Children of Siberia - PhMuseum

Children of Siberia

Tomasz Lazar

2014

“An ocean of extermination and inhuman life. To escape out of this whirlpool, the abbys of memories...” On 10th February 1940 repressions by the USSR were undertaken on Polish lands against Poles and Polish citizens. They were a consequence of military agression and the agreement on borders and German-Soviet friendship of September 1939. Inhabitants of the Polish State were subjected to many years of repression and around 2 million people were exiled into the USSR, 25% of whom were children. The goals of the deportation were extermination of the political and economic elites as well as ethnic cleansings. In the name of the law it was stated that according to the new authorities there were no innocent people among the deported. Because of the destruction caused by the Soviet sercret police NKVD, the actual amount of the exiled is hard to estimate. Here are the testimonies of adults who survived the atrocities of exile in their childchood . “This Syberia, one carries within oneself...”. This year is a 75th anniversary of this happening.

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  • JERZY BERGIEL

    Born April 23rd 1935 in Popławce, near Grodno. Son of Helena and Kazimierz. Four siblings. Deported at the age of five.

    In May 1946 Jerzy together with his family returns home. “Seven-year old children were taken to collect cereal ears from fields”.

  • TERESA JANOWIAK (family name KULIKOWSKA)

    Born on April 15th 1933 in Brześć on the Bug river. Daughter of Helena and Stefan. Four siblings. Deported at the age of seven.

    They return to Poland on April 9th 1946. “One dreamed of eating one’s fill”.

  • JANINA GRZEŚKOWIAK (family name NATALCZYK)

    Born on October 17th in Świtaź in Volhynia. Daughter of Marta and Piotr. Four siblings. Deported on February 10th 1940. At the age of 10.

    They return to Poland in April 1946. “After returning you couldn’t talk about being in Siberia, there was this sort of humiliation”

  • ALBERT MIŁASZEWSKI

    Born on May 29th 1937 in Rodziszki in the Vilnius region. Son of Stanisława and Piotr. Raised in a noble family together with his older brother. Deported on February 10th 1940. Too young to remember the first months of exile.

    At the end of April, the beginning of May they arrive in their fatherland. “I remember this hunger as a child. Everything there was against humanity”.

  • ZOFIA BOCIAN (family name RACZYŃSKA)

    Born on July 16th 1930 in Kolonia Łyszczyce, in the Brześć district on the Bug river. Daughter of Melania and Kazimierz, a military settler. Three siblings. Deported in February 1940 at the age of ten.

    In March 1946 they return to Poland. “When we were leaving, we left behind a huge cemetery with a cross facing Poland”.

  • CELINA MOCHNACZEWSKA (family name GRUCHAŁA)

    Born on April 1st 1934 in Pobużany, in the Lviv region. Daughter of Maria and Jan. Four siblings. Deported on February 10th 1940.

    Later in the spring of 1946 they return to the country. “I thought that they were going to deport us and that we would be back soon”.

  • BOGUSŁAW DOKURNO

    Born on October 1st 1933 in Siwce, in the Vilnius region. Son of Janina and Edward. Three siblings. Raised in a noble family, in a landed estate in Stępkowszczyzna. Deported at the age of seven.

    They return to Poland at the end of April, the beginning of May 1946. “We were almost starving to death”.

  • MICHALINA GUMIŃSKA (family name JASZCZYSZYN)

    Born on May 6th 1935 in the village of Kowenice, in the Lviv region. Daugther of Katarzyna and Michał. Six siblings. Deported at the age of five.

    On February 10th 1946 they return to Poland. “After returning to Poland I looked as if I’d just returned from Auschwitz”.

  • LUDOMIR BOCIAN

    Born on June 20th 1927 in Jabłonowszczyzna, in the Nieśwież district. Son of Izabela and Jerzy. His sister’s name is Wanda. Deported at the age of thirteen.

    They arrive to Poland in 1946. “The first winter was a real Siberian winter. There was up to 2 meters of snow. A lot of people died. Out of seven families which came, only four came back”.

  • TADEUSZ SZUMOWSKI

    Born on May 25th 1937 in the village of Głębokie, in the Vilnius region. Son of Franciszka and Hieronim. Two siblings. Deported as a three-year-old boy.

    In August 1946 he returns to Poland with his siblings. “One mother lost a child on the way, so the NKVD soldier took it and threw it through that very hole. The mother stood by that hole during this hole period.”

  • MIROSŁAW ŻURAWSKI

    Born on November 16th 1937 (1938 in official documents) in Gawryłowce, in the Vilnius region. Son of Mieczysława and Józef. An only child. Scarcely remembers anything from the period. Deported at the age of three.


    In April 1946 they return to the country. “I didn’t cry, I howled when they took mother with a sack”.

  • JÓZEF POKORA

    Born on February 10th 1938 in Szutowo, in the Jaworów district. Son of Maria and Grzegorz. Seven siblings. Deported on February 10th 1940. The day of his deportation was the day of his second birthday.


    In July 1946 they return to Poland. “Man fears nothing when he’s hungry. When he’s hungry he is even able to kill another man”.


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