Volunteer Anna Jung-Falińska, nurse in Military Hospital no. 3.

After our grounds were seized by the Soviet authorities, my father was arrested on 3 October 1939. Consequently, my mother, brother, and I were deported to the USSR on 13 April 1940. We were transported in a freight wagon together with 34 other people. The journey took 17 days. Physiological needs had to be satisfied inside the wagon. Lack of air and tightness of the space were such a distress that people would faint. We received food from time to time, usually at night, woken by the pounding of gunstocks on the door. We could only get water by being smart.

Having left the wagon after 17 days of journey, people would faint and fall on the ground as a result of the tiredness and dizziness. Constant swears and menaces addressed to the “bourgeois” and “Polish lords” accompanied us on the way.

Our last station was Pavlodar in Kazakhstan. From there, we were transported in trucks 100 kilometers further to a village called Chernaya, and then to a sheep farm – 10 kilometers from the mentioned posiołek [settlement]. Our living space was a ruined barrack with no windows, no door, no floor and no stove. We were ordered to work right after arrival, so I was sealing up the stable with clay, pasturing sheep, making fuel for winter (sheep muck with straw), used obviously only by the local dwellers. During haymaking we were sent into the steppe and we were mowing the hay there from sunrise until late night. The salary was mediocre, it didn’t exceed 50 rubles even if we filled the quotas. It was happening because of the frauds that local authorities were pulling off and because of a strange fear that we had for them. No wonder, as there were only women and the elderly [among us] – men unable to work at all. We didn’t know our rights nor their obligations towards us. This way we let them deceive and exploit us easily, and if it weren’t for the things we’d taken from home (clothes, underwear), we would have been starving. Despite the goods we sold, during the four winter months of 1940/1941 we were eating almost solely grits cakes. Winter that year was exceptionally harsh. There were terrible snowstorms and frosts. Railway tracks were buried under the snow, food parcels wouldn’t go through, we didn’t have appropriate clothing for the local weather to go work in the steppe (feeding the sheep), while only the working people would get 400 grams of flour a day. So I worked on cleaning sheep or horse stables, theoretically in warmer surroundings, as I was shielded from wind for some of the time. In spite of that, I got frostbite on my legs, hands and cheeks, and my health deteriorated because of the poor nourishment. The conditions got a little better in April, when finally the food parcels from Poland, which had been sent back in December, arrived. Our usual meal was millet, more occasionally flour and sheep fat. There were no vegetables or fruits at all. Flour and millet had a price of 200–350 rubles, so our earnings were definitely not enough. The Kazakhs, knowing our situation, would give us a bowl of flour in exchange for a sheet or a shirt in good condition.

The attitude of the local NKVD towards the Poles was totally indifferent. They weren’t especially nagging us, they always promised improvements in our living conditions and material standing. But they never kept their promises. The local authorities, however, which were composed of Kazakhs, were of an actually hostile attitude towards us. They considered us as lesser, showing us their alleged superiority and advantage at every step, and harassing the Polish bourgeois and lords seemed like a special treat for them. These are some of their well-known expressions and slogans, anyway. They would also never give us a rest with jokes about our political system, the September failure, Polish authorities and religion. Regarding work attendance, they were ruthless. Only a high temperature would entitle one to skip work, otherwise we’d be tried in the court. For disobeying an order from a farm chief who wanted to turn manure into fuel, I was tried for the so-called proguł. The sentence: six months of forced labor and 25% deducted from my salary.

I communicated with my family who remained in Poland until the Russian-German war. I found out about complete demolition of our house and furniture.

I worked in Russia until 12 October 1941. Despite the authorities opposing (due to a lack of workforce), I demanded a release from the work duties, referring to the new laws related to the amnesty. Then I showed up in the military offices, where I received a relegation and a ticket to Buzuluk. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed into the women’s camp due to overpopulation. Our authorities directed me and my mother and brother to Farab, and then to Urgench via the Amu Darya river. After a couple-of-days stay at a kolkhoz, the Polish post received an order to send the Poles back to Guzar. So we traveled in terrible conditions from October until the end of December, without bread or warm meals, getting food occasionally. Eventually, we all fell ill with typhoid at almost the same time. I barely made it through the illness. I lied in a Soviet hospital in Kogon until mid-February and right after leaving it I went to Guzar. I applied to the sanitary chief Mr. [illegible] Barucki and I was accepted to work in the garrison infirmary in the contagious diseases ward. From 25 February 1942 I worked without any breaks, then I went to Pahlevi (on 18 March). After a month there, I went to Iraq, where I’ve been working for Military Hospital no. 3 until today.

8 March 1943