December 23, 1949 my mother was arrested and sentenced to 10 years of exile. Thus I, my brother Borys, my father and my old sick grandmother were put on a train and sent to the Far East. As we were leaving L'viv, a Soviet oficer told me in Russian "Take a last look at L'viv, you will never see it again". I remember that. We traveled over a month. My hair would stick to the metal of the wagon. There was no food, we were not allowed to take anything with us, not even potatoes from the cooler. But Gods grace was with us. There was a man in the wagon with us from Mokrotyn near Zovkva. He had a full bag of dried fruit with him: aples, peares, prunes. When he saw that they gave us no food for 2-3 days and our skin became yellow like wax, he would share some with us when he cooked this for his family, and that is how we survived.
My mother was released after 7 years imprisonment, because she realy did nothing wrong never caused anyone any harm. She was arrested by both the Poles and imprisoned as well as the German, but the biggest arrest was by the Soviets. All because of poems and poetry, she loved to read poetry and read a lot.
The German arrested her for reading Shevchenko's poem "It's all the same to me if I live in Ukraine or not" in the German language. They took it in the wrong way. The only thing that saved her was that the Mayor of the city was a friend of my father by the name of Poporovych (they studied together in Danzig). He pursuaded the Landkomissar to go to the gestapo and explain that it was written by Shevchenko. So, with poems as well as words you had to be very careful.
I was raised by my father, who was a member of "Ukrainian Sichovi Striltsi" Legion and my mother a member of Plast, therefore I was present on all the big concerts in Warsaw. My mother took me with her. In that maner I was also present in the largest theater of Warsaw called Palace Roma, which could accomodate a few thousand people. This was a celebration of the heroes of Kruty. Present at the concert was Bohdan Kravtsiv I was not familiar with him. My mother was suddenly called to the stage with the presidium and I was left sitting next to this unknown by me man. All of a sudden the anthem sounded. I looked to one side, then the other, stood at attention and sang. My mother, who was on stage, later said: "Your childs voice could nearly be heared on the background of the largest hall of Warsaw, Palace Roma".
For Christmas I went home, to Zbaraz...and then my parents did not let me go back for the second term of the gymnasiu, because it was closed down, so my mother took me and Borys and we went to L'viv. From then we allways lived in L'viv with my mothers aunt. My dad had to give students their certificates of completion of the technical school in Zbaraz and then join us in L'viv, but in 24 hours the Soviet army made a break through of 150 km. We were in L'viv and my dad was stuck in Zbaraz. Thus our family was separated. We got us for Krynytsia, and every day we went to the depot to look for the train, that might bring my father back to us, but that didn't happen. In Krynytsia there were many Plast members from L'viv in that number also older scouts, and they took good care of me, even took me on their camping excursions in the woods. From Krynytsia to Mushyna flows a small river in it were dug in places separate dugouts where a person could swim, because the river itself was not very deep. Those times I remember very well, I even have one old photograph, but I need to find it. The older scouts didn't mind that I was still young and they were all older, and treated me as an equal.
I saw ruined tanks, where the Russian front went through, and I saw thousands of Russian prisoners of war come and go. My mother had a loaf of bread. She took it, cut it into small pieces and told me: "I will loosen you in a rope and when they come, give each a piece of bread". Well, that is what I did. They went one by one, every three meters, untill the bread ran out. Then I see comming to me a prisoner of war possibly sick pointing to his mouth, but I had no more bread. Suddenly, the prisoner before comes back, breaks his piece of bread in half and gives it to his sick friend. That is in my mind always of christian principals of how one can take from himself to save others.
If you do good, it always come back to you in good!
Popovych Ihor Stepanovych born Feb.26 1933 in Warsaw, Poland.
Father: Stepan Popovych, member of Ukrainian Sichovi Striltsi, completed Danzig Polytechnical Institute and directed to “Limpop” Corp. in Warsaw.
Mother: Nataliya Iurchynska, a leader of Plast hut (“polk”) №34, named by Marusia Bohuslavka in Berezhany, Western Ukraine (then Poland). “Tsentrosoiuz” reunification of cooperatives worker, actress-reciter.
Before the Red Army offensive in 1944 the family emigrated in Krynycia, Western Halychyna, Poland. Later they were repatriated to the USSR. The family was exiled to 7 years in Khabarovskyi Krai, Russia in 1953.
In 1954-1959 Ihor studied in the Khabarovsk Institute of Railway Engineers, Building Department.
After returning home he worked in 1959-63 in Mykolaiv, Western Ukraine, an engineer, then head of production department in construction administration. Since 1963 lives in Lviv, western Ukraine. Until 1991 worked in construction enterprises.Member of the Society of Political Prisoners and Victims of Repressions. Advisory Board member in 1993-97.
He sang in choruses and declamatory circles, writes poetry.