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​iv. FEBRUARY 10, 1940

 

Weeks passed. I don't remember if we went back to school. Life was returning to a certain normality. Only the fear of tomorrow remained. A very harsh winter came and Christmas passed - much more subdued than in previous years. Until the memorable day of February 10, 1940. At around 5 am, someone banged on the front door. When my father opened it, two Soviet soldiers with rifles and one civilian, a Ukrainian, entered. My father was placed against the wall, and my mother was told to gather belongings quickly, because we were to be transported to a much better place. It's hard to imagine what was happening! Desperate parents, children roused from sleep, crying faced with a terrible unknown. Somehow we were dressed, some things and food were gathered in bundles, and we were loaded onto our own sledge and taken to the nearest railway station in Karnaczówka. Trains were waiting there, ready.

 

On that same day, thousands of people were packed into cattle wagons, fitted out with tiered, wooden platforms, on each of which several people were packed. Instead of a toilet there was a hole in the floor. The iron stove lacked fuel and that winter was very harsh. During the night people's hair froze to the frosted walls of the wagon. Under guard with rifles, frightened and cold, sobbing people and crying children were squeezed like sardines.

 

After two or three days, when all those destined for deportation had been loaded, the train started. Some prayed, others cried. Some sang "Blessed mother, protector of people." It was a hellish beginning for several thousand exiles. The conditions in the carriages were terrible. Cold, because the stove in the middle was of no use, even where there was something to burn. There was no water. From time to time, when the train stopped, young girls and boys were released under guard to bring water that was used only for drinking and cooking. There was not enough for washing. I don't remember if we were given anything to eat. We probably ate what we took from home. It is likely that the famous Russian kipiatok, hot water from a samovar, was available at stations.

 

After two or three weeks, we reached our destination. It was the Ural Mountains in Siberia. The train stopped at the railway station in Wilwa. I think there was an overnight stay there. In the morning, mothers and children were put on sleds, in something like a basket. They were pulled by small, stocky horses. However, adults and adolescents had to walk. This is how we got to the next stop in Iwaka from where we went on to our final destination.

 

It is impossible to imagine how much effort it took to trudge this road in the middle of a Siberian winter. Of course, everything was done under the supervision of the guards always ready to shoot.