Odrębne świadectwa
Luty 1942

Memory is Our Home

Suzanna Eibuszyc

My Book, Memory is Our Home, is being published by Christian Schön, Ibidem Accademic Press, Feb 2015. Based on my mother’s Roma Talasiewicz-Eibuszyc diary, her writings about Warsaw Poland during the years following the First World War and the six long years of World War WII, and how she was able to survive in Soviet Russia and Uzbekistan. Interwoven with her journals are stories she told to me throughout my life, as well as my own recollections as my family made a new life in the shadows of the Holocaust in Communist Poland after the war and into the late 1960s. Part 1: Warsaw, Poland, April 1917–November 1939 Part 2: Eastern Poland, Białystok, Saratov Russia, Uzbekistan, November 1939–March 1946, and Poland June 1946-1966 Please visit my website at http://beshertbook.com/Reviews_By_Scholars.html http://beshertbook.com/ This is an excerpt from a chapter when my mother and father leave the city of Saratov and join the Fifth Battalion and travel with them to Uzbekistan, to a place called Guzary. On February 16, 1942, in the middle of the coldest of winters, we learned that the Fifth Battalion of the Polish army would be arriving in Saratov in two days. We had to be ready. I went to work: I had official papers that showed I had volunteered to join the army and was to be released from my job. When Abram heard that I was released from work, packed and ready to leave, he went wild. He told me later that he never believed I would actually leave without him. I went with Abram when he rushed to the city to register, but the officials said that the transport was full. Abram was allowed to register only after we told the officials we were a couple and pleaded not to separate us. When the Fifth Battalion arrived in Saratov on February 18, a winter storm was gaining in strength. Pola who was scheduled to leave with the next transport, came with Abram and me to the train station to say goodbye. I promised to write to her from every station. As the train slowly rolled into the station, Pola and I held each other in a tight embrace. Ours was a complicated relationship; more like that of a mother and a child. For the first time in our lives, we were to be separated. Abram and I rode with the Fifth Battalion for six weeks, from February 18 until April 6 1942. Thankfully, the conditions on the freight train were not as bad as on the trains that brought us to Saratov. The cars had prycze—shelves—so that everyone had a place to lie down. A portable army kitchen was traveling with our transport, so we did not go hungry. Twice a day, we had bread, soup and black coffee in warm cars, just like the regular soldiers. The train stopped a few times a day so that we could take care of our personal needs. The train carried a thousand soldiers, including generals and sergeants. Almost all of the soldiers were men. I met lawyers, judges, civic officials and artists, all citizens. There were couples in our two cars, but mostly our group consisted of single men, and every man wished for nothing more than to have a woman of his own. Our destination was central Asia. The train often stood for long periods at unknown stations, where we were allowed to get off and visit the town. The stores were always empty. Between 1941 and 1943, Uzbekistan received over a million refugees, from Russia, Ukraine and Byelorussia. Among them 200, 000 were children. More than one hundred industrial enterprises were moved to Uzbekistan. By the middle of 1942, all enterprises relocated to Uzbekistan were operated in full power for supplying military machines. When the train entered central Asia, we got off. We stepped into old grey snow, right next to blades of green grass pushing up from the ground. The warm sun embraced me. The light breeze blowing in my face was different from anything I had ever experienced before. Once back onboard, we pried open the wooden planks that had sealed the little windows of our train cars. The warm air rushed in. We started to unwrap ourselves from the layers of clothes. The further we traveled into Asia, the warmer it became. We opened the doors of the train cars. Even our moods changed. There was optimism in the air. At every station stop, we were given a supply of kipiatok, boiled water that we saved for drinking. We filled a few buckets with snow to wash our hands and faces. On occasion, we would get hot water from the locomotive for washing. Six weeks later we finally arrived at our destination, a village called Guzary. We got off the train and were pointed toward a bare field not far from the station. We were a small group of Jews, the rest Polish Christians. Most of the men were taken a few kilometers away where they would receive military training. A few women and old men were left. Hela with her husband and his sister rented a room from an Uzbek family. Somehow, she and her family had managed to save up enough money to do this. After sharing a room together for so long, the two of us now separated. It quickly became apparent that we had been accepted as volunteers, part of a nationalist plan to have a Polish army on Russian Soil. It wasn’t until we got to Uzbekistan that the real selection and recruiting took place. * * * We lived on this open field for four months, from April 6th till August 10th 1942. Our food came from the portable army kitchen. We slept on the ground under the sky, in a desert where the days were hot and the nights were cold. I was given a single blanket and this was the only thing I had to cover myself at night. Abram now wore a uniform. His head was shaved. He looked dreadful. He was able to come to see me a few times each week for a few hours, and sometimes he would bring me a piece of bread. Weeks passed. I lived in the middle of nowhere with no mission and no idea what I was to do. Sincerely, Suzanna suzanna_eibuszyc@yahoo.com

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