1. Personal details (name, surname, rank, age, occupation and marital status):
Platoon reserve Józef Latwis, 32 years old, typesetter, married.
2. Date and circumstances of arrest:
Taken prisoner on 23 September 1939 as a prisoner of war in Zdołbunów.
3. Name of the camp, prison or place of forced labor:
From 14 October 1939 until 12 February 1941, in a labor camp in the Hołownica estate near Korzec, then from 28 February until 29 June 1941 in Tomaszgród, from where I was evacuated to Starobielsk.
4. Description of the camp, prison:
The labor camp in Hołownica was located in the manor house of the former owner of the estate. On average, a prisoner had 2.5 m long by 75 cm wide by 1.5 m high, the same was in Tomaszgród. Initially, the hygiene conditions were terrible.
5. The composition of prisoners, prisoners of war, deportees:
The majority of prisoners were Poles, followed by Belarussians, Jews and Ukrainians. The general internal relations were quite good, except for a few cases. As a result of promises made by the governor and the political commissar, several prisoners became informants.
6. Life in the camp, prison:
12 to 14 hours of work daily. The work quotas were very flexible, so that there was no issue of making it or not. The wages were very modest. Food: 600 grams of bread a day, soup twice a day without meat or fat. Until 1941, except for a few incidents, we could wear our own clothes and underwear. Over time, comradeship was strong.
7. Conduct of the NKVD towards the Poles:
The NKVD authorities promised, via their officers, that after three months, that is on 15 December 1939, we would be released from the camps. Then [they said] that the Soviet-Finnish war posed an obstacle. Next, they said that they would not let us go before the construction of the Kiev-Lwów road was completed. The political commissars, explaining the reasons for Poland’s defeat in the war with Germany, explained that we had been betrayed by the government and the higher military authorities.
8. Medical assistance, hospitals, mortality rate:
Medical assistance in the camps was tolerable thanks to our own paramedics. The lack of medicine was a great hindrance. During the evacuation there was no medical care, so I got a contracture in one of the fingers on my left hand.
9. Was there any communication with homeland and family? If so, how was it?
I had a good opportunity to communicate with my family by avoiding official channels. When trying to communicate via official channels, a reply would come with a delay of up to three or even five months, and after some very severe editing.
10. When were you released and how did you join the army?
I joined the army in Starobielsk, after the Polish-Soviet agreement.