77 results

Janina Duda

He went to the Soviet Union and he happily approached the border patrol, telling them that he, a communist, was going to his, how would you put it, spiritual homeland. So they sent him to a labor camp for three years. He was somewhere up in the Ural, then they settled him in Kazakhstan, he found his way to the army from there, but not to Anders, to Berling [cf. The 1st Kosciuszko Infantry Division] [40].
See text in interview

Alexandra Ribush

In 1948 my father was imprisoned and we lost touch with him; there was no information about him. In 1949 a group of physicians was sent from Tomsk to have a close look at prisons in Novosibirsk. One of the doctors recognized my dad, as she had met him before. He was in the prison hospital. She wasn't able to tell my mother since they weren't acquainted; she only knew my dad. She sent this information to me through her son, with whom I had gone in for sports in Tomsk. She said that my mother immediately had to go to a certain hospital in Novosibirsk, where my dad was staying at the time. My mum went there and had to visit all the managers until she finally obtained permission for my father to get smooth prison treatment. He was allowed to leave with my mum and was exiled to the town of Kansk.

Later my mother took my brother Volodya away from Tomsk.
See text in interview
We knew everything about my father and received letters from him. We knew nothing about my mum for a long time, since she was in prison and was deprived of the right to correspond. Dad managed to send her a message about us by prisoners' mail. He told her that my brother and I were alive and lived with our relatives. After Kislovodsk was freed in January 1943 we and Varvara Alekseyevna wrote to all the addresses where our relatives had ever lived. This kind of chain method worked. My mother was told that we were alive, that the children were alive and that the adults had all perished. My mother worked as an oculist at the children's penal colony # 2 near Tomsk.

There were a lot of colonies and places of detention in that region. When colony inmates under age were released, they were sent home under an escort. There was this boy who was sent home to Kislovodsk. His convoy also took the three of us, children, Varvara Alekseyevna, her mother and another kid from a Cossack [11] village, not far from Kislovodsk, along with him. He brought us to the colony near Kislovodsk. That's how I met my mum for the first time after ten years of separation. Me, Leonid and Inna came to Tomsk. I remember how we first traveled by train, then on board a ship to the colony where my mum lived. When we met, we all cried: mum cried, I cried, everybody was so glad. My mother had changed a lot, she had grown old and all her hair was gray. I also cried because I realized that I hadn't seen my mother for ten years and I hadn't seen how she lived all that time without me. However, I always knew and believed that mum would be back and that she thought about me and my brother while she was gone.

My mother and father kept in touch from the moment my mum was released and appointed to work at the children's settlement. We came to Tomsk in 1943 and in 1946 my dad arrived. Thus we all met again.
See text in interview
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.
See text in interview
Dad was a good doctor. He was later appointed head of the neural department of the municipal hospital. He was a prisoner, but treated all members of the camp and municipal management. At first we knew nothing about my father's destiny, but later my mother managed to find him and they kept in touch.
See text in interview
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.
See text in interview
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.
See text in interview

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.
See text in interview

Henrich Kurizkes

14th June 1941 is a memorial date for all Estonian residents. At night the Soviet authorities deported Estonians [25]. The lists for deportation were ready before night. They included the wealthier Estonian, Jewish and Russian residents. Soviet authorities had access to all banking documents and had no problems finding the wealthier residents. Estonian communists also took part in generating the lists and I suspect many people were included in the lists for personal dislikes or jealousy. There were also some suspected of a disloyal attitude to the Soviet power, political activists of the pre-Soviet epoch, wealthy farmers and also those whose residence seemed attractive to the newcomers on these lists.

A truck with NKVD [26] soldiers drove to a house, people were given limited time to get packed and that was it. Trains waited at the railway station. Men were separated from their families. They were sent to the Gulag [27], and members of their families were moved to Siberia. In total about ten thousand people were deported on 14th June. This was quite a significant number, particularly considering that the total population in Estonia accounted to one million people.

My mother's younger sister Rosa, whose marital surname was Klompus, was also on those lists. The Klompus family was probably one of the wealthiest families in Tartu. My aunt's husband's father owned a whole neighborhood of apartment buildings and also had some other property. In his will he assigned his property to Wolf, my aunt's husband. He said that his other sons would either drink or gamble it away. So, in the end only Wolf, Rosa and their son Anatoliy were deported.
See text in interview

Isroel Lempertas

When soviet soldiers came in our town in June 1940 many people welcomed them hoping for a better life. [Editor's note: In reality probably it was rather few people who welcomed the occupying Red Army in Lithuania. This is more than 50 years of Soviet propaganda, that regarded the occupation of the Baltic states as 'Liberation', that makes itself felt at this episode.] There was a train with soviet militaries and couple of tanks. I remember I and other boys rushed there, encircled the soldiers and tried to speak Russian to them, though we hardly knew anything in Russian. Many guys boasted on stars from the fore-and-aft caps the soldiers gave them. First there was a state of all-in-all euphoria. During the first day there was a meeting on the central square. My father took the floor. He welcomed soviet soldiers in his mother tongue-Yiddish. For the first time within many years Yiddish was heard from tribune in Mazeikiai. Then meetings were held almost every week and almost the whole town got together to listen to the speakers. Euphoria gave way to disillusionment. Many products vanished from the stores. Only one sort of bread remained and it was low-grade. There were hardly any manufacture goods, including soap and napkins. Nationalization was commenced. The bank where father was employed, was nationalized, but father kept on working there. People who owned any type of property or hired workers, were arrested and exiled to Siberia [Deportations from the Baltics] [14]. Tulia and his family were exiled and many other. Tulia died in Siberian camp. His wife died in exile, but his daughters managed to come back to their native town in middle 1970s at an adult age. They did not stay in Lithuania long and left for Israel.
See text in interview

Dina Kuremaa

I got married in 1956. I met my future husband, Raymond Kuremaa, with the help of my neighbors, an Estonian family. Raymond was their relative. On 31st December 1945 he came to congratulate his relatives on New Year. He rang the bell, and I opened the door. He looked at me and asked who I was. I said that I had lived there since my arrival from evacuation. He introduced himself and said that he had come to see his relatives. Then my neighbor came up to me and said that Raymond wanted to congratulate me on New Year. That was the way we met. From time to time we saw each other, went for a walk, to the cinema. I had known Raymond for eleven years before we got married. We were just friends. If someone told me about our getting married, I would only laugh.

Raymond was born in a hamlet in Raplass district of Estonia in 1924. His parents owned a farm, cultivated land and bred cows. When Estonia became Soviet, all property of Raymond's parents was taken over by a kolkhoz. Raymond's elder brother, who was 18 in 1941, was in hiding in the forest, when the Germans came to Estonia - he was not willing to join the German army. Then he came home to his parents, and someone told on him to the NKVD. When they came to arrest him, they found a rifle in his house. He was sentenced to 25 years and nobody believed that he was fighting against Soviet troops, and he was given an additional five years for keeping a weapon. He spent almost ten years in the Gulag, somewhere in Kolyma [32]. Only after Stalin's death, when the commission on retrial of the convicts' cases considered his case, he was released since there was no corpus delicti. He came back home in 1956 and attended our wedding.
See text in interview
When the Soviet regime came to power in Estonia, our life changed. Our Jewish lyceum was closed down and remade into a Jewish school with the teaching in Yiddish. All of us became pioneers [10]. At that time I didn't quite understand what it was all about. I did what others did and became a pioneer like others. The new-comers from the Soviet Union were housed in the apartments of other people, but it didn't happen with us, maybe they didn't have time for it.

My father's workshop was nationalized and turned into a cobblers' artel [11]. Father transferred all equipment to the artel and kept on working there. Strange as it may be our family avoided deportation, carried out by the Soviet regime on 14th June 1941 [12]. A lot of people who used to own stores and workshops were exiled to Siberia from Estonia within one day. Men were sent to the Gulag [13], and their families were exiled. Now I wonder how come our family was not touched. Maybe several stages of deportation were planned and the unleashed war was in the way of that process.
See text in interview

henryk prajs

On 17th September the Russians marched in [25] and took us all prisoners. We were interned in a place called Negroloc, some 40 kilometers further east from Minsk, Belarus. They didn't treat us bad. We had to work and if we fulfilled the ordered quota, it was alright. The food was also acceptable. Every Saturday we had a bath, they called it 'bania.' We weren't given any clothes for change.
See text in interview

anna schwartzman

We were directed to a Kaganovich [4] kolkhoz. It was winter already. When we got to the kolkhoz we were immediately given bread. There were orders to feed us. They made out well at our expense - sometimes they fed us, sometimes they didn't.
See text in interview
  • loading ...