The Reasons for Staying in the USSR
In 1944, when I came back from the war, the Polish families were in Storozhynets, but they left in 1946, they left for Poland — already after the end of the war the Poles left this place. But I already had a job here in 1946, in Chernivtsi. I got a job. And my mum said: — Well, if we go to Poland, who is going to give us a flat? We have a cottage here, I have a place to put my head on here. Who will give it to me there? — No, they will not give it to me. — Where from? — German houses. And my mum said: — The German has built that house, who has the right then to take it away from him? — There is no such right in the world — my mum said — to take his house away from him, if he built it! This is how my mum thought. And we did not go.
Leopold Kałakajło
[Drohobych, 1945] When the Russians came again, arrests started again, but not the mass ones like those in 1939–1940. Then, they settled, occupied, and robbed what could’ve been robbed. They summoned to the NKVD, and voluntary-compulsory departures of Poles for Poland started. They started to expel the Poles: my mum, for example, on 30 May 1945. One of them came home and told her to come to the shop in Stryjska Street. Mum was going there so early that it was still dark. She came into the shop, and that NKVD man was already waiting. She came back home in the evening and said that I would stay but she had to go. I kept asking her what she was doing there for such a long time, but she didn’t want to tell me anything. They had to sign that they wouldn’t say a work to anybody. Mum started counting that she’d take a nightgown, coat, sweater, dress, shoes for change and would go together with the transport to Poland in the morning. She said she didn’t know where they were going to take them. She told me to stay because it was a pity to leave the house, and I worked on that house, too. She promised to come back in two weeks, so she wouldn’t take many things with her. I asked how come she knew she’d come back and that she couldn’t go without anything. We packed a feather quilt, a pillow, and a sheet. I went to our neighbour to ask him to take mum to the station. I never saw my mum again.
Wiktoria Kisiel
We didn’t go because we had a super place, everything was new, everything worked. We had an enormous pig-sty made out of hollow bricks and with a metal roof. That was quite something in them days, you know. One of our barns was clad with timber and insulated with straw, and the other – an enormous one – was timber clad, too. Only the house was newly built. Daddy had everything. In those days people said that the Soviets would be here for a month, perhaps six months, we’ll get by, we’ll manage somehow. Daddy didn’t want to leave and give up all he’d worked for. Who would have thought that those Soviets would still be here to this day. Later it was impossible to leave, we were not allowed to.
Maria Poczobut
We stayed, unfortunately – there were four of us children… We waited, we were packed and we stood at the station but it took a long time to load the carriages… We waited for some two weeks and then father gave up. He said: “We’re staying...” His younger brother was a bit lame and father did not want to leave him by himself, someone had to look after him. So we stayed here. We did not have any family in Poland, we would be travelling into the unknown. Most people from our district were allocated to territory regained from the Germans: Opole, Brzeg, Wrocław etc. (…) An aunt settled on the outskirts of Brzeg, she didn’t want to be in the town centre. She would recount how the oven was still hot, the cellar full of wine, sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers… They had fled from those parts and were immediately replaced by new settlers. (…) We still regret not having gone. Father regretted it and so did we. I still do… You go to Poland now and you don’t feel like returning here… I can’t… Those first years, when the church was still shut and they would not allow it to be opened, whenever I visited Brzeg I would always head straight for the church and would cry all the time… That’s how things turned out for us – unfortunately.
Zofia Stecka