Section leader Barbara Szumska, 20 years old, student, unmarried.
On 20 June 1941 at night, we heard a loud banging on the doors and windows. Frightened, I opened the door and five NKVD officers burst into the apartment. The whole house was meticulously searched; my brother was arrested that night.
After 20 minutes, surrounded by officers, my mother and I were escorted to the station. I entered the car first, so I had a chance to see everything. Trucks immediately started arriving from all sides; we could hear small children, mothers and old people crying. On average, there were 65 people in one train car. The windows were barred, the door was closed all the time; from time to time, someone was pushed inside. We stayed like that at the station for two days. On 22 June, the transport set off. A few kilometers from the station, we saw people who came to say goodbye to us.
The journey lasted a whole month. On the 12th day, we received warm food and some bread for the first time. We suffered a lot due to the lack of water because we were given two buckets for the whole train car for two days.
Finally, we stopped in Altai Krai, at the Barnaul station, from where we were transported by wagons to kolkhozes. I was 200 kilometers away from the station without any newspapers or books. Every day at dawn, the predsiedatiel came and pulled us out of our beds; he swore terribly and complained about our government, etc. Our job was to cultivate crops. We returned home late in the evening because we had to walk 16 kilometers to work. I was so tired after a day’s work that I was not able even to prepare some food. And this is how the hard days went by. The housing conditions were terrible. Six people lived in a single small room. The apartment was dirty and had only one small window.
There were 15 Polish families in the kolkhoz, mostly military families. The intellectual and moral standing was very high.
The relations were very friendly. In our free time, we would gather, sing songs, and whisper about politics, our families and the home country, and we would all cry together. We always returned to our houses in silence.
At that time, Mrs. Bućkowa was arrested. She lived with us and had an 11-year-old girl, who was crippled and had her left side paralyzed. The despair of that child was indescribable.
The attitude of the NKVD towards Poles was negative. They spread propaganda among the Polish people, saying that we would never return to Poland, and that we should become members of the kolkhozes, and thus take Soviet citizenship. However, their propaganda brought about no results.
There was no medical assistance. During the whole time of our stay in the kolkhoz, no one ever saw a doctor.
I had no contact with the home country because the war broke out at that time.
I was released a month after the amnesty was announced. The Soviet authorities made it very difficult for us to obtain documents, delayed our departure, and tried to persuade us to stay in the kolkhoz, promising we would live in prosperity.
However, we left the Soviet paradise behind and after two months (the duration of the journey) I arrived in Samarkand. There, I learned that a Polish army was being formed in Russia, so I left for Kermine, where I joined the ranks of the Polish army on 16 December 1942.