Here is the relevant excerpt from my fathers book. I've included the bits before and after as well for context.
"Blagoveshchensk 7th August 1942
As usually happens, all this talk about going away finally came true. The lieutenant gave a long and boring talk to let us know that we should get rid of our Soviet girlfriends and get rid of all our Russian money. The next day the travel alert was announced. We were each given an extra blanket, a cloth uniform, shoe soles and a second pair of shoes and a lot of other unnecessary stuff which couldn’t be packed in any way. When the regiment finally went on its way, everybody looked like a pack mule or
like an Uzbek donkey. Why is it that
an overloaded person has such an infinitely stupid look on his face? I’m saying the regiment went on its way, because I stayed behind; 230 of us were left as the company whose job it was to liquidate the camp. The chief saw that I could drive a car, so he assigned me to the horses. This is the worst possible work; to clean out their feet and water them during the daytime and at night to be on stand-by in the stables. Horses from the entire regiment herded together, hungry, struggling and biting each other. It’s a horrible job. I can barely walk. All the other gear such as tents, kitchen stuff and medical equipment has already been returned to the warehouse, but there is no commission to receive the horses.
My stomach is deteriorating. I am never hungry and I don’t eat anything, but how long, how many weeks can one survive without eating and suffering from continuous diarrhoea? Moreover there is a constant nervous tension in the air, about
whether we will go on our way or not. There are rumours that the Soviets have stopped all transports; that we will get out on the twentieth of the month or on the tenth, things are changing all the time. I’m not going to go to a doctor because he might send me to the hospital and then I won’t be able to hang on, I don’t have enough strength to be ill. God damn it, if we are supposed to go, let’s go quickly.
Krasnovodsk [now Türkmenbaşy, Turkmenistan] 15th August 1942
We left! Just in time. As usual everything had to be done at great speed. We had to go quickly to the regiment headquarters, pack quickly and before I could look around, we were on our way. As usual during travel, I manage somehow to keep going in spite of my sickness and then we will see. My only aim is to arrive there. Six days in a train. This time we were in a carriage, which means that for the entire time there was no way to lie down, not even for a moment. As if
in a dream I could see images typical of East Asia: the desert, sharp rugged mountains in some improbable colours and shapes, like some strange theatrical decorations and people in colourful Eastern clothing: Uzbeks, Kyrgyzstanis, Kazaks and a few lesser known tribes. I am sorry that I was unable to remember any details of their clothing. Some girls, young women, dressed in rich attire; they were very pretty, even beautiful. Their beauty was wild, burnt by the sun and very oriental and they were so young and delicate. But we didn’t even have time to look at them.
We are now sitting surrounded by sand, a few kilometres from the port and we are waiting for a boat. The sea is dirty and full of oil; the sand is dirty too. There are plenty of empty cans and all sorts of rubbish, but the worst thing is that there is no drinking water. We have a lot of money, roubles and high denomination notes. We have to get rid of them quickly. As for myself I didn’t
have much anyway, but the civilians who also congregate here have their pockets loaded with money and whilst they are afraid to keep it, they don’t want to give it back to the Russians, so they are eager to give it to us. We buy red wine with it, crazily expensive, but good. We drink it instead of water all day. I drink a lot and even though it sounds improbable, I remain completely sober, I feel nothing. My associates look in wonder. In general they think that I am weird because I smoke, but not the dark Russian tobacco called machorka, and I drink wine like water and I do not get drunk and in addition I don’t eat anything. But I promise that as soon as I get over the sea, which is not very far now, on the other side of the water, I’ll shave off my moustache and I’ll try and become a decent person.
The Caspian Sea 17th August 1942
On board ‘Cziczerin’. It’s an old wreck crawling across the Caspian Sea, its last effort. We were
pushed into the innards of this monster, but I escaped to the deck. Down below it looks like a live picture of Dante’s ‘Inferno’. In half darkness you can see a lot of incredible figures, sweaty, shining, naked bodies. All you can hear is the sound of heavy breathing and the splashing of waves against the ship’s hull. The air can be cut with a knife. This cannot be described. One immediately feels that one is going to suffocate; wide-open mouths try in vain to catch just a little bit of air. On the deck the sun is burning, but at least one can breathe. The sea and the sky are beautiful, close and clean, quite different from how it was in Krasnovodsk. Close to me in the lounge there is an old concert piano. It is on this antique instrument that someone I don’t know is playing Chopin. His fingers are stiff, sometimes he makes a mistake, but his playing is wonderful; I can’t stop listening. Later on, I have to leave for a while and when I come
back to the lounge, the music has changed to popular melodies. Of course I thought that it was somebody else playing, because I thought that it couldn’t be possible, but no, it was the same fellow. I cursed him silently and I reproached myself that I could be listening and admiring someone like this. Later he was playing Chopin again, effortlessly and very cleanly as if he was beyond any reproach. I wanted to run away but I couldn’t. God damn him.
The Middle East
Pahlevi, Persia [now Bandar-e-Anzali, Iran] 19th August 1942
At last, finally, we are in Persia. After three years we have got out of the red paradise of the Soviet Republic which is aptly called the country of modernised misery and organised famine. We walk around sleepily with half-closed eyes, we are not quite awake yet and we can’t quite believe
it when we see the concrete buildings of the port and people who are cleanly and decently dressed; at policemen in their slightly comical, exotic grey uniforms; at the shop windows which are full of everything, and there are no queues! We are only now getting used to the world again. Even during the journey we were being fed with the canned English food, but everything has now changed and we get cocoa for breakfast and fresh dates, biscuits, white bread, sausage etc. We can’t believe it when we eat. I feel like a criminal who was serving a life sentence and who was suddenly released one quiet, sunny afternoon. We take deep breaths all the way to the bottom of our lungs. We are standing around, warming ourselves and looking around us, but we don’t want to think yet. There will be time for that too. Anyway, the uniform keeps me tethered and disciplined. Sometimes I have all sorts of silly and unnecessary thoughts. It means that my brain, asleep for
several years or smothered by hunger, has begun to work again or at least some part of my consciousness has. But I’ve got time; I am still a little bit afraid of the bright daylight. That is why at these times I go to the sea. Discipline in our liquidation company is quite lax, so everybody does what they want and we go wherever we want. I swim far out into the ocean so that I can no longer see the shore, only the waves dancing, fluffy and green.
The depth below gives me a tiny cold tremor of fear which travels all the way down to my stomach, but it doesn’t matter, I keep swimming until I get tired or until a bigger wave hits me on the head and fills my throat with salty water. Then I head back, but ever more slowly and I swim and swim and still I cannot see the shore and my arms are hurting more and more until I catch the right rhythm again. When I get out, all my muscles feel tired and my head is full of a nice, happy, empty noise.
I go back to the barracks – in fact it’s just a roof made of a few panels – and I get some sleep. The sun is burning brightly all day; the sky and sea are wonderfully hot and blue"