Gallery 2. Soviet Tyranny
You are in: Room 2d.
Soviet Forced Labour (1940-41)
- 1-2 million Poles were deported to the USSR for forced labour.
- The work assignments of the deportees varied from felling timber in the frozen Siberian forests to working underground in deep gold mines, building canals in frontier territory, laying railroads, working in cotton fields and factories etc.
- “The family system of enemies” were forcibly re-settled in kolhozes, collective farms and villages in Kazakhstan. Exiles in the arctic north had to fell trees and labour in temperatures that reached -60 degrees.
- The 200,000 or more of Polish soldiers were sent to gulags. Of the more than 10,000 Polish POWs sent to the gold-mine of Kolyma inside the arctic circle, only a handful survived.
- Exiles worked from early dawn to late at night, 7 days a week. The Soviets told them “Those who do not work, do not eat”. Food was often below subsistence levels. Thousands died of malnutrition or starvation.
- Living conditions were primitive. People were afflicted by diseases such as typhus, cholera, diphtheria, small pox. There were no medicines.
- Daily life and travel was restricted by the NKVD. There were constant interrogations.
“Ziemianka” a typical “dug-out” where exiles lived in the USSR Another funeral for a Polish exile in the USSR Polish children exiled in the USSR Semipalatynsk, Kazakhstan, USSR Survivor describes her life as a child in exile in Siberia Survivor describes her life in the barracks in Siberia Survivor describes life in the Gulag, USSR Photographs TestimoniesSoviet Forced Labour (1940-41) - the script for the audio narration
Gulag prisoners building railway in Komi region, USSRMap of Soviet labour camps; source: The George Meany Memorial Archives, USA
Son of Katyn Victim, deported to Kazakhstan 13 April 1940 aged 17 years