Senior Sergeant Józef Marciniak, born 13 March 1891, policeman, married.
I was arrested on 26 October 1939 by the NKVD during a mass arrest of state officials. I was placed in a city jail in Zdołbunów, where the arrested Poles and Ukrainians had been staying. Regarding important figures, the commander of the Regional Army Recruiting Command in Równe, Major Jeżowski, and a Ukrainian member of the Polish parliament, Ogrodnik, were there.
Living conditions in jail were generally acceptable, only during the interrogations were there harassments, especially towards Mr. Ogrodnik, Senior State Police Sergeant Jan Dominiak, and former Constable Przybyła, who were beaten and held in a detention cell in the freezing cold. I myself was interrogated seven times, threatened with beating and called various shameful names, like Warsaw prostitute and such. Through intimidation [illegible] they hoped to get the names of confidants, whom I hadn’t revealed.
In February 1940, together with many others, I was transported to the prison in Równe, where over 100 people were placed in a small cell in which it was hard to lie down in order to rest. We took turns sleeping, on the bare floor. There were both Poles and Ukrainians in the prison. The latter began to be show hostility towards the Poles, especially Doctor Frydrych from Mizocz, Zdołbunów district, a well-known Ukrainian nationalist. There were no interrogations in that prison, and in March 1940 a shipment of Równe prisoners was transported to Kharkiv by train. Food on the train was extremely poor (bread and herrings).
I stayed in Kharkiv until July 1940. There were around 150 of us prisoners in one cell, Poles and Ukrainians. Everybody slept on the bare floor, in their clothes, without bedding. Some of the important people were: Count Andrzej Pruszyński, Zdołbunów starost Iwacicki, Kostopol starost Turowski and others. The Ukrainians separated from the Poles and took an unfriendly stance. They were led by Prelate Gruszecki from Międzyrzecze Koreckie. The Poles, led by Count Pruszyński said prayers, talked about current affairs, and discussed news from pieces of old newspapers left behind by the NKVD in the toilets. Apart from that, Count Pruszyński was giving English and French lessons and organized talks for the teenagers who were acting too frivolously. Frequent searches carried out by the NKVD were making prison life difficult. It was possible to get food, but because of the prayers, the head corporal prevented us from buying rations and tobacco in the shop.
In July 1940 I was taken to the Kiev prison in Lukianivka, where I was placed in a special ward. The journey between the train station and the prison was something horrible. Single vans were packed with 40 people. Lack of air caused 2nd State Police Lieutenant Tołowiński to collapse, which forced NKVD soldiers to pull over and open the door to let the air in. Because the transport came at night, we were all squeezed into the admission room, and there at dusk we realized we were all dirty with feces left by the prisoners from the previous transport, who – locked up in the cell – had had to deal with their bodily needs inside. In the special ward there had already been prisoners, Russian subjects, who actually acted friendly towards us. Food rations were extremely poor. Sleeping – two persons for each bed.
By the end of July 1940 I was transported to the camp in Starobilsk. Here, prisoners of various nationalities were staying, such as Poles, Ukrainians, Romanians, [illegible] from Zakarpacie. Poles in the camp were living peacefully and didn’t interfere with other nations’ affairs. Kaplicki, the president of Kraków, was doing his time there and was keeping everybody’s spirits high. Food rationing was sufficient. Medical care was unsatisfactory. For every 300 people in need of assistance only six per day were allowed to see the doctor, while there were 20 or more patients daily. During our time, underwear was not washed in any of the prisons, and if somebody tried to wash it in the bath, they would be threatened with the isolation cell.
On 31 December 1940, a commission statement was read out to me, which sentenced me to 8 years in a boot camp, and on 1 January 1941 I was set for a transport down to the Urals. The prisoners were being moved to the train station in lorries. The cars were so packed that it was impossible to move, and during the ride along the rough roads you could hear others moaning and calling for help.
After we had been loaded onto freight wagons, locked up, a long, tormenting journey to the Urals began. During the first two days we weren’t given any water, and as a result, to quench their thirst, prisoners were eating icicles that had formed inside the wagon because of the temperature changes. For two days we were also not provided any heating fuel, and subsequently a few prisoners got ill with colds. The medical staff wasn’t at all interested in helping the sick. I myself, having a wound after a surgery, couldn’t get a bandage, despite the fact that the wound was rotting. Prisoners started to demand water and heating fuel by knocking on the wagon’s walls. Angered, the NKVD soldiers called out the wagon’s senior, ordered him to strip down to his underwear, cuffed him and threw into the snow in the freezing cold of -45 degrees [Celsius] and left him like this for more than a dozen minutes, then told us to take him back into the wagon, numb with cold. All our requests to call the transport deputy and report the soldiers’ offences were fruitless. On the last day of our journey we were given only half of the already-poor food ration due to an alleged shortage. The shortage more likely occurred because NKVD soldiers were selling bread and other products meant for the prisoners at the stops.
After the tormenting journey we were offloaded into camp no 1 of Ivdel region, Sverdlovsk Oblast. It was a distribution camp. Extremely dirty barracks. Food rations beneath contempt. After 14 days had passed, I was sent with a transport [of prisoners] to the camp in Ivdel on foot, from where – after two days of rest – we were sent to the boot camp of Talitsa, Ivdel region. The journey, made in terrible cold and snow, lasted almost forty eight hours excluding a couple of hours of rest. During the journey, around 60 people had gotten frostbite on their legs. Alerkand, a judge from Stanisławów, lost his toes, while another prisoner named Starosta froze to death during the rest period. Any prisoner who fell from exhaustion was brutally assaulted by the NKVD soldiers, who would beat them up with rifle butts and set the dogs (wolfhounds) on them. If those cruel actions didn’t help and the prisoner didn’t get up, they would put him on a sledge. Six sleighs carrying such a cargo were brought to the camp.
The Talitsa camp, Ivdel region, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, is situated in the middle of vast forests. Rocks jut out from the ground around the camp. There is a river flowing on one side. The barracks are wooden, cold, surrounded with barbed wire. They were kept fairly clean. Bunks were prepared for sleep. No beddings. Everybody slept on bare boards in the same clothes they worked in. Almost everybody was working [illegible] and after returning to the barracks, our clothes were soaking wet. Wet clothing should be taken off to dry after work, but since everybody had only one outfit, we were forced to lie down in damp clothes, only to go to work wearing it the next day. So-called wychodne dni [free days] were nonexistent. Every day labor was mandatory for everyone according to the rule kto nie rabotaje, toj nie jiot [who doesn’t work, doesn’t exist]. Quotas in the forests were so high that they exceeded human capabilities. Rarely was there anyone who could reach the quota. Food rations were given out according to the filled quotas, that is, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd cauldrons. Those who hadn’t filled the quota got 300 grams of bread and water, and was placed in the isolation cell apart from that. Typical rationing consisted of 400 grams of bread and a thin soup with millet groats or flour, obviously without any fat. The 2nd and 3rd cauldrons contained minor extras. The hunger was so extreme that prisoners' bodies became swollen and they fell ill with sicknesses such as scurvy and cynga. As the spring came, by the end of May, the inmates were feeding themselves with various weeds and berries left from the previous year. There was no way of maintaining any cultural life at all. No newspapers were allowed in the camp, and in the common room – the so-called krasny ugolek – there was nothing. Nobody had time for this anyway.
During my stay, the commandant of the camp came to the barracks and told us not to even think about Poland, for it had been sold off by the Polish lords 15 years before, and now we were Soviet civilians, and some Captain Sikorski in France or London wouldn’t help us. Naturally, everybody laughed at the commandant’s nonsense after the door closed behind him. On the 1st and 2nd of May the commandant organized a party for prisoners, but he’d put military and police officials in punishment cells for two days for being an unreliable element.
Medical care was good. The doctor – a Russian prisoner of Jewish origin – took good care of the sick, whose number was growing day by day. He worked late evenings, tending to everyone. Each inmate who called in sick, he would release from work and for that reason the commandant would often pick on him. Once he was even sentenced to two weeks of physical labor in the forests. Nevertheless, the doctor stayed as he was. Much worse was the self-proclaimed doctor Kuczer Trojanowski from Zdołbunów, who sent all sick Poles to work during the camp medic’s absence.
No clothing was given out, nor underwear. Everybody wore what they had brought from home.
State Police Inspector Bronisław Ludwikowski was in the camp and died of exhaustion, buried in the Shipitsyno [Szypiczno] cemetery. Others who died were: State Police official from Równe, Zdoliński, buried in the forest at the back of a worksite, State Police official Jagodziński from Równe, and gamekeeper Brandenburg from Kowelski district, who died of exhaustion and is buried in Jusztycza [?], Ivdel region, Sverdlovsk Oblast.
I did not have any contact with family.
I was released in September 1941 by the distribution camp’s command in Ivdel. My belongings and documents confiscated during my arrest weren’t returned to me. After receiving the exemption, I left for Uzbekistan. The NKVD directed me to a sovkhoz, no 1 near Begovat [Bekabad]. Due to pneumonia and malaria I was put in a hospital, where I stayed until December. Then I returned to the sovkhoz, where I was informed by the chief that my colleagues had left to join the Polish Army while I was in the hospital. So I went to the NKVD in Begovat, from where I was sent to Tashkent free of expenses. There I went to the Polish Embassy delegation, and there Delegate Kwapiński notified me that they weren’t admitting anyone into the ranks of the Polish Army and sent me for labor in Telman kolkhoz near Tashkent. In March, a couple of fellow workers from the kolkhoz received orders to report for duty and they were drafted into the army. Because I hadn’t been called, on 6 April 1942 I fled from the kolkhoz and set off for Wrewskoje [Wriewskij], where on 7 April 1942 I was admitted into the army by the draft board.
During voting for the Russian legislative bodies I was still on the loose, but despite the gossip about punishments for those who didn’t vote, I didn’t participate.
I did not have any problems with my nationality verification.
Official stamp, 4 February 1943.