Letters From Labor Camp: Dying Messages From A ‘Traitorous’ Mother In Soviet Exile
At the age of 76, Jozefa Bujdo was paying the consequences of marrying a Russian and having a son who entered the Polish police force.
Arrested as the “parent of a traitor” by the occupying Soviet authorities in April 1940, Jozefa boarded a converted cattle car in territory absorbed by the Byelorussian S.S.R. and headed 2,500 kilometers east to serve out her sentence of corrective labor on the Kazakh steppe.
The mother of six was the only one in her family to make the trip, which came seven months after the Soviets invaded her native Poland as part of a secret pact with Nazi Germany to divvy up her homeland.
In faraway Aktyubinsk, present-day Aqtobe, she would complete what would effectively be her death sentence.
But in hastily documenting her experiences in a recently discovered cache of letters sent back home to her children, she would leave behind a story of desperation that would span continents and generations.
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