of the Gulag
Deportees from outside the USSR’s 1939 borders have left behind a considerable literature of memory, not only in their own languages but also in Western European languages. When they were released, some went to France, the United Kingdom or the United States and wrote their memoirs in English or French. There were two main waves of writing: immediately after the Second World War and then after the late 1980s, particularly between 1990 and 2000. Many of the early memoir-writers were intellectuals or politicians who wanted to show public opinion the practices of the Soviet purges and saw their work as part of their intellectual and political campaign. Their writings were often looked down on by some contemporaries, who accused them of anti-Soviet propaganda. The books written later were received less sceptically and were written with different purposes. Many of them began to write their memoirs on their retirement, after trying to live a normal life again, even in a foreign country. At that time they had no interest is recounting a painful past. Others decided to speak “before it is too late”, in order to establish or correct history as it was being written.
This room comprises a set of bibliographies compiled by Antonio Ferrara, with lists of the individual testimonies, collections of testimonies and other writings published in English, French and Italian.
Bibliography, compiled by Antonio Ferrara, of books published in English, French and Italian.
Wesley Adamczyk, When God looked the other way: an odyssey of war, exile and redemption, Chicago 2004
Author relates of being exiled with his mother and brothers to north-eastern Kazakhstan in May 1940. After the Polish amnesty, they left USSR via Iran in 1942. Author’s father, a Polish officer, is said to have been executed in Kharkiv.
E. Bak, Life’s journey. An autobiography, Boulder, CO, East European Monographs, distributed by Columbia University Press, New York 2002
Author was deported in February 1940 and sent to Irbit, east of the Urals. He was released after the Polish amnesty and left USSR with the Anders Army.
Janusz Bardach, Man is Wolf to Man. Surviving the Gulag, Berkeley 1998
Author (1919-2002), a Polish Jew, escaped to the Soviet Union but was arrested while in Red Army in 1941. Sentenced to ten years of forced labor, was sent to work in the gold mines of Kolyma and released in 1945. In a follow-up volume entitled Surviving Freedom: After the Gulag, Berkeley 2003, he relates his experiences in post-war Moscow where he ended up in March 1946 and where he studied as a plastic surgeon. Includes a chapter on a trip to his hometown in Western Ukraine, where he finds that his relatives have been killed in the Holocaust. Left Moscow for Poland in 1954 and emigrated in the USA with his family in 1972.
Menachem Begin, White Nights. The story of a prisoner in Russia, Harper and Row, New York 1977 (1957) (of great interest)
Author (1913-1992), a Polish Jew, was arrested in Wilno in September 1940 and sentenced to 8 years of forced labor. Sent to the Pečorlag, was freed with the other Polish citizens and left USSR with the Anders Army.
Adam Ben-Akiva (A. Rogowski), Lost and Found. Tel-Aviv: Bet Alim Pub, 2000
Author (1923-) lived in Radun (today Belarus) near Vilnius. A Betar member, he was arrested and sentenced to five years. He witnessed the war between “collaborators” and “scoundrels” (as he terms them) on the train taking him from Zhitomir (where he was in a youth labor camp) to Karaganda, then was sent to Norilsk and worked there in coal mines. In Norilsk met Berger Barzilai, founder of Communist Party in Eretz Israel (?). Released in February 1945, left USSR as a Polish citizen, participated to the Berihah, was again arrested in Communist Poland (he reports being interrogated by Jewish prison officials) and escaped to West Berlin through GDR in 1951. Left West Germany for Israel in 1964.
Rita Blattberg Blumstein, Like Leaves in the Wind. London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2003
Authoress, a Polish Jewess from Krakow (b. 1937), is deported with her parents in June 1940 to specposiolek Kuma in the Mari ASSR. Then the family moves to Kambarka in the Udmurt ASSR where they stay for the rest of the war. They are then repatriated to Poland from which they emigrate to France in 1948. Authoress will then move to the United States. The book is mainly based on the authoress’ parents recollections and includes in appendix wartime letters and postcards.
Edward Buca, Vorkuta, London 1976
Author, a member of the AK, was arrested in 1945 and sent to Vorkuta, where he participated to the strikes of 1953. He was repatriated to Poland in 1958.
Stanislaw e Zygmunt Chmielewski, Due fratelli nel Gulag. Cronache di avventure non eroiche nell’URSS di Stalin, L’Arciere, Cuneo 1993
Authors were arrested while trying to cross the border between Soviet-occupied Poland and Hungary. Sentenced to five years of forced labour they were deported to Vorkuta, freed after the Polish amnesty, and left USSR in 1942.
Georg Csikos, Katorga: un Européen dans les camps de la mort soviétique, Paris, Seuil 1986
Author, an Hungarian, helped after the war Germans to escape to Austria. Arrested in 1949, sentenced to 25 years in the camps, was sent with Ukrainian nationalists, to Noril'sk. In his book he describes the strikes and revolts in the camp after the death of Stalin. Freed in 1957, he is rehabilitated in 1964.
Jo Curfy, Destination Goulag : quelques questions posées à Jo Curfy, Latresne (Gironde) : le Bord de l'eau ; 2003
Author (1919- ?), a Polish Jew, is arrested in December 1939 and sentenced to 8 years. He is sent to the Ukhtalag where he remains from January 1941 to December 1942; freed under the Polish amnesty, is arrested again in 1944 and sentenced to 3 years. Freed again in 1945, comes back to Poland but leaves it, finally (in 1948) reaching France.
Alain Cytron, Le rescapé 1939-1946. De Lodz aux prisons soviétiques, du Goulag à Roanne, Roanne 2007 (1997)
Author (1916- ?), a Polish Jew from Lodz, escaped to the Soviet Union but was arrested while crossing the border. Sentenced to three year, served his term in a lager in Montchegorsk, near Murmansk, then in the Ustvimlag. Amnestied as a Polish citizen in 1941, spent the war years in the USSR. Repatriated to Poland with his brother in 1946, after the Kielce pogrom left the country for Austria (where he stays in a DP camp) and then France.
Józef Czapski, Souvenirs de Starobielsk, Paris 1987 (1945)
Author, a Polish officer and a painter, was captured on September 27, 1939 near Lwow and then interned in the Starobielsk POW camp until May 12, 1940. He is then sent to “Pawlitchew-Bor” then to Griazowetz, near Vologda. Freed in September 1941, joined the Anders Army. He relates his search for the missing Polish officers and his service in the Anders Army in a later book, Terre inhumaine (ed. or. Paris 1949).
Anne Dadlez, Journey from Innocence. East European monographs, no. 513. Boulder: East European Monographs, 1998
Authoress, a Pole, is deported from Lwów in April 1940, after the arrest of her father (who ends up in the Ostashkov camp). She is sent to the settlement of Urzdar, near Ayaguz, in the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan. Freed under the Sikorski amnesty, she leaves Urzdar in February 1942 and the USSR in July, reaching Iran. In 1945 she leaves Iran for Lebanon, from where she moves to England in 1948.
Sylva Darel, A Sparrow in the Snow. New York: Stein and Day, 1973
Authoress (b. 1933), a Latvian Jewess, in June 1940 was deported from Riga to the village of Kansk, in the Krasnojarsk region. She escaped in 1946 but in December 1952 was re-arrested and sent back to Siberia. The book end with Stalin’s death in March 1953.
Edward W. Dzierżek, Free the White Eagle. Horning's Mills, Ont: E.W. Dzierżek, 1981
Author, a Polish officer from Wilno (b. 1915), is interned in Kalvaria camp in Lithuania after the September campaign. On July 1940 he is sent (together with the other internees) to Kozielsk and in June 1941 to Grazoviets. Freed under the Sikorski amnesty, on September 1941 he leaves Grazoviets for military encampment at Tatishchevo and then for another in Suzak (near Dzhalal Abad in the Uzbekistan, just across the Kazakh border). On August 1942 he leaves the Soviet Union through Krasnovodsk with the Anders Army.
Anton Ekart, Echappé de Russie, Paris 1948
Author, a Polish Jew, was arrested with his wife in 1939 and deported to the region of Archangel'sk, then to the Far North of Siberia (1940-1947).
Aron Gabor, Le cri de la taïga. Monaco: Rocher, 2005
Author (b. 1911) is arrested in Budapest in 1945 and in 1948 was sentenced to five years. He served his time in the Kuzbaslag. Freed in 1950, sentenced to lifelong exile in Kuzbas, came back to Hungary only in 1960.
Dina Gabel, Behind the Ice Curtain. Holocaust diaries, v. 4. New York: CIS Communication, 1992
Authoress, an observant Polish Jewess, is deported from Lida to the Soviet Union on April 1940 after her father’s arrest on January 1940. She is sent to the Sergeyevka kolkhoz in northern Kazakhstan, near Tokushy, and after the German invasion of Soviet Union is forced to work along the Karaganda-Magnitogorsk railway, then under construction. In the early spring of 1944 she is arrested but refuses to become an informer, then escapes to Petropavlovsk where she spends the years 1944-1945. In April 1946 she returns to Poland, settling in Szeczin and then in Katowice, where she marries the local rabbi. They stay there from December 1946 to May 1948, when they leave for the United States (later they will move to Israel). INTERESTING BECAUSE IT PROVIDES THE PERSPECTIVE OF A RELIGIOUS PERSON, AND OF LIFE IN A CENTRAL ASIAN KOLKHOZ
John Geller, Through darkness to dawn. London: Veritas Foundation, 1989
Author (1904-1993), a Polish Jewish doctor, is arrested in February 1940 for illegally crossing the border. He is then imprisoned in Odessa and, since November 1940, in Krasnj Paxar labour camp in the raion of Molotowsky in the oblast of Kuybyshev. He is then transferred further north and released under the Sikorski amnesty on September 10, 1941; on September 23 he rejoins the Polish Army in Tockoye. He leaves Soviet Union on August 1942 and spend the remaining war years in various assignments as a medical officer with the Polish Army in Iraq and later with Polish refugees in Iran and East Africa. He finally settles in Great Britain in 1948. NB He has likely a surviving son and daughter, born in 1950 and 1953.
Michał Giedroyć, Crater's Edge: a Family's Epic Journey Through Wartime Russia, London: Bene Factum, 2010
Author (b. 1929), the son of a Polish senator, is deported with his mother in April 1940 from Dereczyk (in today’s Belarus) to Nikolaevka, in northern Kazakhstan. Freed under the Polish amnesty they exit Soviet Union in 1942 moving to Iran. They settle in the United Kingdom after spending the remaining war years in Palestine and Lebanon.
Jerzy Gliksman, Tell the West, New York 1948
Author (step-brother of Victor Alter), a Polish Jew, was arrested while trying to cross the Lithuanian border and sentenced to five years of forced labour. Served his sentence in a lager in the Komi ASSR until he was released on August 30, 1941. Left USSR with Anders Army in summer 1942.
Moshe Grossman, In the enchanted land. My seven years in Soviet Russia, Tel Aviv 1960
Author, a Polish Jewish writer, was imprisoned for having left his place of exile (where he had likely been sent in 1940). Released on August 27, 1941 he moves to Samarkand where on February 24, 1944 he is arrested again and charged with counter-revolutionary agitation. Sentenced to three years (deducted the nine months he had previously spent in prison) he is sent to a camp near Samarkand and finally released on August 4, 1945 on account of an amnesty proclaimed the previous month for all those sentenced to less than three years.
Felix Gryff, Red Hell, Sydney, Australia : F. Gryff, 1997
Author, a Polish Jew (b. 1910), is deported from Lviv in June 1940 and then freed under the Polish amnesty. Arrested again in May 1943, he is sent to Ussolag and then in 1948, as part of a speccontingent, to Steplag. He is then transferred to Karlag, to the Spassk labour camp, to Ekibastuz (in 1950) and at last to the Lulag. He is released only on September 1955 and allowed to go back to Poland, from which it emigrates in 1956 to Australia via Rome (the manuscript of the book was written there between February and August of that year but the author self-published it only after his wife’s death in 1996).
Maria Hadow, Paying Guest in Siberia, London 1959
Authoress was exiled to northern Kazakhstan with her mother in April 1940, as the wife of a Polish officer. She was freed under the Sikorski amnesty and left USSR in September 1942.
Ada Halpern, Liberation – Russian style, London 1945
Authoress was arrested in Lwów in April 1940 and deported to Kazakhstan. She was released in August 1941 and joined Anders Army.
Nahum Meir Halpern, From Slavery to Freedom, Montreal 1999
Author, a Bukovinian Jew, in 1941 was exiled with his mother to the region of Tomsk while his father was sent to Vorkuta’s gold mines. After the war they succeeded in returning to Romania and from there they emigrated to Israel (author went then to Montreal).
Gustaw Herling, Un monde à part, Paris 1985 (ed. or. 1951)
Author (1919-2000) was arrested while trying to cross the Lithuanian frontier. Sentenced to five years of imprisonment was sent to a lager in Kargopol’, near Archangel. He was released in 1942 and left USSR with the Anders Army.
Eugenia Huntingdon, The Unsettled Account: An Autobiography. London: Severn House, 1986.
Authoress (b. 1910), in April 1940 is deported to Kustanai in northern Kazakhstan. She is freed under the Sikorski amnesty in 1942 and leaves USSR with the Anders Army, then goes to Iran (1942-44), India (1944-46) and Lebanon (1946-48). In 1948 she moves to England with her son.
Sandra Kalniete, En escarpins dans les neiges de Siberie, Paris, Ed. de Syrte, 2003
Authoress, born in Tomsk in 1952 (both her parents had been deported), relates the story of her family. Her maternal grandfather, arrested in 1941 and sentenced to 5 years, died in Vjatlag in Dec. 1941. Her paternal grandfather joined the Latvian Legion and then the Forest Brothers; arrested in November 1945, sentenced to 10 years of hard labor (camp not known), died in Pečorlag in 1953. Her mother’s family was exiled to Siberia and transferred nine times in six years; her mother was allowed to come back to Latvia in 1948, then deported back to Tomsk region – where in March 1949 her future husband (author’s father) was deported “for life” in a village founded by deported kulaks in 1930s. They are allowed back to Latvia only in 1957.
Efrosinia Kersnovskaia, Coupable de rien: chronique illustrée de ma vie au Goulag. [Paris]: Plon, 1994
Authoress, a Russian landowner from Bessarabia, was deported to the Novosibirsk oblast in 1941. In 1942 she escapes and is then sentenced to ten years of forced labour. She serves her sentence in Vorkuta until 1952 and then stays there as a free labourer for the following 7 and half years. The book has been written in 1960s and published in Russian in 1991 (French translation is a partial one).
Jerzy Kmiecik, Boy in the Gulag, London 1983
Author, a Pole (b. 1923), is arrested in October 1939 while trying to cross the border. Being a minor is sentenced to three years’ time in a Children’s Working Colony: he is then sent to one in Zhitomir (where he arrives in September 1940) and later to the Kizil Tau camp, part of the Karlag (where he arrives in June 1941 after a five-weeks train journey) in Kazakhstan. He is released under the Polish amnesty in September 1941 and after wandering through Central Asia he finally rejoins the Polish Army on February 1942 in Gizhudvan. He leaves Soviet Union in March of the same year. After a long journey through Iran and then by sea to South Africa, Sierra Leone and finally Scotland, he comes to Britain where he settles after the war.
Anatole Krakowiecki, Kolyma, le bagne de l’or, Paris 1952 (ed. or. polonaise 1950)
Author, a Polish journalist, was during the years 1940-1942 in Kolyma.
Rudolf M. Krueger and J. Gregory Oswald. The Krueger Memoir: Life After Death in the Soviet Union. Huntington, W. Va: Aegina Press, 1993
Author, a Latvian Jew, is arrested in June 1940 and sent to a concentration camp in Solikamsk, in the northern Urals, and then to one in the Kraslag, near Krasnoiark. Released at the end of the war he is exiled for ten more years in the Krasnoiarsk region. Rehabilitated under Khrushchev he is allowed to go back to Soviet Riga, where he lives until 1981 when, after his wife’s death, emigrates in the United States.
Joseph Kuszelewicz, Un Juif de Bielorussie de Lida a Karaganda, Paris, L'Harmattan, 2002
Author (1925-2001), a Polish Jew, survived the Shoah joining the Bielski partisans, but was then sentenced to 5 years of internment for smuggling. Served his term in the Karlag between 1946 and 1951, and for two more years was forced to reside in Karaganda; left the USSR for Israel and then France in 1957.
Ann Lehtmets–Douglas Hoile, Sentence, Siberia. Kent Town, S. Aust: Wakefield Press, 1994
Authoress (1904-?) was deported from her hometown Rakvere, in Estonia, on June 1941. She was sentenced to twenty-five years of exile and sent to Maisk and then Novo Vasjugan, in the Novosibirsk region. She could return to Estonia in 1957 and emigrate to Australia (where she rejoined her daughter) in 1960. Her husband, arrested with her, was executed in June 1942.
Leon Leneman, Le testament de Liou-Lio-Lian, Les Edition du CERF, Paris 1992 (ed. or. Yiddish 1968)
Author (1909-1997), a Zionist journalist, was arrested in Brest-Litovsk and sent to the lagpunkt Vietlossian (in the Oukhta-Ijem-lag) in the Komi republic. Freed after the Polish amnesty in November 1941, he spent the war years in Soviet Central Asia (the book is mostly about this period).
Juliĭ Borisovič Margolin, Voyage au pays des Ze-Ka. Paris: Le Bruit du temps, 2010 (ed. or. partielle : Jules Margoline, La condition inhumaine. Cinq ans dans les camps de concentration soviétiques, Paris 1949)
Author, a Jew living in Palestine, while visiting Poland in 1939 was deported by the Soviets and was freed only in 1946. He was one of the principal witnesses - in the suit of David Rousset against the Lettres françaises.
Rachel Muir, Lisa: The Story of a Young Jewish Girl in a Siberian Labor Camp During World War II. Lawrenceville, Va: Brunswick, 1991
Authoress, a Polish Jewess (b. 1924?) from Krakow, is deported in 1940 to the special settlement of Tosana, presumably in northern Russia, where she works as a wood-cutter. She is released under the Polish amnesty in 1941 and leaves USSR in 1942 for Iran. NB The authoress is very imprecise regarding times and places (more than many others); his strongpoint is the depiction of life in deportation, which seems franker than that of many other memoirists
Aniţa Nandriş-Cudla, Twenty years in Siberia, The Publishing House of the Romanian Cultural Foundation, Bucarest 1998 (ed. or. 20 de ani în Siberia, Editura Humanitas 1991)
Authoress (1904-1986), a Rumanian peasant woman from northern Bucovina, was deported with his family in June 1941, first to Omsk, then again in July 1942, to a place near the North Pole (authoress calls it “imalu nenetchi ocrug”). Her husband was sent to the Komi ASSR where he died in March 1942; authoress and her sons remained in Siberia until February 1959, then came back to their village where they found their old house occupied and were able to regain it only in 1961. The book was apparently written in, or after, 1966.
Gryzelda Niziol-Lachocki, Goodbye Tomorrow. Brunswick: Brunswick Publ, 1999 (ed. or. Edmonton 1995)
Authoress (b. 1931) was deported with his family from the village of Martynowka, in Polesie, on February 10, 1940. They were sent to the settlement of Uyma, near Archangel, and freed under the Sikorski amnesty. On January 1942 they leave Uyma and after much travelling rejoin the Polish Army in Kirmine; in April 1942 they reach Krasnovodsk from where they leave Soviet Union for Iran. They spend the remaining wartime years in a refugee camp in Isfahan in Iran, then they move to Lebanon (1947) and later Britain (1948-1951) and the United States (1952).
Stanislaw Piekut, Settembre 1939. Dalla Polonia alla Russia di Stalin, Studium, Roma 1983
Author, a Pole from Kalush (near Stanislawów, today Ivano-Frankivsk) in Western Ukraine, was jailed in 1940-1941 in Starobielsk (where he arrived after the execution of Polish officers). Deported to Vorkuta, he was freed after the amnesty of Polish citizens.
Rachel Rachlin, Seize ans en Sibérie, Auribeau-sur-Siagne: Esprit ouvert, DL 2005 (Danish or. ed. 1982, American ed. 1988)
Authoress, a Lithuanian Jewess was exiled to Siberia with her husband. They spent 16 years in a special settlement, being freed only in 1957.
Zanna Ran-Charny, L’incredibile verità, Genova, Il Melangolo 2007 (ed. or. Neveroiatnaia pravda, Vilnius 1993)
Authoress lived in Vilnius’ ghetto, then in Minsk before escaping to the forest where she joined Soviet partisans. Accused of collaborationism (for having been a cleaning woman for the SS) was sentenced to five years of internment. Served her term in the Tagillag between 1945 and 1950, and for three more years was forced to reside in Ukraine. Left USSR for Israel in 1987.
Raphael Rupert, A Hidden World. Collins, 1963
Author, Hungarian, was arrested in 1947, sentenced to 25 years of forced labour, then deported to a “labor camp no. 10” in Dubrov, Russia in 1949. In 1956 he escaped from Hungary to the Great Britain.
Joseph Scholmer, La gréve de Vorkuta, Paris 1954 (ed. or. allemande 1954)
Author, a German communist, was arrested in GDR as a spy. Deported in the camp of Vorkuta, he participated in the revolt of 1953.
Edith Sekules, Surviving the Nazis, Exile, and Siberia, London and Portland, OR, Vallentine Mitchell 2000
Author, an Austrian Jewess, had escaped to Estonia in 1938. Arrested as an “enemy alien” was exiled to Siberia.
Danylo Shumuk, Life sentence. Memoir of a Ukrainian political prisoner, Edmonton 1984
Author enrolled in the Red Army in 1941, then joined the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in 1943. Arrested in 1945, he was sentenced to death, then reprieved and spent many years in various camps, participating also to the strike in Noril’sk.
Valentins Silamikelis, With the Baltic Flag through Three Occupations, Riga, Jumava 2002
Author (1924-?) enlisted in the Latvian Legion, escaped to Sweden, was extradited to the Soviet Union and interned in a “filtration” camp. He was released soon but in August 1951 was arrested again, sentenced to 25 years in GULag, and sent to the Vorkuta camp. He remained there until he was freed under the Khrushchev amnesty of September 1955, and then went back to Riga. He mentions a strike in June 1955, repressed with deadly force by the KGB. His book is partly based on his own diaries and letters of the time.
Barbara Skarga-Maryla Laurent, Une absurde cruauté: témoignage d'une femme au Goulag (1944-1955). Paris: La Table ronde, 2000
Authoress, an AK member, is arrested in Wilno in September 1944. Sentenced to ten years, serves his term in the Ukhtalag and then in a spetslag in Kazakhstan called Balkhach. She’s then exiled to a kolkhoz in Boudionovka, near Petropavlovsk. She is repatriated to Poland only in December 1955.
Salomon W. Slowes, The road of Katyn: a soldier’s story, Oxford 1992
Author, a Polish Jewish medical officer, was imprisoned in Kozielsk and then in the camp of Griazovets, near Vologda. Left USSR with the Anders Army.
Michael Solomon, Magadan, Princeton, New York 1971
Author, a Romanian Jew, was arrested in 1948 and spent eight years in camps in the region of Magadan.
Marcel Sztafrowski-Christoph Gallaz, Direction Stalino: un Polonais dans les camps soviétiques. Lausanne: Editions 24 heures, 1987
Author (1906-1985), a Polish diplomat, is arrested in January 1945 and sentenced to five years. He serves his sentence in various camps in Ukraine and Russia coming back to Poland only in late 1952. In 1954 he settles in Szczecin and in 1979 he leaves for the West.
Stanislaw Swianiewicz, In the Shadow of Katyn: Stalin's Terror. Pender Island, B.C.: Borealis Pub, 2002 (ed. or. Paris 1976)
Author (1899-1997), a Pole from Wilno, was an economist and a student of Eastern European and Soviet matters and became a prisoner of war in September 1939. He survived the execution at Katyn, being taken away at a railway station near the forest to be interrogated in the Lubianka prison in Moscow. Sentenced to eight years, he is imprisoned in the Ust-Wymsk camps in the Komi Republic up to April 1942; released, travels to Kirov, then Kuybyshev, Baku and finally Pahlavi, in Iran. He joined the Polish Army in Teheran, stayed in the Middle East and moved to London in 1944, and spent his postwar years between England and Canada. The book has been translated also in Russian in 1989.
Danuta Teczarowska, Deportation into the unknown. Braunton, Devon: Merlin Books, 1985 (ed. or. London 1981)
Authoress (b. 1910), a Pole from Lwów, was deported to Kazakhstan in April 10, 1940, as the wife of a POW officer. She is freed under the Polish amnesty in 1941; in November of that year she reaches the Polish army camp in Tatischevo, then moves to Semipalatinsk where, in 1942, works in an orphanage for Polish children which is evacuated with the Polish army to Uzbekistan and then to Iran in August 1942. She then went on to Teheran, Damascus, Baghdad and finally Jerusalem, where he came in 1944. She arrived in England, working initially in resettlement camps for the Poles, and retired in 1973.
Alexander Thomsen, In the name of humanity, London, Longmans 1963
Author, a Danish Red Cross worker, is imprisoned in Vorkuta where he meets his future wife – a Latvian woman named Olite Priede. In 1946 she had been sentenced to ten years of hard labor; she serves her time in Camp 72 in Vorkuta, is freed in August 1955, and allowed to emigrate to Denmark in October 1956. Part of the book (pp. 191-219) is formed by Olite Priede’s diary of the years 1950-1955.
Zoltan Toth, Prisoner of the Soviet Union, Old Woking: Gresham Books, 1978
Author, an Hungarian POW, is sentenced to twenty years of forced labour. He serves his sentences in various camps, including Vorkuta where he witnesses two prisoners’ uprisings in 1948 and 1953. He is released in 1955 and handed over to the Hungarian secret police, then escapes from Hungary in 1956.
Garri Urban, Tovarisch, I am not dead, London 1980
Author, a Polish Jewish medical doctor, was caught while trying to cross the Polish-Romanian frontier and sentenced to five years of hard labour in January 1940. He is sent to a lager called Nibka 3 Kandalashka near the Arctic Circle, from which he escapes in October 1940 (after Yom Kippur). He then goes to Leningrad, Dniepropetrovsk and reaches Moscow in December 1940. He leaves Moscow for Tashkent in May 1941; arrested again in January 1943, he escapes again after a fake execution and moves to Aktyubinsk. In January 1944 he leaves Central Asia for Ukraine, where he works in Dniepropetrovsk until February 1946. He repatriates to Poland (actually to Wałbrzych/Waldenburg near Wroclaw) but then emigrates passing as a returning German soldier. Stays for a while in a DP camp in Germany then leaves for Venezuela. His son Stuart Urban, a British filmmaker, recently realized an 83-minutes-long documentary movie about his father (who passed away in 2004).
Arnolds Vilerts, Destination Vorkuta, Riga: AUCE, 2005
Author, a Latvian, was sentenced to ten years. He served his time in the Vorkuta labor camp, probably starting in 1949. After being freed he stayed for a while in Vorkuta as a “free settler” before going back to Latvia.
Isaac Joel Vogelfanger, Red Tempest. The life of a surgeon in the Gulag, London-Buffalo 1996
Author (1909-?), a Jewish surgeon from Lwow, escaped to Soviet Union with the Red Army in 1941, working in a military hospital in Sverdlovsk, in the Ural region. In February 1942 he was arrested and sentenced to eight years of imprisonment. Served four years in the Sevurallag before being liberated (presumably as a Polish citizen) and sent back to Poland from where he emigrated to Israel (and then presumably to Canada to rejoin his sister).
Eugenia Wasilewska, The Silver Madonna; Or, The Odyssey of Eugenia Wasilewska. London: Allen & Unwin, 1970
Authoress (b. 1922), a Polish Catholic, is deported from her hometown (Aleksandriya, near Rovno in Volhynia) on April 1940 and sent to Novo Sukhotino (near Petropavlovsk, in northern Kazakhstan) as a “free settler”. She escapes from there on May 1941 and ends up in the prison of Proskurov; when the prison is evacuated because of the German advance, she is freed after surviving a massacre of political prisoners. She then spends war years in Warsaw and escapes to Western Germany and then England, but there is very little in the book about this part of her life.
Ola Wat, L’ombre seconde, Lausanne, L’Âge de l’Homme 1989
Authoress (1903-1991), the wife of writer Aleksandr Wat, was deported from Lwow/Lviv with his son on April 1940 to Semipalatinsk oblast in Kazakhstan. After the amnesty for Polish citizens she left for Shimkent and then Alma-Ata, where she rejoined her husband. Here they both refused Soviet passports, coming back in 1946 to Poland, which they will leave in 1957.
Stefan Waydenfeld, The Ice Road: An Epic Journey from the Stalinist Labour Camps to Freedom. Edinburgh: Mainstream, 1999
Author (b. 1925), a Polish Jew from Otwock, is deported with his family from Pinsk to a special settlement in Kvasha (near Arkhangelsk) in June 1940. Here he works felling trees and doing maintenance on an “ice road”; freed in August 1941 under the Sikorski amnesty, journeys to Astrakhan, then Saratov and finally Soviet Central Asia, where he stays for a while in Chimkent with his family until they leave the Soviet Union in 1942.
Henry Welch-Rose Kryger. A Passover in Rome. New York: Vantage Press, 2004
Authoress (1913-1993, her remembrances were translated from Yiddish into English by his nephew Henry Welch) left Lodz in 1939 for Bialystok and then Pinsk in Western Belarus. Arrested in June 1940 she was deported to Nieczuga, a posielok in the oblast of Archangel. Released after 14 months she moved to Central Asia where she spent the following years, first in a kolkhoz in Kirghizistan, then in another (named Zhyd Khen Chek) in southern Kazakhstan, near to the town of Turkestan, finally in Leninabad (today Khujand) in Tajikistan. In 1945 she left Leninabad for Lodz from where she emigrated to a DP camp in Germany and then to Israel (in 1948) and finally Canada (1953).
Tadeusz Wittlin, A reluctant traveller in Russia, London 1952 (ed. or. Diabel w raju, London, Gryf 1951)
Author (1909-1998) was arrested in 1940; freed under the Polish amnesty he joined Anders’ army. He relates of escaping from German-occupied Warsaw, being arrested while crossing the Lithuanian frontier and sentenced to twelve years of hard labour in the camp of Sucha Bezwodna. Amnestied he reaches the Polish army in Buzuluk, perhaps in November 1941. He is however not very precise regarding times and places. NB A documentary movie about Wittlin’s experiences in WWII has been made by Polish director Jolanta Chojecka (Szopka w Buzuluku, The muppet show in Buzuluk; 30 min, 1994).
Abraham Zak, Gimen los bosques siberianos, Buenos Aires, Editorial Il Candelabro 1970 (ed. or. Yiddish 1955)
Author escaped from Warsaw to Soviet-occupied Grodno in December 1939, but during the summer of 1940 was arrested. Sentenced to five years and then deported to the Ukhtalag and freed under the Polish amnesty. He says nothing about what happened after leaving the lager.
Collections of testimonies
Bibliography, compiled by Antonio Ferrara, of books published in English, French and Italian
Elma Dangerfield, Beyond the Urals, London 1946
Collection of testimonies of Polish deportees (including their letters) freed in 1942.
Irena Grudzinska-Gross e Jan Tomasz Gross (eds.), War Through Children’s Eyes: the Soviet occupation of Poland and the deportations, Stanford 1985 (mais voir aussi le plus complet W czterdziestym nas matko na Sybir zeslali… Polska a Rosja 1939-1942, London 1983)
Collection of testimonies of Polish children exiled in the Soviet Union between 1939 and 1941
Henry Grynberg, Children of Zion, Northwestern University Press, Evanston (IL) 1997
Collection of testimonies of the so-called “Teheran children”, Polish-Jewish boys (under 18-years-old, mostly 13 to 14-years-old) exiled in the Soviet Union in 1940-41, then released under the “Polish amnesty”, evacuated via Soviet Central Asia to Iran and ultimately sent to Palestine by sea (via Karachi, then Suez) or overland (through Iraq). Author has arranged both chronologically and thematically the content of so-called “Palestinian protocols” stored into the Hoover Institution Archives; testimonies relate of German and Soviet occupation, Soviet deportations, life in exile until and after the amnesty and in Soviet orphanages.
Teresa Kaczorowska, Children of the Katyn Massacre: Accounts of Life After the 1940 Soviet Murder of Polish POWs. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 2006
Collection of life stories of relatives of the victims of the massacres of Polish officers in Katyn, Kharkiv and Miednoye, some of which were deported to Russia or Central Asia.
Henryka Łappo et alii, Stalin's Ethnic Cleansing in Eastern Poland: Tales of the Deported, 1940-1946. London: Association of the Families of the Borderland Settlers, 2000
Lenghty collection of relatively short testimonies of Polish “military settlers” deported in February 1940. Most of them emigrated with the Anders Army in 1942 and then settled in the United Kingdom after multiple displacements across the world.
S. S. Lie, H. E. Aldona Wos et aliae, Carrying Linda's Stones: An Anthology of Estonian Women's Life Stories. Tallinn, Estonia: Tallinn University Press, 2006
One section of this book features stories of women deported to Siberia in 1940s.
Sylvestre Mora-Pierre Zwerniak, La justice soviétique, Roma, Magi-Spinetti 1945
Collection of testimonies of people from former Eastern Poland, who spent time in Soviet prison and concentration camps between 1939 and 1941.
Tadeusz Piotrowski (ed.), The Polish Deportees of World War Two: Recollection of Removal to Soviet Union and Dispersal Throughout the World,, Jefferson N.C. 2004
Collection of testimonies of Polish deportees emigrated all around the world after the war was over.
Gertrude Schneider (ed.), The unfinished road. Jewish survivors of Latvia look back, New York, Praeger 1991.
This book includes a short memoir by B. Minkowicz (Arrest and Expulsion to Siberia, pp. 29-43). Author (a member of Betar) was arrested in 1941 and in 1942 sentenced to five years of exile. Sent to Krasnojarsk, in 1947 was allowed to leave for Poland (since his father had retained Polish citizenship). In 1950 left Poland for Israel.
C. A. Smith (ed.), Echappés du paradis. Huit témoignages sur le communisme soviétique, Paris, Editions du Fuseau 1952
Most of the eight testimonies collected in this book are from victims of Soviet repressions in East Central Europe. Among the authors there are a Romanian woman, a Czech from Ruthenia, two Poles (one of which left the USSR with the Anders Army) and an Estonian pastor who escaped via Afghanistan.
Astrid Sics (ed.), We Sang Through Tears: Stories of Survival in Siberia. Riga, Latvia: J. Roze, 2002.
Collection of Latvian gulag memoirs, mostly written in late 1980s and selected from a larger collection (in Latvian): A. Līce, Via dolorosa: stal̦inisma upuru liecības. Rīga: "Liesma", 1990.
B. West (ed.), Struggles of a generation. The Jews under Soviet rule, Massadah Publishing Company Ltd., Tel Aviv 1959.
Part B (pp. 69-138) of this book includes memoirs and testimonies of Polish, Lithuanian, Latvian, Bucovinian and Bessarabian Jews, some of which were imprisoned in the Gulag.
Z. Zajdlerowa, The Dark Side of the Moon, London 1946.
Authoress has collected testimonies of Polish deportees freed in 1942. The book has a preface by T. S. Eliot and appeared originally as the work of an anonymous writer.
Other life stories
Autobiographies, biographies, romans
Bibliography, compiled by Antonio Ferrara, of books published in English, French and Italian
Kostancija Bražėnienė, Just One Moment More… The story of one woman’s return from Siberian exile. The letters of Kostancija Bražėnienė written from Lithuania, East Germany and Siberia, 1944-1966, Boulder (CO) 2007
This book is made of letters written by the authoress and her son between 1944 and 1966. Authoress was deported to Siberia in March 1949 and released in 1956. Letters cover mainly the period after the release, offering useful insights in the life of former convicts. There is less about the life in deportation since the authoress was not allowed (until 1953) to write letters. NB authoress’ daughter married (without her mother’s knowledge) Lithuanian partisan leader Juozas Lukša, and that made much more difficult the authoress’ emigration.
Wojciech Jaruzelski, Les chaînes et le refuge: mémoires, Paris 1992
Author (b. 1923) was exiled to the Altaj region in 1941; in 1943 joined General Berling’s Polish Army; his mother and sister came back to Poland in 1946.
Daniel Libeskind-Sarah Crichton, Construire le futur: d'une enfance polonaise à la Freedom Tower. Paris: Albin Michel, 2005
Author’s parents Nachman (1909-2001) and Dora (d. 1981) were both imprisoned in the Gulag in 1940-1941, and met each other in Soviet Central Asia where author’s sister was born in 1943. Libeskind relates at some length about their experiences.
Moshe Prywes–Haim Chertok, Prisoner of Hope. The Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry series, 22. [Waltham, Mass.]: Brandeis University Press, 1996
Autobiography of a prominent Israeli physician, whose family inspired I. Singer’s novel The family Moskat. In April 1940 he was deported from Bialystok to the Vierchni-Tchov ITK in the Komi Republic. In 1944 he is released and moves to Kherson, in Ukraine, which he leaves in 1946 for Warsaw, then Gdansk. He then emigrates via Sweden to Paris, where he works for the JDC, and in 1951 leaves for Israel (where he helps establish medical schools at the Hebrew University and then in Beersheva).
Klemens Rudnicki, The Last of the War Horses. London: Bachman & Turner, 1974
Memoirs of a Polish general who was imprisoned in Dnipropetrovsk prison and then sent as a “free deportee” to Kirov in 1940-41, then freed under the Sikorski amnesty.
Kārlis Skalders, Under the Sign of the Times: The Story of a Latvian. Rīga: Jumava, 2000
Author was deported to the region of Krasnojarsk from 1941 to 1956.
Juozas Urbšys, La terra strappata: Lithuania 1939-1940, gli anni fatali. Baltica. Viareggio: M. Baroni, 1990
Memoirs of the last minister of Foreign Affairs of independent Lithuania (1896-1991), who in 1940 was arrested by the Soviets and released only in 1954.
Aleksander Wat-Czesław Miłosz. Mon siècle: entretiens avec Czeslaw Milosz. [France]: Editions de Fallois/L'Age d'homme, 1989
Author A. Wat was imprisoned in the Soviet Union in 1940 and then rejoined his wife in exile in Central Asia.
Doris Bader Whiteman, Escape Via Siberia: A Jewish Child's Odyssey of Survival. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1999
Life story of “Lonek” Jaroslawicz (1929-1995). His family fled Jaroslaw in 1939 and was deported to Russia, then freed under the Sikorski amnesty. They then moved to Tashkent and is mother had to put “Lonek” in an orphanage which was evacuated with the Anders Army (while the rest of the family stayed in Central Asia returning to Poland only after the war ended). Together with almost one-thousand Jewish boys (the so-called “Teheran children”) he stayed in refugee camps in Teheran and Karachi, sailing finally to Palestine in 1943. He stayed there (participating to the first Arab-Israeli War as a member of the Haganah) until 1963, when he emigrated to the United States; his parents joined him in Israel in 1949, after clandestinely emigrating from Poland and living for a while in a displaced person camp in Germany.
Ivan Choma, Josyf Slipyj. Milano: Casa di Matriona, 2001
Cardinal Josef Slipyj (1892-1984), successor of Metropolitan Andrej Sheptysky, was arrested on April 11, 1945 and served 18 years in various prisons and labour camps of the Soviet Union. A chapter of this biography (written by his secretary) is dedicated to Slipyj’s long imprisonment in the Gulag.
Alick Dowling, Janek, a story of survival, Letchworth, Ringpress, 1989
This book is in fact a biography of author’s brother-in-law, Janek Leja (b. 1918). Janek Leja is arrested in January 1940 while trying to cross the border, imprisoned in Przemyśl and then Nikolaev, and sentenced to twenty-five years of hard labor (katorga) in August 1940. He is sent to work to the construction of the Vorkuta-Kotlas railway line in November 1940 and freed under the Polish amnesty in September 1941. He then ends up in Central Asia where we works picking cotton in a collective farm near Nukus, in Karakalpakstan (Uzbek SSR). On March 1942 his group leaves for Kermine; they rejoin the Anders Army and leave Russia on April 1942. He is stationed in Middle East with the Polish Army, then educates himself in wartime London and in postwar years work in South Africa, England and finally Canada until his retirement in 1983.
Alfonsas Eidintas, President of Lithuania: prisoner of the Gulag: a biography of Aleksandras Stulginskis. Vilnius: Genocide and Resistence Research Center of Lithuania, 2001
Aleksandras Stulginskis (1885-1969), speaker of the Lithuanian Costituent Assembly and then president between 1922 and 1926, was deported to Kansk, near Krasnojarsk, in 1941. Only in 1952 he was sentenced to 25 years, but was released in 1954 and returned to Lithuania in 1956 (see chaps. I, XI-XIII).
Masha Gessen, Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace. New York, N.Y.: Dial Press, 2004
This is the story of authoress’ grandmothers, one of which was deported from Bialystok to Bijsk, in Siberia, in June 1941. Freed five months later, she moved to Moscow in 194?
Klaus Hergt, Exiled to Siberia: a Polish child’s WWII journey, Cheboygan (MI), Crescent Lake Pub. 2000
Author tells the story of Henryk “Hank” Birecki, son a Polish gendarme, deported to Siberia in February 1940.
Darcy O'Brien, Dans le secret du Vatican: le récit inédit d'une amitié qui a radicalement changé les relations entre catholiques et juifs. [Saint-Laurent, Québec]: Fides, 1999.
This book is dedicated to the friendship between Jerzy Kluger (b. 1921) and Karol Wojtyla. Kluger’s father (Wilhelm) was a lawyer and a Polish reserve officer; together with his son he escaped to Western Ukraine in 1939 and was deported to the Mari republic in May (?) 1940 (presumably as a bežents). Father and son were amnestied in August 1941 and then joined Anders Army. The son fought at El Alamein and Monte Cassino and married an Irish woman, and after father’s death in London settled in Rome.
Sandra Oancia, Remember: Helen's Story. Calgary: Detselig Enterprises, 1997.
This book is the biography of Helen Najborowski (née Kordas in 1924), who was arrested in Kremenetz on February 10, 1940 and deported to a “labor camp” (more likely a “special settlement”) called Nikolynskya Baza, in Siberia (actually in the region of Sverdlovsk). She was freed under the Polish amnesty and joined a Polish orphanage which was later evacuated to Iran and then India. In 1947 she left India for Britain; there she married in July 1948 and then left for Canada, where she lived in Saskatchewan.
Jaroslav Pelikan, Confessor between East and West: A Portrait of Ukrainian Cardinal Josyf Slipyj. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans Pub, 1989
Cardinal Josef Slipyj (1892-1984), successor of Metropolitan Andrej Sheptysky, was arrested on April 11, 1945 and served 18 years in various prisons and labour camps of the Soviet Union. One (however unsatisfying) chapter of this book is dedicated to Slipyj’s imprisonment in the Gulag.
Natalia Sazonova, Red jazz, ou, La vie extraordinaire du camarade Rosner. Paris: Parangon/L'Aventurine, 2004.
Eddie Rosner (1910-1976), a prominent Jewish jazzman, left Berlin for Poland and then escaped to Soviet Belarus in 1939. Arrested in Lviv in November 1946, he was deported in December 1947 to Chabarovsk; in 1950 obtained to be transferred to the Kolyma. He was freed in the summer of 1954 and stayed in the USSR; he then emigrated in 1972. In 2006 a documentary on Rosner (Le jazzman du Goulag, directed by P.-H. Salfati) has also been realised.
Rouza Berler, Avec elles au-de là de l’Oural, La Table Ronde, Paris 1967
Novel whose main character, a Polish woman doctor, is arrested on April 13, 1940 and sent to the Northern Kazakhstan, in the district of Koustanaï. The story is likely fictional, but with an autobiographic background.
Andrzej Corvin Románski, Prisoners of the night, The Bobbs-Merrill Company publishers, Indianapolis-New York 1948.
Novel whose main character is a Polish doctor from Warsaw deported to Camp no. 90 in the valley of the River Senya, near the Pechora river, whose prisoners work cutting wood in the Arctic forest. It is fictional but likely based on real characters. It has had also a Spanish translation (Prisoneros de la noche, Caralt 1950). Translated from Polish (by Walter M. Besterman and Blair Taylor) but the Polish edition was published only later (Więźniowie nocy. Londyn: Orbis, 1956).
Zbigniew Domino, Sibériade polonaise. Lausanne: Noir sur blanc, 2005.
Novel on the deportation of Polish military colonists in February 1940. The author, himself a deportee, has been active in the societies of former deportees to Siberia.
Heino Kiik, Marie en Sibérie: roman. [Paris]: Temps actuels, 1992.
Novel on the Estonian peasants from the Avinurme region deported in the southern Siberian region of Zdvinsk (in the Novosibirsk oblast) between 1949 and 1957, based on the experiences of the mother of the author (b. 1927).
William B. Makowski, The Uprooted. Mississauga, Ont: Smart Design, 2002.
Novel (partly autobiographic) whose main character, Janek Tabor, is deported on February 9, 1940 from the village of Zamosze. With his family he is sent to the special settlement Nukhto-Ozyero, in Russia; here he is arrested and further deported to a place near the Afghan border to build a railway. He then escapes, reaching Bukhara – while his family, freed under the Polish amnesty, reaches a collective farm in Uzbekistan. They are later evacuated to Iran separately; he joins the Polish II Corps, one sister ends up in Santa Rosa, Mexico, the other to Nairobi and then joins the Women’s Auxiliary Forces. He finally emigrates to Canada with his girlfriend, another former deportee.
Joseph Stanley Wnukowski, Sun without warmth, London 1966.
Story of a Polish family deported, first to Siberia, then to the North of Archangelsk, then to the goldmines of Gramatuza and the coal mines of Černogorsk.