R E C O L L E C T I O N S
The unjustifiable and scandalous forced deportations in 1940-1941 by the Soviet Union of the Polish people living in the Kresy was just the beginning of at least a further six years of enforced travels until the end of the Second World War finally enabled them to begin to settle down and return to some form of normality, albeit very few actually went back to Poland.
Two inhumane and brutal years were suffered in ‘posiolki’ or gulags in the vast wilderness of the Siberian steppe, other isolated areas of north-eastern Russia or the deserts of Kazakhstan before Stalin, realising that he needed soldiers to help him fight the war against Germany, granted the Poles a so-called ‘amnesty’ which enabled General Anders to organise two major evacuations of both military and civilians and, thus, deliver his countrymen from “Soviet Paradise”.
Sadly but not unexpectedly, the evacuations for some proved to be too much and many Poles who had survived Soviet imprisonment and oppressive enslavement were too bereaved, too weak, too malnourished and too ill to make it, and tragically died on route, albeit with freedom in sight.
Experiences of this type of existence and of the daily need to fight for survival inevitably left individuals traumatised and, in some cases, indelibly scarred for life.
After the war, there were those who needed to or wanted to and were able to talk about their experiences but there were also those who were unable to. On these following pages, we have included a number of histories which have been penned by either the victim him-/herself or a member of their family, and each for very individual and personal reasons.
Herzbaum Edward: deportee, soldier and artist in Polish 2nd Corps. Excerpts from his war-time journals
More Personal memoirs on our Canadian colleagues' site: https://www.polishexilesofww2.org/memoirs
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