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vice-president of Siberian Deportee Association




July 1999


The narrator resettled in this area after the war. His experiences in Siberia, and the formation of the Siberian Deportee Association in 1989, dominate this story. The narrator had prepared for the interview, and read out extracts from his mother’s diary. One section concerns the day they were deported by the Russians: “they won’t let us take anything along, they won’t even let me clothe my 3 year old son properly”. He weeps as he remembers Siberia and describes the “tragic” journey in detail: “if someone died during the journey – either a child or a grown-up – they took the bodies and threw them into the snow drifts, without any sort of burial. Can you imagine the despair of those mothers or parents?”

Explains that the Siberian Deportee Association, which covers the area of Stronie Slaskie, Miedzylesie, Ladek and all the villages, is a voluntary organisation which seeks support and applies for war benefits for the 500 Siberian deportees in Bystrzyca. Only 33% of applications are accepted as “the Act is prepared so badly, that you have to prove that your present state of health has been caused by your stay in Siberia”. Even the narrator had to appeal to the Labour Court in Wroclaw three times; a process that he says made him “feel like an intruder. It’s as if a camel was trying to prove it’s got a hump. They require certificates that you were in hospital, certificates that nobody kept”.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Early life history: born into a “quite well-off” farming family in Benkowa Wisznia (in the former Rudki district in eastern Poland, now in Ukraine).
Section 2  Recalls life on the farm before the Russians arrived and the mother’s fear that the family would be deported. Weeps as he remembers the day it came true.
Section 3  Notes the details of the month-long journey to Siberia: “it was all very tragic”.
Section 4  Explains how they moved around Siberia after 1941, trying to find somewhere to live, until the Russians “denied us the freedom to move around”. Returned to Poland in 1946.
Section 5  Remembers how his family used to hope to return to their homeland, “but when Gomolka came to power, people lost their hopes of ever returning there”.
Section 6  Explains what Bystrzyca and its environs looked like – “all the villages were full of people. Unlike today, when they are almost deserted”. Describes how the fields are now untilled, and how they “gave up farming as well as there are problems with selling the crops”
Section 7  Says he has “got used to this area somehow … there’s illness after illness, but I manage”. But wouldn’t like to move to another part of Poland.
Section 8  Discusses the formation of the Siberian Deportee Association in 1989 and their activities, showing the interviewer various documents about deportation.
Section 9  Chronology.