Polish 2nd Corps Cadet
Czeslaw was born 10 March 1929 in Sienkiewicz, Pow. Horochow, Woj. Wolyn. He was deported 10 February 1940 to the Siemireczny Camp in Solwyczegodsky Region of Archangelsk.
The following is his description of those events, as recorded in Polish in 1942 and held at the Hoover Archives at Stanford University:
Early on the morning of 10 February 1940, the Russians came to our home, and immediately searched the place. Then they told us to get dressed and pack our things. They told us not to take many things, because they were moving us only temporarily. They said that they will be involved in the war between Russia and Germany, and that they wanted to protect us from harm.
Then they took us to the railway station and loaded us into a cargo wagon, for our twelve families. During the night, the train started its journey, and we were very cold and uncomfortable, and they did not give us any food or water. When we stopped at certain stations, people carried out the bodies of those who had died of hunger and exhaustion. At these stations, Russian police would call us to get water and food, and they led the people with bayonets on their rifles. When they brought the water and food, everyone wanted to drink as soon as possible, because they were very thirsty. But once they had drunk, they wanted to eat, but they could not, because there were many worms in the soup.
This is how we travelled for an entire month, at which point they told us to disembark because we had reached the Archangelsk Oblast. Sleds arrived for us and took us to the Work Camp. It took a day and a half to cover the 100 kilometers from the train station.
At the Work Camp, we were assigned to a barrack that was filled with bedbugs, fleas, and other insects. As soon as we were settled, the Commandant came and made us go to work in the forest, where we could not earn anything. They said that if we reached the prescribed norm, we would get a lot of money, but those who did reach the norm still did not get the money they promised.
For 15 days of hard work, meeting the norm, one should have received 15 roubles. As for the food, we were allowed to buy one kilogram of bread per working person, and 200 grams of bread for a non-working person. This is how we lived for more than a year.
My father worked at cutting the trees, and later, at loading the tree trunks onto the wagons, and he also did not earn more. Were it not for the things we had brought with us and were able to sell, we would have perished within two months.
There were 700 people in our Work Camp, but when we left, there were less than 600 people. My father’s brother was deported to Russia with us, but they later took him to the Regional City to work as a bookbinder. He did not work there long, then they sent him to Archangelsk, and we do not know what happened with him after that.
When ‘amnesty’ was declared, they sent us from the Work Camp, using the money we had earned, and sent us all over Russia. They sent us to collective farms in Uzbekistan. We lived there in such poverty that people had to steal to survive; or catch dogs to eat. Later, the Polish Army was formed in the southern USSR, and I joined the Cadets, while Father enlisted in the Army. My mother and sister were sent to Africa, and I don’t know where my father is, or what has happened to him.
Balinski Czeslaw, student in Class Iva
Middle East, 1942