1. Personal data:
Mieczysław Edward Długoborski, second lieutenant, mass mobilization infantry, 57 years old, Polish, Roman Catholic, married, agronomist, military settler in the Horchów district.
2. Date and circumstances of arrest:
I was arrested in my village on 10 February 1940 together with my seven-person family: my wife, two daughters, grandson, son and son-in-law. We were allowed to take movables and food (weighing up to 500 kilograms) and were ordered to pack our things within 40 minutes. Then we were promptly loaded into a transport.
3. Name of the camp, prison, or forced labor site:
Kharitonovo hamlet, Solvychegodsk region, Arkhangelsk Oblast, a hamlet by a sawmill on the Vychegda River. A narrow-gauge railway, about fifty kilometers long, went to the woods. In the woods there were several hamlets with exiles.
4. Description of the camp, prison etc.:
A hamlet on the right high bank of the Vychegda River, surrounded by woods. Several hundred inhabitants, Russian citizens who had been deported there during the years 1930– 1936. We lived mainly in the former prison barracks. The Russian prisoners were transferred somewhere else. The housing conditions were bearable, we had enough firewood. The fence surrounding the prison and the watchtowers were torn down soon after our arrival.
5. The composition of prisoners-of-war, inmates, exiles:
The exiles were both civilian and military settlers, land purchasers, forest service men, Poles and Russians. Later some Jews were also brought in. In total, there were about six hundred men, women and children in Kharitonovo. Apart from these there were a few thousand of our exiles, falling approximately under the same categories, who lived in the above-mentioned forest hamlets. The majority of the exiles were humble people like farmers and forest service men; there were few members of the intelligentsia. One room housed either one family or a few families. The moral standing was generally high, and the sense of solidarity was greater than back in our country. There were virtually no books. Few of us went to the Soviet cinema. We comforted and cheered one another with words of encouragement. Children had to go to the Soviet school, but this order wasn’t obeyed by everyone.
6. Life in the camp, prison:
Camp life: The men had to work, if only to earn bread, which one couldn’t get for free. Compulsory labor was introduced into law in the fall of 1940, and for skipping work twice or even being late twice one was punished with imprisonment. Housewives (domokhozyaykas) were not forced to work as a rule, or at least they could evade work. Work began at 7.00 a.m. during summer and lasted for eight hours. In winter we started at 8.00 a.m. We worked in the sawmill, at timber rafting, construction works, loading and unloading timber from and onto wagons. We felled trees and brought timber to the railway line, where it was loaded onto trains. We did almost exclusively piecework. Our remuneration depended on meeting the work quota. Generally, it was difficult to fill the quotas. We earned from 1 to 10 rubles. Bread was sold in shops. In the first period, that is up until the outbreak of the war with the Germans, there was enough bread. A limit on the sale of bread was introduced in July 1941, and then those who worked could buy 800 grams, and the unemployed – 400 grams. People either ate at the canteen or cooked at home. As a rule, our income was not enough to make a living, so we had to sell off the things we had brought with us from our country. Only a few people got the government- issued clothes, of course in return for money.
7. The NKVD’s attitude towards Poles:
The hamlet was ruled by the NKVD commandant and a few of his helpers. He kept telling us that we were grazhdaniny [citizens] – second category ones, but still – and [illegible]. With a few exceptions (such as the escape of several exiles) there were no interrogations, let alone torturing. There was some propaganda, but not very invasive as a rule, and until the war with the Germans, Poland was always described as byvshaya [former].
8. Medical assistance, hospitals, mortality rate:
There was a hospital and a lousy doctor with poor knowledge. The mortality rate was very high.
9. Was there any possibility to get in contact with one’s country and family?
Until the outbreak of the war with the Germans we received letters and even packages from our country.
10. When were you released and how did you manage to join the army?
I was released in September 1941 and transported with my family to Uzbekistan. In the spring of 1942 I was deported to Persia. In Tehran I joined the Polish Army.