Józef Marciak, gunner, born in 1919 in the Michałówka village, Jarosław District, from where I was deported together with my family to Mała Ożomla, Jaworów District, in 1940.

On 13 April 1940, I was drafted into the Russian army as a recruit, to Novy Oskol in the Kursk Oblast.

A few weeks before, Józef Żoch, born in 1918, and Władysław Mołas, born in 1918, were also taken to the army as recruits. Following my departure, they also took Jan Bronski and Michał Sobolewski – as a reserve, from which I had a message. Next, the Dunaj brothers – Władek and Staszek, born in 1919, were taken.

In Novy Oskol I was dressed in old military denim; food was not that bad. On 21 June 1941, all Poles left the town and went towards Oryol. Once we had arrived there on 24 June, we were grouped. Some of us went to the front, others stayed to be further trained.

On 21 July 1941, following the bombing of Oryol by the Germans, we left – all those who came from Poland – for Sverdlovsk, and from Sverdlovsk to Prosnitsa near Kirov. We traveled for 13 days, the conditions worsened, at the stations we weren’t allowed to get off the wagons, and whoever did, was jostled, called a fascist and an enemy of the nation. They wouldn’t give us food in the transport. Only once we were given fish, bread and water.

In Prosnitsa, we were assigned to works at the airfield. The conditions deteriorated – no hygiene, no clothes, no tents. We slept under a pine tree and worked in our everyday clothes. Starvation began. We plucked up oats, dug potatoes ([whoever managed to] sneak) and picked mushrooms – this was our food. Three of us were sentenced to death by being shot.

On 16 October 1941, we left Prosnitsa. They took us to Nizhny Tagil in Ural, where it was snowing and freezing. They accommodated us in newly built dugouts, without blankets or clothing, so everyone was chattering. After a few days, we were assigned to works; some of us unloaded boards from wagons, other tended to logs in the sawmill, and worked in factories and garages according to their specialty. I was assigned to the garage, where I worked at a car.

Frosts were increasingly severe, we started to shake, swell up, and our legs were frostbitten. A lot of people were sick, some went to the hospital, others were released. The sick, without a penny or bread, went away because they had nothing to do here. They were discharged and abandoned to die. Many of my friends died at the hospital, they were brought back naked on a sleigh, I don’t remember their names, because they were from other division. A lot of people went to sleep on wet boards, and in the morning they wouldn’t get up, they suddenly died. I don’t remember the surnames of the witnesses of these tragic death in the dugouts, because I worked in the garage alone.

Gunner Józef Marciak

Gunner [?] Bolesław [illegible]

Gunner [?] Tadeusz Gorzkowski [?]

Encampment, 8 March 1943