Comment following The Times article Airman held hostage by the Soviets missed VE Day celebrations by Mark Bridge, 8 May 2020.
On this day 75 years ago, my father Bolesław Borkowski was imprisoned by the Soviet NKVD in the citadel in Brześć (Brest) on the river Bug. The Soviets tortured Polish prisoners. At night, those sitting in the cells heard the cries of the tortured ones. The cells were terribly overcrowded, filthy, with puddles of standing water. The overcrowding was such that they had to take turns sleeping, while sitting on the floor.
My father avoided the torture only because he had the guts to stand up to the interrogator and threaten him if he came closer. As the interrogator tried to get up from his seat, my father immediately told him to sit down, telling “Sit down. If you only try to touch me, I will not be responsible for my reaction. You are worse than the Nazis”.
He was desperate, determined and ready to fight and lose his life right there on the spot. A bit of luck helped as well, as the interrogator was alone with my father at that moment. The torture was usually conducted with one or more other NKVD men in the room.
My father was later sent to a Soviet concentration camp in northern Russia, in the Arkhangelsk area, where he remained from 1945 to 1954. He spent further two years in exile in the area. He was lucky to survive.
He met my mother in the camp. She and several other members of her family were imprisoned by the Soviets after WWII. My mother was imprisoned from 1949 to 1956. The trauma was enormous. For her the war that started in 1939, when their area was occupied by the Soviet Union, never ended.
My wife’s grandfather Aleksander Głuchowski fought with the Polish army in Italy. When he returned from the UK to Poland in 1947, he was immediately imprisoned by the Communists. He died in 1952 at the age of 45. His wife remained in Poland with their little son. She died in 1945, right after the war ended.