1. Personal data:
Volunteer Elżbieta Przedrzymirska, born in 1913, master of law, unmarried.
2. Date and circumstances of arrest:
I was arrested on 30 January 1940 when I attempted to cross the border from the USSR- occupied territories to the German occupation zone.
3. Name of the camp, prison or forced labor site:
Prisons in Przemyśl and Odessa, labor camp in Potma, Mordovian ASSR.
4. Description of the camp, prison:
Prison in Przemyśl: a brick building in the town square.
Prison in Odessa: a complex of stone buildings outside the city.
Labor camp: wooden residential barracks and workshops, fenced with a paling and wire, with four watchtowers at the corners.
5. The composition of prisoners of war, inmates, exiles:
In prison: mostly Polish women, about 20 percent were Jewish women, almost all of them arrested for crossing or attempting to cross the border. The intellectual and moral standing was very low. Mutual relations – with some exceptions – were characterized by mistrust and acrimony. In the labor camp about 25 percent were Carpathian Ukrainians and Bessarabians.
6. Life in the camp, prison:
Life in prison: we stayed in our cells all the time, and had a 15–20 minute walk once a week. We weren’t taken for work. Camp life: we toiled for 12 or even 14 hours a day. We often worked at night. In autumn and spring we worked in the fields, and in winter in a wood products factory. Unhygienic working conditions (No ventilation despite the pungent and choking odor of paints and varnishes and wood dust). The work quotas were almost impossible to meet, and if a small percentage of laborers met them, they were immediately raised. Financial remuneration was only for the “shock workers”. Food was deficient, lacking in vitamins, only the so-called third caldron for “shock workers” was far better. We had mostly our own clothes, as it was very difficult to get anything from the camp authorities and we always received the required clothes after the season had already changed. Mutual relations among Poles were quite good, but other nationalities were hostile.
7. The NKVD’s attitude towards Poles:
The attitude of the authorities towards persons sentenced for border crossing: bearable. It was much worse towards political criminals. They were often interrogated at night and put in the punishment cell. Propaganda was spread very clumsily, by not very bright political commissars. All information about Poland was distorted and presented in a biased way, especially anything pertaining to social matters.
8. Medical assistance, hospitals, mortality rate:
Medical assistance was rather primitive, but included various branches of medicine. The mortality rate in the women’s camp was low. From the autumn of 1940 to the autumn of 1941, only two women died: Janina Miczak from Zakopane and Mrs. Filkus (I don’t remember her name).
9. Was there any possibility of getting in contact with one’s country and family?
Until the outbreak of the Soviet-German War, I had regular contact (letters, parcels) with my family (in the Soviet-occupied territories). There was a limit on letters – we could write once every three months.
10. When were you released and how did you manage to join the army?
I was released on 6 September 1941. On the way to the settlement that they had allowed us to choose following the amnesty, I met a transport of Polish troops going to Tatishchevo, and that is where I was admitted to the Women’s Auxiliary Service.
Place of stay, 2 March 1943