A World Apart, first published in 1951, is as heart-wrenching as anything I have read about the Polish experience in Soviet slave prisons. It is better written than many accounts since Gustaw Herling was highly educated and a professional writer. Old copies are still available at a reasonable price and it is available for free download in several different formats at
Herling was imprisoned in a forest slave prison at Yercevo, near
Archangel. His detailed description of prison life there will have special resonance for anyone with a direct connection to that particular facility, but I imagine the conditions were pretty much the same all over at that time.
Members who have an interest in the 10th Infantry Division formed in the USSR might also find his report near the end of the book especially interesting. Some brief excerpts:
"My diary ...
contains only a detailed itinerary of our route : Chelyabinsk-Orsk-Orenburg-Aktubinsk-Aralsk-Kyzyl-Orda-Arys-Chymkent-Dzambul-Lugovoye. In the first days of February we left Chelyabinsk in a goods truck which had been provided with two tiers of wooden bunks, two buckets, a sack of flour and one of barley, and two holes in the floor for our most immediate needs. On March 9th we were already in Lugovoye.
"On March 12th, in Lugovoye, I was accepted for the tenth regiment of light artillery.
"The tenth division, containing almost entirely those most recently released from the camps and therefore the weakest and most undernourished prisoners, was the first to be evacuated to Persia from Russia. On March 26th my regiment was transported on a goods train through Dzambul, Arys, Tashkent, Dzizak, Samarkand, Bukhara, Tchardzhau and Ashkhabad, to Krasnovodsk on the Caspian Sea; on March 30th we embarked on two ships, the Agamali Ogly and the Turkmenistan. The night of April 2nd, 1942, I spent on the beach at Pahlevi ..."
should have perhaps said "among the first to be evacuated" since the first ship departed March 24 and he says he left almost a week later. Still, there is some delicious detail here.
Sault Ste Marie, Canada