1. [Personal data:]
Senior Wachtmeister Maksymilian Szczubiński, 43 years old, farmer, married.
2. [Date and circumstances of the arrest:]
On 10 February 1940 at 1.30 a.m., NKVD officers with Nagants in their hands burst into my house. They read out an order by the head of the NRK according to which the Soviet authorities had decided to transfer my family and me to another oblast. They gave me 30 minutes to pack our things onto wagons that were already waiting.
3. [Name of the camp, prison or place of forced labor:]
On 6 March 1940, they brought us to the village of Uktym, Lensk region, Arkhangelsk Oblast.
4. [Description of the camp, prison:]
It was a perfect area for convicts – woods and swamps, mosquitoes and flies, that is, the second worst plague after our benefactors. The accommodation was beneath contempt. We lived in wooden barracks, two or three families in a single apartment, female and male laborers in the same room, sleeping on bunk beds or on the floor. We slept in the clothes we wore during the day. The hygiene was truly Eastern: lice, fleas, bedbugs, and cockroaches.
5. [Social composition of prisoners, POWs, deportees:]
Eighty percent of the people in the village were military settlers and 20 percent were forest rangers, mainly state, including 5 percent of Ruthenians. The crime for which I was deported was that I was a military settler who was active in 1920 (an enemy of the Soviet nation). The intellectual and moral standing of my compatriots was simply impressive; our relations were brotherly.
6. [Life in the camp, prison:]
We could not appear at the designated place of work even a minute late, although the distance was sometimes up to ten kilometers. The labor was forced, regardless of age, gender, and health condition. We felled trees, which was hard work, beyond the strength of any human being, and we were helped by women and children aged 15. Family members who worked were sent to work in distant locations on purpose, even up to 50 kilometers away, in order to destroy the families and prevent them from contacting each other, so that it was easier for the Soviets to break them down mentally and use them for their purposes. The work lasted up to 14 hours a day, plus the time you spent walking to and from work. The remuneration was calculated in such a way that even the best worker was not able to earn enough money to support himself for a day. The food was very poor and not nutritious. We usually received soup made of oat groats (formally oats, with the husk removed), which even the healthiest stomach had no power to digest. A dead horse was a great delicacy and the clothes we had were not even ten percent enough, but access to Soviet culture was unrestricted. Everyone was simply forced to absorb it, especially young people. Our own culture, however, had to be kept in secret (we only whispered) if we wanted to avoid being severely punished for spreading Polishness and comforting those who were weaker.
7. [Attitude of the authorities, the NKVD, towards Poles:]
The attitude of the NKVD towards us was similar to the attitude of an unchained dog, enraged and biting everyone. The communist propaganda resonated in every atom. It was even proposed that we take USSR citizenship, which would have enabled us to access the Soviet paradise on earth. The information we received about Poland was as vile as possible. They simply disgraced everything that was Polish and they [claimed] that Poland would never exist again.
8. [Medical assistance, hospitals, mortality:]
We received medical help in the form of iodine and turpentine. Only those who were already dying were admitted to hospitals. People died of starvation and exhaustion. I don’t remember the names of the dead.
9. [Was it possible to keep in touch with the home country and your family? If yes, what contacts were permitted?]
We communicated with the home country by letters.
10. [When were you released and how did you join the army?]
I was released on 3 December 1941. They made it difficult for me to leave in any way
they could: they did not provide me with any transport to the train station, which was
97 kilometers away (despite the fact that in accordance with the Stalinist constitution I was
entitled to a wagon). My family and I traveled that distance on foot, pulling our belongings on
a sledge, at 40 degrees below zero. When we arrived in Kotlas, with the help of our military
representative who was a corporal, we paid two thousand rubles for a freight car, with six
other families. My family and I went in that car to the south, to Uzbekistan (the Fergana
Valley). I was sent to a kolkhoz, from where on 16 February 1942 I joined the 9th Division
of the Polish Army that had begun to form there. On 23 March, my unit and I left that
hospitable and friendly country.
Temporary quarters, 15 January 1943