Tadeusz Bukowy

* 1929

  • "After about 1,5 months in prison, they transported us someplace else. They took all of us into the courtyard. Trucks came. They had the following system: the first one sits with his legs spread apart, the next one sat between the first one's legs, then he speared his legs, then the next one, and so on. Escape was impossible. We went to the fright station by trucks. There they unloaded us and said, "On your knees." We all kneel. More transports came. They surrounded us with dogs, and there was a table. They gave us bread there. You took it and stepped aside, then you got a herring from a barrel, bigger or smaller; this did not matter. You took it and stepped aside. The fifteen fright cars were not adapted for transporting prisoners. Car for prisoners had 2 barred windows, a hole that was used as toilet. And these did not have any orifices. We did not know why this was the case. But then we figured it out. They put 100 people into one car. We keep our arms up, and we eat the bread with herring. We ate everything and then the train pulled out. It stopped after about 8 hours at some station. Everybody is shouting, "Water! We are thirsty!" We got thirsty after eating the errings. We had nowhere to piss. Everybody opened the fly and pissed. The second day of the journey. They did not give us any food. We stopped at a loading platform, where they pour water into the engine. When they train stopped, a man filled a bucket with water with a rubber hose. Those who were nearer got to drink it. Then he sprayed all of with water. The next freight car, then the next one. Some got to drink something, others did not. Everyone got wet. The third day we reached our destination. We saw some faint lights. Everything was devastated. It turned out it was Kiev. And we are at a big station... The trains stopped and it turned out that we were in Kiev. They open the car's door and everyone jumps out. It must have rained because there were puddles on the platform. And everyone starts drinking. The guards got angry. Their dogs wanted to bite us, but nobody ran away. Those who got to the puddles first, drank something. Others drank only mud. The tongue got dry and it stuck out due to thirst. In each of the cars, a few people died. The elderly, the sick, those having a heart disease - they died."

  • "It is March. General confusion. A guy from the district came. He gathered everyone, also those that worked in taiga, because some cut trees, others brought the wood to us and we worked in the camp. I worked with Sasza, we made planks. And this guy came, they brought a table. The director came. And we called him "Colonel," because he was one, and not "Manager." So Colonel gathered everyone, they bring the table and this guy jumps on it. And he starts shouting. His Adam's apple was constantly moving. "Listen everyone, terrible tragedy has happened... " We thought, "A war broke out?" We had no newspapers, no radio. "Niedwied’ prokuror" w tej tajdze, ?????-"Josif Vissaryonovych Stalin is dead." And his Adam's apple keeps moving. And silence fell. Diadia Fedor says, "To hell with him. He should have died 20 years ago!" Silence. This guy heard it, jumped off the table and ran to Colonel. We ask Diadia Fiedia, "Dziadzia Fiedia, zaczem ty tak skazal? You'll get 10 years for that." "I don't care. They shot my family. I have been here for 15 years. I come from Iirkutsk oblast I do not care." We all pitied him, but this sucker went across the Yenisey, in sledges. One, two, three weeks passed and nothing happened. He was smart enough not to say anything and nothing happened. This Diadia Fedia, was a good guy. He taught me carpentry, how to saw. Good, old guy. The guys deported to Siberia were born carpenters."

  • "And the journey to Przemysl took 12 days and nights. Earlier, when we were in Medyka, the ladies made Polish flags. And a Polish officer came and he saw us crying and started to cry himself. And he says, "Welcome." And his Adam's apple was trembling. Poor guy. After so many years we finally came back to Poland. In Przemysl the transport was divided into half. My father and my family lived in Jaroslaw, that is 30 km from Przemysl. One railroad worker said, "I'll be in Jaroslaw soon so I'll go to your father." And the next day my father came with food and vodka and I was not there. I had been transported to Gizycko, to the repatriation point. My dad left all the stuff. I had to promise not to talk about the deportation, that I would sit quietly. And they gave me a repatriation card, And after a few days I arrived at Jaroslaw via Krakow. I came back home. I believe me, I greeted my parents, I was crying. And the worst thing was that I could not sleep for two days, and I could see that my mom came over and was touching me. As she said later, she was not sure whether I was real or just a dream."

  • "In Sambor were 2 junior high schools, 1 for boys and 1 for girls, a business school, sawmills, a big power plant, and a prison with sad history, where in 1941 the Russians, when they were leaving, murdered people. Should I tell you about it? At that time I was a young boy. We ran to the prison, and in its basement there were corpses, piled up like sacks. Their hands were tied up on their backs with barbed wire. A hole in their heads. The only lucky ones were noski. Some climbed onto the fence and hung there shot dead, on the wires. Later on, when the German occupation started, somebody found graves of murdered people at Dniester. And the Germans drove all the Jews there and made them dig the corpses up, and put them neatly on the ground. And people from Sambor came there. They recognized their close ones by their faces, teeth, shoes, clothing. When nobody could recognize anybody, all the corpses were buried during a formal ceremony conducted by Polish and Orthodox priests. All this took place in 1941. The remains were taken to a cemetery."

  • "After 30 min. we get to the prison. It was huge and made of red bricks. Two gates opened. We entered the prison courtyard. And they order us to kneel down. And everybody kneels down. Some officers come out of the prison and everybody shouts, "Water! Water!" They realized what we wanted. One went inside and brought 5 mugs. And there were two, big barrels of rainwater. The first five got the mugs. They take the water from the barrels, drink it, hand down the mug and step aside. And so everybody drank water for the first time in three days. Then they started dividing us, because this prison had a few stories, and also some underground stories, as I later found out. And I was in a group of about 12 men, who got assigned to the fourth floor. We walk the stairs to our floor. A group comes in our direction. And the guard immediately orders us, "Face to the wall!" We had to put our hands and faces against the wall. Then these officers with a prisoner went past us and we went further. And we reach our cell. And the guard opens the door. And such heat and stench belched out that we did not want to go in. We are scared. We rebel and say, "We will not go!" "You son-of-bitches! You don't want to go in?" In all corridors there were telephones. He talked on the telephone. And the three apes with machine guns run there and push us inside. They closed the door and that was it. People were sitting just like in the photo I showed you. 80 unshaven men sit on the concrete. The twelve of us stand at the door. We do not know what to do. And then an elegant, tattooed guy in pants and a sailor undershirt says, "I am Miszka Pahan." I was only listening. "I am the boos in this cell and you need to listen to me." He comes to some prisons and kicks them so that the would make space for us. This was my first time in a Soviet prison, in Kiev. They woke us at 6 a.m., at 6.30 we had to go to the latrine. It was the first time I saw such a latrine. There was no toilet seat, only two pedals and a hole. And I was very interested in all this because I did not know how to use it. But I did not have to poo. You had to do it fast. Either you poo or you wash yourself. I looked at these pedals and the hole for so long, that I did not manage to wash myself. They rushed us out and others came in. It was the first time I saw such a latrine. After our visit in the toilet we got 400 grams of bread. a bowl of water with flour and another one at six and that was it. We went to sleep at 10 p.m. This is what we got to eat there."

  • " 1954 came. I am there, a Stasio from Vilnius, who had a girlfriend from Lithuania. My girlfriend's name was Ania. And Antek Urbanowicz from the Vilnius region came here after 8 years. Ala was his girlfriend. Mr. Dawsiewicz lived on a farmstead, near our village. I remember some of the surnames. He was a corporal in the Polish army. His family from the Vilnius region came to visit him. His wife prepared the Christmas Eve Supper for all of us. We all gave her 100 rubles. We earned ca. 1200 rubles, which was enough. We finished work earlier, I took my shotgun. We put on clean clothes. Heavy frost, the snow is squeaking under our feet. We walked for 10 km. Our eyebrows are cover in white frost. The ladies covered their faces. I have a shotgun. Finally, we reach Mr. Dawsiewicz's farmstead. He took my shotgun and bullets, put them into a closet. And a Vilnus-style Christmas Eve Supper commenced. There was hay under the white tablecloth. There were meals made from meat, cabbage, potatoes and so on. But "slizyki" was the basis. This typical Vilnius meal resembles "kutyah." Since I come from eastern Poland I was used to "kutyah." They had "slizyki." This was sweetened water and some rusks. It was not so tasty, but other things were delicious. They did not serve vodka, but "brashka." A very good one, made by those deported here, and not by Mrs. Dawsiewicz. We sang carols, cried, reminisced, we wished each other comeback to Poland. The next day we were still there and we came back in the evening. This was my only Christmas Eve Supper. I once celebrated Easter in Podparog."

  • "I came home, went to bed in the other room. After less than two hours I hear a noise in the hall. "Open the door!" Jesus Christ! Mom opens the door. She is nervous. I jumped out of bed. I was sleeping in my clothes. I jump to the window. It was a one-story house. And there is an armed soldier. At the second window there was another one. And the first one knocks on the door and enters. Mom told him that I was in the room. He orders me, "Hands up!" He did not find anything in the room. Then he found some cables on me. -Where is the radio transmitter? - What radio transmitter? We gave it to the Russians. He takes my watch, opens the watchcase. I tell him, "Give it back." He gave it back and I gave it to mom. I got it 11 years later, when I returned. - Let's go! He takes the pistol and we leave. We are leaving when Mrs. Baszak comes to my house. The nurse, who prepared everything. He asks her, "Who did you come to see?" She says that she came to my mom. This lieutenant frisks her. He finds a secret message. And the message read, "Tadeusz should go here and there and bring ammunition." And he orders her to read. And she reads it but pussyfoots. Can't you read Polish? We'll teach you. Go! She got exposed in such a stupid way. We come to the center of the town. Tolek Oliwa, a friend of mine, born in '27 is walking in our direction. They had him all worked-out too. The lieutenant arrested him on the spot. And we all go to Tolek Oliwa's. He lived nearby. And the lieutenant told me to lie down with my hand and legs outstretched. I lied down, he spread my legs and arms with his leg. "A ty na kalena!" he shouts to her. "On your knees!" And he searched Tolek's house. Tolek traded tobacco, which we all did to get by. They turned the house upside down and did not find anything. And they take all three of us to the main street of the town. A parade was approaching from the other direction. We immediately turned into an alley. We walk along Kopernika Street. We enter a beautiful pre-war villa. It was a private villa and they threw us into the basement. I was so nervous. It had not crossed my mind that they could arrest me. After less than 2 hours they put another friend lands in the basement. Czeslaw Kosturek born in 1927. Later on we came to the conclusion that all those arrested had been sworn in the same period of time, by one of our older friends. But this speculation came later. And we sit in the basement. That evening they called me up. There was a very tall man in a "papakha" hat, They were from the famous Kolpak's guerilla, that got from Volhynia here, to the Carpathians, and engaged in frays with the Home Army. - Are you a guerilla? - Me? A Guerrilla? I am a student. He saw my holy medal and snatched it. - You don't need it. I told him something, he hit me and I collapsed into the corner. He wrote down my name and said we would talk the next day. "Take him away." They called me 3 days later. The interrogator was a captain. - Surname? Do you go to school? - Yes, I am in the 8th grade. They knew everything. - But you are to be repatriated. - You will help us, we will help you. - How can I help you? You will tell us in what organization you were, what it did... For now I said that I did not belong to any organization. He says, "We'll see. Stay here!" He opened the door, called someone. And "Grot" comes from behind a big closet. - Do you know this commanding officer? I spoke to him just 3 days earlier. "He must be a Banderist," I say. His face and hair was burnt and bloody. He was quartered in a bunker. They had to escape after an explosion. And he was caught by the battalion. And I still claim to be innocent. And they left me at peace. The investigation was over. Then they imprisoned Stas Pietruszka with us. We were mighty hungry. We only got coffee and 400 grams of bread a day. My parents did not know where we were. The soup brought by Pietruszka's mother was the saving grace of the situation. He was a butcher. We each got a bowl of meat soup."

  • "After a month spent in this common cell in Odessa, in the morning they told us to prepare for transport. 100 men were already in the courtyard. We form 3 columns, 300 men in total. In the evening we walked about 10 km and we got to Punkt Pereselny. I.e. a temporary camp. Then prisoners were sent to different camps in Russia. I observed everything with interest. 6-meter-high wire fence and boxes. I thought I was in a tennis court and that someone would pass me a ball. The wire fence was 6 m. high, and 100 people were put into each box. And we sat in this box for one, two, three days. They fed us once a day. Hot, thin soup and 400 grams of bread. And that was it for the whole day. In the morning everyone wanted to go to the toilet. All prisoners were angry. A lieutenant comes. "V ubornoju nada!" a on -"The Toilet is here." "Here?" "Ty znajesz, szto sobaka dalaje jak chodze?" Some understood it. It meant that a dog covers the place where it pissed. "You do the same!" And he went away. Then we learnt to make a hole with one's finger or with a stick. Then you pissed, covered it with sand and everything was OK. Fortunately, it was in May. It was warm. No rain. It was chilly only at nights. But we curled up to each other and we managed to sleep till morning. Luckily, it was only a week."

  • "We got off in Krasnoyarsk and went to Abakan, where we got off. And we hitchhiked to the village from where she came from. We reached our destination. The house was quite old. And her mom welcomed us. I wanted to his her on the hand. She was surprised and confused. After 3 days I find out that some Poles live there. They found out about me and invited me over. They spoke Polish but mixed it with some Russian words. The nestor told me to sit down and asks, "Are you a nobleman?" "No," I say. "Do not be afraid or embarrassed. This is a family of Polish yeomen," he says. "We come from the Vilnius province." District such and such. Their name was a clearly Polish-sounding one and ended in -ski. They take out a heavy trunk, with metal on the edges. A trunk like they used to make. He takes out a yellowed parchment with the tsarist, double-headed eagle on top. It was a tsarist permission to reunite with a man deported to Siberia in 1863. The father was deported and the family was allowed to reunite with him. They showed me this document. Of course, they pour vodka, one glass after another. This elderly man says, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." I remember it as if it were yesterday. I tell him, "Sir, I have been doing as the Romans do for 6 years in the camp." He says, "We will not return to Poland. Please write down our surname." They asked me to find their family in the Vilnius province, after my return. They gave me their surname. The nestor wrote it down for me. But I had lost the address before my return to Poland. Unfortunately, I must confess that I could not fulfill his wish. But this name was one of a nobleman, and ended in -ski. I big my farewell to those Poles, and returned to taiga two days later. "

  • "And so came August and the trial was on 21, 22 and 23 August. It lasted three days. At first, 3 sentences were pronounced: commander "Grot" got a death sentence. Buca and Hentorz, who blew up the locomotive, also got death sentence. There were 3 death sentences. There were 5 judges. I have the document. Others were sentenced to ten, seven and six years. My peer, who was the shortest, got only 5 years. He was not in the organization but he lived near the commander. You went to him first, and he knew where the commander war. It was only for the insiders. At the trial, Orski from Warsaw expressed it in the best words, "Who gave you the right to try us? We did not betray any homeland. We are Poles. Soon we will try you for Katyn. We have not forgotten." Then the prosecuting attorney stood up and said, "Be quiet!" And Orski fell silent then."

  • "And we reached the camp. High fence, guarding towers. This first Russian camp I saw was impressive. Barbed wire around it, a huge gate with an inscription above it. And the watch comes out from the porter's lodge. They bring some tables. The first column approaches them. "On your knees!"And they start. They had all our "delo," files. After having checked our personal files they take us into the camp. And I am in "Pereselnyj Punkt" again. One month of quarantine. This was in June or May. Four barracks were separated and there was the quarantine. 300 grams of bread and a bowl of nettle soup a day. Six cooks, went to taiga, brought the nettles. They chopped it with 2 knives each. They boiled it in pots and add flour. They put a liter of this nettle soup into a bowl. Some bread and that was it. The healthy ones could survive this. The sick or weak ones died. And this is what we ate during this 1 or 1,5 months of quarantine."

  • "I worked there for about a month and then I worked in a repair crew. We worked 10 hours a day. In winter it was the worst. When we went out of work there was heavy frost and our pants would freeze. We walked in those frost-caked clothes. I preferred -30 degrees Celsius in the Urals, for there was no wind. And in the Kazakh steppe it was -20, but there was heavy wind. And it was cold as ice. The only rescue was to take cement sacks paper wrapping and to cover your legs with it and then put on pants. It helped. The worst thing was that when we left the mine after 10 hours were we all wet. When we stood at the roll-call square, all our clothes would freeze. We walked 3 km to the camp and we could hear the sound the frozen clothes made. In the barracks there was a hot pipe across the whole wall. We would stand at the pipe and the clothes would thaw and get dry. And then we lied down "domino style." It was the best option. There were no wagons, because this barracks was different, but there were bunks. Everybody was lying on the right side, packed like sardines. At night they ordered us to change the side. This was "domino style." And in the morning, during the roll-call, our clothes would freeze."

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    Wrocław, 17.08.2009

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My mom came over and was touching me She was not sure whether I was real or just a dream

Tadeusz Bukowy
Tadeusz Bukowy
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Born on 26 January 1929 in Sambor (Lviv voivodship, Second Polish Republic). In August 1944 he became a courier for the Polish Home Army between Sambor, Drohobych and Boryslav. On 9 May 1945 he had been arrested by the NKVD; in August 1945 he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment. Between August and December 1945 he was detained at Łąckiego and Zamarstynowska street prisons in Lviv, then in Kiev. In 1945 he had been transported to Odessa, where he was held captive at a penal colony for minors until he turned 18, following which he was moved to the Odessa prison and later on to a transit camp in the same city. In the summer of 1947 he was sent to an Ural lager in the Sverdlovsk oblast, not far from Ivdel. In 1949 was moved to the Ivdel Lager Union. He worked building rafts, in a kitchen, at a sawmill, he loaded trains with boards. In May 1949 he was transported to Kazakhstan, to a lager in Karaganda oblast. Initially, he worked at construction sites, later on, for half a year, in a coal mine. In March 1951, two months before the expected date, he was released. The next two months he spent at a transit camp in Petropavlovsk, following which he was imprisoned in Novosibirsk and Krasnoyarsk. In September 1951, Tadeusz Bukowy was forced to settle in the village of Podpory in Sukhobuzinsk region of Siberia. He worked constructing wooden houses in the taiga and collecting resin. In May 1955 he was granted the permission to leave for Poland. He came back at the beginning of 1956. He settled down in Wrocław. He worked in a number of industrial plants.