Corporal Stefan Bąkowski, born in 1900, a farmer by occupation.
On 10 February 1940, I was deported together with my family from Kolonia Dźwiniaczka, district of Borszczów, to the Altai Krai in Siberia. My family and I were given 30 minutes to pack our belongings and get ready. Our immovables – including livestock – were appropriated by the Soviets. They packed us, 37 in all, into a goods wagon, closed the doors, and drove us for more than a month – under guard – in an unknown direction. Every third day we were given some hot food, and water once daily. When we arrived in Siberia, we were forced to perform arduous work in the forests – both men and women. If we were 20 minutes late for work, we would be tried and lose 20 percent of our wages for a period of three to six months. Our remuneration was so meager that I myself was unable to earn enough to keep my family even modestly fed. In order to supplement our income, so that my family would not starve to death, I was forced to sell our bedlinen and spare clothes for food, even though I was working harder than ever before in my life. Despite our best efforts and arduous toil, we were always told that we did not want to work: – You think that you will return to your Poland? Indeed you shall – once hair starts growing on your palms, we would be told by the commandant, one Uścinów, whose deputy was Korzemiakin.
When someone fell ill and turned to the doctor for help, the response would be: – This is nothing, you’ll get used to it. Finally, when one sick man persisted with his requests, he was told: – We are not allowed to give you sick notes, such are our orders. When a sick prisoner became weak and was unable to work, they would take 50 percent of his or her daily food ration. When my sister fell ill, I went to the office and asked that they give me a horse so that I could take her to the doctor. They refused my request, and a short time later my sister died. With only the greatest effort did I wheedle them into lending me a horse so that I could transport her body to its final resting place.
Finally, I could take it no longer and enlisted in the Polish Army, however leaving my family behind. They remain there to this day, that is if they are still alive, for I have no news from them.