1. Personal details (name, surname, rank, age, occupation and marital status):
Senior Fire Service Sergeant Wojciech Łabuda, born 1900, tax official, married.
2. Date and circumstances of arrest:
17 March 1940 for attempting to cross the Romanian border with the intention of joining the Polish army.
3. Name of camp, prison, place of forced labor:
Prison: Kołomyja, Stanisławów, Uman, Kiev, Kharkiv. Forced labor: ccccc, Murmansk, and Pechora camps.
4. Description of the camp, prison:
Prisons generally dirty, polluted, rampant lice infestation, sleeping on the bare floor and concrete, damp in cellars and cells. Hunger, lack of water, cutlery, a general lack of the most primitive means of living. General misery. Terribly overpopulated prisons and camps. Sleeping one on top of the other.
5. Composition of prisoners-of-war, prisoners and deportees:
The prisons in Poland mostly housed prisoners of Polish nationality, with a small number of Ukrainians, Jews and Romanians. There were also many women imprisoned, even with children. The Polish prisoners were mostly military, State Police and social activists, among whom good relations prevailed. In relation to other prisoners, there was mutual hostility and even maliciousness.
6. Prisoners’ life in the camp:
Work in the camps lasted from dawn till dusk, and very often even at night (without a break). Working conditions were very difficult, because the quotas were so immense that none of the prisoners could meet them. Nutrition was very poor, because it depended on meeting the quotas (300 g bread and warm water twice a day). For those who consistently did not meet the quotas, they were put in a cell and starved. The wages were so bad that it was not even enough for some makhorka [rustic tobacco] and also depended on meeting the quotas. Whoever could not make it could not dream of any pay.
Clothing was very poor, torn, damaged, and especially for those who did not meet the quotas. Footwear made from tree bark, car tires and string. Camp camaraderie in the camps was simply terrible, because the Poles were later mixed with Soviet prisoners, mostly career thieves and bandits, who openly and with impunity robbed and abused the Polish prisoners.
7. Conduct of the NKVD towards the Poles:
The NKVD authorities were very harsh towards the Poles. Their way of checking us (interrogating) was simply intimidating. The interrogation lasted for several hours without interruption, and sometimes more than one or even two days without food. During the interrogation, beatings, kicking and, to put it plainly, medieval torture were applied. The communist propaganda was pervasive. The information about Poland was negative and unfavorable.
8. Medical assistance, hospitals, mortality rate:
Medical assistance in the prisons and camps was the bare minimum. Mortality was high. I do not remember the names of the dead. It was always said that you should not feel sorry for a fascist Pole.
9. Was there any communication with homeland and family? If so, how was it?
Communication with the part of the country occupied by the Soviets was possible but weak. With the part of the country occupied by the Germans (the protectorate)—impossible.
10. When were you released and how did you join the army?
I wasn’t released from the labor camps until October 1941. I went immediately to Buzuluk with the intention of joining the Polish army. After arriving in Orenburg, I was informed at the railway station by the Polish information officer, a captain (I do not remember the surname), that Buzuluk was full and no more men were being drafted into the Polish Army. I was ordered to go in the direction of Tashkent, Samarkand, where a Polish army was allegedly bring formed. I traveled without the slightest means of sustenance (begging for bread). When I arrived in Samarkand, the Polish information officer Rittmeister Scheraut referred me together with some other Poles to the collective farms to work, because there was no further organization of the army. Conditions on the collective farms were terrible, working from morning till night you could earn only about 300–400 grams of lepyoshka [flat bread] and nothing else. There was no question of receiving or earning for any clothing. Those who did not leave for work did not receive any food. Housing conditions were terrible—collective accommodation in shacks, dirt, lice, lack of any bedding, very high mortality. The above conditions lasted until the day I joined the Polish army, that is until 9 February 1942.