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Oral history interview with Irena Kalista

Oral History | Accession Number: 1998.A.0300.45 | RG Number: RG-50.488.0045

Irena Kalista (née Sadowska), born on June 30, 1926 in Popowlany, Poland, describes the outbreak of the Second World War near Tykocin and talks of German air raids; attending an elementary school in Tykocin; interactions between school-aged children who were of Polish and Jewish origin and a typical school day before the war; the first deportations of Poles and Jews to Siberia in 1939, which included her father who fought in the First World War in the Tsar’s army, and her family’s Jewish lawyer Turek; the subsequent deportations of forest rangers and their families in February of 1940; the deportation of her family and the remainder of the Turek family and other local Poles to Kazakhstan; how the deportation was carried out by the NKVD on April 14, 1940; her experiences during the difficult eighteen-day journey via Białystok to Krasnoarmeysk (now Taiynsha), Kazakhstan; the Ukrainian families who dwelled on the steppe and were part of Stalin’s great economic plan to populate the inhabitable terrains of the USSR; the settlement in Kazakhstan where they lived; the families who were forced to live there, including the Turek family; the suicide of Mr. Turek’s daughter-in-law; the hard living conditions in the settlement; the drafting of boys and young men into the army; her brother as well as Jewish neighbors being forced to join the Berling’s Army (Pierwsza Armia Wojska Polskiego) in Sielce (Seltsy), Russia by the Oka River in 1942; some families reuniting with their loved ones who were previously deported to Siberia; the death of her father in Siberia; how over time 11 different nationals from various Russian republics lived in her settlement; the reasons why Polish citizens were deported; the emotional impact of her experiences during the war; her journey back to Poland in 1946 to Białystok; getting married; and settling in Tykocin, Poland in 1950.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Irena Kalista
interview:  1998 November 09
1 videocasette (Betacam SP).
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2021-02-16 15:52:39
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