Much time has passed. We are still in pain,
So much advice but all in vain.
I must speak more before no one remains
To shout and accuse of crimes and chains,
Put on my people by ruthless regime
To work, and die for Tyrant’s false dream.
To those left behind these words are said,
If for a minute they think we forget
The hurt, the sorrow embedded so deep
No time can cure, but often we weep
Large tears of frozen ice, frozen in space
With moments of terror seen on a face
Of each that suffered unforgettable fear
Nineteen and forty was that fateful year
February the tenth was that very date,
The hour unknown but always late...
They came in darkness like shadow or ghost,
Feared and unwanted, hated by most.
Yet here they were outside our doors
Thumping and howling threatening force,
The knocks were made by rifles’ butts
Carried by soldiers wearing peaked hats,
Pulled down to cover most of the head
Only star showing, coloured bright red.
With hammer and sickle, badge is known well,
To millions of people meant life in hell.
Most frightening weapon in a dim light
Was long thin bayonet one yard in height
Fixed to the rifle was ready to use,
In fight or combat many would lose.
The coats were long, made out of furs
Mounted on horses, looked like brown bears.
They came from the east in mid-September
Invaded my country, how well I remember
The stab in the back when fighting the Hun.
This was Red Army hand on a gun
Deporting my people with show of force,
To places unknown somewhere up north.
To Stalin’s Russia where his bloody hand
Enslaved many millions throughout his land,
Communism dogma he tried to spread
The outcome was tragic, those millions are dead.
Noises outside were getting stronger,
Our homes opened, delay was no longer.
Two hundred thousand men, wives and kids
Soundly asleep between warm sheets
Suffered same fate on that very night,
All were on move before came the light.
Just a few hours were given to pack
Limited goods and what’s on your back.
Husband can’t help, ordered, be seated!
Gun pointed at him knew when defeated,
Watches his wife who with breaking heart
Thinks what to do, or where to start.
Children come first they must be fed
Remember warm clothes for journey ahead
Must not forget this, that or the other
Choices, decisions, instead or rather.
Glances exchanged with man so rejected
Glances so wanted, help not expected.
His eyes half closed as if in a prayer
Surveys his home, sees only one layer.
The other’s outside, his livestock and farm
Feeding time soon, he hears the alarm,
Pigs, cows and horses need his attention.
His eyes get wetter, heart need no mention.
So much was achieved, lot more was planned
Is this the end of what they began?
Could all this be lost and seen no more?
Reality dawned, now the last chore.
Whatever was gathered was not a great deal
Had to be loaded, as was their will.
Two sledges in yard awaited forsaken,
People on one side, the other things taken.
The warmest clothing that could be found
Was given to all, this thinking was sound
For weather that day was rarely seen
The snow was deep, frost squeaky and keen.
Move out with things! came a stern shout,
Now even children had little doubt,
That everyone here was leaving the nest
Grown-ups keep calm, show no unrest.
They cannot cry, no tears of sorrow
This will come later, maybe tomorrow.
Short sad procession moved past the man
Who sat guarded by soldier with gun.
Behind him statue of rearing black horse
Stood chipped, neglected, of little worth.
One of the children with hands so small
Reached out and held it as if a doll
Later one look, then thought where it’s from
Kept them alive with long dreams of home.
Last longing looks, last silent farewells
To things eyes see, the noises, the smells
Hurried along they came to a door
To cold outside through porch with a store
The man escorted walked on his own
To yard much lighter showing near dawn.
Animals heard commotion around
Including the dog who added his sound
To hurry the hands which each day come
With hay, clean straw and oats in a drum.
Each one is fed, greeted by name
And friendly slap with a careful aim.
The dog keeps howling and jumping around
Where is his master, his loving hand?
They do not know and never will
This day changed all, not even until
But for all the tomorrows, this land,
The lake and meadows, will not understand
Why little children stopped playing games,
Where is the laughter, quarrels with names?
Who stopped them running along narrow lanes?
Has hungry bad wolf eaten them all
As in Red Riding Hood, story so tall,
Where children go free with cut of knife,
Where are the people who gave us life?
First chapter of exile has just begun
Mother and children, except for the man
Sat on a sledge tightly together,
Mainly for comfort, not only weather.
Horsemen with rifles did not allow
Time to think clearly, ask why or how
Order move out was shouted by guard
Condemned and forsaken were leaving the yard
Family as one was badly in a need
Yet man so wanted, was not to be freed,
He was alone with thoughts so grim
Those will remain between God and him.
Engrossed as they were in their own plight
Not many noticed misty strange sight,
With light improving, shadows before
Were loaded sledges, a dozen or more,
Where were they going and who were they?
The answer came slowly, and in a way,
They felt relieved and not so alone.
Soldiers on horses! All doubt now gone.
These were the neighbours looking unreal
They passed in silence sat perfectly still,
Frozen hot air showed they’re alive,
Guarding men waited till they arrive.
Now sledges in yard moved past the gate
Stunned and exhausted they weren’t in state
To raise a hand in anger or grief.
Greetings were rare and painfully brief.
One glance was enough to know they shared
Same dreadful nightmare, and nobody cared.
The convoy complete moved forward fast
The man still guarded walked alone and last.
His eyes kept turning to house nearby,
Could he go past without a goodbye
To his younger sister, who lived there four years?
Just a knock on the door, few words, more tears,
To man on a horse he showed his intent,
Reaction was quick, clear what it meant
Long bayonet on rifle blockaded his way
By now he knew it was not his day.
He tried again, response was stronger.
Wife saw it all, couldn’t sit much longer.
She jumped off the sledge and began to run
The horsemen followed with loaded gun,
Ignoring the danger she pushed ahead
Soldier kept shouting, must have seen red.
He charged with fury in deep white snow,
From height his leg delivered a blow.
This knocked her down her handbag flying,
She screamed with pain, her sounds of crying
Reached on all the sledges moving ahead
Never slowed down, went faster instead.
The drama went on she did not give up
Picking her handbag she aimed a long slap,
This gave her chance to run to the door
Her hands at the ready, but just before
The door has opened, they heard her cry.
Meeting was short, no how where or why
They’re taking us away! she quickly said,
Ah! the animals they haven’t been fed.
Before she finished the soldier was there,
Dragged her away without any care
She willingly ran to be with her own
Comfort was there, the future unknown.
Bewildered and puzzled those left behind
Had many questions, one special in mind.
Why were they not taken that very night?
The answer came later in full morning light.
Families still there were settlers of late
The ones on the road were earlier date.
They were ex-soldiers who fought the Reds
Now the Red Army repaid its debts.
They haven’t forgotten how at great cost
The Reds did battle and heavily lost
To Polish Army two decades before,
This stopped them knocking at Europe’s east door.
Now ten men of Chylin, that was the name
Of little village where they all came
To start fresh life just after the war
In this part of Poland, Russia no more
Was theirs for over hundred long years,
Occupation most cruel and full of fears.
For past twenty years this was our land.
Here settlers were given parcels of ground
They soon realised that without a wife
There was no future, nor family life.
Young, inexperienced needed each others
Building and farming, girls became mothers,
Slowly the hard times were fading away
Till dark clouds of war, and now today
Not ten men that came but sixty in all
Were nearing a railway covered in snow.
Still deep in shock and mentally blind
The eyes did see but not the mind
What was in front defied description
Picture of hell for book of fiction.
Cattle truck wagons with no end in sight
With doors wide open, and ramps floor height.
Small narrow windows were all boarded up
Added to boards was barbed wire wrap
Metal flue pipe... but all that was still
Commotion on ground gave them a chill.
Hundreds of sledges, some empty, most full
Were moved around as if to a rule,
Enforced by soldiers not previously seen
Armed to their teeth and looking real mean.
Never stopped shouting, or waving a gun
This was with purpose and to a plan,
To stop them seeing what waited them all
Wagons and ramps with open black hole.
People went through conveyor belt stages
The system perfected by practice for ages,
Sledges arriving immediately receive
Soldiers both sides, and no one to leave.
Hustled along with brute use of force
All cry for help, small children are worse.
How could they know, or understand
Why was it done, and at whose command?
The grown-ups knew, who, why and where
But at the moment they did not dare
To even think, what will or what may
Now was the time, to look up and pray.
Only few hours since the ordeal began
And here they are wife, children and man,
Standing in front of the dreaded hole
At last together in body and soul.
Struggles were useless, some had a try
Result was seen, as blood not yet dry.
There was no escape, all go through the door
With what they brought, and nothing more.
Each hole received some sixty poor souls
To be imprisoned between dark walls.
Suddenly door moved, all heard it slide
Black hole was closed and bolted outside.
Crowded in mass of such little weight
Forced to accept the impending fate.
Invisible, blind and as if no more
They stood in the middle of wagon’s floor,
Till eyes have opened and in poor light
They could make out most depressing sight.
Two layers of planks fixed at each side
With middle part open sliding door wide.
There in the centre with metal flue pipe
Stood heating stove, cast iron type.
There was something else, at first hardly seen
Later of need to stay healthy and clean.
In one corner of floor, there was a hole
Some nine inches across with only one role
To take all the waste, human and others,
There was no screen, till one of the mothers
Hung some material to form a curtain.
Use was more private but still uncertain.
There was no more except for holes
Round doors and windows, and in all walls
This not only gave some light
But also fresh air all day and all night.
Doors hardly opened, locked most of the time
All prisoners now, accused of no crime.
If there was a crime, it was at birth,
They were born Poles now in a hearse,
Are being taken to sites near hell
History knew, and knows it so well.
That hell is Siberia, a fearful place,
Where millions went, regardless of race
Not of free will, but on Stalin’s behest,
His many crimes unknown in the west.
Most children at schools will never hear
Of one life lost, of one frozen tear.
Many have died and will not speak
I will shout in anger, with voice so weak
I cannot forgive, nor can I forget
The sorrow I’ve seen, the tears, the dead.
Long journeys and walks on tired feet,
The constant search for something to eat,
The rivers of hunger, the valley of dead
The trauma of millions when nights were red.
The Katyn Massacre, where one by one
Fifteen thousand lives were given to gun.
All high ranking soldiers, prisoners of war
Shot in the back, and what is more
They denied murder, blaming the Hun
All Stalin’s deeds, he is the man
His hands stained red, the blood will stay
Till retribution, on God’s judgement day.
I am often told, let past be dead
I try, but then, I kneel by my bed
And pray in silence for the one and all,
God! in your mercy show none on his soul.
Link to a description of Osada Chylin where T Sobierajski lived
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Kresy Family group