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Jankiel Kulawiec

The next day this Ubowiec [slang name for an employee of the Security Office (UB) - the secret police] came with a summons to the UB. I was on afternoons at work then, and had to go for 2pm. And they took me off to the UB sometime just before 12. This crew from Wroclaw had come down especially for me. First of all they questioned me for a long time about what I did, where I worked and things like that. So I say to them that I'm on afternoons and would they say exactly what this is all about, because for me the most important thing is production, and I don't want to be late. So they asked me what objections I'd had yesterday in the TSKZ club about the mass meeting in Ursus. So I say that I didn't have any objections, I just asked what the difference between Polish and Jewish nationalism was, and I'm still asking. And they come back saying that they're the ones asking the questions, and do I know what institution I'm in?

The conversation went on like this, they getting angry when I looked at my watch, and me saying to them that I don't want to discuss with them because I'll be late to work. In the end I said to them that I couldn't see any danger to Poland from such a small state as Israel thousands of kilometers away. And at the end they asked me if I wasn't planning to take off to Israel. To which I replied that if they put on wagons and I was forced to, I'd pack my things and go, but until then I was staying. Then they let me out. And it was all because of that Jewish communist who snitched on me!
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Rafael Genis

A Lithuanian, Vaytrikele, who was sitting at one desk with my sister Tsilya, was the inspector at the party committee. She asked me if I kept in touch with my relatives in the USA [14]. I said that I did and mentioned that I had recently got a letter from them. My case wasn't discussed for a long time, they turned me down and I made no further attempts.
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Then there was an unpleasant incident, which ended up having no consequence. Soldiers from Russia often asked me how I was living in capitalist Lithuania and I honestly and straightforwardly told them that we had a good living - we had a lot of food, abundance in goods and no oppression. I was called to the party organization several times and accused of anti-Soviet propaganda. I tried to explain that I didn't concoct anything. I was arrested and kept in custody for 14 days along with other 'anti-Soviets' - the wardens of the liberated villages etc. We were put in a guarded cart. They gave us no arms and no explanations. Finally, they either clarified things, or didn't have time for that, or my proletarian origin worked, I was released all of a sudden and sent to the regiment. I will never forget those two weeks of fear and consternation.
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Janina Duda

I hate informers, although I understand that sometimes you need to use them, but not in this case. I voted against his expulsion from the party. So I was reprimanded. It was only a reprimand, because I had been a partisan and the chief of my district was Korczynski, so they were scared to do anything more. But they later asked me in the district party headquarters if I felt I had been harmed. So I just told them one thing, ‘You know what, I worked in the ministry of security, I understand they have to use informers there, but you in the party structures?’ That really is what I told them. So I didn’t leave and wasn’t planning on leaving. Just like that.
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Alexandra Ribush

My mother was free and my father had to go to the militia station to register in order to prove that he hadn't left or escaped. Volodya left to study at Irkutsk Polytechnic Institute in 1951.

After Stalin had died in 1953, my parents returned to Leningrad.
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After my parents were arrested in 1937, my brother, my grandma and I were exiled from Leningrad. Grandma Khaya didn't let me and my brother be taken to a children's home, so we were banished. Nanny Lyuba didn't forsake us and joined us. We lived in Kazakhstan in a very small village called Dzharkul. We led a hard life. Grandma took a sewing-machine with her and sewed dresses for local citizens. She was paid in kind for this work, not money. There was never enough money. Uncle Isaac, my father's brother, as well as Aunt Lyuba, my mother's sister, sent us some money from time to time. This was how we survived in exile. Uncle Isaac never stopped soliciting for us. I still have some of the requests, which he submitted in order to get permission for us to return.

Grandma remained in exile and nanny brought me and my brother to Leningrad. The trip to Leningrad took place in fall 1937 because grandma was old and, being in exile, she wasn't able to take care of two children. Our father was imprisoned as well as our mother. So it was decided to distribute us among relatives, who were able to give us shelter. I lived with Uncle Isaac's family and went to school for some time. I only remember that time very vaguely; the school was a common Russian one. I had no friends, I was afraid to be chums with anyone. If asked, I wasn't allowed to tell anyone that my parents were 'enemies of the people' and in a camp. My brother Volodya was accepted by my mother's relative Grigory Moiseyevich Klouberman. I stayed in Leningrad and my brother was taken away to the town of Velikiye Luki. Grandma Khaya came back from exile to Leningrad in 1939 and stayed with her daughter Lyuba, who lived on the Petrograd Side.
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When he returned after the war he told us in detail about his life in the camp. In 1946 my dad was released. He came to Tomsk and worked there for two years. He was arrested for the second time and exiled to the small station of Reshety near Kansk in Eastern Siberia. He was deprived of all rights and had to visit the MIA department every month for registration. He couldn't leave the place either. He lived and worked relatively freely and advised people. However, this routinely medical work at a tiny station didn't comply at all with the level and possibilities of a professor of medicine. In 1948, in the course of the second tide of Stalin's repressions, those who had been previously arrested, served their time in a camp and had been released, were imprisoned again based on new accusations. A lot of biologists were imprisoned in Tomsk at that time.
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Once my father was absorbed in a book, a small and pathetic-looking English book. He read it in the light of the stove fire. He didn't hear the inspectors approach. When the supervisors arrived, he was punished immediately. First they threw him into the punishment-cell. Then they transferred him to the position of a grave-digger. He would have died for sure, if not for the new camp management. A new head was appointed, who believed that people should be evaluated properly or, at least, made reasonable use of. There were no good physicians in Magadan, so imprisoned doctors were assigned to work at the municipal hospital. They were taken to work under an escort.
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In 1937 dad was arrested on the basis of slanderous denunciation. Mother was arrested right after him as the wife of an 'enemy of the people' [8]. There existed this term: members of the parricides' families. They were accused of knowing, but not informing the authorities about the 'criminal design'. My mother stayed in prison for five years at Yaya station, as the wife of a repressed one; it was a wide spread phenomenon. After the camp she was forced to work as a physician for the Ministry of Internal Affairs [MIA]. After the arrest and the verdict my father stayed in prison for nine years; at first in a camp in Magadan, where he worked as a stoker in a bath- house. My father was a professor, a neurosurgeon, he knew several languages and got this job 'unofficially'. Those who fulfilled the required amount of work at the timber processing sites, basically didn't survive.
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My parents couldn't get me acquainted with the members of our family since they were subject to repression [during the so-called Great Terror] [3] and were imprisoned while I was a small girl. I know our relatives only from pictures which my mum collected when she came back from imprisonment.
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Margarita Kamiyenovskaya

Then came the day of deportation: 14th June 1941 [see Soviet Deportation of Estonian Civilians] [23]. It was probably the darkest day in the history of Estonia. It didn't just change the fate of the people deported from Estonia, but also the destiny of the remaining Estonian Jews. The list of people to be deported was made beforehand and we found out about that only later. The car with NKVD officers went to people's houses and these people were given half an hour to pack. Then they were taken to the train station, where all arrangements were made for their departure. The men were sent to the Gulag [24] and the women and children were exiled. Politicians, people who disapproved of the Soviet power, rich people, i.e. the owners of real estates, well-off peasants who came to prosperity by working hard, were to be exiled from Estonia. There were cases where people were exiled for no reason.

There was a Jewish family, Olephson, who lived not far from our house. They owned a small store in front of our house. They didn't have any hired employees. They did all the work by themselves to make a living. I remember that one night the NKVD stormed their apartment and took them away. It was dreadful. 10,000 people were exiled, whereas the total population of Estonia was about 1,000,000. There were mostly Estonians among the exiled, but there were also Jews, Russians and Belarusian. Nationality didn't matter. It was ideology that mattered. It can't be compared to the Holocaust, but Stalin's camps weren't much better than Hitler's. Of course, it's clear why Estonians started to hate the Russians after that. The atrocities happening in Estonia during the war, when Estonians murdered Jews, commenced on that very day. Estonians recognized fascists as liberators from Soviet oppression and strove to do anything for the Germans. They chose the lesser of two evils.
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Eva Ryzhevskaya

Political officers [36] were constantly inculcating others that those who surrendered to the enemy were betrayers and traitors. They were deserters. I always got perturbed about that. I knew that orderlies didn't always manage to take all wounded from the battlefield. Is a person guilty if he was wounded and captured by the Germans? And what if the person lost consciousness? What if the entire squad was besieged? There were different circumstances. I think those people are worth to sympathize with. I could speak my mind only with my bosom friends. I understood that I should be reserved in general. When we left the boundaries of the USSR, our division liberated camps, where both military and civilian captives were held. SMERSH took the military captives and sent them immediately to the Gulag. They didn't look into the circumstances of captivity. They merely thought if the soldier had been captured, it meant he was a traitor. Once I was the witness of a terrible scene - the execution of military captives. The execution was ostentatious, for everybody to see what would happen to those who came to Germans. The political officer ordered, 'Fire!', there was a shot and the captives fell dead. I saw very many deaths at war, but those deaths seemed to me uselessly ruthless.
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Arnold Fabrikant

When I got better, something happened due to which I almost got to the tribunal. The thing is there was a radio plate hanging right above me and it was always turned on. The noise drove me nuts. On the first day, when I managed to get out of bed, I just grabbed it and took it off the wall. The political officer came by and considered what I had done as a harmful and political act. I hardly managed to get rid of him.
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Anna Ivankovitser

My grandfather began to have problems in 1925. Everybody in the village knew that he had money. State security officers were beginning to take away valuables from wealthy people. They summoned my grandfather to the committee and demanded that he gave them his gold. My grandfather was scared and gave them all he had. Mama kept only a few pieces of jewelry that she had received as her wedding gift from her father. Anyway, this committee didn't leave him alone. The local communists who had become state security officers constantly persecuted my grandfather. They knocked on the windows and doors at night shouting for my grandfather to give away the gold that he had stolen from the people. He kept telling them that he had nothing left, but in vain. They called him to the committee almost every week. Once, they arrested him and kept him in a cell for over a week. Then they let him go, offering no explanation. My grandfather had a poor heart and every such visit ended in a heart attack. He was living in constant tension. They threatened to send him into exile or shoot him 'accidentally' in the street. My grandfather Iosif died from a myocardial infarction in 1927, after another visit to the state security committee office. He never tried to leave his own town. He believed he was innocent and didn't owe anything to the authorities after he had given away all he had. He was hoping that they would leave him alone one day.
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arkadiy redko

In 1931 my father was arrested by the NKVD [7]. He was kept in a cell for a month while they kept demanding silver and gold from him. My father was brutally beat, as they demanded: 'Tell us where the money is'. We didn't have any money or gold, and only when they had made sure that this was true they let my father go. I didn't recognize my father when he came home. He was 46 years old, but he looked like an old man. He was thin, couldn't walk and stayed in bed for a long time. My father didn't tell us anything, but that he was beaten terribly. My mother hardly managed to bring him to recovery. However, we didn't blame anybody thinking that it had just been a mistake. We thought that since the Soviet power had many enemies, the NKVD often had to resort to strong measures.
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