They put us in cattle cars: story of Witness of the Age

The Pilecki Institute is conducting a campaign presenting the fate of people who suffered during the Nazi-German and Soviet occupation, as well as communist system in Poland after WWII.

“Path of Exile” of Poles sent deep into Soviet territory

see more

“Witnesses of the Age” is a series of videos presenting the fate of people who suffered during the Nazi-German and Soviet occupation, as well as communist system in Poland after WWII.

One of the presented by the Pilecki Institute is Genowefa Krystyna Czepiel.

In February 1940, she and her family were forced by the Soviet Red Army, which entered Poland in September 1939, to leave their house and sent deep into the Soviet Union.

“One day [in February 1940], early in the morning, we heard knocking on the door and then on windows. We saw black figures with rifles demanding to enter. Once inside, they told my mom: “you have half an hour. Take your things, dress your children and you will go to Russia,” Ms Czepiel said.

The journey to Dobryanka in Soviet Union took two weeks. Poles were placed in cattle cars. “Once a day they [Soviets] opened door of the car and gave us something hot, like a soup… Only once a day we received something hot to eat,”

After the long journey, the exiled Poles were placed in camp, where they were provided with very inadequate living conditions. “Each family received a small room… There was a small iron stove, a poker, wood cut to be burned. On one side there was a bunk, made of planks and straw was laid on it,” Ms Czepiel said.

After an amnesty, she was sent to the Polish settlement Koja in Uganda, eastern Africa, where she stayed for five years. Then she moved to the UK.

source: