Slavery in Russia (by Adam Mersch, translation by Diana Lambing)

In the East the new day was already beginning to break. It was a frosty winter morning. The night shadows still clung to the yards and the streets of the little village on the heath when a portly man was seen hurrying along the main street and disappearing into house number 33. What happened next will now be told by an occupant of that house:

A heavy banging on the window woke me from my sleep. I wasn't yet sure whether it was a dream or reality. However, I soon realised that it was no dream when I realised that my father in the next room, and I, both heard whispering at the window. Then I heard steps disappearing and the yard gate closing. It must have been someone we knew as the dogs didn't stir. Meanwhile, the paraffin lamp in the next room had been lit and I heard my parents hastily getting dressed. In the meantime my mother also came into my room and woke me with the words, "Hurry up and get dressed, you have to leave. The Russians are here to take you away. Your godfather has come from the parish house to warn us."

I quickly got out of bed and dressed. It was clear that we had to disappear for the time being and we hoped to God that the Russians would go away again. We quickly packed some food and fled through the gardens with the intention of hiding in the cornfields at the edge of the village. Because of the front, the corn hadn't been harvested and it now offered protection to the persecuted. Outside it was bitterly cold. Milky wafts of mist enveloped everything and only a local could find their way around.

We fled across the gardens, crossed the meadow, and once we had made sure that we weren't being followed we went into the cornfield. Everything remained quiet and dawn grew into day. We thought the warning to flee was just an overreaction of fear and decided to turn back. We had hardly arrived back home when the neighbours' dogs began barking and we heard commando voices in the yard. So we turned around and ran like the wind. Meanwhile, the mist had begun to lift. Now we could see guards in the middle street and by the cemetery. One of them had seen us and he shouted, "Stai!" (Stop!) My father ran deeper into the cornfield and I, hoping to distract the guard following, dropped into the ditch and ran towards the middle street as far as a haystack and fell into it. Meanwhile, the guard from the middle street had approached the ditch. He had most probably heard the muffled steps in the leafy ditch. He immediately asked me what I was doing. I told him I'd taken food to my father. He immediately ordered me to get out of the ditch. Meanwhile, the other guard had captured my father and brought him to us. Now we were being taken to the parish house, pushed with rifle butts and being sworn at. We couldn't understand how only a short time ago these men had worked for us and now they were treating us like criminals. In the parish house they gathered everyone whom they had managed to catch. In my case they were still unsure. At first it was announced that those born in 1928 were free to go and I could go home. Then the order was rescinded and so I had to wait. Nor was it clear what was going to happen to us.

 A few days later they took us to Perjamosch where we were to be put onto a train. My teacher visited us at the station and told us that he had heard on the radio that we were to be taken to Russia. And that is indeed what happened. They transported us on planks in cattle wagons without even the most basic sanitary conditions and took us to the Donbass. Fifteen days of just ta-ta-ta-tat. Some grew ill from diarrhoea. Toilets were just an icy hole cut into the floors of the wagons. This is how we travelled towards Soviet paradise where we were to enjoy five years of Stalin's blessings!


Adam Mersch in May 2009

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