‘ – So you move to Germany. – So we moved to Germany. We got to the city of Halle. There was a distributing centre, and, in fact, it was Ukrainian, because people were taken from here, from Lviv region. And they were distributed among ‘bauers’ (‘proprietors’ – author’s note). Such an assignment was made for us. We got to a ‘bauer’. We got to the town of Bierstadt. It wasn’t bad there. My Mum worked in the kitchen, and Dad worked in the field at first. (He had never worked in the field in his life before. And he began to weed). So Germans said, ‘Schweine! Ukrainian, you will weed everything!’ Instead of cultivating beets, he pulled them up. So he took up construction job, his profession. American aviation was flying over that territory a lot. There were lots of planes, and Germans were afraid, because every proprietor, every ‘bauer’ had his own bakery with large chimneys. They forced Dad to climb the ladders and take the chimneys to pieces. That’s what his job was like. Because they were afraid. ‘The planes are flying, if they see a chimney, the will drop a bomb,’ they said. There were about five ‘bauers’ in the whole town. And each possessed his own bakery or distillery.’
Maryan Stets (1936)
He was born on March 25th, 1936, in the city of Lviv. His family were forced to go to Germany to work there because they had beenpersecuted by Polish police. (His father had been staying in the prison ‘on Lontskoho Street’ for three months). From a distributing centre in the city of Halle they were assigned to farm jobs and constructing works in Bierstadt. After the defeat of Germany in the Second World War Maryan’s family found themselves in a displaced persons camp in American zone of occupation. In 1945 Maryan together with his parents came back to Lviv. From 1946 he was studying at a secondary school #11, situated not far away from Transit Prison #25. In 1956 he was recruited to the Soviet Army (the city of Novosibirsk). After serving in the army he returned to Lviv, where he still lives.
Family’s resettlement to Germany
Transit Prison #25, 1940s
‘ – Do you remember how the transit prison functioned and looked like when you were little?’ We were children. We used to run on a railway embankment. You climb on the top of the embankment and see a fence below and a barbed wire. Dogs run between the brick fence and the barbed wire. Four watch-towers. On every corner there was a watch-tower with a searchlight. – Where exactly were the watch towers?- On the corners. Here on the corner, there on the corner, on Khimichna Street, andon the other side of Khimichna Street. Here was the barbed wire, not high, pillared. That wire wasn’t high, and they put dogs in the space between it and the fence. The road here was blocked. It was prohibited for cars to go there. On the left side of the fence there was no pavement because of the barbed wire. If people were walking there, they could walk only on the right.’
Inmates’ of the transit prison rebellion, 1945–1946
‘– Were there a lot of people? Did you see people there? – Inmates… One could often see them on the yard beyond the barbed wire. They stayed in the territory, but guards with dogs were all around it. And the rebellion stuck in my memory especially firmly. – What year was it? – Perhaps the end of 1945 or 1946. I can’t say for sure. – And when? – It was warm. We were walking to the balcony to have a look. And boys were running. A soldier nearly kicked us away from it. He was driving us out, because they placed lots of military cars there. They came immediately and surrounded the railway embankment. They were standing all along the embankment and on the street. They were standing around the camp. And the cars entered the camp, loads of them. We saw screams, clamour, fire (someone was burning something down). They were throwing sticks at the inmates. The prisoners were throwing them, too. Someone was running with those sticks. And then they started to shoot into the air. I could see it. But it’s possible that they were shooting at people. They spotted us standing on the balcony. They shouted to make us leave the balcony. A policeman came, running, to drive us off the balcony, to make sure that we weren’t standing there and watching. And kids were running to the roof and climbing. Here were some ruined houses; two of them were near the bridge. Even three ruined houses. So I was running about there, kids peeped in. And later… I know only that they brought a lot by cars.’