Dr. Febus Klahr, second lieutenant, M.D., 50 years old, married.
My wife was arrested by the Soviet authorities (NKVD) on 20 September 1939 in Borszczów, leaving behind our 2-year old child. At the time I was still in the field as a doctor with the battalion of the Borszczów Border Protection Corps. When I came back on 29 September, I was passing through Czortków. While I was there, I found out that my wife had been arrested, so I did not go to Borszczów, but made my way to Lwów instead. I stayed there for some time. Once, however, while I was standing in a queue in front of the Medical Chamber, a complete stranger asked me whether I was that Klahr and why my wife had been arrested. I thought it wise to leave Lwów and travelled to Stanisławów. While I was there, I had news from Borszczów and learnt that in the meantime my wife had been transported to a prison in Tarnopol, and that my child was to be put in an orphanage. This is how the Soviet authorities reacted to a petition written by my parents. My sickly mother travelled to Borszczów and pleaded with the chief of the NKVD until he agreed to give her the child. She took the child to Chorostków, where my parents lived. My parents were then dispossessed, thrown off of their estate, and left with nothing to live on. Consequently, I too had to make my way to Chorostków. Up until June 1940 I practiced medicine there.
On 22 June I was transported to Starokostiantyniv, where I was instructed to report to the local health department, and the head of the health department assigned me to work at a local clinic. After three days, the NKVD sent me off to Siberia, to a camp located about 8 kilometers from Leninsk-Kuznetsky. The camp was populated mostly by Russians, Tatars, and Chinese. I stayed there for eight days.
I was then transported to a camp called Ukraine in the Siberian taiga, located about 15 kilometers from the town of Tayga, where I worked as a doctor. The settlement consisted of large wooden barracks. The people who worked there were mostly Russians, Tatars, and Volga Germans. There was only one Pole, named Łukasiewicz. He was from the Volhynia. Sanitary conditions were acceptable, louse-infestation was moderate, and we could bathe and change our underwear once a week. People had to go to work even when it was 40 degrees below zero.
Depending on how we filled the quota, our food consisted of 400 to 800 grams of bread – some people even got 1000 grams – and soup, usually without fat (cabbage soup). If there was any fat, it was in the form of a tiny amount of oil, distributed in the morning and in the evening. Thefts, and consequently fights, occurred every day.
We were often visited by some party member who lectured us on the history of communism. He told us to study it and threatened us that without this knowledge, we wouldn’t be able to find work in the Soviet Union. We were told that Poland would exist but only as a part of the Soviet Union. The attitude towards Poles was very unfavorable, even hostile. The people who worked in health care were medical attendants – I was the only doctor working in three settlements scattered around the forest. There was a shortage of medicine. The head of the camp allowed patients to be sent to the hospital only in special cases, provided that they had a medical attendant’s permission. My opinion didn’t matter in these situations. Most of the sick stayed in the barracks. Even if someone had a fever, they were forced to go to their workplace, located 5 to 8 kilometers from the settlement. Despite horrible conditions, the mortality rate among these people was fairly low. Those who worked in the forest – not in the sawmill – wore wadded jackets and trousers, and warm boots (pims), which were often torn. Considering that, I was often surprised that there were so few cases of frostbite. I didn’t talk much to people. Firstly, I didn’t speak Russian. Secondly, I was afraid that they would report me. I also felt disgust towards these degenerates, who lacked all human emotions.
From time to time I received letters and packages from my parents and child who had remained in the homeland. However, many of the letters, and especially packages, got lost. From the moment of my wife’s arrest to this day, I’ve had no contact with her.
Due to the amnesty, after I had received an identity card I was released from the camp, on 26 January 1942, and travelled to Tayga, where I found work in a local hospital and clinic. On 22 February, having saved up a bit of money that I made selling some items, I went to Yangiyul, where I volunteered for the army. I was accepted and assigned to the 9th Infantry Division in Margilan.
Official stamp, 10 February 1943