Danuta Gradosielska (née Mączka)
Danuta's "Ankieta" (so-called Hoover statement) written on arrival in Persia
while details were still fresh in her mind.
103 Transport Corps
Volunteer Maczka Danuta
1. With reference to the so-called plebiscite organised by the Soviet Authorities in occupation in September 1939.
At this time I was a schoolgirl, the daughter of a Military Settler. My permanent place of residence, and that of my parents, was the Settlement/Osada Krechowiecka, powiat Równe, Wołyń, and I lived here up until mid-October 1939. We suffered a great deal following the invasion onto our territory by the Red Army. Everyone would go to bed feeling unsure of the morrow. It all began with the arrest of our police, Poles working in administration were imprisoned, the disarming of the remaining squads of Polish soldiers, who were too few in number to defend themselves, but they still managed to give the Soviets a great deal of anxiety, despite the fact that they were only a few of them. Our settlements were completely surrounded by the Soviet police. In our homes they behaved as if the houses were their own. They took whatever they wanted; quite simply they stole whatever they could. There was no point protesting since they would either arrest you or threaten with a bullet.
They would carry out frequent checks, during which we would be locked up together in one room at gunpoint. They, in the meantime, would turn everything upside down, they even tore up floorboards, I do not know what they were looking for, whether it was weapons, or documents. In addition to this, they would constantly make lists of what was in the homestead, of possessions, and take what according to them there was too much of. Mid-October they gave us 24 hours in which to leave our home, we were quite simply thrown out. They called this “the re-distribution of wealth”.
So we went to live in the town of Tuczyn, in the same powiat, in rented accommodation. But they gave us no peace there either. They constantly made lists of our possessions; they would register families and make lists of exact addresses.
There were even rules with respect to moving beyond a given area. We needed a pass or had to report to headquarters, to the police, and even then it would depend on whether they wanted to let you go. Our schools were either closed down or became Soviet schools where the teachers were their own people. They demoralised the children with the introduction of communism, they tore down crosses, holy pictures, they forbade us to pray and sing Polish songs. Despite the fact that they forbade us to sing, from all sides you could hear the Polish hymn being sung. The Polish children were not afraid of punishment since they knew that Poland was not lost and would not be lost. There were lots of similar incidents. If someone opposed them, they did not care whether they were adults or children; they would lock them up and send them away. In the evenings, they would organise so-called “meetings” to which they would send our people by force. There were incidents where the youngsters would be marched out under the threat of a rifle. There they would praise the Soviet Constitution, but our people knew it well, became familiar with it within a very short period of time. They would shout that Poland did not exist and that it would not exist, that they were masters of this country, that the rule of the bourgeoisie had come to an end, they would be disparaging in the most shocking way. They would talk about the kolkhozes which they had already begun to create out of our settlements and colonies. Those in power were obviously the worst type of people, who had been in prison before communism and there were other cases too where people who knew no better would carry out their orders, not understanding what they were doing. The Soviets’ aim was to create a Ukraine that would be completely subservient to them. They would organise meetings and voting which our parents were forced to attend. How these actually unfolded, I do not know, as I did not take part in them.
Volunteer: Mącka Danuta 7259
2. Up until October 1939 I lived with my family on the Krechowiecka Settlement. In October we were ousted out of our home by the Soviets. At this time I was still a schoolgirl and we went to live in the town of Tuczyn, but not for long because on 10th February 1940 my family and I were driven out in goods wagons. The hygiene was dreadful. After three weeks we arrived at the Archangel Oblast – Kotlas, from where they distributed families to various posiołki and housed them in dirty barracks, infested with bed-bugs. They shifted us from posiołek to posiołek and it was dreadful everywhere. We worked hard in the forest chopping trees in the snow. Later on in the “birza” lumber mill (electric wood-cutting). The work was hard for men, let alone for women and children. At the end of 1940 my sister died from pneumonia due to the lack of medical care in the hospital. Apart from the hard work, there was a lack of food but they did not pay any heed to this.
Very many children and older people died as a result of the lack of medical care, the cold and hunger and on top of this the hard work and all was in vain. Letters reached us very rarely. After the announcement of the amnesty they began to issue discharge documents in groups, because without these documents it was impossible to leave although there were many who did not wait for the documents but escaped in order to join our ranks as soon as possible. My family and I obtained our documents on 26th December 1941 and we left the posiołek immediately, in the last group. One family remained behind because they were not issued with any documents. I do not know why. The journey lasted maybe a month and a half. We travelled in a goods wagon, but we were travelling to our own people. This journey was difficult too. On 22nd February 1942 we reached Guzar and on 25th February 1942 I joined the Women’s Auxiliary Service (PSK).
Danuta's Route Map