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Pawel was born to Jozef and Anna (nee Gajewska), on June 20, 1928, in Gleboczek, in the Tarnopol province of eastern Poland. During WW2 his family was deported to Siberia where he spent six years. Pawel was 12 years old at the time, and had a sister Wanda, and brothers Stanislaw and Jan. His mother Anna died in 1940 in Siberia.

They were taken to the railway station and loaded into cattle cars with 50-60 other people. This included infants, toddlers, children, teens, adults, and seniors. Most of the adults and seniors were women. The cattle car had two shelves at either end, where people could sit or sleep – the rest had to make do with the floor. There was a cast iron stove, but they soon ran out of wood to fuel it. There was also a hole in the floor that served as a toilet.

They travelled like this for weeks, and were given some water, stale bread, and watery soup, only a few times. When someone died, their bodies were cast out next to the tracks and left there. Many infants and elders did not survive this journey.

When they reached the work camp in Siberia, they were told that this is where they would eventually die, but in the meantime, they had to work in order to earn their daily ration of bread. Children as young as 13 were set to work in the forests – cutting branches from the trees that had been cut down.

Aside from the extreme cold in winter, and extreme heat in summer, they had to contend with hordes of mosquitoes and black flies, as well as infestations of bed bugs in the barracks. There were no medical facilities in these camps, and diseases ran rampant, leading to a high death toll.

In 1946 he returned to Poland to serve in the army and later to work as an electrician in a chemical factory in Brzeg Dolny.

Pawel met and married Anastazja in 1954 in Nedzica, Poland. They had two daughters and emigrated to Canada in 1961 where Pawel worked at Pioneer Electric for the next 30 years.

Pawel passed away in Winnipeg on September 27, 2007.

Copyright: Petryk family

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