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From recordings made by the Imperial War Museum London.

Available on this web link:


Object description:

Polish civilian teacher in Baranowicz, Poland, September 1939 to April 1940; deportation from Poland to Soviet Union, April 1940 to April 1943; i

iNmate in Ashkhabad Prison, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, April 1943;

Escaped from Soviet Union to Iran, 1943


Background in Włodawa, Congress Poland, Imperial Russian Empire and Poland, 1907-1939: family;

Conditions during First World War in Imperial Russia;

Education in Poland, 1919;

Flight of refugees from advancing Bolsheviks in 1920;

Teacher training in Poland during 1920s.

Recollections of period as civilian teacher in Baranowicze, Poland, 1939-1940:

Entry of Soviet Army in Baronowicze, 17/9/1939;

Attitude of local Byelorussians to arrival of Soviet Army;

Impressions of Soviet Army troops, 9/1939;

Emptying of shops of goods in Baronowicze after 17/9/1940;

Soviet requisitioning of family home.


Arrest and sentencing of her husband by Soviet authorities;

Food and clothing taken to prison for her husband, late 1939;

Selling possessions, winter 1939-1940;

Teaching in Baronowicz, 2/1940-3/1940;

Deportations of 'rich' Poles, 2/1940.

Aspects of deportation from Baronowicze, Poland to Soviet Union, 4/1941:

Night raid by Soviet Army and militia, 10/4/1940;

Start of train journey eastwards.

Provision of boiled water and other rations for deportees;

Crossing Ural Mountains;

Impressions of conditions in Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic, 4/1940;

Suicide of Polish officer's wife under train.

Recollections of period as deportee in Soviet Union, 1940-1942:

Arrival in Petropavlovsk area in Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic;

Allocation to work on collective farm.


Arrival at the Meat and Milk Collective Farm;

Description of collective farm buildings and their functions;

Inconvenience of cooking arrangements for families;

Attempt to obtain teaching job;

Accommodation in former cow shed and infestation of lice;

Start of work hand-weeding wheat field;

Drinking water from pond in field;

How mother received permission to live with her on collective farm;

Bed bug infestation;

Son's suffering from diarrhoea;

Arrival of food parcels from Poland, 1940.


Attempt to obtain doctors' certificate for septic hand;

Start of work milking cows and how this affected her hands and arms;

Re-allocation to sorting grain/seeds;

Privileges of milk maid;

Construction of house;

Presence of Iranians and Armenians on collective farm and their jobs;

Preparing fuel for winter, 1940-1941;

State control of information about outside world getting into collective farm;

Receiving news of German attack on Soviet Union and amnesty for Polish deportees, 6/1941;

How husband was sent to pick cotton on collective farm in Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic;

Struggle husband had to return to her and physical condition he was in on arrival.


Husband's job delivering grain and meat quotas on collective farm;

Pilfering of state grain quota and how it spoiled grain in store;

Receiving permission to leave collective farm, 7/1942;

Preparations to leave collective farm.

Recollections of journey from Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic to Ashkhabad, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, 1942-1943:

Incident of Kazakhs arrested for stealing wood and lighting fire in field;

Bribing of militia to leave Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic, 8/1942;

Nature of goods for sale in market;

Encounter with Finnish soldier on train who became protector of her family;

Arrival at Tashkent;

Polish stowaway on train to Tashkent.


Circumventing bureaucracy at Tashkent Railway Sttation;

Arrival at Yangi-Yul and attempt of gang of youths to rob her;

Discovery that last Polish forces had left Yangi-Yul;

Failure to obtain aid from Jewish orphanage at Yangi-Yul;

Fighting amongst crowds to get on trains at Yangi-Yul;

Fight with thief on train at Yangi-Yul;

Obtaining help from Russian woman to get on train for Ashkhabad;

Making contact with Polish forces at Ashkhabad;

Disposal of last roubles to friend left at collective farm;

Impatience to cross border into Iran;

Liquidation of camp at Ashkhabad and threat of total destitution;

Employment as teacher of Polish children in Ashkhabad orphanage, 9/1942;

Refusal of authorities to let her mother leave Soviet Union.


Conditions in orphanage, winter 1942-1943;

Demand of People's Commissariat of NKVD that she take a Soviet passport.

Aspects of period as inmate in Ashkhabad Prison, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union, 1943:

Imprisonment by People's Commissariat NKVD, 4/1943;

Conditions in prison;

Relations between prisoners;

Her varying morale in prison;

Personal searches in prison.



Trial for charges of living in Ashkhabad without passport and sentence received;

How she was freed from prison.

Aspects of journey from Ashkhabad, Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic, Soviet Union to Iran, 1943:

Threat to orphanage from robber gangs;

Arrest of staff at Polish orphanage;

Journey from Ashkhabad to Iranian border;

Confiscation of her Polish rings and Soviet gold at border;

Crossing border;

Prior recollection of referendum in Baronowicze to annex eastern Poland into Soviet territory;

Arrival of her family in Mashhad, Iran;

Story of how her mother was released from Ashkhabad Prison and made her way back to Poland.

Copyright: Polkowski family

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