Volunteer Irena Mleko, born on 10 October 1922, pupil.

10 February 1940, during the Christmas holidays (which I spent in a settlement with my mother, sister, and two younger brothers) I was deported to Kazakhstan, Akmolinsk Oblast Akkul station, The Stalin Mine. Residential buildings were prepared, whitewashed, [and] the difficulties with fuel supply were settled over time in the so-called Stroicielstwi and Komunalny [municipal building office].

The predominant nationality was Polish, but there were a few Belarusian families. The intellectual level was average, the moral level – despite depression and breakdowns – we tried to comfort each other with small messages either from the country or from the world.

Most worked physically in the processing and mining of gold ore. Work on the surface was considered to be lighter, with less pay; working underground earned you more. Initially, the working hours were taken into account, without going over eight [hours]. After the outbreak of the war, it [compulsory working time] was increased to 12 hours. Food [and] clothing imports – due to bad weather and the lack of transport – were stopped. The commandant organized compulsory gatherings, wanting to completely eradicate thoughts about Poland, explaining that it will never exist.

The hospital and medical care were maintained by a doctor from an old Polish family; still there were many deaths, especially among children. There was an epidemic of typhus and scarlet fever. I don’t remember the names of those who died.

Communication with the country until the German-Russian war existed, then there was none.

The living conditions in the kolkhozes where I worked on my way, before I got to the army, were very hard. The terrible filth and lack of food exhausted many people. Nobody was interested in them, and in the morning when you went to the railway stations, you would come across corpses that were being taken to the cemetery.