Corporal Jan Sibiszowski, age 30, concrete worker, married.
The NKVD arrested me on 12 March 1940 in Litwinowicze, Wysokie Litewskie district, in my cousin’s house, on charges of contraband and crossing the border. During the investigation, I was in prison in Brześć nad Bugiem, then I was taken to the USSR, to prisons in Gomel, Orsha, and Moscow.
The conditions in all the prisons I was in, were the worst possible – in every manner: there were 30 to 40 people crammed in cells intended for six prisoners. We were fed very poorly, just enough so we wouldn’t die.
Medical assistance was limited to bandages. Usually the only people who would go to the hospital were those who had already had a fever for several days and didn’t really need help anymore. Most of the time the sick died in the hospital.
In the cells there were Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, and Belarusians. The Poles and Jews came from the working and merchant class and from the intelligentsia. The Ukrainians were all from the intelligentsia. The Belarusians were farmers. Mutual relations in the cell weren’t the best: constant fighting, bickering, and snitching to the prison authorities. The relations with the Ukrainians were the worst, most of them were members of OUN [Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists]. The Belarusians behaved better than the Ukrainians, only some of them snitched, the rest sorrowed for the old days. The Jewish members of the intelligentsia behaved well (they were in prison for refusing Soviet citizenship), the poor tried various sorts of trickery, some – those of low character – were snitches. The Poles would stand tall, rarely breaking down.
The attitude of the NKVD towards Poles was hostile. They tried to torment us as much as they could: the interrogations took place at night, they would scare us, scold us, and beat us. In Orsha, I was sentenced to five years of labor camp. I was transported to Komi ASSR, on the Pechora River.
Work in the camp was hard – in dirt – usually digging trenches. The daily quota was five, six, or seven cubic meters, depending on the type of soil. The prisoners who kept up with the quotas were the exception, the rest starved. On 1 September 1941, the amnesty [for Polish citizens in the Soviet Union] was proclaimed. The attitude of the NKVD changed immediately, they became extraordinarily polite and overly thoughtful. On 5 September, I received a ticket, 186 rubles and food rations for seven days. Then I left for Buzuluk, for the Polish army. I arrived in Buzuluk on 19 September, where I was directed to Totskoye. There, I was qualified by a military medical commission and assigned to the 16th Infantry Regiment, and later to the 2nd Sapper Group [technical group]. In February 1942, they assigned me to the 9th Infantry Division, with which I arrived in Iran.
During my entire stay in the Soviet Union there was no possibility of getting in touch with my family or anyone in Poland, we were isolated the entire time.