1. Personal data (name and surname, rank, age, field post office number, occupation and marital status):
Wiktor Szotkowski, corporal, 28 years old, radio technician, married.
2. Date and circumstances of arrest:
I was taken prisoner from the 5th Legions’ Infantry Regiment on 24 September 1939, near Busko.
3. [Name of the camp, prison or place of forced labor:]
The following camps: Dubno – Warkowicze – Kamionka – Podwołoczyska – Zimna Woda – Starobilsk (Russia).
4. Description of the camp, prison etc. (area, buildings, housing conditions, hygiene):
The buildings: hop house in Dubno; converted stables in Kamionka and other camps. The hygienic conditions were acceptable, considering we were prisoners.
5. Social composition of POWs, prisoners, deportees (nationality, categories of crimes, intellectual and moral standing, mutual relations, etc.):
Prisoners of war – friends, mostly Polish, not very intelligent. The rest: Belarusians and several Jews. The mutual relations were sometimes very unfriendly (there were informers who wanted to please the NKVD).
6. Life in the camp, prison, etc. (average daily routine, working conditions, work quotas, remuneration, food, clothes, social and cultural life):
At the beginning, I worked in the workshops and then on the road. The working day lasted from 8 to 16 hours; we received almost no pay. We had no underwear, clothes or shoes; only “Stakhanovites” received such things. Social life was always cultivated in tight groups, while cultural life existed only under duress in Leninsky ugolok, where each educational event ended with us whistling and the camp’s commandant constantly threatening us.
7. Attitude of the authorities, the NKVD, towards Poles (method of investigation, tortures, punishment, communist propaganda, information about Poland, etc.):
The attitude of the NKVD authorities towards Poles was in line with the instructions from Lubyanka. I experienced it for myself after an unsuccessful escape from the Podwołoczyska camp: I was caught near the Pripyat River. I was locked in a basement for ten or twenty days, during which I received only bread and water. The interrogation was long and took place at night; I was stripped naked in damp dungeons. The communist propaganda was vigorous. Information about Poland was very scarce and false.
8. Medical assistance, hospitals, mortality (please list the names of the deceased):
The medical assistance was acceptable.
9. Was it possible to keep in touch with the home country and your family? If yes, what contacts were permitted?
We communicated with our families by letters, but they were usually lost. As the NKVD officers themselves admitted, the letters were confiscated because of their alleged counter- revolutionary content. In the best-case scenario, they arrived with a six-month delay.
10. When were you released and how did you join the army?
Under the agreement between the Polish government and the USSR of 22 August 1941, a group of POWs and I were redrafted into the army in Starobilsk, from where I went to Totskoye and then to Chirakchi with the 18th Infantry Regiment. I was assigned to the communications company. Then, I went to Shahrisabz because I was assigned to the school for cadets of the infantry reserve of the 6th [Infantry] Division, where I have stayed to date.
Khanaqin, 16 February 1943.