving year at the army.
Nataliia, Ukraine: In a soviet time life was stable, but after – not. After the collapse of the USSR, wages ceased to pay, and they gave some goods on barter instead of money. Geologists had stones and peat. Once, the salary for two months was given by sausages. We ate it for several months. But at our time people where more friendly. We knew all our neighbors, their birthdays. Now people are not living like this.
There were two really happy moments in my life: when appeared my son and my daughter.
49 yrs, Chelyabinsk, Russia
What fears did you have?
Anzhelika, Russia: Time of changes was very difficult - people were angry. It was terrible to go out. Robbers were taking off the earrings from the ears. Women sewed the gum on the mink hats. If they run up behind the hat they will tear off, they will not take it away, because it is on an elastic band. People could be undressed on the streets - it was scary to go outside even during the day.
Richard, Germany: As a children we always feared the beginning of a Third world war. The constant fear was all around and was a permanent topic in everyday life. The cold war has been always in the media. But to give a specific example I have to mention the Nato-Double-Track-Decision. It really intensified my fears and sorrows and you could feel it all around.We all knew that is was a open secret, where the war would be located..
Nataliia, Ukraine: We didn't really have much fears. We heard about wars and conflicts but it was just news. We hadn't a fear of a new war, but knew how tragic it is.
As a children we always feared the beginning of a Third world war. The constant fear was all around and was a permanent topic in everyday life.
—Richard Seif, 52 yrs, Munich, Germany
Describe your economical level and standards of life? Was it enough for you?
Anzhelika, Russia: At the time before the 90s many people worked in trade. Now there are no such bases, they were state ones. It was a 'blat'. We were very well dressed - Finnish, Austrian boots. I always had natural shoes. Even now I can't buy one. We had good things that people did not even dream about.I will not say that I had a lot of clothes, but everything was stylish, interesting. I was very beautiful girl. I will not say that I had a lot of clothes, but yes, I had enough money.
Richard, Germany: I would describe myself as a typical member of the middle class. I earn enough money, but I am bit rich if it only come down to finances. But back then it was not that easy. My father worked as a fireman and the salary was good but we had to reduce everything down in nowadays standards. Studying of my older brother and me was a very hard task for my parents and holidays abroad have been relatively rare. But we had enough of everything we needed.
Nataliia, Ukraine: We were pretty much typical soviet family. I had salary 180-200 soviet rubles. My husband as a geologist in field had 300-400 rubles. We could afford clothes, furniture and electronics, rest at seaside but couldn't buy for example a car. But when Soviet Union started to fall situation changed very much and sometimes we even hadn't enough food.
Geologist was hard, but honorable profession.
Near Kryvyy Rih, USSR 1980-th
Were you politically active? Why?
Anzhelika, Russia: No, I wasn't.
Richard, Germany: No. Me and my surrounding haven't been very political. What did create this change, were the people in the GDR.
Nataliia, Ukraine: No, I wasn't. We had elections, but everything was already decided. We even didn't know candidates.To be a member of communist party wasn't popular among my friends, so I wasn't.
Were you religious?
Anzhelika, Russia: I was baptized when I was 19 years old. Probably, when you are young, you live in some other rhythm, no deep thoughts, digging in yourself. You start to dig yourself later, probably, even more so.
Richard, Germany: Although Bavaria was a very religious country back then, I would not say I have been. I married in a catholic church but religion is not a Main component in my life.
Nataliia, Ukraine: I'm from Eastern Ukraine and that's not really religious region. Soat that time I wasn't religious. It came later.
What foreign music did you listen to?
Anzhelika, Russia: At this time was AC/DC very popular. We also listened to Italian music, sometimes CC Catch, Sandra.
Richard, Germany: In my youth I listened a lot of classical hard Rock music like AC/DC, Dire Straights or Deep Purple.
Nataliia, Ukraine: Boney M, Queen, Edith Piaf. Also I liked Japan music very much.
Anzhelika and her college friends drinking kvass. Special russian drink popular during hot summer.
Chelyabinsk, Russia 1989
What was your favorite alcohol drink?
Anzhelika, Russia: There was 4% vermouth as a compote. It called Sangria. My husband came from the army I learned to drink vodka with friends. So, I'll take a sip, and then a glass of water.
Richard, Germany: In Bavaria we are drinking beer for the most part and so i did too.
Nataliia, Ukraine: Tokai Vine was pretty much popular and I liked it. Man favored vodka as usual.
Did you smoke?
Anzhelika, Russia: I started smoking several times. When I was waiting for my son, I did not smoke. But then my husband returned from the army and I started again.
Richard, Germany: No, I never smoked but my wife does so we are keeping a balance.
Nataliia, Ukraine: It was short period of my life from 20 to 23. But then I dropped and never didn't go back to smoking.
Generation of Baby Boomers, our parents, grew up and formed during Cold war, wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan, but in time of sexual revolution and rock music. They worked hard and remembered about war, so appreciated peace. They listened to some common music and wasn't politically active at all. As young people they were dreaming about very simple human things – enough money to have a good life, nice house, good job and travels. And that's what is different between them and our generation as well as between Baby Boomers and their parents.
Our challenge team
We're happy to introduce you our international story. It wasn't so simple because it's about our families. But it was really interesting - to know something new about people whom you know all your life. They were the same age in 90-s, as we are now. They didn't fully got life they were dreaming about because of time of big changes. But they never give up. Could we get a more precious gift as this experience of our parents? We don't think so...