Dear group, I can relate to this subject both from my mother experience( who passed on) and from the experience of my mother in law still with us.
My mom worked along with men, Her job - the most dangerous in the camp was to cut off branches from the fallen trees. To do that you had to be on top of the log and walking backwards to chop off branches with an axe. The axe HAD to be sharp or it would not bite in to the branch but rather in to your legs. Even if the axe was initially sharp the pine resin would stick to it and make it dull. There is no way to remove the resin from the edge, only by fire but you had to be smart not to overheat the axe and loose the temper. Falling off a log was also a common accident for all workers and they would fall on to the cut branches below . Some sticking upright. The quota was set by the next work place as to the number of logs that they processed..that was to cut to length and debark.. Mom never made the norm. She was 25 years old and healthy. With fathers pull.he spoke excellent russian and ukrainian and had some sort of friendship with the
"pretsidatiel"( camp commandant) mother was moved to saw the logs in to planks. It was a better job but their system of cutting was to have one man stand on top of the log and one bellow and they would cut in the " push me pull me" method. After a day of standing with hands up mom could not move her arms or her shoulders. To help father would rub her with a mix on turpentine and grease. It did help a little. Mother never lifted me to hug.I was 4.
My mother in law was 16 and was assigned to the cutting planks. At first the russian co prisoners were very much against all Poles as we were "kulaki" ( rich oppressors) but in time they realized this to be a lie and some very good friendships evolved. My mother in law always made the norm. With the help of the russians who showed her how..namely..after the foreman made his count of the logs and went to stamp some one else's planks... you cut off the edges of your planks, the planks already counted and counted them twice. There was no control checks once the boards were shipped so the " foreman : did not care and he also looked good with the increased production.'
WE were forbidden to speak polish in public>I went to kinder garden" dziedsad" literally children's orchard and we were thought russian..The good part was that we were given some bread and soup and once on stalin's birthday even some candy 'kanfietki"..you can see the confections root of the word.
We were not allowed to have meetings of any kind. Sort of 3 or more people with out the " politruk" was a breach of the rules...Yes the # 1 commandment in Russia was .." nie rabotajz nie poluczysz" ( if you do not work you will not obtain,it meant no food. And if you died there would be more bread for Russia.
Regards living graduate of russian dziedsad..Dziadzius